THE LETTER FROM HOME
Newly promoted Gunnery Sergeant Michael Scott sat quietly on his small and very uncomfortable bed. Scott was twenty seven and recently put in charge of a small unit. It was only a four man team, he included, but it was one step higher on his career ladder. He’d been in Baghdad just over a month now and he missed home dreadfully. His wife, Alice, would be busy making preparations for the couple’s fifth year anniversary. Scott was prepared to return home in a few days, with just two more patrols left.
Scott was called in for a short meeting with General Lucius Norman, the bases commanding officer. Scott entered the General’s small office and waited for Norman to speak.
“Have a seat, Sergeant,” offered Norman, nodding to the chair in front of his small, paper covered desk.
“Thank you, sir,” replied Scott politely, taking the seat and sitting up straight.
Norman twisted a pen around in his fingers as he thought deeply about what to say. Scott waited patiently, almost bored waiting for the General to start speaking.
“I don’t know why the government finds it necessary for us to be here; where nothing is happening. But I need the best on our patrols. You and your team are going out to Verb road tomorrow to check it out, drive around, do all the bullshit you’re paid to do. I know you aren’t going to find a single fucking thing, but it isn’t my choice,” Norman explained.
“Yes sir, we’ll leave at first light,” Scott replied with a smile and then he left the office.
Scott had never liked General Norman. He was an old guy who couldn’t fire a gun worth a shit and got what he wanted by making fools out of the younger guys in the corps. Scott had to resist the urge to punch Norman right in his face every single time he saw him. But none of that mattered; Scott had his duty to do.
The next day, Scott was preparing to head out with the three members of his team. Corporal Tim DeBernardo was the team’s driver and medic. At twenty four, he was quite experienced out in the field, not that anything was actually going on out here. The .50 calibre gunner was Lance Corporal Austin Wales. Twenty six, dark and fearsome, Wales was not the marine with whom to fuck. The last and newest member of the team was fresh out of basic training, Private First Class Jimmy Ripley. Ripley was twenty two and eager to get out in the world to prove himself to the others.
Scott knew each member of his team well and trusted them with his life. As Scott greeted the trio outside of an armoured Humvee, the group cheered and howled as the Sergeant arrived, as was their custom for some odd and unknown reason.
“G’morning, Sarge,” greeted Wales cheerfully. “Another beautiful day in the Corps, isn’t it?”
“Just stunning, Corporal, just stunning. You all ready to move out?” asked Scott.
DeBernardo cocked his M16 and smiled, wiggling his tongue like a large dog…or Gene Simmons. Wales and Ripley laughed at the marine and did the same with their weapons, M249 and M4 respectively. Scott grabbed his own M4 and climbed into the Humvee. DeBernardo hopped into the driver’s seat while Ripley and Wales got in the back, Wales climbing up into the gunner position on top of the Humvee, manning the large fifty calibre machine gun.
“Let’s roll!” yelled DeBernardo happily as he jammed his foot down on the accelerator.
The group of four arrived in the early morning at Verb road, a long stretch of dirt road in between two tall rock faces. The perfect spot for a surprise attack…
DeBernardo cruised down the road at a steady 35mph, constantly scanning the road ahead of him for anything. Scott looked back and saw Ripley sitting quietly in the back seat, staring out the window.
“How’s the wife?” Scott asked to DeBernardo.
“She’s great. She’s about six months pregnant now and due in May,” DeBernardo said happily with a smile.
“What about yours, Ripley? Girlfriend?” Scott asked to Ripley.
“Got three at the moment, Sarge,” Ripley replied smugly.
“You wish, Private!” yelled out Wales from the top of the Humvee.
The whole group laughed. DeBernardo turned to Scott. “How’s your wife?”
“Great, our fifth year anniversary coming up in a few weeks,” Scott replied, letting a large smile creep across his face.
Unfortunately the smile didn’t last long as the front windshield suddenly cracked and a spray of red painted the inside of the Humvee red. The fifty calibre started firing loudly as Wales jammed his fingers down on the trigger. The Humvee smashed into one of the rock faces, slamming the marines around inside the car. Scott didn’t know what the hell was going on. He looked over to DeBernardo and gasped in horror.
DeBernardo had been shot in the head! His whole head had virtually exploded from the inside by a sniper shot – the young marines brains literally splattered across the windshield! Grabbing his M4, Scott turned to his door, but it was jammed against the rock face.
“Wales, status!” screamed Scott up to Wales, who was still firing with the machine gun.
“Multiple targets, approximately two dozen equipped with small arms!” replied Wales over the machine gun fire.
Ripley snatched up his own M4 and flicked off the safety. He climbed over to the other door, past Wales’ legs and opened the door, standing behind it to use it as a shield. Scott climbed into the back seat to follow, carefully pushing the dead body of DeBernardo to the side. As he stepped outside, Scott saw the targets that Wales had told him about. There were armed men, most probably militia, making their way towards the Humvee, both down the road and on top of the rock faces. Taking aim, Scott successfully downed one of the approaching militia. His celebration was cut short when Wales’ chest suddenly exploded in a disgusting spray of red. The Lance Corporal convulsed violently as his blood spurted out of his body. The lifeless marine finally slopped down back into the Humvee.
It was now just Scott and Ripley against 16 armed militia!
“Move to the rock face! Better cover and it won’t explode!” ordered Scott as the front of the Humvee erupted in bullets, the bonnet starting to smoke under the merciless fire. The armour on the vehicle was actually doing very little. Ripley ran to the rock face on the other side of the road, covered by Scott’s fire. Scott started to make his way over as Ripley now covered him. A stray bullet hit Scott in the leg as he arrived on the rock face. Sucking up the pain, Scott returned fire and killed the militia soldier that had hit him.
“How’re we getting out of here?” screamed Ripley nervously.
“Any way we can!” Scott replied. “Move back down the street! I’ll cover you!”
Ripley turned to run. Time slowed down as Ripley faced Scott. Ripley’s head suddenly exploded from the back as the unseen sniper claimed his second kill. Ripley’s blood and brain matter splattered all over Scott’s face and chest. Startled, he fell backwards and lost grip of his M4. Seconds later he was surrounded by militia and was soon met with the butt of a rifle. The world turned black.
Waking up several hours later, Scott found that he was standing. His wrists were searing with pain. He looked up and saw his arms were above his head, a metal pin piercing both wrists, pinning him to a large wooden stake in the ground. Blood was seeping down his arms and from his broken nose. It was now the middle of the day and Scott was being held prisoner somewhere in Baghdad.
A man in uniform, a militia fighter and most probably a militia leader, stood in front of him. In his hands was a glistening silver gun, commonly known as a Desert Eagle. On closer inspection, Scott realised that it was actually his pistol. The man looked up and smiled at Scott. Taking aim at his head, the man pulled the trigger and Gunnery Sergeant Michael Scott was dead.
Several Hours Earlier…
Twenty one year old Private Tommy McLean worked in the bases postal service. A boring job he admitted, but it kept him from going into combat, after all, he only enlisted in the Corps for money. Sorting mail, he came across a letter addressed to someone he actually knew, a new Gunnery Sergeant by the name of Michael Scott. Grabbing the letter, McLean went to where Scott stayed but found empty quarters. A fellow marine told him that Scott had just left on a patrol and would be back around midday. McLean nodded and left the letter on Scott’s bed, ready to be read when Scott returned from his patrol.
Several Days Ago…
Twenty six year old Alice Scott finished the letter. She’d been so happy; she couldn’t wait to tell Michael. Unfortunately for her, all the phone lines to the base in Baghdad had been down for quite awhile so she had to send the news the old fashioned way, by letter. She picked up the piece of paper and read the letter to herself.
Hey, Baby. I hope you’re doing well over there. I’m missing you terribly. I cannot wait to see you. It’s been too long. I know it’s only been a month, but a week is too long! I don’t think I ever told you that I was so proud of you. Getting out there and defending our country. I know you said there isn’t actually any fighting or anything, but it is still dangerous. You are very brave to do that, and it is one of the thousands of reasons why I love you.
I have to keep this letter short because I have an appointment. Nothing serious – don’t worry. It’s good news. It’s actually a check up. Michael, I’m so happy. I wish I could tell you this over the phone, or in person, but this is the best I’ve got at the moment. I’m pregnant.
I’ll see you when you get back – so start thinking of names!
I love you so much and always will,