Donald Tweeb was weedy, disposed to bursts of irrational anger, and resembled an Austrian painter. Like many he wanted to do his bit, as long as it was a little bit. At a recruiting day a pipe-smoking Yorkshireman pulled him to one side, flattering Donald and offering him a ‘unique’ opportunity. He was tried, tested and treated like a lab rat. Then they told him his purpose.
‘You, Donald, will end this war.’
In terms of doing his bit, it was possibly a bit too much.
‘You will now be equipped for the most important job ever undertaken.’
It almost sounded glamorous, until the ‘being equipped’ became clear. He was operated on, given weird medicines and gradually withdrawn into a sterile vacuum more redolent of Hollywood than home.
‘It is time.’ The men who had become his family lined up outside his glass room and clapped as he entered the transport chamber. Clean air and filtered light were pumped to him as he flew into the night.
It seemed to take days but finally the bumps stopped, the bangs ceased and the cover was removed. He was inside a windowless room, surrounded by smoke. Many men watched him. One was his doppleganger but instead of fear he saw satisfaction. Stunned he stepped out and the mysteries of the last years became plain. The war was ending and he was dying for a cause he didn’t understand. The man he was replacing stepped into his box, said, ‘Danke’ and disappeared. If there was to be fame for Donald then it was only in his passing.
And the new Donald Tweeb? He returned from his service with a strange accent, a tendency to give rousing speeches no one listened to, and a lingering sense of his own futility.
This story comes from the latest Microcosms prompt: kidnap victim; WWII; sci-fi