I always thought joining the Dersite army would be something amazing. Fighting under the king, being trained with swords and knives, the honors and respect the planet gives you. Certainly not sitting around being some desk jockey. I left office work just to do more office work? A pretty shitty deal. Not like I had many options, but seriously? This? I sigh, scrolling through radio stations. Back and forth. That's my job. Listen to the enemy, write down whatever I hear. Pretty lame, right? What's the point? We'd get more done on the battlefield killing those idiot Prospitians. Of course, when you ask one of the higher-ups about it, you get the same answer.
"This is just as important as the battle, now get your lowly ass back to the stations"
"Oh come on!"
"Get your ass back."
I look to my friend. His ivory eyes remained ice to the officer before us. Sadly, Eldon always has been this insubordinate. Even back in the first learning building where we met. I remember the day well. He threw a stone at my head. After a stern talk he claims not to have cared much about, we became the best of friends. Sometimes we'll walk down the darkened streets of Derse and he'll pluck a stone from the ground just to chuck it at me. The emotionally hurt tears of years ago now are replaced by the echo of our laughter filling the empty alleyways. He wears the same uniform all us lowly asses have to wear. To both our dismays these uniforms involved no armor.
The officer scoffed at us before marching off to whatever business he had. I can't help but bet that it involves a green felt table and yearning desires for a royal flush that definitely won't be happening anytime soon. I snicker from afar as usual, leaning back in my chair as that thought danced through my head. I wish you the worst of luck, Officer Douchebag.
Eldon is also laughing, though doesn't try to cover it up. "How much more boring could this get? Law, I swear I didn't sign up for this." Law. Probably the dumbest nickname in existence. Eldon held the belief that all best friends had some nickname for one another. No problem with that, just the fact that Lawrence isn't the best name for nicknames. But between Law and Invisible, it's something I'm willing to live with. I'm not the most noticeable guy on the planet here. 20 years of life and I haven't done much. Nothing good, nothing bad. Just average. You see, people notice all the good ones. The sports stars, the brainiacs, the heroes and stuff. You know who I'm talking about. That one guy who apparently can do everything right and be popular with pretty much everybody he's ever known. Then people notice the bad people. The criminals, crazy, and that generally annoying nuisance to which you often ponder what you did in a past life to deserve to see them every day. Now the plain old average people get overlooked in all this hubbub. Being the most average of the average people, I might as well fall off the face of Derse. Not like anyone would care. Except for Eldon maybe. Maybe.
"I mean, come on," Eldon whines. "If he thinks he owns me, he's got another thing coming."
"But he sorta does, Eldon."
"Says the officer who signed your enlistment a while back?"
"But still. Not like he does." He turns back to his radio, going back and forth mindlessly. It seemed that Prospit played the same damn songs on every single station in existence over there. By now I'm pretty sure that their shitty music will be the death of me. Horns and flutes like there's no tomorrow or something. Might as well have a holiday solely for those instruments.
They probably do.
Kids probably get out of their learning buildings for it too.
Those sick bastards.
What is it with those stupid Prospitians anyway? They just don't get what we Dersites are trying to accomplish. They just assume we're the bad guys and that we need to be fought for what they think is good. They don't get it. Do they ever stop for a moment to think about how right our king is? About how we're in our right minds? How we have something we're actually fighting for here? Nope. That's the problem with those guys. But whatever. Once we win the war, we won't have to deal with their high horse mentality anymore.
But for now, we're stuck with desk jobs and Prospit radio. "We never even find anything," I say, laying my head on the desk as my fingers turned the nob. Back and forth. Back and forth. Occasionally I'll fiddle with the singular earpiece I have, the one auditory connection between the piece of shit radio I was given and myself. "Anything on yours?"
I sigh, staring blankly at the sound box I am forever cursed to. "Well I bet Officer Douchebag is napping right about now." Eldon laughed, as did I.
"No, I'm pretty sure Officer Douchebag is giving some low rank asshole overtime on the most basic job on the entire planet."
Well shit. I turn around to find Officer Douchebag. I look at his name tag. Hemmings. So that's his name… "Yes, sir." He walks off with some accomplished smirk as I spin back around.
Eldon and I don't say much the rest of the day aside from just checking in with one another from time to time. Eventually the day ends. Well… For everyone else. I'm stuck here for a while longer. Apparently honesty isn't a thing. After reminding me about how I better have something interesting in the morning, Officer Hemming-Douche Prick man grumbles at me one last time before leaving me in the violet office building. Me and my damn radio. Not even my thing. It's actually property of the army.
A scrawny black notebook on the table beckons for me. I glance around before picking it up and flipping to the first open page. This job is boring. For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed writing. Writing what? Anything. Short stories and other small things. But my love for writing falls most into poetry. So that's what I write down. Instead of the information I'm apparently supposed to hear from this thing, I write poetry onto the blank space, filling it with harmonious words. If I wasn't in the army, if I wasn't some invisible average person, I'd be a poet. One known and adored by everyone. Poetry books, nay, poetry novels. Novels about my poetry novels. I could see it when I slept. But sadly, I'm just a man.
Oh god, that was beautiful. I click my pen and write that gold down.
I cannot do what heroes can
For I am but a simple man.
I stop on a silent station. One of literally thousands. Millions maybe. I never bothered trying to count them all. "This sucks," I say to myself.
"You can say that again."
I nearly fall back in my seat, leaning towards the radio now. "Holy… Uh, Hi?" I stare at the box of metal as if whatever just heard me could see me too.
"Dang… So this thing does work." It was a guy voice. I could tell. Or… At least it does by Dersite standards. I always pictured Prospitians with squeaky voices. His sounds kinda normal. Maybe he is a Dersite and I'm just the biggest screw-up unknown to man. "My officials never told me about people I hear hearing me too."
I hear a chuckle from the other end. Quietly the notebook goes back on the desk along with the pen. Something a bit more interesting came about. I gaze into the speakers, into the unnamed audio thingy my headphones are connected to. There is no way this guy is some squeaky little high horse Prospitian. He didn't fit the bill at all! This guy had to be from Derse. There was no other way around it. Of course, if he's from Derse, what does that make me? Recording information on someone in our building will definitely bump me down a few positions, even though I'm as low as it gets. They'll find a way. Or maybe I'm average enough to get by via my untapped invisibility. With my lacking luck, I hate to say that I doubt it.
A man can dream though, right?
Or at least I like to tell myself this.
"So what do you like to do?" The voice chimed into my ears once again. I stole a free glance to my notebook, the only thing I could think of. I didn't really show anybody the book. Not like anybody could read it anyway; my writing isn't too legible unless I actually try. I don't try too often. "Hello?" Zoning back in, I realize I've been staring into space for a bit.
"Uh… Sorry about that. I... I write."
"Really? That sounds pretty cool. Could I hear some?"
Ugh. The dreaded question. I give the same routine response to that. "Well it isn't much."
"So? I still want to—" A buzzer on the other end cuts him off. Returning was a more frantic voice of the same mystery man. "Crap. I need to go. Next time. What's your name?"
"Lawrence Fortson." I quickly reply.
"Alright, Lawrence. I'll listen same time tomorrow. Bye!"
"Wait, I never learned—" The station falls into the silence I've been hearing. "…your name." I sighed, quickly scribbling down the station number. 96.63. I repeat the number to myself a little. Last thing I wanted to happen was I forget all about this guy, whoever he was. The realization of the fact that I've been leaning intently towards the radio. I can't help but wonder why mystery man had to leave so soon. And the buzzer. What was with that? A glance to the clock revealed I was due to leave quite some time ago. Normally I'd be a bit peeved, but tonight was a bit different. I turned the radio off and put it away, gathering my things and walking into the perpetual night of Derse. I flip open the notepad, staring down at those four numbers. "Ninety-six point six three." A smile flickered onto my features.
Now the average people get looked over in all this hubbub, overshadowed by the heroic and the infamous. Being the most average of the average people, I might as well fall off the face of Derse. Not like anybody would care. Except for Eldon. And mystery man. Maybe.