The Stars Came Back -040- Bad joke

Fade in

INT – DAY – cargo bay

Harbin watches as a group of two dozen recruits run a simple obstacle course around the ship. They are jogging forward the mid-level passageway on one side, down the stairs, across the cargo bay, up the stairs on the other, then jogging aft through the other mid-level passageway. They are evenly spaced, and doing OK.Harbin: Look’n GOOD! (then to himself) Let’s see what we can do about that. (Loudly, again) CORPORAL Kaminski, next time you get to that cargo bay window in the end, go THROUGH it, drop to the deck, cross, and go up the other side the same way. Everyone else follow.

Kaminski hops through the open window more-or-less smoothly, carefully drops to the cargo deck, trots across, then stares up at the opposite window, not sure how to get up, as there are no obvious safe footholds or handholds, though there are some wall-mounted pipes and equipment.

CPL Kaminski: Uh, Sarge? THIS window?

Harbin nods.

The next couple of guys show up next to him. They quickly, but clumsily, organize a simple human pyramid, with Kaminski on top, He’s just barely able to get his hands on the window, and scramble up and through. He leans back out.

CPL Kaminski: OK, Horkle, you’re next. Snipe, take his place, keep rotating through.

Kaminski watches as a growing number of recruits pile up behind the pyramid as the climbing up is slow and awkward going.

Stenson walks into view, watching the progress, and stands next to Harbin.

Stenson: Like herd’n a flock a’ tuna up a rainbow some days, isn’t it?

Harbin: Some are as useless as hired relatives. But the first phase is always the frustrating part; it’s depressing to see how low “average” is. But, we see which ones are teachable, which one are able and willing to think things through on their own. They’ll get better fast after we cut most of them for attitude. The good ones learn to learn and figure things out, and listen to what we DO teach them. Or they get dead. COME ON, TOSS THE SHORT ONES UP THERE IF YOU HAVE TO!

Stenson: … Maybe you need to tell them to catch them if they miss, too?

Harbin: WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE READY!… (to Stenson) They’ll catch on to that… eventually. (Louder, to the recruits) Oh, stop your sniviling! It can’t be more than a sprain! You two hustle him up the sick bay, and get back here!

Stenson walks away shaking his head, Harbin goes to help sort out the pile of troops.

Fade to

EXT – DAY – Firing Range

A simple 3m berm of pushed up dirt in a large, level-bottomed, 3-sided box, about 30m on a side at the bottom of the berm. A line of silhouette targets 2m apart line the foot of the berm.

SGT Kaushik stands behind a line of a dozen recruits, standing at attention with a slug rifle at their shoulders. He walks to one end, and looks down the line of them.

SGT Kaushik: Secure your magazines!

There is a general shuffling in the line as soldiers unsling their rifles and remove the magazines, placing them in a side magazine pouch.

SGT Kaushik: Present, ARMS!

The troops snap to the position of “present arms,” though not very smoothly or well. Sgt Kaushik steps just behind and to the side of the first soldier, so he can clearly look at the rifle in front of him, without being in front of the soldier.

SGT Kaushik: Port arms and show clear!

The first soldier moves his rifle to port arms, works the action, looks in the chamber.

Range Recruit 1: All Clear SERGEANT!

Kaushik steps to the next soldier, Horkle.

Sgt Kaushik: Port arms and show clear!

Horkle goes to port arms, works the action, and a round flies out of the chamber!


Horkle stands at mortified attention, and start to tremble.

Horkle: I-I-I don’t know sir!


Suddenly Kaushik notices a stifled giggle from the next soldier, Dartch.

SGT Kaushik: Any idea HOW it got in there?

Horkle: N-n-no sir, I mean Sergeant. It wasn’t there earlier, I’m sure!

Sgt Kaushik: It sure as HELL was in there just NOW!

More stifled giggles from Darch.

Sgt Kaushik:(with a side-long glance, then a knowing tone)… Who is your battle buddy?

Horkle: Darch, sir-I-mean-Sergeant, Sir. I mean, Sergeant.

Sgt Kaushik: Did you, at ANY TIME, leave your rifle unattended?

Horkle: No. NO.

Sgt Kaushik: At ANY time?

Horkle:… Only when I was in the head, sergeant.

Sgt Kaushik: And did you leave your rifle with your battle buddy at that time?

Horkle: (realizing what must have happened, and starting to look angry) … YES, SERGENT!

Sgt Kaushik: (cold and quiet) … Ground you weapons… Now, the two of you are going to double-time back to the First Sergeant and explain to him PRECISELY what happened. And, if you are still alive when we get back, you’ll be pulling extra duty for a week, as well as doing fifty extra deck laps before every meal. If you are not back before we are, you’ll be holding targets for us here on the range. Clear?

Horkle and Darch, simultaneously: Clear, sergeant.

SGT Kaushik: CLEAR?!

Horkle and Darch, simultaneously, at rigid attention: CLEAR SERGEANT!

Sgt Kaushik: MOVE-MOVE-MOVE!

The two of them turn and run and full speed back for the ship. Kaushik glares back down the line.

Sgt Kaushik: (to himself, shaking head) That screw-off could manage to fuck up sex.

Fade out



13 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -040- Bad joke

  1. Pingback: TheStars Came Back -039- Onboard Power | The View From North Central Idaho

    • Family connections (remember Harbin being asked about taking a contract on Councilor Darch, his dad?), being used as a negative example, and upcoming plot point involving rule #2.

          • What scene did you introduce all of the recruits by name? I’m having to go back and reread things….

          • Never did introduce them all, or even most. Just a handful of them. They are, for the most part, kind of interchangeable, kind of like red-shirts and other background crew on Star Trek. Two exceptions are Horkle and Darch. Think of them as stand-ins for recruits in general. Sort of “basically good guy doing his best, but a beginner,” and “asshole.”

            The one downside to this format for ya’ll reading it is I can see how you’d forget details. But, it’ll be out there, and then when it’s all done you will (hopefully) have the whole story arc, and reading it through again you’ll see all the bits and details fitting together.

          • I’m lost. In 38, they have 24 hours to pay the power bill. Did 39 take place the same day or the next day? What happened to Helton? Where did he go?

          • In 38 they get the message “pay up or get the power cut.” Helton, Stenson, and the rest move to get power working ASAP, but they also needed to raise on the landing struts to help in working on things. They managed to get struts working well enough, and were raising, with shore power available and backup-power (sort of like a REALLY fancy UPS) ready to go the next day, when Seeless cut shore power trying to time it to screw them up. Helton is involved in the repair (remember he was heading to his sister’s place in episode 002 to do techie stuff), and in 39 he’s at the command station. In 40, he’s not there, but the ship is an old warship, and these are soldiers – their fates are intertwined, as it were – so knowing a bit about them is useful. If someone were trying to cut scenes to shorten a movie, this would be one of those that “decent, builds the non-central characters a fair bit, helps make later actions more understandable, but could be cut without losing the general story arc.” So no, Helton’s not it it, but central characters ARE. It will make more sense later, I’m pretty sure.

          • I tried to write a screenplay years ago but I gave up because I thought my writing lacked depth. If nothing else, you’ve inspired me to try screenplay writing again. This is kind of weird because, where I live, everybody has several screenplays in their closet. (I have a bunch of them too, though none that I’ve written.)

            I can tell that you have the ability to tell a good story but I think you need to work on it if you want to turn this into a $$$$ screenplay.

          • Thanks. And good luck on writing your own story, too.
            As for pounding mine into a salable screenplay, I figure that my chances in Hollywood are VERY slim unless / until I have a story with a following that people recognize the value of, and then I can worry about sales. Considering there are a number of things that only work because the way I’ve set them up, trying to shorten it dramatically to a normal length would also flatten the story a lot (not that Hollywood seems to have a problem with that). Though, as (rRbidAlien?) suggested, I’ll likely package it as a Kindle book when I’m done, so people can read it all the way through at their own pace.

          • Be aware too — there are hacks in Hollywood who will steal your idea and write their own story. I used to post on a political board where we used to write original political jokes for a few hours every morning — and a day later, we’d hear our jokes on the nightime talk shows. I always felt like “Geez guys, just hire me. I’m just down the street…” I’m sure you’ll say “Well, how do you know the jokes were stolen?” You can figure that out when they repeat your jokes from today, then the jokes from tomorrow, then the jokes from the next day. If you are funny enough on the internet, you attract your own audience. People tune in just to get the laughs.

            Anyway, this is a word of caution. If you’re writing for the fun of it (which I do a lot of times) then it doesn’t matter what happens after you post it. If you hope to make money on something, you need to be cautious.

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