He eats people food

August 17th, 1917

Diary of Milica Kovacevic, Bandit Leader. The Optimistic Rascals.

There were about twenty of us left. We had just conducted a raid on an army supply depot and lost ten men. All we got out of it were five more rifles. We have been roaming from camp to camp, living in the woods, ambushing Austrian Imperial patrols, surviving off of handouts of bread and soup from our brothers in the arms and from the local factory workers on strike, the labor leaders and others who hate what the Dual Monarchy is doing to the people.

The only surviving photo of the Optimistic Rascals. Milica is the man with the beard, hat and rifle, looking slightly to one side.

Tonight, we were warming our hands in our fingerless gloves around an oil-drum fire, cooking one of Goran’s boots in a pot with a small hole in the bottom, when a giant fireball appeared in the sky overhead. We kicked out the campfire and took cover, thinking that the enemy (which was almost everyone) had found our position and was shelling us with some terrible new weapon. But no, it was a burning zeppelin. It wasn’t long before we heard the shouts and screams and saw men fall from the sky. A few were aflame as they crashed into the snowy treetops and the ground below. There was nothing we could do for them.

Then came a sight I will never forget. Men came floating down on canopies attached to strings. And with them came about two dozen Bärenvolk. They were monstrous! We could see the bottoms of their huge feet as they descended towards us. I had to look twice through the field glasses to believe my eyes. Everyone grabbed their rifles and took up positions, taking aim. We could have picked them all off before they even touched the ground if we wanted to. God knows we were afraid. We had heard stories about the Bärenvolk — namely that they eat people.

Were they here — sent by the British — to kill and eat us? Also, we were very hungry. There was the thought among the men that maybe we should eat them. In the end, I gave the order to hold fire. There was something strange about the whole situation that made me put off killing them all. Never the less, we would jump them, disarm them and find out who they were and why they were here. I told the men, if their answers were good, we would let them live. If their answers were bad, we would dig shallow graves for the humans and we would roast the Bärenvolk over the fire with some salt. There were some grumbles, but mostly everyone agreed that this was okay, so we hid in the bushes and waited for the survivors to get to the ground.

The Battle of Grassy Plains, where both sides used blades of grass for cover. A soldier on the left (infanterist, or private) is seen carrying lunch boxes out to the hungry machine-gunners. Lunch typically consisted of one quarter raw potato and one ounce of “rutschig stiefel” a.k.a. “slippery boot” — when boot leather could be obtained.

August 17th, 1917

Diary of Major Horace S. Browntrout

By my reckoning we are somewhere in the mountains between Lusens and Juifenau. We were ambushed by a group of men wearing the Austro-Hungarian uniform and thought we were doomed because they had us surrounded and got the drop on us just as we were staggering to our feet. Captain Colonel Roosevelt was the only in our brigade who’s good with languages. It turns out that this rag-tag lot are a group of deserters calling themselves the “Optimistic Rascals,” or so Roosevelt believes per his limited knowledge of Serbian.

Their leader, an unshaven man named Milica, interrogated me at gunpoint. He switched back and forth between having Roosevelt translate and using his own brand of broken English, which he was quite proud of. His first concern was Stanley and what he referred to as the “bear people” (meaning Saysquacks, or Bigfeet). He was particularly keen on asking after Stanley’s diet.

“He eat of people food?” Milica said.

“Yes, sometimes,” I replied.

“How many?”

“How many what?”

“How many people food he eat?”

“He eats what we eat, whenever he’s around us,” I said.

Milica pointed to himself and his men. “He eat me?”

I laughed. “No, sir. He eats this.” I placed my hand in my coat pocket. Milica and several other men locked the bolts on their rifles. “Wait,” I said. “It’s good. It’s good. Look…Mmmm…potted meat product, yes? Good.” Very slowly I pulled out a tin of Carry On Sir John Potted Meat Product and threw it to Milica. When he had trouble opening it, I had him give it to Stanley, who was able to open the tin just by squeezing it in one paw. The lid popped right off. Stanley immediately began salivating — so powerful is the lure of meat substance contained in every tin of Carry on Sir John. Stanley handed the opened tin back to Milica, who then sniffed at it. He made a face.

“Is green,” he said.

“Green is its natural color,” Roosevelt assured them in Serbian. With that, Milica dipped a finger into the tin, eat a mouthful and passed it on to the next man. “Not bad,” he said. “Better than shoe.”

“More?” I said. We then set out amidst the wreckage to salvage what supplies we could from the disaster that had befallen us.

As we walked through the forest, we hunted through the burning wreckage of the Flying Tubesteak, looking for men and supplies. Unfortunately, the crew of the Zeta didn’t make it to the ground, but thankfully everyone else did — including all the Saysquacks (their specially designed parachutes held up well on their first use!). Unfortunately, most of our supplies were lost. All the specialized bicycles were lost! We recovered five knapsacks, eight rifles, one elephant gun, one Lewis gun with three pans of ammunition, five boxes of ammunition, two pistols and 30 rounds, three sticks of dynamite, 100 feet of cord and a detonator…and…miraculously…ten cases of Carry on Sir John Potted Meat Product. Most of the labels were burned off, but there is no hiding a good tin of ‘ol Sir John! Even a burning airship can’t destroy it! …Also surviving, twelve homing pigeons in their cage. None of their bird feed survived, so they would have to survive on Carry on Sir John, just like the rest of us.

A future that was designed to confound history students for centuries to come…

The Optimistic Rascals were on foot with the exception of a donkey and a one-wheeled cart, so we loaded as many provisions as we could on to the cart and headed for the mountains. Milica explained that Austrian mounted units had patrols nearby and they would find us soon if we did not hide. We were at high elevation and our tracks were visible in the snowy ground, so this was hard to do, but lucky for us, it began to snow by the time by made it to a cave high in the mountains that the Rascals were using as a hideout.

Milica explained that Serbians were poorly treated in the Austro-Hungarian army, and so many in his unit were shot for being suspected deserters, that the rest of the units finally decided to actually desert. Milica and the men of the Optimistic Rascals barely made it into the woods before being shot with the rest of their unit, the 45th k.u.k. Tiroler Reitende Einhornwaffe (Imperial and Royal Tyrolean Mounted Unicorn Brigade). Their commander was still hunting them down. When I explained who we were and what my orders were, Milica nodded, smiled and shook my hand: we were on the same side. Also…Mr. Roosevelt being a somewhat famous personage, all were eager to crowd around him and ask him a hundred and one questions. It’s not every day you get an ex-president of the United States holed up with you in your rebel cave. To say nothing of the Saysquacks with us.

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Care to read a hilarious account of Theodore Roosevelt hunting Bigfoot? Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Squabble-Titans-Recollections-Roosevelt-Rainforest/dp/B097X4R4LN

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Dash Fire Diaries

Envisioning a past that never was. Step through a surreal portal where objective truth, imagined history and satirical fiction coexist.