Chapter One Background
The world is a rough place. No one said life was going to be easy, but the path of some are definitely easier than the path of others. For some there is less heartache, others find their deepest love early on and start a wonderful family, and others still become very successful and wealthy without doing that much work at all. The story of everyone▓s life is different. Different characters color the pages, different locations set the mood, and different circumstances forge the tone.
The life of Steven Felder is for the most part a charmed one. Has a nice family and a wonderful circle of friends. He has a solid job that he doesn▓t really like anymore, but it is good to him sometimes. He has a mind full of exciting experiences and plenty of warm, happy memories. He also has a good amount of money in the bank and some nice new stuff for a guy in his early 20s.
Steven▓s life seems pretty amazing if you look at it for just a moment. He has a life that someone less fortunate might envy, but even a near perfect life has its fair share of dark secrets and devastating tragedies. His life is just like everyone else▓s life in the entire world, once you get past what▓s on the surface.
Steven has always been a good and honest man. He makes his mistakes that he isn▓t proud of, just like everyone else, but he always does his best to do the right thing and make up for his wrong doings. He has a really offbeat sense of humor, something that makes him and his best friend Tommy inseparable. He always has something random or hilarious to say, but he also knows how to be serious and the right time for it. He has a good and kind heart, one that he hasn▓t opened up to too many girls. He is intelligent and can give some pretty incredible advice to anyone. He is a good listener, and a good speaker. He is light hearted most of the time, but he does have his off moments of course. And overall he is a generally well liked guy who is quick to smile and slow to judge. The type of person everyone should have in there life.
Steven grew up in a good sized town in Northeast Texas, somewhere between the cities of Dallas and Ft. Worth. As a kid was very bright, and he even taught himself to read by the age of 4. He did very well in school when he finally started Kindergarten at the age of 6. He was held back a year at the wishes of his parents. He was a good student and so full of energy that his parents let him play sports for the youth leagues as he was growing up. He played basketball for just one season and he didn▓t like it very much. He played baseball during second and third grade. His first year was in the 7 and 8 year old bracket, and his second year was in the 9 and 10 year old bracket. He had a lot of fun with baseball, and his team even made it to the championship game when he was in third grade, but they lost 13-9. It was a very exciting game. Steven liked baseball, but he got bored with it, and he decided that soccer was something he wanted to try. He spent his fourth grade year playing soccer, which he absolutely loved. He was in pretty good shape and he was a better than decent player on offense, but he was a terrible goalie. His team didn▓t make it to the playoffs, but they won more than half of their games, and he had such a blast playing. In fact, Steven is still a big fan of watching soccer, and an even bigger fan of playing soccer, to this very day.
He had no problems with his education until he was in third grade. He began to struggle with math and his teacher became concerned at this sudden dive in performance. His parents were called in and they sat down with the teacher and principal to figure out why math had become such a problem.
As it turns out there was not a problem with the way Steven▓s mind was working. The problem was that he sat in the back of the classroom and could not read the math problems very well that were written on the board at the front of the classroom. After a trip to the ophthalmologist they found out that Steven had 20/200 vision in both eyes and he required the aid of glasses. Now that Steven was equipped with his new and improved eyesight, his math grades and his self esteem went back up to normal. Steven sailed through the rest of elementary school after that with no problems in the academic department. It was a different story in the physical department however.
The first time Steven was ever subject to severe pain and trauma serious enough to involve a trip to the emergency room was when he was nearing the end of his fourth grade year. It was during P.E time and the kids had split up into a few different groups. There were a few activity stations to go through and one resting period. Steven was in the resting group with one of his best friends at the time, a kid named Mike, and they were just goofing around like usual. Mike was a strong and athletic kid, while Steven was sort of light and skinny. They had this trick they would always do where Mike would lay on his back with his legs pulled in towards his chest. Then Steven would sit on Mike▓s feet and Mike would use the strength in his legs to propel Steven away, usually getting about twelve to fifteen feet of distance each time.
So this one particular day the were practicing this they decided that since the year was only a few weeks away from being over that they had to cap it of with an even better trick. So they figured that their final time of doing it Steven would do a back flip as he soared through the air. So Mike laid on the ground and Steven went to his position. They were both ready and Mike extended his legs forcefully, which sent Steven flying through the air. Steven began his back flip and got more than halfway through it before he lost momentum and began to turn upright again. But it was already to late and Steven▓s body weight landed on his wrist and he felt an incredible searing pain for a split second and then he felt nothing at all. His nerves were so overloaded with pain that his whole right arm from the elbow down went numb.
Everybody say what happened, but nobody was sure of what had actually happened, the implications of it anyway. Steven stood up and began to walk in a circle. He thought he was fine, but the gasps and looks of terror and confusion from the other kids made him wonder. Steven gave a sort of shaky smile and raised his right arm just to inspect its condition, and what he found frightened him and sent him in a catatonic state of shock. He couldn▓t speak or think, all he could do was walk around and point at his ruined wrist.
Steven had fractured both the radius and the ulna of his right arm, snapped them in half is a better way to describe it. The break was about two inches above his wrist joint, and the creepy thing about this break was it didn▓t break the skin, it just stretched over the broken bones. The peak of the fracture was about three inches high, and the bones came together at a point, sort of like the center poles of a teepee. This made the portion of his arm from elbow to fingertips appear half as long as it usually did, which was unsettling for a few of the kids. After only a few moments of wandering around with his mangled arm did Steven draw the attention of the P.E. teacher, who promptly took him to the school nurse.
Steven still felt nothing as he waited in the nurses office for his parents to pick him up. He didn▓t speak, didn▓t moan or complain, and never even shed a tear. It took nearly half an hour for his parents to arrive and when they did Steven was put into a wheelchair and wheeled out to an ambulance. His mom rode in the back with him and the paramedics, while his dad took the car and followed them to the emergency room.
Steven was taken into the hospital by wheelchair and there were medical personnel walking with him trying to make him feel better, trying to figure out what was the best thing to do to handle not only the broken arm, but also the shock he had gone into. They did all their things and prepared Steven to get his arm fixed, but it wasn▓t as cut and dry as it could have been. Stevens nerves, blood vessels, and arteries had been damaged when the bones had snapped, so they had to perform surgery on him before they could set the bones.
They gave him some sedative to keep him calm while they prepared him for surgery. They had to inject his arm with something at the sight of the break, and even though Steven was halfway sedated and his nerves were damaged, he could feel the needle digging into his arm and scrapping the bone, but he still felt no pain and didn▓t shed a tear. After they had his arm prepped they gave him some local anesthetic to put him under and went to work. They repaired his damaged nerves and blood vessels and set the bone without a hitch.
This was Steven▓s first experience with anesthesia, and it was also his first experience with delirium and hallucinations. Steven had some dreams that were induced by the drugs as he recovered that really scared him, but once he was awake and the drugs had worn off he was no longer afraid and he could speak. He spent the next three days limited to a hospital bed with his arm in the vertical position so as not to disrupt to healing of the surgery. He missed a little bit of school, but he was able to complete the fourth grade and was brought up on the stage in front of the whole school to be honored for being such a good student and such a brave young boy.
He wore a cast for the first half of summer, and a brace for the second half of summer and for a while during the next school year. He was born left handed, so having his right arm useless for a while didn▓t hurt his performance in school at all. And he did eventually regain use of his right arm after some physical therapy, which he was glad he did. Fifth grade flew by quickly and he was off to middle school before he knew it. Middle school is a completely different animal from elementary school, but Steven had no real problems at all adjusting to his new life.
Steven had grown taller, but had not gotten much bulkier, so he appeared even scrawnier and bonier than he had ever seemed before. Even though he had played sports when he was younger, playing sports for the school would never pan out for him. Since he was required to take an elective at school he thought about taking choir, but he decided to take band instead. He started off playing the Euphonium for the first few weeks, but for a reason he was never told was moved up to the Tuba. He had trouble getting used to the Tuba at first, because the size difference was very noticeable to everyone, and amusing to may people. His right arm was useful to him again thanks to physical therapy, but it wasn▓t nearly as strong as his left. The Euphonium and Tuba were built so that the buttons or valves could only be played with the right hand. Steven was weak at first and had trouble playing for extended periods of time, but since he was so committed to playing he was getting stronger. Eventually the strength of his right forearm surpassed the strength of his left and he had no more trouble working the valves, which helped him to play faster and more challenging pieces as time went on.
Even though he had the strength in his right arm to play it was a difficult road, and Steven had a slight problem dealing with the monstrous instrument. As his sixth grade year went on he become more and more skilled at the instrument and decided to stay in band. Seventh grade was even better than sixth grade. He was comfortable with the Tuba and he was getting better at it than most of the kids he knew.
Steven had a very traumatic near death experience during his seventh grade year. He had a tree out in his front yard and he loved to climb around in it for hours, making up all kinds of fun scenarios in his head. And as he got older he got more adventurous. He would climb higher than ever and he moved very quickly anywhere he went, not bothering to take caution anymore.
So one day he was at least 20 feet of the ground standing on a sturdy branch. He saw a thick branch hanging out in the air a little beyond his reach, but he decided he would be fine if he jumped out a little bit and grabbed it. So he pushed his weight onto his back foot, tensed up his legs, and sprang forward with his arms stretched out to grab the branch.
It was a terrible idea from the start, and Steven quickly realized that. He had too much momentum when he reached the branch and his hand slipped off of it and he fell all of that 20 or so feet to the ground. The first thing that hit the ground was his hips, which sparked with white hot pain, but then went numb. After his hips hit, his face was the next thing to impact the hard dirt. By that time his momentum was absorbed by the ground so his legs and chest just sort of lightly flopped to the ground. Steven lifted his head and realized the crown of his head was no more than 2 inches away from hitting the raised concrete edge of the walkway. At that moment he realized how close he came to death. He was freaked out for a few moments, but then he finally tried to push himself up, but his legs were not working. This caused him to freak out even more because he thought he was paralyzed and would never be able to walk again. So he just used his arms to crawl forward slightly, and he knocked dirt and grass into his mouth. When he gagged and began to spit out the dirt he saw a bright red liquid streak the ground. This must have been blood. He was bleeding from his mouth and he didn▓t know what to make of this. He just knew he was hurt bad, bleeding from the mouth and feeling paralyzed from the waist down.
He didn▓t know what to do, so he began to weep. And he didn▓t cry because he was in pain, be cried because he was afraid. He was broken and vulnerable and all alone outside with no way to get help. So he just laid on his stomach and cried for a good 20 minutes. After a while the tears felt pointless to him and he just stopped crying. He laid still for another 15 minutes before he began to feel an ache in his hips, a terrible ache, but he was never happier to feel pain in his life. Because if he could feel pain in his legs that means he wasn▓t paralyzed after all, but his nerves were just shocked into submission for a while.
He then tried to stand up again and this time he managed to stand only after a fierce exertion of will power. He could hardly walk into his house, but hardly walking was better than not walking at all. He was in horrible pain for the first week and he had to be helped to stand up and sit down. It still caused him mild pain and limited mobility for the next month, but he eventually regained full and painless control of his hips without any long term effects. At this point he was really excited to be happy and in one piece.
Middle school was flying by for him, and the next thing he knew he was starting up his eighth grade year. He took art his eighth grade year as well as band, and he loved it. He had a bit of a talent for art, but his talent for band was growing faster than he expected.
One of his greatest personal achievements happened during the spring of his eighth grade year. There is an annual solo competition for students in each grade level. The student is given a choice of solo pieces to perform in front of a judge. They have 5 levels of solos. Level 1 is the easiest and 5 is the toughest. Steven had his choice of performing a level 3, level 4, or level 5 solo. He had amazing talent with the Tuba, so he went all out and picked the level 5. He received his solo in mid January and had until the end of March to have it perfected and performance ready.
So Steven went to work on his solo, and it was really quite tough, easily the most difficult piece of music Steven had ever had the chance to perform. He spent 2 solid months working on his solo and practicing with the pianist who was accompanying him. His teacher was really impressed with Steven and the progress he was making, but then something unfortunate happened. Eight days before the competition Steven▓s band teacher brought it to his attention that there was a second page to the solo, and it was even more difficult and challenging than the first page. He was given the chance to just perform the first page and call it quits, but he didn▓t like that idea and spent the next week busting his ass to learn the second page.
So when the day of the competition finally came he went into the performance room and played the solo so beautifully it was almost heart breaking, and the three judges were so amazed that one of them was moved to tears. The grading scale goes from 5 to 1. Five being a horrible performance, and one being an amazing performance. By a unanimous decision Steven was given a 1+ which no one else at the entire competition received. He also ended up getting his own private award from the school for bringing such honor to them. This was the moment that music became something more to Steven than just an activity, it became a passion.
His eighth grade year was also the year he had his first girlfriend, and her name was Ashley. She was very pretty and she made Steven feel like he had never felt before. They were together for about seven months and they broke up because Steven had to go to high school and leave her behind. He really liked her and she liked him, but they were too young to understand what real love was. They had to say goodbye and Steven was hurt a little bit, but he moved on with his life, just like she did.
High school was even more of a different animal than middle school was, and once again it was nothing that Steven couldn▓t handle with ease. He stayed in band which was now divided into two halves. Marching band, which had him playing the Sousaphone; and Concert band, which had him playing the regular Tuba. Marching band was a blast for him and he loved it, but he was still a scrawny little freshman with a huge weight. The Sousaphone was an even bigger challenge for him than the Tuba was, but he found the strength to handle it beautifully. It▓s not easy being five foot nothing and weighing 90 pounds soaking wet while having to carry a four foot tall 50 pound metal tube around on your back for hours, but Steven did it with a smile. He loved Marching band so much.
Steven was pretty wrapped up in band, but he was always interested in the military from the time he was young. He had been thinking about joining from about the time he was 12, so in high school he joined the Junior Reserve Officers▓ Training Corps, or JROTC, as an elective. The class was all about teaching the values of the military; like military traditions, discipline, leadership, honor, integrity, and it also focused on physical fitness as well. JROTC was truly a great program for Steven and his friends.
Even though Steven had thrown himself into his band and JROTC activities, he still had time to think about how he lost Ashley, and this made him upset and eventually depressed. He still kept up the image of being a bright and happy young student, but just beneath the surface he was in turmoil. He had fallen into a very dark pit of despair and he didn▓t know what else to do but wade in it and wait for answers, or at least a bright light to guide him through. He found neither of these things, and after a short while he began to contemplate suicide. It seemed to him like it was hopeless and he was dangerously close to his own self destruction before he found something that gave him hope and inspiration at last.
Steven▓s saving grace came in quite an unusual form, it came in a song. Steven was only in love with playing music, but he never had much of an interest in listening to CD▓s or records or anything. But by mere chance he was at his buddy Kenny▓s house and a song came on the radio by the group Styx. The title of the song was Show Me The Way. Steven listened to the lyrics and for reasons he was never able to figure out the song reached him and began to heal his broken soul, and it pulled him out of the darkness and back onto solid ground.
After this point Steven fell in love with music all over again, this time in the form of classic rock, blues, some metal, and even easy listening. Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult, Rush, Styx, Pink Floyd, Cream, The Who, The Eagles, Boston, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Jimi Hendrix, and Jack Johnson are just some of the artists that are his all time favorites. After this incident the rest of the year went by as smoothly as they could.
Over the summer between Stevens Freshman and Sophomore year he began spending a lot more time with a girl named Courtney. He had known her for a few years and he began to fall in love with her, or at least what he thought was love, and he was sure she felt the same way back. They got closer that summer to her, even though they were still just good friends. Once his Sophomore year started his feelings began to grow and he felt he needed to push things between him and Courtney to something more than friendship. He spent a few months trying to think of something he could do to win her over. Finally in the month of November during his Sophomore year he had come up with a plan.
Steven enlisted the help of his friend, Kyle, who just so happened to be a stellar poet and an unusually deep thinker for a 16 year old. Steven came to him with a proposal. Steven would provide a list of things he loved about Courtney and a list of feelings he felt because of her, and Kyle would construct a love poem to her that would melt any young girls heart. With the agreement set in place Steven went to work on his feelings for Courtney. Steven and Kyle went to work and by early December they had created a stunningly beautiful love letter that could bring a grown man to tears. The letter was beyond perfection and Steven was very pleased.
He figured the best place to present her with this letter was at the Christmas party being held at her house. He even went a step farther and bought he a beautiful necklace to go with the letter, which he folded up into the tiny box. Everything was all set and Steven had the courage worked up, so all he had to do was wait until that night. That night finally came and he was excited. At the party he sort of played it cool, mingled with everyone and tried to avoid her just enough to not look obvious. As the night was winding down and people started to leave he say his chance. She went into the back room to put something away and he followed her. He stood in the doorway and watched her for a moment until she began to leave.
⌠Oh, hi Steven,■ she said. ⌠You enjoying yourself?■ ⌠Hell yes!■ Steven replied. ⌠How about you?■ ⌠Yeah,■ she said. ⌠So what▓s going on?■ ⌠Not much. I just wanted to give you your present without the masses hanging around.■ ⌠Oh, alright,■ she said with a smile. ⌠That▓s very thoughtful of you.■ ⌠Ok, here you go,■ Steven said as he presented her with the box. ⌠I▓m sorry, but I really have to get going now. I▓ll see you later.■ ⌠Ok,■ she said. ⌠I▓ll see you later.■ ⌠Yep. Take care.■ ⌠Alright. You too.■ So Steven walked out of there before she could open the box and spent the next few days very anxious, waiting for a response from her. The party was on December 19th and he didn▓t hear anything back until Christmas day, and the response was not what he expected it would be. He didn▓t even get to receive the news in person, all he got was a stupid text message.
The message said Steven. That was a really beautiful necklace, and the poem was amazing. That was by far the sweetest and most thoughtful gift anyone has even given me. The thing is, I don▓t truly love you. At least not the same way you love me. I▓m so sorry Steven. I truly am. But we can still be friends if you like. He was crushed. Getting flat out rejected by the girl of your dreams on Christmas day. Talk about depressing, but he didn▓t fall back into a pit of darkness like he had last year. He was stronger than that now, and he was also wiser and more mature.
So he spent the spring of his Sophomore year in a dark and bleak place. The worst part about it was that the whole thing didn▓t even phase Courtney. It was almost like she shut out that memory, which was like pouring salt, and then battery acid, down into the wounds of Stevens heart. But he eventually found a way to get over it. Over the summer break between Steven▓s Sophomore and Junior year he found a new passion that held endless possibilities. He became interested, or more accurately he fell in love with the written word, the art of fiction. It all started one day when his best friend Tommy recommended that he read a book by the author Dean Koontz. The book was called Phantoms and after reading it Steven was instantly hooked. He has read at least 30 other novels by Dean Koontz since that time.
Then once the school year started off just like any other school year does. During the first pep rally of the year, while Steven was outside with the band he had a great idea pop into his head all of a sudden. It was just like a flash of insight and he instantly knew what to make out of it. That idea changed his life forever, and it quickly became the premise for his first novel. Steven fell in love with his book and he felt like he was starting a newer and better life, but that life came at a price.
spent his entire Junior year completely engrossed it in as much as he could. He got the majority of it done within that year, but he has never quite finished with it, he just isn▓t ready to let it go yet. Even though Steven loved band and loved playing the Tuba he decided to quit after his Junior year because of the way the band directors were running things. They were more in it for the prestige of winning awards and competitions, not for the art of the music itself, which is why Steven loved it in the first place. So now that band was out of the picture he had more time to focus on his books and the challenges of his Senior year.
When Steven▓s Senior year began he was still confused about what he wanted to do in life after high school. One path he could take would lead him to ivory towers and classrooms filled with young minds desiring knowledge. The other path he could take would lead him to grueling physical exercise, and a battle zone in some far off country.
At first Steven was so into his writing that the only way he could possibly go was college, where he could get and education and possibly have his work published. He went on a few trips to colleges to scout the campus and he thought he was onboard for some higher education.
Steven began to spend some time with a girl named Connie he used to know in middle school. They were good friends back then but they had sort of drifted apart as people often do. The had the same journalism class for the fall semester and they just decided one day to start going out. This was Steven▓s first serious girlfriend since he had been together with Ashley back in eighth grade. He had a wonderful relationship with Connie, and although it suffered a little bit in November they stuck it out and made it into the next year as a happy couple.
During the month of November Steven worked his ass off and completed an entire book, the second novel he had ever attempted, and it was finished in an epic 28 days. This made everyone else think that Steven had made up his mind and would forget about enlisting in the military, but the course of events took a sharp u-turn.
In December Steven decided to take the ASVAB score his school was offering. The ASVAB is a test that the military to young people who are interested in joining. Steven was just curious about the test and wanted to see how well he could do on it, he had no firm plans on following up on it. A month or so passed before the grades of the test were finally calculated and released to the test takers and military recruiters.
Steven did remarkably well on this test by scoring a 90 out of a possible 99. A few weeks later, during the beginning of February a Marine recruiter called his house and Steven scheduled an appointment to meet with him at the office. He just wanted to go down there and hear what they had to offer. At this point he was still planning on going to college, but the recruiter spun him one hell of a tale and he enlisted with the Marines a few days later.
As the school year hit the spring semester Steven and Connie no longer had a class together, but since they lived right down the street from each other they had no problems being together. They were doing great and getting pretty serious. By the time February came along they had been going strong at least for four months and things were looking great, that is until the other girl came along.
Steven▓s friend Kyle was in theater class and they had a project that was to make an independent film. Kyle was the director and one of his partners was an actor, the other one was the editor. So Kyle came to Steven to be a staring role and Steven agreed. They didn▓t have any female friends who had the time or were willing to be in this film so they just had to go out and make some new female friends.
That is where Samantha and Nicole enter the picture. They were both wild and fun freshman who didn▓t really give a shit, so they decided they would help Steven and Kyle out. Even though Steven was going out with Connie, Samantha was very attractive and they had got along. Nicole was almost as attractive as Samantha, but Steven became obsessed with Samantha.
They spent a few weeks shooting the movie and during this time Steven tried to make a move on Samantha, but she just seemed to be blowing him off. Steven had feelings for Connie still, but he had a feeling their relationship wasn▓t going to go anywhere, so he planned to break it off after the movie was done being filmed.
So one day Kyle▓s brother, Shane, tries hitting on both Samantha and Nicole at the same time. They were both really freaked out by him, so Samantha was hanging all over Kyle and Nicole was hanging all over Steven, just to make Shane jealous. But something happened that neither Steven nor Nicole say coming. They had really hot chemistry going on between them. So for the next few days during filming they explored their new hot relationship a little bit, but Steven failed to mention that he was going out with Connie.
The film was set to be finished in a few days and then Steven was free to break up with Connie, but things with him and Nicole moved to fast and before he knew it they were sleeping together. Steven was 18 at the time and Nicole was only 15, and they were each others first lovers. Steven was happy with his secret little affair, and both Connie and Nicole were blissfully unaware of the full extent of the situation. Steven didn▓t mean for it to go down like this, but he had no intention of stopping the ride either.
So Steven finally broke up with Connie as soon as the filming was done. So he was now free to pursue a relationship with Nicole that didn▓t have to be a secret anymore, even though that took away some of the heat that they had going on between them. Everything was fine for another week or so until one day Connie got angry at Steven in front of Nicole and the truth caught up with him and bit him in the ass. He was caught in a bad situation between these two girls and he instantly regretted the whole thing. Nicole and Connie started hating each other as well as Steven. He prayed every single day that Nicole wouldn▓t be pissed off enough to tell somebody about what happened, and he is really lucky that Nicole didn▓t decide to call rape on him, because if she did he would have gone to jail for statutory rape.
Steven was miserable for a little while, but he finally managed to lose himself in preparation for his life after high school. As the school year was winding down and the other students were sending in their transcripts to college and then either an acceptance letter, or a rejection letter, Steven was spending his time on physical training so he could put on some muscle before the dreaded first day of boot camp. When he did his initial weigh in before his enlistment he was very gaunt at 5 foot 9 and weighing only 110 pounds, but he kept on working out hard and got bigger and stronger.
High school graduation came and went pretty quickly and then Steven got a job doing heavy manual labor to fill his time during the heat of summer. He would work hard for 10 hours a day and then come home to work out a little bit more. He spent 2 and a half solid months of the same routine. His job ended on the second of August, giving him about 10 days of relaxation and peace before he was finally sent away to boot camp.
When the time came for him to go on the thirteenth of August he was still the same height, but he had packed on around fifteen pounds of solid muscle and had built up his running endurance. In a weird and sick way Steven enjoyed boot camp. It was absolutely grueling and relentless, but it was filled with good learning experiences and some strong bonds were formed between him and some of the other recruits. After roughly 3 months of intense exercise, discipline, marching and drilling, combat techniques, martial arts training, military history, and more than a fair bit of terror, Steven graduated boot camp by early November.
Steven went home for a short period of leave and was off again to Marine Combat Training or MCT. MCT is nearly a month on the further instruction on the use of different weapons systems, land navigation, advanced combat techniques, field strategy, and practical application in a simulated combat environment. It also had its fair share of physical activities, including three full pack hikes. He had an absolute blast except for the hikes, he could have done just fine without those.
By the time Steven was done with MCT it was mid December and since the school house wasn▓t opening back up until after the new year, he got to spend Christmas at home on recruiters assistance. He enjoyed the time he got to spend with his family and friends, but once the new year started he was back out the door to get trained in his job.
He got to his A school command which was located in Pensacola, Florida buy the third of January. He wasn▓t slated to start classes just yet so he went onto barracks support. All he did there was morning PT and maintain the cleanliness of the barracks. Just after March started a phone watch position opened up at the school house, and a new Marine was needed to fill that spot. By the luck of the draw it was Steven who got put into the spot and he loved it. It was cake compared to barracks support. All he did all day was sit at a desk and wait for the phone to ring. They gave him a computer and let him bring in books to pass the time. It was an easy 3 weeks of work.
Finally he was ready to start schooling at the end of March and was pulled off of his cushy phone watch job. This disappointed Steven, but it also meant he was one step closer to graduating school and moving on, so he couldn▓t really stay mad that long. There were 25 students in his class, 14 of them were Marines and 11 of them were sailors. He made fast friends with most of the Marines, and just a few sailors. Three of his closest friends from there were James Moreno, Mark Prescott, and Billy Sloan.
His class went through the required units pretty easily, with the exception of the hydraulics unit. That one was by far the toughest. The class finally graduated in late April, roughly 29 days after starting. The group was then split up into 2 different groups, one group being Metal Smiths and the other group being Hydraulic Mechanics. Only four of the Marines were sent of to be Hydraulic Mechanics, and they just happened to be Steven and his buddies, James, Mark, and Billy. They left Florida on the first day of May and went straight to their C school location in Oceana, Virginia. Once they were settled in at their new command Steven picked up the rank of Lance Corporal, while the others still held the rank of Private First Class.
Once again they didn▓t start up classes until later, the second week of June to be precise, so the four of them went to their homes for 3 weeks of leave. They all came back to Virginia during the first week of June and started classes shortly after. This school was far more detailed and in depth than A school was, and it was also longer. They went through the three different units and finished up by the second week of August. They all flew out to their squadron in San Diego, California, and in a good bit of luck they all got stationed in the same shop. It was like they just couldn▓t get rid of each other, not that they wanted to or anything.
Since Steven was the only Lance Corporal out of the group he was put in charge, which was fine with everyone. In an even better bit of luck it turns out that James and Mark lived only a few hours away from where the base was located. Some weekends the whole group would go up and visit somebody▓s family, and other weekends the family would come down and visit everyone. Life was good at this point, but it never stays that way for too long.