"Myocardial infarction" says the Military Coroner in a droll, accepting tone. The 45 year old platoon Sergeant who died suddenly behind the latrines is lain unceremoniously on a stainless steel autopsy table, chest exposed, eyes still open. "Can't explain it really," he continues, "he was pretty fit, good weight. Nothing in the toxicology. Just one of those things. Shit happens." The young private standing behind him has a wry smile on her face, "Yep, when yer number's up . . .yer number's up. It'll piss his family off that he died from a heart attack, should've been a roadside bomb."
They stand to attention as pallbearers carry another son bagged and boxed, draped in the US flag, onto the Hercules. The solemnity of the occasion not lost by his men. They've seen too many fallen comrades packed in boxes or sent home in bits. This time their Platoon Sergeant will make the one-way trip. But this time there are no tears from one corner of the parade ground. Five soldiers stand erect, eyes forward, po-faced, yet with a twinkle in their eyes.
Belinda Jameson has presented to his office to deliver a message as she has hundreds of times before. The shapely blonde with the cold blue stare is always 'the one'. He undresses her with his eyes before she's had a chance to stand at ease. "Take a seat Jameson," he coos, oozing behind the chair that she now sits stiffly upon. His nose nudges her neck and smells her unwashed hair. She's long forgone hygiene in the hope he will desist but it turns him on, the unadulterated scent of a woman. His tongue caresses the edge of her perfect ear, his stale breath forces her to wince. She cocks her head, chin against her collar in revulsion but she's been through this before. His clammy hands slide down the front of her shirt before he takes her - invariably bent over his desk. It seems that eye contact is his weakness, he prefers his conquests to face away or gaze mindlessly into space.
Ruth Gonzalez has learned compliance. She's been through the drill before. She stares at the ceiling of his quarters while he grunts. No foreplay, no love-making. This is an act of violence and control but she knows the cost of resisting. Her last efforts to expose abuse ended up in her transfer and demotion. Her treason brought her here to another abuser. Once again succumbing to the lust of an ugly man. She lies back and thinks of home and the husband who waits. Perhaps he doesn't. He won't want her after this, she thinks. Perhaps he will. Perhaps he'll never know. The thought of losing the man she loves brings bile to her throat as much as does the animal on top of her.
Gayle Fielding is a 'dyke' or so the men label her. She's not. She's a Lesbian, a subtle difference but she's proud of it. She misses the warm touch of a lover, one left long behind. Misogynistic comrades leave her body alone but the harassment is never-ending. They tease her to distraction. She's sworn at, spat at and called a raging homo. She's told to sprint in full battle dress for the slightest misdemeanor. Her food tray knocked from the mess hall table with overt aggression. Lewd and lascivious comments made about Menage a Trois, and she's nick-named 'Fruit Fly'.
Most scorned of all is Angelique Borlios. She loved him once. She thought he loved her until she found him once again, behind the latrines fondling a new recruit. Now when she reluctantly slides her hand down his pants, she's ordered to make him feel good or drop rank. There's no more warmth in his voice. She's just a vessel like the others. Tears of loss and love long dried up as she drops to her knees and serve his needs. She wants to bite the end off his dick but she knows as one of only 5 women in a company of 60 men, to do so would be military suicide. She's a career soldier and dreams of better times. No-one would believe her should she fess up and take him to task.
Reluctant whores to the same perverted man, they offload in the privacy of their bunks. The women talk to each other, their tales unravel like a loosely threaded sweater, their dignity and values forming a pile of unruly threads, a dishevelled mass waiting to be untangled. All prisoners in an open cell, peas in a horrible pod. "We've gotta do something about this," Angelique speaks up. She's suffered, legs spread, a compliant pawn in this sexual game and she's had enough. "It's time we got our own back. We're soldiers for fuck's sake not whores!"
Belinda pipes, "He's good for fragging!" While the old military term generally refers to death via a carefully placed fragmentation grenade, these women have other ideas. Each is furious. They feel the ringing in their ears that high blood pressure causes. Palpitations pulse within their chests. The collective fury rises with cold heat from belly to brow. "I'm serious," Belinda repeats, "We've gotta get rid of him."
The silence is heavy but all have that look, that glance of acknowledgment. Yes, their antagonist has to go. Five of them serve, four of them have been violated and branded easy game. Time for it to end. But the ending must be subtle, undetectable, quick and most importantly, must not implicate them.
All eyes now turn to Gayle, "What?" The fact that she's a Medic momentarily escapes her. She also has access to the base pharma stash including powerful painkillers, antibiotics, stimulants and . . . "Sux," pipes Angelique. "We need it. You can get it."
"Oh no . . Oh no . . " Gayle's shaking her head and raising her palm in a 'talk to the hand' gesture. "I have to sign for everything, there's no way . . " Angelique moves towards her bunk and kneels pleading, "Gayle, you're the only one. We can seduce him into a corner but we need that stuff to knock him cold. I want him paralysed, I want him dead! We want him dead!"
Gayle knows it would work, she's used the powerful anaesthetic Succynylcholine before during emergency intubation and it's fast, almost untraceable after 24 hours. It'll paralyse him alright but getting the stuff out isn't going to be easy. She's rarely in the clinic alone and worries about how to sneak a vial of the deadly potion without being detected. Drugs are counted and catalogued. "I dunno Ange, I just dunno. Let me think about it. I need to work out how to get the shit out without anyone knowing." Lights out is called and the conversation left, but each have made an unspoken pact. Fielding will get the drug, Angelique will set up the entrapment. Victims will become killers.
The ward is quiet and she's on duty. It's late in the afternoon, 'observations' have been completed, surgery's over and apart from two others cruising the makeshift ward, she's alone. She takes an ampule of normal saline in her left hand. These vials are harmless and plentiful, never counted as are the drugs. She calls over another nurse, "Steve!"He ambles to her side. "Just check this amp of Sux for me?" The procedure is normal and Steve looks over her shoulder as she holds the vial. She palms an ampule of normal saline in her left hand. He's asked to check the amp of Succynylcholine from the drug cupboard, destined for a soldier with renal colic. She holds the amp of saline, now mistaken for Sux, between her thumb and index finder of her left hand and cracks it open. The drawing syringe in her right. "Just check the register for the date and dose for me?" He complies with the deliberate distraction. She draws the saline from the amp, then palms the deadly drug. She's already dropped a sharp in her pocket. The dose confirmed, some hapless writhing soldier receives a shot of salt.
"Just a little prick," she whispers almost smiling at the double entendre as he momentarily lifts his gaze and finally, after all this time makes eye contact. "What?" No answer ensues. Gonzalez forces the syringe into his carotid artery and he feels the cold sting as fluid courses through his system, but not for long. It's effect is rapid.
Nicotinic receptors spasm and every muscle ceases to function. It's seconds and the stinging site, stings no more. He crumples right before her eyes, bent grotesquely backwards, knees folded underneath his torso, eyes open but unseeing. The five of them approach and poke and prod, they need to be sure he's dead. The coven of conspirators. He's done. They're free . . . for now.
Posted for the Tenth Daughter of Memory - Five Soldiers, Four Whores, Three Lovers and Two Killers