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Hush, little one

You mustn’t take life in the navy too seriously or you’ll end up climbing the walls. And you mustn’t take your boss too seriously either. He’s not screaming at you for any particular reason, it’s just because he’s your boss: his status requires it.

He can’t help it. He’s screaming at you and you’re standing there, thinking:

“If pigs could fly… a pig would fly right over you, my good fellow, and the pig would look down at you and do a huge …”. The main thing is not to smile at any point or your boss will have an apoplectic fit, choke and die, and they’ll have to give you a new boss.

So it’s best not to think of anything during a ticking-off, just turn yourself off: as soon as he’s catapulted himself over to your body, you go – zip, and your consciousness is switched off. And then you can start dreaming: you can stand there, dreaming…

“CDP!” CDP is the Central Dosimeter Post.

“It’s the CDP!”

Central command is calling, god dammit!

“Is the head of the chemical department there?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“You’re to report to the central post.”

That’s always the way: your boss will turn up if you so much as think about him. Well, you’d better relax now, assume an expression of fear mixed with the tortured look of a girl-captive.

“Come here!... Closer!... Stop trembling! Who are you?! I’m asking you, who the hell are you? Who do you take me for? Who’d’you take me for?! Answer me! Who?!!”

Father Christmas, I say to myself.

“Why didn’t you report it?! Why, I’m asking you? Why?!!”

Oh dear! What’s he talking about?

“Wake up, you’re in a stupor! I’m asking you: where is it? Where?!”

There is such a slew of funny replies to his “where?” you can’t believe it. But the main thing is to make your face a portrait of fear – of the reprimand, of an unwanted transfer, of everything. Make the fear visible. But you need to block what’s going on inside your brain. That’s how we spend our time now – and there’s all the time in the world to practice. The “blocking” is often beautiful. Some people manage it so well that the only difficulty is returning to the surprising surface world. For example, he’s started giving you a dressing-down and you imagine a ripe watermelon. A huge one. The bum needs to be small, I mean the watermelon’s bum, and the top part is large. One touch and it bursts. And we bite into it. And it runs down our hands. Now you can take a little look at what he’s up to.

“When?! When?! When did this happen?!”

Oh dear, what’s going on here? Oh dear, so much salivating.

“… an order! You won’t leave the ship! You’ll die here!!! Yes! That’ll teach you!”

I wonder what…?

“I’m going to make you scream!”

Oh, that…

“And how!! And eat metal! Here’s to your dry land, ha!”

Oh dear, what indecent gestures.

“Here’s to your transfer! Here’s… to you… in your mouth… an umbrella handle! Suck it off!!!”

Really, what sort of language is that! Look, who are you working for? What sort of college did his mother send him to?”

“I forbid you to leave the ship forever! You’ll rot right here! SO THERE! Why are you turning up your nose? Why are you… report to me every day! Do you hear? Every single day on God’s earth!”

Hush, little one, what are you howling for, huh?

“… and your papers… today! From my assistant! You will bring everything to me personally! So there… yes… and you thought… we will start a new life! You’re not transferring anywhere! You’ll rot here! We’ll rot together! And when you crawl over to me… well then…”

Well, what wild dreams we entertain.

“Yes, yes, yes! Then we’ll see! GET O-OUT!”

Oh, what a gaping mouth! Like a black hole. I wish it were big enough for them all to disappear into. I move slowly along the gangway – “born to crawl, he can’t fly”. How I wish I could fly. Like a butterfly, like a Malachite butterfly! Through the fields. Off into the horizon. Into the blue sky. Far, far away. A brainless little head. With nothing in it at all. Otherwise, why would we have ended up here, kissing clumps of earth… Now, we’re in for it…

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