Progressive Writing Exercise #7: Putting Words in Your Characters’ Mouths

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You watch, stunned, as Bergiere pushes his way through a group of starry-eyed cadets, shoves the C.O. Assistant to the ground, and then land a mighty blow unto the large head of the C.O. The C.O. immediately falls unconscious and Bergiere’s chest rises and falls rapidly. You just know he may not only get brig time but dishonorably discharged. You ask yourself: who will I eat with now?

“What the hell Bergiere?!” you shout, surprised that you said anything at all. “What were you thinking?”

Bergiere shakes his head, as if trying to escape some volatile voice in his head. “I…I don’t know,” he responds.

He grabs his head, squeezing it, and you’ve seen this before, back at the academy. You ask, “do you need a medic?”

You place a comforting hand on his shoulder and he instantly slaps it away. His words hit you harder, “don’t f###ing touch me!”

You have never heard him swear before. Ever! “Seriously?” is all you can react with. “I’m your friend man. And I just watched you k.o. our commanding officer. So again, are you okay? I really want to know.”

“No! No, I am not okay. I just saw…” Bergiere hesitates and you lean forward in anticipation. “…I just saw red!”

“Is that all?” you say so quickly and without thought. Bergiere looks at you confused and hurt. You don’t know if you have the right words, but you try, “Look, it happens to us all.”

Bergiere is not buying it, “happens to us all? You know better than that. I just lost control of my attitude and actions.”

“That is the life of a soldier,” you attempt to console. “Being a soldier means you chose a career where taking the most lives provides promotion.” You’re not sure if saying this will help Bergiere relax, or as you soon realize, aid in him becoming more enraged.

I release the doctor and grab the guard, flipping them over my shoulder. Raising my fist I was ready to plunge down into the guard’s skull, but stopped myself. Maybe the medicine is working.

I let the guard go and shale my head. I want so badly to push out whatever these people put in.

“I am so sorry.” The words slip so quick and without thought, I wonder if even my tongue is effected by the drugs they pumped into me.

“No, you are fine soldier,” her speech is so emotionless and monotone, she could be a machine talking about a machine. “I am glad it happened. This only proves that my syrum works properly.”

Her syrum? She is the true brains behind it all! “What did you put in me?”

“A medical syrum that helps you be a better you.”

“You mean, a better killer.”

“I mean, a better you. A better soldier.”

As we go back and forth, a few medical technicians drag the unconscious guard out of the lab. I don’t even remember hitting him.

“You slugged that guard and then nearly ripped out his arm,” the doctor says to me, as if rrading my thoughts.

“But…but, I don’t…” is all I can figure to say.

“Short-term memory loss. Noted. Increased strength. Noted.”

Maybe the doctor is a machine and I am the new machine, is all I think of as she collects data about what just occurred.

“He attacked me doc. I was defending myself.” Why did I say that?

The doctor turns to the glass window, “I want to see him in a test run.”

Yeah, I must be a machine too.

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