My eyes snapped open. I sat upright. Checked my watch. 8:02am.

Oh shit.

I looked at my surroundings. Holding cell. Federation. Better than most alternatives, in retrospect. Waking up abruptly at 8:02am means I was engaged last night. Which means a week in the holding cell. Great.

This was the fifth time this year we were engaged. Someone was paranoid of something. I couldn’t tell you what.
“Hey, Washington, you awake?”
“Yeah, I’m up.”
“Someone must have flipped the switch last night, huh?”
“Seems so.”
“Isn’t that the fourth time this year?”
A new voice rang out.
“Fifth time.”
“Any idea how many ended up here?”
“I think Jackson and McKinley are here, too. I think it was just the five of us.”
“Let’s hope.”
Silence. We never did figure out what to discuss the morning after engagement.
Adams broke the silence.
“Someone must be paranoid, yeah?”
“Must be,” Jefferson yelled out.
“It’s a goddamn shame we can’t remember shit when we’re engaged. I bet there are some pretty interesting moments.”
Jackson was up. McKinley was next.
“Any idea when we’ll get the update, boss?”
I forgot to check. Thank God the government had the decency to keep us informed.
“Sorry. I have it here.” I skimmed through the report, trying to find anything.
“There were five of us. Looks like an armed bank robbery turned hostage situation. We were deployed and eliminated the threat quickly and with no casualties.”
“Except for their side.”
“Yes, Jefferson, except for their side.” I sighed. “We have to spend a week in here for this, apparently.”
“That is fuckin’ horseshit. I don’t even believe this. Since when do fucking super soldiers take out bank robbers? I mean, shit, Al Ca-fuckin-pone was taken down on tax evasion. And our week has to be ruined for a fuckin’ bank robbery?!”
“You knew what you were getting into when you signed up, Jackson. I assume you were alright with erasure of identity and forfeiture of liberty back then?”
“Yeah, but back then there happened to be a fucking WAR going on. And at least I volunteered, Jefferson. I didn’t have to be forced into this because I fucked up my paper-pusher job.”
“Are you two done yet? In case you haven’t noticed, it’s still 8 in the morning and I assume we didn’t have a restful night.”
“Adams? That you?”
McKinley was finally awake.
“What are you… Oh, God dammit, this shit again? What was it this time?”
“Bank robbery.”
“Jefferson? Jesus, there was more than one for a bank robbery? That’s horseshit.”
“That’s what I said!”
“Jackson? You too? How many guys were on this?”
“Ah, shit, hey boss. Sorry to speak out of line there. I’ll rein it in.”
“Relax, McKinley. We’re now caged for a week. Speak as freely as you choose. Jackson has been.”
“Permission to speak freely, Washington?”
“Permission granted, Jackson.”
“Fuck you.”
Drew Schackmann is a contributing writer for Gutai-Pravda Assembly. You can contact him on Twitter.
© 2015; David “Drew” Schackmann, Jr.

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