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[A THEORY STORY] The youngsters

Started by Ron Edwards, December 01, 2005, 05:20:09 PM

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Ron Edwards

Third in a series. I don't know how many yet.

Some of them arrived on stretchers. Some were born here. Quite a few arrived through the Underground, passed like parcels from one grim-eyed, rat-eating survivor to another. They've grown up into a bright-eyed, eager bunch. They have ideas, some of them quite stunning - miles past what we did - and some of them empty-headed gas.

Let me tell you what it was like in the early days. Back then, we didn't even have foxholes or trenches, much less those supply lines and jeeps you see all over now. and didn't know much about surviving at all. The ones who'd held on for years, like Erick and Greg, they did it by collaborating, getting burned worse by that than anything else. That wasn't for me and others like me. We had to eat lizards, and if a twig snapped, you went down, rolled, and came up shooting. You'd approach a friend's camp in the bush, and find him lying there bullet-riddled - sometimes, even, hanging by his feet, stripped and mutilated. A bunch of us just plain starved on their own. Some of us, now, are so bonkers that they'll never come near the light again, more comfortable out there with their lizards, and only sometimes coming by for mail and maybe a cup of coffee. Every time Jeff shows up again, twitching, I'm amazed with the game he's bagged, but I won't be surprised on the day I realize he's probably not coming back at all.

We were so confused back then, we even thought the coffeeshop crowd knew what they were doing. Hell, some of us are out here because we listened to them back there! No one was more surprised than us to discover hardly anyone was out here when we arrived; that the coffeeshoppers had never even ventured near it. No one was more surprised than them to find their "edgy" speculations showing up in concrete, refined form. It threatened them pretty bad, actually. They're mostly still there, having the same old conversations.

But back to the new ones, the youngsters. They had to get their sores cleaned, their noses wiped, and taught how to shoot. I cleared this ground they trained on, helped invent the methods by which we can eat at all, and killed more of the enemy than I care to remember - including, painfully, a few who helped clear this space with me. These youngsters don't know anything about that at all. "Who's Ed?" they ask, looking at the marker I built by myself over the body. Never mind. By the time they showed up, we had clinics, classes, and even a few paved pathways. They don't really believe that the cadre of old guys used to be as fiercely combative among ourselves when we wrote that constitution, as they'd like to be now in negotiating minor points of law. They don't know how it came to be that I am treated as a leader.

Now, I see that some are setting up their own cluster of foxholes. They call us the "old guys" and look patronizingly at our worn equipment, the battered timbers shoring up the redoubts. Their new places have electric lights! Wonderful to be sure, but those power lines were set by us, and I knew the people whose bodies had to be buried alongside the wires. I also don't see a whole lot of actual fighting going on in the new foxholes.

That's all OK. Ben was the loudest of the bunch, and he recently returned, the only one to fight as well as talk. But we have yet to see him take a bullet and keep going. Luke remembers - I told him the day his bullet came that he'd look back on it and laugh. Maybe those days are over now, and no one has to, any more. I don't know.

Hell, maybe this old camp is almost out of date. Maybe the next round of youngsters can limp in on their own, or even walk in unwounded. They'll wonder what all the camp beds and bunsen burners are for, and we won't even mention the emergency stores of ammunition we buried next to each former outpost. Some of those are just parks now, and the ammo will stay buried forever. I don't think that day's come yet, though. I don't think they really grasp what the fighting was about; they only saw it when they were little and it still confuses them. It's still going on, too. My own foxhole's practically unassailable now, along with a few others. Still others aren't so lucky, or perhaps not so experienced and ruthless. I still get out there to help them, leaving some blood behind every so often.

I hope the youngsters never forget the enemy. Only a few want to be fighters, though, and I can't bring myself to make them if they don't want to. The ones who do, though, are wasting their time swaggering about like that. I hope the new Ronnies training helps.

Clinton R. Nixon

Listen to the old colonel talk. You come sit by the campfire sometime, and let the ell-tee tell you a story about how the colonel was when we found him up-river, talking to the shadows, whispering...

"The horror, the horror."

(Ron - I can't wait to see where this goes. I like the publishing one the best so far.)
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

Matt Snyder

Once again, I'm in the lost generation, the 'tweens, Generation X, stuck between the old guard and the new.

"God damn army."
-Sgt. Gorman, M*A*S*H*
Matt Snyder

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra


Quote from: Matt Snyder on December 01, 2005, 07:02:10 PM
Once again, I'm in the lost generation, the 'tweens, Generation X, stuck between the old guard and the new.

You brought me in.

I haven't forget that.


Me, I'm just a civilian, a refugee from another camp. It was a warm place and we felt safe there, talking about everything under the sun. But talk is all we ever did and perhaps that's why it's a dead and barren place today. I'm not the only refugee from there, though I haven't seen many. At least the old keeper of records has also made it to this camp.

I'll never be a fighter. I just want a warm place and something to eat. After years of near-starvation, I was convinced the hunger would never go away. The veterans have provided us with free shelter and hold out food to us, but I'm still shy of taking it. It looks like it's full of gristle and you'd have to gnaw real hard, though it would surely last you a long time. When the youngsters' dress up their stuff, though, it looks much better, as if it might go down smooth.

Yet, the only thing I've dared to eat so far was a meager looking thing, nailed by James out in the wilderness and hung out for all to see. It didn't look nourishing, but even though it's been weeks since I've tasted it, I can still feel it coursing through by blood, giving me strength and confidence I never even dreamed of.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I wonder about the grizzled old colonel and his grim looking guard of veterans. How many miles must they have walked? How much sweat and tears and blood have they spilled? And how much of their very life's blood, never to be retrieved, have they spent to make this place possible?

John Kim

Wow!  I have a feeling I must be a truly ancient old geezer, still coughing away about the Fudge design discussions of '93 and the Theatrix diceless wars of '94.  Back then we had to walk miles to get to the gaming table and back, with stone knives and bearskins... uphill both ways!!

- John

M. J. Young

Quote from: Ron Edwards on December 01, 2005, 05:20:09 PMThird in a series. I don't know how many yet.
Very well written. I'm curious, though--where are the first two?

--M. J. Young


Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14

Callan S.

Jesus, that's the most I've seen Ron open up.

"You don't know what it was like to be in the war (and still be in it)" - but I think the stories are hidden, tucked away in a dark corner and kept away from the public. Probably because their painful to retell unless to an understanding ear...which would be another veteran. But the other veterans already know all these stories.

As for talk and no fight, that's me for one. And I'm actually glad, looking back now. Glad I haven't cobbled something together from what I knew plus a few Forge twists, because a lot of what I knew was the very thing I'm pitted against. To use it is worse than taking a bullet, because that just kills you. Bullets don't get you closer to becoming your own damn enemy.

It's not enough, of course. Sure, your not becoming the enemy, but your not doing much to stop yourself and near and dear friends starving to death either.
Philosopher Gamer