The General’s Uniform
Tristin’s eyes popped open. Jumping up he twisted. Explosions rattled his ears. Camouflaged troops shouting orders and others laying down fire atop the bulwark. Wait...he squinted; they were literally laying down fire. Blasts of flames burst from the troop’s palms incinerating the landscape before them. Black dots zipped across the scenery like ants with superspeed. He tried to make out the dots, but they were too far away.
He tried to move but his clothes refused. His clothes felt...stiff, he regarded his outfit. “What tha...”
“Hey,” a soldier shouted, “he’s up!”
Tristin regraded the clothing again, a general’s uniform, pristine and starched stars and pins galore. But everyone else’s uniform was ripped and torn. One of the dots jumped onto the bulwark while they were distracted. Tristin stepped back or at least tried to step back. These dots were beasts. Their molerat body and lion type legs seemed out of place. Weirder yet, their bodies were translucent like it wasn’t really here.
Is this a dream? Tristin thought.
A soldier screamed as it smacked him into the pile of weapons behind. Real enough to hurt Tristin thought. “What is this!” he shouted. One of the soldiers blasted the beast sending it screeching away.
“We can’t kill them sir,” another cried. “We need him now!”
The soldier with furrowed brows and a firm step came towards him. He looked in charge. He handed him a shield he got from the armoury. Tristin’s arm rose to take the shield. He clenched his fist.
“What was that?” Tristin asked.
“Take the shield nitwit,” a voice said, Tristin twisted searching for the source...” hurry up the men are dying.” He glanced at the captain that stood before him. He pointed to the general’s uniform Tristin had on. “Yes, I can talk,” the uniform said top pocket flapping like a lip, “but no time for that, now” it continued, “take the shield.”
Tristin took it. “Are you sure this is his affinity?” the captain asked.
“Guess we’ll see,” the uniform said, then launched him into the midst of the creatures in the open plain before the bulwark. With inhuman speed he dashed into the horde, translucent pink blood masked the land with every strike. The shield sent rippling poles of lightning across the land evaporating the creatures. Soldiers cheered but Tristin screamed as he was pulled backwards. His hand twisted behind him crashing into another set of ghost-like lion-moles.
“What are you doing?” Tristin yelled. “My arms don’t work that way...”
“Just shut up,” the uniform said “I’ll do the work just hold tight to...”
A creature pounced on him.
Tristin jumped. Panting, he turned. He was in a living room. His living room. He exhaled.
“Honey are you ok?” Jemma asked, “oh my you’re sweating.” He felt the couch beneath him just to make sure. Jemma chopped vegetable a few feet away. She was real, right? Of course, you couldn’t fake that beauty.
“That one felt real,” he said. Tristin sighed, relieved to be home.
“One of those weird dreams again?” Jemma asked.
“Yeah” he replied “but this time it was...” he reclined resting his head on the couch then closed his eyes. As soon as his lids closed, he jumped. Soldiers blasting lion-moles and screaming all around.
“You again,” the general’s uniform said.
“The same one?” the captain said, shield in hand. “Well, this wasn’t it,” he said looking at the shield. He rushed for the sword.
“Take it,” the uniform demanded. The uniform had a deep, masculine voice.
“Hey!” Tristin said refusing to take the sword, “this is my body.”
The uniform sighed, “could you please take the sword so I can save my men.”
“Why am I talking to a uniform,” Tristin said, “this is a dream.” He closed his eyes. When he opened his eyes, they were still there. The captain regarded him, concerned.
“Why did you pick him again?” the captain asked.
“I didn’t,” the uniform said. “This is not a dream Tristin, take the sword or men will die. And if they die, you die.”
“The same guy?” Another soldier asked. The captain nodded.
“I am right here you know.” Tristin said.
“The only benefit,” the uniform said, “is that we can have multiple chances to guess his affinity for one of the armor sets.” After trying to wake himself two more times he finally took the sword.
“Hey,” Tristin said, “do I have a say in this?”
“No” the uniform said, then launched him into the horde. He crashed into the ground knee and fist sending dirt flying. He didn’t feel anything just as before. The uniform moved his hand with the sword slashing lion-moles. Lightening cracked and pink blood splashed as they made their way towards a distant form. A giant lion-mole standing on two legs. The giant monster loomed in the distance. Tristin eyed the creature. It had three heads.
“Focus,” the uniform said, “stop stiffening your hand.”
Tristin decided it’s best to play along if he won’t wake. He moved with the uniform slashing and stabbing. “Good,” the uniform said.
“I know right, I think I might be getting the hang of...”
Tristin woke up in the middle of a board meeting.
“Tristin,” his boss said smiling, “Glad to see you are back with us.” What day was it? He checked his watch; a week had passed. “I’ll let him off the hook this time guys, he burnt the midnight oil to meet the deadline.”
Deadline? Tristin thought, for what.
Who was living his life while he was away? The only thing he could recall was going to sleep on the coach. Tristin rubbed his temples, then closed his eyes. He held them shut. He feared what he would see if he opened. He could feel a migraine coming on. What in the world was going on?
Slowly he peaked.
“He’s back,” the Captain said. “That one was amazing.” Tristin cupped his forehead.
This isn’t real. This isn’t real. This isn’t real.
“Yeah,” the uniform agreed, “but the sword is still not his affinity.”
“What on earth is going on here?” Tristin asked. “Why am I here, what are we doing and why can’t I remember the time that passes when I am here?” The captain handed him a belt, ignoring his rant.
“Ready?” the uniform asked.
“Wait,” Tristin said “what does this...” the uniform launched him into the horde. He still hadn’t gotten used to that superhuman jump. This time Tristin––or rather the uniform––killed beasts with his bare hands.
“Ah!” Tristin screamed flashing his hands. They really were bear hands or paws. They ripped into lion-moles as Tristin flowed with the uniform directing his body.
“Hey,” Tristin said as his fist split the head of a beast.
“What?” the uniform answered sounding breathless.
“What’s your name?”
“Really” the uniform said slipping underneath a lion-mole and ripping its gut. “You are in a transdimensional space fighting translucent monsters wearing a talking general’s uniform and you want to know my name?”
“Well,” Tristin said, he ducked as paw pass passed above him. “I don’t have anything better to do. This all must be a dream, even when I think I am awake.”
“Just call me general,” the uniform said. “I doubt we’ll see each other again. Summoning the same person three times is...unlikely.”
“Summon?” Tristin asked.
“Yeah,” the general said, “only your type can wield the legendary weapons and ware me?” Tristin regarded the belt as they ducked for cover, “yes” the general continued, “this is a part of the legendary armor.”
“How long have you been fighting?”
“Just over two thousand years,” the general replied.
“As long as we can hold them back its fine,” the general said. “But weaklings like you cause them to gain ground.”
“And yet you summoned me twice?” Tristin asked.
“I don’t choose who wears me?” the general said.
“Enough talking,” the general said “when I say duck, then...”
“What?” Tristin said.
His head lifted off his body. Tristin jumped standing. The people in the pews behind watched him.
Church? He thought, he could remember the last time...
“Honey” his wife said under her breath, “please sit down.” He sat down eyes opened refusing to even blink.
“You promised you wouldn’t sleep,” Jemma said “I...” she looked at him, “what’s wrong with your eyes?”
“Nothing,” he said, eyes dripping.
“It’s watering,” she said “Hun, is everything...” a shush from behind cut her off. Tristin stared ahead, ignoring her. His only aim right now was to not go back. And so, he kept his eyes opened.
“Is this because you didn’t want to come” she whispered. He shook his head.
“We do not fight flesh and blood!” the preacher shouted in that signature way preachers do. Totally unnecessary if you asked him. “And so we need the full armor of God.”
Wait Tristin thought what?
“Let’s look at Ephesians 6:13” the preacher continued. “Therefore” the preacher read “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
Seriously? Tristin thought.
“The only way to defeat the devil in your life” the preacher continued.
“Tristin, I think we should...”
“Stop talking” he said to his wife. “I mean, listen...”
“The only chance we have” the preacher said, “is to put on all the armor, not one, not two all of it.”
Tristin sighed, “I can’t believe I am doing this again.”
“Doing what,” Jemma asked.
Tristin shook his head, then closed his eyes.
“Listen general,” Tristin said to the uniform, “Give me all the armor.”
“What?” the general asked. The captain handed Tristin a breast plate.
“I want them all,” Tristin said.
“Are you crazy kid,” the general said, “you can barely handle one; anymore and you wouldn’t even last a minute out there. These are legendary...”
“What’s the worst that could happen?” Tristin asked.
The captain eyed the uniform. The general remained silent. Finally, he spoke “If you are killed by a legendary weapon, you die! For real, not just here, no coming back.”
“Oh” Tristin said. “Go hard or go home.”
“Oh crap” the general said, “get them all, best case he dies early and we get someone else next time.”
“Done!” the captain said strapping on the boots.
“Ready?” the general asked
“let’s do this,” Tristin replied.
They zipped from one lion-mole to another slashing dashing and spraying the land pink. Most of the time the lion-moles evaporated even before he could slice through them. A sort of force enveloped him creating a protective shield.
“I’ll be dammed,” the general said, “you are still alive. How’d you know?”
“Long story,” Tristin said ducking under a paw. The duck was late, but it didn’t matter, the lion-mole evaporated before it touched him.
They stopped. The lion-moles hesitated, stopped attacking. One of the three headed giants zipped towards him. The general blocked with the shield. This one did not evaporate. A thrust with the sword sent the giant zipping away, avoiding the strike.
“Alright,” the uniform said. He rose his arms, shield in one sword in another. Thin strips of blue lightening danced across the surface. Tristin squinted; a bright blue light shot from the heavens. In waves they rushed across the land in every direction. Lion-moles and giants alike evaporated into nothingness.
The general sighed, “you should have led with that one,” Tristin said.
“Didn’t know I could,” the general said, “it’s the full set. It made all the difference. Good work kid.”
“Wait,” Tristin said, he could feel his mind drifting away, “what now?”
“We go home,” the general said.
“Honey,” Jemma called, “we are going to be late, check the closet.”
Right, he thought we are heading for a restaurant, and I am looking for my favorite tie. Wait, how did I know that?
He opened the closet door. The general’s uniform hung at the front of the row.
“General?” Tristin called.
“Who are you talking to?” Jemma asked.
Tristin spun, “no one,” adjusting her hair she went downstairs.
“Don’t worry kid,” the uniform said, “I’ll be here when you need me, and I brought the armor, all of it.” The general lifted a sleeve pointing under the bed. Tristin smiled, then left.