125 - Baghdad
SEVERAL YEARS AGO We ran. We ran like the very hounds of hell were after us, across that courtyard, right up to the very front doors of the museum. I kept expecting shots to ring out. To once again be shot, this time in my chest rather than in the back. And this time, I was sure, that I wouldn’t be so lucky.
But nothing happened. A glorious, yet completely unexpected sort of nothing. To be honest, the nothing bothered me even more than the something would have. The opposing force had to have night vision goggles. With those, they could have seen us running across the square even without any of the lights. Even failing that, they could have just shot as us anyways. With enough of us out there–and from the sound of our feet, even as quiet as we could be–at least a few of their shots would have hit.
There was gunfire on other sides of the building, where the other men were probing their defenses, providing some sort of cover for our particular mission. But why weren’t they firing over here?
It bothered me, but not enough to say anything. Besides, it was already time for the second step of the plan. Getting inside.
One of the men right up in the front checked the door.
Of course it would be locked.
Another pulled a thick iron rod with handhold welded along the sides. A door buster. They were prepared for everything, it seemed. Although I wouldn’t want to have to be the one to carry that around in my pack.
With the help of another man across from him, they two of them slammed the iron of the door buster against said door in question. The door shook and there was a dull rumbling sound that echoed up from either the door or the tool they were using itself.
“Again!” one of the cried.
Again, that same strange low rumbling. Though this time, there was a splintering, crackling sound. A shiver ran down my spine.
“Once more ought to do it,” I heard the Sergent say. The two on the iron rod swung it back once more–it was going to go through this time, I just knew it.
Suddenly, I had the worst feeling right in the pit of my stomach. I felt like someone had punched me in the gut, even going so far as to start hunching over from the pain of it before I realized that there was nothing wrong with me, directly, just that something terrible was about to happen.
“Stop!” I cried out.
But it was already far too late for that.
The iron bar hit the door with a dull crunching sound, pushing a large whole inwards where it had hit, easily big enough for a man to fit through–given that he’d be willing to wiggle a bit along the way.
Unfortunately though, if there’s a whole that a man can fit through, all manner of other things could go through the same whole as well.
Lots and lots of bullets.
The lights and sounds of automatic weapons fire filled the doorway, bullets whizzing out of the hole we had so conveniently made for them like an entire nest of angry hornets.
Just then we realized just why the men on top of the building hadn’t been shooting at us from above–they didn’t want to scare us off.
Not until their trap could be sprung and another group appeared essentially out of nowhere in the darkness of the plaza, obviously allied with those in the building. By some small grace of God, they had not yet opened fire–not a one of us would have survived that, I was sure of it–but the way they were standing there, I knew that things were going to come to a sudden and abrupt end.
Those on our side didn’t even have time to open fire. To a man, we all immediately realized how futile such an effort would be. The other men had us surrounded on both sides. We couldn’t make it two steps before being mowed down.
Unfortunately–in my mind at least–that means that we really only had a single option left.
And how in the world were we going to be able to save not only my friend, but apparently now everyone else.
With each passing second, the day just seemed to get stranger and stranger.