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through the Dead Man's eye
14 Sept 2012
Through The Dead Man’s Eye
A huge explosion broke the silence, followed by deafening artillery and gun fire coming from multiple directions. Metal fragments and building debris scattered everywhere. Nothing but heart-tearing pain screams and the sound of bullets passing by. Wolf laid on the ground, face toward the smoked grey sky. He opened his eyes not knowing where he was, or how he ended up there. He reached for his helmet, struggled back to his feet, and staggered toward a half-blown wall for cover. He let his body drop heavily against the wall, facing the battlefield. He was bleeding badly from his right leg and chest, probably from shrapnel wounds and had lost his M-4 somewhere in the blast. He was losing a lot of blood and using more energy than he had, just to stay awake. It was serious, he knew that, but still he took out his side arm and aimed it towards the thick dust cloud in front of him, ready to shoot at whatever moved, willing to fight until his last breathe. His grey beard tainted in blood, which he feared, could not be his, but worse. He pierced his eyes through the mist looking for his team. He knew they were out there, he heard the wounded crying for help and the rest returning fire, but he couldn’t see them, and lacked the strength to shout. He kept looking, hoping for the best, until he saw a silhouette cutting through the mist toward him. Then another one behind the first one, and another one, and suddenly an entire army of God knows what charged towards him. The mist cleared out just enough for him to see the uniforms, and right there he knew he stood no chance. He stared at his gun, and it took him a few seconds to decide. He pressed it against his temple, and the memory of his wife came to mind. I’m sorry.
“Wolf! Wolf! Wake up man! Command wants us geared up and ready to roll in five! Move!” shouted Viper as he shook Wolf out of his bed. “move it!”
“There’s only two weeks left of service for you, until you retire, and we want to make sure you make the best of ‘em. Now move!” shouted Fox. He and Viper were his best friends on the team. He had served with them for 10 years now, and he trusted them with his life.
“Alright, alright, I’m up now, go bother someone else” replied Wolf still a little sleepy and cranky. “Be there in a minute”
Ten minutes later, Bravo team’s eight-men stood in front of Colonel Lance, geared up and ready for mission debriefing. He was a big man, probably as old as Wolf, maybe a little older. He had also been in the Army for a long time now, but unlike Wolf who was designated for on-field missions, Lance was put behind a desk.
“Alright gentlemen, medical-aid mission, same drill as any other escort mission before. Your convoy will escort medical supply trucks south of the Bakaara market into downtown Bagdad. Protect the supply trucks at all costs. This is a high priority mission; those supplies must reach their destination.” They all looked at each other knowing defeat was not an option and nodded. “Wolf I want you to divide your team into two, four-man squads. Squad A will be lead Humvee, squad B will be right behind. Echo team will ride on the back to cover the rear. Now listen up, the Bakaara market is the Wild West, so shots will be fired, but be careful what you shoot at, because people do live there.”
“Yes sir!” answered the eight men at once.
“Keep your eyes peeled. Do what you’re supposed to, and most important, do not stop the convoy. It’s a dangerous zone. Any questions?”
“What’s the estimated time for this mission?” said Hornet, the youngest of them all.
“No more than three hours. You’re in, you’re out. Be fast, be precise, and watch your fire. Your ride is waiting outside.” They all knew they were dismissed. They took their gear and headed for the Humvees. Just another day at work, they thought.
“Do you think they’ll shoot the convoy? I mean, we’re transporting medical supplies, we’re trying to help.” said Bull as he loaded his gear on the trunk.
“I don’t know, but if they’re sending us in to protect the trucks then it must be for something Bull,” said Snake, the team’s sniper man. “But don’t worry; they’ll probably just throw rocks at us.”
“Yeah? And what do you think we have the 50.calibers for, smartass? The local militia is armed to the teeth.” said Hornet, joining the conversation.
“It’s just a security measure, no big deal.” said Fox trying to get them not to worry. He gave them a little grin and got on the Humvee. They stared at each other for a while and got inside. Once the two Humvees were loaded with squad A and B, the convoy took off.
Wolf stared through the left side window of his Humvee, at the endless, melting-hot desert outside, and scanned the slopes. He and Viper were lead Humvee, and that meant they had to keep their eyes peeled for anything suspicious.
“What’s the matter?” asked Viper, cleaning the bullet chamber of his M-4 with an old piece of cloth.
“What do you mean?” said Wolf avoiding to see him straight to the eye.
“You look lost. I know that stare, and I know you’re worried about something. What’s wrong?” he said without looking up from his rifle.
“Probably nothing. It’s just this weird feeling I have,” He replied, playing with his left arm sleeve.
“Hey we’re in, we’re out, remember? Don’t worry” said Viper, not sounding too convinced. He had had that weird feeling since this morning as well, but didn’t want to tip off Wolf.
It wasn’t long, probably 5 minutes, until they could see the city of Bagdad in the horizon.
“Two minutes boys! E.T.A two minutes! Weapons check, weapons hot,” directed the Humvee driver through the radio speaker. “And get your men to operate those 50’s. Combat positions”
Wolf turned around to face the back seats. “Stingray, get on that 50,” he grabbed him by the shoulder stopping him from getting up, “don’t fire unless you’re fired upon, understood?” Stingray nodded. “Good.” he let go.
The convoy entered the city. People were nowhere to be seen; they were probably hiding from them, and that was either really good or really bad. They continued their way through the city in and almost straight route at practically the same speed they entered. They reached the first crossroad on the map and slowed down a little to confirm they were on the right path. Still no sign of life. Wolf’s gut feeling grew stronger and stronger. The convoy continued a couple blocks down the road and reached the first checkpoint; a three-story building in the southeast corner of the Bakaara market, which used to be a hotel until the militia declared war on the people. They pulled over. The driver killed the engine, grabbed the radio speaker and fixed the frequency.
“Alpha team, going through checkpoint tango-six, do you copy?” Static. “Alpha team, come in” No response. He put the speaker back in place. Wolf grabbed it, and fixed the frequency back to the convoy.
“Fox, take Bull and Snake and go wake those bastards up. Tell them we have a schedule to meet and we’re running late. Hornet stays on the 50.” There was a brief moment of static.
“Roger that,” he finally answered.
The three men descended their Humvee and walked towards the hotel. They knocked on the beaten wooden door and waited for a response from the inside. Silence. They knocked one more time. Same result. Bull grabbed the door knob, took a step back and bumped on the door with his shoulder, leaving it wide open.
“Friendlies coming in!” he shouted. The three of them stepped inside.
Wolf scanned the second and third level windows, from his Humvee. Suddenly something horrifying happened. Five bodies dropped from the top floor windows, and stopped at the same time with a strike that would break anyone’s neck. Everyone was shocked. The bodies just hung there in front of them, covered in blood, blindfolded, and with their mouths filled with rags to avoid screaming. Some of them were still moving and kicking. They were still alive just moments ago.
“That’s Alpha team! These bastards executed them right in front of us!” shouted Stingray who had a better view from the gunner position. Wolf reached for the speaker and ripped it off the radio; he fumbled with it and desperately checked the frequency was right.
“Fox! Get your men out of there right now! You hear me? Right now!”
“Why, what’s wr…” there was a deafening noise coming from inside the building, followed by gunshots. Then an even louder noise. The door was blown away from the inside and smoke and debris burst from the bottom level windows.
“Fox! Fox! Come in goddamit!” Wolf kept shouting at the speaker. “F*** this!” He threw the speaker against the radio, kicked the Humvee door open, and sprinted out towards the building. Then a bigger blast also from the inside blew off the building’s structure, and forced it to collapse. Wolf was kick-stopped and thrown on his back by the explosion. He lay on his back looking at the sun pouring from the sky, his eyes wide open. He was stunned, but after a moment he came back to his senses. Suddenly he could hear again; gunfire, bullets hitting the armored Humvees, men barking directions, the deafening sound of the 50 calibers. It was almost like coming back to life.
“Wolf! Are you alright?” shouted Viper as he raced toward where he was, “Are you hit?”
“I’m fine! I’m okay!” replied Wolf as he made an effort to stand back up. Viper got there in a matter of seconds and grabbed Wolf’s arm. He swung it over his shoulder and helped him get back on his feet.
“Come on man! We’ve got to get back to the convoy” Viper said. Wolf remembered where he was going before and tried to go back.
“Wait! Fox! Wher…”
“He’s gone man, there’s nothing we can do now!”
“But I sent him in! It’s my fault!”
“It’s not! Listen to me, it’s not your fau…” Viper caught one in throat and gently slid off from Wolf’s grip and into the ground. Wolf stumbled a few steps and almost fell too. He didn’t scream, although he wanted to. He stayed there for a moment staring at the body, processing the scene, and then, a single stream poured from his eyes. He turned around, not even wiping his face. It all seemed so surreal now. He faced the convoy and saw Stingray laying dead over the 50 cal. Then the Humvee burst into flames. The driver desperately fumbled with the door handle and when he managed to get out he was turned into a huge fire ball. He screamed and yelled for help and then collapsed into the ground, trying to roll to put out the flames. Useless. He stopped moving. Wolf turned to face to his left and saw two Echo team Rangers dragging a member of their squad with a blown up leg to safety. Wolf was shocked. Paralyzed. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t scream. He heard nothing but faint sounds in the background. He kept looking at the chaos that surrounded him, and then his eyes stumbled into Hornet’s eyes. He stood there, with his feet drilled to the ground, firing his M-4 at the buildings. He shouted something at him, but Wolf couldn’t hear what it was. Hornet kept shouting desperately, Wolf tried to read his lips. “Incoming.” Hornet pointed at something behind Wolf. He turned around. There was a huge explosion.