He sat alone in his room, paying no heed to the feel of the cool floor against his bare thighs. Dressed only in shorts and a sleeveless tee-shirt, he was curled up under the dining table in his apartment, shivering violently. Cold sweat made his skin slick and his scant clothing uncomfortably damp as he tried to focus his mind on the facts.
It was just refuse collection vehicle rumbling about outside. It wasn’t a hover tank. It wasn’t an APC filled with violent, reptilian creatures armed to the teeth. He was back on Earth, out of the military, and it was just mundane life going-
The heavy clang of another bin collected made him flinch, hands scrambling to find the blaster pistol that wasn’t there. Again he repeated to himself, muttering about how it wasn’t a boarding umbilical hitting the hull of a military space cruiser, or the sound of a bulkhead being breached.
He was deep in the throes of hypervigilance now, every sound and slight movement or shift of light grabbing his attention to make his mind race. His fingernails dug into the muscles of his thigh, breaking the skin as he tried to cling to the basic facts. He wasn’t a space marine any more. He was just a civilian now, he didn’t have to worry about those things.
Yet he did, because as he was told on the first day of training, there was one truth to the role: Once you were a space marine, you’d always be a space marine.
And now he knew what they really meant.
Note from the Author: Dear Games Workshop, ‘space marine’ is not a concept you own or exercise rights over. Being a trademark troll on the other hand ensures that I will never purchase any of your products, and will recommend to others not to. What would Heinlein think of your actions?