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“Com’mon, com’mon, com’mon...” mumbled Ariel as she frantically dressed the huge gaping hole in his neck.
“Tell-tell ‘um Brian loves ‘um,” gurgled the wounded Marine. Ariel shook her head, still struggling to stop the bleeding.
“Tell ‘em yourself when you get home.” She pressed harder, but the hot red liquid just kept spilling.
“Please doc-” The blood slowed, then stopped. Ariel looked up. His once lively green eyes were now dull and grey.
“Crap,” she whispered, sitting back on her heels. Despair washed over her like a wave. 20. I’ve lost 20 in less than an hour... She took one last look at the brave marine, at least he looked at peace. That’s 20 letters to 20 families... Best not make it 21. She picked up her rifle and went in search of survivors.
The bullets and shells had ceased long ago. Now there was only an eerie stillness that penetrated deep into the forest. No birds, no insects. Just charred, splintered trees ominously silouhetted against a sleet coloured blanket of clouds. At their roots lay the dead and mangled bodies of the ones she’d been upable to save. It was like they knew we were coming...
She trugged along, numb inside as she scanned the blood-stained ground for some sign of life. She found none. All she saw were the lifeless faces and torn bodies of her fellow Marines. There has to be someone...
A desperate panic washed over her. She ran towards the forest’s edge, eyes frantically searching for movement. The more she seeked, the less she found, and she became ever more desperate. She ran faster, knowing the longer she looked, the less likely it would be to find someone alive. Her legs, as well as her heart, stopped dead as she cleared the forest’s edge.
“There’s nothing left,” she breathed, unaware of her own voice. In front of her was nothing but sombre grey sky. On the groud, lay the smoldering rubble of what had once been a great army. The parts of ground not covered with blackened humvees and .50 caliber shell casings was inundated with greusome human remains.
Her eyes scanned the grave scene, still searching for something, someone that had managed to escape the grip of death. She saw nothing. For the first time that day, tears welled in her eyes. They’re gone...I couldn’t save any of them...
“Ariel!” A voice echoed in the empty expanse. Her heart raced, not sure if it was just her imagination or reality. She saw no one. I’m going crazy...
Suddenly, she saw it. Off in the distance stood a lone Marine. His silouhette was so sharply constrasted against the cold sky she wondered how she could’ve missed him. She squinted, trying to make out his face and his injuries. Logan...
It was her high school (and now military) friend, Corporal Logan Fetters. She had saved his life a year ago when he had been shot in the chest and now here he was, the only thing left standing in the aftermath of the attack. His sapphire eyes shone like stars against his chisled face, blackened by gun powder, blood, and several hideous gashes. His uniform torn, M16 hanging listlessly at his side. His left arm was caked in blood, dangling at an odd angle. Hurt and scared, but fight and defiance still burning bright in his eyes, he embodied every single Marine who had lost their life that day. Ariel smiled, a glimmer of hope reawakened deep in her chest. All was not lost.
“Stay there, Logan!” she called out, delicatley picking her way through the debris. “I’m comin!”
“Ariel!” he yelled to her, “they’re all gone! All of them! I tried...” His voice broke, overcome by pain. Ariel moved faster.
“I tried so hard...” he cried, “ I need help!” He began to move toward her.
“No, Logan! Stay there! I’ll come to you!”
“Help me, Ariel! It hurts.. it hurts so bad...” he wailed, limping over the charred ground.
“I’m coming buddy! Stay there!” she cried with increasing concern. She lept over boards and bodies, deperate to get to her friend.
“Help me-” It was as if she was watching in slow motion. He stumbled over a decapitated body.
The blast rocked the earth, sending dirt and debris flying. Ariel didn’t even flinch; frozen in place by sheer horror. Dirt rained down on her, a few pieces of burnt wood landed around her. She bent down. There, amongst the rubble, lay a hand, one finger adorned with a very familiar ring. She looked up.
It looked like he was never there. Only smoldering ashes, dead bodies, and empty grey sky existed. No more Logan. No more life. No more hope.
“Logannnnn!” Ariel howled, clutching his hand to her heart. Only her echo answered her. She cried, oblivious to the sound of helicoperts coming to carry away the dead and rescue the few living.
She cried for the loss of a good friend and all those she had failed, for all those who were dead. She cried because she was alive. Cried, because she had to carry on, but didn’t know how.