"What's next" was pretty simple. So simple I should have known. It was "Get in line." Our next stop was to check our weapons. I knew how Woof felt then. Weapons Check and Storage was a counter with a room behind it that I could see into. It was lined with steel gray shelving with identical clear plastic tubs sitting on them. Clear isn't the right word. Semi transparent would be more accurate. Grimy would be even better.
The guy running it, somebody's Grandpa maybe, saw me coming. He whistled and said "Damn my man. You're packing enough iron to set off the metal detector a mile away. Shit that's a fucking sword on your back isn't it?"
"No. Actually it's stuck in my back and I have been meaning to see a doctor about it when I get some spare time."
He laughed. Yes, he actually laughed. "You guys are always cranky about giving up the hardware. Shit, half of you would rather get a couple inches shaved off your dick then do this."
I stared at him. Somewhere in the jello he called a brain a survival circuit must have flipped on because he quit grinning.
"What do I have to do?"
He gestured at the big sign on the wall behind him "Read that and fill out the paperwork. I'll go fetch you a tub. The kid can put his stuff in with yours.
I looked at the paperwork. Jesus I had forgotten how much I hated forms and paperwork. I handed the clipboard to Zane and asked him "You know how to write?"
"Yes. Well I can't do cursive yet."
"That's fine. You can read too?"
"Yes!" He sounded offended. I really didn't care.
"Okay. You read me the questions and I'll tell you what to write."
The old man came back with my tub and let it drop on the counter. Someone had written a number on one side with a sharpie. "You got to put the body armor in there too."
"Hey! The kid doesn't have to fill out a form. Just you. Don't be going thru the scanner with any weapons after this. They get upset."
"Right. You got anything to do?"
He grinned "No, this is what I do."
"All right Zane read me what they want to know."
He looked at me. I spelled it for him."
"None. Just write N.O.N.E. in every space except the one there." I pointed to where I was supposed to list what was going in the box. It took awhile as I had to read of the serial numbers too. One sword. One bayonet. Two Ruger .357's. One Colt Navy, One Marlin 30-30. Miscellaneous ammo pouches. A Charter Arms .38 One set of body armor with plates.
When I was done the tub was full and he had gone back for another one that I partially filled. The old man looked at the tubs, shook his head, and said "You remember that movie where the guy pulls an entire armory out of his clothes as he strips?
"No." I felt naked. It was a strange feeling. I also felt ...less. I liked it in one way. I felt free. I felt regular. Hell, maybe they had a Starbucks and we could get a movie from the red box. Mostly I felt ... weird. I told myself I was still me.
"Yeah. Well that is what you reminded me of."
I handed him the clipboard. Zane had done a good job. Some of the numbers and letters were backwards or a little off but I didn't care. "So what's next?"
"Go thru the double doors. Get scanned. Go give them some more information and they will send you to the showers and let you pull some basic inventory for personal needs. Oh. Somewhere in there you'll have to drop the dog off at the stable. They'll tell you."
You ready Zane?"
"Lets do it."
I heard the old man lift one of my tubs, grunt, and say to our backs "See you in three days."