“Run.. Run.. FUCKING RUN!”
The voice sounded disfigured to John, foreign almost, like it was from a dream. But it didn’t take long before the cold reality of what he just said began to settle in.
John quickly scrambled off the ground, his hands pushing into the soft sand. The sand. The events that had occurred before he blacked out quickly returned to him. It was supposed to be a normal patrol, no more than two days. The village was small, nearest group of rebels, 150 km away. This wasn’t supposed to happen – not to him.
He quickly scrambled the desert floor for his gun, or any gun really. It didn’t matter. John wasn’t going anywhere without a weapon. It was then; almost perfect timing that a silver pistol slid across to him – slightly bouncing on the bumpy floor. The gun was instantly recognizable to him, a Beretta M9. Standard military model, but it would work.
“Hurry man, get up! They know we’re still here.” a voice said to him, and John recognized it as the same one telling him to run. He quickly got up onto his feet, the dust falling off his uniform, forming a cloud on the sandy ground. It wasn’t until now that he realized the full extent of his situation. It was a sandstorm, disfiguring his vision. All around him, everywhere was just a sea of orange. Twirling around him, trapping him.
“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? GET UP! STOP STANDING THERE KID.” The same voice said, louder this time. John looked around, trying to find the source of this voice.
He noticed a black figure of a man, a large man in the middle of the dust. John followed him, realizing that the voice was coming from him. Who was he? It didn’t matter, as long as John got out alive.
The figure started to run deeper into the orange, motioning for John to follow. He did, running behind him – not saying a word. As they ran deeper, and deeper into the orange, it began to disappear. The storm was almost done, his vision returning to him.
But as soon as John saw clearly what was around him, he wished for the orange back. There were screams everywhere, from men, women, children. Families. Blood stained the sand which was usually bright yellow. He saw people crying everywhere, some limbless. Some lying on the floor, bleeding out. Many running around, trying to put together what happened.
And what did happen?
“Stop looking at them, we’re still alive. They aint. I’m keeping it that way.” The man, who was once a figure, who was once a voice said to him. He was no longer a figure or a voice anymore. This time it was an actual man, a tall one. Large. Not fat, but large. He stood tall above John, maybe 3 or 4 feet at the most. He was an older fellow, one that John didn’t recognize. He didn’t need to, though. John instantly knew this man was an ally based off his uniform.
“How the hell we getting out?” John asked, trying to hide the fear which was clearly rising inside him.
“Radio said there was a checkpoint, 3 clicks south of here. Chances are they have an evac.”
“If they don’t?”
“We’re gonna die here anyway.”
The man had a point. The least John could do was try an escape this hell that was occurring all around him, he didn’t want to die here. Not this place. Anywhere, but here.
Out of nowhere, John felt a sudden tugging sensation on his legs. He looked down, and noticed a boy. Probably the same age as his son. But this wasn’t his son. His son didn’t have blood covering his face, eyes that looked like they’ve lost all interest in living, scratches and cuts, bruises littering his body. Then John realized why he was really being pulled for. His arm, it was gone. Blood pouring out of his shoulder as if it were a waterfall, littering the desert floor.
“Kill.. please.. me, kill..” the boy muttered, in a quiet voice. John stared at him, and thought of his son. This boy, the same age as his son, was begging for his life to be taken away. The reality of that took a moment to settle in.
“I can’t, I’m sorry..” John said to the boy, the words barely making out of his mouth. The boy tightened his grip on John’s legs, and he pushed him off.
“NO! PLEASE! PLEASE!” the boy yelled after him, but John ignored it. Ignored everything. There was only one thing that mattered to him, and that was getting to the checkpoint. He had a family, people who loved him. He was determined to see them again.
“Kid, hurry the hell up. You ain’t the only one who has something out there to return to.” The man said to John.
“S.. Sorry. What’s your name anyway?” he asked, curious. If they both make it out alive, John didn’t want to forget the name of the man who saved him, or at least attempted to.
“Alright, John. Lets hurry up, and get out of here.”
John followed Alex, trotting through the seemingly endless desert. It wasn’t easy walking through the desert, not able to do anything. There were children lying, bloody. People yelling, begging John for help. He never did.
“All gon’ die anyway.” Alex had told him, and John didn’t have much of a choice other than to believe him. Not helping them seemed heartless, but there was no choice. They had to get to the checkpoint, no matter the cost. He wasn’t going to die at the hands of some brainwashed rebel.
Where were the rebels? Alex thought. They couldn’t have just disappeared, if they attacked the village – they stayed at the village. Kept it. At least that’s what he was told. The reality seemed to be much different. Don’t pay attention to it. Think about your boy. Your little boy, waiting for his dad. That simple thought alone was enough to keep him going, hell, it was all that kept him going.
“You got any family?” John asked Alex, wondering if he was in the same position as himself. He did, afterall say that John wasn’t the only one who had something else to return to.
“Did, bitch of a wife.”
“What do you think? Bitch divorced me, took my kids. Even my goddamn home. Why I joined, ain’t much left for me out there other than booze, and hookers. Only thing that kept me alive were my kids, otherwise I prolly would’ve been hanging from a ceiling or some shit. You?”
“I got a kid, 8 years old. Looks up to me like I’m a fucking king or something, can’t die on him.”
“Died a couple years back. Nearly destroyed me.”
“Sorry to hear that, man.”
“Nah, it’s alright. I got past it. Had to. Kid to take care of, and all.”
“I feel y-“ just as Alex was about to finish his sentence, a large explosion racketed the entire desert.
“Shit man, they’re here. Gotta get running, and quick.” He said, motioning for John to follow him. They run through the desert, a trail of yellow smoke behind them as they pushed foot, after foot, off the ground.
It wasn’t long before John noticed a building in the distance. It was square shaped, and from what he could tell – made out of bricks. There was a helicopter on top of it, and just off the logo John realized that was the checkpoint.
As him, and Alex run towards the building, he heard loud gunshots in the distance. But they sounded as if they were getting closer, and closer. Soon after the gunshots, he heard the loud engine of a vehicle, no – multiple vehicles. Chasing after them. Shit, shit, shit, he thought – running faster and faster.
Not too long after that, the loud shouting of people were head behind him. John instantly recognized the dialect – it was Arabic. The voices sounded cold, and raspy.
“FUCKING AMERICAN!” he heard someone shout, not too far behind him. John ignored it, and continued running. The brick wall getting larger and larger as he neared it. Then he felt it, a sharp pain that exploded in his right leg. He crumbled to the ground, unable to get up for a second.
Alex quickly ran up beside John. “Shit, get up man!” he said, pulling John up, and wrapping an arm across his neck.
He leant on Alex for support, and trodded as quickly as his leg would let him. He knew it wasn’t quick enough, though. The rebels were right behind them, he could hear the loud engines of their jeeps closing in.
“We won’t make it, we won’t make it.” John muttered, realizing how difficult it was for him to speak.
“We won’t, but I can give you a chance.” Alex replied, and his voice gave John an almost re-assuring feeling.
“What do you mean?”
“You get your ass up, and run as fast as you can to the checkpoint. I’ll distract em, the best I can.”
“Why the hell would you do that?”
“Like I said, I ain’t got much left out there. My family hates me, my kids hate me. Least I can do for them is letting them know I went out like a martyr. Protecting their stupid fucking country, if it’s worth anything.”
John stared at Alex, getting a good look at the man who’s about to save his life. “Th.. thanks, Alex.” John managed to stammer out.
“Just get there, alive. Be there for your boy.” He said to John, and then pushed him off.
John stumbled, to the floor – but wasted no time getting back up. His leg hurt, but it didn’t feel like anything. Not with this adrenaline pumping through his body, keeping him focused.
John began to run, as fast as his body would let him. The checkpoint was getting closer, few hundred metres at the most. He was going to make it, he was going to live.
His feeling of victory was almost instantly interrupted, as he felt a strong push on his back, and stumbled back onto the ground. His face landing on the burning hot desert sand. John quickly turned over, and noticed two large men, and this time by large – he meant fat. Massive, even. They both had guns strapped around their backs, and stared at John with their large black eyes.
They began to speak to each other in Arabic. John didn’t know what they were saying, but he did know they were rebels. Without even thinking, his hand went straight to his back, and pulled out the gun he found earlier. A few gunshots later, both men were lying on the floor. Blood leaving their bodies, poisoning the sand with the eerie colour of red.
He got back up again, and this time was finally able to make it to the checkpoint. Barbed wire surrounded it, and on the front of it a large metal gate.
“State your name, and purpose.” A loud voice said, coming out of the red speakers located around the checkpoint.
“John Doakes.” He said, in a loud – clear voice. “Extraction.”
No sooner had he said it, that the giant green doors opened for him. There was a soldier standing in front of him, just about the same height as him. He was wearing the same uniform as John, identifying him as an obvious ally.
“Come in. There’s a chopper heading out in 10. Got lucky, kid.” The man said to him, shooting out his hand.
John grabbed it, and gave it a firm shake. It wasn’t just a gesture out of respect, it was telling him he made it. He was safe. He was going to see his boy again, he was going to live.
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