Coming Around by Marc Keller

Fuck, what the hell was that?

Jesus!

What the Hell JUST freakin’ happened?

Man, that was loud.

Where the heck am I?

Alright, let’s get it together.

OK, It’s dark, why is it so dark?

OK, OK. What’s that smell? Smells so familiar?

Acrid, yep, smells acrid. Burnt steak, somebody is burning steak?, No, that’s not it.

Damn, it’s dark, are my eyes open, open your eyes, open your eyes!

Headache, I definitely have a headache.

OK, shit, get it together, just get it together.

I can’t hear a thing.

I feel hot and cold and wet and dry and thirsty, that’s it, damn I’m thirsty.

I can’t see, I can’t hear, and I’m thirsty, and I think I’m hanging upside-down.

Why the hell am I upside down? What the hell is that smell?

I think I could throw-up.

OK, OK where is the last place you remember? I can’t remember.

Confused, disoriented, do I smoke cigarettes?

Fire, that’s it, I smell fire. I smell fire and I’m upside down, shit.

I sure as Hell better get moving, yes, that is what I should do, I can’t see, I can’t hear, but I smell fire, so I’ve got to get moving and get our of here.

Where is here? How do I get out? I should probably try to not be upside-down.

I’m moving my arms, great, they work, I can’t see them and they feel tingley, but they are moving.

Straps. I feel straps, I’m strapped in. Dammit, that’s it! Seat-belts, unbuckle the seat belts.

I reach down and feel for the buckle, I punch the button down with both thumbs and I fall and hit my head and torque my neck which makes be choke. All my body’s weight is on neck for a second as I kick my legs and feet, which are numb, and then I fall on my side.

Start grabbing and pulling, pushing with my legs, pulling with my arms.

The Humvee, is upside-down, it is on fire and I pulling myself across the wet, exploded body of Specialist Rodriguez.

Sorry dude. I’m glad I cannot see you. But I remember you sitting up next to me, asleep.

My elbow is stuck in your crushed face and helmet. Sorry man, I hope you understand.

I feel your guts and muscles go from warm to cold as my fatigues soak up your blood as I slide across to the door.

The door is open.

My head hurts, I cannot hear, but I can start to see some lights.

Is it night-time?

I’m half out of the door, I think I can see flashlights or headlights. I can feel a rumbling in the ground.

I’m being grabbed under my arms and dragged, my feet are bare and now someone is grabbing my ass. Oh shit.

I’m alive, I guess. Nobody grabs the ass of a dead dude. On the other hand, shit must be bad if they’re in such a damn rush they gotta grab my ass or whatever they can to get all us quickly out of here.

Unless it’s Brittingham. He’ll grab a dude’s ass whenever he gets the chance.  That huge muther-fucker is a mean ass son-of-a-bitch and a hell of a soldier, but damn he is one flaming, gay muther-fucker.

Hey,  I can see Sergeant Bullock’s face. His face is screaming and spitting into my face. He must be up really close. I can’t hear a damn thing he’s saying.

It’s still so dark. I think he’s telling me to run. Run? Are you kidding? I just got blown up and now I got to run? Shit.

Sarge is still yelling at me when I roll over onto by belly and crawl up to peak over the sand berm. I see flashes, muzzle flashes.

Shit, I’m in fucking Afghanistan! that’s right! Holy shit. I just got blown-up in a Humvee in the mountains of Afghanistan. Bastards must have ambushed us.

I turn back to Sarge, who’s spitting and shooting and yelling at me.

It’s crazy.

Sleeping Rodriguez is dead.

Probably so are others. I wonder if I know anyone who is left.

“Sergeant!  I need a fucking rifle!  Where the Hell is the SAW?”

Hey, I just said something.

How the Hell did I manage that?

“Take Carter’s, he not going to be using it” Corporal Poncho yells,  I can’t hear ’em but my eyes follow his arm and pointed fore-finger to the squad’s machine-gun half buried in the dirt.

Who is Carter anyway?

I can’t run, I log-roll over and over to the weapon, tug it from the ground like an Excalibur from the stone.

Locked. Blow the dirt from the chamber, reload the belt, unlock, point, press and fire. The spark from the muzzle and the recoiling stock against my broken shoulder, send a neurologic, bolt of electrical pain up my neck to my throbbing head. My ears open, my focus crispens, my teeth and butt clench and I can hear the battlefield.

My senses are back, but I am out of my mind.

Things are clear. Real fucking clear.

14 thoughts on “Coming Around by Marc Keller”

  1. Hardcore — with such a lack of media coverage, it’s hard to keep in mind there are so many of our people over there and you do a great job putting us in the unthinkable.

  2. What a brilliant debut…this is just going to open the floodgates because I know there is so much more in there waiting to come out. This is such a powerful story, very well done!

  3. Powerful and gripping. I have a brother in Afghanistan right now who zips around in Hum-Vees so this hits home. Thanks for the good, tight read.

  4. A tight story powerfully told. The sad thing is, this ought to be the sort of thing we’re seeing coming out under a by-line in real media instead of the sanatized coverage we’re getting from the icky-Stans.  This isn’t fiction for too many young men. To know this comes from someone who has been there adds to its value.  Thanks, Marc. 

  5. A fantastic read – all the more powerful because it didn’t ask for any sympathy.  Brilliant pace and hugely thought-provoking.  Thank you very much, I hope there’s more to come.

  6. Thank you all for reading and I am so proud to bring home one example of the confusion and trauma that lives within the horrors of combat. The positive support I have received has been unmatched and crucial for motivating me to write more and further develop the craft. Trust me, I have uglier stuff than this waiting to trickle out!

  7. strong, stuff…great voice, i felt the jolt of the crashing humvee. felt like i was seeing this through a handheld video. great work!

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