Blinding lights and deafening sounds exploded into my brain and the minds of everyone else whod been peacefully sleeping at precisely 4 AM. I jolted awake and sat straight up, and saw three men holding trash cans and banging the insides of them with batons to wake us up. I quickly got down from my bunk, which was on top, and stood next to it at attention. My mind felt groggy and I could hardly keep my eyes open from the harshness of the fluorescent lights, but I stood firm nevertheless. After everyone had gotten down and was standing next to their bunks, the beds messy and their physical selves unkempt, the three men spread out across the room. The one in the center stepped forward and began walking around in front of us, looking us straight in the eyes, challenging us, daring us to do anything against his will.
I am Gunnery Sergeant Twain, your senior Drill Instructor! From now on, you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words outta your filthy sewers will be sir, do you maggots understand that?
Sir, yes sir, we all replied half-heartedly.
Bullshit, I cant hear you, sound off like youve got a pair! Twain roared.
Sir, yes sir!! we responded.
When you ladies leave my island, when you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of Death praying for war. But until that day, you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth, you are not even human fucking shit! You are all unorganized, grab-asstic pieces of amphibian shit!
Because I am hard, you will not like me. But the more you hate me, the more you will learn. I am hard, but I am fair. There is no racial bigotry here. I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops or greasers. Here you are all equally worthless! And my orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved corps. Do you maggots understand that?
Sir, yes sir!
Bullshit, I cant hear you!
SIR, YES SIR!
He seemed satisfied that we knew his word was law, and proceeded to walk over to the bunk next to mine. He grabbed the sheets and pillow, then threw it all to the floor in front of the kid standing there. He then turned to the kid and told him to make his bed. The kid picked up the pillow and sheets and made his bed, but as soon as Twain saw the finished product, he threw the sheets and pillow back on the floor. He then made it the proper way, with the four-inch fold and everything, and called us over to take a look at it.
This is how you will be making your beds from now on. I expect each and every one of you to get to the point where youll be able to do this in your fucking sleep. Remember what you see in front of you, and make your beds. Now! he yelled.
I ran over to my bed, hurrying to make it just like hed shown us. He walked rapidly around to what I felt were random people and screamed in their ears to get what they were doing right or I will gouge out your eyes and skull-fuck you! I saw him start coming towards me out of the corner of my eye and I furiously worked on my bed. Just as he was about to yell at me, I finished and stood at attention, my face just inches from his. A powerful shock ran through my spine as I did so and saw his angry face, a face contorted by rage. I looked in his eyes for a second and didnt really see any anger, which meant in my young mind that maybe he didnt mean all the stuff he was saying. That didnt matter though, not really. He looked over my bed, back at me, back at the bed, and finally back at me again. He then just left me standing there and went around to other recruits, checking their beds and yelling at them if the way they were making them didnt suit his needs.
I allowed a small sigh of relief to come from me. Id done it right. Such pride! I could hardly contain my excitement and pride, knowing that Id done my first assignment right. I quickly shook myself from this and took a slow glance around the room. Most of the other recruits had finally gotten it right, although there were a few stragglers. Eventually, Twain grabbed the last three that still werent done, brought them to the front, and pretty much humiliating them by declaring that they were not fit to be in the military. He then had another drill sergeant escort them out of the barracks and onto a transport plane that would be leaving later that day. The rest of us, about 100 or so were left to stand there and ponder what would happen next in silence. This didnt last long, as the drill sergeant came back and all three, including Twain, were now in the room again. Twain walked around the different bunks, calling out various peoples names and having them walk to the front. I was called. A shiver of uncertainty ran through my spine. After a couple minutes of this, ten of us stood in front of the others. Twain walked back and stood in front of us, his back facing us ten.
These ten will be squad leaders. They will show the rest of you scumbags how to make your beds and, as time goes on, they will teach and assist you with other essential topics, such as dressing appropriately, cleaning your gun, and managing the obstacle course. If they are unable to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, they will be replaced. Is that clear?
Sir, yes sir!!
And so it went on from there. We trained relentlessly, from 6AM to 8PM. We did the obstacle course so many times that I lost count after the first couple dozen times. We got to the point that we could do several of the obstacles in less than ten seconds, and the course itself only took a couple of minutes at the most. We trained with rifles, bayonets, trained in marching, basic military commands and orders, basic infantry strategies and tactics. We tried for long-range combat with rifles, and for short-range combat with bayonets and sometimes not even that. We trained quite thoroughly, as much as Shinra trained its new recruits at the time. It wasnt enough for me; I managed to graduate tenth out of a hundred people. I wanted more, and soon after graduating from boot camp as a private, I signed up for SOLDIER and waited for the program to start so I could prove to myself and others just how good I could be.