The Haunted Wordsmith – Page 82, Line 2

From: “Sergeant of the Guard: The Road in Iraq” by Sergeant R. Morgan Crihfield.

“. . .parking from living area. I started to run back to the blast walls, then”

I realized Joe was nowhere near me. I looked back again, as smoke filled my eyes, the blasts were still sounding, and I failed to see him.

The day had started out with our usual routine, coffee, MRE, and loading up our gear for the next reconnaissance mission. The burned out villages appeared abandoned but we were always on alert. Joe and I were on point and everything seemed normal, as if anything here in this place was normal. We had our own names for these places, some version of hell. The day was just another search mission and nothing unusual was expected.

Joe and I were just opening an old wooden door when we heard something and a bomb went off. Joe shoved me and the bomb sent me flying. That’s when I lost Joe. Suddenly acrid smoke was thick and burning. It seemed to permeate our helmets and masks. I felt dizzy and tried to find Joe. My feet automatically started propelling me toward the blast wall, the barrier that might give protection. I looked over my shoulder, but the smoke was everywhere and I didn’t see Joe there.

The rest of the squad was running with me. Only Joe wasn’t with us. The final blast came and when the air cleared we ran back to the area to find Joe. We only found his broken helmet near the door. There were drag marks, but how could anything survive to pull him out? We searched the area but there was no sign of him. Helicopter surveillance was not coming. This was supposed to be a routine mission, one we’ve done every day with nothing happening. Maybe we were complacent, at least that’s what they decided in their reports.

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