We are thrilled to bring you a new book installment this May. We bring to you A Thousand Stolen Moments by Connie Ann Michael.
They were in full daylight by the time they made it out of the poppy fields and to a ditch outside town. The ANA had not proven to be very reliable with their sniffing out of IEDs, so they settled in and let the Marines take the metal detectors into the open stretch they needed to cross to get to the city.
“Their waiting for us.” Tahk slid down next to Doogie. “They’re setting up snipers and bringing in reinforcements.”
“They announced we were coming before we knew. They’d be idiots not to.” She rolled over onto her stomach so she could see the town.
“See that building there? The one with the antennae. That’s the headquarters, building fifty-four. We’ll need to take it out.”
“Raven said we’re breaking off.”
“Yeah. I heard. I’m passing you off.” He made the offhanded remark, trying to play like it wasn’t that big of a deal.
But it was. “No. He said I was coming with you.”
“I don’t care. I’m handing you off to Donny. He’s staying with a unit that will take the building. You can set up your triage area there.” Tahk tried to make a good argument.
“No. I’m not here to set up triage units. I’m a corpsman. I stay with my team. Stop trying to get rid of me. Stop treating me like a girl. I’m Navy.”
“You’re still a girl,” he grumbled.
“I had to go through the same training as you,” she argued.
“I doubt that.”
“Well, your training was created by the Navy.”
“Oh, that’s a good argument.” He snorted.
“Well, Donny’s bad luck. I don’t want anything to do with him.”
“You drive me crazy.” With a sigh, Tahk rolled onto his stomach.” This is ridiculous. In the time we’ve been talking the frickin’ moped’s brought twelve guys into the building. We should just shoot everyone on a moped.” Tahk turned around, swearing again, and then yelled across the ditch to where Raven sat. It was daylight–and obvious they were there–so whispering was no longer necessary. “You know they’re surrounding us while we sit here.”
“Roger that,” Raven yelled back.
“They’re watching us like hyenas. This is stu–” The popping of guns cut off Tahk’s rant. “Crap, get down.” He pushed her head down.
“I’ve been hit! I’m hit!” The scream echoed down the ditch from them. Without a thought, Doogie grabbed her “assault pack” and slid down the loose rubble to where she could run. Tahk followed behind, muttering a string of profanity. “Dammit, I can’t move in this mud.”
“I gotcha. I gotcha.” She slid into the man.
“I’m shot. They shot me.”
“Stay down. You’re gonna be fine. “Blood pumped from his lower leg. Doogie grabbed the radio from her shoulder and let the Black Hawk know what they had. “Doc Sawyer thirty-one. I have a right arterial break. We need a pick up.” She grabbed the man’s leg and looked to Tahk. “He’s done.” She pulled the blowout patch out of his pants pocket and applied it to his leg to slow the bleeding. Then wrapped gauze around it a few times for extra support, grabbed his shoulder, and tried to pull him up.
Tahk rolled his eyes at her feeble attempt and grabbed the other side, helping her drag him down the ditch. She heard the chopper before she saw it. The Marine kept a continuous string of profanity going while they hobbled to the pick-up zone. Finally, Tahk had enough. “Look man. What did you expect to happen? You’re in a war zone. People get shot. Shut up.”
Doogie laughed at Tahk’s limited amount of patience. However, it did not make the soldier shut up.
“Crap,” she muttered. She looked down at a stream of brown, stagnant water running along the ditch. “You’re gonna have to get over that.” Two of the chopper medics slid down to grab him from the other side.
“Don’t let your leg go in the water!” Doogie yelled over the sound of the helicopter. “Don’t let it get in the water!” The medics reached across the water and grabbed for his arms.
“Crap,” she breathed out when his leg dropped and submerged into the dirty water. “Tell them to watch for infection!” she yelled one last time before she climbed back up the ditch with Tahk.
When they got back to their original position, Raven was yelling, “What do you see? What do you see?”
“Started to the right of the compound. Should I call it in?” One of the team lowered his binoculars.
“We can’t get air support. There are civilians still in the village. Donny. Go back. Get the A-POD. Take out the building,” Raven ordered.
“Check.” Donny headed back toward the field.
Within minutes the yells of, “Corpsman up!” filled the air again.
“Who is it?” She took off down the ditch again, Tahk on her heels.
“Donny’s down! Donny’s down!”
“Doog! Keep your head down. They’re shooting.” Tahk smacked Doogie in the helmet.
She slid to a stop where a small group of men sat huddled in the ditch. “What happened?” She pulled her bag around in front of her.
“Donny’s down. He was retrieving the A-POD. He hasn’t moved.”
“Okay. Okay. I’ll go out. Where’s the shooting coming from?” she asked.
“From the house over there. We can’t get a clear shot.”
“Lay out an area for me. My butt will be hanging out, so keep it going over my head until I can get to him.” Doogie shimmied her body up the edge of the ditch, slid her pack around to her back, and began an army crawl out to the downed man. The men fired toward the building.
“Donny! Can you hear me? I’m coming. Don’t move,” Doogie talked continuously until she reached him. A puddle of blood grew under him.
“Donny? Can you hear me?” His body was lifeless. She’d seen worse. They’d survived. She hoped for the best. She checked his chest for movement.
Doogie moved around so Donny’s body provided cover. His mouth fell agape, and his eyes were half closed. The bullet penetrated his back and came out through his chest. The front of his shirt was dark with blood. She double-checked his pulse; she didn’t want to mistakenly call him DOA if there was a chance of him surviving.
Doogie pulled her radio around and called it in. “Doc Sawyer thirty-one, DOA for pick up.”
“Roger that,” came the response.
“Medevac will be solo,” she said.
She needed to get back. Bullets tossed up dust as the snipers continued to shoot in her direction, but she needed to give him a verse. Finally, it came to her: Proverbs 24:20. “For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.”
Doogie wrapped the A-POD strap around her ankle.” We’re going to wipe them out for you Donny. Don’t you worry.” She crawled back to the ditch, dragging the gun behind. When she got close enough, Tahk grabbed her shoulders and pulled her down next to him.
“I called it in. They’ll come for him.” She pulled her legs up to sit beside Tahk.
“Heading back. Doogie acquired the A-POD,” Tahk called in to Raven.
“Check,” Raven responded.
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