No one spoke much as we stood in the dusty field just off the air base, not that we could have heard each other anyway. They had been shipping stuff in for the last twelve hours, none stop, mostly medical supplies, food, bottled water, body bags. Needless to say the cargo planes made a hell of a noise. It did not come as a huge surprise to see the body bags, but it woke me up to how bad things were getting out there.
None of us knew exactly what was going on. Two theories seemed to be obvious explanations. The first being that no one knew what the hell was going on. The second, just as concerning one, was that they had decided we didn’t need to know, which, either way, meant we were going into this fight blind as an old dog.
“Bring it in boys!” The Sergeant Chase barked over the noise, an order we quickly complied with.
“Right, we are being put into use in a few minutes, here is what is happening. We are being deployed as a foot patrol into the town try to reassure the locals. Chalk 1 is being put out as support for the cops at the power plant, they want to try and maintain power in the local area as long as possible. Chalk 3 is being sent out to the hospital, secure and quarantine…”
“Hold on, what exactly are they quarantining?” I interrupted.
“They were pretty vague on that, as fucking usual, but it’s getting bad. Mixed reports coming in, uh, something about reanimation”
“Zombies” Josh laughed, “Sir, you are screwing with us right?”
“Fraid not pal” the Sergeant retorted “Don’t assume that they are, they haven’t conformed anything yet. As it is, ROEs stand the same as any deployment to a dense civilian area. The CH-46 is arriving in 15. We got some light vehicles being dropped off by the Chinooks with us. Only five seats, so someone gotta ride off the side, do not know what idiot designed them but that’s all they are offering us. Anymore dumbass questions Pvt. Calvert?” The sergeant asked.
“No sir” Josh responded
“Good, that’s it, first squad over here with me”
After the sergeant left with first squad we all settled back down into our line, we could hear the faint slapping of helicopter rotors in the distance, it looks like it wouldn’t end up being 15 minutes after all. Josh was looking shaken he kept releasing and locking back in his magazine, as if he were practicing reloading. We had been together since BT (Basic Training) and had become good friends because of it. We had always looked out for each other.
“Hey man you alright” I asked as gently as I could.
“No, I haven’t seen my family in forever and now all this shit is happening. You see they bring in some new troops, not national guard or regular army or anything. People been saying they are execution squads” He whispered.
“What! To execute who, for Christ sake?”
“What did you just say?” Abel questioned (we always referred to him by his second name) frowning.
“Don’t worry Able, he misheard me” Josh snapped, which came as a surprise
The three choppers were virtually on us now. Chalk 1 was already loading up, their figures silhouetted against the early morning sun. I turned my head away as the dust was thrown toward our eyes. The chopper’s back wheels touched down first very gently. As soon as the back door came down we moved forward to mount up, first squad right, second squad left. I took my seat right in the center of our line opposite McCaskey, a man of Jewish origin. He had always been a good soldier, very calm under stress, also a loyal person. He would take a hit for any one of the guys.
In seconds we were in the air and on route to the landing zone, I could see Chalk 3’s chopper falling in behind ours.