Grease and Guile - Chapter 1: Names

  • I thought they wouldn’t know what to do with me in the army. 

    I passed all of their required entrance tests, both physical and mental. But shortly after surviving basic, I was ordered to report to some suit. Apparently something I had done warranted a special sit-down.

    At ease Private,” ordered the suit. “Do you know why we’ve called you in here today?”

    I had the same uneasy feeling wash over me that I’d get for being pulled over while speeding.

    No sir.” 

    Your Sargent brought this to our attention.” He produced what most reasonable people would describe as an alarm clock mating a mini-footlocker. 

    Care to explain,” he continued.

    I uh…well sir…” the suit let me stammer on for a while, explaining how I’d scavenged and crafted the homemade bomb. 

    For as long as I can remember, it had been this way. I’d drift off for hours in my parent’s garage producing all manner of mechanical mischief. I was always better with parts than people. Socially, I would downplay my intelligence to try to fit in. But inevitably it would flow out of me in the form of some oddity. The suit cracked a smile and interrupted my inept explanation.

    It’s ok private. Relax. You’re not in trouble. I’m here because you have talent. And we don’t overlook talent like this.”

    I shifted, not knowing how to handle this interaction.

    I hear the guys have taken to calling you Gearhead?” He continued.

    Yes Sir,” I replied.

    Well get used to it. That’s your call sign in our special division. Follow me.”

    And with that my life in the Army went from pre-determined to expansive opportunity. I was given free reign within the Forward Reconnaissance division to invent and improve whatever was at hand. Because I was embedded with infantry, I made and modified weapons out of whatever we could get our hands on. Guys would bring me busted armor and twisted tools and I would produce lifesaving creations. 

    Little did I know how critical these skills would eventually become.

    In the Wasteland, everything is salvaged, scrapped, repurposed, and reinvented. Even my go-to rifle, affectionally called "Salvation Express" is essentially a barreled steam engine I rigged to shoot rail spikes. Now when I come across lunch boxes and baseballs, nostalgic childhood memories are nowhere to be found. I clean them up and craft mines. From toys to tools. 

    Hey guys! Look – it’s Nate the Nerd!

    A group of kids from my school spotted me walking though the park next to my childhood home. I had been dumpster diving behind the park maintenance shed, salvaging some steel for a project. 

    “What are you doing with that? Trash picker!” The taunting continued and I scurried home, unwilling to engage the idiots.

    And as far as I can tell, there’s no reason to use my real name here. The few people I have to interact with in the wasteland can call me Gearhead for all I care.

    The guy that existed before all of this is long gone.

    And at least this name means something.



2 Comments   |   Sotek likes this.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  January 8, 2017
    A nice beginning with a fair bit of Gearhead's personality mixed with some background. It's nice to see some more fallout writing here Motty; keep it up.
    • Mottyskills
      A nice beginning with a fair bit of Gearhead's personality mixed with some background. It's nice to see some more fallout writing here Motty; keep it up.
        ·  January 8, 2017
      Thanks boss! Not the epic long novellas normally seen around these parts, but expanding the character to text has enhanced my enjoyment of the game...and I suppose that's the point.