Chapter 15

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Ben held his weapon on the down and ready as he rode in the bumpy Humvee. His put his hand on the Kevlar wrapping his torso and adjusted it slightly.

"ETA 5 minutes," yelled one of the soldiers.

Ben tightened his grip on his weapon and jolted as an explosion hit close by the Humvee. The windshield cracked on the passenger side and Ben could see debris falling all on the vehicle. The driver slowed down.

"Keep going. Keep going," yelled Ben to the driver.

The driver pushed on the gas again taking the command. A bullet went through the windshield hitting the driver in the neck. Ben stood up and grabbed the driver's neck hearing the gurgling sounds as he struggled to breathe. Gunfire erupted above them as the machine gunner started to fire where the gunshots where coming from. The Humvee slowed to a halt. Everyone jumped out and took cover to return fire. Ben grabbed the driver by his vest and groaned as he pulled him back away from the windshield. The driver's brown eyes were wide as blood continued to gush out from his neck and mouth.

"I've got you. Just hang in there," said Ben as he continued to put pressure on his neck.

Warm blood soaked his hands and started to squeeze through his fingers. The driver started to shake uncontrollably as shock started to set in. The Humvee that was driving behind them pulled up at the bumper as soldiers started to file out. A medic ran up to the open doorway just as Ben was hoisting up the driver's legs with one hand still on his neck.

"He's already gone," said the medic over the gunfire.

Ben took his eyes away from the driver's struggling face and looked up at the medic.

"He's not going to die alone. Go see if any others need help," he roared

The driver grabbed Ben's vest with a weak hand and tried to say something but Ben couldn't hear it with the gargling.

"Just hang in there. I've got you. I'm staying here. I'm not leaving you."

The man's hand fell limply to his side and the shaking started to subside. His eyes were still staring at him. Ben slowly moved his hand away and dropped his legs to the floor. He grabbed his weapon with his blood soaked hand and jumped out of the Humvee. A few soldiers were leaning against a dirt hill, returning fire. Grayson ran towards them as he heard a snap of a bullet hitting the Humvee next to him. A droplet of blood landed on his face. He looked up and saw blood coming down as rain. Drenching him.

Ben shot up from his chair. He looked down and saw rain droplets were hitting him. He instinctively grabbed next to him looking for his weapon. Ben looked in front of him and saw the table where his ashtray sat. He stood up, forgetting about his leg and grabbed the railing to keep from falling. The dark storm clouds were above him. A roll of thunder made him search his soundings for a threat. There was no gunfire. There were no Humvees. Just the wind blowing the trees and the rain starting to pour down. Ben stood in the rain trying to grip reality. He still felt like he was just there. Those lifeless eyes staring at him.

Ben rubbed his forehead as he closed his eyes feeling his wet skin. Just like the slick blood he was trying to keep in the soldier's neck. He shook his head trying to forget. But the images kept coming. Death, gunfire, explosions, and yelling.

"Grayson."

Ben turned and looked around. No one was there. He continued to look in every direction as the rain started to beat down on him. He grabbed his cigarettes from his pocket and lit one as he walked inside, keeping the sliding door opened. He puffed as he leaned against the doorway. The wind blew debris across the lawn. The memory of the explosion and debris raining down on the Humvee came to mind.

Ben rubbed his head in frustration, wanting to push the memories out. He felt his breath quicken as the invading memories started taking over again. Death, gunfire, and explosions. He slammed his hand against the doorway. The burning of his palm pulled him back to reality for a moment before he felt his mind being drawn back in.

 He rubbed his eyes.  They felt drawn from exhaustion.  Thunder clapped above him making his knees buckle slightly from wanting to hit the ground for cover.  Ben thew his cigarette outside and shut the glass pane door.  He noticed a small crack had formed on the side.  Ben saw the Humvee windshield cracking again.  He limped away from the glass and walked back to the living room.  He looked at the bottle of sleeping pills and grabbed it.  He took another one since the first pill didn't seem to be working.  He pulled out his whiskey bottle from the cabinet and took a few gulps of the burning liquid as he leaned against the table. 


The sound of gunfire was still going in his head.  Ben took a few more gulps of the whiskey.  Hoping the alcohol would drown out the noise.  The driver's dead eyes staring at him with blood running out of his mouth came to his mind again.  He took a few more gulps feeling his stomach burn from the liquid.  Ben looked at the bottle sloshing in his hand before putting it back down.  He felt his eyes grow heavy again.  He slowly made his way to the bedroom and laid down watching the fan above him rotate.  He closed his eyes feeling himself drifting back to sleep. 

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