The Handbook

4/5 (3)

Sergeant Cooper dropped his lasrifle, turned his back and ran for the toilet. He went for the last made in the freshly-digged trenches, the one he had previously assigned Private Okada to clean. A minor transgression on the soldier’s part meant the assurance he had a clean place to relieve himself. Cooper thanked the hierarchy system in his mind.

‘What’s that?’ He commented instead aloud a second later. He stretched to reach a book, abandoned in the stall. ‘Bathroom guide for the Guard that doesn’t want to die. What a moronic title!’ He opened it. There was no preface of sorts, just pages with a statement written in big letters at the centre. The first read, 

Rule #1: Never be at the forefront of an assault.

‘No shit!’ He remarked, as if oblivious to the place where he was. ‘This must be the work of a genius. Let’s see,

 Rule #2: Show little to no disagreement with the dictates of a Commissar. 

‘Pffth, a recruit will know this or be dead before graduation.’

Despite his disregard, he kept scrolling through the somewhat obvious rules, stopping when he spotted something more precise, something he could relate to,

 Rule #7: Call reinforcements when in doubt.

‘I’ll be damned. This reminds me of when we were on Lithe III. That hill was doubled in size with the sheer number of Orks piling over it. And the Colonel kept denying the need for reinforcements. We were almost overrun, half of the men dead, when the aid arrived. It turns out Lieutenant Vindict called for reinforcements by himself. When all was over, the Colonel thanked him for having had his own life saved by the extra help. Then sent him to the martial court to save himself from demotion. Poor fella made an honest mistake in forgetting how the hierarchy works: Shit always slips down.’

Enriching the worn pages with his own memories, he kept going through the text. After all, he was in one of the best spots known by men to let the mind run free.

Rule #11: Ask to change assignments before a fleet battle.

 ‘Well, Sergeant Mbata did that; so many died in the void. Still, his planet got virus-bombed soon after.’ He adjusted his numbing cheeks to a more comfortable position.

Rule #14: Never serve under Captain McGregor. 

‘Ah! That two-bit snake, one time… Wait, that’s a bit too precise, what?’

Rule #15: Petty punishments from Sergeant Cooper can keep you far away when the camp gets attacked. 

‘Oh yeah, I remember Private Scandicci was making… Hey!’ A chill ran through the sitting figure, but he hastily dismissed it by summoning anger. ‘That must be some kind of joke. I’ll discover who left this tomfoolery here for me, and he’ll get what he deserves. Urgh, maybe he even used my bath stall! Just wait for me, little rat! Idiots like this one betray themselves. Let me check the next pages… Wait, what?’

Rule #16: Be more vigilant when a threat with mind-altering powers creeps toward your position to kill you. 

‘What is this supposed to mean?’ He felt his throat dry, noticing the next pages were all blank. Then his vision refocused, and he realised he was holding a toilet paper roll. He must have unrolled it on the ground in the last minutes. Under his scrutiny, a message appeared on the box of paper near his hand. It was not like it was being written, but more like a conjuring of the mind. It read: The End.

Something dripped on the paper from above him. Strange tentacles covered in mucus stood all around the stall, a split-second away from enveloping him.

‘Oh. Sh–’

About the Author

When not lost in the folds of the Webway, Enzo lives on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, Holy Terra.

He writes mostly about ttrpgs, he’s an avid scholar of both history and mythology of our world and various lore of the fictional ones.

It is said that he loves to make others laugh, crafting plots that intrigue and surprise them.

Worshipping Tzeentch has granted him some eldritch powers like being invisible when nobody looks at him, and turning money into books.