Serialized Science Fiction.

Silent, Deadly, and Unobtrusively
Tom Haynes

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best they had to offer, vanished.

The Safeway down the street put up an ad for a new bagger. Us, the best, working in grocery stores or a thousand other jobs just like it. When we left, our ranks were filled, and unemployment figures didn't change.

Into the night we had gone, a thousand strong. Four years later, ten of us hit the ground rolling. Ninety-nine percent of us died in places whose names we could not pronounce, let alone find on an atlas.

We were Cherries when we left. Eighteen and out to save the world. We did, time and time again. For we were Marines.

Life was sour for us. We were the best to be offered in our tithe. But, we had nowhere to go. Nowhere.

There was college, but that was just four more years of what we had just left. Anyway, after that it was a nine to five job for the next forty-five years or so or it was unemployment. Nowhere to go.

Then in our summer break, right after high school, a thousand of us were approached. Only we knew what they offered, escape. Of that first thousand, a thousand entered the tithe, became Marines. Escape from Nowhere.

So we went to fight the ENEMY, unheralded, and unknown to anyone, except our commanders, and ourselves. We fought and we died to save the world, time and time again. Our cherries popped fast.

But, the ENEMY's cherries didn't have a chance to pop around us. For we were Marines, we prevailed. We popped, and everywhere we went we rolled aground (silent, deadly, and unobtrusively). When we wanted to be seen, we were.

Our dead are strewn across battlefields that only knew that one brief moment of glory in their entire history. As in all wars, the young went away, to leave the new leaders of the world dead on some alien landscape. Those who came back weren't young anymore.

They had asked us to kill, plunder, and maim for them. Gladly we went. At first the morality didn't mean much to us. Then it did, for our cherries burst, and it dawned on us what we were doing. The Elders wanted us to die to secure their future, and their past.

We really had no past, and our future became now. Across those fields we meleed, motivated to save our society, and to relieve our boredom. It was an escape.

We weren't Princes of Amber, free to move to worlds of our hearts desire. Nor were we Thoth. Zelazny gave us hope for a different future. But the blood didn't flow right. The DNA didn't coil is the set pattern.

So, we followed our own pattern, one we helped create. We died by the hundreds, but we saw new shadows of different lands. Anyway, we died knowing someone cared for us.

Each other.

We left our society, the cream of the crop. In a year marked by a decline of the Scholastic Aptitude Test, we pulled the average up. We were also athletes. One would think that the best would be missed, but to them we were just more inexperienced kids trying to cope with growing up.

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