WARNING: This is a story for adults. If you are under 18, please stop reading immediately.
This story may be archived on free web sites but is not to be distributed without the name of the author, changed in any way, or sold. Please do not re-post without consulting the author. Copyright 1998 by Jane Urquhart.
NOTE: Innocent readers who are not familiar with the authors who post often on the ASSD newsgroup may find parts of this story a bit mystifying. Not a lot of sex, either, but some. So read at your own peril.
DEDICATION: Teresa, one of our gentle reviewers, said she read Sandman's "Aces" to see what women are going to be doing in the future. Her findings: "Let's see--we can cook, wait patiently for our man to arrive home, look good in a bikini or other clothes, smile, and be charming." But my dear! Those are merely a few of our accomplishments. So this story is for Teresa.
For some reason, I was feeling out of sorts a good part of May, and just didn't feel like writing a story. Then I had this dream...
I woke up and tried to turn my head to look around. Couldn't. Looked straight ahead. Hmmm. My left leg appeared to be in a cast, in traction. Kind of hazy, but I figured I must be in a hospital. Yellow walls with grey doors. Machinery. Could be worse, I thought. Tried to move my right arm. Couldn't. But I could move my fingers, and I felt the edge of another cast. Well, damn. It was worse. But still not as bad as it could get. Moved the fingers of my left hand. OK. Moved my left arm down--a little. It seemed to be stuck on something. I moved my left arm up to touch my face. Good; it wouldn't move down, but at least it moved up. Better than nothing. Face OK, something on my head. Thought to wiggle the toes of the leg in traction. They wiggled. I moved my right leg, lifted it off the bed and looked at it. Seemed OK. Good.
Summary: Neck problem of some sort. Right arm in a cast. Face apparently intact. Left arm moved up and a little sideways, but not down. Left leg in traction, but toes move.
Checked for pain. Nothing. Good dope, I guessed. Things still looked a little hazy, and my head kind of buzzed, steadily, but it could be worse. I decided I must have run out of dumb luck.
Now when you find yourself in the hospital all trussed up, you're going to begin to wonder just what put you there. And how soon you're going to get out.
I decided to wonder about those things. I saw a calendar on the wall dead ahead. July 12, 2010. Hadn't been here long, then. Happy birthday. Haaaapy Birth-day toooo Me! Part of me noticed I wasn't thinking at lightning speed, or making much sense.
Just then I heard a door open. I could still hear, despite the buzz. Another plus. Definitely.
A smiling face hung itself in front of me. Cute little nurse. Didn't trust smiles from a nurse.
"You're with us!" she said.
"I think so," I said. But what came out sounded more like, "Uh tink oh." So I tried again.
"I think so." Better.
"How many fingers?"
"Three. What about the rest of the guys?"
"Hey, you really are with us!" she said. "Not bad at all. They tell me you were way out ahead when you got yours. A few of 'em down the hall, kind of shook up, but nobody really hurt."
"You wouldn't lie. I've known nurses to lie."
"Cross my heart," she said, putting herself back in view. "See?" She crossed her heart. "Anyway, I'm not a nurse, I'm an intern--no little hat, right? Interns never lie."
Huh. Maybe I'd trust her a little.
She gave me a glass of water, holding it to my lips. It was good.
"You're a big hero, you know?"
"Naw. I musta made a mistake, or I wouldn't be here, and neither would they."
She poked her face right up against mine.
"Listen here," she said. "You didn't make any mistakes at all. Some asshole dropped a bomb on you. Now what can I do for you?"
I glanced at the machines. One of them had a lot of red LEDs on it.
"What's the reading, over there?" I asked.
"Temp OK, heart OK, respiration OK, and a lot of other things, all OK," she said.
"I remember now," I said. "I heard him coming in. I remember wondering where the hell the air cover was. That's all I remember."
"That's all right," the intern said. "Go to sleep. I'll look in."
I woke up later, feeling better. I looked at the calendar--the haze had gone away. Head still buzzed a little, but maybe not so bad. Can't complain, I guessed. Could have been a who-o-o-ole lot worse.
Then I remembered the whole thing.
I jumped out of the command car.
"Thanks, soldier," I said. He was off like a rocket, back to headquarters, where they didn't shoot at you. Much.
Looking around, I saw troops scattered all over the rocks, looking confused. Then I noticed a guy with a flexible terrain map. So I got down low and scuttled over to see if he might have some idea of what was going on. Fancy that! A live officer. In clean BDU's. Shaved. New boy.
"Sergeant Jane MacDonald, Sir," I said. "They sent me to help you straighten out this mess. Can you tell me what's up? Who've we got left?"
"I'm Lieutenant Ivan," he said. "I've been here an hour, and I don't know much more than you do. We've got nineteen soldiers from the First Battalion, mostly from Bravo Company. I thought they were going to send some people from Alfa Company."
"Just me," I said. "I'm all that's left. Any non-coms?"
"Two," he said. "Corporal Kim and Corporal Teresa. A couple of PFCs. I was talking to some of the guys and they told me Kim is tough. Teresa is senior--looks to me like she ought to be decorating a swimming pool, not toting a rifle."
Oh, great. Another sex-mad lieutenant. Where did they get these guys?
"Look, Lieutenant, I guess you haven't been out here too long?"
"You got it," he said. "I graduated from OCS last week and they flew me across."
"Well, I know Kim. I'm surprised she's still with us--figured she'd get fragged for shooting off her mouth. But she's tough, all right. I don't know Teresa, so I'll withhold judgment on that."
"Yeah," he said, smirking. "The guys told me Kim's famous for doing weird things with bottles."
"Only in her spare time, Lieutenant. You have any idea what we're supposed to do once we get organized?"
"Well, what I was told was that we have to take a strong point up high on the side of this hill we're sitting on. A lot of mortars and maybe a two platoons of infantry. Some staff guy told me the colonel wants us to march right up and do it."
"Show me the map, Sir." He handed me the electronic display and I fiddled with it a couple of minutes until I could see the situation.
"That's a very bad idea, Lieutenant. Why don't you get on the phone and explain what we have here? Try to get 'em to give us a little leeway."
"Sure, Sergeant, if you want." He smiled. "I may be dumb, but at least I know I don't know what's going on."
He took the field phone out of its case, and I moved across toward the troops.
"Corporal Teresa?" I said, raising my voice.
"Right here, Sergeant." Cute little thing. I saw what the elltee meant, but that didn't get him promoted up from asshole.
"OK. Get the troops together, will you?"
"Fuckin' A, Sergeant," she said. She put her fingers in her mouth and whistled. I winced. Good soldier, I suspected, but a little rambunctious. Probably just young.
I watched the soldiers shambling over. Sorry-looking lot. Oh, well, you get what you pay for, and Uncle Sam didn't pay for high quality soldiers these days. Besides, I did have to admit they'd had a rough forty-eight hours. I knew several of them. They gathered around.
"OK," I said. "Most of you don't know me. I'm Sergeant Jane MacDonald, second platoon, Alfa Company. What you are, I regret to say, is the First Battalion, all of nineteen strong. Every one of you either has good skills or a lot of dumb luck or you wouldn't be here. Maybe some of you have both, I don't know. But we have the dubious honor of being alive and, I guess you could say, well."
A shout from the rear. "We know you, Sarge!" Private Losgud. Heard he's thinking of getting out. Must talk to him--can't lose good soldiers. If we come out of this talking.
"Shut up, Losgud," I said.
I continued the little speech.
"The U.S. Army hasn't been clobbered this bad since Kasserine Pass. But we'll recover."
I heard somebody in the rear saying, "What the fuck is Kasserine Pass, Bear?"
"Hell, I don't know, DG," Pvt. Bear answered. "You always expect me to know what's going on. It's probably someplace in Mexico that somebody shot up a couple of hundred years ago. I've served with her before--always acts like she's got a military history book shoved up her ass. Crazy broad. But you better not fuck with her. She'll tear you apart."
I decided to ignore this nonsense.
"Meanwhile, we have a little problem," I said. "But Lt. Ivan is over there talking to Colonel Celeste about it. You see up this little hill we're standing on?" I faced uphill and they turned to see where I was looking. "Well, you probably can't see anything, but there's a mortar position sitting up there overlooking the Second Battalion. The Second is still in pretty good shape, but they can't move an inch until the mortars are gone. So the colonel told the elltee to lead us right up the hill to take that position."
"Sheee-it," said Teresa. "They'll shoot our asses off!"
.... There is more of this story ...