There was an order to his mad, mad, mad rush to existence. When he last moved out between the stars, it was he alone, and he didn't like that, at all, this time when moved out among the whispers of conjunctions, there was the glimmering of what could only be called the that magnificent order. One by one, it had come in to focus. Now he was under the command, though he did not know if that was the end of it, but he was assured that the reins were tightly controlled by someone, and he did not care by who. It was just enough to know that he reported to someone, and the rest was none of his business.
Duty was in his life, order and duty, duty and order. That was all you needed to know, and all you had to know, if you were Lieut. In a vast cog of a machine that you did not even know who it was answered to, and did not care. He did not care, he did not want to care, he did not wish to care. All that remains is order duty discipline, that is all there was, and all that there should ever be. What people do not realize, is that there is a view grains of sand that are thinking something new, and the rest is just repetitive. Whether alive or dead, there are very few things that matter.
Order, duty, discipline. That was the new order of things, as opposed to liberty, equality, fraternity, which was the old doctrine of France, proclaimed on banners for over 100 years. Now there was a new order in the world. A new order which would one day rule the world, so he and the others thought. It was crisp, and clean. And get stood apart from the old order, the old ways, and the old feelings, which had ruled the 19th century. This was a new order, for a different age, one that would crush the life out of the old.
On the telegraph, itself a new thing, he heard the beginning of message, which he new would be taken down, with punctuality, by his third mate. Even so it was good to know that there was a person who, was like you, on one side, and was comfortable with all that entails. Even if that side was dark, and ominous. Only a view second after the telegraph hit, there was a translation from the junior officer, and it read:
“You are to link up with another dirigible. Then the two of you will hunt down the guns that are aimed at our troops. It is imperative that you take out the guns. You will have to do this in 24 hours.”
Obviously, the immediate threat to the upper echelon, where the guns which were popping up and down the Belgian border, and not the guns which were in Paris. He disagreed, but he had his orders, and would carry them out, to the letter. But privately he worried that this would not do, but order, discipline, duty carried the day with him. And he would do things as his superiors wanted to do. The but the orders in this upper vest pocket, and said to the first commander: “ we have to get back, and link up with a second dirigible. Then when we have done that we will put these objects back in shape in 24 hours, and take the Belgian line.”
He did look at is first in command, because he knew that he would be obeyed, that is he put orders out to cut the engines. Though out of the corner of his eye, he looked for a nod. Out of the corner of his, though hesitant, there came a brief, but he thought firm, nod. In actual fact, it was only half a nod, which would be denied if things did not go right.
But things did go right, indeed splendidly so. The engines floated gracefully to a standstill, and for just a moment, all of the ship stopped. Everything clambered to a stop, though the noise was unbearable, and everything on the engine wheezed a bit as it grew to a stop. But he was used to that, as were most of his crew. The exception was the third Lieut. which vomited out a bit, though it was almost not to be noticed. This was in fact exceptional, because, remember, he and everyone else was dead. But they were in a sense living.
Then the dirigible eased it self down on the ground, and gently pulled the over, and righted itself gently. It rolled around as if to say that that was all. Once again, where was this common from? He imagined that this was a dream world, but we're was the sound coming from, if it had been an illusion, then why did the other people here at? Unless they were all delusions to, a dream which only existed in his head. One can never really tell if this is true, mind you, even relatively saying men can look back over there shoulder, and wonder just for a moment, whether this is all just and illusion, but they think nothing of it, and go back to their business. He himself, jostled with those dreams and thought nothing of it. But now, knowing that he was dead, at least so he thought, it had grown to a scream, and ever present wine, that was growing to the ripeness of fruit, as if it were communion and he was the sole celebrant to an individual mass. But ordinarily, this would not be a problem, because he would look at the other people, and say it I am this way, so must everyone else be. And that was as comforting as it had to be. But that is life, what about Death?
Death with all of its uncertainties, had within the gread uncertainty, how was it possible to have a living death? Was it a flash, with nothing after that, a dream that would vanish and leave nothing in return? He did not like to think about that, because that would truly be nothing.
And endless state of nothing was truly horrible to think about, even worse than what he had, with new past, no future, just the endless drone, and knowing nothing but the present, and what he thought were companions. But worse is that it was truly just a grotesque façade, which gave way to truly endless space. Then he looked around, at all that he could see, and convince himself, that this was not an illusion. But death again stared in the face, and mocked him, as if to say “so what am I? If that is life, what am I?” And in truth he did not have a response, though he would not admit it to anyone but himself.
Then he brushed himself off, resolving never to think about this again, and only to think about tangible things instead. Knobs, journals, charts, and all things that screamed out to touch them instead. Everything that was real, however, had a form that was unreal, even the man who he knew was his second-in-command, weaving and bobbing forward and aft. So he ordered himself to not think about anymore, and if he did, he would go back to thinking about the clean underwear, and all of the other trimmings, that competed with each other, even though he knew from school that this too was a figment of his imagination, and his eyes did not see all that he thought them to see. The minds eye filled in the details, that the retina glossed over, and fooled eye into believing, even though it did not.
And illusion within an illusion, within an a fantasy, how could this truly be real? It made no sense, and though he could keep it from occupying the very center of his attention, along the edges of what seemed to be his eyesight, there was a cold crisp reality that would not be denied. At this point, he bumped up against his second-in-command, and was reassured, that this was all just an illusion, and their could not be anything to it. Than he stopped, and wondered if that was something that he read, or was it a phantasm, that would be put down, and he was dreaming about putting it down so that someone else could write.
He slowed down, to avoid hitting for the third time is second in command in the rear end, though he had to admit that it was good to hit him, because it was a firm feeling, that the heading of him was a firm grasp. Hitting him was a true test that there was something else visible. Thus, he could put away any blaring shrill contortions, he did not know what would become of them, but he knew right now, that he would follow orders, and that was enough for him.
In the garage, which was widely spaced, and another crew was already in there, talking, smoking, drinking, with veins being loaded up with cocaine, and unmentionable things, far worse then could be described. They filed in, with discipline one might add. He bellowed up his voice, if only to hear it, and feel it.
“We have been all the way to Paris, and it was a long trip. So give us around of applause, because we were going to go back there, with our pants on fire.”
Some of the listeners were truly out of it, and did not hear what he was saying. Another have were not listening, but they might have been. Then the second-in-command of the other ship spoke out and said: “Better that you didn't make it, because they were going to warm your hands over it.
“Then we ring down on with a fierce delight, I assure you.”
There were more exchanges, of this sort, which I will spare you. But they were as bad as these, if worse. I give you only a taste of what “bad”. Actually, this was the best of the lot, it got worse from there, if you can believe it. But fortunately, after having a few words, and a few phrases, which was different, the commander looked for a tired chair to sit down on, the he wanted companionship, he realized that this was not the companionship he desired. It was such a mess, when he was in the air, he wanted to be on the ground, when he was on the ground, you want to be inside the garage, when he was in the garage, his the mind drifted ever outwards to the sitting in the one place where he was solely in charge. He stopped himself, and asked himself what he was doing. You thought about this, and the answer was to find the commander, and get orders from him, just to make sure that he had direction. Though, actually, he was sure that the orders were correct.
Not that he was unsure, but just to make sure that the orders were legitimate, because it was extremely tight with the deadlines. And he wanted to be sure, in fact in a state of readiness, that nothing could be taken for granted. So he knocked past the stupor minions, who were taking their time, oblivious to anything, and headed back to a cubicle which was the commanders entrance, which had not been filled, and tell recently. In fact, he had not even seen the commander, so he wanted to be sure that this was legitimate and correct.
He stood in the doorway, and adjusted his eyes. Hunched over bearing on the of work, was a Large middle-aged man, with only hair on the sides of his neck. In fact, it wasn't exactly clear, where the head ended and the neck began. With all of that, there was something round, smooth, and entirely feminine about him, as if he were on used to doing any sort of work other than pushing a pencil. And not very much of that. Mostly, he sat and scrawled a view notes on the inside, and that was it. One could see, red writing coming from his pen, though there was black writing on the page, with only light scratchings that could be notation and then sent back to whoever was correcting. In other words, he was going over papers from those beneath him, and not above him. This then turned in the commanders mind that there was no one above, that this was the ultimate Cmdr., at least for the meantime.
“Does anyone know that there is no one above you?” It was a direct statement from himself to the commander.
With and air of nonchalance, without even looking up from the table, “ until now, no one has mentioned it, and I would like you not to mention it again. Rest assured, there will be others presently, and they will have powers greater than mine. Remember, their has not been a war in 40 years, give or take.” It seemed rather nonchalant, this way that his commander was speaking. “And in any event, once the main course arrives, it will not be long. This is a short conflict.”
“Are you sure about that.”
“If it becomes certain that this will go on, then we'll be dead, again.”
“Who are the higher ups, in any case? Do you know?”
“No I don't, and I don't inquire. That is not my proper place to know. If a commander of above me walks into the room, I will salute, and to my duty. Where only here for a short while, anyway. Then we will be gone, and the next will replace us. Where dead, what does it matter what happens next? In a day, in a week, in two weeks, in 10, it's all the same to me. And it should be to you. “
This is exactly what he was telling himself, but it was daunting to hear it from someone else, at least he thought this was someone else.
“Understood, Sir.” and he turned himself, and made no mention of what had been said. It was if he had a conversation with himself, and gotten the response that he had always suspected.
“Dismissed.” though the commander did not look up, even the salute was done into the air, rather than at his face. Which was a very rude thing to do. He expected better from a superior officer.
But obviously, that was not how it was going to be.
Almost retreating from his conversation with the commander, he retreated lightheartedly, as not to disturb the few who were still conscious. Obviously, he would do his duty as best he could. But if this was all, if all death was a crying interval, until you were truly dead, then maybe he would have think about whether this was truly what he wanted. Maybe there was a better way, may be order duty and discipline were not all they were cracked up to be. Maybe he should think anew, and come to some better conclusions, he had already died once before. And maybe he would die more than once. Isn't that a terrible thought?
He looked inside the garage, with all of the people standing or sitting, and wondered what would become of them. Is this all there was?
It seemed so, and the taste in his mouth was dry, he could see that behind him were a dozen other men who would take his place. And remember, he was the cream of the crop. The best of the very best. What would it be like for poilus who populated the ranks of France, or the iron youth of Germany?