I met the guys at boot camp, back '05. We all came from a similar background: wrong side of the tracks, poor parenting, some combination of drugs and violence growing up. We'd joined the Army as a steady salary, an adventure, and mostly, an escape. We all had big(more) plans to go to college, study something, and never go back to where we'd come from.
After graduation, we did AIT together, completing our military police training without too much difficulty. Iraq and Afghanistan were still going on, but we had a lot of faith that we'd never be deployed, we were winning right? Mission accomplished? And then we were.
A roadside bomb hit us about 3 months in. All I remember was a flash of light, searing pain, the wind being knocked out of me when I hit the ground. The humvee burned, the frame like a black metal skeleton. We saw the outline of Ricky's helmet and uniform in the driver's seat.
Cam came back after 2 months off recovering. He wasn't going to leave us alone. Three days later, a sniper took Cam from us during a snatch and grab. It was painless, at least we think, for him. Bryan and I carried the loss for weeks.
A week from the end of our deployment, we were pinned down in an ambush, insurgents turning our convoy into a meat grinder. I gave the order to duck into a nearby building, a bar. Bryan ran in first. He didn't see the insurgent behind the bar counter.
I'm here drinking, trying to forget this shit ever happened. We swore we'd do our 4 years and move on, make something of ourselves. But, they're with the Lord now. He took them. For some reason, He only knows, He left me behind.(less)
All colonists had been given treatments to prevent disease, resist harsh environments, and elongate their life spans. Endi had been alone for 83 years, and he was proof that they worked. Sadly, he suspected no one would ever find out.
(more) His colony ship had touched down on the planet only briefly. The ground team had deemed it uninhabitable. Endi had been part of the ground team. He had explored too far, and when he returned the ship was gone.
He had spent the rest of his life exploring too far. He wanted to know the world he was going to die on. He'd found it was habitable after all, but had found no reason anyone would want to inhabit it. It was mostly ice. His shoes had fallen apart long ago, so he walked across it with bare feet. They couldn't get frostbite, but he never stopped feeling the cold.
Sinkholes were common, and filled with geothermal heat. It allowed a little vegetation to grow. Small, malnourished animals fed on it, and hid from each other in the snow. The equator was nothing but mud, and things that had died in the mud.
He would have welcomed death, but he'd been inoculated against it.
He sat in a cave, gnawing on a root. He only carried a small satchel. In it were lures, a makeshift blanket, flint, and his old communicator. He used it for steel.
He pulled it out to light a fire, and noise overwhelmed him.
Slowly, his brain remembered what words were.
"Uh, Endi? Hey! Sorry about that, guess we forgot you. It's only been three hours for us, but I know you've been there longer. Damn relativity. What's it been, a couple months?"
Endi answered, in a voice that was no longer human, "Yeah. A couple."(less)
On the day of the trip, Mama was awake an hour before everyone else, naturally. She was in the kitchen as I walked in, rubbing my eyes sleepily, wearing nothing but my underwear because the previous night had been an unbearably hot one. She was making sandwiches for everyone,(more) and when I walked in, she stopped, picked me up, kissed me on the cheek and then on the forehead, and said, "Good morning, my sunshine!" She put me down, and I sat at the table to watch her.
We were supposed to leave at 10, but of course we never left on time. It was 10:45 when the cars were finally packed up. Papa, Mama, my sister, and I would go in our car, while Baba and Deda went with my aunt and cousins. Each car was extremely packed, with little room for passengers, which is probably why Papa and Deda each thought the other was taking me.
Just as we were about to head out, I went to go grab my favorite toy--a worn out, stuffed yellow cat--to play with in the car. I locked the door, like Mama had taught me, and turned around only to find there was no car waiting for me. I looked around. Our street was empty. 'Nina will notice,' I thought. My sister always noticed. So I sat down on the curb.
Twenty minutes later, I heard the familiar creak of Deda's car, and I looked up to see Papa's car following behind it. Mama ran out before the car was even parked and grabbed me tightly. "Forgive me, love! We didn't forget you!"
I wrapped my arms around her neck and kissed her soft cheek. "Don't worry, Mama!" I whispered. "I knew you would come back! That's why I didn't cry!"(less)
Our ammo is scarce, but if we surprise them during the blight they won't see us coming. We will strike them at their most sacred of places. We will forsake all truces and take what we must so that we can survive.
We begin to run. The bligh(more)t screams down upon our backs as we move in formation across the dusty remains of our land. It is agony, a burning from the heavens that sears the skin and the senses alike. We consume the last of our scarce water as we push forward into the blinding light.
"There they are, just over the ridge." the chief utters as he gives a gesture for us to silently take position.
Many women and children are gathered around the watering hole. Along with, the men from the tribe of Blight. They worship the great ball of suffering as a god, which unleashes its flames down upon us to punish us for our sins. We hold sacred the night, the time in which the sky devil retreats and allows us comfort. There is something in which we both hold sacred however... water.
We take out position. They will never expect us to strike upon the holy ground of the watering hole. Let alone during the part of the day when the blight is brightest.
"For our Holy Mother Luna!" the Chief shouts.
I begin to fire upon the most concentrated part of the crowd gathered around the watering hole. Men begin to drop and we make our charge.
We have forsaken the holy ground, and many innocents have perished this day. But we must do what it necessary to survive, it is a brutal world for those of us whom have been left behind. (less)
People always talk about mourners as the ones who were "left behind". As if the old dead lady just popped up a peace sign and said "Yo, dawg. I'm out. Catch ya on the flip side" and then caught the first flight to the afterlife.
(more) I'm sorry. It's not that simple.
I'm sorry. I don't want to fly with that woman anyway, though I'm sure her seats were first class.
Because honestly, if there is any one who has done the leaving behind, it would be me. I left the woman out of my life and placed her on the back burner. It wasn't the smartest choice, but it was just easier at the time. Now all that's left is cinders and a bad smell.
And, for the record, I didn't lose her either. I didn't misplace her. I purposely put her on that back burner. Its not like I put her on the table when I should have hung her up on the key rack. She died. I didn't put her anywhere. So don't place that blame on me.
Not like I ever really had her, anyway. There' so much I didn't know. She was a nurse. She was a pretty woman. There are eight of us grandchildren. I can only count six.
And tomorrow I will go to look at the husk of a woman who left me behind because I lost her.
You think back to your childhood. No, not the messiness or the broken hearts or the syringes. No, the one thing that stands out the most is that brown bear.
That brown bear meant everything to you. Your mom had given it to you before she went crazy, before(more) everything went bad.
It had a missing eye and it's fur was becoming mangy from years of use, but you still loved it. It was the one thing that reminded you of home, the good home, not the bad home. It was your constant, the thing that kept you calm, safe. She had to go and ruin it.
At 16, you still secretly had that bear. It became the thing that kept you safe at night, when the bad things came. And then, the bad things began to come during the hours of sunlight. You and your mother became broke, your dad walked out. Your mother began to use again, even though she had swore to you she would never touch that needle again. Not ever. And you stupidly believed her. School became your escape, home your hell.
You came home one day, upset, to find your mother raging. There was no more money. Not a single penny. Her dealer would kill her. And then she had an idea. She went into your room and pulled out that bear. You tried to stop her, and she hit you. She ran out into the street wielding that bear like a madwoman. A car hit her, killing her instantly. The bear was no better off. You felt like your childhood had ended, though in reality, you knew it had ended years ago. You felt betrayed but you also felt left behind. You were 17 that day, sobbing over a broken bear.(less)