• To Phil

    Bacon died a week ago. Before he died, he provided the following for my autobiography. It’s all Bacon. Love you my friend. Till the next energy level.

    My name is not Bacon. It is Phil. But they call me Bacon. You can call me Bacon as well.

    Commander Der has requested I write something in his autobiography to explain my background. I do not have the vocabulary or speaking abilities that the Commander has.

    My upbringing was not as privileged.

    My life was not as easy.

    But I will tell you my tale as best I can.

    My story starts when I enlisted in the Armies of the Realm. It was a glorious day as my parents were there to see me off. I was young and naive. Perhaps even a bit idealistic. Either way, I did not know what I was getting myself into.

    The moment I loaded into the transport with the other chosen ones, I knew this was going to determine how my future would be.

    We arrive at Camp Tiki Tiki which was a magnificent structure. Standing at its base, I barely could see the top. Floor after floor, too numerous to count, seemed to go into the sky.

    “Phil!” my drill Sargent screamed at me. “Stop pandering to your impressions and do what you know to do.”

    “Yes, mame!” I responded, stepping forward and beginning to climb.

    The other recruits were climbing with me, claw over claw. With each floor we ascended, another one seemed to appear at the top. I believe it was Eric, a short haired long snout cat from the Edison Plains who quit first.

    “Phil, I can’t go any further,” he said as our eyes met. “Keep up the fight.”

    As I climbed past him and continued my assault, I paused to look back at him. He was not there. Actually, the ground wasn’t there. There was just a fog that hid from where I came.

    “I’m done,” I heard another recruit cry. I smiled inside my head, and continued clawing my way up. I realized this was a test. Only the strongest would rise to the top, my mother would always say.

    “Are you the strongest, Phil?” she would ask me.

    “Yes, momma,” I said as my legs burned from the strain.

    I continued to climb, and to this day, I am not sure how far I climbed. I just know it came down to myself and a large burly tabby who had one foggy eye. I had not noticed him before. He was ahead of me and due to his size, he was able to scale the distance between floors in three steps compared to my five.

    “You can’t win Phil,” he said down to me. The sound of his voice grated on me. I had an anger building inside of me. But I am not one to get mad. I get even.

    I doubled my pace. So did the tabby. Floor after floor, we ran vertically up. I noticed that the floors had changed.

    Instead of just being just carpet wrapped around a curved piece of wood, there were pillows. The next had cat food that glistened in the sun. Herbs and real grass hid the next. The building was trying to temp me into stopping.

    “Give it up Phil. You can not win,” the tabby said. My claws extended further. My gate increased. My mind would not stop. My body, however, couldn’t keep up. The central wood column had become harder and my nails bent trying to grip it. A few shattered under the strain.

    But I would not stop.

    My right paw was exposed. I had lost all the claws on it. It was of no use to me. The building, as if it sensed my distress, grew in girth. The central column becoming too wide for me to use my right paw to hug it.

    “On three then!” I hissed and continued. The tabby was close to me now. We moved together and every once in a while I glance in his direction. His face, a broad smile, no sign of strain.

    The building shook as if it were trying to rid itself of my weight. My mind would not allow it. I lost my left back claws, my paws bloody messes. I continued on two.

    And then I caught a glimpse of his eye. The fog in it seem to flow out towards myself.

    “No,” I screamed, but mystic forces were about. The fog encircled myself and the building. I kept climbing, one paw up. The other useful claw up next to it. Repeat.

    But the fog grew in intensity. I no longer saw the tabby. I no longer saw the building. I felt it with one last lunge, and then when I reached for it… all I got was fog.

    I did not cry out and I began to tumble down from where I had come. There was no use in screaming. I had beat the tabby. I had beat the tower. I had passed the test. My certain impact with the ground would be all the applause I needed.

    Blackness; however, encircled me. My consciousness left me before I heard anything.

    When I woke, all my paws were bandaged. The left back one showed red on it. I was lying in a bed. My drill Sargent was seated next to me and saw my eyes had opened.

    “You are something special, Colonial Phil,” she said. “Something special.”

    Looking back on my basic training, I am proud of what I accomplished there at Camp Tiki Tiki. But it was only the first battle I had been in. There were countless more.