Semi-There Sunrise

Things went blank. Or flat. Or perhaps just semi-there, but loud.

The night became a flash of images and information punctuated by gunfire and mortar explosions. Bits and pieces of salient information emerged as if from a fog—friendly positions, enemy positions, cat eyes in the darkness, potential cover, backward flags, howls of pain, and the stench of burning death.

Richards yelped and screamed something that was probably indecent.

Barker said nothing; he was hardly there.

His hands went about their work. His feet slid and searched for purchase. Back muscles strained in protest with such movement while carrying body armor. Mile upon mile of gut churned over itself. The world spun on a bloody axis.

A new sound filtered in, and then Richards’ voice, full of boyish glee in contrast to the horror, “Hot damn, baby, JDAM!”

A hillside to their right lit up like a thousand bonfires, an artificial sunrise that bathed the rocky valley in orange light.

All fell still again, back to night’s quiet embrace.

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