Home > Writing > THESE DEAD LANDS: DESOLATION–Even The Retard Has A SAW


The things people need to talk about when they’re standing on death row!

“Hey, Ballantine.”

He turned and found Lieutenant Robinson walking up on his position. Ballantine lowered his field glasses and faced her with a salute that she perfunctorily returned.

“What’s happening, LT?” he asked.

“Nothing. Which is all good by me. What do you think?”

“Hey, the less shooting we have to do, the better.”

Robinson nodded toward the head of the column. “Your fam. They all right?”

“Last I checked, everyone was good to go.”

Robinson looked out across the field. “Gotta be some shit, right? Your family right here, in the middle of all of this?”

Ballantine nodded. “Yeah, well. It is what it is. I’m grateful they’re where I can check on them.”

“Yeah. My people are all down south, in the Carolinas.”

“Well, that’s Third Infantry territory. Hard chargers, those bastards. I’m sure your relations are good to go, LT.”

“We’ll see about that,” Robinson replied. “I don’t mean nothing by this. I just wanted to tell you, I get what it is seeing your people so danger close. It’s gotta be tough.”

“It is. But again… it is what it is.” Ballantine raised his field glasses to his eyes again. “I look at it this way. I do my job now, they’ll be good.”

“So you’re telling me to stop gabbing with you?”

“Not at all, LT. You’re in charge here.”

Robinson fell silent for a moment as she considered that. Then: “You notice anything peculiar about the reekers that attacked us out of Chicago?”

Ballantine considered that for a minute as he continued to surveil the field. “Um… they were all dead?”

“They were mostly all white,” Robinson said.

Ballantine considered what she’d said for a moment. “Not sure what to make of that, LT. You have a point you’re trying to make?”

“White people in Chicago depended on the local government to protect them. You know, urbanites in the city. Not so many guns to go around, right? But in the south side, where the blacks were? They had weapons. Maybe not entirely legal or anything, but they had the means. The means to defend themselves.”

“Okay,” Ballantine said. He didn’t know what the woman beside him was getting at. So the reekers were white? They were still dead as doornails.

“Taking away firearms is one of the things that’s going to count against us moving forward,” Robinson said. “It’s uncomfortable for us to have armed civilians in the column, but they need to be able to defend themselves.”

“I think that’s a great idea,” Ballantine replied.

“But what if the guy or girl holding a rifle was a gangbanger or a drug distributor?” Robinson asked. “To be more direct, black folks generally occupy a lower rung on the ladder of society… so they have to keep weapons illegally, while the white folks up in Chicago itself depended on the police to protect them. They got the wrong end of the deal. You agree?”

“LT, is this an important discussion to have right now?”

“Maybe not. But in the future? Yeah, it’s going to deserve some merit. Right?”

“Right on that,” Ballantine said. “Everyone needs to be able to defend themselves, no matter what. Like they said, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

“A lot of the civilians with us aren’t armed. I’m going to make the case to Captain Bellara that that needs to change. If I need you, are you with me?”

“All of my people are armed,” Ballantine said. “Anyone who’s an adult has a weapon. I’d imagine that should be the same all up and down the line. What if someone gets separated from the column? They’ll need to be able to fight their way back to us. Right?”

“Right,” Robinson said, but there was surprise in her voice. “You don’t have any issues with, say, a black man being issued a rifle?”

Ballantine snorted. “Ma’am, in the very same MRAP where my wife and kids sit, a crazy Asian stripper’s slinging a short-barreled rifle. Trust me, I have no problem with saner people gaining access to firearms.” He pointed down the column’s length quickly. “And about a hundred meters downrange, one of the stupidest soldiers I’ve ever known has access to a SAW. He’s black, but that’s not the consideration here. The fact that the rest of the troops in my unit consider him to be mentally challenged at best is the real concern—I mean, we gave a mentally deficient soldier control of a weapon that can cut down twenty people per second. That has to mean something. Right?”

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