The silence is deafening.
We were shelled last night. I could hear the pum-pum of guns and the blasts as they landed near. My ears bled from the pressure waves and even those blasts I couldn’t hear, I could feel in the ground. I could hear every one as I tried to sleep. I thought it was night but I realised it was just my eyes that were tightly closed. I felt like if I opened them, one of the shells would get me.
As the rumbles died down, I opened them. Around me my platoon was smashed. Not just the equipment. My friends. I closed my eyes again. I didn’t want to open them ever again. I didn’t want to.
The clouds of smoke cleared with an Eastern wind and I could see the sun was high in the sky. I could hear voices but they weren’t speaking in English so I hid under a tarpaulin and just waited for death. The voices quietly died away.
The Colonel found me that way. Hiding and pretending to be dead in a foxhole. He said he took one look at me and knew I was still breathing. So, he hauled me outta there and carried me on his back to his HQ – a lean-to made of a corrugated iron shed using two UAZs for walls. It was simple and effective. A skinny guy with a mohawk handed me a steel mug of hot coffee. Muttered something about no milk and sugar. And then he disappeared. I felt alone and vulnerable. These people all knew each other; they didn’t know me. I’d lost my entire squad, my entire platoon was behind me.
As I finished my drink the Colonel reappeared and asked if I wanted to go home. I didn’t have the words to answer him so he just ruffled my hair like I was his kid or something and said nothing.
These people; the Colonel, the skinny guy was called Monk and later I met the Doc. These were my new platoon.