Sluggish Bullet – Tale of a Solider is written By James
I’m so scared, I’ve reached the stage where time moves in slow motion. Six rifles are pointing at me. All are spewing smoke, but only one has a slug erupting from its mouth. I wonder if Joe knows he has fired the missile that will reach the white handkerchief pinned to my chest. Poor Joe. He’s a good friend–a good shot, too. I can see his aim is true. The bullet is halfway now. I can see it spinning. I can’t take my eyes off it. I still can’t believe what’s happening. This whole court-martial business is a farce. The old General who sentenced me is mad. Shall I tell you what happened? It won’t take long, the bullet hasn’t reached me yet. The General was in a foul mood. I couldn’t blame him for that; the enemy ambushed us in the night, and we lost a couple of men. It had been my turn to stand watch, and the General accused me of sleeping. My punishment was to stand at attention the whole day without food or water.
As I expect you know, English soldiers must not move once given the order to stand at attention. Not even twitch. I stood right outside the General’s tent, and he kept a close watch on me. So did the rest of the lads. We’re all good friends. Suddenly, I jumped into the air and yelped; and that was enough for the mad old General. He held a Court Martial. He said I’d better have a good excuse because the penalty was execution by firing squad. Can you believe it? Well, he was under strain; we all were and as I said, he was mad. I couldn’t tell him I have a pollen allergy. That sounds so pathetic like I’m a softy – so I told him a squirrel had climbed up inside my right trouser leg. ‘Is that any reason to jump?’ asked the mad old General. ‘No,’ I admitted. ‘But that isn’t why I jumped.’ ‘Out with it, then! What made you jump?’ ‘I felt another squirrel climb up inside my left leg.’ ‘So what? That’s still no reason to jump!’ ‘I agree,’ I said, ‘but that isn’t why I jumped either.’ ‘Well, then?’ The mad old General was impatient. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I heard one squirrel say to the other, “Shall we crack them now or wait till Christmas?” That’s when I jumped.’ My mates laughed, and the sour old General got even more upset. He said it was contempt of court and sentenced me. So here I am, watching the bullet creep towards me at a snail’s pace. It’ll hit the handkerchief dead center. There. It has exploded into my chest, restoring time to normal speed. I can feel a warm liquid splash onto my face. The handkerchief is no longer white, but sodden red. It hurts less than I’d expected. I must admit, these paintball bullets are realistic and war games are more exciting than golf– but things have gone too far this time. Never mind… I shall have my revenge. Next week, it’s my turn to be the General.
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