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Between A Rock & a Hard Place

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Book: Between A Rock & a Hard Place


That smell. Once you knew it, you never forgot it.
Genesis-1 held his AK-15 to his chest. Even through the mask, he could smell burnt flesh and decay. He made a move, looking up at the buildings with glassless windows and crumbling brick.
Gunfire pops were going off in the distance. One more look at the misty sky, a sky which was glowing red from the fires, and he made his way into the structure.
Floor by floor, room by room, Genesis cleared the area. He arrived at the top, peered out of a gaping hole, and could see troops moving behind walls and concrete slabs.
His breathing echoed in the gasmask competing with his heartbeat, which was pounding in his ears. He leaned back, away from the view from the street, and made his way back down. Then, he noticed stairs leading underground.
Genesis kicked open the remains of a metal door and listened, holding his breath. In the pitch darkness, he switched his gun-sight to night-vision and infrared sensors, and scanned the area.
Creeping forward, his rifle at eye-level, Genesis searched for life.
He used his boot heel to open another closed door, and aimed the weapon. Bodies, death, and garbage were all he could see.
Then, something moved and showed a heat signature.
He aimed at the dark mass and approached.
A man wearing all black with cloth-mask around his mouth and nose to avoid the contaminants, was lying on his side, clutching his leg.
Genesis stood over him. The man stared back with light eyes, a rare trait.
Slinging his rifle to his shoulder, Genesis reached down for the man. He held onto him and his arm was squeezed through his uniform. He hauled the man up and the man limped as he tried to stand on his wounded leg.
They said nothing.
Genesis escorted him to the stairs. Trying to be patient, he kept the man moving as he listened for attackers.
They made it to the ground floor, and Genesis waited for the man to gain his strength after the struggle up stairs.
He was given a nod.
By the man’s uniform, Genesis could see he was an ally.
They stood at the collapsed entrance and Genesis scanned the area. He put his arm around the man and began to drag him out.
Rock had thought he was a dead man.
The ambush and explosion had devastated the few hiding out. He had taken a piece of shrapnel in his leg and fallen to the ground. Moments before this military man with the AK-15 had found him, a roving gang of terrorists had discovered him and the rest taking shelter after the air strikes.
Right before they killed him, an explosion from an unmanned drone rocked the building, scattering the enemy.
Now he knew the source of that bomb. It was the man’s team helping to rescue them.
Rock hopped on his good leg to scramble across the rubble-filled street. Mortar shells and automatic weapons blasted around them.
Even with his mouth and nose covered, Rock could taste the dust and gunpowder, and smell the burning flesh.
He leaned heavily on this man, trying to figure out where he was going to be taken. There weren’t many safe havens here any longer. At least, none he was aware of. But, tunnels under the cities had been created everywhere.
Then, he could see it. Under a blind, one the color of the buildings around them, was a military vehicle. He was helped to lie across the back seat, and then the man sat behind the wheel.
Rock closed his eyes in pain as the military vehicle hit potholes and crevasses, jarring him against the metal interior. He gripped his upper leg, feeling the heat of his blood.
Everyone dying or wounded shared the same thing. They were human beings and ran with blood when injured. But, in this war, no one seemed to remember the people dying were still human.
Genesis held his rifle on his lap and drove over one of the bombed out roads to his base. He was low on ammo and knew if he left anyone behind, they would be tortured.
Seeing a large explosion in the distance, Genesis leaned closer to the cracked windshield and looked skyward.
Fighter jets were passing, dropping their load of explosives.
He gripped the wheel and hit the gas.
Hours later he had made it to the camp. He rolled to a security checkpoint and held up his right hand, one containing a computer chip. It was scanned and he was acknowledged.
A barrier wall split, moving-up and down, as he drove along a ramp to an underground bunker.
A-I drones using green lights, guided him to a parking spot.
Genesis climbed out and had a look at his passenger. The man’s eyes were closed and he was losing blood.
Their medic unit raced towards him and began to attend the wounded man.
Genesis removed his gasmask and a glove and wiped his face. More medics arrived with a stretcher. They managed to get the big man onto it, and carry him into the hospital unit.