Mission Unknown

6 Apr

By Hallee Ray
Denver Online High School

Shattered glass rained down from the window above me. I ran into the weathered, war-torn building to take cover from whoever or whatever caused the window to break. The night before, my division had moved into the town to continue our ambush on the opposing army. We were to conquer the town, where the information we needed was kept.

The government back home was crumbling. The country where my family remained, unsafe from the revolution stirring outside our home. The rebels had attempted to overthrow the government, plunging the world around them into chaos. Our mission was to preserve what this country had aimed to take from ours and to understand why they had attacked. The plan was to take this information back and use it against the rebels to stop the revolution from continuing.

When we reached the thick trees surrounding the town we were met by a team of snipers who took down eight of our fifteen men. After our comrades were killed, the rest of us moved into the town. Our other groups flocked into the town and used landmines to seal off the building we needed to break into. Landmines like they had planned to use to destroy this town.

People used to live here. Memories were locked away in the dull crumbling corners of the walls, but their importance would be shattered with gunshots and bombs. Soon enough, our enemies came, halfway through our mission.

I still didn’t understand why the information they had was so important to us.

I crouched, sheltered behind a busted doorframe leading out into the street. Bullets splattered against the brick outside and I heard a scream come from a lieutenant in my drafting group, Doug. The first friend I had made in our unit. When everyone else called me weak and incapable, he was the one to defend me. He accepted my hatred of the government for separating me from my family. He crumpled backward and fell hard on his back, clutching at his stomach.

The person who I assumed shot Doug walked forward, aiming his gun at Doug’s head. When he was completely in my line of sight, I rested my gun against my shoulder, brought it to eye level, and aimed. In. Out. I pulled the trigger. Blood soaked through the back of the guy’s shirt. He sank to his knees and toppled over onto his front just a foot away from Doug, who was still clutching at his stomach, groaning in pain. I scanned the area outside the door before running out to Doug’s aid, checking the above windows for others. In the broken window above me, a man stood, lining up a shot to Doug. I swung my gun up to aim at the man, pulling the trigger as soon as he was clear through my scope. The bullet caught him strait in the forehead, sending his head backward, his limp body following. I quickly swept my eyes around the deserted street again.

“Look at me,” I urgently whispered to Doug. “Breathe. It’s okay. We need to get you to shelter. The other’s are retreating.”

He groaned, his face contorting into a grotesque display of pain.

“Up,” I demanded, pulling him to his feet. I slung one of his arms around my shoulders and started to run, his legs half dragging along.

We rounded a turn to find three enemy soldiers patrolling the street. I dropped Doug behind an overturned truck with its end pushed against a dusty tan brick building. I unholstered a pistol and checked to make sure it was loaded. The street was cracked beneath my feet. A small fire burned in the upstairs window of what used to be a bar across the street. I inched my way to the front end of the truck. I peeked around it with one eye. The three soldiers stood in the middle of the street in a tight circle, engrossed in discussion. I scanned the building across from where I stood, looking for any sign of other soldiers. The windows were clear. On the other side of the road, I could see a doorway into the bar, which was closer to the soldiers than to me.

I shuffled back over to Doug, who now slouched against the tan, crumbling building. I looked up the wall of the building. There were a few windows, all empty, hopefully. I nodded at Doug, and he returned the gesture. I motioned for him to follow me to the end of the truck. He picked himself up, suppressing any noise, and perched himself wearily on the balls of his feet. Around the corner, the men were still just as engaged in conversation. They should be more cautious. Somebody has got to be on lookout for them.

“I’m crossing to the other side. Take care of any others, not those three just yet,” I whispered. I took a deep breath and, as quietly as possible, ran across the road to the bar.

My movement caught the attention of one of the three soldiers. “Hey!” he shouted, bullets trailing me.

I nodded across to Doug, who stood up, still grasping onto his side, and took out two men who I’d drawn out of their hiding places behind two upper windows. Meanwhile, I threw my arms around the concrete wall and pinned the three soldiers in the street, hitting each of them in the heart.

“Come on!” I yelled, running back to Doug.

We continued our retreat to the boats with his arm draped across my shoulders, occasionally killing a stray soldier. We saw many of our soldiers heading back into the forest where half the groups had planned to retreat, and others heading to the beach where the ships waited. When we reached the beach on the edge of the town, we found a group of our men taking shelter and protecting the ships. The others paraded down through the sand, killing a few of the enemy soldiers who were in close pursuit.

“Hurry!” one of them yelled, his gun pointed around us, shooting the enemy.

We picked up our speed, trying to maintain stable steps in the sand. By then, most of the rest of our group was in the boat. I ran to the boats, avoiding the rain of bullets. Then I felt it: a sharp stinging crawling its way through my thigh. I fell to my knees, not able to support my weight anymore, dropping Doug helplessly in the sand behind me. I tried to stand, but I couldn’t muster enough strength to pull myself up. Then another sting, almost knocking me over. This one was sharper, splintering my collarbone, sending shards swimming into my muscles. Warm blood ran down my arm into my palm, dripping from my fingertips into the warm sand. I stayed on my knees, swaying with the wind, blinded by pain. I needed to pull myself together. Another bullet skimmed the bottom of my ribs. The force pushed me back into the sand. My hands rushed to the wound in my stomach and I gasped for air, barely getting enough.

I stared at the blue sky. The clouds gently rolled across the sun and cast a cool shadow over me. My vision blurred and dark spots began to creep over my eyes, replacing the image of the sun poking through the clouds.

I felt a hand on my good shoulder. “Get up!” the voice strained, but I couldn’t hear clearly. It was almost as if someone had stuffed cotton in my ears. Everything sounded distant, like it was a room away. The hand desperately shook me. I wanted to get up, I did, but the feeling of the sand crawling up my blood-soaked, sunburned skin pulled me farther into the dark.

I imagined a knock on my door back home, my wife answering it with our six-month-old baby in her arms. Covering her mouth, tears falling away from her beautiful blue eyes. Years later, having to explain that Daddy never came home, but to be proud because he was brave. Holding the last letter he wrote her every night as she fell asleep, still numb with my memory.

“He’s dead, let’s go!” another voice even farther away shouted.

The hand stayed on my shoulder, still shaking me. I felt a hard smack on my cheek and finally pulled my eyelids open enough to see a blurry Doug crouched over me. Blood stained his shirt, but he seemed to move in less agony, his body accepting the bullet wound. He started dragging me across the sand. I screamed in pain until I felt cool water wash over my legs, seeping into the wound in my leg. Nothing was clear yet. I felt multiple hands grab me and drag me over the side of the boat. I heard Doug flop in next to me.

The boat lurched away from the shore and into the steady rock of the sea. I blinked a few times, attempting to gather a clear vision of the shore from where I sat propped against the side. Bodies scattered the roads and the sand, but the severity shrank as we treaded farther into the sea. All those people’s families, having to get the message that their loved one would not be coming home and how sorry they were. My head still spun with dizziness.

“Lieutenant,” the general said behind me, clapping a hand on my good shoulder, “thank you.”

I gave a puzzled look back.

He smiled. How could he smile after this? “You drew the attention away from me and I have all the information we need. We can prevent the revolution from continuing. Those bullets you took saved our country.”

I smiled, and then winced from the pain shooting through my body. My eyes began to black out again, and then I fell to the floor.

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