Worthless POS


buck_icon.gif nightmare_icon.gif

Scene Title Worthless POS
Synopsis Buck's war past and worst fears come together in this visit from the Nightmare Man.
Date January 22, 2010

Buck's Apartment

Buck lives alone, and there is still a faint ring of pine needles in the carpeting from where he had his Christmas tree. He's been having some trouble with nightmares lately, dreams he can't remember even though they disturb his rest. So tonight when he gets into bed, he drops off quickly as soon as his head hits the pillow.

"Get up." It's a gruff voice accompanied by a steel-toed boot in the ribs. When his eyes open, Buck will find himself somehow transported into what looks like some sort of cell. Another soldier is hauling him to a sitting position, heaving him against a wall so that Buck's head hits the drab concrete with a thud, enough to ring his ears. The man is nondescript, seemingly American, but wearing no insignia to identify him. Buck's left eye is swollen shut, his body a mass of mottled bruises. Every bone and muscle aches though nothing feels broken.

The room is empty, smelling of urine and worse, dark but with enough light coming in from a window high on one side, too small to crawl through even if there was a way to reach it.

"Tell us who gave the command," says the blunt-jawed, wide-browed all-American soldier scowling down on him. "If your stories match theirs, maybe you'll see the light of day sometime this decade."

"Oh…man…my head," Buck murmurs thickly as he comes around, squinting to try to focus on the guy interrogating him. "Command? Hold on, man, what's…? Hey, I didn't…I didn't do nothin' t' get myself court-martialed now. I'm real careful. I know the rules. Man." He looks at the soldier, searching his face for understanding.

The soldier gives a bark of a laugh. "Bullshit. You follow the fucking command of your goddamn commanding officer. Right now that's me, got it? So when I ask a question, you answer it, and follow that up with 'Sir!' not 'Man,'" he growls. "So tell me, again, who gave the command that took out those civilians? Look, you talk, you're safe. There's no reason to protect them. They're dark holed no matter what, and that's if they're fuckin' lucky, Lafferty."

Buck reaches up to rub his face. "Yes, sir," he agrees, falling into the good soldier mode easily. "Look, uh, sir. I can't…I can't remember," he says. "I got… Somethin's wrong. I dunno what happened, sir. Can't you tell me one more time what you say I did?"

"What's that soldier's name, Lafferty? The one in your unit that you're so close to?" the nameless soldier asks, arching a brow. "His life's about to become a bloody nightmare, soldier, if you don't talk and drop this 'I hit my head' bullshit. Medic checked you out. You're right as rain, just a fuckin' stubborn jackass like the rest of 'em. Anyway, we got your lil friend — don't worry, I won't ask and you don't have to tell — he's in the other room with Maddog, who's just itching to to break a few bones."

The soldier pulls a knife from his own cargo pants, and begins to slowly clean his nails with them. "Go on. Your turn to talk, Lafferty."

Buck puts a hand to the top of his head, rubbing it slowly as if to stimulate a memory. "Oh, shit, hey…no," he denies quietly. "No, sir, I…I make sure never t' do anything t' get kicked out, sir, I love the Army…" He rubs his close-shaven head a little more. "Colonel Steele," he says at last. "I know it had to be colonel's orders, sir."

The confession that should mean reprieve, forgiveness, redemption instead brings a sudden blow to the face from the man's fist, knocking Buck's head back against the wall. "Bullshit," the soldier bellows. "Steele wasn't on the mission, Lafferty. Try again. And don't try to lay it on some scapegoat. We can tell when you're lying."

He suddenly turns and stalks to the door, pounding on it. A second soldier's head comes into view, perhaps blurry from Buck's dizzied point of view. "Break 'em, Maddox," he growls. "This one's fucking around."

"With pleasure, Sir," Maddox says, giving a cocky salute before disappearing. The door, however, remains open, but not before an impossibly loud crack is heard, reverberating against the walls. A scream of pain can be heard from the room beyond.

Buck groans at the pain of his head bouncing off the wall, but he refrains from putting a hand over his face. "No, hey, HEY! Leave him alone! Leave him alone! Hey, I…I didn't get that order direct from Steele, I…I musta got it from the captain! But he just tells us what the colonel says, right? Sir?"

There is a blur of motion before the knife that was just cleaning the man's nails is brought to Buck's face, slashing him in a downward swipe from temple to jaw. The pain is white-hot, blotting out every other ache in Buck's body; the head, the ribs, the sore muscles — all are forgotten in an instant. There is another crack! and another scream from the other room, and then a sobbing — amidst the sobs, Buck can hear his name being called, the voice heartbroken and in pain.

"Aw, shit, my face!" Buck shouts, putting both hands over his face. "Shit, stop! What'd I do? I don't remember! Robin?! Who is that out there? Fuck, leave 'im alone, c'mon!" In the real world he's already out of bed and blundering around his apartment.

"You're useless, Lafferty! You could have saved him from torture, but instead, you're playing fucking games. The army's no place for weaklings. You're supposed to be able to stop people from getting hurt, but look at you! You're a sniveling mess. I'm ashamed to even call you soldier."

Suddenly, it's no longer the nameless soldier but Buck's boot camp drill sergeant standing above him. "Your buddy in there was counting on you and you let him down with some pansy story about not being able to remember? Is that good enough for the army, Lafferty? Is it? You let those civilians die. You could have stopped it but you are a weak little boy pretending to be a man. Aren't you, Lafferty? Aren't you?"

Only silence seeps from the other room. The only other sound is Buck's heart pounding and frantic breathing, and the occasional drip of a drop of blood on cement as the gash across his face leaks. "You let him down, you sorry ass excuse for a soldier," the drill sergeant says, his voice eerily calm and quiet as he glowers down at Buck. "Maddox!" he hollers, in his typical drill sergeant bark, and the man seen a moment before comes back into the cell. He is a giant of a man, barrel-chested and broad shouldered, thick as he is tall and not due to fat. "Got another one for you. This one seems to have lost his memory. Just keeps chirping out names like a fucking stool pigeon, but none are the one we want."

"I always did enjoy a challenge," Maddox says, his voice a southern drawl that would be charming if his BDUs weren't smeared with blood, none of it his.

The scene changes suddenly, a disorienting tilt of reality. Buck finds himself on a board, his head at an angle, blindfolded. "Tell us who called the order, you piece of shit!" Maddox demands, unseen, from above Buck — no doubt prepared with buckets of water.

"Hey, no, c'mon, I'm gonna puke," Buck complains. "I can't r'member anybody's name. What…what happened to that other guy, is he okay? Is he…? I…I don't think I did anything. In the war. I…stuck to myself, I didn't make no trouble. I just do what the captain tells me. The louie if the captain ain't there…"

"Don't fucking care if you puke, you'll just choke on that instead of the water," Maddox says almost happily, before he places a cloth over Buck's face. Then the water comes — the water floods over his face in a pink wash due to the blood on his cheek; his eyes swim and he chokes; the instinct to open the mouth and suck for air only brings in more water. Drowning. He's drowning. Logic tells him he's not, that it's torture, that it's just a faulty wire in the brain. But logic does not reign in the moments that one confronts their mortality. Buck is sure he is going to die, and there's not a goddamn thing he can do about it.

"Worthless piece of shit," his drill sergeant's voice says with disgust somewhere in the room, somehow audible over the wet sounds of choking up water.

"Buck. You didn't save me." A familiar voice, somewhere above him, as if coming from a ghost.

And on that cheerful note, Buck wakes, sputtering in an overflowing tub that he's somehow tumbled into. "Oh…shit, shit," he mumbles, fumbling to shut off the water.

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