The sounds of war are different from what you imagine them to be. It's silent. Then it's loud. And when it's loud, it’s an evil kind of loud. It’s not like a person that is causing those sounds. It’s like a machine. It is just happening. All of a sudden. All around you. For no reason at all.
I watched the dried, white paint of the ruins fall off. Cut off by the bullets from their machine gun fire over our heads. I didn’t know where the rest of the platoon took cover. I pressed my back as strongly against the ruin wall as I could. The road beside me was littered with the dead and those that were dying, so Corporal Whispers slowly sneaked forwards to the right corner of the ruin. When he got to the edge, he looked back at me. For the first time, I saw fear in his eyes. He turned and leaned around the corner, leading with his AR, as another breeze of the machine gun hit the road.
Whispers started firing simultaneously, then fell back into cover behind the wall. Enemy bullets whistled after him.
“Tango East, at least five!”, he screamed.
“James!”, he screamed again.
“I lost my rifle!”, I got out. “Where are your frag grenades?”, he screamed.
“Here.”, and I pointed to them on my belt. He sneaked back to me and grabbed my shoulder with one hand. He was strong.
“Listen, they are in the ruin, right in front of us, looking to push us out. I saw a small crater in front of them. It will give you cover. I will pin ‘em down, as you make a run for that crater. Then you toss two grenades through the window and cook ‘em!”
His eyes seemed to change color, as I didn’t answer and just stared at him.
“Do you hear me? Goddamn it James get up! If you want to live, you make a run for it and fucking cook ‘em! Do you understand?”
“You can do this!”, and he pulled me after him like a scared dog, his hand still on my shoulder.
“To die.” I thought. ( I feared.) Again, I was breathing, but air didn’t reach my lung. “NOW! COVERING FIRE!”
He turned around the corner and started firing left, then right, then left again. Before I could tell my mind to stop, my legs had already taken control, and I was in the open. The mud grabbed my boots. My legs pulled them out. Movement in the tree line in front. The enemy. Another step and they started firing. Burning hot the pain then I dropped. Face first in the mud. When I hit the mud, I was still alive. Bullets hit all around me, everything turned gray. My eyes filled with water and I could barely see. I pressed myself as close to the ground as possible and held my head. “Now I am going to die.” I thought. I waited for the bullets to hit me, tensing my entire body, slowly crawling onwards. Towards that treeline of death, towards that crater of safety, just five more, endless meters in front.
I was still alive. I heard the almost electric clicking of Whisper’s AR behind me. “Run, James!”, he yelled. I didn’t know if I could, I threw myself up, again that burning pain, blood on my hands and my body. I ran. And I tossed myself in that hole, as they started firing again, the mud flying off in front of me. I took some deep breaths and leaned with my back against the mud. The burning pain came from my left shoulder. My right hand went over the gashing hole, then I pulled it back like after touching a hot iron, because it was so painful. A lot of blood. It seemed unreal, looking at the wound. But I was still alive.
Then I remembered why I was there. On my left were the ruins. Supposedly filled with enemies. I peeked up and through a broken window. I saw shadows inside. None of them saw me, they were turned towards the road on the other side, firing at the remains of our platoon. One window lead inside. One good throw would end them all.
I fished the grenade out again. All of a sudden I turned religious. How my mother always wanted me to be. She said god would protect me out here.
“Oh god, please help me. Please help me to kill them.”
I pulled the pin. They told us to wait 2 seconds before throwing, to cook the grenade, so it explodes on impact and doesn’t leave the enemy with the chance to toss it back. After less than one second, the thought of holding a frag grenade in my hand that was about to explode got too nerve wrecking. So I jumped up, fixed the window. And I threw. Then pulled the pin of my other grenade and threw it right after. Then fell back into cover, as Whispers started firing at the treeline again to cover me. Those next seconds never ended.
Then they did with a dull sound of death. The constant firing stopped. It got silent again. I slowly peeked out my mudhole. They were all dead. There was blood everywhere in that ruin. I stared through it to the road on the other side and watched as those of ours that were still alive, slowly lifted themselves from their cover and rushed towards the ruin. I looked back to Whispers, signaling him that I’d make a run for the window, and he understood. The enemy from the treeline seemed to have left their position. Probably headed towards the road, to cut us off. No bullets flying towards me as I ran up to the ruin, put my green army gloves on the window to protect myself from the broken glass, and climbed through. I was met by the face of some young kid. Probably no older than 19. He lay on the floor. He was still alive, but the grenade got him good. A piece of the frag got stuck in his neck. I aimed at his head with my Beretta. He slowly turned towards me. His eyes were full of panic. Blood was pouring from his throat and he was choking on it. When he tried to inhale, it sounded like air was pressed through a broken whistle. He held his throat with his left hand. His belly expanded up and down rapidly, not in sync with his breathing. I just stood there. Aiming at this boy's head, as he slowly lifted his right arm up towards me, signaling not to shoot. He tried saying something, but I only heard him choke and more blood run from his throat. We both realized what was happening at the same time. The boy's eyes filled with tears, as he realized he was dying. I stood still, aiming at his head, as the others from my platoon entered from the other side. The boy turned his eyes back to me and there was no bravery left. Tears ran down his cheeks as blood ran down his neck. He tried talking on more time. It was the worst sound I had ever heard. Then he stopped and lay still. His eyes cooled and his belly stopped. I stood for a bit longer, aiming at his head.
Then Whispers entered the room through the window from behind. “Good killing, James.”, he said, stepping over the boy with his AR in his hands.