In that split second, the anticipation was held back by peculiar little ties. Like the last strip of leaves being pinned between stakes, an already bare tree before the windy months of spring. He paused, stilling the rise and fall of his chest.
It's unmistakable, the shink-click sound and motion that allows fingers to break away before a heavy lean forward and down to avoid the black blast.
Mortars. He's followed the same motion a thousand times. Activate, align, drop, ear save. Ka-Boom. Each swings an entry point to his newly devised harmony, it's a tune curated for the already in tempo symphony. The reverberating halo of dust sets the world into an ethereal glow of brimstone.
A hand-launched short-range missile leaving its departure location like a stone skipping across a still lake. The deep base of the explosive ordinance rattles his chest with a satisfactory thump.
An offensive play to move troops downrange. Again, another, and another rang through the twilight, each a gift from the gods of hell, a scorching rain, fire upon the unlucky few.
Another successful launch. He continued his automatic motions before reaching for - a quick, sharp clack hit the side of his ribs, knocking the wind from him, setting his vision from the median line to the heavens. The world slipped out from underneath him, feet sliding while he hit the ground hard. His price paid to fall in the dirt - a rush of air. In a wheeze it ran, escaping his lungs to avoid the wet rag placed over his face. Slowing his breathing it forced his movie reel of life to a grinding halt.
The clouds had never been black before. Why were they-?
But those stars. Ach, they twinkled, an astigmatism-like tug on the edges of pinpointed light. Not once did he hear the voices above him, a blurry muffle, just like their faces.
This was the first of three times Enoch Boracco found himself instantly engaged in a come to Jesus meeting for his sins.
"Ey! YOU ALIVE?!" Fingers prodded against his stomach until -
"MOTHERFUCKER!" he cursed, his thick bur slicing the air as they rolled knuckles down his sternum and then shoved him up on his side. Tears sprang forth, a sharp jolt of pain wrenching him away from his day-dreamy haze. "I'M FUCKING AWAKE! GET YOUR GODDAMN HANDS OUT OF MY-" Consciousness slipped as fingers prodded the bullet wound, a wash of pure white slicing through it all, a gasp of blood flecking the floor beside him as he coughed. No matter how much he swallowed he couldn't stop the shower of water in the back of his throat. It was making him feel like a drowning imbecile of an animal - the ones that cranked their heads back when it started to rain.
"N-No! NO!" He roars, kicking at whatever was shredding away his uniform. He wants it. Needs it! Especially if he's going to die. He doesn't relate the tugs on his feet to the action of removing his boots, no. Instead, his fogged mind is certain that he's being dragged down by a demon of some sort. No fucking way they'd short him of his glory uniform in Valhalla.
He can't think, and now, due to the pain as he thrashes, he can't see. His agony stains the tent deeper than any amount of blood.
And it's not the cries, but his blood that Cliff is trying to get cleaned up, desperately, as he fishes through the sinew of muscle in the giant's chest while shouting at a nurse beside him. "I need my five-blade!" He continues, over and over. That five-blade is a missing fork at his dinner place setting.
For a while, they're wrist deep, his hands that is, testing and teasing veins and arteries for the broken lines needing repair. And it's a moment before ungloved fingers reappear, outstretched, waving as he waits impatiently. "Nurse. NURSE! Fucking do something!" The man before him is a lost cause already, and yet....he still makes his attempts to remove the lead and brass from those little sacks of oxygen. Underlying it all there's a frantic need lacing his every fiber to resuscitate the man who's crossed his path.
It's some hours later - when he's covered in that coppery smell of a sickly sweet bloodbath- that he finally stops, and begins to deftly, albeit rudimentary, stitch up his chest. With each turn of his wrist, and a pair of suture scissors he takes a deep, negativity clearing breath. Why perfect a line, and use more supply when the man wouldn't even see the sunrise?
A dirty rag smears away what's left of his work on his knuckles.
"Give him some water, miss...."He didn't know her name, nor did he have the time to find out. "Nurse." A tool clatters in an aluminum tray. "And find him a bunk. Yank his tag, and start his DOA paperwork, I'm calling his time early, twenty-two, forty-five" Because, with the way the foreign soldier appeared on his operating table, he expected his heart to give out long before the morning hour.
The man was a fighter though. The large and imposing ones usually were, until they realized they could finally sleep. Hell, he was surprised he didn't hear a soft cry for a mother, tears shed for this soon to be lost soul.