Close the Distance, Finish the Fight

Submitted into Contest #99 in response to: Write about the longest day of the year, or a day that never seems to end.... view prompt



The phrase, “Close the distance, finish the fight,” repeated itself through Drew’s mind to the point it almost became a mantra. “Finish the fight.” This is all Drew really wanted.

It never rained a drop the day of the battle of Hawk Island, but as Drew inched his body across the battle ground, enough blood had soaked into the ground that mud started to cake onto his clothes.

The smoke and mist were so thick it was almost impossible to see. There was no more command. There was no one to communicate to him and give him his orders. The only reason he knew he was going the right direction was because of the people to his left and right.

Five hours had passed. Those hours felt like days, which felt like weeks, that felt like an eternity of deafening gunshots, explosions, and screams. Even a minute though, was too long for a person to endure.

Drew kept his head down dragging his face across the ground. Every time he pulled his head up another body fell limp onto the ground. If he had the opportunity to crawl under one of those bodies to reach his destination, he would. Drew knew, that to survive he would have to come to a very cold conclusion; these were no longer people, these were no longer friends. They were just corpses and now, also a tool for his survival.

              This was the nature of the battle of Hawk Island. Nobody knew what they were fighting for. The only fact they knew is that if they did not reach the building in the middle of it in time and kill everything in it, the entire world would collapse.

              Extraordinarily little information was given about their enemy. Drew’s NCOIC gave a briefing that said, “You shoot them, they die.” Then they further discussed specific tactics. Specific tactics that did not matter because his NCOIC was wrong. The enemy would not die. They were faster, stronger, and almost impervious to bullets.

              The entirety of the battle was hell for Drew. It all ran together like one long nightmare. There was one incident that brought back a memory. A memory that made him realize what he used to take for granted.

In advanced individual training Drew remembered looking at the old WWII pictures of men with shell shock. He and his battle buddies laughed at one specifically. The man smiled at the camera. To a bunch of kids this was just a grown man with a goofy face during battle.

              At the battle of Hawk Island, Drew came to understand and witness the man’s fear on a personal level. The man Drew witnessed did not smile though. He stood catatonic, stiff as a board with a rifle clinched in his hands. A hawk ran up with no fear, no regard for the disadvantage of the other man and put a knife deep into his neck, severing his spine. Drew’s friend inevitably collapsed to the ground but, a man that devastated by trauma was dead long before the knife even contacted his skin.

Drew knew the man that was killed. They were in the same Company. In fact, he was one of them that laughed at the man in the WWII picture.

              Drew continued to crawl with his head down and nothing but a pistol in his hand. Then, a foot stepped in front of his face almost stepping on him. It was a hawk.

Every hawk wore black combat boots, pants, shirts, and masks. They were each dressed like mercenaries with the stature of gods. The masks were all black except for one specifically drawn eye. It was a blue circle, with a dilated black pupil in the center, located on what would be the forehead of the person. Drew saw dozens of pictures of these humanoid creatures, he never wanted to see one face to face.

              Unfortunately, this brought Drew that opportunity. He rolled to his back to defend himself, but it was too late. The Hawk had the muzzle of an M16 pointed directly at Drew’s face. Drew could feel the heat of the muzzle from hundreds of 556 rounds, as he dropped his pistol and grabbed the muzzle. Drew instinctively pulled it toward him and put the barrel in the dirt. Two rounds fired. The percussion was like getting punched in the face. Drew cried out, he did not know if he had been hit or not.

Drew slowly opened his eyes to see the entire weight of the Hawk’s body supported by the rifle.

              As blood ran through the hawk’s mask his cold, dead, drawn on eye stared into Drew. A stray bullet must have hit him. Drew looked closer. Several stray bullets must have hit him. It took so much to kill these creatures. Now though, Drew knew they could die. There was a glimmer of hope.

The Hawk lost his balance on the rifle and fell to Drew’s side. Drew caught his breath and closed his eyes once again. This time he prayed in quiet desperation. He thought to a few months back.

              Drew would walk into the commissary every Thursday whether he needed to or not. There was a beautiful woman named Kaitlin that worked at one of the checkouts.

              Drew never got to know her personally, but she had the kindest eyes, and the purest smile. With every transaction she put forth every bit of genuine love she felt for her fellow human being. Although drawn to every aspect of Kaitlin, he never had the courage to ask her out.

War, for some reason at the time, was less intimidating to Drew.

              Though he never asked her out, right before he left, he gave her a letter. He knew she was probably given a dozen of them so he would make sure his was unique. He wrote her a poem. Drew vowed that if he made it back, he would finally ask her on a date.

              Drew snapped back to his current reality, “Close the distance, finish the fight!” This phrase rattled through his head like a jet engine now. He picked up his 9MM berretta and a knife and ran forward. He came face to face with another Hawk. The Hawk aimed for Drew’s head. Drew put his head to the side and swung his right hand. The knife sank deep into the hawk’s chest. Drew yanked the knife towards himself. He had to of cut the Hawk’s heart in half but, for good measure Drew put two rounds in the Hawks head. He fell cold.

              Drew continued forward. He pointed his gun in front of him and pulled the trigger until his clip was empty. He threw the gun then picked up an M16. When he ran out of rounds in that rifle, he picked up another.

              Drew did not even know if he was even hitting anyone, the smoke was so thick. He just shot ahead of him and moved until he felt the wind knocked out of him. Drew’s body folded and hit the ground.

              Gasping for air, Drew felt his body being drug back toward where he started. Bodies continued to fall, and the Hawks continued to gain ground. Any fool could see the battle was lost. As Drew lost consciousness, he was just thankful for an ending to the day.

June 23, 2021 07:49

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