Monday, November 01, 2010

And Again

Miller cautiously poked his head out of the hole and looked around. It was dark, he could just make out the shadows of the room. All of the windows were boarded over, but the work was somewhat haphazard. Small openings let in the light from the street light outside. The air was cloudy with dust, swaying lazily on the beams of light slicing through the room. Was that cheese he smelled? Unmistakably cheese. And mold, must, dust and several other smells that he didn't want to know about.

He held his breath, listening. Nothing was stirring. Slowly, carefully, he climbed a few rungs of the ladder, lifted his flashlight, flicked the on the beam and carefully swept the room. Nothing. He tested the edges of the rotted floor, set the flashlight down and quickly lifted himself into the room.

Crouching low, he grabbed the flashlight and slowly, cautiously moved away from the hole, testing the floor with each step to make sure he wasn't going to suddenly fall back through the floor. As he reached the doorway, he flicked off the flashlight, braced himself against the frame and waited, listening. He reached behind his back, removed his piece, and clicked off the safety.

With his thumb he toggled the laser and waited, listening to the nearly imperceptible sound of it warming up. The sound faded out and he dropped his left arm to his side, and re-wrapped his fingers around the grip. He lofted the flashlight high in his right hand, moving his hand away from his head. He turned sideways to the door, took several deep breaths, flicked the flashlight back on. He held, motionless for a few beats before flicking the switch once more, the laser piercing the ground by his foot as he pivoted. In a single motion the gun was up and pointed forwards as his left foot connected with the door handle.

Before the door even began to swing open, the entire handle mechanism broke free from the door and launched into the room. A kick anywhere else would have just made a shoe-sized hole through the door and knocked him off-balance. But, no, he'd done this plenty of times. By the time the door had swung fully open, he was through the door.

The occupants on the other side of the door were jolted from sleep and began to shout loudly. One got off a few shots, wide and to the side, towards the flashlight but the confusion and chaos had overwhelmed their ability to react rationally and soon you could hear the clicking as he continued to pull the trigger even though the gun was empty.

In an instant, Miller had crossed the room, sank two rounds into the man approaching. The shots connected in the man's leg as intended, but it wasn't enough to bring him down immediately. But seconds later, his legs were swept out from under him in the darkness and he crashed to the ground where he lay mumbling incoherently.

A sweep of the flashlight showed only one other remained in the room, still laying on the dirty mattress, disoriented. He made no attempts to rise, cowering in fear. A volley of gunfire was heard, the man on the bed wincing with each shot.

Identifying the man on the mattress, he turned again to the man writhing on the floor in pain. Two swift kicks to the stomach, and then he was rolled onto his back and zip-tied.

"Got him!" Miller shouted.

"Coming in!" was the response. There was the sound of heavy boots on the stairs and four men entered with large lights, one carrying a small black bag. The man knelt and looked in the eyes of the man in the bed. Then he turned and nodded and two men stepped forward and lifted him and carried him from the room.

The man with the bag pulled out a long hypodermic needle. And man on the floor looked up, saw the needle and his eyes grew wide. The man looked down with a mixture of distain and compassion as only a military doctor could and uttered "Your friend wasn't so lucky. He's dead. You'll be alright in a few weeks." in the man's language. The man on the floor exhaled and went limp, all fight gone. He was injected and he, too, was carried from the room, not nearly as carefully, despite the doctor's protests to be careful.

There was hearty backslaps and cheering when Miller exited the building, and even a few salutes. "Good work in there soldier." was the extent of the greeting when he climbed into the Humvee. "All in a day's work, sir." was the response as he laid his head back in the seat and allowed his heart to start beating again.
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