06 Escaped Bethesda MD - Thursday

Escaped: Fighting my way home

© Copyright 2009

Written by Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia

ben@banzaiben.com

 

Chapter 06 – Thursday 27 September 2007

 

Bethesda Maryland – Thursday Day Twenty-Seven

 

It was well after 2400 hours last night when we got home from the party. I was tired and wanted to go to sleep.

 

But not Jens, she was a holy terror. The party got her so excited and horny that I got tired of fighting her off and told her to cut it out or I was sleeping in the basement. She kept at it and I went to the basement. The shocked look on her face was worth it.

 

"What the hell is that?" Something touched me, woke me up and startled me. I jumped off the basement couch and fell over something on the floor.

 

"Ouch that hurt." Jens complained.

 

"What are you doing down here?"

 

"I got cold and lonely and wanted to be by you."

 

"Are you going to be a good girl?"

 

"I'll be any sort of girl you want me to be. Good girl, bad girl, really bad girl." She teased.

 

"Well, if you're cuddling and sleeping with me on the couch. You'd better be a good girl and control your urges."

 

"I promise." She answered in her little girl voice.

 

I wasn't sure that I trusted her, but I missed sleeping by her. I crawled back on the couch after accidentally kicking her again. "Okay, but any fooling around and you're out of here."

 

She snuggled up against me and I pulled the blanket over us. She let out a big sigh and started her little snores.

 

I wiggled a bit getting comfortable and drifted off to sleep.

 

0400 came and I woke up, just like I always do. Yes it was much better sleeping next to Jens. She's like sleeping next to a furnace, well other than her feet. What is it about women's feet? The rest of a woman can be hotter than hell, but their feet are like two blocks of ice. Jens just loved to put those icebergs of hers against my nice warm feet or legs.

 

I wrapped my arms around Jens and held her tight; I didn't want her to get hurt. "Rise and shine. Hit the deck!" I yelled.

 

Jens jumped and tried to get up almost falling off the couch.

 

"Oh, I was having such a good dream. And you went and spoiled it. What time is it anyway?" She complained.

 

"It's O-four-hundred and time for Ben's bootcamp."

 

"Shit, you old slave…"

 

I interrupted her, "…I'd be careful what you say. Remember yesterday?"

 

She was silent for a little bit and I heard the snoring start again. I guess this called for more drastic measures.

 

I moved as far back on the couch as I could. Put the pillow in front of my face because I didn't want to get head butted by her. And moved both my hands to her waist making sure I had a tight grip. Then I started tickling the hell out of her.

 

She started thrashing around like a fish out of water. "Hey, cut that out. You know how ticklish I am."

 

I kept it up.

 

"If you make me pee again I'm going to beat the hell out of you." She threatened.

 

I stopped, "Are you awake now. Or do I have to keep going?"

 

"I'm awake, but can't we cuddle just a little bit longer?" She pleaded.

 

"Sorry, you went back to sleep and missed your cuddling time."

 

"Damn it. Why can't you be more flexible?" She whined.

 

"You don't know? I thought you knew everything about me."

 

"I do and I know that since you were a boy your dad got you up at this time of the morning. But it doesn't mean I have to like it."

 

I moved over and turned on the light. Jens twisted around and faced me. When I looked at her face I could tell that she wasn't doing well this morning. She had bags under her eyes, her hair was a big mess and I could even see the sleepers in her eyes.

 

"I guess you could sleep in." I teased.

 

She opened one eye and looked at me. It was comical so I started to laugh.

 

"You really mean it?" She questioned hopefully.

 

"Sure then you could do PT all by yourself while mom, dad and I are shopping."

 

That motivated her. She jumped off the couch, "No way in hell that you three are going shopping without me. If I'm awake it's time to go wake up dad and mom. Come on let's go."

 

She pulled me upstairs to her bedroom. The bed was a huge mess.

 

"Do you think you have another t-shirt that will fit dad today?" She asked.

 

I dug around in my travel pack and pulled out the largest shirt that I had. It was black and on the front it had the Marine emblem which said, "The Few, The Proud, The Marines."

 

"Jens looked at it, "Daddy will love this. It's going to be hard as hell to wake them up."

 

I gave her a wicked look and rummaged around in my pack some more. I held up what I was looking for, " - not with this."

 

"Ohhh, you are totally wicked. I'm glad you've never used that on me."

 

I interrupted, "Not yet at least."

 

"I'll beat the hell out of you if you ever do. I hope it doesn’t give them a heart attack." Jens finished and shot me a dirty look. "Maybe I need to see what else you have in that pack of yours."

 

This time I gave her a dirty look, "I could order you not to, but that would just make you want to look even more. How about if I say ‘please don't go in my travel pack, you might ruin the surprise’."

 

Her eyes twinkled, "You know how I love surprises. And you're also getting pretty damn smart on how to deal with me. Since you asked so nicely I will leave your travel pack alone."

 

I looked at her, "And just so you know. I always keep it closed so it won't accidentally open if you tip it over."

 

She smiled, "I think you're getting too damn smart!"

 

"I should be. I've been trained by the best – you." I quipped.

 

"Damn, I should have known this would come back and bite me." She laughed. "Let's go wake up mom and dad."

 

"My love, before we do that. Does dad sleep with a gun by his bed? I don't want to get shot."

 

"Nope, we should be safe." She replied.

 

We slipped down the hallway and Jens slowly opened the door and found the light switch. She whispered in my ear, "On three. One… Two… Three."

 

She flipped on the light and I hit the button on the air horn. Jens yelled, "Rise and shine you lazy bums. Time for PT."

 

Mom was so scared she fell out of bed. While dad seemed to launch about three feet in the air.

 

"WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?" Mom shouted.

 

I was laughing too hard to speak so Jens said, "And you scold me about my language. I told you I learned how to swear from you."

 

Dad said, "Shit. I thought there was a fire!"

 

I had finally stopped laughing and threw dad the t-shirt, "PT in ten minutes. Don't be late or there will be penalty reps. And don't you dare fall back to sleep or your next wake-up will be even worse."

 

We closed the door and walked back to the room. Jens was in front of me so I put the air horn close to her butt and hit the button.

 

She jumped about three feet, "Hey! That almost scared the pee out of me. Don't do that again or I'll take your toy away from you."

 

I was laughing so hard that I could even talk and tears were running down my face.

 

"Laugh now Mister. Just remember, 'He who laughs last, laughs loudest.'"

 

I stopped laughing and realized that Jens had made a tactical error. She warned me that she was planning retaliation. I'd have to be on my guard all day long.

 

I grabbed my clothes out of the travel bag and scooted into the bathroom. Today's t-shirt was all gray and had a picture of a fricken M4 on it and had the Rifle creed surrounding the picture:

 

"My Rifle

The Creed of a US Marine

This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I WILL...
My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. WE WILL HIT...
My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready. We will become part of each other. WE WILL...
Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. WE ARE THE SAVIORS OF MY LIFE.
So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!"

 

"Damn it. You always beat me in there." Jens complained.

 

I yelled through the door, "I guess you're getting slow in your old age."

 

"You're calling me old?"

 

"Yep, maybe I need to trade you in for a newer model." I teased.

 

"Just you try Mister. I'll let mom take care of you first and then I'll finish what's left." She yelled back. "And what's taking so long today. Come on get out of there." And she started banging on the door.

 

I finished, walked out and gave her a big hug and a kiss. "I was just teasing you my love. I don't think you're old and you're perfect for me."

 

She kissed me back, "What about this slow crap?"

 

"Well, I am faster than you." I tickled her and she started squirming and then ran into the bathroom and locked the door.

 

"Oh My God! What did you do in here? It smells so bad!" She yelled and complained through the door.

 

I laughed, "Check inside the shower."

 

"You sneaky devil-dog. I thought that was from you and that I was going to have to change your diet. Now I see that it's something called a "Fart Bomb."

 

"I'm headed to the basement. You'd better clean that up or it will stink all day.  Don't be late." I yelled.

 

I heard swearing as she turned on the exhaust fan. And as I headed out the door to the basement I started humming: "Oh what a beautiful morning."

 

I'm the first one in the basement so I started setting up the Soloflex for our leg workout.

 

I felt quite proud of myself for the pranks I'd pulled. Yes they were childish but I was having fun and no one was getting hurt. I'm quite sure that the Donaldson's had never had an experience like this and I was wondering how long it would take for retribution.

 

Dad and mom wandered into the basement, they still looked frazzled. I chuckled when I looked at them.

 

"Young man. Don't you ever wake us up like that again." Mom scolded.

 

I laughed, "No disrespect intended. Make sure you're up each morning for PT and I won't have to wake you up."

 

She looked over noticing the mess on the couch, "Who slept down here last night?"

 

Jens came jumping down the stairs, "We did."

 

I corrected her, "That's not quite right. Jens was too excited and out of control last night so I came down here. She came down later when she calmed down."

 

Mom looked at us and laughed, "Damn. I don't know how you two can stand it."

 

We both answered, "Death Before Dishonor."

 

I look around, "Who'd like to get the water and towels today."

 

Jens answered, "I'd be glad too." And she took off upstairs.

 

I looked at mom and dad, "Okay you two. Time for jumping jacks, keep up with me."

 

"This isn't fair. Yesterday you waited for the water and the towels." Dad griped.

 

"That's why we're not waiting today. Come on, keep up with me."

 

Jens came down with the water and the towels, "So, you tricked them today?"

 

"Affirmative. So you knew I would do that?"

 

"Yes my love, sometimes you're sooo predictable." Then she joined in with the jumping jacks.

 

I thought, yeah and so are you. I'm going to be so ready for you later.

 

I was amazed at how much better the attitudes were today even thought they were all sleepy from last night. I didn't even have to bark at them once.  So I lavished even more praise on them than yesterday.

 

"Great job today! Much better than yesterday." I said after we were done.

 

"After yesterday we were afraid to complain." Mom said.

 

"Good you learn quickly just like your daughter."

 

Jens smiled and walked over and hugged mom, "Yes not only do we look alike, we think alike."

 

I could tell that there was more meaning included in that statement than Jens wanted me to know. So mom was going to be in on the retribution too. I could smell a conspiracy brewing and I loved the thought of the challenge.

 

"I'm hungry," I announced. "Let's go eat."

 

We all traipsed upstairs. I could tell that the leg workout was good by how slowly they moved.

 

"You all look tired, let me make breakfast." I offered.

 

"I'd be glad to help Honey." Jens offered.

 

"Great that'll help because I don't know where things are in the kitchen."

 

"Great, I'll take a couple eggs and some bacon and how about waffles." Dad asked.

 

Jens laughed, "Well, I hate to disappoint you. But Ben almost never eats that for breakfast."

 

"That's right. That stuff will not just slow you up, it'll kill you. Today you're eating healthy."

 

Dad scrunched up his face, "Don't tell me you're going to feed us some of that damn toadfood crap."

 

"No daddy we're not. And it's not toadfood it's tofu." Jens laughed.

 

"Today you're having a big bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries in it." I looked at Jens, "You guys do have some fresh berries don't you?"

 

Jens smiled, "I had mom get them yesterday while you were sleeping."

 

"Thanks dear! And some toast with honey on it." I finished.

 

"What! No meat or eggs for breakfast." Dad shouted.

 

I looked at him and felt sorry, "Okay, because you did such a great job today at PT. We'll give you a hardboiled egg."

 

"I'd like one too." Mom asked and gave me a big smile. Just like Jens.

 

"Hardboiled eggs for all." I said.

 

"I'll do the eggs and toast my love, you do the oatmeal." Jens chirped.

 

Jens and I headed over to the stove and she showed me where the pots and pans were. I started on the oatmeal, she started on the eggs and toast and mom came in and made some coffee and took the bowls and silver ware back to the kitchen table.

 

 My “retaliator” prank early warning system went from yellow to orange when I caught them whispering to each other. Something was going on.

 

I took my time with the oatmeal so we finished at the same time and headed to the table.

 

I sat the big pan of oatmeal on the table along with the berries and Jens sat the eggs, toast and honey on plates next to each of us. I looked at her and noticed a silly grin. Something was definitely going on.

 

We all sat at the table and they bowed their heads to pray. I made a quick exchange in the breakfast items on my plate.

 

Jens smiled at me when I picked up my egg, "Honey, we have a silly little tradition at our house where we crack our eggs on our foreheads. It'd be fun if we could all do that together."

 

Dad looked at her like she was crazy and then jumped like he'd been kicked under the table.

 

I looked at her like she was crazy, "That sounds strange to me, but if that's your tradition I'm all for it."

 

Everyone picked up their eggs, "Oh goodie. Shall we all do it on the count of three.  One…two… three." And we all broke our eggs against our foreheads.

 

Jens never looked lovelier than when I watched the raw egg stream down her face.

 

She looked flabbergasted and Mom and dad were laughing so hard they were crying.

 

"Gee, looks to me like you have egg on your face." I teased.

 

"I don't understand how that happened." Jens replied.

 

"I guess you didn't see me switch the eggs." I chirped and started laughing.

 

"Sometimes I could just take you over my knee and spank you. You act just like a little boy."  Jen threatened.

 

I ran to the kitchen and brought back some paper towels and helped clean her up.

 

"I hear that raw egg is good for the hair and complexion. But I thought you were supposed to do that in the shower." I teased.

 

She angrily swatted my butt. "You just wait Mister. You're going to get yours."

 

"I already have mine and her name is Jens" I answered, hoping to subdue her anger.

 

She looked up and smiled at me, "Don't think that's going to save you. You're in big trouble."

 

I thought: Yeah right. Dealing with me, you're out-manned, out-gunned and out-maneuvered. 

 

Breakfast finished with no extra excitement, just a few chuckles every once and awhile from mom and dad.

 

"I'll take care of the dishes." I offered.

 

"Son, you made breakfast. Let me take care of the dishes." Mom answered.

 

"You want to go for a run today?" Jens queried.

 

"If a man talks in the forest and a woman isn't there to hear him, is he still wrong." I smugly answer.

 

She gave me the evil eye and mom and dad started laughing again, "Yes, when he says something stupid like that -  I'll call the Secret Service."

 

Jens took off to make the call and dad came over to me, "What's going on today. You're certainly on a roll."

 

"I hope I haven't gone too far. I think that I need to release some stress and this is my goofy way of doing it."

 

"Well, don't let your mouth overload your ass. If you get Jens too riled up she's going to open up a can of whoop ass on you." He admonished.

 

"Good, that's what I've been waiting for." I smiled back at him.

 

He shook his head, "You must have a death wish."

 

"Actually it's a life wish and Jens gave it to me. I'm just setting the stage for when we're in our own house. I want it to be fun."

 

"Okay, don't say I didn't warn you." He turned and walked away.

 

Jens came skipping back into the kitchen, "They'll be here in ten minutes. I'm going to go wash my face."

 

I looked at her and got ready to make a comment about the egg. She came over and kissed me, "Don't go there."

 

"Yes my love." I snickered, "I'm going outside to wait for the SS."

 

"Don't call them that. They get really upset if you do." Jens admonished.

 

She headed towards the bedroom and I went out front to wait. I noticed the nosey neighbors watching me so I decided to give them a show and started doing handstand pushups. After fifty I got bored and just started walking around the yard on my hands.

 

Jens came out and looked at me. She'd changed her t-shirt, it had the Marine Emblem on it and said, "Parris Island – Where the difference begins."

 

"What the hell are you doing now?" She grumped.

 

"The neighbors were watching so I thought I'd give them a show." I did a handspring and landed on my feet just as a black van pulled up.

 

I eyed it suspiciously. The back door opened and two agents got out. They weren't wearing suits, they were in running gear. I checked their ID closely just to make sure they were for real.

 

We followed them over to the van and jumped in the back. There were two more agents up front in suits.

 

"You'd think the government would have more imagination. Why is it that they always seem to buy black vehicles?" I kidded.

 

Their silence told me they weren't amused at my joke.

 

"So, are we going to Chevy-Chase high school again?" Jens asked.

 

"Yes Ma'am." The agent that was driving coldly said.

 

We looked at each other. I leaned over and whispered in Jens's ear, "These guys sure seem pissed about something."

 

Jens was riled up and said out loud, "I'm sure these agents are just being rude because they think we're a crap assignment. Just guarding the general's daughter and fiancé is probably beneath them. After all they are used to taking care of important politicians."

 

Things in the van became even icier than before and no one spoke until we reached the high school. The van drove around back and the passenger got out and opened the door for us. I could tell that he thought Jens was a real bitch. I was going to deck him and Jens grabbed my arm. "Come on Hon, let's go on a little run."

 

She looked at the two agents in the running suits and said, her voice dripping with sarcasm, "I hope these big strong Secret Service agents can keep up with us."

 

We did a couple laps at a comfortable pace to warm up. The agents were behind us. I kept glancing back and they looked bored.

 

Jens ran close to me, in a loud whisper, "We're going to run these smug bastards into the ground. I hope you can keep up with me."

 

We came around the final corner towards the start/finish line. Jens looked over at me and said, "Run your devil-dog ass off Marine." And she took off like a jack rabbit, I was right with her and the race was on.

 

The two suits had been watching and started cheering on our pursuers. We hit the first turn and had a large lead. Damn. Jens didn't lose an ounce of speed on the turn, she had experience running turns. I was struggling to keep up with her.

 

She glanced back, "Get your ass moving Marine. I'm not slowing up for you."

 

I was pushing it and needed to concentrate on relaxing and running the turn. I started watching Jens butt and that was all the incentive that I needed. My rhythm improved and my speed increased. Soon I was right behind her.

 

We hit the straight at the end of the turn and had a quarter turn on the agents.

 

I pulled up beside Jens, "Come on you sexy Marine you! I'll bet you a massage that you can't catch me." And I sprinted past her.

 

"Woo hoo, three massages." She yelled.

 

"You mean two. Yesterday didn't count." I yelled back.

 

"Hey, I caught you."

 

"No you didn't, the police caught us both." I answered.

 

"Shit." Was all she said.

 

With the way Jens ran turns I needed to have a lead on her for the next turn or she would catch me. I ran flat out until I hit the turn, then I slowed up and I heard coming up behind me, "I've got your ass now." Jens yelled.

 

I poured on the speed and let myself slip out one lane. It was further to run but I could run faster.

 

"Shit, I thought I had you." Jens yelled as she fell back.

 

I could see that we were gaining on the agents. I thought we could catch them and lap them.

 

I was feeling strong; I needed to know how Jens felt. I dropped back to where she could hear me. "How are you feeling?"

 

"I feel great, but I'd feel better if I caught you."

 

"I think we can lap these agents. I'll tell you what. If we lap them I'll give you a massage each night."

 

"You're on Mister." Jens yelled "Orraaahhh, fresh meat." She ran like she was being chased by all the minions from hell. Her legs became a blur.

 

Two laps later it was all over we ran past the agents and Jens yelled, "Buh-bye boys too bad you're so slow." And we slowed up but kept running.

 

As we headed towards the finish line we heard clapping and cheering and glanced over to see who it was. The high school track team had been watching us. They fell in beside us as we ran past.

 

One kid runs up beside Jens, "Hi, my name's Jim."

 

Jens looked over and replied, "I'm Jens and this is my fiancé Ben."

 

He looked at both of us looked at our Marine t-shirts and the realization set in, "Hey guys. These are the Marines that won the Leadville One Hundred."

 

The whole team ran up close and started crowding us. "Be careful you don't trip us." I warned.

 

"Yes Sir." The team yelled.

 

Jim said, "It's a great honor to run with you two. Whatcha doin' here."

 

Jens smiled at him and he looked so happy I thought he was going to piss himself, "My parents live here and we're visiting them before we deploy to Iraq."

 

"Wow, I thought that heroes like you would stay home." Jim said.

 

Jens turned her head and gave me a look that said, keep your mouth shut and let her handle this.

 

"Jim, that's our job. We're Marines and that's what we do."

 

The agents finally caught up with us. "Hey you kids get away for these two people." One agent yelled.

 

The track team sighed in disappointment.

 

Jens looked at the agent and said, "It's about time you caught up with us. And what's this crap yelling at our friends. Are you finally pretending that you're doing your job?"

 

"We can't keep you safe with all these civilians around." He continued complaining.

 

I was fed up with this bullshit. I looked at the agent and said, "Shit."

 

Jens interrupted, "Honey watch your language there are kids here."

 

She was right so I de-Marined what I was going to say. "Agent your name must be Richard Cranium because that's what you are. I would suggest that you leave us alone and go practice self copulation."

 

The agents looked shocked and stopped. The kids figured out what I really said and started laughing so hard they couldn't run.

 

Jens looked over at me and said, "Wow my Marine can even use big words to cuss someone out."

 

"I thought you knew everything about me." I chided her.

 

"I know I'd like to practice mutual copulation with you." She grinned.

 

"Damn woman. We haven't run that out of you yet?"

 

"Not even close. If anything it's made it worse."

 

I looked over at her and she winked at me. She wasn't kidding.

 

We came back around and the agents and kids were in the middle of the track.  The agent I'd told to go fuck himself held up his hand and stopped us.

 

"The allotted time for your run is now done. We need to get you back to your house."

 

The kids moaned in disappointment. One of them yelled, "He's right, you're a dick head."

 

"Who the hell said that? You're in big trouble." The agent yelled.

 

The kids seeing that they had the agent upset all started singing, "Agent dick head, agent dick head."

 

He was getting overly angry so I needed to stop it. I held up my hand and the kids stopped. The agent looked relieved.

 

I looked at the agent, "Sorry about that. Sometimes when I open my mouth I disengage my brain. Look these kids aren't a danger, I've been to Iraq four times and I know danger. So how about you let us run with the kids for another half an hour."

 

He looked at me, still very pissed and said, "You'll take responsibility if one of the kids attacks you?"

 

Jens answered, "You bet we will."

 

The kids cheered and we started running again.

 

They had a million questions for us, well mainly for Jens. They were high school boys and she was wearing those sexy shorts. I noticed that they liked to run behind her. Normally I'd get jealous but they were just kids.

 

The agent came out and stopped us our time was up.

 

The kids came up to say goodbye, shaking my hand and trying to hug Jens. She wasn't going to have any of that so she shook hands with them too.

 

We walked back to the van with the agents behind us, the insulted one muttered something. I turned and got in his face. "Do you have something you want to say to us?"

 

He looked at me in anger, "I was just saying if you weren't our assignment. I'd kick your butt."

 

I looked at him. This was a challenge and a showdown, just like the gunfight at O.K. Corral. I stepped back in a defensive position and said, "I'm your huckleberry."

 

"You calling me out?"

 

"Are you deaf as well as dumb?" I asked.

 

His anger flared as he turned red. He looked around, "Not here. Let's go to the Secret Service gym."

 

Jens said, "Oh boy! My man's gonna kick some Secret Service butt today."

 

We hopped in the van, it was as icy as ever. The drove for about twenty minutes to a non-descript gym in a poor part of town.

 

The agent in the passenger seat opened our door, "You can still back out of this and save your pride."

 

Jens looked at him and said, "You wouldn't want to make a little wager on this would you?"

 

"Sure. How much do you want to lose?"

 

"How about a thousand dollars?" Jens challenged.

 

"You're on. I hope you can pay."

 

Jens smiled at him. "I hope you can pay otherwise I'll have to kick your butt."

 

The agent gave her a quizzical look.

 

We walked into the shabby looking gym and were surprised when we saw how modern it was.

 

"Nice gym." I said. The agents didn't reply.

 

We walked over to an empty mat and Mr. Mouthy looked at me. "You can still back out."

 

I just smiled at him.

 

Jens said, "Okay Ben. Let's get this over with. Kick his butt so we can go home. I'm hungry and want lunch."

 

We both moved to the mat and I stretched a little and cracked my neck. "Damn. That felt almost as good as it's going to feel to kick your butt."

 

"Shit." Mr. Mouth said.

 

"Better put this on." Another agent said as he handed us protective gear.

 

"Oh goodie, now my man can hit and kick even harder." Jens chimed.

 

They all looked at her like she was crazy.

 

I put on the gear and walked over to Jens.  She made sure things were adjusted right, "Mmm, I know what I'd like to adjust of yours." She teased.

 

I blushed.

 

"I was serious about you just taking this guy out. I want to get home." She ordered.

 

"I love and live to serve you." I answered.

 

"If you two are finished make goo-goo eyes at each other I'd like to mop the floor with this loser."

 

We walked to the center of the mat and squared off. Jens yelled, "Go."

 

The agent jumped towards me. I dodged out of his way and caught him in the back with a kick as he passed. He landed face down on the mat and I jumped on him and delivered a death blow to the back of the neck.

 

The other agents looked stunned.

 

The mouthy agent stood up, "That was just luck. You couldn't do that again."

 

"Lucky that I didn't really hurt you. You wouldn't want to bet on it would you?" I asked.

 

"Sure, you can't do that again."

 

"Put your money where your mouth is." I teased.

 

The other agents started yelling wanting part of the action. Jens went over and started taking bets from them.

 

"Okay smartass, I've got a thou that says you can't beat me again."

 

"I'm your huckleberry." I taunted.

 

I looked over at Jens and she smiled and nodded.

 

"Ready to lose your money Richard Cranium?" I asked.

 

He started to flush again and we walked back to the middle of the mat. "This time I want an agent to yell go." He said.

 

"It won't matter. He's still going to kick your butt. Hey Hon, kick his butt in less than a minute and I'll give you a massage." Jens yelled

 

"Do I get a massage if I kick his butt?" The mouthy agent said.

 

I glared at him and said, "I've been patient with you asshole, but that comment just cost you. No one talks to my fiancée like that."

 

"Oh, I'm shaking in my boots." He teased.

 

I was pissed and felt like a spring that had been wound too tight. I was just waiting to be released. One of the agents shouted, "GO." And before he could even move, I kicked him in the chest knocking him backwards on the mat.  I jumped on top of him and started pummeling him with my fists.

 

Jens ran over and pulled me off him. "It's okay my love. He's done.

 

I looked down and the agent wasn't moving. His buddies had gathered around him and were looking at him. They started talking.

 

"Shit, he knocked Mike out."

 

"I can't fucking believe it."

 

"You know how much money I just lost?"

 

Jens piped up, "I do. You just lost two thousand dollars." She pointed to another agent, "And you lost one thousand dollars." She continued telling each of them what they owed us. We'd made ten K, not bad for a few minutes work.

 

"What the hell is going on here?" We heard someone yell as they came up to the mat.

 

The agents looked sheepish and moved to the side.

 

"I'm Ron and the director of this field office. Who are you two and what are you doing in my gym?" He asked looking right at us.

 

Jens spoke up, "We're just a couple of Marines." She said and gave him a big smile.

 

He looked at me, "What's a Marine doing sparring with my agents?"

 

Jen continued, "It seems that my fiancé and one of your agents had a little disagreement. They decided to come here and settle it."

 

"And how would you know my agents?"

 

"They are assigned to be our bodyguards while we're visiting my dad, the General."

 

"Your General Donaldson's daughter – that must make you." He looked at me.

 

I interrupted, "I'm her fiancé."

 

"Like hell you are. You're Banzai Ben. I know all about you. Which one of my agents did you disagree with?"

 

I pointed to the agent still on the mat.

 

He looked at him, "You knocked Mike out? He's one of my best agents."

 

"Sorry about that, he got me pissed." I answered.

 

"Okay, get out of your gear and come back to my office. I need the whole story."

 

Jens helped me out of my gear and we headed to Jon's office. The office was in the back of the gym and on the way there I noticed how nice and big this gym was.

 

We walked in the office and Ron closed the door. "Please make yourselves comfortable and sit down."

 

We sat in the chairs across from his desk, "Why don't you tell me what happened."

 

I was getting ready to open my mouth and lay into him and Jens reached over and squeezed my leg. I understood kept my mouth shut.

 

"Ron, I hope you don't mind me calling you that. First I want to say what an excellent pair of agents we had yesterday and the day before. Buddy and Phil were kind and courteous."

 

I yawned, this was boring. Jens gave me a nasty look.

 

"However the agents today were totally opposite. They acted aloof and made us both feel like it was beneath them to be taking care of us."

 

Ron looked at me and said, "Mr. Blaine do you concur with Ms. Donaldson's allegations?"

 

Jen gave me a look that told me to behave. "Yes sir I do. However I do admit that after we'd already been treated like shit-uh-poorly I did say a few inappropriate things to the agent named Mike. So I feel that I did provoke him into the fight. For that I'd like to apologize to him."

 

Jens beamed at me.

 

"Just what did you say to him?" Ron asked.

 

I blushed.

 

Jens answered for me, "There were high school kids present and they wanted to run with us. Your agent felt it was a possible danger and was yelling at the kids. Ben doesn't like people to yell at kids so he told your agent that his name must be Richard Cranium because that's what he was. And then suggested that he leave us alone and go practice self copulation."

 

I blushed, "And it sort of escalated from there."

 

Ron started laughing, "Oh that's too funny; self copulation. Who was the first one that mentioned sparing?"

 

Jens said, "He was grumbling on the way back to the van and Ben asked him what his problem was. He said to Ben, 'if you weren't our assignment. I'd kick your butt.'"

 

"Ben should have walked away."

 

I interrupted, "And I would have if he wouldn't have been so rude to my fiancée."

 

Ron looked at us and said, "I apologize for our agency. We don't train our agents to act this way."

 

We both said, "Don't worry about it."

 

Jens continued, "We would like to ask that Buddy and Phil be assigned to us the rest of the time we are here."

 

I added, "One more thing, it seems that we made some money from our sparring match. I'm wondering if you can have your agents deliver that to the Chevy-Chase high school track team."

 

Ron looked at us, "How much is it?"

 

Jens proudly said, "Not much this time, just ten-thousand dollars."

 

He whistled, "Damn. They should know better than to bet that much. That's against the law."

 

"Not if it's a charitable donation." I replied.

 

Ron looked at me, "There's more to you than meets the eye."

 

Jens said, "Very much more. He just pretends to be a stupid jarhead."

 

I interrupted doing my best Forrest Gump impression, "Stupid is as stupid does."

 

Jens looked over and said, "You're impressions aren't that good. So don't quit your day job."

 

I raised one eyebrow, pretending to be Rhett Butler, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

 

Ron laughed, "I heard that you two were pretty funny. Now I understand why.

 

"Well, I have all the information that I need. Thank you for your cooperation. I'll make sure that we use Phil and Buddy for you two or other agents with similar demeanors."

 

I asked, "I don't suppose that we will be able to get them for tonight?"

 

"Not Phil and Buddy. But I'll make sure that you have good agents."

 

Jens asked, "What's tonight. I thought we were staying home."

 

It was my turn, "NALTS."

 

Ron made a call, "Your replacement agents will be here soon. Why don't I show you our gym?"

 

We walked out into the gym. It was obvious that Ron was proud of it. It was huge and had more gear than I'd ever seen in a gym.

 

"This is the best gym I've ever seen." I remarked.

 

"Thanks it was hard to get all the funding for it. But after fighting enough I was finally able to build this." He answered.

 

We walked around and they even had an indoor climbing gym. Ron noticed my interest and said, "You guys are welcome to work out here any time you want. Ben, I see your interest in the climbing gym, care to give it a try."

 

"I'd love to, but not today."

 

"You any good?"

 

"Not bad." I replied.

 

Two agents walked up to us, "Ben and Jens this is Jordan and Brian, they're two of my best agents."

 

We shook hands and Brian said, "I saw you take down Mike that was very impressive."

 

"I hope I didn't hurt him. He got me pissed off." I answered.

 

They both laughed and Jordan said, "I read that it's not a good idea to get you pissed off."

 

Jens looked at them, "I'd like to see the file you have on Ben."

 

"Sorry, we can't let you do that. Ron answered, "You two have a great evening. I look forward to seeing you back here."

 

He walked back towards his office and we headed towards the front door. We were getting some looks from the other agents.

 

"So, Brian. What's going on with the other agents? We keep getting strange looks from them." Jens queried.

 

"Oh, don't worry about them. It's not every day that a couple of our assignments come into the gym and one of them kicks one of the top agent's butts. Everyone thought Mike was a good fighter but you embarrassed him."

 

Jordan added, "Thanks by the way for getting us off the hook with Ron for the betting. You saved a bunch of us from having disciplinary action. That was quick thinking to make it a charitable gift."

 

"No problem, the school track team can use the money."

 

We reached the car and they opened the doors for us and we hopped in the back. Jens slid right over by me and started kissing on me.

 

We heard laughter from the front. Jens stopped and looked at them. "We were warned about you two, you have a reputation." Brian remarked.

 

"Well then, I'd better make sure we live up to it." Jens jumped on my lap and we started making out.

 

Thankfully we made it to the house before things got hot enough to roll down the windows. Jens jumped out of the car and headed to the house. I stopped and talked to the guys and then followed her.

 

"It's about time that you showed up. What were you talking to them about?" Jens inquired.

 

"NALTS" I laughed.

 

I opened the door and we walked in. The minute I closed the door I took off like a shot for the bedroom.

 

"Hey, where are you going?" Jens yelled after me.

 

"I'm taking a shower."

 

"Don't stink up the bathroom this time with your pranks. It took me forever to get rid of that smell." She ordered.

 

I'd been waiting all day for the retaliation that I could tell was coming. And I wasn't going to let it happen in the shower. So again I grabbed the door stop from my travel bag with my other supplies, and went into the bathroom. I locked the door and slipped the doorstop under the bottom edge of the door. There, now I should be safe in case Jens had any ideas about a retaliatory strike.

 

I was well into my shower when I heard someone trying to open the door.

 

"I need to get into the bathroom." Jens yelled.

 

"Go use another one; I'm busy." I yelled back.

 

And I finished my shower as fast as I could. Then stepped out and started drying.

 

Jens was still fighting with the door, "What'd you do to the door? I unlocked it but I still can't open it."

 

I was ready for this but she didn't know it. I pulled on my undies and shorts, grabbed the squirt gun I'd brought in the bathroom with me and kicked the doorstop out of the way. She opened the door and had the bucket with her. Mom and Dad were right behind her.

 

I raised the squirt gun and said, "Great Chief Run-amok says, Reach for sky – Paleface."

 

She looked astonished as I shot her right between the eyes and then nailed mom and dad. They shrieked, she dropped the bucket almost spilling it and took off running for the kitchen. I chased them to the bedroom door shooting her twice more just to make sure that I was safe. I yelled after them, "Hey, no running in the house." And let out a couple of Indian war whoops. Then I turned back in the room and laughed my ass off.

 

I locked the bedroom door and grabbed the bucket and dumped it in the tub. Then I cleaned up the mess that Jens and I had made.

 

I stretched out on the bed and relaxed. 

 

I was almost asleep and started thinking: Damn. That was as easy… There was a knock on the bedroom door that startled me totally awake.  I grabbed the squirt gun and heard Jens say, "…as shooting fish in a barrel."

 

She was sensing my thoughts again. "What do you want?" I yelled at the door trying not to laugh.

 

"I want a truce. Can I come in?"

 

"How do I know you're not trying to trick me?" I countered.

 

"I promise. No tricks from me this time. I even have a peace offering."

 

This was intriguing. What sort of peace offering could she have? I got up off the bed making sure my squirt gun was ready, unlocked the door and stepped back.

 

She saw the squirt gun and shielded her face with one hand and held out a plate of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies with the other hand. Their delicious aroma filled the room. "Don't shoot. I'm not armed and I bring a peace offering." She pleaded.

 

I continued my Indian impression, "How - on knees beg for life – Paleface."

 

She peeked through the fingers of the hand covering her eyes and grinned. She knelt in front of me, "Please Great Chief Run-amok. Don't shoot me. I'm only the messenger."

 

"Ugh, Leave cookies and deliver message."

 

She set the plate on the bed looked at me and said, "Great General Donaldson would like to know the terms of his surrender."

 

I raised the gun and pointed it at her face and smiled wickedly. "Ugh, normally I take no prisoner. But lovely flaxen-haired daughter would make fine squaw and give me many strong papoose. Go back tell General I require him to surrender daughter to be my wife."

 

I heard laughter from the hallway. Dad and mom peeked around the corner of the door and I trained the squirt gun on them. They both held up their hands.

 

"Great Chief Run-amok, your terms are gladly accepted. Please take my daughter, Please." Dad laughed.

 

Jens jumped up and hugged me. "Oh goodie. Let's start on those papoose right now." She gave me a kiss and then jumped back. Mom and dad snuck squirt bottles from behind their backs and started spraying me.

 

I jumped on the bed and rolled across it falling off the far side and making a mess out of the cookies. Then I popped up and started shooting. "Hey, quit it. You're getting our bed all wet. "Jens complained so I started squirting her.

 

"Paleface have no honor. No truce." And I kept shooting until my squirt gun was empty. Mom and dad walked around the side of the bed and soaked me.

 

They sat on the floor beside me and we all laughed.

 

Jen looked around the room noticing the water drying on the walls, the wet bed and rug, and the cookies mashed into the bedspread, "You three destroyed my room."

 

We looked at each other and then the room and started laughing again.

 

I could tell she was getting upset. "Who will help me clean this mess?"

 

Mom stood up, "Not I said the duck." And she walked out the door.

 

Dad stood up, "Not I said the cat." And left too.

 

I stood up and Jens gave me a look that said don't you dare, "Then I will said the little red chief."

 

She jumped up gave me a peck on the cheek. "I'm so glad that you weren't the dog in the "Little Red Hen" story. And we started working on the room.

 

I grabbed some of the messed up cookies off the bedspread and started eating them. "These are tasty."

 

"Thanks my love, I made them for you. There's more left in the kitchen for when we finish." Jens grinned at me. "I need to take this bedspread to the laundry room and see if I can get all this chocolate out of it. I'll be back in a bit."

 

I took the time to refill my squirt gun, just in case. I tucked it in my waistband and started cleaning up the room.

 

We really did mess up the room. The bed was soaked and we wouldn't be able to sleep on it tonight. I took clean towels and blotted up as much as I could. The rug was drenched in several places. I wrung out the towels, put them on the floor and jogged on them for awhile.

 

It was a good thing the pictures were all under glass or many would have been ruined. I carefully cleaned each one and suddenly realized I needed to thank Jens.  With the cabin being gone, these were the only pictures I had left. One of the few pieces of my past still intact.

 

I heard a noise behind me, fell behind the bed and drew my squirt gun.

 

"Damn! You're jumpy." Jens remarked.

 

I looked her over carefully to make sure that she wasn't carrying concealed – she was clean. I jumped over the bed ran over and grabbed her, picked her up and swung her around.

 

"Thank you so much my love!" I told her and gave her a big kiss.

 

She gave me a baffled look, "Thanks for what my love."

 

"At first I was upset about the pictures. Now I realize that they're the only thing I have left of my family. Thank you for saving them for me."

 

She pulled back and looked in my eyes and the tears formed in the corner of her eyes. "Son-of- a-bitch! I'm still so angry at myself that I didn't stop them from destroying your cabin. I should have known." She started sniffling and lowered her head.

 

I raised her head and looked at her, "I was upset about the cabin at first, but not now. This way we'll start our new life in our new house and still have these old memories to share."

 

I must have said the right thing; she hugged me tight and started crying. I held her tight and stroked her hair.

 

Mom heard the noise and came wandering into the room. Jens had her back to the door and didn't see her, I motioned that things were okay. Mom smiled gave me the thumbs up and left.

 

After a few minutes she was cried out.

 

She looked up at me and her face was a mess. I bent down and kissed away the tears and wiped her nose with my shirt.

 

"Did you have a good cry?"

 

"Thank you my love. I'm so glad that we're finally together."

 

I kissed her, "Thank you my love for getting us together. I hate to tell you, but we need to get ready to go soon."

 

Jens looked at me, "Hon, I don't know what you have planned for tonight. And I know we didn't go clothes shopping. But I'm really tired." She looked at her wrecked bedroom, "And I still have to get the guest room ready for us tonight."

 

"If your plans could wait until tomorrow night. I'd really like to stay home and watch TV like an old married couple."

 

I held her close, realizing the wonderful gift that I had, "I think that would be an excellent way to spend tonight. Perhaps we could even have some popcorn? I'll tell you what, you go get the guest room ready and I’ll go bug mom for some popcorn."

 

She got all excited and for the first time in a long time did her Jens dance. "Oh goodie, this will be so fun. Let's go."

 

We headed to the kitchen arm in arm and just like an old married couple, had a wonderful night at home watching TV. I finished it off with one of the massages I'd promised her.

 

Somewhere Northeast of Khudabah, Pakistan - Close to China – Day Six

 

I'm awake and hear that the house is a whir of activity and the girls are gone. It's amazing that I slept so well right before the big battle -  normally I don't sleep at all.

 

Footsteps are approaching, "Ben it is time to wake up."

 

"Thanks Zarika, I'm already awake." I yawn, stretch and get off the cushions.

 

Zarika gives me a big hug, "How do you feel?"

 

As I stand and walk towards the activity I notice that I feel much better than yesterday. I guess the cure did make me stronger.

 

"I feel much better than earlier."

 

As I walk into the light I see that everyone looks tired. I guess they've been busy doing their assignments.

 

"Dobra utra Ivan e Aamir.1" I greet them.

1(Good morning, Ivan and Aamir.)

 

"Good morning my friend. It looks like you slept well." Ivan answers.

 

"And it looks like no one else did."

 

Yasmeen runs in carrying a bunch of cloth and gives me a big hug. "Good morning my husb-uh-brother. How are you and how did you sleep?"

 

"Good morning my little sister. I slept very well and I feel much better."

 

"Good, here is your silly suit." She says as she hands me the cloth.

                            

I laugh, "Ghillie suit you mean."

 

She hangs her head, "Hey, none of that. I wasn't scolding you or laughing at you. It's just like how you and Zarika laugh at me when I mess up in Russian."

 

I thought. Damn, girls–uh–women–uh – female biological units, you can't live with them you can't trade them for a gun. It sure is complicated keeping them happy and not putting my foot in my mouth.

 

I took a look at my ghillie suit, it looked great. I put it on and it fit perfectly. Looking at the girls I say, "Thank you very much. This is excellent and fits me perfectly."

 

They both smile at me. At least complimenting them works.

 

I turn to Ivan and Aamir, "How about a progress report."

 

Ivan replies, "You will be pleased my good friend. We have finished everything just like you ordered."

 

"Excellent!" I shout.

 

"But Ben, I'm not sure that I like your plan." Ivan continues.

 

I look at him, "My old friend. I knew that you wouldn't like your assignment, but that is the way it has to be. To me your part in this is the most important part." I walked over, sat down beside him and switched to English.

 

"Ivan, there's a fifty-fifty chance that I won't make it back from this. I need to know that Zarika and Yasmeen will be safe if I don't. You've fought your battles and your wars my friend, now I need you to do this for me."

 

"I haven't told anyone but Zarika. There's a fortune in Kuwaiti gold in the back of my truck. I trust you that if I don't make it back you take two boxes of gold for yourself and use the rest to get the girls to Jens."

 

His eyes lit up, "I will not let you down my friend. Thank you for your trust." I clapped him on the shoulder.

 

"Thank you so much my friend."

 

I was going to ask him about Aamir and the truck but Zarika and Yasmeen walked in wearing ghillie suits.

 

I wanted to laugh but I knew better, "What are you two doing in those suits?"

 

"We're going with you." Zarika proudly announced.

Shit this is a problem, I need to handle this right otherwise I'm going to have two very upset girls on my hands.

 

"Zarika and Yasmeen, those ghillie suits are great. You look just like the little warriors that I know you both are and I'm very proud of you."

 

They both beam.

 

"But this is my mission and you have to follow my orders. I have a very important job for both of you and it doesn't involve coming with me. I need to be quiet as a mouse and invisible as a ghost otherwise the mission will fail."

 

They both look sad.

 

"You need to stay with Ivan at the rendezvous point and help me if I bring out any prisoners. They will be hurt, frightened and scared and only someone as strong as you two can help them."

 

They are happy with their part in the mission and came over and gave me hugs. I glance at Ivan and shrug my shoulders. They should stay here in the house but that's an order they won't follow.

 

He smiles at me, nods his head and gives me the thumbs up.

 

"Ivan, is the truck ready?"

 

"Yes Ben. I think when you look at it you will be very pleased. We did even more than you asked."

 

"But you kept the ratios the same?" I question.

 

"Yes my friend. There's just much more than you asked for."

 

"Excellent the more the better. And Aamir understands his part?"

 

"Yes, we've gone over it many times. He is ready to die if he needs." Ivan answers.

 

"Well, I hope this doesn't become a suicide mission. But you know your part if it does."

 

"Yes, I will do what you have told me. But I'm not worried. It will not come to that." Ivan says with conviction.

 

I wish that I could be so sure. "Let's go. We've got chewchemek to kill."

 

As we walk out the door I hand the SVD to Yasmeen, "I won't need this rifle until I get to the rendezvous point. Take good care of it until then." I give her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

 

I hug Zarika and kiss her on the cheek, "Take good care of your little sister."

 

Aamir and Dhuha are exchanging goodbye and good luck wishes. Damn! He has the most dangerous part of the whole mission and if he messes up then we both will go out in a blaze of glory.

 

Ivan says goodbye to Basma and Alex. At least he will be safe.

 

Ivan and the girls climb in his truck to head for the rendezvous point.

 

I take a look in the back of Aamir and my truck and I'm very impressed, they worked hard on this. Aamir comes around and helps me climb in the back and shows me the rifles for me and the emergency detonator. I hunker down and hide and he goes to the cab and we're off.

 

If things go as planned the chewchemek are going to get to get a dose of their own medicine, because hell is coming to breakfast.

 

I always hate the wait right before the start of the mission. The time feels like it drags on forever. Plus Aamir knows what we have in the back and is driving very slowly and carefully.

 

Finally the truck stops and I hear Aamir talking in Arabic. I have my hand on the detonator, because if he doesn’t fool them here then the mission ends taking both of us with it.

 

I wait as the talking continues, then I hear them walking towards the back of the truck. I hunker down even lower, hoping that they don't decide to climb in the back.

 

I hear the tarp open on the back and hold my breath. The Arabic continues but it doesn't sound angry. Finally the tarp closes and I can breathe as the truck starts moving again.

 

A short distance later it stops and I hear the engine turn off. Aamir come around back and says, "Okay," in English.

 

I grab my weapons and move to the back of the truck. I shake his hand and give him a hug. I sure hope he makes it out of the camp and to the rendezvous point.

 

I double check all the detonators and the C4. This is a fucking massive ANFO2 bomb that's been made with jet fuel and laced with powdered aluminum to improve the yield. I figure with the ratio and the aluminum powder it's going to be about 1.2 TNT equivalency by weight. Not only that, they added bunches of metal to the mix for extra shrapnel. When it goes off everything for a large distance is going to be destroyed.

2(Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil)

 

Satisfied that the detonators are okay, I set the timer. Then I make sure no one is around and slip out of the truck taking my weapons with me. I secure the tarp on the back of the truck and rig the trip line so if someone opens it they detonate the truck. I hope to hell that no one does that before I'm gone. Otherwise I'm really gone.

 

I look around and Aamir was able to pull the truck between the building and the tents right next to the fuel storage depot. Shit! This whole place is going to blow.

 

I double check my suit and weapons, pull out my suppressed Spetnaz .22 that Ivan gave me, and head to the building. I need to see if there are any prisoners.

 

The door is unlocked and I slowly turn the knob, hoping that it or the hinges don't squeak. Whew, they don't and I move inside into the inky blackness. I wait inside the doorway letting my eyes adjust to the darkness. Damn I could sure use some night vision gear now.

 

My eyes adjust about as well as they can and I creep down the hallway. Shit! There's a sleeping guard by the doorway. I pull out my Ka-Bar and slink over next to him and drive the knife upward under his chin angled back towards his neck cutting his larynx and driving into his spine. He flops a little and then dies.

 

The smell of fresh blood permeates the room and energizes me.

 

Listening carefully to make sure that the little noise that he made didn't attract attention I wait. After a minute I feel safe to check the room that he was guarding. I slowly turn the door knob, and it squeaks. Shit! I wait and don't hear anything so I try it again and this time no noise. 

 

I open the door and move inside. There's a large object that looks like a bed in the middle of the room. But it's so dark things are indistinguishable. Slowly crawling over to the bed I start feeling around with my hand. There's a small leg and a big leg. After touching the big leg it moves and snoring begins. Continuing the examination of the small leg there's a rope around the ankle, yes it's a prisoner.

 

The snoring tells me where the chewchemek bastards mouth is, from that it's easy to know where his head is. He lying beside the prisoner so I don't have to worry about hurting them. Taking the suppressed .22 I aim at the head and pfft, pfft fire two quick shots.  There's a gasp and the snoring stops.

 

The bed is shaking, I must have woken the prisoner and they must be afraid. I turn on my red flashlight and look. It's a little girl that can't be much more than ten. She's naked and looks like she's been through hell. Whispering the words that Zarika made me memorize seems to calm her. I cut her free and give her some clothes that Zarika put in my pack. And whispered more words Zarika had me memorize telling her to stay here and I'll be back for her later.

 

I go over to the door and peek out; the hallway's clear so I exit the room and close the door behind me.  I count four more rooms to check and what looks like one main room with no door.

 

There are no more guards in the hallway so I move to the next door. I slowly try the doorknob, the door opens and I glide into the room. Son-of-a-bitch! This room is full of bunks and with all the snoring sounds like a convention of model airplanes. I need to get out of here fast!

 

I slowly open the door and slide back into the hallway and move to the next room across the hall. Shit. The doorknob is locked on this door. Taking a pipe wrench out of my pack I force the door knob open. It makes a bunch of noise so I move down the hall and wait to see what happens. After several minutes without anything happening I move back and slowly open the door.

 

Damn! The smell in this room is bad. There’s just enough light that I can make out bodies but can’t tell who or what they are. I raise the .22 and flip on my red flashlight, scanning the room. I’m greeted with the scared faces of girls and women; there must be ten of them. Moving into the room and closing the door causes them to cower in the corner, just like a herd of cows in a corral.

 

"Does anyone here speak English or Russian?" I whisper in both languages.

 

One woman steps warily forward, "I speak some English."

 

"Great, I’m here to rescue everyone. I need to check two more rooms then I’ll be back for you."

 

She tells the others and they start getting excited.

 

"Shhh, you need to stay quite." I admonish them.

 

She relays the message and they quiet down.

 

"Can anyone here shoot a rifle?"

 

After translating one woman holds up her hand.

 

I give her a rifle and tell the translator, "Tell her not to shoot me when I come back in the room. I will scratch on the door like a dog before I come in."

 

I open the door and check the hallway, it’s clear and I move to check the last two rooms.

 

I move up to the last door and open it, a putrid smell hits my face and I almost puke. I close the door behind me and turn on my red light; there are three beds in the room with three bodies on them. I check each one and they're all dead; the mother fuckers had assaulted them to death. Tears start streaming down my cheeks; I'm too fucking late for these three.

 

I leave the side room and head to the large open room. There's a low light on in the room. I squat and peek around the door. It’s the C23 room and has two bored looking chewchemeks sitting in some chairs. I take aim with the .22 and let them both have it. Then I empty the rest of the mag into the equipment and reload.

3 (Command and Control)

 

I move back to the room with all the women and scratch on the door then slowly open it. Whew, at least they listen and didn’t shoot me.

 

"Okay, here’s the plan. First, can everyone walk?"

 

"Some aren’t doing well, but they can walk." Is the reply

 

"We’re going to sneak out the back door and we need to be as quiet as a mouse. No talking and be careful how you walk."

 

"There’s a little girl in the last room that we need to take. She been hurt and is very afraid."

 

The translator tells them this part of my message and one of the women starts getting excited and making noise.

 

"Shh. Keep quiet." I order.

 

"She says she's sorry. That might be her daughter."

 

"If you make noise we will be caught. You must be quiet."

 

"We are going to the back door and pick up the little girl and then stop. Do you understand?"

 

She translates, "Yes we all understand."

 

I open the door and check the hallway, it's empty. I motion and the women move down to the back door and wait.

 

I take a grenade, pull the pin and wedge it against the doorknob of the room with the bunks. Then I move to where the women are.

 

Opening the door to the room with the little girl, I motion for the one woman that thinks she's her daughter. She comes up to the door and I shine the red light on the little girl. It's her and the mother runs over and grabs her.

 

"Shhh, stay quiet." I order again.

 

I get them out of the room and I slowly crack the back door. Shit! There are two chewchemeks standing about 5 meters away and they're talking. I fire the .22, taking them both.

 

Opening the door I pull the translator beside me and I flash my red light at the hills, another red light answers my flash.

 

"Did you see that light?"

 

"Yes, I did."

 

"Do you remember close to where it was?" I asked.

 

"Yes I do."

 

"Good, make sure you tell the women that's where you need to go." I handed her another red flashlight. "If you get lost flash this at the hills and look for the reply and follow it."

 

"When we leave the building, tell them not to run unless I yell and to try to follow me and stay hidden."

 

She translated and I opened the door and our rag-tag group slips outside. Now comes the most dangerous part of this mission. We're out in the open and if the guards are paying attention they'll see us.

 

We weave among the trucks and fuel tanks heading towards the hills. I move from one cover to the next and wait for the women to catch up. There's about two-hundred meters until we're out of the lights when we hear an explosion in the house. I guess someone came out of the bunk room and got a surprise.

 

I flash my light and get a reply then I yell, "Run for the red light."

 

She translates and the women take off running. The guards are awake and start firing; I pop up from behind the truck and return fire.

 

Angry chewchemeks are pouring out of the tents and building, it reminds me of the time I shot a hornet's nest with a shotgun. I keep checking on the women and then rise up and take out two or three more chewchemek.

 

Finally they are gone and it's time for me to beat feet too because they've zeroed in on my position and are shooting the hell out of everything.

 

I jack a new mag in the AK and stick it over the top of the truck and pull the trigger until it's empty. Then I take off running and reload.

 

I hear the clatter of a machine gun and hit the dirt and roll, just in time they shoot over the top of me. I fire off a few quick shots while I'm down and jump up and run like hell.

 

I hear the machine gun again and hit the dirt, they miss one more time. I scoot around and see the gun emplacement and start firing at it emptying another full mag, just hoping to hit someone.

 

I reload, jump up and start running.

 

There's a brilliant flash behind it lights up the night brighter than the noonday sun. I feel the heat on the back of my head. One of the chewchemeks found the ANFO bomb and set it off.

 

Time seems to travel in slow motion…

 

The shockwave hits like a bus hitting a bug…

 

I'm thrown into the air and flail like a ragdoll in a tornado…

 

My last thoughts are of how much I love Jens and I remember screaming, "I'M FUCKED." But the noise is deafening and I never hear the words.