One Rainy Patrol

December 19, 2008
By Dustin Driskill, Mesa, AZ

It was a rainy afternoon in the forests of planet Harvest and the patrol roads were caked with fresh mud. Second Lieutenant Mason Greger rode in the back of a jeep on a border patrol convoy. The rain didn’t do the already bumpy rode any good, the dirt had long ago turned to frosty mud leaving many hard bumpy rocks to lead the convoy on the trail.

The gloomy day though, hardly made a difference to the soldier’s spirit. A young Private was just finishing a joke, “Well some of them said they weren’t but, you know how them politicians lie.”
“You really need to find some new jokes man, I’ve heard that one a thousand time before,” said a corporal. “O look whose talking, I haven’t even heard you even try to tell a joke,” retorted the Private.” Well you never asked,” replied the Corporal.

The Private started to say something, but Greger blasted, “If you two don’t knock it off now, you’ll have KP duty for the rest of your born days..,” Greger’s authority was unquestioned by everyone in the unit, and the two soldiers shouted in unison, “Sir, yes Sir!,” “That’s what I want to hear”, said Greger, as the jeep bumped up to a bridge.

The jeep suddenly hit something very hard and lurched up and down violently. “Hey, Jenkins easy with the jeep, we just got it fixed!,” the Corporal shouted toward the front.

“I wouldn’t be talking Evans, he can drive one of these a heck of a lot better than you”, said Greger pointedly. “Hey, hey….whatever,” the Corporal replied.
Then with out warning, the ping of bullets were heard landing all around them, and automatic gun fire filled the air. Greger shouted “Everyone down!”.

The soldiers all crouched in the small confines of the open air jeep. But before the lieutenant could order Jenkins to punch the accelerator, there was a rattle and then a piercing explosion from a nearby grenade, hurling everyone out of the jeep and into the surrounding dense forest. The Lieutenant was slammed against a large tree and he landed hard with a thump. Greger’s head spun as he staggered to his knees, but again with out warning another explosion from a different grenade sent him flying further into the forest. This time Greger was plowed into the ground hearing as the air was filled with sounds of automatic gun fire and more explosions. Slowly his world turned to black.

Greger woke with a start; startled and disoriented he slowly got up. He looked around and whispered softly, “Is anyone here”? The only reply was the sound of crickets buzzing and the lapping of the water against the nearby lake shore. Then a distant worded reply came, but not in his native language. It was a language that he had studied in high school and again in basic training. It was Baskinesee , only spoken by the Baskin people Who lived on the other continent of the planet. Although he could not understand what was said, he knew it meant things were bad, and were likely to get worse.

Greger slowly took stock of his circumstances. He was alone, unarmed, hungry, cold, and apparently behind new enemy lines. Given his situation, Greger decided that he had to hide and try to make his way back to base. He ducked behind some bushes and waited for the solders to leave.

Greger had survived being tossed around like a ragdoll, but in doing so his clothing and pack were in shreds. The straps to his back ammo bag had unraveled and were hanging by threads. As he stood to begin a backward retreat further into the forest, the ammo pack straps snapped and the pack hit the ground with a heavy thud. His heart pounded heavy and he began to sweat, as he knew that now the solders knew he was close. The Baskin soldiers said something to each other and the split up, each going in a different direction. With no place to hide, Greger moved quickly back, away from the croaked row of bushes, and toward a nearby lake. As his distance from the soldiers grew, he started to run slowly, then as fast as he could, hoping that they did not hear or see him. Within a few moments he was at the waters edge, a cliff with a 15 foot drop into deep water. Greger knew he couldn’t go back into the forest, so he decided to ditch his pack and gear and swim for it. He tossed his gear into a large group of bushes, then got a running start and plunged head first into the water. Once in the water he instantly wished he hadn’t, the water was ice cold and he gasped as his body shook against the cold. The cold water pounded at him, stunning Greger enough to let slip some of his precious air out through is lips. He stayed under water swimming away from shore until his lungs screamed in agony and he raced for the top of the water. He gave out a loud gasp as he sucked in the air and dared a quick look around him. The enemy soldiers were not on shore—perhaps thinking that no one would be stupid enough to jump into the water. His thoughts now narrowed to only one thing -- survival. He started to swim to the other end of the lake, toward the base he knew would be there. It took twenty five minutes of hard swimming, but eventually he got himself the other side, and slowly dragged his exhausted and freezing body to the shore. When he reached land he spent all his remaining energy on a few push-ups, trying to warm his body up in the cold night air.

Now, safe for the moment and beginning to warm, he started to think back. He and his convoy had been ambushed. He was tossed around by grenades. He blacked out, and barely survived a swim in an ice cold lake to escape. He wondered about his team. Where were they, were they okay?

He then got up, staggered through the woods until he found what he was looking for. In a clearing was Charlie base on Mt.Velton, which still flew a tattered green Harvest flag. As he moved slowly toward the base, his muscles aching and shivering with cold, he was overtaken by how much his world had changed in a few short hours.

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