Charlie Hunter wakes up in a nightmare - white walls, and death breathing down his neck.
|The shaking of my hands and the grimy sweat that covers them causes my gun to slip from my hands. My body is racked with a heavy exhaustion and my muscles ache as I dart from shelter to shelter.
I flatten myself against the next crude rock covering and catch my breath. Bombs explode around me, leaving a gaseous, burning smell that burns my throat and leaves my eyes watering. A sharp bump in the rock digs through my uniform and into my skin.
A familiar voice screams my name out, jolting me back to realization.
I whip my head around to see my best friend waving frantically from a trench.
I acknowledge him, check to make sure it is clear, then dive into the trench.
“What's wrong?” I whisper, lying flat on my stomach
Victor laughs. “Nothing’s wrong, old man,” He says. “You were just out there looking rough so I thought I’d cheer you up.”
Relief instantly floods my body but is quickly replaced by a feeling I experience often around Victor. Irritation. “We’re in battle, Victor,” I say, wiping the sweat from my eyes.“Of course I’m looking rough.”
My friend laughs again and I grit my teeth.
“Vic, you better wipe that smile off your face before I slap it off.”
Of course, he only smiles more. It’s his fatal flaw. The guy can never be serious.
“Charlie-” Victor starts, but before he can finish his sentence I’m weightless, flying through the dark and smoky skies.
I land on the ground hard, all the air leaving my lungs with a big swoosh.
Pain. That's the only thing I understand right now. Incredible, unbearable pain. My vision is blurry, and my head throbs while my brain tries to sort out what happened. A bright spectrum of light blasts the vision of my right eye, then is gone, leaving me stricken with confusion. A ringing noise explodes in both ears, so loud I can’t even hear my breaths. My whole left side is numb, and something warm and sticky is running from my right eye,my limbs aching and screaming in agony. The taste of dirt and blood fill my mouth, leaving me gagging. Slowly regaining, my breaths come in ragged coughs as I fumble for my pistol. Hugging it to my chest, I force myself into a sitting position.
“V-victor?” I stammer. I wipe the liquid running from my eye only to receive a handful of blood. I gulp, but rub it on my pant leg.
“Charlie!” Victor yells, his scream sending shivers down my spine.
I search through the bodies, looking for my friend’s white blonde hair. I finally find him many feet away from me, but he's not in good shape. His left arm is gone, and half of his face is covered in blood, his blonde hair soaked red.
When he sees me crawling up to him, he smiles a little. “How’d this happen, huh buddy?”
I lay down next to him, ignoring the question as pulsing pain runs through my arm.
“Do you remember...” I swallow. “Do you remember home?”
He doesn’t answer right away, his ragged breaths the only reply as I continue. “Man, I miss it,” I sigh. “The blue skies, the warm summer nights. And the sunsets. Holy crap, the sunsets.”
My friend manages a weak laugh. “O-of c-course I remember,” He struggles to get the words out. “I r-remember the first time you saw Clover, you-you were so nervous you spilled your coffee on her.” He pauses, then laughs again. “I’ve always wondered how Clover fell in love with an ugly guy like you.”
I can’t help but smile, my lip cracking. Only Victor could make a joke at a time like this.
“I wonder what Heather is doing right now,” Victor says, wiping my smile right off my face.
The name itself is like a punch to the gut, and I can't help as tears well up in my eyes. “Making wedding arrangements, probably. Picking out her dress, waiting for you to get your dumb self home. You're real lucky to be marrying a girl like that.”
“Probably wondering why she said ‘yes,’ right?” He says, squeezing out another laugh. But he doesn’t finish his moment of happiness. Coughs rack his body and I turn to look at my friend, my stomach twisting when I see bright blood at the corner of his mouth and splattered on his uniform.
“Tell her I love her, when you see her,” he says when he can talk again.
“You know, I think I'll leave that to you,” I reply, laying my head back down. The sky turns a bright green, the pain now almost unbearable.
“Thanks for being there for me, buddy,” Victor murmurs, his voice strained. “I love you Charlie.”
My breath catches in my throat and I force out what I’m certain will be my last words. “Love you too, Vicky,” and I close my eyes.
A shadow blocks out the sun, causing me to open my eyes. Maybe it’s an angel to take us up.
“Charlie? Is that you?” a deep, concerned voice says.
I squint. Am I underwater? Everything sounds...watery? I guess there's an ocean nearby, and I somehow landed in it. That's probably why I'm soaking wet, and why my hearing’s bad.
“Hey! Guys! Two down here, get Doc!” the shadow yells.
“Timothy,” I say with a sigh, realizing it’s not an angel and in fact a friend of mine. “Come swimming with us, the water's great.”
But Timothy doesn't come swimming. In fact, he looks extremely worried, and keeps yelling to get “doc”.
I black out.
I’m in a helicopter, lying on the ground. I hear a familiar voice, Timothy's I think, yelling at the medics to “get over here and do your damn job, they’re dying”. I look to my side and see Victor, with a medic crouched over him. He’s not moving. Why isn’t he moving?
A pain explodes in my side, and darkness covers me like a blanket.
Now I’m in a hospital. A young doctor is yelling at the nurses. Something about “too much blood.” Where’s Victor? I wonder. My head spins and the nauseating feeling of throwing up overcomes me and I fall into darkness again.