Corn Dog, aka Quinn, had a simple plan. He created a list of random times at the start of every shift. They were posted in the to out-buildings. Once the specified time elapsed, on of the two parties in the out-building would mosey their way to the next post. Relieved, the person at that post would discretely move to their next position and relieve that person. Time durations were between fifteen and ninety minutes. It would be hard to “pattern” the patrol.
It was Quinn’s experience that men who are walking are not attentive. The miss little sounds. The fail to see movement. Observers who are stationary are MUCH more sensitive.
That was weighed against the fact that being in one position too long dulled the senses. Corn Dog’s solution resulted in the observers being stationary for most of the time they were afield. It also gave them regular changes-of-scenery.
The one fly-in-the-ointment is that observers had to move quietly along indirect pathways to avoid detection by potential hostiles. "Quietly" is synonymous with "slowly".
Corn Dog’s admonition that teams play on Friday night the way the practice the week before got no traction with Randy.
Randy believed in magic and pixie dust and “luck”.
Randy squeeked through high school based on “social” promotions. In the eleventh hour a little pixie dust was sprinkled on his grades to bring them up to the minimum required to pass.
His senior year a miracle similar to the loaves-and-fishes occurred. His abysmal 1.06 GPA magically doubled to 2.12, thus entitling him to walk down the aisle and receive his diploma. A team of special ed teachers had grabbed him by the nape of the neck and dragged him into the end-zone.
Randy was not unique. Nearly 10% of Randy’s graduating class had receive divine intervention at some point to keep them on track. The difference between Randy and most of the others is that the others were oblivious to the help. Randy, on the other hand, knew that rules would be bent or completely ignored if they inconvenienced him.
Yes, what Randy learned in high school was not algebra or grammar or biology. What Randy learned was that there are no immutable laws when the logical result of those laws might result in an inconvenient consequence for Mr Randall J. Nallet.
It was in that frame of mind that Mr. Randall J. Nallet was striding diagonally across the open area between his last post and the one where he was expected.
The last thing Randy was expecting was a length of maple sapling sizzling above the ground at shin height and hitting him just below his knees. It was a bit of a surprise to the maple sapling as well. Up until five hours ago it had been growing with a job-lot of its siblings as close together as hairs on a dog's back.
Randy toppled like a corpse. The pain so sudden and total that the only thing that escaped him was a surprised yelp.
A shadow that was attached to the sapling rose out of the unmown grass. The shadow commenced to industriously pummeling Randy with the whippy sapling. The sapling did not have enough mass to break major bones but it had a near optimal combination of mass, diameter and spring to drive bruised deep into muscles and soft tissue. The man with the sapling took care to not hit near the eyes, nose, ears or fingers. Otherwise it was ‘game-on’.
The shadow never said a word. Finally, out of breath, the shadow limped away from the scene of the assault. The sentry who Randy was sent to relieve would never know what happened. The next relief would show up in sixty minutes. The only difference was that there was only one fighter screwing-the-pooch in the out-building.
The next night Randy was limping. He did not cut diagonally across the open field even though it was a shorter path.
Urdie said “These guys are still losing focus. Maybe it would be better if we sent them out in twos?”
Corn Dog shook his head. “Then we have holes in the coverage.”
“You know what I used to do is to count cars and rabbits and dogs howling” Quinn admitted. He didn’t want to share much of his past life but these guys needed help.
“How do we roll that out?” Urdie asked.
“I dunno. Maybe tell them to keep a log.” Corn Dog said.
“What do we reward them with?” Urdie asked.
“OK guys” Timmy Scopazzo said “I have an idea. Everybody keeps a log. They write down the times they here dogs, coyotes, motor vehicles and the ones that match get dessert. The ones that don’t match have to give their dessert to the ones that do.”
The idea had a lot of merit. While the food was plentiful the quality and variety were sadly lacking. All of the men looked forward to dessert.
Corn Dogs agreed with the plan but surprised Urdie and Timmy. “I don’t want them turning on lights to get the time” Corn Dog said. “I would rather have them be fifteen minutes off in their time estimate than to have them lose even a little bit of night vision.”