A Soldier’s Regret

By Faded


“He wasn’t always like this,” exclaimed a blonde woman to the crowd of people. “In fact he was always so joyful... he just never seemed to have a care in the world.” The crowd wept to themselves as she continued on for several minutes about this mysterious man. It was Arlington Cemetery on a brisk February morning. “What led him to insanity baffles us all, but we will not look at his life in a negative manner. We will carry on his legacy as a soldier; a hero who fought to protect his country.” she paused and after several brief seconds, “I know I will... he was my brother.” The funeral director stepped up to his pedestal and closed the funeral as his coffin was slowly lowered into a hole fitting for a soldier. It was Arlington Cemetery on a brisk February morning. Derek had been laid to rest.

Chapter 1: Plane Ride

“He is a stern young lad, he’ll do fine in boot camp honey,” Frank said as he held his wife Maria tight in his arms.

“Derek’s only 18 years old though, I still don’t see why he needed to enlist in the military. It... it just changes people in so many ways!” Maria exclaimed to her husband of 20 years.

“He’s becoming a man, the military will teach him discipline and responsibility,” Frank argued.

“Mom... Dad... I’ll be fine, if you both can remember correctly; I was in the JROTC program all throughout Junior High and Senior High. I know how boot camp works and I’ll be home for Thanksgiving,” Derek chimed in as his mother and father argued with one another.

“Oh honey!” Maria tearfully said as he held her baby boy one last time before he walked through the airport gates to depart to his destination. “Promise me that you will write to us everyday.”

“I promise mom, I promise.” Derek reassured her.

As Derek loosened his embrace from his mother, he kissed her forehead as a loud click came over the loudspeaker announcing the plane’s soon-to-be departure. “That’s my plane, I will call both of you when I get to the airport.” Derek picked up his bags and descended the stairs to the boarding gate and flashed his enrollment papers at the flight attendant and disappeared into the plane. As Derek sat in his seat, it was almost like he had a change of heart. He started to feel homesick already. He reassured himself that it was going to be like high school. He wouldn’t be drafted to go fight for his freedom in the war on terrorism, there’d be no possible way.

“First time is always hard, don’t be so nervous kid!” A mysterious voice from beside him told him.

“Who are you? Are you going to Fort Knox as well?” Derek questioned.

“The name is Joe, but you can call me Joey. This is my first time going to Fort Knox; however, I have been to other military bases for boot camp training. They said I wasn’t fit physically for their training regiments so they had me come back home for a few days to later catch this plane to Fort Knox. So what’s wrong with you?”

“I don’t know, I guess I’m just worried about going to a new place. I’ve wanted to be in the military ever since I was a kid seeing as my father was in the military during Vietnam, but I’m just afraid that I will get deployed.” Derek nervously said as the plane started to move.

“Well, there is no turning back now. I’ve had the same thoughts run through my mind. It’s just pre-boot camp jitters man.”

As the plane descended hundreds of miles into the bright blue sky, Derek and Joe continued to talk with one another about their past experiences in high school and what boot camp would be like. Joe kept reassuring Derek that the instructors would be respectful to him and that if he were to be drafted, Joe would be to. Minutes turned into hours as the two continued to talk when a click came over the intercom system in the plane.

“Attention passengers, we are going to landing in a few minutes at Fort Knox. Please prepare for turbulence and wait to use the bathroom until we land. Thank you for flying American Airlines.” the co-pilot announced.

“Well, we’ll be there in a few minutes. I’m glad I met someone like you Joey, you really helped me get over my jitters.”

“No problem and hell, maybe we’ll be bunkmates so you can come to me with any wandering questions if you have them.”

About that time, the plane started to fiercely shake back and forth due to reentry as its wheels had started to descend from its resting place.

As the passengers started to walk off the plane in a single-file line, Derek stood behind Joe with his luggage and prepared his enrollment papers and his cell phone to call his parents. For once in his life, Derek didn’t feel as nervous as he did upon leaving the airport for the first time.

“Hello mom?” Derek started off their phone conversation.

“Honey, it’s Derek, come quick! How was your plane ride sweetheart? Were you scared? Were you nervous? Are you homesick yet? Can you change your mind and please come home?” his mother quickly asked anxiously.

“Mom.. one question at a time please. The plane ride was nerve-wracking until I met a friend who had the same issues the first time he went to boot camp. His name is Joe and he helped me overcome the fears I had. I was scared and nervous. I’m already here so I can’t come home seeing as my ticket was only valid for one way until we get to go home in November. I’m coming up on the base right now so I will call you tonight seeing as Joe told me that our drill instructor will be respectful of us as long as we treat him with respect. I love you and Dad both and I miss you guys. Don’t worry, I’ll be home before you know it!” Derek answered.

“Bye sweetheart, we love you with all of our hearts!” his mother said before their phone conversation came to an end. Derek let out a big sigh and walked through the gate to his new home for 5 months. It was a murky day in June and Derek’s heart started to feel heavy. As he walked past the gate, he checked his surroundings and opened the door to Fort Knox with fear hoping that he had made the right decision. He was only 18 years old.

Chapter 2: Day 1

“Welcome to Fort Knox men, my name is Ken Lavene but you maggots will refer to me as Sir or Lieutenant Lavene! Who here has fired a rifle in their life?”

Derek nervously raised his hand as he stood in attention hoping to see Joe out of the corner of his eye. He desperately wanted to open his mouth but refrained from doing so.

“You’ve fired a rifle before maggot?” Lieutenant Lavene asked Derek.

“Y-y-yes sir?” Derek nervously said quietly.

“Good god runt, what in the hell is wrong with you? Sound off like you’ve got a fucking pair instead of what you just did! Try again!” Lavene disrespectfully exclaimed to Derek. Derek looked down at his feet for a second hoping that Joe would help him get out of this one instead of making himself feel like a fool. “Did you fucking hear me?! I said sound off like you’ve got a pair” Lavene yelled.

“Yes sir.” Derek said as he peered up at Lieutenant Lavene with a scared look.

“Good enough. As for the rest of you maggots, here at Fort Knox; you will be learning the ins and outs of military life. I am stern but I am fair when it comes to my decisions. You will be learning how to peg targets like Charles Whitman and you’ll be working out so much that you’d put fucking bodybuilders in shame!” the Lieutenant started to explain to the rest of his recruits. “If you came here thinking this was going to be just like high school, then I have one thing to say...” he paused for a brief second before yelling, “you are dead wrong! I have been doing this since the Vietnam War and I will change all of you so that you may one day serve in our great military overseas using highly sophisticated weaponry eliminating any and all threats!”

As the drill instructor continued to go through his explanation, Derek felt a sneeze brewing in his sinuses that he tried to prevent. Derek tried to assure himself that he wouldn’t sneeze.

“Ahchoo!” Derek sneezed.?? “Who the fuck did that! Who interrupted me while I was speaking?” the Lieutenant screamed at the top of his lungs. No one responded back at him as Derek tried to play it off like it was nothing. “No one wants to fess up then huh? Alright maggots, until someone decides to man up, you all are going to run a few laps up and down the base. As a matter of fact, each lap only counts when you reach one mile, four times up and down the base. You all will have to do ten laps. Is that underst---?!” Lavene was interrupted.

“Sir, it was me that sneezed, sir!” Joe exclaimed. Derek looked up with a worried look on his face and saw Joe standing two people from the middle of the row in front of him.

“Well well, I know eventually someone would break... what is your name maggot?” he asked Joe trying to make a sarcastic joke out of the situation.

“Sir, my name is Joe Ovemills, sir!” Joe shouted as he stood up for Derek.

“Well then Joe, you could have held your fucking sneeze in until I was finished or you could have asked for my permission to sneeze. Looks like someone is going to need to learn some manners. Come over here!” the Lieutenant humilated Joe. Joe ran over to his drill instructor with quick speed looking over at Derek and giving a quick grin at Derek as passed him. “Get on your knees maggot!” Joe hesitated for a second as he knew what was about to happen to him and got on his knees. “This is for interrupting my instruction!” he yelled at Joe as he threw two fingers up Joe’s nose and threw his face straight to the ground with great force. “Maybe that’ll teach you to be respectful, now are you going to interrupt my instruction again maggot?”

“Sir, no, sir!” Joe yelled in pain as he tried to collect himself from being thrown face first into the concrete.

“Good, I didn’t think so.” Lieutenant Levane said confidently as if he was almost proud of what he did. “Tomorrow at 0400, you will start your first set of training. Tomorrow we will be assigning jobs after your training regiment for each of you maggots. I am an old fashioned drill instructor so I will not permit the use of cell phones at the base. You will not be allowed to leave the base without my permission and you will be thoroughly searched. My rules may be strict, but all of you will be molded in outstanding men. Men of war, men who are not afraid to kill anything that moves, men who would die fighting for their country! Now choose your beds and prepare for curfew. It’s lights out in 5!” Lieutenant Levane said to his recruits as he started to lighten up a bit. Derek walked over to Joe when they were dismissed to choose their bunks.

“Y’know... you didn’t have to do that Joey?” Derek whispered to Joey.?? “I know I did but you are my friend after all, I’m used to it as I’ve fucked up quite a bit in my time at each base I’ve been at.” Joey assured to Derek with sincerity in his voice. They walked over to the last two available bunks in the room and opened their storage lockers to discard their possessions. Derek started to regret his decision when Joey patted him on the back and said to him, “don’t worry kid, it’s just your first night. Fort Knox is definitely different but I’m gonna be here. You’re going to need a friend right about now otherwise you’ll end up losing your sanity and go AWOL.”

“Good, all of you have found your bunks, lights out maggots! 0400 is going to be hell for all of you!” echoed Lieutenant Lavene as he shut the lights out. The light flickered for a brief moment and a crackling noise came from the wiring of the base as the room quickly filled into nothingness. For the first time in his life, Derek wanted to cry.

Chapter 3: 0400 Hours

The loud trumpets sounded like soldiers going to war as the first of training drew closer and closer. Derek hadn’t slept so well throughout the night and felt exhausted from yesterday’s debacle with Lieutenant Levane. As Derek laid in his bunk, he stared up at the ceiling wishing to be at home again. He wanted his mother to wake up and start breakfast for the family. He wanted to smell the warm aroma of pancakes and sausage being cooked off in that iron-cast skillet. He wanted to wake up to a wholesome breakfast and go to the mall with his friends and his sister Jennifer like they did every weekend. Suddenly, Derek was snapped out of his daydream as the door slammed open like the bang of a drum with such great force.

“Rise and shine maggots, 0355 hours! You’ve got 5 minutes to dress in yourselves and meet me at the statue out front!” shouted the Lieutenant as he briefly walked in and snapped the lights on. As all of the recruits jumped out of their bunks and started to make their beds, the sounds from their feet echoed the room intensely.

This is what I have so far in a book I would like to work on and improve. It's been roughly 2 years since I have last written anything in the genre of fiction so I'm a bit shaky on certain things. You guys, don't be afraid to point out even the most minor flaws. I want to improve on this and make this into a novel of sorts seeing as there is currently only 5 pages written so far. This is where I'm at right now in Pages so it does end abruptly!