by Connor Zimmerman ’20
“Vreeeeeeooooww…BOOM!” The dust stings my eyes as it falls from the ceiling above. Eyes that were once green have become perpetually red, but that is what happens when you’ve spent the last six years in a bunker. The bombs are a constant occurrence. They’ve become a white noise like crickets chirping in the hot summer nights. They just make it hard to hear, even if someone is a foot away and yelling down your eardrum. I get closer to try and pick up what the sergeant is saying, but he stops and looks directly at me.
“Did you hear what I said, soldier?”
“No sir, I didn’t.”
He grumbles something and says, “Well you already know the basics. Are you ready for the procedure?”
How does someone answer that? “Procedure” sounds so innocuous. Sounds like I am getting a cavity filled. But there really is no other answer except for, “Yes, sir.”
The sergeant looks at me once again and finally says, “How a scrawny guy like you is the next George Washington, I will never know.” I respond with silence because I do not know the answer. How could a nobody like me be the next host of Washington? But sometimes the hosts are the most random people. I heard the last host of Dwight Eisenhower was born from a prostitute.
The sergeant starts to walk away, and I follow. “Soldier, we are heading to the preparation room, where the doctor will tell you about the details of the procedure for the final time. Listen carefully because there is no going back.” I nod my head, trying to keep pace with my superior. The sergeant suddenly stops, and I run into him. I fall backwards, but he stands upright. He mumbles something under his breath, while I pick myself up and dust myself off. He punches a code into the keypad, and the doors swish open. With a final nod he walks away, and I am left standing at the open doors. Darkness stares back at me, daring me to enter. Trembling, I step forward.
As soon as I am in the room, the doors slam shut behind me and the lights turn on, blinding my eyes. When you live in darkness, your eyes never get used to light. Out of nowhere a surly voice says, “Mr. President, it is an honor. Well, it will soon be an honor.” My eyes slowly readjust to see a short man with a devilish smile in front of me. His blue eyes size me up like a butcher looking at a prize bull. He motions for me to sit on a medical table on the right side of the room. I follow his instructions and walk to the table, and as I look up, I notice a window facing us at the top of the room.
When I sit down, a machine drops from the ceiling and begins to scan me. The short man begins to speak, “My name is Dr. Smith, and I will be walking you through the Reincarnation Procedure today. As you know, you are a perfect match to be a host for the mind of George Washington.” A mechanical arm drops down from the ceiling and it sends a slithering tube down my ear. The doctor sees me wince, but he continues on, “Today we will be ridding you of your mind and replacing it with President Washington’s brain. You will be the key to ending this forever war that we are in.” The slithering tube exits from my nose, and it is covered in mucus and blood. The doctor grabs the tube from my lap and replaces it with a mountain of paper work. “If you will just sign off in the marked off places Mister…. well I guess it doesn’t matter who you used to be. Just sign the paperwork and we can begin with the procedure.”
The doctor leaves the room, but I know that I am not alone. There are people watching me on the other side of that window. Waiting for me to sign my life away, but can I? As I look at the paperwork, some of the phrases catch my eyes. Symptoms will include: Replacement of mind and personality…Loss of control over body…There is no way to reverse the effects of the procedure. I’ve always been told country first, no matter what. That a soldier is expendable…must be expendable in order to be a part of something greater than themselves. But how do I sign my life away? I don’t get to fight. I don’t get to go out on my terms. I joined the army to prove that I could help out my country. To prove that I was worth something. But they only see me as a shell, something to be used to hold their precious general.
I look up at the window and then back down at the papers. I throw the papers to the ground, and I shout at the invisible men, “I won’t do it. I won’t give up my life.” I pull a knife out of my boot and go to slit my throat.
“WHAM!” The doors suddenly slide open, and out of nowhere men tackle me to the ground. One knocks the knife out of my hand, and then I feel a searing pain in my right side. I look to see a tranq in me, and the light in the room fades away.
My eyelids struggle to fight off the assaulting light. It burns through them, and I begin to become conscious again. I go to cover my eyes with my hand, but I cannot move my hand. I look to my side, and I see that it is strapped down on a table. I struggle to move every single muscle in my body, but nothing gives. Suddenly, I hear that surly voice again. “Did you really think you had a choice soldier? You are nothing but a tool for us to use as we see fit. Start the procedure.”
A machine jets down from the ceiling, and all I can do is scream. The pain drowns out every other feeling in my body. Happiness, sadness, frustration, any emotion I had ever felt combined is nothing compared to what I feel now. The light slowly starts to fade from blinding to dim until the darkness envelops me once again.
The machine goes back up into the ceiling and Dr. Smith walks over to the motionless body. He shines a light in its pupils and then says, “Mr. President, are you with us?” A smile creeps across the mouth of the body.