Gun shots and explosions rang throughout my ears. Dirt rained all around me from near by detonations of grenades. My feet were aching, heart racing, head spinning. I understood what the military was about, but I didn’t take into consideration what it would actually be like getting shot at, almost blown up, and being a walking target. I was taking cover behind a pile of rubble, looking around for Maverick. He was leaning against an arc made of stone that used to belong to a building, which of course, was now in ruins. Maverick’s gun was being clutched so hard his knuckles were turning white. Determination was written all over his face. You could clearly see his five o’clock shadow. His blue eyes were alert and focused, barely showing themselves from under his helmet. Sweat dripped down his face until it stopped in the midst of the blond stubble on his face. Slowly, I stated to stand, taking a peek above the rubble. The coast seemed to be clear. I sprinted to were Evan was leaning, which was maybe 60 or so yards from where I previously was. “Glad you could join me, Steele,” he said with a smirk. “Were you a little scared over there all by yourself with no one to protect you?” Another explosion went off. “Or did little Eli just want to be over here with me, eh?” Even in times of war,he can still find the time to be a smart ass. “Where’s your brother?” Ignoring his childish ways is usually the most affective was to go. “Back at base. He talked to me on the walkie not too long ago. Said he’d bring in more backup if-” The ground shook with yet another explosion. Evan sighed. “Needed.” He finished. “These explosions really know how to ruin a simple conversation.” My stomach growled. “Lovely.” “What?”
“ I’m starving. Haven’t eaten in days. I was hoping to just not think about it. But I guess my stomach caught up to me.”
Placing his gun down, Evan reached in his pouch that hung from the side of his uniform. The beige canvas bag was usually used for ammunition, but apparently Evan had other plans with it. He may be childish at times, but Evan Maverick was clever. He pulled out a perfect crimson apple. No bruises, no spots. “Here.” He handed over the apple with a smile. “Axel gave it to me. Says that doctors will leave me alone or something like that if I eat it. But I like doctors. They’re nice.” For a 26 year old, he had a pretty good sense of humour. Evan and Axel were brothers. I’ve known Axel since first grade. We were in the same class that year. Evan was a year younger than the both of us. We were all really good friends until the both of them were sent to the Military Academy in high school. Didn’t see them again until I joined the Army. The three of us were deployed to Iraq and have been here for over a year. “Thanks. I really needed this.” I took out my pocket knife that I’ve had since I was little and started to slice off wedges. I offered Evan a piece. When I was just about to take a bite of mine I heard a sound at the end of what was left of the corridor. The sound echoed through the remains of the building just as loudly as the explosions. My head snapped up and so did Evan’s. He grabbed for his gun. A figure consumed by shadows walked down the corridor, searching under, over, and beside the rubble scattered on the ground. “Evan, stay quiet and keep still.” I quietly edged closer to the enemy. My gun was ready, but I felt more confident with the pocket knife. I tightened my grip just to reassure myself. Evan tapped my shoulder. He gave me the sign to fall back, but I just waved it off. Anyone who interrupts my only consumption of food in three days needs to be confronted. I made my way closer to the figure. It was looking under a huge piece of rubble when it noticed me. I could feel it’s eyes locking on to mine as it looked at me for a few seconds. Trying not to move a muscle, I drew in three breaths. One breath, the figure straightened up. Two, it started walking in my direction. And three, it started a nice jogging pace towards me. There was no time to check if Maverick was around to have my back so I had to take this one on my own. The enemy was about 10 yards away from me when I got into position. I loosened my grip on the knife, assessed where I was throwing it, focused, and aimed all before the figure stepped another yard closer. I watched as the knife left my fingertips, grazing the skin on my middle finger. The blade cut through the thick,dusty air in slow motion, taking it’s time to make sure the target was locked. With every rotation the knife made, the more anxious I became. With it’s most graceful, and final turn, the little knife I always kept with me embedded itself in the neck of a figure on enemy’s turf, staining it’s steel blade with the thick liquid the same colour as my apple. The figure flung backwards, catching itself on it’s feet before hitting the ground. It wobbled for a moment and dropped to it’s knees. That’s when I stood up to check out the damage I’ve done. I jogged to the figure. As I got closer I could make out features. Male, maybe late twenties, blue eyes...blond hair. I got closer. Scar on his right cheek just like Axel’s. When I was to the point where I could stand over the man, I felt lightheaded. My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach that’s appetite was lost in the commotion. I felt my knees hit the ground with a rough thud. I looked into Axel’s eyes. They were glazed over and wide. He was struggling to find breaths.
“Axel... Axel I...I didn’t know it was you. I could have sworn- ah shit!” I tossed the knife aside with a vigorousness I wasn’t expecting. I ripped apart of my jacket off to use to put pressure on Axel’s wound. Tears were blocking my vision and it was hard to concentrate when your heart was beating so loudly it was scaring you.
“Don’t...sweat it...Just” A deep breath came from his mouth. “Just... look after...Ev. Kay?” His eyes were starting to shut. The blue eyes I grew to know all too well were beginning to shut for the very last time, never to open again. And then he fell limp in my arms.
“Ax? AXEL! God damn it don’t you do this to me.” I was keeping back tears at this point. Footsteps were ringing through the corridor. I spun my head around.
“Hey Eli, you alright? I heard scream...ing.” Evan’s face went to tan to white in less than a second. Jaw almost to the floor. Confusion took over his eyes. Shock preventing him from moving. I looked down at Axel, who’s head was on my knees. My head was hung and tears were pouring down my face.
“I’m sorry, Evan. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Evan slowly walked over to us. When he could see the blood, he winced.
“Get away from him.” He said softly.
I sniffled. “Excuse me?”
He looked up at me. Evan’s eyes went from confused, to filled with hate. “I said get away from him. Don’t make me say it again.”
I gently placed Axel’s head down. The back of my hand made it’s way to my fave to wipe away the tears. I stood up slowly.
“Get away from him!” Evan came up to me and pushed me aside. He sat next to his brother taking his face in his hands. I could hear him start to sob. “Go! Just leave us be.”
Going to place my hand on his shoulder, I pulled back. I just killed my best friend. His brother now hates me. It was clear I wasn’t wanted here.
I made my way out of the ruined building. My knife was left behind, along with my gun. I walked straight into the battle field. Ignoring the explosions, gunshots, and screams, I walked. Not caring that I was without a weapon, not caring I could die. I didn’t turn back to the Mavericks. But as I was walking, I quietly whispered “I’m sorry” one last time.