Scar Tissue v1.2

From the mountains ringing the huddle of earth toned buildings we drop our packs for a break and watch the trucks come and go, the men scramble like fleas on a starving dog. Behind me the three men patch each other up. It was touch and go getting out of the prison, but then it wasn’t my first go around so I knew a few tricks. Still I have two broken ribs and a bullet wound in my right shoulder. I really need to take a look at it but I’m avoiding it until I can do it without my new friends being around. People tend to take advantage of weakness. Behind me the gravel shifts as the older man moves up next to me.

“We’re patched up. How long till we can move?”

The accent’s is American, Texas maybe. I turn my head and study him, strong jawbones and facial features, brown eyes, brown hair that’s cut close to the scalp, five-day stubble, gaunt cheeks, muscled body. This one’s a soldier by profession. “Nightfall we move.”

“Where to?”

I smile and I see the worry come into his eyes. “Over the mountain.”

Behind us I hear his two buddies start cursing under their breath. But he just gives me once over, “Why would we do that.”

“They’ll comb every inch of this mountain. We move or we die.”

“That’s an impossible trek at night unless you know the trails.”

“That’s why you’ll be following me.”

I stand and walk towards their packs, as they go into a confab about the situation. My stomach is gnawing at me as I go through the first pack. In the second, I find MREs and sigh in relief. I tear open the wrapper with my teeth and am two bites in when a hand grips down on my right shoulder, the one that a bullet went through two hours ago. I know it’s just one of the Ameicans but I can’t stop the reaction from brain to muscle. I grab the hand and heave, flipping him over my shoulder. I roll away and come up crouched low, knife ready. One man is down choking for air and the other two have weapons trained on me. “Jake, you alright?”

“Ya, bitch caught me off guard.”

“Jake, you sure you’re alright? You got blood all over your arm and hand.”

I watch as Jake takes a survey of himself, “It’s not mine.”

Their eyes turn to me about the time the edges of my vision start to go grey. And I know it’s to late to run but I still try to as the world closes in on me.

I come awake as always, instantly and with dread. My hands are tied and I’m propped against a pack. I keep my body totally loose and my eyes closed. I feel the needle pierce skin and the thread pull through. I open my eyes and am face to face with the older soldier. He starts to move a hand over my mouth as the needle pierces again but I tilt my head back and keep my eyes locked on him. My whole body is rigid now. I can feel every stitch being put in my shoulder and I breathe slowly, in and out, in and out. I can feel a bandage on the front and back of my right side as well. Overhead the stars shine on, blissfully uncaring about the blood and pain rolling beneath them. All the colors are too sharp, the sounds to loud, but I just keep on breathing.

Finally the needle stops and the man I knocked to the ground looks up at me from my side. “Cut her loose.”

In the darkness I hear the men move. “How long were you held down there?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“How long?”

I sigh; apparently it’s share time. “Two years starting in 2005.”

“Jesus.”

I grimace in the dark, people and their gods. “Jesus had nothing to do with it.”

“How’d you survive?”

“It’s a long story.”

“We’ve got time.”

I rub my wrists and stand slowly, testing the pull of the stiches and the bandage that was applied over them. “Time is something we don’t have. Hear that silence? That means they’re sweeping close to us. We should have been long gone by now, but we aren’t so now we have to haul ass.”

“There’s no way you can haul ass with the bullet hole, knife wounds, and bruises you have.”

“Took an inventory while you were patching me up huh?”

“It was hard to miss.”

I grin into the night, “Don’t worry boys I’ve got too much scar tissue to feel half of it and the rest is nothing I haven’t lived through before. Now we gotta move.”

I wait as they gather their packs and then single file we slither through the rocks and brush. The night air cools around us as we inch up the mountain. I stop suddenly, smelling like an animal. I glance back and signal the three to stay. I slip down the hill, listening as I go. I hone in on the smell that alerted me. A foreign cigarette many of the Arab soldiers smoke. I stop and scan the brush, searching. Finally I see them, two soldiers in the shadow of a scrub tree. I dry my hands on my filthy pants and creep forward again. I am directly behind them before they realize the night sounds have stopped, and by then it is far to late. As I lay the last body to the ground so no sound is made I hear a small noise, more a disturbance in the silence than anything distinct. I whirl, knife ready to throw and stop as I see the three Americans ease from the brush. I pull the water skins from both guards and sling them around me. “What’s a matter? Don’t’ trust me boys?”

“Trust is a luxury darling. They dead?”

I smile in the dark, a flash of white teeth. “Dead men tell no tales and shout no alarm. Let’s move. There will be sentries all along the mountain. We need to climb and climb fast.”

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