Dempsey awoke in a hospital. Lights dimmed the hallway. Nurses strapped bandages around his arm. His buddies from the SMU unit sat on a bench outside his room’s window. The biggest one, Campo, shuffled into the room and asked, “Are you feeling any better?”
“Huh? What?” Dempsey replied. He lay in a bed with machines that beeped all around him.
“What happened to you?”
Dempsey and the other men from his unit parked their jeeps in front of a gate. Guards unlocked it. The soldiers opened the car doors and stepped out. Captain Dunn escorted them to a table behind the gate. He laid maps across it.
“Alright, Marines!” Dunn said. “If we’re going to make it through this place, it requires some teamwork here! Here are the layouts for safe houses in case anything happens. We need to get to the parking lot, and to do that, we need to get across the street.”
Campo flung his RPG-7 over his buff shoulder. “Pfthhhh!” he said. “It’s just across the street!”
“Then let’s GO!” Zankie said.
They took off into an alley. Above their heads clothes hung on lines attached to a balcony. Dempsey looked to the right, a dumpster blocked a doorway. “Breaching!” Dempsey said. Campos pushed the dumpster to the left, his sweat dripped onto the ground. Dempsey kicked the door. Its screws scattered all over the floor. A cloud of smoke hovered in the air.
“Dude, it reeks in here!” Zankie said.
They continued up the stairs.
Dunn drew out his PITHON. His sweat dripped onto the wooden staircase. His feet shuffled up the steps. “Watch your corners,” he whispered.
Dempsey groaned and rubbed his arm, opening the door to the roof of the building. As he took his first step onto the pebbly cement, a bullet hit the ground in front of them.
“Sniper!” Dunn said. “Take cover.”
Dempsey and Campos rolled to the lip of the roof. “Hey Campos,” Demspey said. “Throw me your RPG-7.”
“But I want to use it,” said Campo.
“Just give me it to me or I’ll fire you and you’ll go home with your face broken.”
Campo tossed the weapon to Dempsey.
“On my count of 3,” Dempsey said, “suppress that hotel with fire. Three... Two.... One.... SUPRESSING!!!”
Everyone in the unit pulled his trigger. Bullets flew, wind carried away dust. Finally, Dempsey got a good aim, and fired. Boooom. The building crashed to the ground and dust hovered in the air. “Now that’s how we do this in my world!”
Zankie’s radio buzzed. “Enemies coming on your six,” Mason said. “Get out of there!”
“Can’t go out the roof door,” Campo said. “Once we go through that door and try to get out the main entrance we’d be smoked.”
Dempsey handed the RPG-7 to Campo.
“Freaking boy scouts,” Dunn said.
“So much for multi-channels chat...” Campo said.
“Sometimes don’t you just wonder how the heck you ended up in the marines?” Zankie said, shooting his grappling hook. It caught the edge of the building next door. Rubble crashed to the ground below it. One at a time, the men slid down the rope to the ground.
Zankie’s radio buzzed again. “Saber team, evac is on the north of your position. Get there quick; Warhammer out.”
They crossed the street. A bullet hit the gravel. “Evacuate this area,” Zankie said. “You guys take the JEEPS. They’re in the safe house.”
A grenade rolled across the street onto the sidewalk. Black smoked through the air. Another bullet hit the gravel. Campo looked up. “Sniper three o’clock.” He rolled to the doorway of a Chinese Market. BANG.
Zankie hit the ground, still in the middle of the street. Tears filled his eyes. “Help me GOD.” Blood oozed from his stomach.
“Stay with me,” said Dempsey, sprinting toward Zankie’s wet, crimson body. A sniper shot Dempsey’s wrist. He hit the sidewalk in front of the Chinese Market.
“Campo, go get them!” Dunn yelled from behind the market’s sidewalk stand. “I’ll keep a suppressive fire!” Peaches rolled out of their bin, onto Dunn’s shoulders.
Campo laid Dempsey on the waxed floor of the safe-house. “Get a medic over here!” Flies swarmed in the light above their heads. Nurses ran into the building. They kneeled beside Dempsey and clicked open briefcases. Tools filled the case. One of the nurses grabbed a needle and stabbed it into Dempsey,
“He’s losing too much blood,” one of the medics said. “Put pressure on that wound.
“For god sakes, hurry. He’s DYING!” Campo said.
For a second, nothing happened. No bullets. No screaming. Dempsey didn’t wake up, Dunn kicked the door open and rushed in. “Did he make it?!” he said.
“No,” Campo said.
“Well, we can’t stay here. This place isn’t going to hold up much longer.”
Campo gave Dunn a slight grin, then his right hook connected with Dunn’s jaw. Dunn hit the ground. He groaned, spitting out blood. One of the medics rushed over to Campo. “Sir, the building is starting to fall apart,” the medic said. “You’ve got to get out of here!”
Campo left the building, leaving Dunn and Dempsey behind. Warhammer’s voice buzzed through the radio: “The LZ is pretty hot now! Better get here quick! Ground force is hot, so go on top!”
“On my way...” Campo ran to the fire escape. His feet shuffled up the rungs. His sweat dripped on the metal railing. Campo made it to the roof and opened the door to the stairwell. A helicopter hovered above him. A ladder unrolled and hit the ground. Campo jumped, his palms locking onto the rope.
“Were to go sir?” the pilot asked. “And where are the others?”
“What?” the captain said. “You just left him on the roof? This was supposed to be a team,”
“I had to!” Campo said. “The place was falling apart! Besides, it’s too late now!”
“Here, I got a beacon signal from that area. I want you and Warhammer to go back there and look for him!”
Campo took out his radio: “Meet me at the pelican in five.”
“Yes, Sergeant,” Warhammer said.
At the safe-house, Warhammer and Campo cleared the rubble but didn’t see Dunn. A voice came from behind.
“Looking for someone?”
Campo turned around. “Dempsey! But... Where’s Dunn?”
“I thought you guys were shot down.”
“That’s when you’re wrong my friend.”
Back at the base Captain Keys met Dempsey at the helipad. “Good to see you Dempsey,” the Captain said. “Where’s Dunn?”
“He didn’t make it.”
“Well son, things happen in war.”
Campo headed to the warehouse and checked out some blowtorches and tools. The warehouse door creaked and Dempsey’s head peeked in. “Guess what?” he whispered.
“Huh? Oh. You,” Campo said.
“When you were gone... Zankie said some last words. He said that you were a good friend to have, and for your heroic act, he wanted to give you this.”
Dempsey slid a pouch into Campo’s hand. Campo opened the pouch and inside was Zankie’s pistol with his name engraved on it, his service tag, and a small note. Campo opened it and read it out loud. “I’m gonna be gone for a while, so make sure you take enough vitamins. It’s a long way ahead for you, Sergeant.”
Campo grinned, slipping the note into his pants pocket. Then, he flipped down his welding mask and fired up his torch. Dempsey handed Campo lunch. Campo gestured toward a shelf. “I’ll eat after I finish this. I’m sorry I left you behind.”
“No worries man, like the captain said, things happen in war. I never thought I’d say this, but thanks pal, for being a great friend.” Demsey left, closing the door behind him silently.
“No problem,” Campo said to himself.
About the Author
Helloooooooooo, I hope you enjoyed my book. Oh, and my name is Destin. I live in San Francisco with my two parents, my sister, and my two dogs. The two things I love doing most are: helping my father at work and playing video games. I’m good at Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. I could finish that game in less than an hour. When I grow up I want to be an automotive engineer because I like to fix things, and I like to be nurse because I would get to help people who are about to die. I am the only kid I know who eats chips to feel when I’m coughing. It works better than Tylenol even though the chips are bad for you. If I were weather, I would like to be the sun’s heat because when people are feeling really cold, I could help them feel warmer. My favorite book is Trouble in Madagascar because I’m the author and the story is full of tension and I think you would really enjoy that book. I am also the author of To Be or Not To Be, Goodbye Lofu, and this story, which was actually started by Anh. He wrote the first draft and I wrote the revisions and did the illustrations. The funniest moment of my life was when I was Mrs. Rees’s class, celebrating my friend’s birthday. He smashed his cake into his face and took cream and smeared it all over his mouth. If I could go backward in time I would like to see what I looked like when I was being born. My family comes from Vietnam and I want to go there because I want to experience how hot it is there. Well, I hope you enjoyed my book and I look forward to meeting you.