Thursday, April 21, 2005

In the Sandbox...Challenge Series

Desultory Butterfly (Desult)

"...the worst part about the whole thing was the lack of sleep. 101 hours with no sleep had made Campbell feel drugged. He stood feebly up in the hatch, his hands numb on the .50 cal, his eyes open but his mind bereft of cognition.
The tracers were the FASS-V rolled through the erratic small-arms fire, Campbell's eyes were open but everything was black...he was sleeping standing up behind the .50 cal with his eyes wide open...

The tracers are everywhere now, going over Campbell's head, pinging hard onto the sides of the FASS-V, kicking up sparks and smoke...Campbell notices a muzzle flash to his left flank but he swears that it is a "friendly" and not an Iraqi vehicle...James, almost in a mundane voice with the slightest hint of desperation, mentions to Campbell over the commo-line that they are indeed getting shot at...

Campbell notices muzzle flashes from the right flank as well..."Where the fuck is the rest of the battery!?" is the last thing he screams over the commo line for the time being. A loud crack rings in his ears as a spare .50 cal ammo box flys into his neck and one of the sandbags that had lined the turret opening also slams neatly into his back...Campell buckles and falls down into the turret, smashing his body onto all sorts of pieces of metal, halfway grabbing one of the gun-powder shelves, halfway breaking his fall.

He lies on the muddy floor for a few minutes, going into and out of blackness, his eyes open. He comes to, and in a bird-like panic, checks himself for blood. There is none. The bullets or shrapnel or whatever the fucking flying object was must have hit the ammo-boxes and sandbags and somehow not
him. No miracle at all, just stupid, stupid luck.

Campbell climbs back up behind the .50 cal, and re-connects his tankers' helmet to the commo-line. The shooting is a good ways behind them now, and it seems like they are just floating out into some black sea.
"James, stay up man, you up?" Campbell blurts.
"Yeah, I think so."
After having passed so many burning tanks, so many piles of twisted steel, after so many ragged, half-living skeletons staring up with hollow, yellow eyes, after so many charred corpses, it all just blends into a ceaseless montage. The night sky has again taken on multi-colored hues, splotched with reds and oranges and purples and greens, like some angry, acid laced artist’s canvass, where the colors all swirl together like a kaleidoscope against a black backdrop. Tracers float through the air like nonchalant spacecrafts, going nowhere in particular, just soaring the night sky, looking for any target, because at this point in the slaughter, the ugliest of truths is this: any target will do…any raghead will do…any sandmonkey with a weapon in his hands instead of up in the air will suffice. Better them than me, is what this event has been stripped down to in the raw.

Campbell’s tattered mind simmers. This war is a cakewalk. A “B” movie. A cheap slaughter that is leaving him flat and hollow, and hateful."

(This was written by the incomparable 91Ghost, a veteran of the first Gulf War, who sadly is no longer blogging...)

Desult's Site: Desultory Butterfly

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