Just fooling around. This is fragment of an short story idea that I’ve been thinking a lot about these days.
A Short Story Fragment by Shelt Garner
Sargent George Hillman liked to consider himself a brave man. But his courage was being tested by the bouncing up and down of the small plane he and his battle buddy Corporal Jack Apler were now in. They were on their way to meet one of many American warlords that controlled various parts of post-civil war America’s landscape.
“How you doing there, chief,” Corp. Apler said.
Hillman said nothing, but kept looking out the plane’s window as the ground began to slowly grow closer to them.
The one they were going to visit, a man who called himself Ender after the Orson Scott Card character, was rumored to be more adept than most of the near criminals that populated most of the now hopelessly balkanized United States.
Finally, the prop plane landed at Danville Regional Airport in southern Virginia. They got out of the plane, got their stuff and hopped into a waiting Jeep. Their driver was an attractive woman under the control of Ender. Hillman was take aback, in fact, at how beautiful she was. Her long blonde hair sparkled in the early morning sun.
“Ender is really looking forward to talking to you guys,” she said. “It’s a big deal for EU representatives to come all the way out to these parts.”
He and Corp. Apler exchanged knowing looks.
“Yeah. We’ve heard interesting things about Ender, too. We hear he’s been working with the Koreans in some capacity? That they’re helping to train some of Ender’s forces?”
“Indeed. It probably seems really weird to an outsider, but there’s a pretty ready explanation — Ender lived in Seoul for a few years. Funny how the smallest thing can have huge implications when you least expect it. Have you brought any kind of gift for Ender? He’s going to be expecting one.”
This came as a surprise to Hillman.
“What kind of gift are we talking about?” Hillman said.
While in real terms, the trek to Ender was only about 20 miles, on a practical level there were so many barricades and road blocks that it felt like they were being stopped every 10 minutes. The civil war that abruptly fell the most powerful nation in the world was severe and swift. The contested 2024 election was just too much for the United States’ political system to handle.
Soon enough, Blue States left the Union. WMD were seized and used by both sides to the point that the once great United States was now nothing more than a patch work of little fiefdoms. What made Ender’s fiefdom different was how well is was run and the amount of military advisors it had been able to attract. There was a real possibility that Ender would make a significant play at bringing order to much of Virginia and neighboring North Carolina in the coming days.
Danville itself was largely abandoned. Once the home to some 30,000 souls, the small city was now nothing more than a large town. Like much of the United States at the moment, electricity was non existent. Ender’s driver parked their Jeep in front of what was once a CVS and pointed.
Hillman and his battle buddy got out and walked inside the CVS. It was just as ravaged as they expected. They went back to the pharmacy area to look for the “gift” that Ender demanded — anti-psychotic medication.
“Well, who would have thought Ender was nuts,” Corp. Apler said.
“So what. He gets the job done, doesn’t he? That’s all that matters.”
The two men continued to talk as they rummaged through the remains of American civilization.
“How did the United States get in such state?” Corp. Apler said.
“Well, good question. A lot of things happened at the same time. A lot of people tried to warn about the possibility of civil war in the United States in the years leading up to the event, but they were called ‘hysterical.’
After about 20 minutes of searching, they finally found the purple pills they wee looking for.
There was one last roadblock before they read Ender’s HQ. The guard of the checkpoint looked over their papers. “From the EU, are we. Pretty far away from these parts. Though, not as far as the Koreans. Do you have a gift for Ender?”
Hillman dangled a pill bottle.
“Cool,” the guard said.
They were waved through. The first thing they noticed as they got closer to Ender’s camp was the lights were on. The lone stoplight in town worked, which in itself was a big deal.
After a few more minutes of driving they were soon on the campus of the former military academy that served as Ender’s base. The campus was full of people — many of them Koreans in uniform. They came to the front of the school and said goodbye to their driver.
They were met by another attractive young women. She was very formal and official in her demeanor. “It’s so nice to meet to the two of you. You’re arrival is the talk of the base.”
Her nametag read, “Lt. Shapiro.”
“Come with me, Ender is waiting.”
They walked a short distance to the entrance of a fall out shelter. Once they got past one last guard, they were soon walking down a short flight of concrete stairs. A huge, heavy wooden door creaked after a bit of effort.
They walked down a short hallway and turned a corner. What they saw amazed them. There was a huge room full of people doing what could only be described as partying. A group of people were eating and drinking Korean food, seated on the floor in front of a long table.
In the background others were singing karaoke.
They saw an open door nearby and figured that was were Ender was. They walked in and saw several rows of tables with young women looking intensely at computer screens. All of this was too much for Sargent Hillman and Corporal Apler to process.
At the very back of the room was a large desk with two computer monitors. A cat was sleeping soundly between them. As they grew closer to the desk, they realized there was a futon behind it with a man sleeping on it. They looked down on him and he opened one eye.
He finally shot up and greeted them warmly. He was a middle aged man with graying hair.
This is guy is Ender? Hillman thought.
Ender was now seated at his desk. He took the pills.
“Well, great to see you guys. Ready to bring back America?”