Book project Number 3! This is not the mysterious third book project I keep alluding to. That is now project number four. I’ll say briefly that the mystery project is now to the point where I’m looking for an agent. Now then, this is a new comedy project that just started today due to a very inspiring prompt over at reddit.com/r/writingprompts. It’ll be five parts, and probably a bit shorter than unhooked. Parts will come out every 3-4 days, with the first part coming out this Saturday at about noon EST. Now then onto Baby Team Six part. Fair warning, I am a big fan of cheesy action movies.
After death a text window pops up: Welcome to new game+. You will begin you life anew, but retain all knowledge, skills, currency, and items you choose to carry over. The challenge and enemies will be adapted to your level accordingly.
Life was okay until I turned two. The body and brain can’t utilize past knowledge much before then. But once I turned two, oh boy.
“Jerry somebody’s broken in.” I heard my mom whisper to my dad.
What? I don’t remember our house ever being broken into. And my parents would’ve told me about that at some point for sure. Our family didn’t keep secrets like that.
“I told you I should’ve gotten that Glock.” My dad whispers back. I can hear voices downstairs now. Several of them, and several bolts being pulled back to chamber rounds in what sounds like are very large guns.
“We’ve got to protect the baby.” My mom tells my dad.
No, this baby’s got to protect you. I roll out of my bed and hit the ground. Thankfully being a baby I am very light weight and therefore make very little noise. I run to the top of the stairs before my dad can open his door to sneak over to my room.
I move noiselessly to the base of the stairs and peak around the corner.
A normal person would be scared at a group of thugs stacking up on the stairwell like a SWAT team. A normal person would’ve probably begged for their life when they saw all the assaults rifles, shotguns, and body armor. A normal toddler would’ve wet themselves and passed out. But a normal toddler also didn’t do three tours in Afghanistan.
“It’s him!” The first one shouts, bringing his gun to bear. I’m too weak to fight him directly so I dive under him, pulling the pin on one of his grenades as I duck under.
“Don’t let…” I cut the second guy off with a strategic punch to his reproductive organs, and sprint into a nearby bathroom, jumping into the tub and covering my head just in time to hear the grenade go off.
This is going to be an interesting childhood.”
Life was rough enough as a SEAL team six member the first time around. This was going to be a challenge worthy of the world’s deadliest toddler. The time for resting in my cradle and dreaming of Barney was over. The time for sleeping in safe houses and dreaming of bullets had begun.
I stood up and dusted myself off as I hopped out of the tub. My parents were not made of the tougher stuff that I had been created from. They were still upstairs, no doubt wondering if they were being bombed. A hand grenade explosion inside is loud enough to damage you’re hearing. I stride through the aftermath of the handheld explosive and take note of my fallen foes.
They bear no insignia, but there equipment is a little too advanced for just a random group of thieves. I’d finish going through them later. My parents were probably terrified out of their minds right now.
There’s still some smoke from the explosion whisping about me like a cloak when I stride into my parents room. They’re cowering underneath the bed. I can’t blame them. They probably thought the Germans had come back for thirds from Uncle Sam.
I knelt down next to the bed, sticking my head underneath. I make eye contact with my quivering father and while the smoke continues to drip off me I tell him.
“Nobody’s breaking in while this baby’s onboard. Now come out here. You have to start cooking up a cover story. Nobody’s going to believe someone in diapers could do so much damage.”
“Well…..” My mom mumbles.
“I told you the gas fire was an accident. I totally know how to sauté lobster. My fine motor function just hadn’t kicked in yet.” My mom shrugs, clearly not buying my story, but they both exit the bed.
They don’t know about my skills. They can’t possibly know. It broke my mom’s heart the first time I left the military, and I had been eighteen at the time. It would kill her to send off her child before he turns three. And my dad, I wasn’t sure how he would react, but I couldn’t imagine having a son with lethal hands for weapons that still needed diapers some days could be good for his mental health.
Until tonight they had no idea of what I was capable of. Now they would have to learn fast to stay alive.
“What could we possibly tell the police about the men downstairs?” My dad asks.
“Gas leak maybe?” I provide. “We do have a gas stove.”
“It’s in the kitchen though, and they’re in the hallway. At least, I think that’s where the sound came from.” She scowls, suddenly remembering how old I was. “What on earth was that anyway? And what’s all this about a cover story. What happened? Why aren’t you in bed young man?” She puts her hands on her hips in an attempt to give me a stern motherly look. It doesn’t quite have the desired affect.
“Evil never sleeps, and neither should I.” I tell her. “I was defending this castle from the malicious men who lurk in the night. I am not what you think I am. I…” I’m cut off by the sound of the phone ringing. There are now sirens in the distance, but I expected sirens. I didn’t expect anyone to call at this early hour of the morning. We didn’t have any close friends or relatives nearby. Who could possibly be calling us?
“Hello?” My father asks. My mother is still trying to glare at me. Although her heart isn’t in it anymore. Her fists have slid off her hips and she keeps glancing worriedly over at my father.
“What? Yes, he’s here.” My father, looking as if lady fate herself has personally smacked him, hands me the phone.
“This is the doomsday baby. To whom am I speaking?” The person on the other responds through one of those voice scramblers that makes your voice sound super low and intimidating. Hearing it makes me acutely aware of the fact that my own voice won’t change for at least another eight years.
“Who I am is not important. Who I represent is what’s important, and I represent some very powerful people.”
“Like Disney!?” I ask excitedly. I wish I could say I was faking my enthusiasm. My parents has used the Lion King to lull me to sleep.
“Umm. No.” The voice sounds momentarily unsure of itself. “I represent the combined power of the United Nations. There’s no time to explain anything. Those boys who tried to take you out tonight will have backup rolling in any second. We’re sending a chopper to you, but it won’t get there in time. You need to move your family. Now, and ditch the tracking device in your diaper.” Who would put a tracking device in a diaper, that was low. I reach and locate the deivce, thanking my lucky stars that I hadn’t drunken any water before bed. I pull out the blinking red device.
How had my mom missed this thing when she was changing me? I must’ve taken every ounce of action here out of them when I had come into the world. I throw it on the floor and stomp it until the light goes out.
“On it.” I tell the man on the other line.
“Good luck Rambo baby. We’ll see you on the other side.” The line goes dead, as does the power to the house. I look out the window and see that even though the sun is still down the streetlights are off.
They must’ve cut the power to the whole block. The sirens are real close now. I can see flashing lights in the distance. *Oh no, the police are going to get caught in the cross fire.
“Get to the attic!” I order my parents, dashing for the stairs. “There are more coming!”
“Yes…….Dear.” My mom says. I have no time to verify that they are following my instructions. I run to the kitchen and dig through the cabinets. I know what I’m looking for has to be here. Ah, perfect. They won’t know what hit them. I take two bottles of chemicals and start filling some water balloons with their contents, making sure to memorize which water balloon holds which chemical. I fill about ten before I hear the police pull in out front. I’m not sure this will be enough, but I’m out of time. I throw the water balloons into two small plastic buckets. The kind that are used to build sand castles at the beach, tuck a knife into my diaper, and make for the door.
The officers have just formed a preliminary defensive pereimeter around my house. They’re behind their cars. Their guns are out, and one of them is about to turn on a microphone.
“Get back in your cars!” I shout. “They’re coming!”
“Just make it so us.” The man with the microphone says, his voice booming through the small cul-de-sac. “We’ll protect you from them.
“No you fools.” I say, almost to the line of cars. “I’m here to protect you!”
Just as I say this I reach the line of vehicles. Two black vans come tearing up the street, jack knifing about ten meters from our position. The side doors roll open as the police turn to see who the newcomers are.
They’re greeted with the rattle of automatic weapons as a couple of floor mounted belt fed LMGs open up on the unsuspecting officers. The men in uniform dive for cover as a hail of led thunders down on their cars. Thankfully they’re well enough trained to know that the engine block is their best protection, and a quick once over of the police response tells me most have suffered only minor wounds.
I place the two buckets of water balloon chemical bombs in front of the officer with the microphone.
“You need to throw these at the van!” I shout over the roar of the AK-47s that have joined in with the LMGs.
“What!” He shouts back. “Kid this is no time for a water balloon fight!”
“These aren’t ordinary water balloons!” I yell. “Besides, it’s not like your troopers are throwing anything else at them!” It’s true. All of his officers are still bunkered down behind their vehicles, waiting for a lull in the oncoming fire. I don’t think a single retaliatory bullet has been fired. “You need to throw them because my young arms can’t throw that far!”
“Alright kid.” He reluctantly reaches down and picks one up.
“Make sure you throw them all at the same spot!” I yell as he pitches the first one. It splatters right in front of the LMG of the left vehicle to no effect. The LMG gunner notices him and sends a series of bullets right through the spot that the policemen’s head had occupied moments before.
“It didn’t work!” He yells. “And I nearly got my head taken off!”
“Just one more!” I yell, handing him a balloon filled with the second kind of chemical. “This balloon has a different chemical that the first one needs to react!” He stares at the balloon in his hand. I can tell he’s wondering if it’s worth it. The last one had nearly cost him his life. Why should he try again?
“How old are you?!” He asks.
“Two!” I hold up two fingers in the peace sign like my mommy taught me. That convinces him. He should try again because no ordinary two year old fills water balloons with deadly chemical agents.
The officer pitches the second water balloon right where the first one landed, and this time he’s rewarded for his efforts. A large plume of orange smoke rises as soon as the second balloon splashes onto the remains of the first.
A cloud of the poison materializes, but the LMG gunner whose van the cloud is appearing in front of, doesn’t notice until it reaches his face. He doubles over coughing after only inhaling a couple of breaths. The gun he was manning goes silent.
“Throw the rest!” I shout. The officer sitting next to me needs no encouragements. I hand him balloons, and he throws as fast as he can. It’s a miracle he doesn’t get mowed down by the remaining LMG, or the squad of troops who have taken up positions in the surrounding cars.
The entire section of street the two vans are parked in soon becomes blurry behind a haze of orange smoke. Enemy gunfire beings to die down, and friendly gunfire rises to fill the gap. The officers begin peeking over the hoods of their car and taking potshots at the enemy.
“Run for it!” I hear one of the enemy shout. Many foes lay sprawled out on the ground, and when the vans speed off, they leave many of their comrades behind.
As the officers begin to cheer. I grab the nearest officer by the belt to get his attention.
“What is it kid?” He asks.
“That’s a deadly chemical spill down there. You guys need to evacuate these houses and get those downed men to a hospital as soon as possible. The gas will soon dissipate and you need to get chemical response teams here to neutralize it.” The officer looks confused that a two year old is telling him this, but one look at the downed men where the vans used to be kicks him into gear. Some of them are coughing, but if any of them are going to survive the police need to act quick. They may be bad guys, but they’re still people. They also happen to have highly valuable information about whose sending these hit squads.
As ambulances speed onto the scene, and the police begin resuscitating the downed hitmen, I hear a chopper on approach. The lead officer walks over to me as the chopper appears, circling overhead.
“Kid, who are you?” He asks. Now that his blood pressure was returning to normal after the firefight he was fully comprehending just how crazy it was that a little kid ran out of a house with chemical bombs and instructed pinned down officers in their use. Two year olds should be worrying about how to pronounce the word ‘chemicals’, not throwing them at people, and in lethal doses to boot. To say nothing of the fact that this little kid had maintained a cool head under the withering fire of multiple assault rifles and a brace of high powered Light Machine Guns.
The chopper descends, and someone throws a rope ladder out of the side. I grab a hold of it and begin to be pulled skyward. I cast an eye on the remaining pockets of orange chemical fumes as I give my response.
“I’m the baby whose gas does more than just stink.” The officer either can’t think of a response, or I don’t hear it over the chopper’s whirring blades. I give him a salute as I ascend the ladder and pile into the waiting helicopter.
There are several highly armed men and women inside who throw me respectful salutes as I slide into my seat.
“You guys must really want me alive.” I say over the headset that’s handed to me.
“Yes sir.” The man across from me barks. He’s at least twenty times my age. The grey is starting to show in his stubble.
“So you’re not going to believe I’m just some cuddly kid that was at the right place at the right time?” I throw on my most innocent face.
“Sir, we know you didn’t need the police to handle those terrorists.” The older man replies curtly.
“Terrorists you say?” I scratch my chin. “What would terrorists want with me?”
“HQ on the line.” A female voice pipes in. It looks like it’s one of the pilots.
“Patch them through.” I say, tapping the appropriate button on my headset.
“Glad to have you with us Mr. Doe.” A scrambled voice tells me over my headset.
“I don’t know any Mr. Doe. You must have the wrong number.”
“I’m quite certain I telephoned the proper top secret stealth chopper whose existence I am legally bound to deny. My mother taught me to always check the numbers twice.” The scrambler isn’t strong enough to mask the sarcasm.
Stealth chopper? This thing was loud enough to wake up everybody on the block. Then again, the non-stealth military choppers I was used to would’ve woken up everybody in half the town.
“Well you better check again because I don’t know any Mr. Doe.” I retort.
“There won’t be, because you don’t exist yet. We’re in the process of changing your name to John Doe. It should be finalized within the hour.”
“You can change my name?” I ask. “Who are you guys?”
“We can do many things Mr. Doe, or shall I call you Rambo baby? Well no matter. It would be careful to list the things we can’t do Rambaby. We are powerful people. It’s not safe enough to discuss who we are over this radio connection, but all will be revealed as soon as you land.”
“This is all a little sudden. You guys couldn’t have called a few days ahead to my parents. Just a courtesy call, ‘Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Rambaby what’s your schedule like Tuesday? Free? Excellent, you’re going to be assaulted by some terrorists and you might want to make them snacks or something’. It’s the sort of thing polite people do.” My comment earns some snickers form the soldiers in the helicopter.
“Polite people don’t use voice scramblers and send noisy choppers into the middle of sleeping neighborhoods to wake up people’s dogs. We prefer the term professional Mr. Doe, and like I said, all will be explained to you as soon as you land. I’m surprised you haven’t asked why we’ve changed your name for you though. That was what this call was about.”
“To protect my family right? The same reason why Batman doesn’t go by his first name. Although now that you mention it, why didn’t you just give me a codename? As I recall it was you who named me Rambaby.”
“Because codenames are for people who go home to families. New names are for people who will be associated with us more permanently. Meditate on the meaning of that for the remainder of your trip.” The headset switches back to the channel that the helicopter crew is usuing, and I can hear the tail end of a conversation about me they’ve been having.
“Like the grim reaper but in a family friendly package.” The first female pilot says.
“And cuddly.” The second one adds.
“You should set her up with your niece.” The first one suggests.
I was married in my last life, to a woman. We had four children, all of them were biological, and all of them were mine. Intellectually I am acutely aware of the biological and emotional benefits of a close relationship with a female. However, developmentally, I still think girls are icky.
“What do you think about dinosaurs?” I ask the man with the stubble across from me in an effort to change the subject so I don’t have to hear any more about girls. The adult type girls were fine, like the pilots. It was the ones closer to my age I didn’t want to hear about.
“Coolest things ever to walk the planet.” He responds without missing a beat. “Got a favorite?” He leans forward, propping his elbows up on the rifle that’s laying in his lap.
“Velociraptor.” I say. “They’re so quick and smart. And those claws! Raptor claws have got to be the most awesome dinosaur fossils ever. I wanted one for my birthday but my parents said I was too little. I’d poke an eye out or something.”
“Good old raptors, nice choice, but I think you have to go with the king.” He presses his elbows against his chest and waves his hands around to simulate really short arms.
“T. Rex?” I ask.
“Absolutely.” He says, returning to his leaned in position. “Baddest predator to ever walk the earth. I asked my wife for a tooth fossil for our anniversary but she got me a leather massage chair instead.”
“Dude, you got ripped off!” One of the other men in the chopper chimes in over the comm channel.
“I know right.” He says, turning to face the soldier who had spoken up. “I mean my call sign is Rex, and everything.”
“Boys, you know this is an official military channel right?” One of the female pilots asks. “Every word that’s spoken on her is heavily encrypted and sealed as top secret. You’re supposed to talk about important stuff.”
“T. Rex is important.” The man with the stubble exclaims. “That’s what I’m saying. T. Rex doesn’t get enough respect.”
“A bet a raptor could take down a T. Rex.” I say, rejoining the conversation.
“Ouch.” The man says, grabbing his side to illustrate that he’s pretending my words physically hurt him. “That’s a low blow kid.”
“Well, maybe not any raptor, but the right raptor, in the right place at the right time. Don’t get me wrong, T. Rex is super dangerous, but that’s why the raptor might win. Things that are big and scary tend to underestimate the little guy.” The stubbly solider appreciates the not so subtle subtext of my words.
“I’m with you kid. It’s why we’ve put such an effort to bring you in, but just remember.” He sits up straight and gets serious for a second. “These people that are after you. They know what you’re capable of, and you can’t always count on your deceiving appearances.” I nod appreciatively. It’s solid advice. Not that I had really used that tactic this morning, but I would have to keep from relying on it.
The chatter dies down to quick bursts of military speak between the pilots and some far off control tower. I take the opportunity to observe the awesome view that the chopper affords. I have memories of sky diving from low earth orbit, and the ‘me’ in my memories isn’t impressed by skimming the treeline in a chopper, but kid ‘me’ thinks this is the coolest thing ever.
My parents were planning on taking me to the county fair next week. The ferris wheel would’ve gotten me about as high as this helicopter, but it wouldn’t have been even ten percent as awesome. This was a great way to experience heights for the first time.
“Hey.” I address the stubbly solider whose been keeping me company. “What’s going to happen to my parents?” I feel kind of selfish for not mentioning them earlier. The immediate danger was dealt with, and the police had arrived. I think I even saw SWAT pulling up to my house, but now that I had quiet moment I wanted to know what became of them.
“They’re being escorted to a safe location. Don’t worry. They’ll be safe.” The man assures me. “We’re not going to let the world’s most dangerous toddler become an orphan.”
“Will I get to see them again?” I ask. A momentary surge in childhood emotion prompting me to express an uncharacteristically weak emotion.
“I don’t know kid.” The stubbly man says. A trace of a frown entering his face. “I just don’t know.” That saddens me, and I have to distract myself with the awesome view once again.
The sun is coming up, and it’s not long before we fly into a landing strip on a military base. There’s at least a hundred fully armed men and women in formation to greet us as we land. My escort from the chopper exits the chopper and fans out to take up defensive positions. It’s just for show of course. Probably some tradition of this outfit. I liked it. It showed that these people took their missions seriously. Well, except for the dino talk.
“Greetings commander Francis Timothy Walker. Captain of the sniper detachment from red team of seal team six. Honorably discharged after twenty years of service to serve as contract advisor and instructor for the training of future SEALs. Died January 2nd 2013 in a hospital bed, surrounded by his family and loved ones.” The man addressing me snapped to a salute. My jaw dropped, this was the first thing tonight to truly surprise me.
When I had accepted my mission to be sent back I had expected a lot of craziness. The late night intruders were obviously the upgraded enemies. The secret government outfit seemed kind of par for the course, but seeing my old spotter still alive was breath taking. I hadn’t known he was still alive, and he had greeted me with my full name and rank. How had he known it was me.
“Ryan.” I say, running forward and leaping up to hug him. The way he hugged me, spinning me around like a favorite uncle, was unprofessional, but somehow appropriate. He sets me down and ruffles my hair affectionately.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for you Francis.” Somebody coughs that I don’t see. “I mean John. We’ve been keeping track of you for a while John.” He emphasizes the word John each time he says it.
“What do you mean? How did you guys know? Is this common knowledge?” We start walking towards one of the barracks as we talk. To a casual bystander it may have looked like a grandfather taking his grandson out for a walk. Not two of the world’s most cunning special operations operatives discussing intelligence on a very important op, me.
“We’ve known for about 18 months. You remember when you were six months old and your parents thought you had cancer so they took you in for an MRI?”
“Oh yeah, I remember that, but the tests came back negative.” I say.
“See that’s weird.” He says as he opens the door to the barracks.
“That the tests were negative?” I ask.
“No.” He responds. “That you remember. You really shouldn’t have that good of a long term memory yet. Anyway, the results from the test were, shall we say eye opening? Eye opening enough that they eventually made it to some of our boys who monitor these things. We had a devil of a time getting the medical community to bury the matter. We had to bribe a lot of people to keep that data under wraps, but as soon as we got the report we started watching you.” We walked over to the bunk that was to be mine. He didn’t have to tell me it was going to be my bunk. I don’t think anybody else in the military was allowed to sleep with their teddy bear and a fuzzy power ranger’s blanket.
“We did a lot of digging. We went through your parent’s employment history, medical history, family history, and interviewed dozens of their friends and relations. That all turned up nothing. There was absolutely nothing about your parents that could have created that remarkable brain in your skull.” He pulled back the blanket as if preparing to tuck me in.
“Then one of our boys had the bright idea to compare the MRI to other brain scans of soldiers. We didn’t think we would get such a close match to yours. We thought we’d get some correlations, maybe something to tell us what we were working with. When it turned out that your brain, I mean your current brain, was an almost exact match to your old brain, we didn’t believe it. We thought it was a coincidence, a fluke, a random chance.”
“What changed your mind?” I asked, sitting down on my bunk as Ryan sat on the bunk next to me.
“We bugged your room. It wasn’t legal, but I had a hunch, and we’re a black ops outfit anyway. Legal is more of a cautionary word than a hard rule. You talked in your sleep. Not much, just whispering a few words. Not many, and nothing too conspicuous, but we started cross referencing your night time rants with your old files, and every single word you spoke was a codename for an operation. Your parents would think they were meaningless, that you had heard them from a movie or from one of your friends, but we knew better. So we watched you. We didn’t know what to do with such a discovery so we waited. We waited for over a year until the people watching your crib’s camera feed reported the sound of a grenade going off.”
“Yeah about that.” I say, stifling a yawn. It’s been a heck of a day, and I was up to early. My two year old metabolism is telling me to go back to bed. “How did those people know about me? You guys I get. It makes sense, but they didn’t have access to my records or my brain scan. How could they have known?” Ryan shrugs.
“We don’t know John. We were hoping you could tell us.”
“Well I don’t know nothing.” I say. “Do you at least know who they are?”
“We’re working on it John, but for now you’ve got to rest. Go to sleep.”
“Sleep, I’m (Yawn) fine.” I cover my mouth in a vain attempt to hide my sleepiness. My bed does look awfully soft and warm.
“Sure you are. You may be a big strong navy SEAL on the inside, but on the outside you’re a two year old who missed his nap time, and you’re going to be very grumpy if you don’t go beddy-by.” He gently pushes me down into the mattress and I instinctively snuggle down into the covers.
“But I need to start finding bad guys.” I say, but my eyes have already closed.
“We’ll wake you up in a few hours John, and when you do we’re going to teach you to fight.”
“I already know….how……to fight.” I say, beginning to drift into unconsciousness.
“You know how to fight like a man John, but when you wake up. We’re going to teach you to fight like a baby. Rest now, the fun begins when you wake up.”