Dean was a young man who was born in Missouri, he had just finished high school at the age of 18 when he had decided to join the military. He was a simple minded and straightforward individual who had felt that joining the military was not only obligatory but also something that he could potentially enjoy.
He shipped out to basic and then advanced training as soon as he was eligible and passed with ease. He was soon deployed to Afghanistan where he would perform reconnaissance missions for a year. Throughout this time one constant thing that had been on his mind was his family. Once he finished serving in the military Dean thought he would make a great career in the medical field.
“I can’t wait until Christmas Tanner, I can finally see how my mom and old man are doing.”
“ Yeah you’re telling me Dean, three more weeks and I can finally go back home.”
“Your eight years are almost up right? What’ll you do once you’re finished serving?” asked Dean piqued with a slight hint of curiosity.
“I’ll do what I should be doing now. Taking care of my family. I’ll raise my boy and love my wife, I’ve missed so much these 7 years… damn do I miss them” ,Tanner’s voice stumbled, “It’s not fair to them that I left ‘em like that on they own. Just three more weeks in this stupid God damn desert and I’ll never have to come back again. I won’t ever leave they side” Tanner said loudly with his eyes on the verge of tears.
“It’s alright man” ,said Dean as he firmly patted Tanner’s back, “Three more weeks and until both of us can finally see our families.”
“Say Dean, you haven’t been here for that long haven’t ya?” asked Tanner “You been here ‘bout a year or so, you’re very young.”
“Yeah but ever since I got here I felt like I left my youth back at home.”
Tanner stands up and walks in front of Dean staring him in the eyes, “It don’t matter, you’re still just a kid, you got a lot to live for. Now me? I’ve gotten to live life and see many things, but you still gots a lotta of time. I’m old God damn it, 43 years old, I ain’t got much left to see that I haven’t already, so…” Tanner placed his right hand compassionately on Dean’s shoulder, “Don’t get yourself killed.”
Tanner then turned around sharply and exited the room Dean was inside. Dean thought hard about what Tanner had said, could he really risk losing it all? Everything Dean was, is, and was going to be would all be void if he had died now. Death was always at a moment’s notice here in Afghanistan, but Dean was well aware of that, perhaps too well aware. However, Dean couldn’t afford to think about death right now, the thought always demoralizes and frightens him. Instead he needed to prepare himself for his mission tomorrow.
Dean, wondering what time it was, raised up his right arm and examined his gray field watch, which he had received from his mother as a present for his thirteenth birthday. For a brief moment, Dean reminisced about his childhood and family, once he finished he saw that the time was 7:58 PM.
“Looks like it’s time to eat Dinner, I better get going”, Dean mumbled to himself while standing up to leave his dorm.
Dean opened his dormitorium door and exited. He began to walk through the long narrow hallways of the military base while passing by many of his fellow service men. Dean walked, walked, and walked, but it seemed as though the more he walked the farther away the mess hall door would be.
Gradually the hallway became an increasingly thin dark tunnel, all the while Dean’s desperation had grown as he went from walking to jogging. When jogging wasn’t enough to close the distance he ran. When running wasn’t enough he sprinted.
“What the hell is going on? Where am I” yelled Dean as he was mad dashing for his life. Soon the mess hall door at the end had become some divine source of bright light, but this time it was getting closer.
Finally he was within reaching distance of the light, after a time lapse of what seemed to be hours. He went into the light only to see the facade fade away and find himself sweating and exhausted in the mess hall.
The soldiers that were eating their meals all eyed Dean curiously. Dean took great notice this and was deeply bothered by it.
“What are you guys looking at?” demanded Dean of the entire room.
“A mad man.” said one of the soldiers.