Crossroads, Part Three

Continued from Part Two

Snyder snatched an old wooden chair near the fireplace and looked around the waiting room. His fellow camo-clad and buzz-cut shorn recruits fidgeted like they were in Sister Fran’s ninth grade math class, or something equally boring.

Snyder looked down at his green uniform. He wasn’t a punk kid anymore, he was a soldier.

If only Mama Borden and Cerulean could find even a little enthusiasm. All the other guys had been dropped off by relatives bursting with pride. But Mama and Cerulean? They proposed going on the run. But how much worse could the Imperial Army be than all those breeders Mama Borden had done her double agent thing in? She’d even been responsible for harvesting organs from products of unwanted pregnancies not unlike yours truly.

Still, Mama and Cerulean’s response beat what his other six Borden siblings suggested: letting him hang. Such loyalty a guy got by being born the wrong skin color.

Snyder looked down at his watch. How late was the drill sergeant now? Ten minutes? Last time he checked, it’d been eight. He needed to read.

He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out the leather bound copy of the US Constitution his grandmother had given him. It was the only thing of Grandmother’s that hadn’t been unceremoniously hawked by her drug addict daughter-who had been so repentant upon discovering her enslaved, frozen fertilized egg redeemed to become such a fine young hoodlum, she tried to sell him back into slavery.

Snyder opened to the title page, which had a small blood spot. Grandmother had said it’d come from his grandfather at the Battle of Richmond, where he and a few thousand brave souls stood against President Ivan Dimitriov’s unconstitutional decision to surrender U.S. sovereignty to the, ahem, Eternal Empire of Earth unilaterally.

Thankfully, Ivan was gone now, hung like the traitor he was. Who cared if he’d committed the crime Prince Donovan had accused him of? Sure, it’d be like him reporting Cerulean, but Ivan had slaughtered patriots and saints alike. It was justified a million times over for all that Ivan had taken from him. He’d downloaded the collector’s edition holographic still of the hanging to his PictureFrame.

He began to read the first page of the Constitution. We the People of the United States of America, in order to-

Another recruit ripped the Constitution from his hand. “What’s this, eh?” The recruit bore the crests of Europe and Canada on his army jacket’s sleeve. “Oooh, look here fellas, the US Constitution.” The Canadian spit on the page. “It says in here that Yanks should be able to own guns and millions died as a result.”

Snyder jumped up, fists clinched for a beat-down. But if he screwed this up and got kicked out, he’d be on a one way ticket back to Boise, Idaho, where he’d get hung for a hate crime. Snyder glared. “Give me my book, Canuck.”

The Canadian turned to three fellow Canuck recruits. “Hear that, the Yank wants his book back.”

“Let ‘im come and get it,” said one with a French Canadian accent.

The first Canadian tossed it to the Frenchman, who threw it on the ground and stomped on it. Snyder turned. 1, 2, 3 . . .

“Oooh,” said the first. “What’s the matter, lil’ Yank a coward?”

4, 5, 6 . . .

“I zink I’ll use ze pages for rolling joints,” said the French Canadian.

7 . . . Ah, who was he was kidding?

Snyder jumped the first Canadian, knocking the jerk and himself both to the ground. He grabbed the leg of the French Canadian and pulled him down. He grabbed the Constitution, stuffed it down his army-issue tight green tank, and stood.

Two arms wrapped around his legs, and he fell. He couldn’t let them have it. He turned on his stomach and rolled into a ball, clutching the Constitution to his chest.

As the four Canadians beat him, the lights went out.


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