Jim slowly walked the dirt street of the village, eyeing every doorway for potential danger. Pitiful track that it was for the main drag of the
village it at least WAS the main drag. Shacks made of what appeared to be cardboard, scrap lumber, and roofing tin lined the muddy road, and it was
the doorways of those very hovels than could puke death at him any second.
They had tracked a group of rebels into the village, so it had to be cleared before moving on. It was never a good idea to leave a live enemy behind
yourself. Probably nothing here, but there could be... there could be, and that was the pucker factor. Jim patrolled the street for runners while the
rest went methodically door to door, searching each hovel for hiding rebels. It was hot work on a hot day in a hot place.
Dirty, half-naked children and scared haunted eyes on all, child and adult alike. These people had nothing, literally nothing, and lived in fear of
either side taking what little they already didn't have. Jim felt for them, but there just wasn't a hell of a lot he could do about it. He had a job
to do, and do it he did. The most he could hope for was to do no unneccessary harm in the performance of it.
He had to keep an eye on everything, literally everything. Doorways, spaces between hovels, spaces BEHIND shacks, even the roofs. The trees. The
shadows amongst the trees. It only took a split second for death to bowl you over at 2000 feet per second and you never knew when or from where it was
coming. Hyper-vigilance was the word of the day, and that was the word EVERY day. That sort of watchfulness will wear you down quick, but you can
never let up on it. Jim had been worn down by it long ago. Now he was just tired. Tired and hot. He was hard pressed to recall a time when it had been
So he walked, and watched.
A couple of shots cracked from the far end of the village. Jim shrugged imperceptibly, and kept slowly walking his patrol. That fight wasn't his. His
could break out at any instant, and without a lick of warning. When (he never thought in terms of "if") it did, it'd be a damned sight closer. Gnats
swarmed his head in the sunshine, trying to get at his eyes, landing and getting mired in the sweat running down his face. Damned bugs. How was a guy
suposed to keep his eyes peeled when even the bugs wanted to eat them? Somehow, he managed.
Irritating, but boring. In this line of work, though, boring was a GOOD thing. When it got exciting, it got TOO exciting, way too fast, and at times,
for some, ended way too soon. Permanent-like.
A baby crying. Muffled screams. Both coming from the same shack, nearby. MUFFLED screams! That got Jim's attention. Muffled screams meant that someone
was muffling them. Like as not, it was one of the rebels trying to hide, silencing the inhabitant of the shack so as not to draw attention to himself.
If that was the case - and Jim could think of no other reason - then the baby was a risk to the hider, and would likely get silenced next. "Dammit!"
Jim muttered under his breath, and headed for the shack. Showtime.
He approached from the corner of the shack, not liking the idea of silhouetting himself in the doorway. Muffled screams. Grunts. A crying baby. He
tried to find a crack in the wall, in order to see inside and place the inhabitants, possibly identify who he'd have to shoot a wee bit before he'd
have to shoot him. Or them. Adrenaline. Tunnel vision. And the inside of the shack was too goddamned dark, his eyes were adjusted to the bright
outdoors. Shade at the back corner of the shack. Jim moved to it, found a crack near ground level, laid down and peered in. Light coming from the
doorway at the front. Slow motion, so no one inside would see quick movement through the crack. If you can see in, they can see out. Move low, don't
present a man sized target. He peeped.
Inside, there was what appeared to be an orange crate, blankets hanging out over the edges, baby's cries coming from inside it. No motion near it.
That was a good thing. No one approaching to silence the baby. Yet. Grunting. Muffled screams. Both coming from a half-assed bed on the far wall
beyond the makeshift crib. Who the hell would be doing that at a time like this? Some folks are just plain odd, Jim thought to himself. Legs, two up
two down. With a start, Jim saw that the upward facing legs were struggling, and the downward facing legs had tiger-stripes around the knees. Same
pattern as HIS OWN tiger stripes. Cheap-ass local knock-offs, since the lowest bidder ALWAYS made your equipment.
Sonofabitch! Jim jumped up and bolted for the doorway. Whoever it was in there, they probably weren't paying much attention to the doorway. Sad
mistake for them.
Zipping in through the doorway, Jim immediately stepped to the side, getting out of the rays of invading sunshine so as not to throw a shadow. The
woman on the bed was facing towards Jim, eyes wide with an odd mixture of fear, anger, and tears. She was fighting it. Good for her. The grunting was
coming from the man on top of her, figting against her fighting, trying to get himself situated for the grand entrance. He hadn't got it done yet, but
lordy was he ever trying, and her fighting right back. He had his hand over her mouth to muffle the screams. Jim figured that was why he hadn't shot
her - didn't want to draw too much attention with a loud noise. The woman's eyes met Jim's, and he couldn't be sure if that look was pleading or
resignation. Whatever it was, it threw the spurs to him and set him in motion.
In two strides Jim was across the room and grabbing the man by the back of his collar, lifting him off and rolling him into the dirt floor at the side
of the bed. It was Reese. Figured. "Jus' what the hell you think yer doin' Reese? There's bad guys to be shot 'round here!"
Reese, for his part, choked and gasped from the front of his shirt cutting into his adam's apple during the lifting phase (which circumstance assisted
greatly in the lifting!) and choked out "If you dunno what I was doin' I can't help you!" He started to get up, rolling back towards the bed and the
woman who had by them curled herself up in a heap at the head of the bed.
"Don' make me break yer 'nads, Reese - an' that's just what'll happen if you reach back towards that woman. Grab yer kit an' lift yer britches an' git
the hell outta here. There's work to be done."
Not to be dissuaded, Reese continued upward, towards the woman and replied "I got a job to do HERE, and it's not finished yet". Jim, seeing where it
was headed, kicked him in the shoulder and sat him back on his ass in the dirt.
"No you ain't Reese. I'm serious - we ain't got time for this crap. I'll break you in bitty pieces, I swear I will, iffen you don' git the hell out of
Reese snorted and started to get back up. "Like hell you will. What is it? You want her all to yourself, or you just want to go first?" It was more
the smirk that did it, rather than the words, but in an instant Jim popped Reese right in the mouth with his rifle butt, knocking him flat on his back
in the dirt. "I said git the hell out. Don't make me drag you, pants around yer ankles and all." By then, Jim had covered Reese with the muzzle of his
rifle, more to make a point than anything else, but then you just never know how folks will react to getting knocked on their ass. It's usually not a
Reese drooled blood and spat out a couple of broken teeth, but got up and started pulling his pants up. There was a look of pure animal hatred in his
eyes. Jim noticed Reese's eyes dart towards the rifle he had leaned against the wall when he'd started wrestling the woman. "Don't do it" Jim
Reese said "You wouldn't dare shoot me. Too much noise, too much attention drawn. You're gonna have to watch your back the rest of your days, boy, and
that isn't gonna be long. Your next firefight might be your last. This ain't finished."
Jim just shook his head slightly and heaved a little sigh, almost a laugh but not quite, almost a snort, but not quite, and said "I reckon not. I was
afeared you might take that attitude."
The shot inside the shack nearly deafened Jim, but that was the end of that. "I ain't watchin' crap
over my shoulder for the likes of you, bud.
NOW it's finished."
The woman gibbered profuse thanks at Jim in Spanish as he dragged the body and Reese's ex-rifle out into the street. "Shaddup" Jim said in English "Go
watch yer nino, and just shut the hell up." He dragged the carcass and rifle into the edge of the street and dropped them into the mud, then yelled
"Hey! He went thataway!" and ran into the jungle in pursuit of an imaginary guerrilla who had shot an imaginary friend.
edit on 2013/6/4 by nenothtu because: (no reason given)