The Assault

Digital art by LordHayabusa357 “It gets Harder from Here on Out”

I had a weird dream. I dreamt that I was a part of an elite military unit. We were in a city paved with yellow cobblestone, the sort you might find somewhere south, perhaps in Spain or Portugal. The air was dry. The narrow, empty streets were drenched in golden sunlight.

Our unit was dispatched to fulfill a misson. We were making our way uphill on foot. When we reached the fork in the road that I got that feeling that something was off. In that moment, a shallow, but powerful wave of water washed over the soles of our boots, threatening to knock us to our knees. It was gaining momentum, rising rapidly.

I functioned on military instinct: glanced over the water toward the horizon, where I noticed a silhuette. There was no doubt: we were about to be ambushed. I shouted for everyone to fall back. We regrouped, and retreated to a narrow path that ran along a dam-like structure, which concealed us. As soon as we arrived there, I realized that we walked into a trap. Our stay-behind unit was positioned on the other side of the path, on a hill, behind a wire fence that was covered with a thick hedge.  We had no way of communicating with them, and letting them know that we – and not the enemy – were about to approach them. As the water levels kept rising, parts of the path became submerged. We were forced to make a choice now: to stay and drown, push ahead and be assaulted by our enemies, or to go back and face the bullets from our own.

My heart was pumping in my throat. Exposed, we trooped along in a single line. The hedge quivered: the backup behind the fence had noticed our movement.

“Go, go, go!” someone yelled, and we began to wade through water, against the current, with realization that our own backup team was ready to fire at us at any given moment. I was the first in line: someone shoved me forward. There was no time to overthink it – I had to lead. All we had to do is to make it unscathed to the hill at the end of the path. That was the only thought, the only mission.

“Dont shoot!” I yelled, waving my hands in the air, when I saw a dark green beret of one of our stay-behind snipers. Then time stopped: the barrel of his rifle was pointing directly at us from the distance of some hundred meters. I was no longer thinking about the rising waters or the clammy feel of our wet uniforms. We were so close to the exit, yet a lifetime away. 

There was a muffled cry behind my back: a gurgle of desperation, the kind you’d make if your mouth is full of water. It was my fellow unit member. I was ahead of him by a few a meters. As I turned around to look, I already knew he was shot and bleeding.

My gun was cocked, locked and ready to fire. All I had to do was to pull the trigger. But to kill my own in order to save my own, is that justified?

I didn’t think more about it. As shots were exchanged, the place descended into chaos. The empty shells were falling into the water with hollow plops. Like stones thrown into a well, they sent ripples across the mirror-like surface.

I saved my team members. I killed the rest. As we reached the end of the path, I was engulfed by emptiness.

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