A bead of sweat runs into your eyes, stinging until you can’t do anything but press them shut. You squeeze your eyes dry, and look back up at the edge of the green shipping container. Your fingertips are numb from holding up your body. Which is a good thing, because the sun-baked metal is cooking them, and this way you can’t feel the searing pain. You edge your way across the box, a few fingers at a time. At the other end, your muscle fibers shred as they scream at you for forcing them up the side of the connex. Your shoulder feels like it’s going to come out of joint, yet you pull harder. As you clear the top edge, and shimmy your way onto the roof, you’re met with a giant grin from a Colabro: “Welcome to the Summit Club! Now for the Peeps!”
The obstacle course was grueling, harder than anything you’ve ever done. You sit down in a rickety metal chair, and shove the first Peep in your mouth. Yes, those Peeps. The sugar-coated, puffy goodness that show up once a year, surrounded by green cellophane grass. Your mother’s words ring in your ear: “You better only eat one, or you’ll be sick to your stomach!” Moms, the masters of foreshadowing. While you gorge yourself on marshmallows in a way that would please Dante, you franticly field strip an AK-47. Your fingertips stick to the metal, as the mushy sugar mess melts. You get the rifle put back together, and function check it to be sure it works. Of course, it works perfectly. A product of Soviet engineering, banged out with a rock and pliers by some Siberian conscript, it’s amazing it even went back together. Let alone works. Then into the trashcan it goes, where an AK belongs.
As you down the last Peep, your buddies start cheering you on (or are they hazing you? Hard to tell). You take off in a sprint down the trail. A few hundred yards in, your flank is on fire, as a blow torch of the past few months’ lethargy burns a hole in your side. You see the Colabros up ahead, yelling for you as you come to the end of the run. “Stop being fat!” calls the heckler. Stomach acid mixed with molten Peeps roils in your stomach, like you sucked off the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
They hand you your rifle, and you rush to get it loaded and ready as you scout the targets ahead. More sweat pours into your eyes, and you squint to see the first target. The rifle belches and the steel rings. “Hit!” Folks cheer you on, hit after hit, and even some misses. Once you’ve hit all your targets (and you still wonder how in the hell you hit that far one…), they hand you your pistol. As you take your first shot, the steel rings, but your gut drops. What the hell?! The entire rack of targets starts swinging. This has GOT to be a joke. “Tick, tock!” comes the reply, as the others roar in amusement. You knock down the pistol targets as quick as you can. Not as quick as you wanted, but they’ll do.
And now for the dreaded Chug. Your stomach revolts before the first drop passes your tongue. The molten marshmallows try to come up. How in the hell will you fit six sodas in that same boiling, acid-filled mess? One after the other, they go down. Your stomach certainly will burst before you can squeeze them all in. The only way to relieve the pressure is to lay down. The mud and the soda and the yellow jackets keep you company, and… what’s that smell? No, it can’t be. Is that vomit?
As you crunch the last can, and they call “Time!” your stomach unleashes its hate and anger at you for the last twenty minutes of abuse. You don’t even make it to the designated puke zone before you yack everywhere. The folks nearby roll with laughter, as the soda and the stomach acid and the Peeps spew down your shirt and mix into the mud. But oh, what a relief!
You just got baptized. Welcome to Cola Warrior!