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Rated: E · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2284468
Guard Duty - entry for November military contest
“Come out to the coast, we’ll get together and have a few drinks!” They said. He had the worst two day hangover of his life.

“Join the military, serve your country!” They said, Yeah, ok, He didn’t want to go to college yet.

“You’re being deployed!” They said, Damn, He should have went to college.

“They said, my ass!” Sergeant Wagoner thought as he continued to march along in the hot ass desert, in the unforgiving sand. Every step he took his ankle turned one way or another that caused the awful pain to radiate up his leg. The boots helped little, especially carrying his rucksack, which he was sure weighed over fifty pounds, and the fifteen pound anti-tank weapon strapped on his back. He then had his own weapon, ammo pouches, canteens, buttpack, flashlight, entrenching tool, protective mask, body armor and what other stuff he had attached to his vest, he was loaded down with over a hundred pounds of equipment. It was brutal.

Whatever the reason they were here in the dusty desert, Sergeant Wagoner marched with the rest of his squad. At night they would dig trenches in the sand and sleep, his legs would ache. His platoon sergeant told him it would get better, to take the Tylenol they dubbed ‘ranger candy”. Then one night when he was asleep he felt what he thought was rain and just unfolded his poncho and went back to sleep.

It wasn’t until first light, when he saw the black, gooey, tar-like substance.. A nearby oil well was set ablaze causing the pipeline to rupture and the oil was raining down covering everything he owned. He wiped the slippery blackness from his face and tried to wipe down his weapons. That day, they marched almost fifteen miles to get away from the smoke and oil. “It’s all good, we’re the Infantry.” They said.

“Guard duty!” They said.

He looked down and saw his name: 0100-0300 - Sgt. Wagoner. “Damn!, well not like I need sleep anyway.” He mumbled to himself.

It wasn’t the first shift of nine to eleven, this was a good shift, most troops were still up and would even come out and talk for a few minutes. The eleven to one shift was even okay sometimes, at least it would let you get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep before first call. The worst shifts, the ones that disturbed your sleep, woke you up in the middle of dreams, if you had them. It was that gawd awful shift from one to three, or three to five in the morning, the time when you get the best sleep! That time of night when it was so cold it crept into your bones. He also didn’t want the five to seven shift either. That shift was stuck with burn detail, stirring shit, literally! Thankfully, he was only stuck with that detail once, before he was promoted to sergeant. It was a crappy job!

He had set his watch alarm but the current guard was nice enough to get him up, He got dressed and relieved the night guard. He was alone in this vast area. He couldn’t make out anything as far as the eye could see. He only saw the glow of a fire in the background as he stood and tossed a rock up and swung at it with the discarded 2x4. The rock went flying. “Home Run!” Sergeant Wagoner shouted softly, mimicking the roar of the crowd, trying to remember a little bit of normalcy as he thought how alone he was, looking, watching, staring at the nothingness, listening for any piece of sound. He looked at the sky and saw the millions of stars in between the inky patches of black smoke and clouds and thought of home.

Inspiration image is from a series called (according to the thisisnthappiness tumblr) Myths & Legends, and is by Jeffrey Alan Love. https://www.jeffreyalanlove.com/store/

656 wc
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