Once upon a December

The sun was bright and hot with a gentle breeze blowing just right so you could smell what was cooking. Time to get up and moving before I am late for my briefing.

Smiles and nods given and received with some "Good Mornings" mixed in to old friends and the new guys on the way there. Another day in paradise, get in and get out as fast as possible, then get the boys ready to take a walk.

Leave yet another briefing, then check in with my guys to make sure everyone is ready to go after I grab my gear. Some of their eyes are huge, others more relaxed. A hand on the shoulder and a pat on the back for those who look like they need it most. "Everything will be fine" is said over and over. "We leave in five minutes".

This will be just another walk, same as the others. The sun is hotter than it was this morning, but the breeze is blowing just a little bit more, but does not kick up much dust. It feels good on my face. We settle into a good pace in formation.

A loud booming noise rings out ahead of us. We can see the smoke and dust cloud rising up from the ground. We stop and wait for the word to start moving again. Solemn looks are exchanged as minds start to race. Everyone gets down and secures the parameter.

The radio springs to life in my ear. I do my best not to listen to it, I do not want to know who was hit - not now. Names and faces flash through my mind. I look around making sure everyone is where they need to be. The boys are beyond tense.

We begin moving again, more aware of what is going on now than before. Everyone is so focused, looking left and right as we walk beside the road. I tell myself that the blast earlier was going to be the only one we heard today.

Everything suddenly goes dark and there is a loud ringing in my ears. I feel weightless then I hit something hard. I try to get up to see what happened. My eyes aren't working right, everything is black. My legs won't move. My right arm is numb and won't move. I try to call out, but can not speak.

I try to listen but can't hear anything. I feel some thing wet and warm on my back. The ringing in my ears is not going away. I try to wiggle all of my toes and fingers. Only my left hand is working.

A life time later I can feel some thing touch me and roll me to the side. I try to move my legs again to help. I wiggle the fingers on my left hand to show them I'm alive. Dear God, please don't let me die here, not like this. Please do not leave me here where I'll be striped and dragged through the street after they find me.

A hand takes mine and I grab it as tightly as I can. It tries to let go, I try to stop it. Some thing wipes my head and face. I go weightless again. I'm relieved I'm not going to be left behind.

A hard breeze is blowing all over. I figure out what it is and try to relax. I hurt all over, but am happy. Everything else is blank. It all happened once upon a December.