Home > Shawland Security : Book 2

Shawland Security : Book 2
Author: KM Lowe

 

Prologue

7 Months Earlier

Shay

"What do we do, Sarge?" I yell over the blasts that rock the ground around us.

Debris is flying in all directions, smoke is billowing into the sky, and people are running in all directions to protect themselves. The piercing screams will haunt me for life, if I get out of here alive. Everything is like a scene from a movie, only this is reality for me. This is my life. This is what I signed up for. This is what it’s like for the United States Army.

We've been out in the field, in Iraq, for ten weeks. We've faced gas attacks, shootouts, and now bombings. Our squad members are getting lower by the day, and if we get out of this anytime soon, I don't know how we'll come back from it. Each day is a struggle to stay sane. Each day is a struggle to keep our hearts beating. This place is quickly killing us one by one.

It’s at moments like this when I think about all the stupid decisions I’ve made in the army. I wish I’d taken my leave when Clay did. Maybe I would have a regular nine-to-five job, settled down with kids, doing school runs and soccer practice, living a life. Clay was the one person who got me. He understood the way my mind worked, what made me tick, and what pissed me off. Yet, when it came down to it, he couldn’t understand why I choose to stay here when I’d served my time. I could have walked away to live a normal life, but I didn’t. I signed my own death certificate. I stayed in active duty.

Clay was my boss for four years. In fact, he was the best boss anyone could ask for. We worked alongside each other for two years before he was promoted to my boss, but he never changed. That’s why he had everyone’s love and respect. It was a sad day when he announced he was leaving, but everyone got it… apart from me. He was my best friend. My confidante. My lover when I needed him. He was just my go-to person when I had a problem or special moment to share. We all need one of those people out here. Even now, I want to reach out to Clay and give him a run down of my day. I want to hear him tell me how everything will be okay. Let him hold me until my fear subsides. But he isn’t here. He got out. He has a life on the outside, and while I’m happy for him, there’s also a part of me that’s jealous of his bravery to leave. It’s harder to leave this life than it is to stay. For some of us, this is the only thing we’ve ever known. Some of us entered the forces right out of school. We have nothing else to fall back on. That’s what goes through my head… What would I do on the outside? Who would I be? I have a purpose here. I know what I’m doing. The thought of having no routine, no normalcy, scares the shit out of me. That’s why I chickened out and stayed in the armed forces; fear of the unknown.

"Take cover, Shay!"

"Josh... " I cough and try to clear my lungs from the soot and smoke. My chest feels heavy, like a whole ton of bricks is lying on top of me. I’m struggling to breathe because even the air around us is polluted with smoke, gas, and dust.

I can hear my commander in the distance, but I can’t see much amongst the rubble, smoke, and debris raining down on us. Where do I take cover when I don't have anywhere? Every building is hanging by a thread. Everything is chaos. Our lifelines are running out extremely quickly and we don’t get a second chance here. You get in, get out, or get left behind to rot, as harsh as that sounds. You’re fast or you’re last.

Right now, I’m far from fast. I feel like I'm drowning. It doesn’t matter what I do, something is blocking me every way I turn.

What would Clay do? He would run like the wind and never look back.

“Fucking run, Shay!” I hear Clay’s words echo in my ears.

There’s nothing else I can do here apart from run. And that’s what I do. I sprint as fast as my legs can take me, trampling over bodies and piles of rubble, never stopping to see who is dead or alive. Never looking over my shoulder because that will only slow me down.

“Never take your eyes off the direction you’re running, Shay. If there ever comes a time when it’s your life or someone else’s, you fight. You never give up your own life for someone else.”

My life is important, and I need to get out of here.

I need to focus. I've got a lot of confessions to make when I get out of here, starting with confessing my love to Clay. My old commander. My old lover. My best friend. I haven't seen or heard from him in a few months because our contact on the phone or Skype dwindled down to hardly anything. It kills me with each passing day, but I made my decision. I wasn't ready to be a civilian. I wasn’t ready to leave the chaos that I live for.

A blast sounds behind me, getting closer and closer to my moving form. I can't run as fast as the chopper is dropping bombs. It's impossible. I’m failing my sole mission to stay alive.

The earth under my feet shakes, I stumble, and I land on all fours, hovering over a dead woman. She’s limbless and covered in blood. I scream and jump to my feet, stumbling along, never losing the image of that woman's body, or what’s left of it. That could happen to me if I don’t fucking run.

Boom!

My body is thrown into the air and I feel myself freefalling onto the ground. My hearing is gone, my body feels weak, my vision is blurry. I can't feel anything. I lie here, looking up to the dark night sky, praying for a miracle, or a little piece of hope that will keep me going. Anything.

"Shay! Get up! Move! Don't give up. Don’t you ever give up."

"Clay," I whisper.

I must be in a bad way. I can't see anything but black, but I can hear Clay yelling at me. Is he here? Has he come to save me?

"Clay."

I feel the life draining from my body, and I can't keep my eyes open anymore. Everything around me is getting darker, the noise is calmer, and the ground is still. I never expected to take my last breath out here. I’ve lived and breathed the army and it has sucked the life out of me piece by piece.

Another fallen soldier.

***

I open my eyes slightly; the stinging makes me realize I wasn’t just having a nightmare. Every part of my body aches and protests as I’m shaken around in someone’s arms. Where am I? Who has me?

Every memory comes back to me and I remember the bomb, my short conversation with Clay, and then nothing. I look up slowly, hoping to see Clay, but I see Josh, my commander. He looks a little worse for wear, but he's walking. It’s more than can be said for me.

"W-what happened?"

My mouth feels like sandpaper. I can't swallow; my throat feels like it has razor blades stuck in it. My head is pounding. I can’t even pretend to feel okay. I’ve never felt this bad in my life.

"We were bombed. I have no idea where we're going, but we need to keep moving. We can’t stop. It isn’t safe for us."

We’re in enemy territory. We’re basically walking around with red targets over our hearts.

"Where is everyone?"

"We're the only two here. I don’t know where anyone is. I’m guessing they didn’t make it."

"W-what?" I feel my heart shatter all over again. My squad mates are gone. My family. The only people who have kept me sane over the last few years.

A sob catches in my throat. The pain radiates through my body, inch by inch. The burning in my legs is unbearable. I have the headache from hell. My stomach feels like a washing machine, like I’m about to vomit all over the place.

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