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The Army Chronicles: Basics


and I realized that I was on the verge of a new era in my life. Whatever happened from that point
forward, I knew my life would never be the same.
A man in uniform led us into the building and a few curious early morning commuters
watched us file past. An elderly lady said something to her miserable looking husband, and he
nodded his head automatically in agreement. From the commuter’s point of view, we must have
looked like a herd of cattle being led to slaughter. We were taken to the side, down a flight of
stairs and onto the train deck.
The train smell hit my nostrils before I stepped onto the platform. I had been on a few
trains before, and they always smelled the same. A mixture of iron, old rocks, burnt oil and spent
electricity all made up the smell of the train.
More men in brown uniforms directed us onto the waiting train.
“Six per compartment,” we were instructed.
I followed the steady stream of people and stepped onto the train. The passageway was
narrow on the right side of the carriage and was dimly lit. I tried to follow the guy in front of me
into a compartment, but a tall young man with jet black, greasy hair and a sneer on his face
blocked the way.
“This one is full, move along,” he said.
I ignored him and stepped into the next compartment. There were red cushioned, bench
seats on both sides with a luggage rack above and the faint smell of cigarette smoke hung in the
air. I was first into the empty compartment, tossed my bag onto the luggage rack and flopped
into the seat next to the window. Rex followed me in and dropped his bag on top and sank into
the seat opposite me.
Four more filed into the small room, which was only designed for four people, but of
course, the army squeezed in six. The last guy was a short, thin young man and I did a double
take as he looked too young to be there. He wore glasses, and the luggage case he carried, was
almost as tall as him. Not only did he have trouble lifting his case, he was too short to reach the
luggage rack. A short thick set guy with spiky blond hair reached out and grabbed the little guy’s
case.
“Here, let me help you,” he said in a deep baritone voice.
Before the little guy could protest, he lifted the case and heaved it onto the luggage rack,
the muscles bulging in his powerful arms. The small guy let go of the handle not a moment too
soon. If he hung on for a second longer, he would have ended up on the rack with his luggage.
“What you got in there, bricks?” spike hair inquired, his friendly blue eyes smiling with
his face. The scrawny one just pulled up his shoulders and sat down mumbling a thank you.
Once everyone was seated, we all look at each other, wondering what to say.
“So, are you all ready for an adventure?” the spiky guy asked, breaking the uneasy silence.
Everyone stared at him wondering if he had been drinking so early in the morning.
“I’m George by the way, George Cunningham,” spiky said.
The little guy looked uncomfortable and mumbled, “Charles Middleton the third.”
I smiled. I am a fourth generation Chris Dempsey, but never had the urge to introduce
myself as Chris Dempsey the fourth. Nope, I was just plain ordinary Chris that led an ordinary
life and was on my way to the army. Charles on the other hand, came from a different circle of
society.
“Tommy Bradford,” the guy next to me introduced himself.
“Frik Heyns,” said the guy on the end.
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