Training day

I hate him. When I first met him, I thought of him (if I thought at all) as just an idiot, a useless bungler along for the redhead's comfort zone. Now, after watching him, after waiting for her to realize...I truly hate him.

I.

"Mommy?"

The woman looked at me out of her unbandaged eye.

"Poppa?"

Her eye glistened as she looked away. "Willy,.." She choked, and to my young confusion, knelt and pulled me into a tight hug. "Willy, Mommy and Poppa won't be coming back."

I felt confused, worried. Had I done something bad, didn't they love me anymore? Why would they leave me?

'Willy," She tightened her already tight hold, "don't worry Willy, you won't be abandoned, I promise." The semi-stranger, to my child's eyes, stood and beckoned to two men behind me.

They came forward and took me away. Away from my home, my family, and any chance I ever had at a normal childhood. Took me away into loneliness.

II.

He makes it look like a joke. A training scenario I worked weeks to devise, that the cheerleader has to sweat to get through on her sixth attempt. He only showed up today, and even loosing his pants, falling on his face, and stumbling, he has beaten both our times. I can see her chiding him, brushing him off, telling him to be more careful. I know she thinks it's only his luck and "dumb skill" that got him through it, but I know better. No one is that lucky, that consistently.

III.

They tell me I didn't speak for six weeks after being taken away. I don't remember. I remember being given a training garment, I remember being gently tossed, and I remember fatigue. My childhood seems to be constantly fatigued. I began my day early, classes with tutors, all of whom looked at me as a job, a project.

I learned, I struggled, but I learned. The woman I latter came to know as Dr. Director came by occasionally. She wasn't the director then, but she would stop by two or three times a year to check my progress. I still have never learned how she forced GJ to commit the funds and personnel to train me, but somehow, she did. My major memory of her is her refusal to look at me. Always asking questions of my instructors, and dutifully asking me if I was being a good boy. A perfunctory, "Keep up the good work." and she would be gone for another six or more months. Still, she was the only semi-constant I had in life. As I mastered or improved in a subject, my instructors would leave, to be replaced by other nameless taskmasters.

I waited for her visits. She was the last person in my childhood to touch me in any but an instructional manner. She only did it the one time, when she told me I was alone, but I yearned for it again.

IV.

For an amateur she's very good. Stripped of her gadgets and gizmo's, her agility allows her to make her way through the training ground on her seventh attempt. The changing scenario slows her down, but she manages to leap the last obstacle, nearly matching my best time. Dr. Director walks out of the far observation booth, gesturing to her. They walk through a side door, leaving me alone with the buffoon. I know I shouldn't, but I have to know. I learned a long time ago how to trick the computers into recording what I wanted, not what was happening. I am going to find out his secret, even, or especially if, I have to kill him to do it. A training accident.

VI.

I have never had a friend. Many acquaintances and colleagues, of course, but never a friend. I think I absorbed the combat vets philosophy throughout my childhood. I remember the remark of one instructor clearly, "In war, you have buddies, but not friends. It hurts too much when you lose a friend." Call it cowardice, but I have followed that advice.

VII.

He's doing it. I don't know how, but he's doing it. Stumbling, falling, being nicked and nearly missed, but he's doing it. He is slowly but surely getting across the training ground. He seems to know which beams are lethal, when the live rounds will be fired. How is he doing it? How? There is no possible way a human being should be able to navigate the killing ground I have set up without being at least wounded, but he's doing it. How?

VIII.

He's across, meeting the cheerleader and Dr. Director as they emerge from the side room. As he stands waiting for them to reach him, his pants fall down. Dr. Director only raises one brow, while the cheerleader giggles at his molerat patterned boxers. Still giggling, she grabs him in a tight hug, whirling him around. When they stop, she nuzzles his chest, while Dr. Director focuses on the device she is holding.

I am the only one that sees the hard brown gaze that reaches for me. Telling me, he knows.