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I opened my eyes only to see blurry figures, waving in the cold morning breeze. I was still outside, laying on the cold asphalt. I looked to the side to see Major Bales was still there. He was motionless… lifeless… I moved my hands to wipe my eyes, only to see they were covered in dried blood, and only made my sight worse. I took the shredded cloth from my flight suit, and wiped my dry eyes. I could see finally, what was left of our airbase. Buildings lay crumbled, aircraft flaming, and men… so many men, lay dead on the ground. I heard an engine. It sounded like one of ours. It drove past me, and over to one, dying pilot, crawling to his buddy. They stopped, and two Balkan soldiers got out. My heart sank as the man pulled his side-arm, and shot him. I felt my hand on something metal and cold. I looked down to see my M-16 was still next to me. I slowly moved toward it, and picked it up. The clip had 4 rounds left, and it seemed I had been looted for the rest of my ammunition. I set myself up against the wreckage of the F-18 behind me, and took aim at the soldier patrolling the runway. I had him perfectly in my sights, and my finger started to put pressure on the trigger, and a hand grabbed my rifle, and pointed it down. I jumped and turned to see Chopper. He was untouched… Not a single cut, burn, or bruise on him. He put his finger to his mouth, “Shh…” He hissed. “Come with me.”
He picked me up and put my arm over his shoulder to carry me along. We snuck into one of the Rec. rooms. I stumbled with him through the door and fell onto the floor. “Get up,” He whispered inn a rushed tone. He grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled me to my feet and pushed me forward toward the backdoor of the building. “The main fuel lines are back here. Let’s light these guys up,” Chopper said vengefully. Chopper kicked through the door leading to the industrial yard. There, on the other side of the power plant, was the gas line. These pipes ran through every building on the base.
“I’ve got an idea,” I said. I pulled 3 incendiary grenades from my belt and tied them together with what was left of my boot laces. I then wrapped them around the gas line and attached my other lace to the pins on the grenades. “Ok, this is the fall back point. We get out into the courtyard, then attack and lure them all back here.” I was suddenly interrupted by the door to the rec room being kicked out and the scream that was far too familiar.
“Get down!” The voice in fact was Major Bales. He kicked me down into the dirt and put his foot on my back. I felt the warm barrel of his rifle on my neck.
“Sir, it’s me, Gardener!” I yelled loudly. He stepped off of me and dragged me off the ground.
“Sorry about that,” He apologized. “I got a bit on edge.” He patted my shoulders and handed me his .45 pistol. I holstered the weapon and looked over to Chopper. The only problem was that he wasn’t there. He had vanished into thin air. I searched quickly with my eyes to see if I could find where he had gone. Nothing…. “What’re you staring at boy. Let’s get going,” Bales exclaimed. I took one last look, and then followed Bales out.
“Sir,” I said. “I have an idea to really fry these guys. Bales stopped and faced me.
“Well by all means share it,” He said with a grin. I proceeded to explain the same idea with the fuel pipes as I did with Chopper. I gathered more grenades from him and some of the other dead Balkans.
“We’ll need to run like hell,” said Bales.
“Well sir, that’s the point,” I responded with a grin. “Now let’s go get ‘em.”
We snuck through the mess hall and into the kitchen. We needed a distraction to track the Balkans closer to our trap.
“We could use the oven,” Said Bales. “Light something up inside of it then turn it on. It should get their attention.” I grabbed a cook book and ripped out at many pages as I could, then put them to the burner and tossed them in the oven.
I looked at Major Bales, “Run…”
A few seconds went by then bang… blackness.
When I first started my career here the sounds of explosions excited me. Now, it only terrifies me. It shows me that death is near. That I may be next… That I could end up just like one of those poor bastards with his guts on the runway screaming for his mother!
I opened my eyes to see the flaming mass of the mess hall in front of me. I was being dragged by someone away from the inferno. I looked up expecting Major Bales, but instead found Chopper. “Let’s go Captain, we’ve gotta get outta here,” he yelled. I noticed Balkan soldiers running out of the flaming building in engulfed in fire. They were screaming and crying as they ran looking for water. Some rolled in the dirt to put out the flames, other panicked as they ran until they burned to death.
Chopper and I stopped at the fuel line where we set up the explosives. The only problem is that Chopper once again had disappeared. Major Bales stood with me by the fuel line. “There’s no way we can get outta this blast zone in time,” He Panicked. I looked down to see my torn legs, broken and bleeding.
“Run Major,” I said. He gave me a look that showed he was truly scared. “Run!” I pushed him in the outward direction of the base and he sprinted away. I waited for him to reach the water before pulling the pins on the grenades. The slowest seconds of my life went by. I heard my father’s voice, “You’ve done good son.” I started to cry just before I heard a loud click.
Everything went white… Nothing but a high pitch squeak remained. Then suddenly I was home, in my small little cottage with my parents. Everything was quiet as I hugged them. Death… was a beautiful thing.