217 - Battleship Grey


The Executive Officer comes over the intercom. “RED ALERT! ALL HANDS BATTLE STATIONS!” Though the tone of his speech is even and his words clear and smooth, you sense trepidation in his voice.

By the time you make it to your position on the gun, you can hear the distant, buzzing drone of Zero engines. You take your seat in the gunner’s chair, grab the controls, and look down the sights. Your chewing tobacco sits heavy in your lip. Sweat drips down your temple. If your hands weren’t otherwise occupied, they’d almost certainly be shaking.

As the small dots of the approaching enemy squadron come into view, something hanging from the interior wall of the gun enclosure catches your eye. You turn your head to see a small cardboard sign that reads “wet paint” in black marker.

Forgetting the approaching bomber fleet, you tear yourself off the sticky seat to see grey paint covering your uniform from the shoulders all the way to your calves.

“Aw, nuts!” you shout.

You walk away from your gun, cursing at the wet paint on your back. Small spouts of water begin to appear hundreds of yards away from your ship as the enemy planes’ machineguns spill hot lead into the ocean, tracking up toward the deck where you and your comrades sit.

A nearby petty officer notices you abandoning your post. “Sailor!” he screams at you, sending chunks of chaw flying out of his mouth, “Return to your post and man that gun!

You look at the petty officer with an expression of pathetic sadness. You turn and point a thumb toward the grey streak on your back.

Aw, nuts!” yells the petty officer. The tracking machinegun fire reaches the gun deck and runs directly towards the petty officer, cutting him in half. Explosions ring in your ears as the guns of your ship fire. A bomb explodes on the bridge, killing the commanding officers instantly.

A kamikaze speeds toward your deck to finish off your ship. Seconds before impact, he notices the wet paint on your back. He stops shouting “Banzai!” just long enough to whisper “A nattsu!”

Your ship sinks in the middle of the Pacific. A thin film of grey paint covers the waters in the area for months, killing much of the surface-area wildlife.