“Deployment Day” by Max Walker

Craig was staring back at the setup of tents and buildings where he had spent 6 of the last 8 years of his life. He saw the building where he had his first combat lesson, the spot on the road where he did his first push-ups, and the hut where he cried himself to sleep half the nights, thinking of his wife. The thought occurred to him that he might never see this place again, and he realized, maybe it is a good thing he is moving on.

Craig took one last look at the misty sky, the dust coated roads, and his home for the past years, and he boarded the stealth jet with his squadron. As the doors closed he was about to begin a new chapter of his life that would change him forever.

The jet took off very early, so Craig was tired from the beginning. An hour into the flight he decided that it would be fine to rest his eyes for a bit. As he was falling asleep everything around him was quiet. The quiet was like the calm before the storm, everyone was silently anticipating the war they were about to be dropped into. Craig closed his eyes and didn’t wake up for 3 hours.

Craig was greeted from his nap by loud blaring lights and the panic of everyone around him. Everyone in the back was nervously chattering as the pilots were talking in frantic yells.

“I think we’re going down,” the co-pilot realized.

“Yeah, the left turbine is out,” shouted the pilot, “I don’t think we’re going to make it.” Just as the pilot shouted out his last words there was a loud explosion from the front of the jet. The entire cockpit was ripped and shredded from the rest of the jet by an enemy rocket. Craig could no longer hear anything except the violent ringing in his ears. He saw the deserted and decimated streets of Russia out of the front of the jet, and the red lights flashing all around him. He started to feel the jet lose momentum and fall out of the sky. As things were getting ripped out of the front of the jet, Craig gripped his seat with all of the strength inside him and braced for impact.

In what he thought were the final moments of his life, Craig thought of his wife and his son, whom he had only seen pictures of. He thought of how his wife would feel, knowing that he was dead and couldn’t deliver on his promise to be a dad. Finally, Craig knew he was going to come through with his promise, and he would be a great father. Craig knew this wasn’t his time. Craig watched as everything around him lit up with the spark of 8 souls being torn from their bodies. Then, everything went dark.

In what must have been hours later, he woke up in a cold sweat. His head felt like it had just endured hundreds of bullet shots. Everything in his body was sore and everything around him was dark. His ears still had a slight ring in the background of what he heard outside. He listened very closely and heard what sounded like men talking in Russian. He couldn’t make out what they were saying, but listened anyway. They stayed there for 10 minutes or so, until they must have decided to leave and come back with a team of men. Craig wasn’t sure though, so he waited about 5 minutes after they passed until he left the rubble of the jet. Before wearily crawling out of the jet, he grabbed the first aid kit above his seat and the nearly smashed emergency phone that was hidden under the secret hatch in the floor.

It took a while for him to get out, because he could barely tell which way was which. He crawled very slowly to make sure he didn’t bump into any walls. After a minute or so of searching, he found the exit. Eye piercing light shone through the hole in where cockpit used to be. Outside the air was dense and debris filled, and the road was covered in metal bits of jet and smashed cinderblock from the surrounding buildings. The war zone looked like a ghost town. Nothing was there except the buildings and the occasional Russian patrol.

“Shoot,” Craig muttered to himself, “I need to find shelter before a patrol or someone worse finds me.” So he went as fast as he sore legs could go and went into the basement of one of the nearby buildings. He just than realized, the jet must have crashed behind enemy lines. Meaning that Russian troops could be anywhere, in any of the buildings. Craig needed to stay hidden. He was worried he could be in danger of getting discovered. So he took a huge piece of cinder block and covered the entrance to the basement of the abandoned building. He was safe for now and exhausted. As if on cue, all of his limbs went limp and he collapsed.

He woke up to the sound of wheels barreling over the road outside. It must have been Russian tanks. His head was feeling a bit better but he was still sore. Craig went to go peek out of the door when he remembered the emergency phone. He ran to the spot on the ground where he had dropped it and tried to turn it on. Nothing. The screen was nothing but black. This phone was his only option at the moment, so he took of the back panel to see what was wrong.

He was no expert on how phones worked but he had worked with computers many times before so he knew he had a small shot of knowing. Lucky for him it didn’t take a genius to tell when a battery pack is pierced. If he was anywhere but confined to the basement of an abandoned building in a ghost town, this would have been an easy fix. However, there was no replacement battery and no manual way to power the phone, so Craig had hit a dead end. So he racked his mind for ways he could make it work. He thought for hours on end but just couldn’t figure out a way to get the phone to work. He was just about to give up when he saw his ticket home, the one thing keeping him from getting back to his son. It was the jet turbine. He figured that if the managed to connect the phone to the wires of the turbine and spin it with his hands, he could generate enough power to make the call back to base.

He went outside and took a good look around to make sure there were no more patrols around. When he saw there wasn’t he grabbed a very sharp rock and sprinted to the jet. He wouldn’t have much time because a group of enemy soldiers could appear at any moment. He found the hole in the jet where the cockpit was, ducked through it, and was inside. He could just barely see, by the light of the sun peeking through. He went to where the turbine would be and saw one of the wall panels was out of place. He reached his fingers in and tried to pry the panel away, it didn’t budge.

He grabbed the rock he had brought and banged the panel making a loud ‘Clang.’ The panel still hadn’t moved. Over the next hour he used all his energy prying and smashing the panel until he finally managed to dismantle it.

At this point he was starving. He hadn’t eaten or drank since the day he left the base. It had been about two and a half days, he was starving and his body had started to consume his muscle to get energy. He was close to death probably only another day away. But he was so close to getting home and knew he couldn’t give up now.

His short black hair was dripping with the sweat of hours of work. He was tired but had to keep working. Next, he took the internal wires of the phone that connected to the battery and hooked them up to the output cable of the turbine.  He reached his hand to the backside of the turbine and spun as fast as he could. As he spun, it got faster and faster. Soon enough, the emergency phone screen flickered on and lit up the jet. He had paid attention when they instructed him on how to use it so he knew what to do. He went to the keypad and dialed 767 on the keypad for S.O.S. After a brief moment he heard the strict voice of the general of the special ops training camp filled the jet.

Craig told him who and where he was. The general immediately replied, “We will send the closest chopper to your location, be ready in 15 minutes.”

Just at that moment he heard a gunshot in the distance. Craig knew it was the Russian troops, but he started to feel a bit light headed. He tried to walk but saw the world around him start to swirl around and around until nothing was left but darkness and the stone cold floor.

Craig woke up in a coughing fit. There was a bunch of Holter monitors attached to his chest and a heart monitor sitting beside him. He opened his eyes and saw a huge overhead light and one large set of eyes staring down into his.

“He’s awake,” Announced the woman who was looking down on him.

“Honey it’s me,” Craig heard. He looked up and saw his wife, Sarah walking over to him. He burst into tears,

“I love you so much, Sarah, I’m never going to leave you again.”

“I missed you,” Sarah responded, “How would you like to meet your son?”

 

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