Snapshots

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In the Heat: Part 3

They snapped into action, training taking over as they took their positions, and checked their surroundings trying to spot the intrusion.

“No Contact.” He said as he checked and saw nothing through the haze and smoke.

George used the scope and frowned as she looked at the little mirror she had placed. Her face drained of color.

“Contact, looks like a full contingent is coming down the western side street. I can’t see how many…. What the fuck is th….” Her voice dropped and William heard the fear crack around the edges.

He looked over as she stared at the end of the street.

“What….” He began when he heard it. The rumbling grinding sound of steel tearing and crushing as he watched a metal nightmare climb its way over the rubble of the wall. It stood about 18 feet tall. Its monstrous arms shoved clumsily against the stones of the wall. The old stone groaned and protested as it fell over. They both watched in horror as it continued its cumbersome but unstoppable crashing, tearing the old stone and rebar from its roots. Behind it, like a swarm of roaches breaking out of the opening, men spilled forth.

William opened fire as all thought left him.

Instinct and training took over.

They were not men, they were not people. They were enemy.

They were death coming for them both. The sound of his first shot was like a signal to George and she began to fire.

The world slowed, he could almost hear the sound of spent shells falling out of his weapon. He knew the moment he released that first burst of bullets that this was a lost fight.

Even without that walking metal monster they would barely have been able to hold back these kinds of numbers with George’s ‘corridor of death’ they. However, they weren’t coming down her carefully laid path, they were tearing themselves a new one.

George was standing firm.

He heard the sound of her shots ricocheting off the strange walking tank. It was battered and slowed by the rounds denting it, but still it moved forward, as the men around it ran for cover or ducked behind it.

The rush of adrenaline flooded William’s senses making everything seem sharper, cleaner, brighter; he could hear his heartbeat in his own ear and the hawk cry out over head. He watched his targets fall, or clouds of dust bloom where he missed. It was like trying to stop a swarm of bees.

He counted his bullets in his head. “RELOADING!” He shouted ducking slightly as George called back.

“Covering fire!”

His fingers moving over the mechanisms of the rifle pushing on the lever and expelling the spent magazine and with automatic movements he slapped in the next magazine clicking it into place.

He finished loading the chamber. Both he and George had to duck down as they returned fire. It rained rocks and hot metal fragments as enemy bullets shattered and pitted the concrete of their cover.

George looked up at him holding tight to her rifle.

William shook his head. “Plating is too thick! Concentrate the fire!” He shouted over the returning shots.

George gave on quick nod. “Left leg joint! MAKE THE FUCKER CRAWL!” Her voice was a roar of rage as she lifted back up, and William followed.

Firing together they both aimed and unloaded their entire clip into the left knee joint. The force of the bullets tearing and ripping away the metal, threw sparks. Shreds of flying metal forced the enemy back.

The sun had shifted in their favor making them hard to see in their dark little hole. It took thirty seconds for them to rip that knee apart.

It was thirty seconds of eternity. Both ducked back down expelling their empty mags. Quickly reloading, they heard the metal groaning and tearing as the metal beast lost its balance.

William watched over the edge of their cover as teetered on its one leg for just a moment, but it wasn’t prepared for the shifting sand and crumbling concrete. It was meant for harder earth, not the softer silt and sand so it wasn’t able to regain its equilibrium.

Everyone held their breath as it seemed to hover a moment defying the inevitable fall. It crashed against the far wall landing with an earth shaking crash.

For a moment everyone was blinded by dust and sand. William stared hard at the smoke, but George was already moving. She grabbed her bag and scrambled up the back wall out of the hole.

“MOVE JAMES!” she shouted over her shoulder, his feet followed her command before his mind even registered that she had given it. He scrambled up behind her as she raced to the edge of the bridge.

There were shouts and shots chasing after them but the smoke and dust covered their movements. They dove behind concrete blocks and sand bags that were formed into a semi-circle at the entrance to the bridge.

There was a small stash of ammo and one heavy machine gun. He quickly jumped into position to fire when the wave began its approach. He frowned as he watched George race to the crates set up a little further back.

“What are you doing?” he shouted back at her.

“We have to tell them we are over run…” she shouted back, pulling out an ammo box filled with flares. She ran it to the center of the street and pulled one out, lite it, and tossed it into the box with the rest of flares.

She dove back behind the wall as the box exploded in sulfur and phosphorous smoke and light. A huge pillar of red smoke raised towards the sky, and the enemy started firing. He ducked down as he couldn’t see any targets.

“We only have one box of ammo for the machine gun.” He shouted over the pounding of his heart and the riotous noise around them. Smoke choked and blinded them as well as the enemy. George had to crawl over next to William and shouted into his ear.

“SHOOT THE MINES!” she screamed… and even then he could hardly tell if he was actually hearing her.

He wiped smoke out of his face and peered down the sights till he spotted one of the spray painted marks, seeing the claymore beneath a piece of tire.

He opened fire. The explosions seemed to be staggered; first one and then another and then another… It was the lit fuse of a packet of black-cats.

The massive chain of explosions went all the way up the street, concrete, fire, and rumble exploded in every direction. He could just make out the screams of the dying and the sound of ripping metal.

William and George, both curled into as tight a ball as they could against the sand bags covering their heads and bodies.

A huge flat piece of metal, blacked and charred, fell onto the center of the bridge with an echoing tanged. It spun like a coin dropped by giant. It was almost 50 meters past them, showing how dangerously close they really were to the blast.

They remained in that position for almost a minute, coughing and choking in the smoke. He couldn’t hear over the ringing in his ears. He blinked and looked at George. Her eyes were closed. He grabbed her and started checking for injuries or a pulse. Relief flooded him as she opened her eyes and smirked at him.

“You still owe me five bucks.”

He laughed and helped lift her against a sand bag before going to the machine gun. Every muscle in his body seemed to be burning. It hurt, but he rested his shoulder into the holster of the machine gun ready to fire.

Before he found a target he could hear the shouts. Gunfire picked up from the far end of the road as the wind blew the smoke clear. He watched as men wearing a uniform like his own charged over the rubble from the east, pushing and chasing after the other uniforms. Like a strange wind blowing dirt off the rocks. Static broke over the radio.

“ECHO CHARLIE… DO YOU COPY” The voice said with urgency.

George reached up and pressed her receiver. “Echo Charlie, we copy over.” She said smiling as she reloaded her rifle.

“I THOUGHT I SAID HOLD THAT POSITION, NOT BLOW IT UP!” The LT’s voice boomed though his relief could be heard even through his biting comments. “YOU TWO HOLD POSITION, I WILL COLLECT YOU DIRECTLY!”

George grinned as she wiggled her eyebrows at William. “COPY THAT.”

William raised an eyebrow. “The LT is coming to collect us? What’s that about?”

George smiled mischievously as relaxed against the sand bags. Her elbows rested on her bent up knees. Her rifle still in her hands as she slumped a little.

As more of their own people pushed the fight away from them, and chased the routed enemy, William sat next to her.

“Seriously, WTF.” He asked trying to keep her talking.

She tilted her face up to the brilliant blue sky. “Let’s just say, that my love life is just as complicated as yours.” She looked over and shrugged.

William looked at her in surprise. “Damn…” He laughed a little and looked up at sky with her, he finally spotted that damn hawk as it flew overhead.

The sounds shifted from fighting to the trucks and personnel rolling past them like water around a rock. As the LT’s jeep came down the bridge and medics came into view, George nudged his shoulders. “Remember, next time… Don’t leave until you kiss her goodnight.”

William smirked and nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I know; you are always right.”

He could hear her grin.

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