The percussion from that last blast was so close it rattled Ian to the core. His head hurt as if his brains were scrambled.
“Dear God, get me out of this alive.”
Ian spotted a low running stone wall to his left. He looked both ways briefly, and then dashed for the wall and throwing himself over it retreated from the cacophony of sound that surrounded the darkened streets.
He started thinking of College and how stupid he had been to dismiss his parent’s wishes. They were not happy about his enlisting. They wanted him to continue in his studies and become a doctor. His mother told him she didn’t bring him into this world so some worthless terrorist could take him out. He began to realize that she was right.
Why were we fighting? Oh yeah, because some religious zealots thought blowing people alive was the way to….what exactly? There was no answer. Killing innocents could never be justified. We are well into the 21st century and the world is fighting a massive group of zealots believing in the words of a prophet from 1400 years ago.
Ian was sad. He too believed in God, but his was a god of understanding and trying to make a better lot for everyone on this great big marble. How petty your God must be to condone the bullying of people into a belief system that keeps them as slaves. He began to realize while here that most of the people of this denomination weren’t like the zealots, but that the zealots kept them in line through intimidation. Man this is messed up. How do these harbingers of evil sleep at night. It is obvious they do not believe in their God or they couldn’t behave this way. More to the point was why they would think this is the right way to be, when in these modern times you can clearly see there is a more civilized and enlightened way to live.
Ian once again shook to the core. Then he heard a moaning, and then the shear grief of a mother finding her child had been hit.
“Help me” a woman screamed. “Please help me. My baby, my baby.”
She was sobbing uncontrollably and there were more bombing sounds in the near distance. Ian sat up and turned around and on his knees looked over the wall. He could see the woman lying in the road and he could see that the child was bleeding profusely into the blown out street.
Without a thought he darted over the wall and ran to the woman. She saw Ian run toward her and fear gripped her face. She clutched her little girl who looked to be six or seven to her breast as if that would protect her from any further harm. She pulled out a small scimitar from her head covering.
Ian put both hands up in the air. His automatic weapon slung down his back. He looked at the woman with eyes of warmth and understanding he then looked at the girl. The woman was intuitive and knew Ian was no threat and may help her with her little girl. She let Ian get close enough to kneel next to the little girl.
“You speak English”
“Yah.” said the woman.
“Look we can’t stay here, someone will find us. Let’s move her over the wall so we have some cover.”
“Her name is Mumina, and I am Alia.”
“Great, my name is Ian. We need to get out of here.”
He looked at Alia and then at the girl. The woman nodded. Ian scooped up the little girl who then screamed out in agony. Ian was happy to hear this as it meant she had not yet gone into shock.
Alia climbed over the wall and Ian carefully laid Mumina in her arms. The mother very tenderly laid her girl down on the ground.
Ian was shaking all over. This poor little girl’s leg was a mangled mess. He was trying to gather his thoughts and think about what to do.
“Momma…..I’m scared….and my legs hurt.” The little girl began to cry and shake. “Momma I want to go home, I’m scared momma.”
“It’s going to be all right Mumina, Momma will get you to a hospital as soon as I can. This man Ian will help us.”
The mother held the little girls head in her lap and gently moved the moistened hair from her face. Ian started talking into a radio he pulled from his back pack.
“No, we are in the old city near the fountain of justice. I’ve a mother and child with me. The girl is hurt. There is a stone wall along the perimeter road. I’ll watch out for you. Over”
Ian put the walkie talkie like radio back in his sack and then pulled a Red Cross Kit from his back pack. He took out a blue cord and he quickly went to work making a tourniquet for the girl’s leg.
Ian was looking over the wall hoping to see anyone from his company. Everyone got separated. His heart was pounding. If he got caught here in town alone he was a dead man, and it wouldn’t be pleasant. They would beat him and drag him through the streets as a war prize.
He heard some voices.
“Oh no. Listen I can’t be found they will kill me. We must be quiet. Mumina, can you try to keep quiet honey. These men will hurt me, and then I won’t be able to get you to the base hospital.
“I will try Mr. Ian.”
What a cute little girl. She didn’t deserve this. None of the good people in this town deserved this. They were hard working folks who just wanted to go about their business. Now there town was under siege. The voices were getting closer. He heard the men, they were looking for the injured and not armed. They walked past.
Alia spoke “Maybe we should go with them.”
“No.” Ian said. “They do not have the facilities to help her. She needs to get to the base.”
“What if they don’t get here?” Alia begged. “Mumina is all I have left. She is my life.”
“This is why you need to trust me when I say my squadron will find us.”
“And if they don’t.”
“They will Alia.” Ian softened “I promise.”
They sat there for what seemed like an eternity. Mumina just softly murmuring and Alia stroking her hair. Ian thought about how when his enlistment is up in two months he will be out of this hell hole. He will go back to school and make his mother proud.
Finally Alia spoke. “Thank you for staying with us and helping us Ian. I was always taught to be afraid of Americans, but your face looked so innocent and I knew I could trust you. I have asked my God to bless you all your days for helping me and my daughter. “
“I could never ignore another person suffering Alia. It just isn’t in me.”
“We are told many lies about Americans, just as I am sure you are told many lies about us.”
“That is probably true.” Ian retorted. “But, sometimes lies carry a hint of truth, no?”
“I guess.” Alia said.
She was about to say something else when there was a rumbling along the wall.
“What is that?” Alia said, looking to Ian with a face of panic.
“That is our chariot.”
“I want to go in the chariot” Mumina mumbled.
“And you will.” Ian said.
Ian looked over the wall.
“Here they come. The best guys in the world.”
Ian smiled at Alia and said “Get her ready. We will want to get out of here quick.”
Ian climbed over the wall and the truck came to a stop
“Man oh man. What the hell happened to you? “
“Jim, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you. Listen I have an injured girl here and her mom. We need to evacuate them to the base hospital. The little girl’s leg is mangled pretty badly.”
They looked to the wall and Alia already had Mumina in her arms. The pretty little girl’s eyes were wide open and a small smile was on her lips.
“That is not a chariot”
“Haha, no it isn’t kiddo.”
“You are a funny one Mr. Ian.”
Alia, placed the little girl in the back of the truck. Ian and Jim tried to make a cozy spot for her. Jim had some blankets in the back and they made a little pillow for her head and covered her up. Jim then got back down and closed the hatch up.
“Are you coming up front Ian?”
“No Jim. I’ll ride back here with my new friends.”
The truck sped away. Ian could finally relax. He helped save the life of a little girl. Maybe this wasn’t the waste he thought it was. He also knew his mother would have been real proud of him. That was the day Ian knew if he did get out of this alive he would go back to school and become a doctor.