The Third XCOM Saga, part 15, RP Interlude 25

As written by Dan Krenzke…

The smell of fresh cut grass filled DJ’s nostrils. The hot, humid North Carolina weather made the sweat pour from him. He mowed the lawn and couldn’t wait until he finished. Papa was going to take him driving for the first time as soon as he finished. He had to finish. Almost there. All he had to do push the mower down this strip, and now pull it back again.

He dragged Hernandez out of the dusty street by the scruff of his flak jacket. The hot, dry weather of Somalia made the sweat pour out of him. The smell of death, fear, and anger assaulted his nose. He couldn’t wait until he was out of this God-forsaken place. Machine gun fire riddled the area as mortars exploded. Antonio came alongside him and helped get their injured comrade under cover. They got into an adobe hut. He looked for Sharp and that goddamn radio. They needed air support. The roof caved in as a large, egg-shaped object crashed into the middle of the shelter.

DJ just looked at it with a Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot expression. It took a bit before he realized that it was alien. That’s when it exploded.

*   *   *   *   *

DJ shot up in bed, soaked in sweat. His mouth was wide as if he was ready to scream. Thankfully, he didn’t. He did not want to disturb his dad or brother. He flung off the wet sheets from his body and got to the small, private bathroom. He wore only a pair of red PT shorts. He stood in front of the sink and stared into the mirror.

Unlike his father, he had no scars on his body. Modern medicine could remove man-made blemishes of the skin and keep it looking whole and healthy. The scars of the mind are not as easy to remove. In fact those wounds tend to reopen.

He found a t-shirt, pulled it on, and slipped on shoes. He opened the door into the living quarters of the apartment. Light came from the bottom of Rufus’ room. He burnt the midnight oil on some project. Papa’s door was wide open. He slept soundly on the side of the bed that was his when Mom was alive. Some habits are hard to break.

Quietly, DJ slipped out of the apartment to his weapons locker. He pulled his weapons and the cleaning/ maintenance kit. He made his way to the rec room and began breaking down the weapon. Cleaning weapons was a means for him to cope with his PSTD. If Papa was in a frame of mind to talk, he could go to him. With Papa being swallowed up by his own demons that was not an option.

DJ continued to manipulate the clean weapon as he checked and double-checked each part for any dirt or corrosion. He missed the brotherhood he had in Africa. He knew he needed to find someone to talk to. If he did not find a way to close these wounds of the mind, they would poison him. The day in the hospital with Papa came back to mind. For all their sake’s he need to find a way to stay mentally healthy. But who could he trust?

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