THE VAULT

The Thrill of the Hunt
October 1, 2007 by Julius Serpentine

He looks like he's ready for another round, baby.

The United States Military has started a new campaign offering $200,000 for information leading to the capture of 12 Taliban and al-Queda leaders in Afghanistan. Military officials believe that the terrorists operate much like the mob, constantly staying in hiding and beating guys with shovels. By making them more visible, as the FBI did with the mob, the military hopes to have similar success in destroying their operations, relegating the Taliban to waste management and strip clubs.

The whole Slantmouth team was very excited about this newly announced reward. You see readers, the way that this lovely corner of the Inter-web stays free of ads is through a rather unconventional method of income; terrorist hunting. That’s right. We capture, maim, and disembowel the enemies of America for money. Those stickers that you see on the back of pick-up trucks that say “Terrorist Hunting License” are indeed real. They exist and Slantmouth is licensed, as well as fully insured. The insurance is mostly for the interns. They have a nasty habit of getting broken.

Once we heard about the reward, The Colonel and I—along with a ragtag team of dangerously untrained interns—headed to Afghanistan for a light weekend of terrorist hunting. Despite what you may have heard, Afghanistan is not a nice place. Don’t let the clever marketing fool you, what happens in Afghanistan definitely stays in Afghanistan, but so do some of your limbs and your ability to control your bodily functions. Though, sometimes that is the price of adventure.

The Colonel led the field combat squad and I led the operations van, sending timely Intel into the field and coordinating the mission. We were able to transcribe our trip, originally recorded to video, before the United States government stepped in and confiscated our recordings. We figured they would be using it to help continue the good fight. We present to you the transcript.

0100 hours. The Colonel and a small team of interns ducks behind a hill overlooking a valley. The Interns are armed with large automatic rifles, as is The Colonel. They’re dressed in matching black uniforms, fitted with light combat armor. The Colonel looks down into the valley with night vision goggles.

The Colonel (into headset): Serpentine? We have some possible terrorists up ahead, or at least some guys dressed kind of funny.

Julius Serpentine sits inside the van smoking a cigarette. Various display screens surround him. A few interns also sit around the van, looking at output from screens and making notes.

Julius Serpentine (in the ops van): I’m pulling them up on the satellite. It takes a minute. It’s not like television. The information doesn’t comes back in secon– Oh! I see them. This image is so detailed I can actually count their gray nose hairs and one guy has the ugliest wart I’ve ever witnessed. It’s biblical.

The Colonel: So, friend or foe? I’m itching for these interns to get some real action. The thrill of the hunt; I want them to know it well.

Julius Serpentine: They’re not wearing terrorist name tags or anything. We could exercise a little restraint here, or we could just go in guns blazing and sort it out later. Your call.

The Colonel: Yes! YES! Alright interns, it’s time to seek and destroy! I know when you signed on to be an intern, you thought you’d be doing office work. You never dreamed of being smack dab in the middle of these harsh realities, where life and death is a mere piece of metal in your palms, ready to be unleashed onto men you know nothing about. But here we are! This is what it’s all about!

An intern raises his hand, visibly shaking.

The Colonel: Yes, Intern A48-392! Speak!

Intern A48-392: Sir. Mr. The Colonel, sir. I want to go home. Please.

The Colonel: Hey! There are no quitters on Team Slantmouth! You try to quit, I’ll shoot you on the spot. You’ll be quitting for keeps, Intern A48-392. Now stiffen that upper lip, or the only stiffening you’ll be doing is your rigor mortised body.

Julius Serpentine: I thought you were going to make a dirty joke there.

The Colonel: I was, but it’s don’t want them to think that death is a joke. This is serious.

Julius Serpentine: Right. Male arousal, not serious. — Oh, heads up, gentlemen! Those enemy combatants in the valley are armed. That increases the chance that these are the men we’re looking for to 15 percent, considering everyone around here is armed.

The Colonel: Intern A48-392, Intern A84-384, and Intern C12-832, you’ll be providing cover fire. Intern B323-12, Intern J23-234, and Intern Bob, you’ll be rushing the enemy with me.

Julius Serpentine: There are five of them down there. I’m pulling up more information on the computers as we speak. I can probably look up their blood type and check if they’re organ donors if you give me a minute. Intern Denny! Check the organ donation list!

The Colonel: Yes. Check the list. We need know if we should avoid shooting up all the squishy bits.

Julius Serpentine: Intern Denny says that there are no organ donors. Fire at will, gentlemen. Fire at will!

The Colonel: This is it, boys. CHARGE!

There’s a cacophony of gun fire and men screaming in another language, but the loudest sound is that of The Colonel’s battle cry, a terrifying scream that puts fear into the hearts of America’s enemies and pretty much anything with a pulse.

After thirty seconds, there is suddenly silence.

Julius Serpentine: Colonel! Colonel! What’s your status?

The Colonel (breathing heavily): Alive.

Julius Serpentine: The interns?

The Colonel: …

Julius Serpentine: The interns!?!

The Colonel: I… I think those bastards got Intern Bob.

Julius Serpentine: Damn.

Serpentine takes a deep drag of his cigarette.

Julius Serpentine: Well, we’ll always have the memories. Mostly, of hot coffee and fresh bagels.

The Colonel: Intern Bob. He was a good intern. Really knew how to fix a man a bagel. Always thorough with the cream cheese.

Julius Serpentine: Do you still have ammo if any of their reinforcements arrive?

The Colonel: I don’t know about the interns—most of them are huddled together weeping—but I didn’t fire a single shot. I just clubbed all five of the suspects with the butt of my gun. I’m using their blood splatters as war paint now.

Julius Serpentine: That’s grisly, yet oddly compelling. If you hit them in the head I’m sure we can still harvest the organs for the black market. It’s important we keep the web presence free and unannoying.

The Colonel: Yes. The organs are intact. I’ll start harvesting. Just have the extraction team bring the coolers. I don’t think any of these guys are on the list of 12 for that reward money, so we’ll have to take what we can get.

Julius Serpentine: Alright, I’m preparing the extraction team now.

Julius Serpentine turns to the interns in the van.

Julius Serpentine: Alright interns, suit up! It looks like you’re being promoted to the extraction team! It’ll be like graduation, but with more ultra-violence than your poor, virgin eyes can stand!

It turns out we made a few dollars from the harvest, enough to keep Slantmouth going for a few more months, sans pop-ups and banner ads. It’s the kind of thing we do to maintain our integrity as a news organization and help fight the enemy. The minute that corporations are involved with us they’ll only use the invisible hand of capitalism to grope our news reporting apparatus, and this apparatus is only for people that we care for in a very deep and special way. Like you. Go ahead and feel… special.

~Julius Serpentine