The Search for Silent
Sergeant Andrews had his form go erect as the two men in the room beyond began to do a lot of activity. He did not doubt that it was serious, but after listening to the two there was no belief that he could help. All that Sergeant Andrews feared was one of the Air Force people coming in to check, and finding him being relaxed in his duty.
Silent came out after a number of minutes. Sergeant Andrews was not surprised to see him alone, as the senior airman had been left to pack away the equipment. The elder did not refuse the signal from Silent to follow, but accepted that at present he was the superior officer.
The Air Force major approached Silent as he left the tent to ask, "How did it go?"
"It went bad. We however got a good bit of data about a military base. The material will need to be studied, but it seems that the base was destroyed. You need to pass the information up the chain of command."
"Unsure. The data is in a computer, so it can be analyzed. Watching in real-time, it looked like Top Secret caused a distraction that backfired. We were not in contact at the time, but merely watching the installation's security. Someone however activated the self-destruct. It was not us."
"I am sure that you did your best."
"If not, I guess that I will be reprimanded. There is always a first."
The major saluted as he said, "Until the inquisition."
Silent returned it, then turned to his superior. Taking that as a signal to leave, Sergeant Andrews moved to the jeep. As he gained the seat, he looked to Silent who stood by the vehicle. Suddenly, the whole countenance of the man broke and tears began to pour from his eyes. Sergeant Andrews felt sorry for the man's loss, and stayed in his place allowing the young man the time to cry. He had done his duty, and had walked away making sure that everything would be taken care of. There was no shame. When Silent looked up, he however made no move to get into the jeep.
"I am not going back. There is no reason for me to be here now."
"Silent, your job is not over."
"What job? I was going to get a job. I have a degree. I have family and friends. I don't need the Army. I was doing this for Ö" The man almost wailed, but as tears again poured from his eyes he kept his voice under control, "Top Secret. She is dead. I am going back to my life."
Sergeant Andrews climbed out of the jeep before ordering, "Silent, get your rear into this vehicle."
"GO FUCK YOURSELF!"
Eyes turned at that eruption of language. Those watching continued to look as the young man took off his jacket while walking away. Sergeant Andrews tried to move, but stood shocked as the strong words from someone that seldom said anything sunk in.
Silent walked away more mumbling than speaking, "I donít like these clothes. I don't like sleeping in a bunk in a room with a bunch of other guys. I don't like having no say in what I am doing each day, even when I am off duty."
Sergeant Andrews moved up to pick up Silent's jacket, shirt, and then followed to see what else might be discarded. He felt like a servant trailing behind the man, but also felt like someone wanting to help a friend. Facing death was a big step for most people, especially when the one who died was somebody close. Sergeant Andrews had been wondering about how close Top Secret and Silent were, and from the reaction he could tell that there was more than a working relationship.
The young man reached the road with no shirt, no shoes, and the pants sagging as the belt had been loosened. He ran at a steady pace. Not that far behind came Sergeant Andrews jogging while holding the clothes that the young man had shed.
The elder had stopped yelling after Silent. There was no indication of where he was going, but there was little doubt that it was to a gate to the base. He had passed up one, but that one lead out to a major highway with a close connection to the interstate. Sergeant Andrews suspected that Silent was going to the gate that opened out to the road that led to the nearby town.
A few cars had passed, but none had stopped. While it surprised the elder to suddenly hear a horn blowing behind him, the younger did not look back or stop, so Sergeant Andrews kept up his pace as well. It took the humvee to drive in front of Silent and cut him off to cause him to relent his pace.
General Bethany jumped out of the driver side of the humvee and demanded, "Silent, where in Hell are you going?"
"I am going away."
"You see that man running behind you?" The general waited for the young man to turn and see the sergeant pausing to catch his breath before adding, "I commanded him to bend over and kiss your balls if that would be necessary to keep you. Well, does he need to do that?"
"What is it with you people and trying to find out if others are homosexual?"
Defiance rang in the voice of Silent, and the general realized that his present line of attack would not break the barrier. "Silent, your country needs you."
"I am not leaving the country. Only the Army."
"Oh, and where are you going?"
Silent stepped forward as if to go around the humvee, but the movement forced him to look at the general, then at the sergeant. He almost turned, but then stopped as a wave of emotion again came over him. Sergeant Andrews saw tears again pour from Silent's eyes as he answered the question.
"I want a pizza."
The general now felt that he was on a good topic, so asked, "And where are going to get a pizza?"
"There is a place in town. It is a few blocks off the strip."
"Does it have booths? I don't want the public to see a soldier cry."
Silent was crying as he answered, "Yes. Yes, Sir. It has booths."
"Good. I believe that I know the place. Hop in, Silent. I will buy you a pizza. Come on, Sergeant."
Silent took back his clothes from the sergeant on the ride to the pizza parlor just so that he would not look irregular with his Army companions. The general made a statement of appreciation for what the young man was doing, but did not press him for any information. The major conversation was only about the location of the pizza parlor.
It was a week day, so the pizza parlor was not packed with customers. A booth was available, and the Army men were quickly seated. Both of the elders listened as Silent told the waitress what type of pizza that he wanted. He kept wiping his eyes, and the eyes of the lady kept darting to the others with him as if wondering if Silent was ordering his last meal. The general ordered a more common style of pizza for him and the sergeant, along with some beers, then leaned forward once he realized that he had some privacy.
"How is your family, Silent?"
"I don't answer personal questions, General."
"I know who you are, Silent. I know your father well."
Silent looked to the generalís uniform to learn the manís name, then said, "I believe that you do, or should. I still am not going to talk about my family."
"Why, Silent? You might be able to leave the Army, but you cannot leave your family."
"Do you know that I was paid for my missions with Top Secret? I was paid rather well for my last mission, and given a medal. I don't have to go home explaining things to my father, at least not immediately."
"Colonel Terrell leaving the UN delegation has caused a lot of tension between our countries. Whatever happened could possibly causeÖ"
General Bethany only paused due to his cell phone ringing. His face declared that he intended to keep talking, but something on the id of the caller had him close his mouth. He listened for a moment, told the speaker to go ahead, then he turned the phone as it played a video. Listening to the report, Silent almost crawled over the table to watch it as well, but stopped when the general simply laid down the phone so all could watch and hear.
As it finished, Silent said, "General, you need to alert whoever you report to that this is the second time that nukes have been mentioned. Top Secret has only been interested in a new type of bomb, and has not been chasing nuclear technology. Truthfully, chemical has been the one Top Secret feared."
A voice came from the phone, "Who was that, General Bethany?"
"That was Silent."
"The one that caused the explosion?"
Tears left the eyes of Silent as he strongly replied, "I did not, nor did Senior Airman Franklin. The self-destruct sequence was engaged for the safety of Top Secret, but thirty-five minutes were placed on the clock of which only fourteen had been used."
"Could you have compromised the mission?"
"The data on the computer should show that Top Secret, or some situation on the inside, compromised the mission. I believe that Top Secret caused some type of distraction that initiated a much more serious response than expected. I did have an active unauthenticated line to the base, which was terminated as soon as the event happened. There however was no indication that the unauthenticated line was recognized. That opinion of mine however might be contradicted by the evidence."
"Was Top Secret, Colonel Stacy Terrell, compromised?"
"She was in disguise at the time, and there was no indication whatsoever that her disguise had been revealed. Whatever occurred was an event at the scene and not a series of events due to my computer infiltration or Top Secret being discovered as a spy." Silent laughed before saying, "Which is slightly silly, since Top Secret had already been discovered as a spy."
"What do you believe are the chances of Colonel Terrell surviving the explosion?"
Tears again came to Silent's eyes, but after pausing to wipe them his voice stayed stable. "You would have a better call on that one. You should have a better estimation of the size of the explosion. Top Secret was inside the installation."
The pizza came, and the one asking the questions on the phone was told to wait. Sergeant Andrews noted that Silent ate a slice, then sprinkled some salt and a liberal does of crushed red peppers on the rest of his pizza before eating another slice. The general sent the waitress away, then assured that napkins and drinks were passed around. Once he again felt the booth was secure, he told the one on the phone to continue.
"Silent, this situation is causing a number of political fiascoes. We not only have a possible agent, either alive or dead, which can be identified and tied to the scene, but we have a UN delegation presently under confinement in the country which can be accused of even more subversive actions."
"I have never held myself at fault for supporting Top Secret. She in turn never held herself at fault for obeying the orders that came to her. We had both just finished a major mission, and were expecting to have money and time to act at our leisure. Neither of us were given that opportunity. Now, who is at fault?"
"Silent, we need you to stay in your present location. If we need more information, we need to know where to contact you."
The young man actually smiled as he looked at the pizza parlor while replying, "I cannot promise that I will stay in my present location, but I will not drop out of contact."
"I am with Silent now. The man is a little distraught, as it seems that he and Colonel Terrell were close friends. Silent has however shown himself to be a good and capable American. I do not expect him to leave his country in need or abandon the memory of Colonel Terrell to bureaucracy."
After saying some final words to the voice on the phone, General Bethany said, "Silent, just for your information, that was not some enlisted man working from a script. That was somebody important to somebody important."
"Well, I really don't care. I have met the president, and the generals in charge of each branch of our military, even the Coast Guard."
"My point is that this situation is important, and we need you to stay."
"Senior Airman Franklin said that I was only going to be relegated to a teaching position."
"The words, Silent, is Ďon hand.í You have served your country. You have been rewarded with money and with medals. You are however worth more than we have paid you, and we believe that you would do your country a disservice not to allow us to honor you more. The only fear we have is that we might need you again."
"I don't like the Army, General."
"Itís a job, Silent. Get past boot, and it becomes a relatively easy job. You're slated for OTS. Get through that and you don't have to worry about scrubbing a toilet ever again, unless it is in your house. Your relationship with your eventual wife is your business."
"Top Secret said that I was supposed to have time before OTS."
"It does not start immediately after boot. Yes, you will have some time. Where do you want to go?"
"I don't want to tell you where I am going. You should have an email address. I promise to check it."
Sergeant Andrews finally felt free to say something, "There are only a few more weeks left, Silent. I believe that you would be better off finishing."
"I don't believe that I have the mentality to finish, Sergeant. I cannot say that I will be a good soldier from here on out."
"You were never a good soldier, Silent. You are, however, a good soldier to have on a team. I have seen you work with the others. You have a level of control that few others could claim. If you leave, I fear having a whole company of poor soldiers."
The expression was not one of questioning the sergeant, but of questioning his own morals as the young man asked, "You want me to stay to see that the others make it?"
"Yes. You don't really pull your weight, Silent, and sometimes it pulls the company down. Your company however is not the worse, because I have also seen you enable others to more than pull their weight."
"I will agree that you have been having us work a lot as a unit, so my absence could hurt performance."
General Bethany interjected, "Your dedication to Colonel Terrell has been noted, Silent. There are a number that want you on their team. Stay in the program, and I can promise you a number of job options that you can choose between."
Silent ate his final slice of pizza, drained his mug of beer, then called the waitress to order another one. As he did this, both General Bethany and Sergeant Andrews saw his eyes turn to them as if waiting for a sign of impatience or disapproval with his actions. Both sipped their beers and tried to act unconcerned. Sipping his own beer, Silent stated his decision.
"My father is glad to have me in the military. He really was not happy with me wandering around the globe."
Sergeant Andrews said, "I have noticed that you have not received any more letters, so have been wondering."
"They will come now. Don't you think that my father will not know of this."
"Do you care?"
"Yes, I care." Silent drained his mug, then said, "Come on, men. I have to grovel at your feet for a few more weeks. I hope you enjoy it."
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market. †"Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.