16 Wounded

Wounded

© Copyright 2009

Written by Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia

banzaiben@gmail.com

 

 

Wounded Chapter 16

 

Tuesday 11 December

 

Present – Ben – WRAMC

 

Damn! This hamburger is sure tasty - it's the best thing I've eaten in a very long time. I am so sick of hospital food (and before that Zarika's ethnic cooking) all I want is some good, old, American food. I finish the burger, look at Jens and let out a huge burp.

 

Matt and Jim start laughing and Jens says, "I never thought you'd pick up Arabic manners."

 

That sets Matt and Jim off even more and soon they're laughing so hard they can't eat. I smile at Jens and answer, "Be thankful I let it out now because I might have held it in till it came out the other end."

 

The guys are laughing so hard they're crying. Jens' mouth drops open in surprise but then she says, "Believe me, I 'm very thankful."

 

But one burger just isn't enough and I start eyeing her food. Her fries are almost gone but she has half a burger left. She notices me looking at her burger and says, "Don't tell me you're still hungry!"

 

I try to barter with her, "I'll trade the rest of my fries for the rest of your burger."

 

Jens smiles, pats her belly and answers, "You can have the rest of my burger and all my fries. I need to start watching how much I eat or I'll get fat."

 

Her statement reminds me of a thought I had a very long time ago and I start to mentally drift, but I snap out if it with a punch to my good arm. Jens asks, "Did I sense correctly that you were thinking I was going to grow up to be fat, ugly and spoiled?"

 

I grin and decide to tease her, "Yes I did! I'm sure happy I was only right on one of the three," I pause, wait until I see Jens start to get upset then finish with, "Because I'm really looking forward to spoiling you."

 

She smiles at me, kisses me on the cheek and says, "And I can't wait for you to spoil me." She winks and I suddenly understand the double meaning and blush. I don't know what to say, so I finish her burger and play with the fries.

 

She asks, "Don't you like the fries?"

 

I reply, "Not really, I've never cared much for fries."

 

Jim immediately offers, "I'll take them off your hands."

 

I push the tray towards him, Jens snuggles up close to me and we go back to watching the coverage of Ramstein.

 

Present – Jens – WRAMC

 

Wow is it ever fun watching Ben eat his hamburger – no it's more like he's inhaling his hamburger. He does really good with just his left hand and doesn't even make a mess. I play the good little fiancée and wipe his mouth so he doesn't have to put down the burger. Besides I punctuate the wipes with little kiss and I do love any excuse to kiss Ben. Once he's finished, he does the normal gross guy stuff just to impress Matt and Jim. I wait for him to ask for the rest of my hamburger since I've been saving it for him just so I can watch him eat again. This isn't the most romantic dinner I've had with him, but it's one of the most enjoyable.

 

It's so nice that we can banter with each other again. I've missed it so much. With the caveman eating instinct in Ben satiated, I want dessert – some serious cuddling. I wish we could really cuddle with no guys and no television to distract us, but I know that's not going to happen for a while so I just have to be thankful for what I have now. I lean against him and touch his chest. I remember all the new scars and start to cry.

 

Ben stops watching the report, looks at me and says, "Jens, what's wrong? Why are you crying?"

 

I gaze deep into his eyes and say, "Ben, there are so many reasons I can't begin to list all of them. But I'm not upset, just very thankful for all you did to come back to me."

 

I'm shocked from my thoughts by the breaking news, and we are all captured by the report.

 

Present – Liz – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

This is certainly a different dinner than the one I envisioned and I'm thankful as hell for it. There's been no romantic part at all because Sam is distracted by the news and isn't even paying attention to me or the twins. I've been halfway following the news while still working on what Jens said. I've come to the conclusion Glen must be leading the troops inside the hospital but I'm still puzzled by her last statement. A part of me wants her and Ben to know of my love for them, but a part of me is terrified of the consequences if they do know.

 

My focus changes when Samantha takes off and does something crazy and now I'm totally focused on Ramstein.

 

Present – Ira and Mira – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

"Mira, look how distracted Ms. Morgan seems. She is not really watching the news report."

 

"Yes Ira, most of her mind is somewhere else. She has been this way since her phone call with Ms. Donaldson."

 

"Did you hear what was said?"

 

"No Ira, she did not let me listen. But I do not think it was bad."

 

I look around the room and notice how Ambassador Clark is totally focused on the news report. I can see his eyes and can tell Samantha excites him. "Mira, at least Ambassador Clark is distracted."

 

"Yes Ira, did you get a chance to talk with him?"

 

"Yes I did, he is as lecherous as we both thought. He tried to touch me and even offered me wine after I had already taken the pain pills."

 

"Did you have to offer him anything Ira?"

 

"Yes, I offered to let him train both of us next time we are back in Dushanbe."

 

Mira grins at me and says, "It would be such a shame if his heart could not take both of us."

 

"Mira! We cannot just kill him because of things he has done to Ms. Morgan."

 

Mira looks me in the eyes and replies, "Ira, you know when he trained her it was through coercion and that makes it rape."

 

I shudder when she uses the word and answer, "Mira, we cannot eliminate everyone who has forced Ms. Morgan - I think it would be very many people."

 

"Why not Ira, if they forced her they deserve to die."

 

I try to reason with her, "What if she liked the training or what if she really wanted some training?"

 

Mira never answers me because things are happening in Ramstein and we are distracted.

 

Present – CPl. Cohen - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

I'm not happy when the General orders me to get the staff and the patients out of the hospital. I want to kill more of the fucking terrorists, and I want to die doing it. But it was an order and I never disobey orders.

 

At least we ran into a couple more terrorists on the way out and I sent them to Scheol. The bomb on the door was rudimentary, I had it disabled in no time and wheeled myself right outside. A stupid airman almost shot me, but a Marine took his rifle away. I gave the Marines the General's instructions and they took off all gung-ho. I waited for an opportunity to slip back inside and finish my job.

 

Present – Samantha - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

The phone call with Liz helps calm my nerves and steel my resolve. I have a crazy plan and I hope Bernie follows me.

 

"Samantha Stevens here reporting on the crisis in Ramstein - what you are seeing behind me is a door opening. Yes a door has opened from the inside and a man in a wheelchair is exiting the building. He is talking with the Marines and now the Marines are flying into the building. More people, even some of the patients are now exiting the building."

 

I see that security is totally distracted and it’s just what I need. I yell to Bernie, "Follow me! We're going in the hospital." I take off running towards the building and turn to confirm that Bernie is behind me with the camera.

 

"This is Samantha, we have decided to approach and enter the building to provide you with all the details we can. Please bear with us for having a shaky picture."

 

We make it all the way past security and are in the parking lot with the people who exited the building. The guy in the wheelchair sees us, starts rolling towards us and says, "Where are you two going?"

 

"I'm Samantha Stevens, a reporter from the Truth Network. We're going in the hospital to show the world what these animals have done!"

 

"Not without me you aren't. I'm Corporal Cohen, I was just inside fighting the terrorists and I'm not finished. I'll be your guide and your protection."

 

I look at Bernie and he nods his head vigorously. "Okay, what do I do?"

 

Cpl. Cohen replies, "Just get behind me and push, I'll do the rest. And you can call me Frank the Tank." I start pushing his wheelchair towards the door and a security officer tries to stop us. Frank the Tank points two guns and him and says, "Move or die." The guard throws up his hands and we wheel past.

 

I start my running commentary, "This is Samantha Stevens of the Truth Network. We have entered the Ramstein hospital with the help and protection of a brave young soldier, Frank Cohen - or as he likes to be called, Frank the Tank. He is going to be our guide and protector while we are in the hospital."

 

Present – Liz – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

I stand up and yell, "What the hell does she think she's doing. She can't go in the hospital. She's going to get fucking shot!"

 

Mira and Ira stand up beside me and hold my hands. Sam yells, "Shut the fuck up I want to hear what she is saying!"

 

Mira leans over and says, "Ms. Morgan, I would suggest you call your network and have them get ready to replace the video with a picture. We know these terrorists very well and the video should not be shown without extreme censorship."

 

I whip out my mobile phone and start making the call when we see the charred remains of the soldier patient. Shit! Mira is right. I get a hold of the network and order, "Make sure you record all the video, but replace the broadcast feed with a picture of her."

 

I sit back down stunned at the terrible things she continues describing.

 

Present – Ben – WRAMC

 

I yell, "Son-of-a-bitch! Samantha is in the hospital. She must be fucking crazy."

 

Jens says, "Who's this guy in the wheelchair she's pushing."

 

Jim yells and turns up the volume, "She called him Frank the Tank."

 

We watch as they round a corner and there's a fucking towel head. Frank let's go with two AK's and mows the bastard down. We all start cheering and Jens yells, "Shut up I can't hear her!"

 

Present – Samantha - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

"…yes, Frank the Tank has just shot one of the terrorists. Viewers, I want to warn you some of the things you will see in here are very graphic and not suitable for children. Bernie, make sure you film what these filthy animals did to the patients."

 

We roll into a room and see the remains of a patient soldier on the floor - they'd set him on fire; I step into the corner of the room and throw up. Then I walk back in front of the camera. "The brutality we are seeing is beyond belief, and I refuse to subject our viewers to it. Bernie please continue to record the images, Truth Network please replace the video portion of this broadcast with a picture. I will do my best to describe the gruesome images."

 

We move out into the hallway and I see some mutilated bodies, I fight again to keep from throwing up. "We are back in the hallway and there are two mutilated bodies. They appear to be what's left of some terrorists who attacked this building. Frank can you tell us what went on in your battle with the terrorists?"

 

I put the microphone near his face and he says, "Once the women with us saw what the terrorists did in the maternity ward, they went on a rampage and killed and mutilated any terrorists they ran across."

 

I pulled the microphone back, "Are you telling me these animals attacked the women in the maternity ward and that American women did this to the terrorists?"

 

Frank the Tank replies, "Yes Miss, not just the women in the maternity ward, but their babies too. The maternity ward is so bad I refuse to take you there. And you can see what the results were when other women saw it. The American women are responsible for chasing the cowardly terrorists back to their WMD. I've never seen anyone fight like they did, it was grisly and grotesque but the terrorists richly deserved everything they received."

 

We continue down the hallway and enter another room, "We have just found another dead patient." I throw up again, "sorry about that, I just lost the rest of my breakfast." I start crying as I tell the viewers, "This poor man was tied to a chair and was beaten to death. He-he-he is nothing but a bag of broken bones. The torture he endured before his death is shocking. They must have beaten him for hours."

 

Present – Jens – WRAMC

 

I notice Ben is getting extremely agitated by Samantha's report. I clear my throat to get the attention of Matt and Jim and give them a hand signal to move closer to Ben's bed.

 

Samantha just finishes reporting about a man being tortured to death. Ben goes crazy and yells, "Those fucking bastards, I'm going to kill every one of them!"

 

He tries to get up but I hit the call button and jump on his chest. Mat and Jim fall on his legs.

 

He's thrashing around on the bed and yells, "Get the fuck off me, I need to go kill those bastards! I knew it was a mistake to come here!"

 

I yell in his face, "Ben quit it. You're going to hurt yourself even more."

 

He yells back, "Jens get the hell off me and let me up. I have fucking bastards to kill!"

 

All the noise attracts the attention of the guards in the hallway, they come in the room and start helping. I yell at them, "Be very careful with his right arm. I don't want it re-injured!"

 

Ben continues to yell, "You sons-of-a-bitches, let me up. I need to get back to Ramstein!"

 

A nurse finally comes in the room and I yell at her, "Ben's going crazy, we need help and a doctor!"

 

The five of us are doing a good job holding him down: Matt and Jim each have a leg, the guards each have an arm and I'm sitting on top of him. He gives me a pleading look and I see tears roll down his cheeks, "Jens, I beg you! Let me up and let me get back to Ramstein. I need to kill those fuckers! Look what they did: They beat a wounded soldier to death!"

 

I answer, "Ben you can't go back right now, not with your injured arm." I look and see his eyes roll back in his head, he begins to shake uncontrollably and suddenly he stops fighting.

 

The nurse and doctor finally run into the room and the doctor asks, "What happened?"

 

I answer, "We were watching the news report about Ramstein and Ben went all crazy. We held him down to keep him from getting up. Then his eyes rolled back and now he's just shaking."

 

The doctor yells in anger, "You were letting him watch the news report! Haven't you ever heard about PTSD1? Get off him and let me take a look at him."

 

1 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - is an emotional illness that develops as a result of a terribly frightening, life-threatening, or otherwise highly unsafe experience.

 

The guys let go and I slowly move off his chest. I feel like shit for not even thinking about PTSD. Ben seems so normal.

 

The doctor examines him, "Shit he's having a seizure." Then he orders the nurse to get a bunch of meds while he continues the exam. He looks up at the television and orders, "Turn that damn thing off. No more news reports for him."

 

He checks his tongue and says, "At least he didn't chew his tongue off. I've seen that happen before." He checks his arm and says, "Damn, it's bleeding some more. We really have to get him in for surgery before he messes this up any more."

 

The nurse comes back and gives him an injection and they start an IV. The orderlies come in and put restraints on him. I tell the doctor, "He's going to be pissed at you for tying him to the bed."

 

He gives me a dirty look, "I read what he did in Ramstein when they didn't keep him restrained and he's not going to run amok in Walter Reed. Once I'm sure he's okay I might let him out of the restraints. I want all of you out of his room for the night so he can rest."

 

I walk over and get in the doctors face, "Like hell I'm getting out of my fiancés room. You'd better write a fucking order so I can sleep in this room or I'll kick your ass, because I'm not leaving his side."

 

The doctor takes a step back. I can tell he's thinking about calling the guards and I continue, "Don't you dare call those guards. They lay one finger on me and General Donaldson will raise hell with all of you."

 

I can see he finally understands the situation and compromises, "Perhaps it would be better if you watch him all night in case he has another seizure. I'll write the order. But those guys can't stay in the room."

 

I smile at the doctor and affirm, "Thank you for taking good care of Ben and for understanding. Matt and Jim will rotate guard duty in the hallway."

 

He gives one more order, "Make sure you call the nurse right away if he wakes up. We need to evaluate his mental condition."

 

He leaves the room and I say to the guys, "Thanks for your help. Figure out the shift rotation between yourselves."

 

I don't dare climb into bed with Ben, not with his arm restrained the way it is. I pull up a chair, hold his good hand and start to cry. Then I sense what's going on in Ben's mind.

 

Present – Ben – WRAMC

 

Hearing the news from Ramstein about the torture is too much for me. I'm not comfortable with my decision to come back to America and not return to Ramstein. Now I know it is a huge fucking mistake! I could have traded myself for those poor patients. I feel like a coward who ran away. I decide I need to correct this mistake and Jens and everyone else is keeping me from doing my job.

 

I struggle and fight with them. Some guards come in and one is hurting the hell out of my arm. I feel hard Ben start to take over and I worry he might unintentionally hurt Jens, so I start fighting him instead of them.

 

Present – Jens – WRAMC

 

Oh my God! Ben's mind is in huge fucking turmoil. I can sense things I never could before and start to cry. I can see into the hidden black spot I could never see before and now I wish I couldn't.

 

I can’t believe the hell he's gone through his whole life! Now I know why he always calls his dad a son-of-a-bitch. What a nasty old bastard he was. He tortured Ben almost as much as the fucking Taliban! I'd gut him with a dull deer antler and let him bleed out if he was still alive.

 

He worships his mom, but she didn't do anything to really stop the torture.

 

Shit! He no longer needs to tell me about the hell he went through when he was captured. I can see it all and he barely told me about any of it. They even did – oh my God I can't believe it! No wonder he hates that bastard and no wonder he got so upset about the news report.

 

Ben- Ben- Ben, I-I-I am so sorry I didn't know this before. If I had known I might have been able to protect you from what you're going through right now. Please come back to me!

 

Present – CPl. Cohen - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

This news lady is my ticket back into the hospital! At first I worry she'll collapse when she sees what the terrorists did, but even though she's young, she's tough. However I will not take her to certain areas since no one should see what happened there.

 

She even interviews me and I get to say my piece about the terrorists.

 

I'm just upset that most of the bastards are hiding by the WMD, and I don't want to take her there.

 

Present – Samantha - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

We go by room after room of horrific deeds. These bastards are really animals and I've lost all objectivity. I want a gun and I want to shoot them myself. I can totally understand why the women went crazy and I'm damn proud they did.

 

"This is Samantha Stevens still reporting about the butchery at Ramstein. Be thankful viewers, all you can hear is my voice, because I've seen brutality and savagery on a level I didn't think was possible. It's worse than any horror movie I've ever watched. Someday when we can show you the few images that are acceptable you will understand why it is so important to stop this butchery masquerading as a religion. This is not the religion of peace, it's the religion of hacking innocent people to pieces."

 

We stop at each room and I try my best to describe the horrors, "Viewers, each patient room we enter brings a new set of horrors." I sniffle and fight back my tears, "This room has the bodies of a young man and woman. I think it's a soldier and probably his wife or girlfriend. The body of the woman shows signs of sexual torture culminating with her death. The man apparently had a back injury and was immobilized in his bed. Because of medical devices he couldn't turn his head, and his eyes are taped open so he had to watch the torture. When they finished with her," I stop and cry, then I pull myself together – I have to tell the world about this, "they castrated him and he bled to death."

 

We move into the hallway and I continue, "These are not random acts of violence. These are planned acts of terrorism designed to strike fear into the hearts of Americans and the world. The tortures and the killings were planned and talked about ahead of time. The terrorists must have had this planned for years and just used the excuse of going after one patient to launch their war. They will try to call this a holy jihad, but there is nothing holy in what I've seen here. I've witnessed pure evil."

 

We roll into another room and I describe the scene, "Viewers, this room contains the body of a very old woman. It looks like she had a broken hip and thankfully the butchers just shot her in the head and didn't abuse her."

 

I look at Bernie as we head out into the hallway and motion for him to cut the camera. He does and I say, "Bernie, I'm not sure how much longer I can continue this."

 

He walks over and hugs me, "Samantha you've done a great job and we can leave whenever you want. You've already shown the world enough of the hell that went on in this hospital."

 

I sniffle and I say, "I think we need to leave now." Then we hear a noise in a room. I nod at Bernie and he turns the camera back on. I roll Frank the Tank through the door. There's a young teenage girl, nude and curled up in a ball in the corner of the room. She sees us and starts screaming. I order, "Frank take the microphone, I need to help her." I hand him the mike and slowly walk over to her, she's been abused in all of the worst ways possible. I continue, "I hope the microphone can still pick up what I'm saying. We've just found another casualty of this war. There's a teenage girl that's been brutally abused and left alive. I'm going to try to comfort her and see if we can get her out of here."

 

I slowly walk up to her, "It's okay, I'm Samantha and I'm here to help you." She starts crying and shaking and finally just mutters, "Those-those-those, men they were…" Then she stops and just sobs.

 

I tell her, "I'm going to touch you right now. Don't worry, I won't hurt you."  I look back and Frank the Tank has turned and is guarding the door. Bernie is at the side of the room with the camera. "Don't worry about the men in here, they are with me and they are here to help too."

 

I gently touch her and she clings to me like a drowning person, "It's okay, you're safe now. I won't let anything happen to you. First we need to cover you up, then we need to stand up and walk out of here." I find a hospital gown, help her get into it and then we slowly walk towards the door. I say, "Frank I'm not sure how I'm going to take care of her and push you too."

 

He softly says, "You take care of her and I'll push myself."

 

I give my last running commentary, "This is Samantha Stevens reporting, our mission here has now changed from reporting the news to one of rescuing this young lady. I will no longer be giving you any commentary about the rooms we pass. You've already heard enough. If you're not mad as hell about this, you need to be. Frank the Tank is going to lead us to safety."

 

He rolls out in the hallway and we follow. She pauses at the doorway from fear and I say, "Come on we have to leave this room if we're going to get outside." She hesitantly walks with me towards the nearest exit.

 

Present – Liz – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

I listen to the excellent job Samantha is doing and I wonder how much therapy she is going to need to recover from this. I will pay for it no matter what it costs because she's too good a reporter and too valuable a person to lose.  As she describes what she's called the 'butchery at Ramstein' I can't help but cry. I look over at Mira and Ira and they are softly crying too. Shit! Even Sam is crying and I consider him a tough old bastard. The report goes dead for a minute and I'm not sure what's going on, then it continues as Samantha finds a young girl and does the right thing by getting her out of the hospital.

 

We hear her coaxing the girl into the hallway and towards the door. The mike still picks Samantha up and we listen to the dialog, "I told you my name, I'm Samantha. What's your name?"

 

We hear a small weak voice, "I'm Georgia."

 

"Come on Georgia, we are headed outside and I promise I will take care of you. That's it, keep walking with me."

 

We hear multiple screams and then a bunch of gunfire – and we anxiously wait. Finally we hear Samantha continue, "It's okay Georgia, Frank the Tank took care of the bad man. He'll never bother you again. I told you, Frank the Tank will protect us from any bad men. That's a good girl, just keep walking with me."

 

Then Samantha orders, "Frank, Georgia has passed out. We need to put her in your lap."

 

Frank complains, "Then who's going to protect you three?"

 

Samantha answers, "Give me one of those damn guns. I'm ready to kill some of those ******* bastards."

 

I guess Samantha doesn't realize the mike is still picking her up and she got censored. She and Frank argue some more, she gets censored some more, but she finally wins.

 

We hear them continue down the hallway and the video feed comes back up. I wonder what the hell is going on and figure Bernie told the network that things would be okay to show now.

 

We watch as Samantha leads them carefully down the hallway acting just like a real soldier, She peeks around the corner and pulls back quickly and we hear her whisper, "Frank, give me a grenade."

 

He asks, "Are you sure they're not ours?"

 

She answers, "Hell yes, they have on man dresses. Give me that ******* grenade."

 

He throws her a grenade, she pulls the pin and bounces it around the corner, there's a huge fricken explosion which even scares Bernie and makes him jump.

 

Frank asks, "What the hell was that?"

 

Samantha turns and grins, "That was retribution and our way out of here. They were trying to disarm one of the explosive devices on the door," then she giggles and continues, "I just gave them a faster way to disarm it."

 

We watch as she looks around the corner again, then she motions for Frank and Bernie. The network should have cut the video feed because there were pieces of terrorists everywhere. But for some reason they didn't and it didn't bother me. Not after what I'd heard went on in the hospital. We watch as Samantha holds the gun up over her head and walks outside, Frank disappears through the door and then Bernie follows.

 

I'm mad as hell when I see the video feed from outside.

 

Present – Bernie - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

There's a huge fight going on when I finally get through the door. Georgia is awake, the security guy is trying to take her away from Frank the Tank, she's screaming bloody murder and Samantha is fighting with four additional security guards.

 

I yell, "Everyone, smile! You're all live on the Truth Network." They all stop and look at me. I continue, "Nothing like getting live feeds of police brutality in action." Samantha takes my cue and goes into reporter mode.

 

She says, "This is Samantha Stevens from the Truth Network. After fighting our way through the butchers and safely rescuing Georgia we are being roughly attacked by the American airmen." She looks around and continues, "Who's in charge here because I want America to know your full name and rank."

 

One senior airmen walks up, "I'm in charge here and we thought you were the terrorists."

 

Samantha lays into him, "Do we look like ******* terrorists. Are you so blind you can't see I'm a woman and he's in a wheelchair and holding a teenage girl? When God was passing out brains did you think he said pains and said don't give me any? Now where in the hell are the medics?"

 

He sheepishly points away from the building and we take off. I kill the audio feed on the camera because Samantha is still swearing up a storm.

 

Present – Liz – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

I can finally fucking breath again. They made it out of the hospital and Bernie pulled the news reporter trick to get them out of trouble. I do however need to have a talk with Samantha about swearing on camera.

 

I look at everyone and say, "I'm going in the other room to make a couple of phone calls." Mira and Ira follow me and we walk back to our room.

 

I punch up Samantha's number from before on my phone and dial it. It rings a bunch of times and she finally picks it up and yells in the phone, "What the hell do you want."

 

"Samantha, this is Liz. First I want to say you did award winning work getting into the hospital. I know you're upset and fired up, but don't mess up everything by swearing too much. An occasional hell or damn are acceptable, but enough with the f-bombs."

 

I wait for her reply and she says, "Sorry Liz, you're totally right. I will take care of it as soon as we get some care for Georgia."

 

I answer, "Great, and again, I wouldn't be surprised if you get a Pulitzer for this. When you're all done we need to talk and get you some counseling to help you deal with what you've seen."

 

I hear her answer, "You're not going to fire me for the swearing?"

 

I laugh in the phone, "Fire you! Hell no! We might even make you a partner. Now get your ass moving and keep up the great work. But this time stay the hell out of the hospital because I don't want to have to report your funeral. Goodbye."

 

I hang up the phone and decide to call Jens.

 

I can hear Jens is distraught by her voice, "Liz, am I ever happy to hear from you. I think I fucked up."

 

Damn it must be my night to fix all the problems in the world, "Greetings sister, what's going on?"

 

She cries in the phone, "I wasn't thinking and we let Ben watch the report from Ramstein." I get angry and think – sometimes you are one dumb blonde. She continues, "He went all crazy trying to get back to Ramstein. We held him down and he had a seizure and is still unconscious."

 

I interrupt, "Did the doctor tell you it was PTSD?"

 

She cries in the phone and I want to reach out and slap some sense into her, "Yes, but he's not sure why Ben had the seizure."

 

I ask, "I bet it was right after Samantha told us about the soldier being beaten to death?"

 

Jens finally stops crying and says, "Yes, how did you know?"

 

I take a deep calming breath before I answer, "Jens, please understand that I love you like a sister so I'm going to try to explain this to you calmly. Jens you saw the news report from Ramstein so you know what these fuckers are like and what they can do. We all know Ben had the hell beat out of him when he was captured. Samantha's report made him relive it. Ben's been through hell and is doing his best to not let you see it because he's trying to protect you and because he's probably embarrassed about it."

 

I wait and she says, "Liz, I can now sense everything he's been through. All of it from the time he was a boy and it's terrible."

 

Hmm, it always felt to me as if Ben had gone through some abuse when he was a kid. I recognize in him some of the same signs bothering me. I say, "Okay Jens, now you know and should understand. So stop acting like a love struck, dumb blonde and listen to me. If you don't you will fuck up and might lose him."

 

She starts getting feisty which is a good sign, "Hey you're a great one to talk. You're more blonde than I am. But you have my total attention."

 

I tell her, "First Ben appears normal to you but he has a crapload of PTSD and you have some too. You both need professional help."

 

Jens interrupts, "How did you get so smart about this?"

 

I laugh, "Jens, you know the sort of reports I do. Every time I come back from one I have to get counseling for my PTSD. Look at the report Samantha did today because she's going to need a huge amount of counseling and might never be the same again."

 

I can tell Jens is thinking when she answers, "So how would you handle this with Ben?"

 

I daydream, if it was me, I'd keep him so busy screwing me he couldn't do or think about anything else. But this is Jens and that's not going to happen, "First, don't let him watch any news reports about Ramstein. Knowing Ben, I bet he feels guilty as hell about not being there. Hopefully this will all be over by the time he wakes up. But if it ends with the hospital being destroyed, you'd better keep it from Ben as long as you can."

 

She asks another blonde question, "Are you saying I should lie to Ben?"

 

I can't hold it in anymore and I say, "Jens, I wish I was right beside you so I could slap some sense into you. Yes it's a lie, but it's because he's sick and can't stand the truth. Do you fricken understand me!"

 

The phone is silent for a very long time and then Jens says, "Liz you're right and I understand you. Is there anything else?"

 

I answer, "Sorry for getting so upset at you, please forgive me. Four more things: First start getting him and you some therapy as soon as possible. Second do everything and anything you can to show him how much you love him and how grateful you are he made it back to you. Third don't push him about anything, especially the wedding or surgery, not anything. And finally, if you really did sense everything he's gone through in his life, don't become all girly with him and talk to him about it because it will be embarrassing as hell for him."

 

Jens says, "Thanks Liz you're a real friend. I love you and can't wait to see you again."

 

She hangs up the phone and I want to kick myself in the ass for helping her so much. I flop on the bed and Mira and Ira sit beside me and hold my hands.

 

I look at them and start to cry.

 

Present – Mira and Ira – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

We listen to the two phone calls of Ms. Morgan. The first one is very good because she took such great care of Samantha. But the second call to Ms. Donaldson is very upsetting.

 

"Ira, I am very upset at Ms. Donaldson! Look at what she did to Ms. Morgan. I want to kill that bitch."

 

"Mira, stop being so impulsive! Ms. Morgan loves Ms. Donaldson and while she might not figure out if you kill men that have forced her. She is very smart and will figure out if you kill Ms. Donaldson."

 

"You are right Ira. I just do not like to see Ms. Morgan cry about anything. Perhaps I should ask her again if she would like for us to fix this problem for her."

 

"Mira, if you do that she will be even more upset. We need to find some way to distract her and cheer her up."

 

"I know what I will do."  

 

I ask a question Ira and I have been dying to ask, "Ms. Morgan, do think Ira and I could ever become a news reporter like Samantha?"

 

Ms. Morgan stops crying, sits up, looks at me and says, "Mira, are you serious?"

 

Ira answers, "Oh yes Ms. Morgan. It has been a dream of ours but we are not sure we could do it."

 

She looks at both of us and smiles, "Of course you both could do it. You're smart and your little bit of accent makes your voices interesting, but most of all you both are beautiful women."

 

We both smile at her, and I say, "But it would only be one of us at a time, because the other would need to still be your bodyguard."

 

Ira adds, "And it will still need to be in addition to wherever you are reporting because we both need to be together to protect you the best."

 

She smiles at us and says, "That reminds me, we'd better go see what Samantha is doing."

 

We follow Ms. Morgan back into the dining room. Ambassador Clark is still there watching Samantha's report. 

 

Ms. Morgan asks, "What's going on Sam?"

 

He answers her, "Samantha's taking Georgia to the medics. She said she has an important announcement to make when she gets back."

 

Ms. Morgan asks him, "So you decided to wait rather than change the channel?"

 

He looks at her like she is crazy, "Liz, what are you talking about. Of course I'm going to wait and see what she says. I'm sure as hell not going to miss any of her reports."

 

Ms. Morgan smiles, sits down in a chair and we sit on each side of her. I look over at Ira and smile, she smiles back and I know I decided on the perfect way to distract Ms. Morgan. Samantha comes on and we all listen.

 

Present – Samantha - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

I take Georgia to the medics. I want her to have a female medic because she's been traumatized too much already. At first they give me problems until I pull the news reporter trick Bernie taught me. After I start asking for names they find a female to help her. I stay with her and hold her hand until the exam is over.

 

Then I say, "Georgia, I sort of need to go and tell everyone what the bad men are doing in the hospital. It's my job."

 

She looks at me first with fear in her eyes, and I watch it change to anger when she says, "Samantha, you need to tell everyone what terrible monsters they are. I hope the military kills every one of them."

 

I smile at her courage and say, "Okay Georgia, I'm going to go do my job and see if I can't talk the military into doing that for you. I'll make sure I find you when this is over. One more quick question - how old are you?"

 

She looks at me and answers, "I turned fourteen last month." I fight back the tears as I head to Bernie and the camera and replace the tears with the rage I feel in my heart, remembering to temper my words.

 

Bernie is shooting long shots of the hospital so I walk right in front of the camera and start, "Samantha Stevens here again, reporting on the butchery in Ramstein for the Truth Network. I want to apologize to all our viewers for two things: One for letting my emotions get carried away and using very inappropriate words in my report. Please forgive me it was unprofessional and will not happen again. Next I apologize for taking so long to get back to reporting. I was busy making sure fourteen year old Georgia was receiving the best medical care possible. At the Truth Network the life of even one little girl is more important than getting a news scoop." I start to cry just a little and then control myself, "She is doing much better and told me when I left she hopes the military kills every one of the terrible monsters."

 

"What we have seen today goes far beyond any type of reason. No sane people would ever do the things we have witnessed. They are crazed, fanatics and death is too good for them. I just hope there is a hell and that the hottest part burns just for them."

 

I take a deep breath and look at the camera, "We continue to see survivors and bodies being taken out of the hospital by brave staff. It's time we meet some of those heroes risking their lives to save the living and recover the bodies of the dead." I start walking back towards the hospital and Bernie follows with the camera.

 

Security tries to stop us as we get closer, but I ignore them and say, "I'm going to interview these people, if you don't like it you can shoot me."

 

Present – Liz – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

I'm fascinated that Sam is so involved with Samantha's reporting but I need to make a call and check something. I motion to Mira and Ira and head back to our bedroom. I pull out my phone and call the network.

 

The phone is answered right away and I say, "Liz here, give me the production manager."

 

Darrel comes on the phone, "Liz, we're really busy here, what do you need?"

 

I answer, "First I want to say you're doing a fantastic job. Keep up the good work. Second do you have any idea what sort of market share we have on this event?"

 

I hear him chuckle as he answers, "Liz I should have known you were going to call and check on your baby. It started out around thirty percent and has been increasing the whole time. When Samantha went in the hospital it shot up to ninety percent and has stayed there. I was shocked when it didn't even drop off when she stopped reporting and took care of Georgia. Our switchboard has been flooded with calls about Samantha, viewers said they were waiting to hear from her again. Liz, it's unprecedented."

 

I was so excited I almost peed, but I had a serious question to ask, "Darrel one more quick question then I will let you get back to work. How bad was the video inside the hospital?"

 

He answers, "Liz, we recorded it but it was so bad we had to shut off the feed. It made us sick. One more thing, there's been a bunch of attacks in America on Muslims and we're worried it's going to escalate into all out war. See if you can talk to Samantha and have her ask viewers to stop the violence."

 

I reply, "Okay Darrel, I'll call her as soon as I'm done here. Do me a favor and get my shrink on the next plane to Ramstein. If things are as bad as you said, she's going to need him."

 

I no sooner hang up the phone it rings again. Since it's a number I don't recognize I press cancel. I get ready to make the call to Samantha and the same number rings in. This time I answer the call with, "Who the fuck are you and what the hell are you bothering me for."

 

There's a brief pause on the line and I hear, "Is this Ms. Elizabeth Morgan?"

 

I was going to give them more shit, but it sounds official so I reply, "Yes this is Ms. Morgan."

 

The voice continues, "Please hold for the President of the United States." I put the call on speaker phone so Mira and Ira can hear, then I press record on the phone.

 

I hear the familiar voice I've heard many times before, "Greetings Liz how are you holding up in Dushanbe and how is Sam Clark doing."

 

Mira and Ira both give me an amazed look. I answer, "Thank you for asking Mr. President both Sam and I are fine. We've been busy watching the butchery in Ramstein."

 

He continues, "Yes Liz, that's why I called. What's going on there is deplorable and America is going to bring down a world of hurt on the responsible parties. I have two favors to ask you."

 

I smile and say, "Ask away Sir."

 

He replies, "First we would like copies of the videos Samantha took from inside the hospital. And second but more important, I was wondering if it would be possible to have her issue a statement to the American public asking them to not retaliate against the Muslim population in America or other places in the world. We're having some huge problems right now and are afraid if it's not quelled we will have an all out war in America."

 

I think for a minute and make up my mind, "Sir, I will try to get in touch with Samantha and see if she will issue a statement. But this is a problem you've ignored for too long and now it's finally come home to roost. However on the videos, I'm afraid I don't trust them not to be leaked to other news organizations. So we will make every effort to let people in your administration come to the station and view the videos, however they are the property of the Truth Network and we will not release them to you our anyone else."

 

I can tell he's not happy when he says, "Liz I could order them to be turned over to us."

 

I knew it was coming and I call his bluff, "Sir, we both know you can't do that. So don't even try, you don't want to get me upset with you."

 

He answers, "Liz this isn't over. Please see if you can contact Samantha." He hangs up the phone.

 

I look at Mira and Ira and say, "Shit! I need to call the station again."

 

I call the station but it takes me three times to get through because the switchboard is so busy. Darrel comes on the line and I say, "Darrel, I'm going to send you a recorded conversation with the President. He's playing hardball on the videos from inside the hospital. Follow the normal operating procedure ASAP."

 

I hang up the phone and Ira asks, "Ms. Morgan what is normal operating procedure asap?"

 

I chuckle and tell the twins, "ASAP means as soon as possible. You heard my conversation with the President. He's going to try to take the videos and if he is able to take them the next thing we know everyone will have them. Many times we send files to a secure server in the Cayman Islands, but this is too critical. Darrel will move the videos to disks and the disks will be physically moved to offsite locations that only a few of us know about."

 

I continue, "Since you're my bodyguards here are the three locations. Please memorize them." I then tell the twins the three secret locations. Then I send the audio file of the President's phone conversation to the station and tell them to get our lawyer working on it.

 

I call Samantha, but she doesn't answer her phone.

 

I look at them and say, "Let's go see what Samantha is bewitching the public with now." I'm the only one to laugh at my joke because Mira and Ira don't know about the television series.

 

We walk into the room and I am again shocked by what I see.

 

Present – Samantha - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

The surviving hospital staff is too busy taking care of survivors and bodies to be interviewed. I would just be keeping them from their work and slowing things up. I decide there are more important things to do so I look at the camera and say, "Samantha Stevens here, we have reached the main triage area for survivors and corpses being taken out of the Ramstein hospital. As you can see behind me, there is too much work and too few hands. I am going to let my excellent cameraman continue videoing the scene here while I do what I need to do as an American. I am going to roll up my sleeves and help the hospital staff anyway that I can. I would ask my fellow American's to stop what you're doing and pray. Samantha Stevens signing off for right now and going to work."

 

Present – Liz – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

The first thing I see is Sam and it looks like he's praying. Then I look at the television and I don't see Samantha at all - what I see is rows of body bags and hospital gurneys with even more body bags on them. Then I see Samantha, she's helping the hospital staff move the bodies.

 

What strikes me immediately is the look on the faces of the workers because they all look numb and most are crying. Every once and awhile one of them falls down and starts sobbing but others gather around them and take them over to the side. Shit! They are all in shock. I realize that I'm crying too and so are Mira and Ira.

 

I remember the President's request and I call Bernie, the camera shakes as he answers the phone. He sounds old, tired and worn out as he says, "Liz, it's good to hear from you."

 

"Bernie, what an awful hell you all are going through. I'm sorry I'm not there to help, but I have my shrink headed over, he should be there tomorrow."

 

His voice sounds so distant as he says, "Thanks Liz, you're the best. I hope you don't mind, Samantha decided to help and left me to shoot video."

 

"Bernie, you guys are doing a fantastic job and have a ninety percent market share. I had a call from the President. I guess there's some retaliation against Muslims in America and other places in the world. He's asked if Samantha can issue a statement requesting everyone let the government handle this."

 

He answers, "Liz, I'll see what I can do," and he hangs up the phone.

 

I wait and see Samantha come over to the camera, she wipes the tears out of her eyes and says, "Samantha Stevens from the Truth Network here with one more big favor to ask. I've been told that some Americans are so upset by what they've seen and heard here today they are starting to attack Muslims in the United States and other countries." She pauses and looks around behind her and waves her free arm at the many body bags, then she continues, "I want to ask those Americans just what they think they are doing? Look at the barbarism behind me. Is that what you want America to be known for? That we are just as barbaric as the animals who did this? So I beg you", she kneels in front of the camera, "please don't drag America down to their level. Give our government and our military time to take care of this. And please continue to pray for the patients, soldiers and staff still inside the hospital. Remember terrorists still have control of part of the hospital and they still have the WMD. I need to get back and help, please continue watching as Bernie continues the videos."

 

We watch as she walks away and starts helping again. I look and Sam still looks like he's praying. I walk up beside him and say, "Sam, there's a bunch of favors I need from you and I don't want any shit about it. I'll pay whatever you ask."

 

He stands up and looks at me, "Liz, if it's about Ramstein you've got whatever you want that I can do for you, with no cost."

 

Wow, he's never given me anything for free. I ask, "First the three of us need to get to Ramstein and I don't know how I'm going to get Mira and Ira out of Tajikistan."

 

Ira interrupts, "Ms. Morgan, we will call our office and have the visas in one hour."

 

I look at her and order, "Get your ass moving." I watch as Ira starts a phone call and Mira heads off to our room.

 

Sam says, "What else Liz?"

 

I answer, "Sam, we need to hire someone trustworthy to go to Mira and Ira's flat and pack up all their clothes and belongings. You might mention to whomever you hire whose stuff they're packing. I'm sure that will keep them honest."

 

He thinks for a moment and says, "I think I know someone we can trust."

 

I look at Ira and say, "This is private so we're changing rooms. Please go and help Mira pack."

 

We walk into another room and I close the door. I open it again just to make sure Ira isn't listening. Then I look at Sam and say, "I need you to find an honest lawyer, if there is such a thing, and if there isn't then hire the most dishonest one you can find. I want you to check into Kostia's will and see who inherits his flat and other assets in the event of his death."

 

Sam gives me a shocked look and says, "Kostia is dead?"

 

I lie to him as I continue, "Yes he was killed by an assassin. Mira and Ira killed the assassin in my hotel room. He was waiting to kill me next."

 

I watch him think and he finally says, "I know a guy and he owes me a favor."

 

"Good, if the assets go to Mira and Ira let me know. We will probably sell them because the girls don't want anything to do with him."

 

I have one more question to ask. I look at Sam and say. "Sam, this is the biggest favor I have ever asked. You need to be extremely delicate how you handle this. No one can know about this. If someone finds out I will know you leaked it and I will make your life hell." I lean over to whisper in his ear, reach in my purse and hand him two items.

 

He says, "Are you sure?"

 

I answered, "Hell no, that's why you are going to confirm it for me."

 

Then I hug him tight, give him a huge kiss and say, "Sam, you're going to be so lucky if you do all this for me!"

 

I fly out of the room and head into our room to get ready.

 

Present – Glen - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

We're racing down the hallway, as fast as we tactically can, trying to find Evelyn. Damn the women have everything torn to hell and the floors are slippery because they're covered with so much blood and shit. I know it's not wise but I start calling her name. Kat joins me.

 

We come up to a corner and I almost get blasted because a fucking towel head is waiting for us. I frag the hell out of him. When my ears stop ringing I hear a very soft voice call, "Glen."

 

I look at Kat and say, "She's here somewhere. Start searching the rooms."

 

I yell, "Evelyn, where are you?"

 

I hear the soft voice again, "Glen, I'm here." Finally I have a direction for the sound and I yell, "I'm coming Evelyn."

 

I bust through the door of a room and she is lying on the floor with a dead terrorist on top of her and blood everywhere. I run to her side, start to move her and Kat grabs my arm, "General be careful she might be injured and she might be booby trapped."

 

I look into Evelyn’s violet eyes and she starts crying, "Glen, I knew you'd come for me."

 

I ask, "Evelyn how are you?"

 

She smiles and answers, "Glen the bastard shot me in the back and dragged me into this room. He was going to rape me until I ripped his fucking throat out." She starts crying, "Glen, I can't move my legs."

 

Kat comes over and looks at things, "General, most of the blood is from the terrorist. But we need to be very careful moving Evelyn, it sounds like she has a back injury."

 

I ask Evelyn, "Did he have any grenades when he climbed on top of you?"

 

She replies, "No he left his vest over there," and weakly points her arm towards the bed.

 

I look at Kat and decide, "I'm moving this fucking bastard off my wife." I grab him by the back of his man dress and throw him into the corner.

 

Kat is right at Evelyn's side, starts checking her and says, "General we need to get the body board in the corner and gently roll Evelyn in one motion on her side. Then I will look at her back wound and we will slowly let her roll back onto the board. This has to be done in one smooth continuous motion."

 

I run over for the backboard and bring it back, I kneel on the side next to Evelyn like Kat is doing. We reach our hands over and grab Evelyn's side and slowly roll her. Kat orders me, "Hold her totally still, I'm moving around to the other side where I can see her back."

 

She moves to Evelyn' s back, then she jumps up and grabs a bunch of supplies out of the drawer and says, "Her weight and the terrorists weight kept her from bleeding much, but now I've got some issues to deal with."

 

I watch as Kat's hands and fingers fly over Evelyn's back. After placing pads and tape, finally Kat says, "That's all I can do for now. Let's gently roll her on her back. The pressure will help to stop the bleeding some more."

 

We roll her on the backboard, Evelyn smiles at me and grabs my hand, "Thank you Glen I didn't feel anything." Then she starts crying and continues, "Glen just leave me here or shoot me in the head. You can't be a politician if you have to take care of a crippled wife."

 

I tell her, "Evelyn, stop being silly - you're not a cripple. We're going to get you out of here - just hang on." Kat rolls over a gurney, we pick up the backboard, set it on the gurney, cover Evelyn up and Kat straps here down.

 

Evelyn asks, "Glen will you hold my hand."

 

I reply, "Sorry dear, but there are still terrorists in the hospital. I need to be your body guard." She motions me closer and gives me a kiss, "Glen you've always been my bodyguard."

 

I grab the rifles, open the door, make sure the hallway is clear and we head towards the exit. I check around the first corner and see a squad of Marines, I yell, "Marines, do not fire. This is General Donaldson."

 

I hear the reply, "Word of the day?"

 

Shit! I don't know what the fucking word of the day is so I improvise and say, "I'm putting down all my weapons and coming around the corner. If one of you devil dogs shoots me I'm going to kick your ass."

 

I put down the AKs and walk around the corner with my hands in the air, a Marine comes up and says, "Stand down, it's the General."

 

I look at the squad and order, "My wife is wounded, I need one Marine to escort her to the exit and make sure she gets the best and immediate medical care possible. She has a back injury so make sure you don't bump her."

 

The squad leaders orders, "Murphy, this is yours. You'd better guard her with your life."

 

A young private runs up and replies, "Yes Sir!"

 

I walk over beside Evelyn and say, "Evelyn, these fucking bastards started it and I'm going to finish it. I hope things work out for the best, but if they don't you’ll know I died a Marine and died loving you." I kiss her on the cheek and listen to her yell, "Glen I love you," as Kat wheels her away.

 

I look at the squad and yell, "I think I'm ready to kick some butts and take some names."

 

"Orraaahhh!" they all shout.

 

I reply, "Shit! I thought there were some Marines in here, not a bunch of fucking girl scouts. I'm ready to kick some butts and take some names; do I have any Marines who want to help?"

 

This time the yell shakes the hallway, "Orraaahhh!" I look at the squad commander, "This is your fucking squad lead it."

 

Present – Evelyn - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

I'm still not sure how it happened, but the bastard shot me in the back and then hauled me into the room. He was telling me all the nasty things he was going to do to me and took off his pants. I pretended to be afraid and when he laid on me and started to move I ripped his fucking throat out.

 

After killing the bastard, I realize I can't move my legs and he is too heavy to remove him with just my hands. I try rolling but that doesn't work because of my legs. I wait and listen because I know Glen will come back for me. But what sort of wife am I going to be, a cripple that can't walk. If I could have reached a gun I would have shot myself. Finally I hear a noise and somehow I know it's Glen. He's saving me like he always has.

 

I am just looking forward to the two of us leaving this hospital from hell when Glen decides to go all Marine on me. I'm proud of him, but also damn pissed at him.

 

Present – Sgt. Anderson - 1st Battalion 9th Marines – The Walking Dead - Alpha Company, Zulu Squad - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

I'm mother f'in surprised as hell. My squad runs into General Donaldson escorting his wife to safety. I thought the old man was going to hump it to the exit but he surprises me even more when he stays. So I send private Murphy out with his wife since he's the biggest fuckup in the squad, but should be able to keep the General's wife safe. Then I figure the General will take charge of the squad and he blows me away when he falls in and lets me command. I put him in the middle of the squad and give my men a couple hand signals to make sure they keep him safe.

 

We are tasked with getting eyes on the WMD without being seen. This means we have to work our way silently to the center of the hospital, a stroll in the fucking park for The Walking Dead. The squad's a little nervous with the General along and I need to calm and focus my men. I look at my squad and whisper, "How's it hangin' One-nine?"

 

They reply, "Low and loose and mighty fine!"

 

Present – Glen - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

I'm watching the squad and I realize how old, slow and fat I've become. Dammit! There was one time I was a gung-ho Marine like these guys, but too much soft living and too much slacking off has turned me into a marshmallow. I think of how Ben told me he no longer respects me, and I know why – I've been a piss-poor leader for too long but that's going to stop now.

 

The Sgt. holds up his hand and we all stop, he comes back to me and says, "Permission to speak freely Sir."

 

I reply, "Permission granted."

 

He states, "Sir, you're jeopardizing our mission with your noisy equipment. Drop your gear."

 

I drop my tactical vest and watch as the squad looks surprised. I ask, "Anything else Sgt.?"

 

He looks at me and says, "If I move you to the back of the squad do you think you can cover our asses?"

 

I realize he's doing it because I no longer fit in with these Marines and I present a danger being in the middle of the squad. I look him in the eyes and then look at the squad and say, "Sgt. I understand and I will cover your asses or die trying."

 

He gives the hand signals, we regroup and I take the back.

 

Present – Sgt. Anderson - 1st Battalion 9th Marines – The Walking Dead - Alpha Company, Zulu Squad - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

I thought Murphy was a fuck-up, but right now I'd gladly take two of him instead of the General. At least the old man follows my orders. But what should be a fucking stroll in the park has become a pain in the ass.

 

I give the order and spread the men out further to try to get more distance between us and the General. If I can keep him far enough back, the fucking terrorists won't hear us.

 

We haven't fired weapons yet, but this is worse than any war zone I've ever seen. The patient rooms were turned into unholy torture chambers which make the Marques De Sade look like a fucking school boy. I'm pissed as hell, but I'm a Marine and I will control my emotions.

 

Almost as bad is the mutilation of the terrorists. I hear a bunch of women did it but I find it hard to believe. There are also rumors the General had something to do with it so that's why I allow him to travel with my squad. But he has the squad jumpy as hell.

 

We finally make it to the center of the building where intel says the fucking terrorists have the WMD. I give the hand signal and we all squat. I motion for point to take a look-see and come back with a report. He takes about ten minutes, comes back and reports, "Sarge, this is the place. The fucking WMD is here and I counted thirty terrorists."

 

The General has broken rank and come up beside us. I'd bust him and have him doing shitter duty for a year if he was one of my squad. The General interrupts and I get pissed at him when he says, "Let's gas the bastards and then disarm the WMD."

 

Point looks at him and says, "Excuse me Sir but you interrupted my report to the Sergeant, I wasn't finished yet." I give the General the dirtiest look I can get away with and say, "General, please do not interrupt. Point, continue."

 

"Sarge, I glassed it really well. First the WMD is fucking huge - they must have brought it in and assembled it here. The Geiger counter was showing higher than normal levels of radioactivity, so it's most likely a dirty bomb. I'm sure I saw some sort of deadman2 switch on the bomb so if we gas them or take out the terrorist on the switch the whole place will go."

 

2 Deadman switch – a switch held down by a person that detonates when released.

 

I gave the General another nasty look and replied, "Thanks point Charlie Mike3." He crawls away and keeps eyes on the terrorists.

 

3 Charlie Mike – Continue Mission

 

I gather the squad, "Okay Z squad here's the sitrep. This is the place, the WMD is here. Point says it's hot and has a DM switch. There's thirty terrorists just waiting for enough of us to gather so they can get their seventy- fucking-two virgins. We can't let them know we are here. I'm gonna call in demo, let them get eyes on this too so maybe we can come up with a plan. General go back in the corridor and cover our asses. Everyone else, wait until the General is in position and then spread out."

 

The General crawls back down the corridor. Having him obey my orders gives my men the confidence they need as they move up and take position. I scoot back by the General and call to demo on the radio. "Zulu squad here, we have eyes on the WMD and enemy. We need demo up here to see if we can create a plan."

 

I look at the General and he smiles at me.

 

Present – Evelyn - Hospital – Ramstein AFB Germany

 

Nurse Kat and Private Murphy are very careful with me as they take me through the corridors. We meet scores of other staff and volunteers helping to evacuate other patients and recovering bodies. I'm thankful the bodies are in bags before they bring them out of the rooms because I've seen too much death today.

 

The brave, unselfish, heroic acts of these people heap layer and layer of guilt upon me as I remember the many selfish acts I perpetrated. It started with me pushing Glen to become the General. He was much happier when he commanded in the field, and he was a much better field commander than a General.

 

I think about Jennifer, and how I've manipulated her for her whole life. Trying to turn her into something I couldn't be. I justified it as many parents do, by convincing myself, I only wanted the best for her. And of course, only I knew what the best was. Shit! I fooled myself into believing that I always knew what the best was for everyone.

 

My thoughts return to Glen, and I realize I used his love for me as a lever to manipulate him and gave him bad advice for the Marines. The things I should have done, like insisting he stay in shape, I didn't do. Instead I pushed him towards my political ambitions, but that distracted him from his duty to the Corps.

 

And now back to Jennifer - to Jennifer and Ben. I remember how shocked I was when in her teens she confessed her undying love for him. I brushed it off as 'puppy love' because I had plans for her and my plans didn't include a nobody Sergeant. But her love never wavered, no matter what I did to discourage it. Not when I 'accidentally' made sure she found out about the many girlfriends he had, not when I made sure we were on a different base from him, not even when I tried to find other men for her.

 

But my worst offenses were the illegal ones. The ones I justified because I knew there was no way other than Ben's death to break them up and get my way. There were all the dangerous missions I talked Glen into sending him on, especially the one in Russia which almost worked. But Ben must be the luckiest man alive because even though he got wounded he always survived.

 

Then there were the bikers I hired in Hawaii. I never would have guessed he could take them out all by himself. The rest of them almost killed him later for free because he put so many of their members in the hospital.

 

The fucking Russian mafia hitmen at the sniper competition were a huge mistake. They almost killed Jennifer. Again, Ben was wounded but escaped death.

 

But worst of all was using Stockman. He was one crooked bastard. And he almost got Jennifer killed in his first attempt. But I was finally sure we were rid of SM Blaine on the second attempt. But like a bad penny he turned up again, and somehow Jennifer always knew he was still alive. The worst part was when Jennifer found out what I did with Stockman and guessed many of the rest of my actions. No wonder she hates me! I am one evil, conniving, manipulative bitch and I don't deserve to live. I have made her life and I have made Glen's life hell.

 

Private Murphy is very close to me and doesn't know about my feelings or what I plan to do. I motion him closer to me. As he leans over, I slip his pistol out of its holster and put it up against the side of my head. I yell, "I don't deserve to live."

 

Present – Jens – Walter Reed Army Medical Center - WRAMC

 

I sit in the silent, partially dark hospital room holding Ben's hand and praying for him. This reminds me of the many times throughout the years I've prayed for Ben. I don't really know if prayer works, or even if there is a God. It seems to me there must be some sort of Supreme Being. Life just couldn't accidently happen and we couldn't have just evolved: My whole being tells me that's a big load of bullshit. Well, if not a God, perhaps we're the remnant or offspring of some alien race. Who knows? I guess They must know.

 

Anyway, it just might have helped keep him safe on the fucking 'death missions' the bitch had Daddy send him on. She's been trying to kill him for years and I bet she's plotting some new way to get rid of my man! I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't plan the whole Ramstein incident just to kill Ben. So I'm not going to stop praying now or ever.

 

I'm angry as hell at myself! Just when I get him back and things seem fine, I let my guard down, relax, stop thinking and have a blonde moment. Ben hid the PTSD so well from me that I couldn't even sense it - and I've gotten damn good at sensing his feelings. Now he's in some sort of weird seizure fighting something I can't sense. All I can do is what I've done for years: Sit and wait and pray. Hey! He's moving a little.

 

Present – Ben – Walter Reed Army Medical Center - WRAMC

 

I've been slowly coming out of the battle zone in my mind and while it was hell, it was also very productive. I've always held a lot back from Jens because I worried what would happen if hard Ben took over when we were together. We had a knock down drag-em-out and I discovered he's even more in love with her than me and would never do anything to hurt her!

 

As the fog slowly clears from my brain battlefield I sense Jens is holding my hand, her guard is down and she thinking about – son of a bitch! Now I understand why she hates Evelyn. That fucking, manipulative, bitch! Some of it is speculation, but most of it isn't. I will get the truth and there will be hell to pay.

 

I wiggle my hand, open my eyes and see her lovely face with those violet eyes and beautiful smile. I see tears in those eyes as she says in her melodic voice, "You came back to me again."

 

I cough, clear my throat and reply, "I always do and I always will."

 

I notice they've restrained me to the bed but before I can say anything Jens says, "Yeah, I fought with them when they restrained you. But they wouldn't listen." She released my arm from the restraints, climbed into the bed next to me and cuddled.

 

Jens says, "We don't have long because I'm supposed to call them when you wake up. They want to make sure you're not crazy."

 

I hug her and reply, "Well then they'll find out I am crazy because I'm crazy in love with you."

 

She sighs, holds me close, then I feel her stiffen and pull away. She sits up, looks at me and says as a statement but not a question, "You know about-about-about the bitch."

 

I smile and reply, "I know some of it because you were thinking about it when I was coming out of my battle. The rest I will figure out or get Liz to tell me."

 

She gets the worst looking pout on her face I've ever seen and says, "Shit! This sensing feelings is a real bitch. Sometimes I wish we didn't have it." She looks at me and asks, "Ben what are you planning on doing about her, I hope it's nothing crazy?"

 

I scratch my head and reply, "Well, if she was a guy and not related to you, it'd be easy because she be the walking dead. But she's a woman, she's you're mom and like it or not you still have strong feelings of love for her. The only thing I've decided so far is that I will never-ever trust her again."

 

I see the pleading in Jens eyes as she says, "Please Ben, don't do anything that will get you locked up. I couldn't live if we were separated again."

 

I motion for her to lie beside me. She cuddles as I say, "Jens, for what she's done she deserves to die and I've killed others for much less. But sometimes it's a worse punishment to continue to live."

 

Present – Jens – Walter Reed Army Medical Center - WRAMC

 

And men think women are confusing! Bull-fricken-shit! I am terrified Ben is going to jump out of bed and go kill the bitch because he certainly knows enough to justify it. He is right when he says he's killed for less of a reason. Then he comes up with some philosophical mumbo-fricken-jumbo crap about living being a worse punishment than dying. I try to sense if he's bullshitting me and can't tell so I'm going to have to watch him like a hawk!

 

Men you can't live with them you can't trade them for a good hound dog!

 

I feel his hand slip down and I know a tickle is coming but this time I let him tickle me so I can complain, "Hey what's that for?"

 

He says, "I sensed the hound dog comment."

 

I giggle and counter with, "What's wrong? Don’t you like it when you're sayings come back to bite you in the butt? I did research on this and there are over a hundred reasons dogs are better than men."

 

He grins and replies, "Yeah, I know. I even added a few to the list myself. So tell me would you rather have me in your bed or a dog in your bed on our wedding night?"

 

I punch the heck out of his good arm and state, "You'd better get those nasty thoughts about me out of your mind right now."

 

He laughs and threatens, "You'd better be careful or I'll start thinking some really nasty things – have you heard the rumors on how Catherine the Great died?" He then continues laughing.

 

I know the rumors and even though they're not true I still blush, I kiss him and say, "You’re the only stud I'll ever need so that one won't work on me." I know I have a promise to keep so I tell Ben, "My love, I made a promise to the doctor to call the nurse when you woke up and I need to keep the promise. But they're going to be upset if they come in and you're not restrained. So don't fight me because I need to tie your arm down again."

 

I figure it's going to be a fight but he acquiesces, which confuses me even more. I tie his arm down and call the nurse.

 

Present – Liz – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

I make up my mind to go to Ramstein, not because Samantha isn't doing a great job – she's phenomenal. But because I know she needs me, she needs the support I can give her and I can be there faster than my shrink from America.

 

Sam amazes me because he's being very helpful but I still wonder what the price will be when he comes to his senses. If he comes through for me, he will have earned whatever the price is.

 

I walk into our room and Mira and Ira are already dressed in the slinky black tactical outfits like Mira wore when she went after Kostia: Tactical pads, vests, gloves, helmets and sidearms. They have a matching outfit laid out on the bed for me. I notice the three packs waiting on the floor for us. I smile at them and say, "You two have been busy."

 

Ira answers, "Yes Ms. Morgan it is our job. We are going into a very dangerous area and we need to make sure you are properly prepared for any situation we might encounter. On the flight we will fill you in on the use of all your gear."

 

I look at them and say, "Well if I look as hot in my new reporter outfit as you do, I just might give Samantha a run for her money." I drop my clothes and start dressing. The black outfit fits like a full body leotard, but is even more comfortable and hides things like my body armor from Herr Henrick and my little belly bulge very well. I look at the pads, helmet and other crap and ask, "I really don't want to wear this now. Can I wait and put this on in the plane?"

 

Mira replies, "Ms. Morgan, have you forgotten about the Russian mafia?"

 

I look at them in amazement because I have forgotten and then answer, "Mira, I'm sorry. You two must be doing your jobs very well because I'd totally forgotten about them. I understand and will put on everything." I thought it would be cumbersome, but even with all the gear it didn't slow me down much. I look at the twins and say, "I bet I can still run a hundred in record pace even with all this on."

 

Ira giggles and answers, "Much better than when you helped Ms. Donaldson look for her fiancé in Afghanistan. I remember your body armor slowed you very much as you ran away from Blackwater."

 

I stare at her and ask, "That was when I left Dariush's place, how did you know?"

 

Mira giggles, "We were there too, making sure you were safe. Not all the Blackwater men you thought you shot were done by you."

 

I look at both of them and exclaim, "Damn! I just thought I was having a really good day with my pistol."

 

Ira adds, "No, Mira was having a really good day with her rifle."

 

I ask, "So I was your assignment?"

 

They both giggle and say together, "No you were our vacation."

 

I am shocked by the news and sit on the bed but Mira says, "Come on Ms. Morgan we need to get to Ramstein so you can help Samantha." She helps me up and we head out of the room towards the front door of the Embassy, Sam stops us and says, "Hot damn you three look good enough to eat."

 

Ira smiles and I stumble when she flirts with him and says, "Ambassador Clark, I do not think you could eat all three of us. I think I would be enough to spoil your appetite."

 

I laugh because for the first time ever, I see Sam blush. He changes the subject and says, "Liz I'll take care of everything and let you know about it when you come back. Do you have any idea on the timeframe?"

 

I reply, "Sam I think things are almost over in Ramstein. My guess is a couple days at the most."

 

Mira nudges me towards the door and reminds me, "Ms. Morgan we need to leave."

 

As always, there's a taxi waiting for us and it takes us straight to our jet at the airport.

 

Present – Mira and Ira – Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

I want to get Ms. Morgan away from the lecherous Ambassador Clark before he forces her to agree to anything. If he trains her again, it will be the last time he ever trains anyone.

 

I was able to set Ira's ribs better while we waited for Ms. Morgan. After the initial pain, she is feeling much better, but I will need to be even stronger to cover Ira's deficits.

 

Ms. Morgan is between us again and I lean forward and say to Ira, "How are your ribs my sister?"

 

She replies, "Much better, thank you Mira."

 

"If we have time, later I can work on them some more."

 

"Mira, I think we will be very busy. Did you see the report from the NSC office when they dropped off our visas?"

 

"Yes Ira, we need to make sure to keep Ms. Morgan a safe distance from the hospital. If they detonate that bomb the whole area will be contaminated."

 

"Mira, I will volunteer to be a reporter and get close to the hospital while you keep Ms. Morgan back from the scene. We will make sure Samantha stays back also then Ms. Morgan will stay with her."

 

Ms. Morgan looks back and forth between us, and we both give her our best innocent smiles. She says, "I'm not sure what you two are cooking up but I know it involves me and Samantha."

 

I ask, "Are you still hungry Ms. Morgan? We can stop and get you some food."

 

She says, "Sorry Mira, cooking up means making plans. Perhaps I should keep you two from talking in your private language when I'm around."

 

Ira says, "Oh please Ms. Morgan, do not do that. It would remind us too much of how Kostia treated us."

 

I wink at Ira because she can be so sneaky sometimes. I then add, "We were just doing our job and formulating a plan on how to keep you safe and help you with Samantha."

 

Ira then changes the subject, "Ms. Morgan, do you think I could try reporting?"

 

Ms. Morgan shakes her head and says, "Sometimes you two get me dizzy when you trade off speaking like that. I think you even do it on purpose. Ira, I think it would an excellent time to try reporting."

 

I giggle and reply, "Ms. Morgan what sort of women do you think we are? We would never do that." Ira winks at me and I almost break out laughing.

 

We arrive at the airport and I grab two of the bags as Ira tries to grab the third. Ms. Morgan complains, "Oh no you don't you're still hurt. I can carry my own bag."

 

I look at Ira and say, "Remember we can also use your ribs to keep Ms. Morgan safe."

"Ah yes, Mira, that is wise. We can switch roles if you want."

 

"No, let us keep our current plan. But it will be a backup plan if we need it."

 

When we board the jet, it feels like we both walk into a wonderland. Everything is so nice compared to the Tajik planes we've used.

 

Ira says" Ms. Morgan, you own a very nice jet."

 

Present – Liz – Flight to Ramstein

 

I curse myself because I haven't talked with the twins yet and worked out a plan so all three of us can do our jobs. But then I haven't had any time. I can tell they've been busy hatching up some sort of scheme. My guess is it will make it harder for me to do my job.

 

I laugh at Ira's statement and answer, "Ira, I don't own this jet. The company that owns the Network leases this jet."

 

Mira asks, "Is that SM. Blaine's company?"

 

"You're right Mira. It's Ben and Jens's company."

 

Ira smiles at me and says, "He takes very good care of you Ms. Morgan. Mira and I feel like we are on a princess' plane."

 

I'm a little concerned when Ira doesn't acknowledge Jens role in the company, so I remind them, "Don't forget Jens owns the company too."

 

Mira laughs, but it sounds just a touch forced, "Oh yes, sorry Ms. Morgan."

 

Ira interrupts, "Ms. Morgan, if you don't mind I would like to move to the back and lie down. My ribs still bother me some. Mira will show you the gear we brought for you."

 

Well she certainly seems like she's in pain so I offer, "Ira, let me help you then I will come back up and let Mira give me instructions."

 

I help Ira to the back of the plane, recline her seat and tuck a blanket around her. She smiles at me and says, "Thank you Ms. Morgan you take care of us like Mama used to."

 

I kiss her on the forehead and move towards the front of the plane before I start crying. These two girls are sure hard to work with. Sometimes I feel like I am being so played, and other times they seem so honest. That's one more thing we need to work out between us - I don't like being played.

 

Mira shows me all the gear and drills the hell out of me on putting on a gas mask. Finally I'm tired and I tell Mira, "I want to catch a nap before we get to Ramstein. I'm not sure when I slept last."

 

Mira smiles at me and says, "Let us go back by Ira and all sleep close to each other."

 

I thought it was a strange request, but no stranger than the rest of the day has already been. So we carefully recline two more seats and I fall asleep between Mira and Ira.

 

Present – Mira and Ira – Flight to Ramstein

 

After I am sure Ms. Morgan is asleep I raise a little a look at Ira. She sticks her tongue out at me and I almost laugh. I whisper, "Ira do your ribs really bother you?"

 

She smiles and whispers in reply, "No Mira, I am fine. Was my act that good?"

 

"Ira, it was the best. You even fooled me."

 

"Mira, Ms. Morgan could tell several times we were manipulating her. She is very intuitive and is going to scold us some day about it."

 

"You are right Ira, we need to find a way to control her other than manipulation."

 

Ira looks at Ms. Morgan and says, "I wonder if we could just ask her?"

 

That might work, if we ask her nicely."

 

Ira yawns and says, "Mira I am going to sleep now. Good night my sister."

 

I smile at her and reply, "Good night Ira, sleep well. Tomorrow you will become a famous news reporter."

 

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