Tonight was our night fire, the SAWs and 240Bravos. We had to wait til it was dark, but that didn't take too long thanks to the earth shifting on its rotation around the sun (that's how seasons change, Jen).
Before I get into this, let me add a little footnote about the end of the night. The rest of it was spent lazing about while everyone else burned up tax dollars, SAWs and 240s alike. Once we were completely finished and had picked up all the brass shell casings and links, we waited for the bus and cheered, beatboxing a techno rhythm while one of my friends swung chem lights (glow sticks) attached by 550 cord (super durable string) with his finely honed raver skills. Someone broke a chem light near the bleachers, and my assault pack (just think "backpack", not rucksack) glowed with splatter patterns. I somehow managed to get that crap on my hand as well.
Anyway, I had managed to get into the first firing order, eager and anxious and apprehensive to do what I came to do.
Now let me just state a few things before I allow you to laugh at my expense. It was dark. My nightvision (only covers one eye) was adjusted to see things further away, like the targets. I was very nervous. I had never used a PEQ2, a laser pointer on steroids mounted on the side of the gun. The NCO in the tower is calling out to see if everyone is ready, so I'm being rushed here. I worry that my barrel is high enough where I won't shoot the concrete ledge in front of me. I'm trying to make sure my NODs (nightvision) are set right. I'm making sure the bolt of the weapon is locked to the rear. I'm making sure its on safe. I'm trying to move the sandbags from under me so I can plant my feet effectively. I'm making sure that I can see the beam from my laser through my NODs. I'm making sure the belt of ammo is laid down so that it will constantly feed with no problems. Lots going through my head, and not enough time.
My friend is to my left and a Specialist (rank is E4) is standing on the ground to my right above my pit. Both of these guys are aggressively "helping" me to ensure that I'm good to go. It was like staring at a wasps nest inches from your face and trying to track only one wasp, just so many things going on. The tower tells us to lock and load. I lay the belt of ammo onto the tray and it falls out before I can slam the cover on it. I fumble for the end of the belt the way a running back with vegetable oil on his hands fumbles the ball. I toss the belt in and slam the cover shut.
The first target pops up, so I put the laser on that little green bastard and squeeze the trigger.
Cue the self-chastising profanity while yanking the charging handle back.
I point the laser just under that arrogant little plastic green prick and squeeze the trigger, anticipating a hail of lead to wipe the imagined smirk off his face.
More profanity, repeat step one. Repeat results.
I pull the handle back again and put the noncompliant bitch on SAFE and open the feed tray cover. The rounds fall out, and just as I see the error, the two guys flanking me announce my stupidity by informing me that the rounds were in BACKWARDS. At this point, I'm listening to ridicule in stereo. I have once again proved that I should have been a cook, or continued to work for a warranty company, answering angry phone calls all day, or shelving low quality blockbuster movies for more people to rent and hate. Anything but be behind the trigger of such a sarcastic and vindictive weapon.
At this point, there's no sense in correcting it and firing, since I hadn't let loose a single shot. I have topped my Unfastened Barrel Folly. I might as well keep the grenade and throw the pin. Waiting until the next iteration, I shake off my inconceivable level of moronic density and watch all the wonderful red tracers sail across the field. After all, it really is one hell of a spectacle, to be in the middle of all this noise and imagery. A line of SAWs, all about thirty meters apart (my best guess....not so dependable) intermittently roaring like drumrolls on dangerously tight snare drums; red lines streaking through the air, sometimes bouncing high into the sky and burning out. And that's through one eye. The other is a sea of green, where the surroundings can actually be seen, and the tracers are bright green, and glow with a halo around them.
The time for the next iteration rolls around, and I defiantly set my belt of rounds with the tips pointing away from me. When the command is given, I give every ounce of my concentrated attention, my violent and artful focus, on properly loading the ammo. I seat the first round impeccably, daring it to screw with me a second time, and slam the feed tray cover on it like the lid of a coffin. I put my SAW, which is now a part of me, an extension, a medium through which I will communicate my determination to put the green men down. We are one, and we have one singular purpose.
The first target pops up and I squeeze the trigger. A torrent of metal spews with maniacal fury towards my inanimate opponent. The little blinking light on these targets only blinks for a second or two. I don't know if I got him or not. My SAW and I decide that we'll make sure. Another burst of tenacious stopping power spits into the green night and I hear one of my comrades announce that this particular green man has cashed in his chips.
I wait. The anticipation is sweet and almost addictive. Attention span is not a factor when you are completely committed to one simple and all important task. I yearn, I need, I LIVE for another green enemy to rise to my challenge.
The next target leaps up and the light on it blinks. My laser snakes across the field onto the chest, then I dip it just below and walk a line of fire into it. For those of you who have never had the chance to operate a fully automatic weapon, I sympathize at the treasures you have been denied. But hang on a second, there's another target.
Bursts and bursts racing to meet their mark, the SAW protesting against my shoulder as I lean into her, regulating her intense desire to sling lead in every direction. I am her muse. I inspire her. The green target guy definitely does not benefit from our union.
Somewhere along the lines, I missed one. That doesn't break my heart. What almost breaks my heart is that I ran out of ammunition, and had to watch three targets pop up to taunt me. The storm I would smite them with if only I had more...
And with that, the romance that I shared with the SAW ended for the night, because I qualified.