Knight:A Club Alias Novel(7)

By: K.D. Robichaux


Even though every cell in my body wants to stay close to Clarice to keep her safe—something that’s been happening a lot since that day in the chow hall—I have to follow the command. I go in the opposite direction than everyone else, knowing each of my fellow soldiers will break off into their own route in and between the shitty little buildings. Everything on this side of the village is abandoned and falling apart. That’s why it was the perfect place to build the school. It would’ve been too dangerous for the Americans to erect it more toward the center of town, without a fast escape route that the outskirts provide.

As I turn a corner, stepping quietly into another alleyway, I hear voices inside one of the shacks. Normally, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. This is a peaceful village, the people always coming out to say hello and gawk at the camo-covered soldiers. It’s another of the reasons they chose this place to build them a school. No, what makes me pause just outside a window of the decrepit structure is the fact the voice I’m hearing has a distinct American accent, as if the person it belongs to lives in the south, maybe Georgia.

The window is high above the ground, but thanks to my height, I easily glance inside. For as big as I am, I’ve been trained to be quiet as a mouse and can go undetected, which is a good thing, since the people inside are only a few feet away from me.

“Pleasure doin’ business with you, pal,” the American says, his jeans and button-up looking completely out of place, and I see him shake the hand of an Afghani man. Spread out behind them are crates upon crates, each open to show rifles inside.

My first thought is to barge in and ask what the fuck is going on. But two and a half years in the army tell me to turn around and find my commanding officer. Right before I do that though, the American man pivots, looking directly at the window I’m peeking through, and my eyes meet his, the left one of which has a small tattoo of a bow and arrow, on his temple.

And then, all hell breaks loose.

Behind me, an explosion erupts, so forceful it throws me forward against the wall I was backing away from. The sound makes my ears ring in a way I can’t tell if it’s human screams I’m hearing instead. My leg tries to give out on me as it starts to burn low on my calf, but I can only think of one thing.

Clarice.

And that thought sends me into action. When I come around the corner of the school building, I hurry inside, searching three different rooms before I find her huddled against a stack of boxes, the general crouched over her, protecting her with his own body. And I take back everything bad I ever thought about the guy.

Shocking me, Clarice springs up, practically knocking the general against the boxes as she grabs her camera in hand, looking a little frazzled but otherwise unafraid. “Go, big guy!” she calls to me, and her order snaps me out of it. I vaguely pay attention as the general calls for the medic as I exit the room.

The next few minutes are a blur, as if I’m running on autopilot. I locate where the IED went off in one of the alleyways the rest of my team was securing. Their bodies—some moving, some not—are lying in various positions, the scene horrifying with its splashes of blood and remnants of the explosive.

“Bright red blood,” I remind myself, and then get to work, knowing it’s up to me to keep as many alive as possible until the medic gets here.

“Tell me what to do, Brian,” Clarice says behind me, and I jerk around, my arm out in a halting gesture.

“No! Stay back. There could be another IED. I’ve got this,” I tell her.

“But, there’re so many of—”

“Please. I won’t be able to help them if I’m worried about you. Just stay back. For me, okay?” I plead.

She looks like she wants to argue, but finally she nods, and I breathe a sigh of relief as she raises her camera instead. Turning back to the soldier over who I crouch, I see the light in his eyes has gone out, and trying my best to ignore the pain in my heart, focusing on the adrenaline rushing through my veins and remembering my training, I move to the next man. He’s still alive, but badly wounded. “Bright red blood,” I repeat, and I use my knife to tear off scraps of fabric to tie around his bicep to stop the bleeding near his elbow.