Why the hell had I ever let myself get involved in this?
I pressed my body closer to the ground, trying to keep as low a profile as possible. I hadn't heard any movement for a while, but I was pretty sure they weren't far away, and they wouldn't stop looking until they found me. My uniform was soaked through, and the early evening chill caused me to shiver making it almost impossible to remain silent in the long grass.
It was hard to believe that it was only six hours since we had set out, eight of us, walking jauntily with all the arrogance of the supremely confident. Oh yeah, we were gonna kick some ass. Our weapons held loosely, grins on each and every one of our faces, actually savouring the anticipation of taking down the other side. There's nothing to equal the thrill of watching your rounds impact as the rifle recoils in your hands. Well, that's what I had been told.
The thrill and anticipation had long since evaporated, the only rounds I had managed to fire had hit trees, earth, walls, anything but bodies. We were outclassed, that was clear from the first time we made contact. Johnno and Fishy had both copped it in that first skirmish. Eliminated!
Eliminated! A very cold word, eh?
They had opened fire simultaneously from both sides of the track, taking us completely by surprise. Christ! We thought they were still miles away. I just set off running, firing blindly, panicking, this was nothing like the fun time I was supposed to be having. A quick glance to my right and I had a brief view of Fishy, his mouth wide open in surprise, his chest covered in an ever-widening pattern of red.
I continued running for several minutes, listening to the heavy footfalls of the men running behind me, the lack of slugs hitting my back told me that it had to be my own buddies. When we finally collapsed, breathless, into a patch of dense shrubbery, we were down to six. That was when I learned that we had lost Johnno too.
Johnno! He was the one that had got us all involved in the first place.
“We'll be dealing with total amateurs,” he had said “ It's not like they're military or anything is it? They're just weekend sodding warriors.”
Well it didn't seem that way to me now.
I shifted slightly to alleviate the numbness creeping into my hips, and reflected on the lows, and lows, of the day.
After a brief rest we had continued Northeast towards our objective, moving slowly, quietly, keeping low, our confidence slightly dented now
We had no idea where they were, how close they were, in front or behind? No matter, we had to push on.
Coupland was next, big Tony, no-one heard or saw anything, one minute he was bringing up the rear, the next minute he was gone. Just vanished. How the hell can you snatch someone who weighs eighteen stone, and walking through rustling grass, without making a sound?
Christ but they were good. Who the hell were these guys?
There was plenty of sound when Grimes got wasted. There was a light click, followed shortly after by a loud whoosh, followed immediately by his screams for help as he was dragged up into the air, and left dangling upside down eight feet from the ground.
He was still screaming in fear, and anger as the weapons opened up from the treeline, and dozens of rounds impacted into him, quickly turning his body and head into a dripping mess.
I was running again, trying to get to the woods I could see in the distance.
I remember seeing a flurry of movement out of the corner of my eye, as two camouflaged blurs took Fleming to the ground.
The sing-song chant of “Run rabbit, run rabbit, run run run...” Dwindling as I put more distance between us.
I nearly freaked completely when little Mark Fuller got snatched.
Bradley was several yards away taking a piss against a tree trunk, nervously trying to look in several directions at once.
Me and Fuller were whispering about what to do next...
There was a sudden, rapid thud of heavy boots, and this camo-clad goliath ran past, snatching up Fuller on his way, and without breaking stride disappeared off into the trees carrying poor wailing Fuller along with him.
I mean, what the...?
Its like fighting sodding ghosts!
That was it for Bradley, he'd had enough.
He set off running through the trees, I could hear him crashing his way through the undergrowth for a while, then abruptly the noise stopped. Just like that. Crash!... Crash!... Silence!
I remember throwing myself to the ground, and crawling slowly, pushing gently through the undergrowth, trying to avoid giving away my position. I crawled for maybe two or three hundred yards.
Then it started raining...
Oh, not just raining, but one of those showers that goes from a couple of spots, to an absolute deluge in about fifteen seconds. Soaks you through to the skin, then stops just as suddenly as it started.
For gods sake, could this day possibly get any worse?
I took stock of my situation.
Soaking wet, covered in mud and god only knew what other slimy shit... and alone.
Perfect! Just perfect!
I was just over a mile from the objective, and I had less than an hour to get there...
I could make it!
I listened intently for a few minutes...
Not a sound.
I lifted my head, very slowly, until I could just see through the tips of the grass...
Scan three sixty...
I was in the clear!
As I rose, they all rose with me...
I was completely surrounded, they had positioned themselves in total silence, and just waited...
* * * * *
The first slug hit me in the chest...
I could hear them all laughing as the rest of the weapons opened fire...
My whole head and torso vibrated with the impacts as eight magazines were emptied into me...
I was the last one, and they were making sure they got their money's worth.
And all the time they fired they were laughing... laughing... laughing...
I fell to the ground, a rolling, writhing lump of red, pink, blue, and luminous green...
I was glad it was all over, I just wanted to get cleaned up, and get to the pub.
There was one thing I knew for sure...
No way would I EVER put myself forward to go PAINTBALLING again.
©2010 Stephen. J. Green.