The Fire of a Thousand Suns

A sailor is sprayed in the face with liquid fire.

This is how it begins.

Back in April, I had to undergo an armed sentry course in order to be qualified to carry a weapon while on duty. I was also taught how to properly use the collapsible baton and OC spray. In order to be certified on the use of each, I needed to pass through the trial by fire that is being sprayed in the face with OC spray.

Now, in order to understand just how bad this is you must first understand what exactly OC spray is. “OC” stands for “Oleoresin Capsicum,” which is an oily resin derived from the fruit of hot peppers and chilis. In other words, this is what is commonly referred to as pepper spray, the same stuff that the police use in order to quell riots, brawls, lawlessness, and general ruckuses. This spray contains a high concentration of capsaicin, the chemical that makes spicy foods muy caliente. Because of that, it makes an excellent less-than-lethal weapon to be used in crowd control, subduing a violently resistant bad guy, and generally getting people to do what you want them to do. And now dear reader, you may ask “Well, just how does it do that?”

Well, you see, that capsaicin stuff is produced by plants and fungi as a deterrent to getting eaten, since plants can’t exactly run away. The chemical is an irritant to mammals causing inflammation and a burning sensation in the affected regions. You can experience the above sensation the next time you find yourself at ye local watering hole by ingesting a basket of hot wings. “But,” you say, “Those hot wings are delicious. I fail to see how this could be anyway near as bad as you make it out to be.” Well, dear reader, you must understand that those tasty pieces of chicken bone and flesh only register about 8,000 Scoville Heat Units, whilst the demon OC Spray registers somewhere in the low millions on the Scoville Scale. But yes, if it just so happens to drip into your mouth, OC spray is absolutely delectable; if you can stand the heat.

Now, my adventure with OC spray began where all good Navy training begins: In the classroom with a properly lengthy and adequately boring slideshow presentation. But that droll classroom training could not prepare for the fun that awaited me later that afternoon. After a short lunch break, we all gathered out at the softball field aboard Naval Station Humid Swamp during the heat of a bright, warm Florida day. We then received an expeditious safety brief from the Sadist Master-At-Arms and proceeded to line up for trial that awaited us. I was by no means the first to go, my apprehension as to the pain that lay before me causing my stomach to tighten up into knots, but I after the first five or six participants, my pride and manhood couldn’t allow me to wait on the sidelines any longer and I strode up to the pitcher’s mound in order to get the thing over with. I was instructed to close my eyes and mouth as tightly as possible and then hold my breath.

The spray itself was more like a stream of liquid, and it felt cold as it landed upon my brow. I was then given a foam baton and told to walk to the next station; I ran. Once there, I easily threw an opponent to the ground using a joint lock technique similar to what I used to practice during Judo at The Mother I. I was aware of a tingly sensation all over my face as the OC dripped down my face into eyes, onto my nose, into my nostrils, down my lips, and into my mouth. The thought crossed my mind that it wasn’t all that bad. I then ran to the next station where I was required to fend off two attackers with my trusty baton. During this evolution, I noticed that it had become much more difficult than normal to breathe. Each breath seemed to be scented with that sharp aroma of peppers. I thought it odd, but kept screaming out commands to my opponents to stay back lest I demonstrate my most excellent subduction techniques. I was eventually given a pass after what I thought was much longer than necessary. I then proceeded to the next and final station where I would have to battle a man my own size (I’m rather stoutly built) encapsulated in red, padded, foamy armor, with nothing but my foam baton and a lot of moxy.

A sailor screams and struggles to open her eyes after being assaulted with liquid fire (OC Spray).

This is how it feels while you’re going through it.

About six paces from the evil Red Man, I was hit full force by the OC. I let out a labored gasp as I struggled to breath. My energy and strength was completely drained from me as I struck my enemy with my limp baton. The Red Man laughed jovially and commanded me to hit him harder. I struggled to follow his command, repeating my attack over and over again, with nothing more than creeping exhaustion to show for it. By now, my face felt as though it were completely engulfed in flame, the OC in my nostrils making every breath feel as though I was inhaling fire. The Red Man continued to laugh, until I launched a mighty kick in a desperate effort to keep him at bay. I’m not quite certain where I struck him, but the fight was over shortly thereafter, my exit from the field of battle accompanied by successful completion of the evolution. My face continued to burn for nearly an hour afterwards despite my best efforts to wash to the OC residue off of it. Even upon my return to my quarters, my battle would not be over, as my first attempt at showering was met with a return of the burning sensation. This was, of course,  mitigated by the three beers I had immediately preceding that shower. Eventually I was clean enough for the burning to finally cease.

Oh God, it burns!

The Aftermath

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