The Mini-burger

FanFic in the Birmoverse

Murphy’s Law – by Guru Bob

Murph’s law

The camouflaged figure crouched low in the bushes and scanned the blackness ahead of him along the barrel of his rifle. Suddenly there was scurrying movement ahead of him and then two low slung figures bounded away through the long grass towards the treeline.

“Well I guess I am not in Kansas anymore…” the old joke made him chuckle to himself under his breath as he watched the retreating backs of the two kangaroos through his night vision goggles as they passed his position. He would have taken a pot shot at the animals but he had heard that they made terrible eating and anyway this was supposed to be a fully tactical patrol of the base’s perimeter.

“When they got back to base maybe they could chuck a shrimp on the Barbie instead!” he thought. This time he actually laughed aloud as he recalled how that strange Aussie Quarter-Master named Havock had explained that Australians actually called them prawns and the shouting match that had ensued between the two groups of off duty soldiers last week, nearly degenerating into an all-out brawl.

Private Steve Murphy, known as Murph to his friends, felt rather then saw the shrivelling look that his patrol leader Corporal Wolf directed at him in the dark. He thought about explaining himself but realized that the patrol leader was probable too young to remember the Paul Hogan advertisements anyway. Besides which the whole tourism industry had taken a bit of a dive in the post-Wave world as well, in fact the concept of travelling anywhere for fun seemed incredibly stupid now.

So he kept quiet and moved onwards, stepping gingerly over some broken twigs. Although he wondered what risk was there that anyone would hear anything in this godforsaken place they found themselves in now? After all of those years of thinking he would love to visit this country he now found himself stuck here patrolling a awful hellhole called Shoalwater Bay and it looked like he would be here for a long, long time…

It seemed like forever ago that his reservist unit had been called up and bustled over to Kuwait to wait for that new conflict to start. To tell the truth after 9/11 he had been busting his own chops to get over there and show the towelheads that they couldn’t snub their noses at the most powerful nation in the world in such a public and humiliating way.

However all of that had just paled into insignificance in the face of what happened next.

First there was the bewildering news about what they now called ‘The Wave’ which seemed to have obliterated the whole continental USA, and then all hell had broken loose in the Middle East. His unit had been happy to raise the black flag and let loose all of their rage and frustration on the enemy in front of them. But some of the things that he had seen and done at that time were now coming back to haunt him every night when he tried to sleep.

But he had to admit that the fighting was actually the easy part, no matter how tough it had been at the time. By the time the Wave happened everyone was primed and ready for a major offensive and so when the shooting started it was much easier to just fight and kill rather then think. The thousands of highly trained professional soldiers had just done what they did best at the time. The thinking time came later when no-one was shooting at you, and it was much, much tougher to deal with…

It had hit the women particularly hard, especially those ones who were just reservists or national guardsmen with families at home. There were those ones who had thought that they had signed up for a short stint in uniform. Which of them would have ever expected that when they left their kids and husbands to head over to Saudi Arabia that they would be the ones who would still be left behind? Some of them may have thought that they could be wounded or even killed, but it had been inconceivable that their families would have been more at risk.

However it had also hit the guys pretty badly as well. Particularly once the frontline combat situation was all over. The ‘cleaning detail’ was the worst part and Murph had had more than his fair share of those, especially when he had pissed off Staff Sergeant Rhino by pinching his box of Cuban cigars.

Maybe he was just getting tired and cynical but there were just too many times when he had to clean up after some overmuscled young buck had suddenly been struck by the full realization that his ‘ma and pa’ weren’t going to be there for him when he got home anymore, in fact there wasn’t anywhere to call home and as a result had eaten one of their own bullets. It was getting so that there were certain officers who were calling for cracking down on soldiers having any access to ammo in their barracks. Especially after that recent incident with the grenades in the toilet block, the whole brigade had had to crap in a bucket for weeks afterwards.

However it could have been worse.

After all they could have been stationed in Germany when the Wave hit. He had heard that after the stories from Iraq had come out and the after that incident with the Israeli’s going nuclear on the whole Arab world that the Germany government had basically decided that it couldn’t risk having a series of heavily armed camps on its soil full of highly trained military forces who owed no allegiance to any existing government. The Bundeswehr had sealed off every US base behind a cordon of tanks, SAMS and soldiers, nothing went in and nothing came out until the US forces laid down their arms and walked out. But of course that was never going to happen. Apparently whole families were stuck on those bases living on nothing but MREs while the remaining US command structure tried to sort the situation out with the German government, after all no-one really wanted to get into a shooting war with people who until recently had been close allies.

And that was nothing compared to those countries which were trying to get any US serviceman they could lay their hands on to face war crimes tribunals for what had happened in Iraq before Israel dropped its nukes.

Coming back to reality from his pondering the past he ducked below the branch of a gum tree as the patrol kept on its way. The goggles gave everything a weird otherworldly green tint, but he didn’t really need them to know that there wasn’t much sightseeing around this broken landscape anyway. But supposedly that would all change soon.

According to that Howard fellow this would soon be home the largest concentration of American forces in the world. While not quite as hot as Iraq, it was certainly a dried out piece of dirt that used to be the Australian Army’s training ground and as far as Murph was concerned they could keep it.

Murph had seen the Aussie Prime Minister when he had come to the base to give some speech and to be honest he wasn’t impressed with the short rodent like guy with a fixed grin whose eyes had flashed with fear whenever a black or Latino looking soldier had come too close. But he supposed that they would all have to get used to Prime-Minister-for-Life John Howard because he ran the place after all and now they would all be stuck here for quite some time.

“A new miracle of Dunkirk’ was what Howard had said in that speech and something about “making a new life here in the Lucky Country”. Unlike a lot of the other guys in his platoon Murph had read a lot of history books though and knew the whole ‘miracle’ thing was just the positive spin the Brits had put on what anyone else would call a crushing defeat.

He had to admit that it had felt like a defeat at the time too…

He had managed to avoid any of the long range patrols who had come back from the nuke zones, jumping off their Blackhawks stinking of sweat, fear and vomit even through their NBC suits. But even though the shooting had stopped no-one wanted to stay around anywhere in the Middle East any longer then necessary waiting for the fallout clouds to hit them. When the ships had appeared on the horizon there were crazy scenes on the docks and the beaches.

One particular sight stayed in his mind as row after row of Bradley fighting vehicles and Abrams tanks lit up like huge fireworks as the engineer teams blew them up with thermite charges because there wasn’t enough room on the ships for both men and equipment, and these days the men came first. The engineers had made jokes about how they were hosting was the world’s biggest bonfire but someone had forgotten the marshmallows, but in everyone’s eyes you could see the truth. They were all thinking ‘I hope we won’t need those vehicles where we are going’…

Back in the scrub at Shoalwater Bay, Murph carefully negotiated his way past an old rusty barbed wire fence from some ancient obstacle course. He knew this place well enough by now to know that they were nearly finished their patrol. Soon they would be able to relax and head down to the mess, grab a bite to eat and chill out in front of the television. Not that there was much to watch, but even here they did seem to have all of the old American sitcoms. There were a lot of other differences though… ranging from the weird plastic money through to the fact that they drove on the wrong side of the road and he wasn’t even going to think about that obscenity they called football here.

When their convoy had headed out of the Gulf no-one had known for sure where they would be going. Rumours had circulated like wildfire through the unit. They were going to Diego Garcia, then they were off to Hawaii, then it was Japan or even Korea. No-one really knew what was going on in those places, anymore then they knew what was happening in the USA. Finally the word had come down the line that they were headed for Australia and everyone had cheered. They all knew Australia, or at least thought that they did.

When they arrived at the docks in Fremantle there were the usual speeches by the politicians. Murph supposed that Howard fellow was probably there, as he had recently declared martial law and made himself Prime-Minister-For-Life. But Murph didn’t see or hear him and anyway at that time he didn’t really know anything about the local political situation. There was nothing about ‘un-Australian elements’, ‘state of emergency’, ‘detention centres’ or even ‘house to house searchs’ at that time. Instead there was a lot of talk about ‘shared history and values’ and ‘mutual protection from mutual threats’ before they were hustled through a police cordon onto a train for a trip across a continent.

Murph had never been too keen on air travel but that was the longest and most boring train trip that he could ever recall. It was also about when the first of the ‘cleaning details’ had begun. Stuck on a train in a brutal looking alien landscape for hours on end, that was when the reality had started to hit a few of the men and women who had faced some of the worst firefights but just couldn’t face this new future. A couple of them had probably just thrown themselves out the doors of the train without anyone knowing, but Murph’s section had to clean up when one hardened Sergeant ate his 9mil in the crapper.

It had all been pretty messy and the train couldn’t stop.

The patrol continued on towards the main gate of the base and Murph sensed something different in the activity around entrance. The loud bass sound of hiphop being played very loud on a stereo came from the direction of the accoimodation tents and there were cheers coming from a crowd of troops clustered around the entrance. Groups of men and women were running towards the main tent where there was noise coming from a large screen.

“What’s happening?” asked the Rhino of the sentries as they reported in, pointing to the excited crowd.

“It’s gone man, the Wave, it’s gone… we just heard.”

The rest of the patrol absorbed this news. The Wave had dominated every aspect of their lives for the past twelve months and now just as suddenly as it had appeared, it was gone. Murph realized that this put a whole new spin on things, soon they would all be going home and everything would be okay.

But then again Murph had always been an optimist… 

End of episode one of Murph’s adventures in Oz…

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13 March, 2009 - Posted by | Without Warning

2 Comments »

  1. Moko 2.0 said…
    Murph, whiny?….noooo.

    lol. I likey.

    March 12, 2009 8:30 AM
    Guru Bob said…
    Thaks Moko.

    I wasn’t actually aiming to have a go at Murph -I just had two statements stuck in my head – the line from the Wizard of Oz about Kansas and the one that Murph had always been an optimist. In this context both have lots of double meanings etc.

    I am sure the techheads and miitary dudes will get stuck into my terminology etc – but I wanted to paint a broader (and possibly bleaker) political picture as well and introduce some of those ideas into the the WW discussion.

    I posted it here so that I coud get some feedback before seeing if JB was interested…

    Besides if you go back a few years there was a big announcement about setting up a US military training facility in Shoalwater Bay – which really truly is a shithole…

    March 12, 2009 9:24 AM
    Nautilus said…
    Not bad Bob, not bad at all!

    March 12, 2009 11:14 AM
    Guru Bob said…
    Thanks Naut – now if I can just get some feedback from Chaz and Barnes my day would be complete…

    March 12, 2009 12:22 PM
    bangarrr said…
    Good work, Howard PM for life … frightening.

    March 12, 2009 2:52 PM
    Guru Bob said…
    Bangar – well an anti-Republican like him couldn’t really be President-for-Life could he?

    March 12, 2009 2:57 PM
    LERMONTOV said…
    Shoalwater ain’t that bad! The Mt Hummock Sector and Lemon Tree Creek are shitholes, but some of it is pretty nice. Think Townsend Island etc!

    Enjoyed the read. Don’t know how you guys do it.

    March 12, 2009 5:20 PM
    Therbs said…
    Yeah, not a bad bit of writing. Do ya reckon Murph would steal Rhino’s Cubans? That’s a gorinmg just waiting to happen. The Rodent For Life? That’s scarier than the wave.

    March 12, 2009 5:33 PM
    NowhereBob said…
    Nice one GB.

    Good thoughts on Germany. Hadn’t seen that as a possibility, but no reason it couldn’t play like that with neighbours like they have.
    Good thinks.

    March 12, 2009 6:14 PM
    Havock21 said…
    BAHHHH, how the fuck did RHINO get to be a staff sgt..SHIT!, shit and shit!.

    Not bad bob, not bad at all.

    Um, when the bit wher I charge the nest of MG’s and save the day BTW

    March 12, 2009 10:08 PM
    Guru Bob said…
    Lerm – my recollections of it were pretty bad – but we were there in January – hottest time of the year.

    Therbs – the rodent always had that possibility underneath – ego, power and world crisis are always a great mix for making a grab for control.

    NB – I would think any European country would be very cautious about having large numbers of heavily armed troopies with no nation left to pledge allegiance to. Except us of course – but then again I am thinking about episode 2 already ‘Paying the Piper’…

    Havock – don’t worry your moment of glory may come soon enough…

    March 13, 2009 11:16 AM
    chazfh said…
    GB like it, esp with the Rodent going for PM for life!

    Havock, looks like the new keyboards fucked already!!

    BTW Shoalwater’s not a dump.it’s a prime redevelopment site!!!

    Grenades in the toilet block? normal hijinks for BFT!

    March 13, 2009 6:04 PM

    Comment by miniburger | 13 March, 2009 | Reply

  2. GB, I don’t know why you were worried about osting your first stroy.

    Grand effort, Sir. Although I must say that all the times I ever had the ‘pleasure’ of spending time at Shoalwater, I was always stuck down in the mangrove swampy bits. The sand flies were a fucking bitch, but this was compensted by the number of muddies that could be retrieved to supplement, nay, take over from, a ration pack 🙂

    Comment by sibeen | 13 March, 2009 | Reply


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