Mortar (Non-Fiction, Revised)

Mid-afternoon on a day like any other, oppressively hot, desperately dry, the quiet suddenly shattered by the sound of an explosion. The blast was loud enough to make my ears ring, and close enough that I instantly sat bolt upright in the cab of my truck, grasping the rifle that hung limply against the door nearby. I cast my eyes around quickly; the palace to the right; a pair of vehicles ahead; and to the left the compound walls. Beyond the walls lay the sprawling buildings of the Iraqi city, a sea of brown from which the mortar strike had probably come.

Seconds ticked by; I sat there, one hand on the olive-drab doorknob, the other cradling my rifle, trying to decide, trying to act. Sgt Harper was inside the palace, where the opulent halls had been converted into a supply point, and even if he had been with me, it wasn’t as if we could escape to some place safe. I could scramble out of the truck, but that was pointless. The attacker was certainly firing from a distance, rendering my rifle impotent, and though the truck offered little protection, outside there was even less.

Another shell struck, but this time it didn’t seem to carry as much impact, it didn’t force my heart to crawl up into my throat. It offered a momentary boost of adrenaline, a momentary startle, and nothing more.

I could crawl under the truck, use it for cover maybe, I thought. But no, that wouldn’t really help either. Every place was as dangerous as the next, every action as risky as any other. For a few long moments I waited, before placing my rifle against the door once more. Leaning back, I stretched out along the seats of the cab, folded my arms behind my head, and slipped off my helmet, letting it rest on my chest once more.

Lying there, I took a long, deep breath.

Somewhere not too distant a third shell landed, creating another loud explosion. It was inside the compound somewhere, but I couldn’t tell where.

And then I closed my eyes, and slept.

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~ by brokenrazor on August 13, 2008.

One Response to “Mortar (Non-Fiction, Revised)”

  1. I like the first draft a little more, though I couldn’t tell you why… I’m glad you are writing about Iraq…. it will be good for you.

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