Words to include: major, frighten, crowd
The major was nervous. He couldn’t understand why, he’d never been nervous before in fact he wasn’t sure he’d ever really felt any emotion. At least not as intense as this. So why start feeling now after so many great years of being as dull as a brick? It was just a simple speech after all, not even a full one more like relaying a message to a large group of people. But why couldn’t they have picked someone else? Literally anyone else would have been better.
The major paced up and down his tent trying to work through his nervous energy. As he paced he tried to get rid of his sternness but no matter how hard he tried to look happy, the harsh lines on his face wouldn’t give and turned every smile into a deep scowl.
“Sir.” A young soldier had walked into the tent, saluting and coming to attention as he announced himself.
“At ease soldier. What is it?” Said the major in his trademark gravelly, grating voice, that sounded as though he had smoked his whole life, even though he’d never actually been near one let alone put one near his lips. In fact he was so anti-smoking that he had put a camp-wide ban on it. Everyone had just thought he was trying really hard to quit the damn things.
“Sir, everyone is gathered near the flagpole as requested.” Said the soldier.
“Thank you Private, you may go and join them.”
“Sir yes sir!” Replied the private as he saluted and backed out of the tent, never letting his gaze wander from the Major. He really hated it when they did that, too creepy.
The nervousness still there the Major kept pacing until he finally gave it up as a futile act and bit the bullet to join the crowd he had just assembled. He stood directly beneath the flagpole and began to address them, his inner drill sergeant coming to the surface as a coping mechanism for his nervousness.
“TROOPS, I HAVE SOME IMPORTANT NEWS TO SHARE DIRECTLY FROM THE GENERAL. THE WAR IS OVER, PACK YOUR BAGS AND GO HOME!”
The crowd stared at him, surprised at what had just come out of his mouth. Then they all started to click into place, as though understanding something on a group level.
“Very funny Major, very funny.” Said one soldier.
“Yeah, is this some kind of test? You know we’re devoted to the cause or we wouldn’t be here.” Piped up another.
“Yeah!” Shouted the rest of them in acknowledgement. The Major didn’t know what to do. He hadn’t prepared for this eventuality, so he tried his best to get them to believe him.
“NO, I’M BEING SERIOUS.”
“Yes sir, we know. You’re only setting is serious. That’s why it’s so horrible for you to come up with such a joke. What’s wrong with you?” Replied the Private from earlier at the tent.
“Yeah, some sick test sir. What do you want us to do? March out there now and prove ourselves to you, is that it?” Rebuked another.
“WHAT? NO! I’M TELLING THE TRUTH, I PROMISE!” With the panic set into his voice, that was the final straw for the crowd of soldiers. Shaking their heads as they went they picked up their weapons and Marched towards the nearly empty battlefield. Panic turning into Fright, the Major chased after them trying to grab their guns and stop them from leaving, but they only looked more and more angry at him with every aimless attempt.
As they were marching out of camp the General, a big, burly, happy chap who quite resembled Santa Claus drove towards them, quite clearly overflowing with joy. He asked the first soldier, “where are you all going?”
“To war sir. The Major is testing us and we don’t know why.” The soldier replied.
“Well that’s preposterous, especially since I told him to relay to you that the war is over! So drop your guns, grab a beer and lets rejoice that it’s finally over!” Cheered the General. And suddenly it was like the second coming of Christmas. Guns were flying everywhere as soldiers threw them aside to join in the festivities. They ran through beer as though there were more than double the men actually there, and somehow they managed to find a glittering disco ball and some lights. No one knew where they had come from but they strung them up on the tree branches anyway and danced beneath the stars, as they partied like there wouldn’t be a war tomorrow, which for once was actually true.
As the Major tried to join the crowd everyone jeered and scowled at him. When he thought he would be safer next to the General, he said to him while shaking his head, “you know John, that was a really sick joke you played on your men. Next time you really should take it seriously and just tell them the truth.” The Major was about to reply, but the words got lost in his mouth and all he could find was a nod. So he nodded in agreement with the General and joined in the festivities, taking it one small step at a time to show his emotions. Or at least that was the plan until he started very violently dancing the jive in his excitement. For the first time in his life he actually smiled. Shock rippled through the crowd as they never thought he could even do anything other than scowl. But that shock soon turned into ecstatic happiness as the whole crowd gained twice as much energy. After all if a grouch like that could be happy, what was stopping them?