**Part of the Mars Chronicles – more found under Writing in the Nav
His arms and chest were burning. The gravel from the parking lot felt like it was cutting into his hands and sweat was beading up on his forehead as he held his body inches away from the ground in the push up position.
“Up!” yelled the voice from the man standing above him.
He pushed up and locked out his arms.
“Fifty-five, sir!” he yelled.
The captain turned away and continued his conversation with the two other captains that were amusing in the push-up soldier’s agony. Thirty seconds later one of the other captain’s said, “We don’t want him to get too comfortable.”
“Down!” yelled the captain that was issuing the orders to the pushup soldier. And the soldier lowered his chest until he was a couple of inches above the ground.
Again the captain turned away and went back to his conversation. The push-up soldier’s arms were now on fire.
“Why am I doing this?” thought the soldier. “I don’t need this shit. I’ve already done my time. I make more money than all of these captains combined. I did my time. I should just get up, tell them to piss off, and leave.” The thought was tempting and almost acted upon.
By now his arms were really in pain and feeling weak. He could feel himself getting closer and closer to the ground as if his arms were just giving up.
One of the captains noticed the soldier getting lower. “Giving up, candidate? If you want to give up, just lie down.”
He recognized that voice. That fat fuck wouldn’t be able to do five push ups he thought. How the hell did he even put on captain’s bars? He doesn’t do shit and he looks like a camouflaged whale.
“I asked you a question candidate. Are you giving up?”
“No, sir.” If there is one thing I don’t do is give up he thought. I wouldn’t give that POS the pleasure.
“Fifty-six, sir!” he yelled as he slowly and shakingly extended his arms.
“Pump out four more, quickly, and get to your feet.” said the captain.
The soldier did four more pushups announcing the number each time he extended his arms until he reached sixty and then got to his feet. He stood at the position of attention, arms straight down by his sides, heels together with his feet at a forty-five degree angle. His chest and arms were burning as he stood there staring straight ahead breathing rapidly and heavily through his nose. Sweat ran down his brow and into his eyes causing them to burn. He maintained his thousand yard stare looking straight in front of him just making out the silhouettes of the captains off to his side with his peripheral vision.
One of the captains walked up to him and with his face inches away from his and said, “Now get the class into the classroom.”
The soldier did an about face and before he could address the thirty other officer candidates that were standing behind him in formation at the position of attention the fat whale-like captain yelled, “Oh I see you don’t need to respond to Captain Miller? What he says isn’t important enough to warrant a response. Get back on your face!”
The soldier got back down into the pushup position, feet together, hands placed two feet apart, arms extended.
One of the captains barked at the class, “Get in the classroom. Now!” And the thirty soldiers filed off into the old World War II whitewashed brick classroom behind them.
“You! Ready… Down!”