military propaganda 101: lessons from the colchester laser tag center

by elizaligon

I had an awakening while playing laser tag in Colchester, Vermont. I discovered that I was born to serve my country, through lasers. 

You see, I’ve never been much for “authority” or “instruction.” When I was six, I took one single karate class. I quit after that sole lesson because, and I quote from my young self, “the instructor was like… yelling at us.”

So yeah, it’s safe to say that, being the anti-authoritarian that I am, I had never thought I would be cut out for the military lifestyle. But I have recently learned that I might be the most valuable weapon that the US military could hope to have.

Entering the building, we were corralled into a small room, which was laced with a scent that one would expect only to find in a teenaged underarm. A screen cut through the otherwise dark room, telling us the rules.

“No pushing.” Seems reasonable– wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt. 

“No running.” Doesn’t really make sense, but okay.

“No swearing or foul language.” Now THIS is fucking bogus. 

The door to the next chamber was opened by a worker. We all shuffled in. There, hanging on posts along the walls, were black vests. I picked one out at random.

Attached to the vest was a clear plastic gun, which came to life when the game was booting up. The gun and the vest were both blue. I was towards the front of the pack, closer to the door than many others. 

3…2…1… The door was opened. It was dark, but I ran into the unknown anyway. I knew that finding high ground in a spot where my back was protected would be my first mission. 

 “Follow me!” My army buddy knew a spot on the second level, shielded on two sides and hardly visible to anyone on the first level. From there, we shot at the people below. 

“What’s happening? Where did that come from?” They’d wonder aloud. 

And we’d just laugh to each other– like it was some kind of sick joke, and we were ingenious comedians. 

War does funny things to a man. It makes brothers where before there were friends, and jokes where before there was pain.

We’re safe for a while, but we stay too safe for too long; we get too comfortable. Suddenly, from around the corner, a blinding red light imposes upon us, and shoots us down. We’re dead for a full minute, and at this minute’s conclusion, the original offender shoots us once more before running off. Another minute passes, and we rise. 

We know now what we must do. We must move. We begin walking together, but the reds are swarming. We run in plain sight, getting struck by two people. We then hide ourselves around a corner on a ramp up to the second level. A red rounds the corner, and we shoot them. We make our way to a structure near the ramp. We’re more visible than we were before, more vulnerable.

The lights suddenly come up. We shuffle out to see the leaderboard, and I’m near the bottom.

“We’re going to play another round, we’ve got more time!”

The team colors change. I look at my former friend and brother. They’re now red with rage. War does funny things to a man. It makes enemies where there were brothers, and gives you pain where before you felt nothing. I shot my brother down that day. 

After a battle more, we are led back out into the main room. The leaderboard is once again displayed, and this time I’m in fifth place.

 This is my first time playing laser tag, and after my second game, I’ve jumped this far? Imagine what I could do with just a little more training. 

War does funny things to a man; it makes you kill your brother, as if he’s one of the other hundred slaughters who meant nothing to you. You count these numbers, begin to take pride in them, because that’s all you can do to numb the pain, which isn’t really even that bad as compared to the guilt of having lived to tell the tale. 

Categories: around town, eliza ligon, nov. 9, vol 25

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