The Ancient 3.1

Stakeouts are ssooo boring!

It had been several hours since Ash found their position amongst the branches of a tree. They had been shifting about for the last two of them trying to find a more comfortable position. They went from lounging on their back against the trunk to dangling from their knees, and when it seemed like nothing was going to happen for a while they even tried swinging from branch to branch like the monkey men used to do. The last one had almost resulted in a rapid 30-foot descent and since that near-fatal accident, Ash had calmed down and whined about their impatience a bit more quietly.

Now, laying on their belly across one of the thicker branches, Ash stares down the scope of their rifle, fiddling with the focus and watching the two distant figures as they hover around the cave entrance. Even those two seemed bored. One of them was kicking rocks as the other looked as though they were writing in a journal.

“Oh, sweet eternal ending, come for me,” Ash said aloud, giving the silent figure in their scope a voice. “End my suffering. Embrace me, take me to the void!”

The scope shifted a half inch to settle on the other guard as he kicked a rock off into the open field.

“It’s not so bad, Percy,” Ash continues, voicing the other guard. “At least we don’t have to be in the cave. It is ever so frightening in there, with all the oogly boogly monsters in the deep darkness.”

“You are, indeed, quite right, Reginald,” ‘says’ the journalist. “I would much rather sit here, flooding these pages with the deepest desires of my heart, than face the unknown terrors in the darkness below.”

“Please, Percy, share your pages with me, I would lo-” A sudden crackle from the headset in their ear startled Ash. They nearly lose their grip on the tree again, but their new position offers better support and they avoid a near-fatal incident.

“Please set your radio to PTT mode, Ash.” A firm female voice demands from the other end of the radio. Ash turns a bright shade of red under their head wraps as they click a switch on the radio on their shoulder, then presses on the back of the earpiece to respond.

“Uh, yeah… I knew you could hear me,” Ash said. “I was just serenading you guys with a beautiful love story!”

“Keep it to yourself, this is serious business,” the voice replies.

“Lighten up Bri,” a third, deeper voice chimes in. “I was enjoying it. I mean, I’m not usually into Pajonian romance stories, but anything is better than this silence.”

“The radio is for relaying important information, Cub,” Bri persists. “I do not wish to go over this again. Why must we have this conversation on every outing?”

Ash raises their rifle again, settling the scope back on the guards as Bri repeats the order of silence and Cub insists that chit-chat builds team relations. As Bri begins to lose her temper, raising her voice and trying to establish her line of command, Cub makes implications that Bri must be a popsicle because she has a stick so far up her a-

“I’ve got movement!” Ash says quickly into the speaker. The bickering between Cub and Bri stops immediately.

Author: CJ Stark

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