War II: the Remake

"Alright John." "Alright Bill." "Want to hear a joke?" "Do you like your kidneys?" "Good. There's this guy - " "Enthralling beginning, and by the way, your kidneys are mine." " - who gets conscripted into the army when war breaks out - " "Which war?" "An unspecified war." "An unspecified war." "Yes." "Between who?" "Unspecified combatants. Let's call them the Reds and the Blues." "I see. Much as I'm going to regret saying this, carry on." "And so the Reds draft up our hero - let's call him Wilson. And they whisk him off to the training ground." "With all the other cannon fodder." "Quite. Actually, more so than you'd think. You see, they get there, and the drill sergeant lines them all up and breaks the horrible news to them." "Would this be something along the lines of 'Bill's telling a joke, run for your lives lads'?" "Ha, and indeed, ha. No. He lines them all up, and after a moment, informs them that they've run out of bayonets to put on the rifles." "Another triumph for military intelligence, the finest of all oxymorons." "But the recruits - " " - cannon fodder - " " - look out over the parade ground at the barracks and see a line of straw dummies facing them anyway." "This going to be good, I can tell..." "And the drill sergeant informs them all that they have a cunning substitute for bayonets, and they're the lucky battalion that gets to try it out." "Do your worst." "He gives them all a spoon each, and tells them all to look very fierce, and very determined, and tells them to fix the spoons to their rifles, run up to the dummies with all their might and - " "Glare pointedly?" " - shout 'stabbetty-stab! stabbetty-stab!'" "Words fail me." "And the recruits look at each other in bewilderment." "Understandably." "But the drill sergeant bawls them out and makes them perform this curious action. And so they run forward at great speed, screaming 'stabbetty-stab! stabbetty-stab!' and looking very fierce and determined, and to their amazement, the dummies fly apart in a hail of straw." "It's one of these jokes, isn't it." "Yes." "I'm going to make a brief comment." "By all means." "Fuck." "Good." "Thank you." "You're welcome. Now, the recruits are feeling much more confident now they have the power of stabbetty-stab, but one or two of the more astute have noticed that not only are there no bayonets to put on the guns, but - " " - no guns on which to put bayonets?" "Exactly. Of course, our hero is one of these lucky few. And he timorously puts up his hand and asks the drill sergeant when they get their rifles." "Don't tell me.." "And the drill sergeant lines them up again, and breaks the other horrible news." "I said don't tell me." "They haven't got any rifles." "You told me." "But they do have a cunning substitute.." "You're going to tell me again, aren't you." "..they have to look very fierce, and very determined, and he gives them all a broom handle each, and tells them to fix the broom handles to the spoons, and shout 'bangetty-bang! bangetty-bang!'" "I think I might just defect right away next time war breaks out and save myself the hassle." "And the recruits look puzzled, but Wilson reminds them of the terrible and deadly effect of the spoons, and they all level their broom handles - " " - any use of the phrase 'a clean sweep' will result in pain, just so you know, Bill - " " - shout 'bangetty-bang! bangetty-bang!' and the dummies fly apart again." "Ain't technology wonderful?" "By now the recruits are considered fit for war." "I'm glad the training was so hard and rigorous. I might get worried if they'd skimped on it." "And they're shipped off in a trice to the - " " - still mysteriously unspecified - " " - battleground, and marched into trenches to begin the dirty business of wholesale slaughter." "The horror, the horror." "You have no idea. Cries of 'bangetty-bang! bangetty-bang!' echo endlessly across no-man's-land as rank after rank of soldiers fall, and Wilson is there in the front rank bangetty-banging away -" " - randy bugger - " " - and then the lines charge forward, and shrieks of 'stabbetty-stab! stabbetty-stab!' impale men by the hundred, and Wilson is right in the thick of it." "Having left his survival instinct behind in the trench, then." "Eventually, the battleground becomes quiet. After a week of non-stop genocide, there are only two combatants left - Wilson, and his counterpart on the Blue's front line." "Very efficient war, this." "And for hours they stalk each other through the mist. Eventually they spot each other." "I'm guessing this isn't where they settle down for a quiet cup of tea and a stimulating discussion of Vaughan Williams' later works." "No. They see each other and instantly are filled with hatred. Wilson is quick off the mark - " " - all that intensive training, no doubt - " " - and has his broom-handle in his hands in a twinkling. He sees the Blue solider is unarmed, and so wastes no time in thundering 'bangetty-bang! bangetty-bang!'" "The Geneva Convention apparently being irrelevant in this day and age." "But, to his horror, there is no appreciable effect. The other guy just keep walking slowly towards him. So Wilson levels his spoon and charges him head-on, shouting 'stabbetty-stab! stabbetty-stab!'" "If at first you don't succeed, fail utterly to learn from experience." "But this, too, has no effect. And before Wilson can work out what's going on, the other guy walks into him, knocks him over, and tramples him into a bloody pulp." "Oh." "And just before Wilson expires - " "I'm dreading this." " - he notices that the Blue soldier is muttering to himself under his breath - " "I can feel it coming..." "'Tanketty-tank, tanketty-tank, tanketty-tank...'" "Bill?" "Yes, John?" "You're entering a world of pain."

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