prompt: charge, title: a very different life in misc. flash fiction

  • Jan. 11, 2023, 6:36 p.m.
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  • Public

In a different life, and I mean in a very different life, the tale of his turn-around might have been inspirational, a small-but-touching arc from failure to redemption. One afternoon, he woke up in the bar where he’d passed out the night before. The staff liked him, pitied him, lost but harmless, and let him sleep it off in a corner booth. The head bartender didn’t even have the heart to charge him for last night’s tab, she feared she’d been the one to teach him to drink that fiercely. But he awoke early the next afternoon, in a bar in his dusty desert hometown, a pounding in his head, a terrible taste in his mouth, only rousing at all from the cacophony of the reset for the next night’s revels. In that moment, he swore he’d kick the bottle and turn his still-young life around. He took a month to dry out, then signed up for the only stable career that’d still take him: he enlisted. The service was doubtful he’d make it, from the state he started in but the government was desperate for warm bodies and he whipped into shape, becoming an unconventional but effective logistics officer, in charge of leading supply runs to front-line troops. Fuel, ammo, rations, stuff like that.

In a very different life, he would’ve retired with a good pension, a good reputation and decades suppressing addictions. But he wasn’t from America or Earth or even human, he was a giant rat creature from the planet Tatooine. Specifically, he was the giant rat creature from The Star Wars Holiday Special that drank in the cantina where Beatrice Arthur was constantly getting hit on by a mutant version of Harvey Korman. He enlisted into the Imperial army, transporting supplies in support of the Stormtroopers attempting to crush the Rebels’ Alliance and we all know how that turned out in the final accounting.

He was just doing his job, of course, trying to live on society’s straight-and-narrow, driving the lead vehicle in a convoy bringing MREs to clones in plastic armor, on Endor’s moon during the climactic battle at the end of “Return of the Jedi”. He didn’t understand or care about the politics of the brass, just tried to do his job and do it well, despite the internal racism against rat creatures and the skepticism about a recovering-alcoholic. He couldn’t even see it coming when the cab of his space truck was crushed from both sides by massive logs on rope-swings, operated by what seemed to somehow be sentient teddy-bears. He died almost instantly. There was, at least, that.

Did his old childhood friend Luke Skywalker feel his death through the Force, up on a spaceship high above the moon? We can never ever know, of course, but if you’d asked Lieutenant Grundo Whiskers before his death, he would’ve guessed “no”. Skywalker wasn’t the sort to notice things like that, he was always just too wrapped up in his own daddy issue bullshit.

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