134 - Baghdad
SEVERAL YEARS AGO It was quick and it was brutal. And then it was over.
Just like that, a dozen or more men were dead or dying right in front of me.
I didn’t think that I would ever be able to forget that sight, not so long as I yet lived. Nor would I ever forget what I had felt in those quick moments. I couldn’t let myself forget.
Thankfully or not, the men I had come with were not so quick to get off task, even with the slaughter in front of them. It hurt to know that my fellow man was even capable of compartmentalizing something like this, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t going to take advantage of the situation.
They had turned back on the door and were firing back in at the men who had fired out at us.
For the most part the door was providing surprisingly good cover, managing to keep most of the bullets that weren’t going through the hole that had been torn in the door from crossing either inwards or outwards. At the moment, we had the advantage–whoever it was inside had been driven back away from the door.
“Be ready,” I heard the Sergent saying to the men nearest him. I knew what he meant, we all did. We were about to go in.
The men with the iron ramming rods got them out once gain and we alls tarted hammering on the door with a vengeance. It was one heck of a solid piece of work, but there wasn’t that much that could withstand the forces we were putting on it. With a mighty cracking sound, we pushed the door in. One part broke off of the hinges entirely while the other swung inwards almost as if being opened completely normally.
For the moment, the entry way was clear, but I knew it wouldn’t stay that way long. I half turned in time to see the Sergent signaling the men with quick hand signals. The second group that had come to our rescue had joined us now, so there were twice as many men heading out in all directions with only a few assigned to watch the doors.
“Padre?” The Sergent finally asked; there were only a scant few other men with left with the two of us. “You’re with me.”
In we went, down the hall, following the first men that had been through. On at least two occasions, we passed wounded men. My first instinct was to stop and help them, but in both cases, the Sergent pulled off two men from the group with us and told them to take care of them. We couldn’t leave a man behind, but at the same time, we had to keep moving.
Then we were at the top of the staircase that I had come up. I could see the elevator shaft as well, although I didn’t know how to get it to go down. I knew from experience that there weren’t any buttons for the lower flowers, but then again, who really would have expected there to be.
We were going to take the stairs anyways, it was safer. There were too many ways that an elevator could be booby-trapped; at least on the stairs those fears were slightly lessened.
Descending into the darkness, I could feel my pulse quickening. Something had happened down here, I knew it now, even if I didn’t know what. They had had me here for two weeks and I couldn’t remember more than the last hour or less of it.
What could have done that to me?
What could have driven me to forget?