Why I wear a helmet. 95% True! Aug 6, 2008 0:34:18 GMT -5
Post by Enkidu on Aug 6, 2008 0:34:18 GMT -5
Fast breathing - too fast.
It's me. I'm breathing like that.
Fast breathing - too fast.
It's me. I'm breathing like that.
Dark, not blackness but darkness. Fast breaths - in out in out.
Slow down. Slow that breathing.
There. Now normal breaths. In. Out. In. Out. Quiet now.
Take stock. I'm down, somehow. Regular breaths. Dark.
On the ground! I'm flat on my face. Still dark.
What's that noise? Sharp, high sounds. Ringing. Are those voices, now?
Brightness, then. Sudden brightness, lighter now! Red bright light and
now shouting voices and the pinging sounds and I'm still flat on my face and I'm hot and wet and breathing steady and there's something boxy and painful under my hips.
Like the slamming of a door it all becomes clear: I'm on the floor of an unbelievably filthy school bus, face down in the grunge. I'm wearing goggles that feel very hot and moist and long-sleeved BDUs that also feel very hot and moist. I'm laying on top of my M14, which digs into the bones of my hip painfully. Through strings of sweaty hair, I can see my BDU cap, knocked off my head when I banged it on the door on the way in. I'm playing airsoft, and I'm in Ohio for Safari Strike 2. My unkind entry into the bus was as the rear element of a small squad. I flop over gracelessly and, wincing, prop myself up against the paint-stained metal side of the school bus. The M14 I pull into my lap - it seems undamaged. Through the metal, I can feel the strike of BBs, putting cause to those pinging sounds I heard earlier. It's hot in here - too hot. Like oven hot; breathing is near-torturous.
A tall guy dressed in surplus camouflage who looks like he's never shaved leans over me with a serious look on his face.
"Thought we lost you there, man! You all right?"
"Yeah," I manage to mumble. "I think I was out for a second or two."
"Want me to call for a medic?" His face quirks up wryly. "A real medic, I mean?"
"No, I'm good, I think." And he turns away, evidently satisfied.
I reach around to my side and pull open a pouch that holds my canteen and take a long pull from it. The water is as warm as blood, but tastes amazing anyway. I take a quick look around. There are about six other people in the bus, each dressed in green and brown camouflage, eyes masked by goggles. One of them leans out the rear door of the bus - the one I cracked my skull on - and peers intently across the ten meters of open ground between him and the woods across the way. He peers intently into the treeline, then nods to himself, evidently receiving directions by hand signal. I take a huge heaving inward breath and try to ignore the brilliant flash of pain that seems to explode inside my head. As I stand up, the man in the door turns around and shouts into the bus.
"Hey. We're making a move to take the fortress. I want you out of this bus in thirty seconds!"
I take a quick look at my watch, which is pinned to a shoulder strap. Five minutes left. I begin pulling myself to my feet, gear and pouches clattering as they shift into position. My team is making a big push, and things are going certain to get a little crazy. I spend a moment to rearrange my medic armband, which had slipped all the way down to my wrist in the fall. As the erstwhile soldiers file out of the front door of the school bus, I check my pouch of medic cards: still there.
Even before I hit the bottom step of the bus, the attack begins. Green-clad men bearing chattering weapons pour out of the woods to the west. Around the corner of the bus, my own squad sprints the hundred open meters to the white painted wooden structure we've been calling the fortress. From where I stand, I can see grim-faced men in tan fatigues standing inside the fortress walls, firing their weapons. Their toll is tremendous. Someone tosses smoke grenades and the air fills with white clouds of obscuring vapor and the smell of sulfur. People are yelling and shouting - some are orders but most are just war cries. A big smile comes over my face, unbidden. You can't buy this kind of fun!
It's my job as medic to hang back during an attack like this. Soon enough, I hear calls for my services.
"Meeeediiiic!" I hear shouted in a stereo chorus. And with that I'm off, heading right into the firefight where a comrade sits on the ground with an inappropriately silly red cloth on his head. As I approach I pull a baseballer's slide and pull to a stop just a foot away from the disabled rifleman. We're in the thick of the smoke, which hides us from the opposing team. Still, BB's whiz through the air, leaving behind curlicue vortices of smoke in their wake. I pop the top of the container holding the medic cards and with moist and filthy fingers withdraw the card at the top of the deck. It's the Jack of spades: instant death.
"Sorry, man. Instant death," I say to him. "Might as well head back to the parking lot, you won't have time to respawn."
"Shit," he exclaims. "Actually, I'm gonna stay here. I wanna see how this turns out."
So do I.
The wind has picked up, and the temporary cover of the smoke screen is vanishing. I grab my M14 and snap off a few rounds at a tan soldier inside the fort. Before I find out whether my aim was true I am up and running again. Head down, legs pumping, I find it near-miraculous I haven't felt the sting of a BB hit. Maybe we've actually succeeded in taking the structure? Soon, I arrive at the long wooden wall that marks the boundaries of the fortress structure. Leaning up against it are at least ten teammates, two with wound rags on their heads. The eight active soldiers point their weapons uneasily at the top of the wall - waiting for an unwelcome enemy appearance. I scoot my way down the line of nervous gunmen and get down to business. The first man pulls a minor wound card. I take out a roll of athletic tape and wind a loop of it around his arm. There - wound "bandaged". Then I look over at my watch and count out thirty precious seconds - healing time.
Meanwhile, the sounds of furious combat fill the air. Guns fire constantly on all sides. BBs whack into the wooden parts of the fort, creating a never-ending riot of clacks and chirps. An enemy counter-attack appears to develop on the right flank, and a devastating shift of fire from the emplaced guns of my comrades seems to beat it back. A quick look angled over the white wall reveals an empty superstructure - the enemy has been driven to ground inside the fortress.
At the instant the thirty-second heal timer runs out, a tan-helmeted head appears over the wall accompanied by the barrel of a pistol. The handgun barks, and is answered by a hail of gunfire from the men in green on my side. I hear the sounds of two new men - one ours and one theirs - calling for medics. Nobody is eager to just put their gun over the wall and let loose - blind fire is forbidden. It's clear the men on both sides of this wall have reached a stalemate. One guy at the end of the line with a mowhawk and a name badge that says Iceman asks if anyone has any grenades, but gets a chorus of "No"s and shaken heads in response. Once again I head down the line, hugging the wall as best I can, to heal someone else.
The open field to the south - the same one I crossed just minutes ago - is littered with men in green wearing red rags. They're dead and out of my reach. Out there in that no-man's land, I doubt anyone is going to come for them. The clatter of BBs against the walls of the fort finally ceases. It appears we've got them all bottled up - victory is a mere formality at this point. In the safety of the lee of the wall, I take a moment to gently touch the nasty bump on my head from my bus-related misadventure. I can tell its going to hurt tomorrow.
Suddenly, to my left, a big man in green - maybe six feet tall - stands up with gun at the ready. Unbelievably, he jumps, easily clearing the top of the wall. At the apex of his jump he lets out a full-auto burst from his rifle, raining down plastic BB doom onto the heads of his enemies. Clever, that maneuver. I can't say it violated the letter of the law, either!
And that's when it happens.
Before I can think to respond, a tan-clothed arm appears over the wall. At the end of the arm is a revolver, which fires a round. Which hits me directly on the swollen welt on the top of my head. The sting of contact makes my eyes water. About three seconds later, the game is called for lunch.
And that's why I always wear a helmet when I play airsoft.
Like the title says, this story is 95% true - it differs from the real story only in minor, unimportant details. I also tried to work in the formatting tags to see if the HTML format could enhance the story by evoking feelings of movement and emphasis. Do you think it worked at all?