Category: Good and evil
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Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 3
Note: If you’re new to the story please read from the beginning here.
Officer Jennifer Finley
“Sir, what’s going on?” asked a young woman with brown short cropped hair underneath a black army helmet that was strapped uncomfortably under her slightly pointy chin.
The young woman had rushed out of an official looking yet plain office-style building and out into the fresh morning air along with the rest of her team. She not only left the building behind her, but also the feeling of safety, as she hurried to keep up with her superior. Although the sense of dread didn’t stay behind, it was clearly following her and growing with every rushed step she took.
She dodged around her colleagues, as they were marching towards a large black van that was parked in the courtyard of the building, a few trees and bushes hiding it from the overlooking buildings in the vicinity.
She, and her team, were dressed in what could only be described as an official black tactical uniform, unlike the usual multi-terrain pattern combat clothing that the British Army wore. This uniform was specially designed for a different type of situation.
The trousers were modelled from the Viper Tactical Elite trousers but with a few adjustments, including the pure black colour specifically designed to be kept hidden in darker environments. Finley had once found it amusing to find out that even the colour had been tested to find the right shade of black. Like the Viper trousers they were modelled from, they sported eight different pockets; two deep hand pockets, two standard pockets at the back, two cargo pockets on the side and two thigh pockets on the front, with elastic adjuster cords for the knee pads hidden inside. However, the replaceable knee pads were specially reinforced with titanium and an aramid layer was added on the inside of the trousers for flame resistance.
The trousers were being held up by a black rapid-release belt which was supporting a utility pouch with a swiss-army knife, an air-tight box of ear-plugs, aramid rope, compass, and other items useful for surviving in extreme situations. Also on the belt was a 3W black aluminium LED torch and a magazine pouch with spare, full magazines for both the handgun and P90.
Around her right leg was a black adjustable holster holding her specially adapted Double-Action self-loading 9mm Glock 45-S. The S stood for ‘special’, which does not officially exist since it was adapted within the walls of building behind Finley. It had a specially adapted grip to not only hold a 31-round double-stack magazine, but a better designed grip for all weathers and situations and a specially designed UV light attachment underneath the barrel. The barrel of the gun, as well as the other necessary parts, had been tested to withstand larger forces, due to the specially adapted ammunition that had also been designed within the walls behind Finley, which not only had a specially adapted propellant but were expanding ammunition with a secret ingredient hidden inside. It also sported the usual 6-Goove right-twist rifling but with a higher twist rate for better accuracy.
The jacket was also designed off the British Army MTP Combat Waterproof smock, with two large chest pockets, two large fleece lined side pockets, a heavy duty two-way front zip with Velcro fastenings, Velcro adjustable cuffs, large external hood with adjustable elastic to shape and included the zips underneath the armpits to adjust airflow. However, the tab on the front for the rank slide has been removed, the large Velcro squares on the arms removed, an additional removable fleece lining for the changing seasons was included and it was sporting the same black colour design as the trousers. Also, unaware to the civilian were the reinforced pads stitched into sections of the smock, from the four chest pads, back supports and arms in multiple sections for greater flexibility and protection and an aramid layer much like the trousers.
Hidden under the smock was also a specially-designed reinforced body armour, both lightweight and slightly more flexible than the typical Osprey Assault Body Armour worn by the British Army, which is also designed in black with the rubber mouldings on the shoulders, but each body armour is specifically moulded and designed for the individual wearer rather than a single production-line fit. Underneath the armour is a simple black thermal and sweat-wicking t-shirt for greatest comfort.
The helmet protecting Finley’s head was also designed around the Virtus Helmet worn by the British Army, with under-chin supports that are easily adjustable, sculpted rear for neck protection, a layer of aramid throughout, fixed shroud for mounting night-vision goggles and can be fitted with a mandible guard and visor. The visor, however, was specially designed with abrasion resistance, anti-fog and mirror coating, photochromic and UV400 protected lenses, complete with a small hidden high-definition 1080p video camera capable of capturing infra-red and high-quality sound, and recently designed with on-display augmented reality with specially adapted data to help the wearer in particular sticky situations. The helmet also by default had a fully adjustable Personal Role Radio so teams could communicate more effectively.
Even the boots were specially designed, modelled off the All Leather Patrol Combat boots with Thinsulate lining, full leather with padded collar, removable EVA inner sole, PU sole and nylon laces. However, the steel shank and eyelets were replaced with titanium, there was an added titanium heel stiffener and toe cap, better grip on the sole with embedded cleats, and addition aramid sole and aramid stitched into the underside of the leather for flame resistance.
The gloves were also specially designed, with the same black used with the trousers and smock, with Sharktec FR palm, reinforced patches on the knuckles and fingertips, thermal insulation with sweat-wicking, highly durable aramid material making them abrasion resistant, blade cut resistant, tear resistant, puncture resistant and with overall flame resistance.
Accompanying her trousers, smock, armour, pouches, multiple pockets, belt, helmet and Glock, she also held her favourite item protectively tight to her chest with the use of a sling; the personal defence weapon; a FN P90-S. The submachine gun was also specially equipped with a customised infrared scope installed on top of it to give the agent a slight advantage in dark environments. It, like the Glock 45-S, had also been adapted to withstand the specially designed ammunition; a typical 5.7x28mm design, but expanding with a secret ingredient inside.
Finley rolled her shoulders up slightly to adjust the weight pressing down, while regretting skipping a few days in the gym. The tactical uniform looked odd on the young woman’s small and skinny frame, which gave her a few annoying sexist comments from her male colleagues, but she knew she was just as capable as them. She, like her comrades, were carefully selected from British Armed Forces and Intelligence Agencies.
Finley herself had served in the Royal Air Force, originally applying as an Intelligence Analyst straight after completing her A-Levels at college at the age of 18. She completed her basic training at RAF Cranwell, went on to complete a language course at the UK’s Defence Academy, becoming almost fluent in Arabic, and was moved to the Intelligence Analyst Linguist division, before being quickly promoted to an Intelligence Officer. She moved around a lot, having been stationed at many different RAF bases, including her favourite, RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus for a few months but she was unfortunately relocated back to England with no prospect of returning.
But aside from the appealing changes in locations, she was getting quickly bored of the work after a few years and began entertaining the idea of moving into a role within one of the Intelligence Agencies. She was adamant it was this that led to being approached by a man who was so shrouded in secrecy that it sent shivers down her spine. She wouldn’t admit it, but she wasn’t completely sure she knew what she was agreeing to. She was extremely excited to join the most secret service there was; so secret, only a very select few in the world even knew it existed. She scored just above average on almost all of her gruelling tests and training, and average on her physical fitness test.
She never in her wildest dreams would have imagined she’d end up where she was. She only recently, possibly in the last few minutes after hearing the dreaded alarm go off in the building and having a sneaky suspicion that it wasn’t one of Captain Stroud’s early morning drills, started to regret accepting that mysterious man’s offer. She wouldn’t admit this, not to her superiors; Captain Stroud, nor the Director General and most certainly not to her comrades. Nor would she admit how nervous she was. Especially since the Director General himself was leading this mission. It was one thing going through the rigorous training, thousands of different drills, learning about a rather unforgiving and almost unbelievable enemy, but another facing the real thing.
“What you are trained to do, agent,” replied a tall, handsome and greying man, also in the specially adapted tactical uniform and another P90 held to his chest, the Director General, Duncan Ryan. There were no markings on his uniform to suggest he was the Director General, even Captain Stroud had no markings. It was a safety thing; the enemies they faced were generally extremely intelligent, so they weren’t allowed any advantage. They even practiced T42 frequently; another member pretending to be the leader, just in case.
“Does this mean…” the woman started, but the man stopped his stride abruptly and turned around to look at her, giving her a stern look. The young Officer stopped herself and instantly fell quiet as her superior’s eyes searched her own.
After a few seconds, he spoke, “I suggest you leave the questions to me, is that clear?”
“Yes, sir.” She nodded, suddenly holding her posture authoritatively.
“Good, you will all find out soon enough what is going on,” the man said, and waved the woman and the rest of his team into the van. The door had been opened by Captain Stroud at the front of the group, who had a large black yet neatly trimmed beard to match his large dark sideburns underneath his own tactical helmet. “Briefing in the van.”
The woman climbed into the back of the van after the rest of her comrades, settling into a custom-made seat next to a man with bright red hair and a nervously worried face that could compete with her own. The Director General was the last to get in, shutting the van door behind him, plummeting the vehicle in eerie silent darkness and before her eyes were able to adjust to the sudden change, the van lurched forwards to take them to their destination.
The woman’s eyes fell on the outline of the man right by the door, clearly seeing he held his posture authoritatively himself, as he stared out into space. The woman wondered if he, the Director General, was just as scared as the rest of them, because she had a horrible feeling this wasn’t a drill.
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Fifty Shades of Life
Life isn’t black and white. There is no good and evil. Everyone has the capacity to be good. Everyone has the capacity to be evil. We all lie somewhere on a scale between good and evil. Some are more good than evil, while others are more evil that good.
I have struggled with this notion for a while. One day I might pride myself in being good. Another day I might feel crushed by how unfair the world is and say ‘fuck it’ and dabble in the world of evil.
But I cannot truly be evil. It isn’t within my nature. I cannot sit by and watch someone suffer. I cannot play a part in such suffering myself.
I see a world that is tainted with negativity and hate. A lot are selfish with a thirst for power – whether this is power in riches, power in popularity, power in knowledge. Everyone wants power.
It’s easy to fall into line and follow like lost sheep. It’s ingrained into us when we’re young to compete over each other. We compete in sports – one team against another. It’s seen as okay to do so. We compete against our classmates for either recognition from the teacher or to get a gold star. We see it in the work force, with employee incentives.
It’s probably human nature to do so. Before humans became civilizations, before we cultivated farming, we were simple hunter gatherers. We learnt to survive for only our own benefit, or at a stretch; our small immediate families. Outsiders were threats. But as we became more complex ‘thinking’ beings, we grew into this huge web of civilizations. We had to learn to get along, but all the while this ingrained desire to dislike the ‘others’ is within us.
But we are ‘thinking’ humans, we are able to think, to creative, to learn, to evolve, to philosophise. We should be able to see past our ingrained human desires to hate the others. We should find ways to work together. If we cannot work together, then the world may as well go back to being simple hunter gathers.
Doctors work with nurses, work with scientists, work with the maintenance staff, work with the people who invent and make new tools. We work alongside strangers in our community to keep the space the way it is, to fix issues, to keep the place clean and safe. We work with the police, the fire department, the tax man (sometimes we don’t, but the majority of the time we do until something threatens us). We have come together to create technology, art, public spaces, road networks, other transport networks, even trading foods and materials to our distant neighbours.
If we don’t work together, all this fails.
Life isn’t black and white, there are those of us don’t want to work with the guy next door because his views are different, or he looked as us funny, or he’s from a different land. We don’t want to work with the police officer because we believe he isn’t doing his job properly for no fault of his own. We don’t want to work with a person because of something that he did a long time ago and has since paid his dues. We don’t want to work with a person because of what a collective body has said and we have decided we believe it.
Sometimes there are parts of life that don’t work well. Whatever it is you believe. It might be that you believe the police force doesn’t work well. It might be that the NHS doesn’t work well. It might be the government. It might be something ethical or moral, like a homeless persons on the street, or a pet being abused, or our sisters and brothers in a foreign country do not have a decent quality of life whether that’s from hunger, thirst, safety or other.
We should do something about these. We should come together and make them right. We should stop making excuses, we should stop our ancient human prejudices get in the way, we should stop thinking ‘someone else will do it’. WE should do it. Not the guy next door. Not the guy with lots of money. Or the woman who is popular. We ALL should.
If you do not do your part in society. I see this as negativity. I see this as being just as bad as pushing someone down or hurting a helpless animal. If you want to live in a world that has better quality of life, better policing, better NHS, better government. YOU should be doing something about it. Don’t just make excuses. Actions speak louder than words.
How many of you can say that you did something selfless? How many can say they gave money to a homeless person? How many can say they helped in a charity? How many can say they didn’t put aside their particular anger and just be nice to a stranger who didn’t deserve to be shouted at for no reason?
This world runs on all of us. At the moment it has become a popularity contest. Who is most popular, who is the richest, who is the brainiest, etc. “How many likes can this post get?” “How many retweets can this post get?” Games require you to be popular for others to help you out. Being creative requires you to have friends to help you out. If you don’t run the race of popularity, you lose.
Back to the idea of life being a scale of black and white. I used to think that because I wasn’t popular, because I didn’t have many friends and family supporting me, I was obviously a bad person. People didn’t want to know me because I was bad. No one was helping me out because I was bad.
Yes, I agree. I’m not a saint. I’m not 100% good. No one is. I’ve said nasty things, I’ve cut people out, I’ve been selfish in cases. But does this mean I am a horrible person? Does this mean I am evil? No, it means I am human. I make mistakes. I have probably said nasty things because I was in a bad place. I have probably cut people out because I was upset (I have cut people out because they were bringing me down, that was for my own sanity), I have been selfish because the world has made me selfish.
I’m not always nasty. I’m not always pushing people out. I’m not always selfish.
I try to be there for people when they need it. I try to support my friends when they need support – whether literal support or emotional support. I give money to the homeless. I try to buy charity items instead of new. I offer a stranger a chair to sit.
I am not evil. I am human.
I am trying. I am trying to stay happy in a world that is full of hate, fear, and violence. I am trying to inspire people to do good or do what they love. I am trying to avoid these ingrained human tendencies to dislike others that are not like me, or who are different, or to avoid angry outbursts when I am upset. I am trying to fill this world of hate with as much happiness and love as possible.
I have hardly any support. I have hardly any friends. I have family that don’t talk to me, who don’t support me. I don’t have a lot of money. I’m not popular. I am struggling through life. I try to make the most of it.
I will get back up again when I am pushed down. What other choice do I have?
I will try to make a difference in this world.