Digging Up Old Dirt

"Hey, wake up mate, hey!" A voice called, piercing through the comforting veil of sleep. Ignoring the voice, Perkins tried to drift back off. He found this difficult however as he seemed to be resting in a seat that was jostling and jumping around in a very uncomfortable manner. "Hey, Perkins!" Came the voice again, joined this time by a hand on his helmet knocking his head into the wall behind him.

'Wait, I'm not wearing a helmet' was his last thought as he gave in, opening his eyes to reveal the familiar cramped troop compartment of a British Mastiff. "There's sleeping beauty!" Laughed the same voice, a voice that seemed strangely familiar. "Fuck off Mitch." Groaned Perkins, almost out of instinct, as he rubbed sleep out of his eyes. As he looked up at Mitch's face wearing a large shit eating grin, he felt himself speak but had no control over the words. Why was he here? Why was he reliving the tour now? This was over a decade ago...

His mind went on like this for some time, letting the memory play out, hearing himself laugh and banter with his section mates, wondering which day this was. Then he heard it, Corporal Daniels mentioning their boss taking a hit and having to be medivacked. That meant this was the day, this was that day.

He felt his mind begin to panic, though his body and voice seemed uncaring of what he was about to witness. He tried to scream and yell at the men all around him, his friends, his family, trying to save them from a fate he knew was looking mere seconds away. All of his effort were futile though, his body wouldn't obey, and then it came.

A heavy concussive force buffeted the vehicle, causing it to lurch violently. Perkins watched in horror as the opposite side of the Mastiff was blasted inwards, scattering the 2 men closest to the blast, Dodds and Crackers. He then looked to his front and saw the shocked face of Mitch disappear in a hail of shrapnel and red mist, the same hail of shrapnel that shredded 2 of the men sitting to his right, Coombs and Elford.

As the vehicle settled Perkins felt his mind reeling in shock, entirely unprepared for the display of carnage he had just been forced to re-live. He watched as his body got up and, in a robot like state still dazed and concussed, checked on the 2 remaining, largely intact bodies and dragged them out of the vehicle. Before focusing on saving the last two surviving members of his section, Perkins looked back at the horrific scene, almost frozen in time in the back of the armored vehicle.

He work up again in a mild panic and sweating hard, trying to sit up before feeling the stiff pain in his stomach and lying back down. After collecting himself and looking around, he let out a sigh of relief, recognizing the HMC personnel around him, remembering where he was and what was happening. As he regained control of his breathing and let himself rest he wondered, why now, why here, why that memory?

His thoughts were interrupted by the aircraft hitting tarmac, though he didn't care, still pondering the same questions as sleep found him again, hopefully without further dreams this time.

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