[cs] - the recruit
There was a set of clean clothes on the floor: white socks and boxers, pressed orange T-shirt, green military-style trousers with zipped pockets, and a pair of boots. Slowly, I picked up the boots and inspected them: rubbery smell and shiny new black soles. They were new. The military-style clothes easily looked as if this was where kids ended up if they kept getting into trouble. I put on the underwear and studied the logo embroidered on the T-shirt. It was a crosshair with a set of initials: CHERUB. Attempting to spin the initials in my head, I couldn’t make sense of them.
Out in the corridor, other students wore the same boots and trousers, but their T-shirts were either black or grey, all with the CHERUB logo on them. A young, male approached me.
“I don’t know what to do”, I said.
“Can’t talk to orange”, the boy said without stopping.
“Can you tell me where to go?” I asked another.
“Can’t talk to orange,” one girl replied.
The other one smiled, saying, “Can’t talk,” but she pointed towards a lift and then made a downward motion with her hand. “Cheers”, I replied.
As I waited for the lift, a white CHERUB T-shirt wearing adult spoke. “Can’t talk to orange”, before raising one finger.
Up until now, I had assumed this was a prank being played on the ‘new kid’, but a much older adult joining in was weird. It took a moment, but I realized the raised finger was telling me to get out at the first floor. It was a reception area. I could see out the main entrance into plush gardens where a fountain spouted water five meters into the air. Stepping up to the desk, an elderly lady was there to greet newcomers.
“Please don’t say ‘Can’t talk to orange,’ I just-“
I didn’t even get to finish.
“Good morning, Marcus Noir. The Commanding Officer, McAfferty, would like to see you in his office.” She led me down a short corridor and knocked on a door.
“Enter,” a soft Scottish accent said from inside. With shook nerves, I stepped into an office with full height windows and a crackling fireplace. The walls were lined with leather-bound books. The Commanding Officer stood up from behind his desk and crushed my hand as he shook it - causing me to make a grimace.
“Welcome to CHERUB campus, Marcus - where we turn bright young men into men ready to join the ranks of our military.”