Generation Kill

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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In The Valley Of Elah-Elah-Elah (Hey, Hey, Hey)

Brad gets up out of his grave, slowly. His eyes are barely open, his movements aren't sharp; even his face seems muted and soft. Joseph Campbell calls this part the Belly of the Whale: when the hero gets too tired and fucked-with to even attempt to reconcile the screwby of his mission, he climbs into a grave for a little while. Exhausted, he won't talk to anybody and he won't do anything: he just waits for that thing, whatever that thing is that makes you a hero, he just waits for it to come back. He waits to remember, in the belly of the whale, what he's doing in this story in the first place. My favorite part is always when he comes back out.

Nate's still trying to get SA on these supposed tanks as Espera runs up: Battalion's gone Redcon One, and Alpha called in air support. Everybody talks about what they know, which is nothing. Nobody knows what kind of ammo they need, or how much, or where the enemy's coming from, or when they'll get here. Brad stands in the middle of the chaos with his eyes closed, taking it in: hearing the chatter, hearing all the supposition and the excitement. His eyes snap open: Iceman. It is beautiful.

"Ray, get on TAD-6 and TAD-7; Walt, get up on the berm and man the Mark-19. You have the thermals?" Espera does. "Warm them the fuck up and use them. Why the fuck are you two standing around with your dicks in your hands? Don't you have teams to take care of?" Pappy and Espera are relieved. "Iceman's back." Brad heads to the line, calling orders over his shoulder. "Find the reporter, Trombley. If little Miss Rolling Stone gets run over by an Iraqi tank, Ray's band won't make the cover." Trombley runs off and Brad levels his gun at the horizon. "They're moving," says I think Christeson. "You can see it." Everybody runs around, wondering if they should tear down the cami nets and fill in the holes, and through all the talking, Brad just sights the lights and figures it out. "So we're unsupplied, 24 hours ahead of the next nearest Marine, and now the Iraqi Army has found us. I like the plan, Brad. It works for me." Brad lowers his gun. "It's a town." Ray stares out, dumbstruck. "And it ain't moving."

Ray's mouth hangs open; Walt asks if he's sure. "It's autokinesis. You're seeing the involuntary muscle movements of your own eyes." Ray blinks wildly. "Those lights aren't going to come any closer than they are. It's a fucking town. Thirty, forty kliks out there at least. How far out did Alpha call this?" Walt says it was called in as like fifteen, and Brad and Ray laugh quietly. Espera's running up with the thermals as Brad -- having solved the entire problem in the thirty seconds he's been awake -- tells him it's bullshit. "There's no armor." He walks on, and Espera drops beside Ray as the air support begins bombing the imaginary location of the imaginary army, halfway between the town and the unit. "Well," says Ray. "Apparently the United States Air Force thinks Brad Colbert is full of shit." They watch the dirt explode; there's nothing there. And by "nothing," I mean, "maybe some people." Just not the enemy.

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Generation Kill

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