Thursday, July 4, 2013

Blood in the Sand, Part Two

“Sergeant!” Gentile called out, grabbing Joe’s attention away from the bliss of his first cigarette in two days. “You better come and see this!”
“I swear to god Gentile you better be looking at fuckin’ Osama bin Laden’s summer home for interrupting my smoke!” Joe grumbles as he places the cigarette precariously on a particularly large rock formation serving as a low wall for the detachment. Squat-walking over to where his sniper was peering through his scope, Joe brought his own binoculars up to his eyes, tracking where his sniper was watching.

It took only a few moments to notice the anomaly, a lone man hammering a long wooden stack into the rocky earth some thirty meters in front of the entrance to the village, a young boy with a tether tied about his neck, dressed in tattered rags with a shaven head, stood close by impassively. Near the entrance of the village an older woman wept bitterly while being held back by two younger men, obviously her own relation if their sharp features were anything to judge by.
“What are they doing...?” Joe mutters to himself, turning the dial on his binoculars to better focus in on the actions taking place.
The man, a grizzled older Kurd with a short sleeved tunic that reached his ankles, finished hammering the stake into the rocky soil before tugging on the cord bringing the boy close, close enough for the old Kurd to kneel down and speak to him in harsh tones. The boy seemed willing to take it, even responding with a smile that seemed to only infuriate the older man, who slapped him across the cheek.
“What are they doing Sarge?” Johnson asked, leaning over my shoulder and squinting across the harsh landscape.
“They got a kid, tying him to a post like some kind of dog.” Gentile answers, a harsh undertone in his voice. He snaps off his safety and readies his rifle, taking aim.
“Hold there Gentile, hold.” Joe says, putting a hand atop the barrel of the rifle and lower it slightly.
“But Sarge, it’s a kid!” Gentile pleads, looking back over the expanse through his scope, watching the scene unfold.
“I understand, but we can’t reveal our position right now. We’re going to attack at dawn, take them by surprise; we’ll save the kid then.” Joe says, standing up to move back to his cigarette.
“It gets awfully cold around here at night Sarge.” Gentile mutters in protest, looking over his shoulder at the Sergeants retreating back.
“We’ll bundle up then.” Joe callously replies, taking his cigarette and relighting it before shrugging. “What do you want me to say Private, that we’re going to run on out there, guns a’ blazin’ like we’re in some old war movie just to save some kid? It’s nuts, just leave it be.”
“How can you say that?” Gentile asks, shaking his head as he looks back through the scope.
“Because I have my orders and I know how to follow them, just like you. Now drop it and keep surveillance; I don’t want so much as a mouse to leave that village without being notified about it.”
 The night was indeed cold, far colder than it had been in the past few nights. Joe was miserable as he couldn’t smoke any of his cigarettes, and he was still listening to Gentile bellyache about the kid the Kurds had left outside the village. He’d asked permission to move forward and free the kid, to bring him back to their position. Joe had nixed that just as soon as the soldier had come up with it, citing the numerous violations that such an act would bring about, not to mention how it would give away their position.
Joe had taken to scoping out the village through his binoculars, their numerous torches lighting the entire area well enough for him to read their lips, should he ever learn their language. Another soldier, Tubbs, snorted as he tossed and turned within his rucksack close by. Joe took a moment to look at the man before turning back to his surveillance.
Only to find that the boy was staring right at him, some three hundred meters away.
Must be a coincidence… Joe thought, watching the child as he stared in their general direction. He must just be looking around, bored out of his mind.
But as the minutes crawled by, the boys eyes never wavered. As Joe watched, the boy held up on one hand, all five fingers splayed out for him to see. Slowly, he reached up and took hold of one of his fingers, and began bending it backwards.
“No way…” Joe muttered, watching as the boy slowly broke one of his own fingers without so much as a peep or a flinch. The boy held the hand with the broken finger up high, the disjointed digit pointing awkwardly in a different direction than all of the other fingers, and began singing.
How Joe knew he was singing, he couldn’t say. He had nearly half a mile distance between them and the winds were busy tonight, blowing dirt and sand about in miniature windstorms. But he could tell the boy was somehow singing, even though he didn’t speak a word of the boy’s language.
Joe’s attention was grabbed by Johnson grasping his shoulder, pulling him down from the rock he had climbed up upon.
“What is it soldier?” Joe asked, annoyed at having been interrupted.
“Sanders sir, he’s… well, he’s dead.”

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