Somewhere in a Middle Eastern desert, under a moonless night, my eight-man Special Operations team is engaged in a furious firefight inside a remote compound; bullets and rocket-propelled grenades fly everywhere. We all have beards and shemagh scarves, making it hard to tell us apart from our opponents in the darkness. The only marked difference is the controlled and efficient manner in which we face the overwhelming number of enemies. The fact that we’re locked in such a nightmare means something has gone terribly wrong with our mission.
Our combat controller, James Sanders, a sinewy African-American with sharp features and intense eyes, is calling for an air strike to bail our sorry asses out of this hellhole, when one of our teammates is hit.
“Man down!” someone yells. But I’m already on it. I call for covering fire and run to help my fallen comrade.
“Hold the line!” our team leader says.
I reach my fallen friend, Matt Haze, an all-American boy who looks like he could bench press a horse. I immediately check his vitals; he’s dead. No time to feel sorry. Mourning will have to wait until the mission is over and we go back into the world—if we actually manage to do so.
I see movement out of the corner of my eye. I train my gun to the shadows and see a kid no older than twelve crawling on the ground toward a corpse’s weapon. Don’t do it! I think, shooting around the boy to scare him away; but the kid is determined to prove his manhood. Don’t! I put the boy in my crosshairs as he picks the gun up and aims it at me, leaving his childhood behind. Goddamnit! I’m about to pull the trigger, but the kid is no longer there. The silhouette of a man stands in his place; he is about to shoot at me. I open fire.
Gasping, I open my eyes. I’m face down with half of my body out of bed, and a puddle of drool by my face. I’m still wearing my street clothes and the clock says it’s almost noon. A half-empty bottle of tequila rolls on the floor as I stumble to my feet. My head feels like a construction site in the middle of summer.
The dream is just one of many recurrent ones. No one who experiences combat goes through it unscathed. But this nightmare’s sudden twist in the end—with the man appearing—is a whole other ballgame. There is a lingering feeling that he is somehow familiar to me.
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Genre – Political Thriller
Rating – R