19 years old. Jim Turville has all the luck. He finished basic training just in time for a massive terrorist attack on Washington, DC and the beginning of the second American civil war. But at the time he didn’t know any of that was coming. In fact, at the time, he was kind of a screw up.
Turville climbed over the tailgate of the deuce-and-a-half and stood at parade rest. “Private Turville, reporting as ordered, ma’am.”
O’Donnell, a foot shorter than him, her brown hair bunched up under her helmet, looked up at him with a frown. “Do I look like an officer to you, Private?”
“Then don’t call me ma’am, you know better than that. What were you thinking going outside the mileage limit, Private Turville? We’ve got a new company commander, and you went and messed it up with him on the very first day.”
“Sergeant, that was not my intention—”
“I don’t care what your intention was, Private.”
Turville shifted on his feet. “Yes, Sergeant.”
“Now. These are the facts. Our brand new company commander gave everyone two days off, with the stipulation that you call in twice a day and that you stay within fifty miles of post, because we are detailed for rapid deployment should such a deployment become necessary. You, with your boneheaded reasoning, decided to blow that off. You, a brand new private in the Army, decided that your judgment was better than that of the senior officer of this company. Even more offensive, you decided your judgment was more important than mine. Do I have it pretty much straight?”
“Well, Sergeant, I—”
“That’s what I thought.
Months later, as the tensions in West Virginia are heating up, the Army is deployed in Charleston to help maintain order following the bombing of the federal building. Here is a scene during that deployment, in an incident which dramatically changes the nature of the conflict.
Turville flinched when he heard the shout.
“Get down, get down! Gun!”
Turville slammed himself against the wall. Across the narrow street, Leo and Gomez, the other members of the fire team, crouched behind a car. In the window above them, Turville saw Halloween decorations. What the hell were they doing? The four of them—one of the fire teams in third squad—were on a small side street packed with cars.
“He went down the alley!” Leo’s shout was so high pitched his voice almost cracked.
“Chill out, stay cool guys,” Meigs said. He keyed his radio as he crouched against a car just in front of Turville. “White Six, White Six, this is White Three Leader. We have an armed individual, heading down the alley next to our position, over.”
Lieutenant Wingham replied immediately. “White Three, this is White Six. You are to proceed with extreme caution. We will dispatch local police to your position to make the arrest.”
“Leo,” Meigs whispered. “I want you to lob some tear gas down the alley. Go high so it comes down on the other side of the dumpsters, got it?”
The eighteen year old, just across the narrow street, nodded. He trembled as he loaded a grenade into the fat tube of the launcher slung under his rifle. All four of the men put on their gas masks, and then Meigs nodded to Leo.
Turville heard a low thud, and the grenade flew into the alley. His heart beat so hard he could feel it in his ears. Why did they gas the alley? What if someone came out with a gun—came out shooting? What if the killer was in there? Turville slowly pulled back the charging handle on his rifle and chambered a round. The sound was muffled from inside his gas mask and hood, and his vision was constricted. He could hear himself breathing fast. Better this than the damn tear gas.
The smoke puffed out of the alley, and then Turville heard a loud clang. Holy shit, what was that? Another bang, then someone came running out of the alley, straight at them. Short black guy, hard to see, his body silhouetted in the billowing smoke. He had something in his hand—a pistol.
Leo shouted, voice muffled under the mask, “He’s got a gun!”
Turville raised his rifle, flipped the thumb safety forward, and aimed.
By the beginning of Insurgent, Turville is starting to get it together. During an attack in the small town of Whitesville, he saves the lives of two girls. A few days later this happens:
Turville kept one ear tuned—they’d been briefed on what was expected of them about ten times already, but his eye was fixed on the family coming out of the drug store just across the narrow street.
The father was about forty, balding, and had a bit of a paunch. He wore khakis and a white shirt and was talking with a pretty redheaded woman the same age.
Behind them was Short Girl. Now that it was warming up, she was dressed in a pair of jeans and a light sweater instead of the bulky peacoat she’d worn a week before. Her brown hair hung loose at her shoulders, and the breeze blew wisps of it loose. He hadn’t noticed it the other night—probably because people were trying to kill him at the time—but she had a tiny mole on the left side of her face, just below her left eye.
When she stepped out the door, she let loose a sort of squeal and grabbed her father’s arm. She pointed at the squad, speaking excitedly to her father, who looked over at them.
Then she waved at Turville. Oh, no, he thought. That’s the last thing I need.
Not long after, Jim begins to get to know the girl whose life he saved:
Turville found Rebecca’s Facebook page and friended her. Aside from that, there wasn’t much of her on the internet, though there were a few articles in the Charleston papers that mentioned her in connection with a ballet troupe.
“You’re looking very quiet,” Santiago said.
“Is she eighteen?” Santiago asked.
Turville rolled his eyes and set the phone down. “Yeah, she’s eighteen.”
Santiago grinned. “Cradle-robber.”
“Dickhead,” Turville responded.
Find out more about Jim Turville in the America’s Future Series.