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New Fic: The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line
Fandom: Being Human UK
Rated: PG
Category: General, Herrick.
Season: Pre-Series.
Spoilers: Herrick’s recruitment. (Script from the cut scene. Google is your friend.)
Summary: There are some things you never outgrow.
Disclaimer: Being Human belongs to the wonder that is Toby Whithouse, not me.
Word Count: 566
Historical Note: The Thin Red Line refers to a thinly-spread military unit. The first use of this term referred to the red-coated 93rd (Highland) Regiment and parts of the Turkish army as they stood before (and repelled) a vastly superior force of Russian cavalry at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War on October 25, 1854.

xxx

I learned about it as a child, of course.

Everyone did. It was all over the papers. They called them heroes, and I suppose they were.

Soon, though, the papers moved on, and people got caught up in the menial tasks of daily life.

But the menial tasks of daily life for eleven-year-old boys still leave a lot of room for imagining.

They don’t take up the nooks and crannies of the mind that boys fill so easily with dreams of glory and gunpowder.

And so I became something of an expert on it.

In many a mock battle with my mates, the entire neighborhood would know me by my shout.

“To the Thin Red Line!” I’d yell, and dive into whatever mass of boys was handy.

The others would scatter and run, laughing the whole time.

Then I’d take my turn playing a Russian.

Over and over again, we boys would mimic that band of Britons who, though few in number, repelled the enemy with the valor of legend.

But as always, even for boys, life went on. Hormones changed our priorities, and somehow I found myself at university. Next thing I knew, I was a middle-aged legal clerk with no wife, no children, and no future.

In the metaphorical blink of an eye, my adventures were over.

Most days, I was able to forget that, but sometimes I yearned for more.

She came my way on just such a day.

A day that offered no mercy and gave no quarter. One that left me filled with a barely-suppressed desire to wipe every haughty smile off every smug face on the planet.

Perhaps that is why I spoke to her as I did.

After all, what could this castaway child do with my words? She didn’t matter. It was safe for me to loose my tongue upon her, so the accommodating bank clerk stepped aside and allowed the broken man to mince no words when  explaining the harshness of life to a child.

And perhaps, in the ultimate irony, that is why she took pity on me.

I told her she’d thank me one day, but I had it wholly backwards.

For in the literal blink of an eye, my journey was just beginning, and there was no end in sight. No longer a has-been with only dreams of glory, I was the stuff of legend.

And soon, the time would come to prove it. The physical need made it easier than I expected, and as much as my previous life would love to deny it, I think Hetty knew she’d chosen well from the start. Still, though, I think my smile surprised her as much as it did me.

But the mind does strange things in times of stress, and sometimes the body can’t help but follow along - even if that body is technically dead. And as I bit into my first victim, already weakened by a girl-child half my size and a third of his, only one thought filled my mind. It came to me from a childhood long since past, and it was so horribly appropriate that I couldn’t help myself. I giggled like the little girl Hetty appeared to be. I’ve been smiling at my prey ever since, but it really can’t be helped. After all, there are some things you never outgrow.

To the Thin Red Line indeed.

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