Sergeant Casey John Risley heard the sounds of his fellow soldiers swearing, praying… apologizing?
Why are they apologizing?
For some reason, that was what he was most worried about. Not the fact he could feel his life bleeding out of him or that Dom kept threatening to kick his ass.
This is war guys; we know what we’re in for, he told them. At least, he thought he did.
Hey, why are the lights dimming? What’s going on?
Then he realized they were outside in the desert.
The lights weren’t dimming. He was dying.
Dom’s so gonna kick my ass.
“You hang the fuck on, Casey!” Dom yelled in his face.
* * *
Whoop, whoop, whoop.
Sliding in and out of consciousness constantly, he registered the sound of the Halo’s rotors just as it landed. His vision was full of smoke and swirling sand. Still confused about what had happened, he screamed as Dom tossed him over his shoulder.
“You’re gonna be fine, Case. Just hang on,” Dom told him as he was strapped down to the flat board. He thought it must be pretty bad if they weren’t even doing a field assessment.
Just as the idea hit him, he went light-headed and felt like he was being lifted from his body.
“Dom?” he croaked, his voice dry and scratchy.
Seeing his friend’s face staring down at him, he looked pissed as hell. Dom was saying something too, but for the life of him, he couldn’t make it out.
As his eyes closed, Casey realized he had one regret.
His parents were right.
The Army killed him.
* * *
“Nurse, get the crash cart!”
“What the fuck is going on?”
Oh, he recognized Dom’s angry voice. Why can I hear these voices when it feels like I’m floating?
Searing pain raced through his chest as if his lungs were on fire. His back bowed, and his eyes rolled to the back of his head, but he still couldn’t move.
What is happening to me? He wondered just as blackness took him under.
* * *
What is that noise?
There was a buzzing sound rattling in his ear. Like a swarm of bees about to attack and annoying as fuck. When his body started to vibrate, pain slowly made its way up his body. His heart was racing out of control, feeling like it was about to explode from his chest. He forced his eyes open, hoping he could talk to someone, but it wasn’t working. Confusion settled in. Where was he? What was happening?
The last thing he remembered was ushering civilians out of a war zone.
* * *
“He’s coming to. Get the doctor.” Doctor? “You’re fine, Case, just relax.”
Why does Dom sound so emotional? The hard-headed bastard has no emotions.
When he lifted his arms, they felt like they were flailing. Like he had no muscles.
What the fuck is going on? Panic started to bubble up when he realized he had a tube down his throat.
Reaching for it, he felt hands on his arms holding him down. “Just hang on a minute, Casey. The doctor will be here soon.”
Stop fucking placating me, Dom! He wanted to scream.
The longer he had to wait, the more anxious he became. His body was thrashing about, yet he felt sort of disconnected from it all.
As movement became easier with each passing minute, Casey really began to fight Dom, pushing him back. When he attempted to slide his legs off the bed was the moment he realized something had happened. Something every soldier knew was a possibility yet prayed never happened to them.
My leg is gone.
* * *
“Casey, are you listening?” The physician asked for the hundredth time.
He was listening alright. He was just having a hard time believing it was his new reality.
If he were honest with himself, it was the third thing on that list that bothered him the most. He’d never done anything with his life before he joined the Rangers. He was a grade A dick all through school. Couldn’t hold a steady anything to save his life. Grades sucked. Football was his only escape from the constant nagging and discipline at home.
Now, here he was twenty-five years old and reduced to nothing because of one wrong fucking step. He was having a hard time believing the way his life was going to be now.
Just fucking great.
Anger was burning a hole in his gut. Depression was setting in. Denial wracked his brain. So many things were overwhelming his mind, and this doctor wanted him to talk about it? Not fucking likely. Who the fuck would want to get in his fucked up head anyway.
“I fucking got it, Doc,” he growled, turning to look out the window in his room. Couldn’t even fucking walk away. He had to sit there like a chump.