Silence – Timmy Lyons – Medium
Sleeping in the back of an MRAP is an acquired skill, one every grunt must learn to master. Each position you chose has its ups and downs all involving the constant struggle of waking up and shifting yourself or your gear only to doze off for another miserable five minute nap.
None of them have working air conditioning but if you were lucky enough to sit in one with a working fan you can have stuffy, sandy 120 degree air blown into your face. In full kit the seats are too small for even the smallest Marine and the never ending battle among the dismounts for the best leg room adds to the frustration. You must accept the fact that once you enter the truck you will not experience a moment of comfort until you exit.
My eyes opened to the sound of Marines arguing over the last Rip-It can. I wiped the sand covered drool off of my check and shifted my body weight back further into the seat adjusting the blast diaper that was crushing my balls. The nap was short lived but much needed. It was ones of those “hard naps” when you wake up almost delusional and for a split second only your eyes can move because your body has yet to turn back on. I looked at my watch and realized we should be arriving at the target compound shortly.
I leaned forward and peered left up toward the front of the truck. In between the turret gunner’s legs (standing on the gunner’s stand) I could see the driver and the vehicle commander seemingly debating on which way we should be going. I couldn’t hear them but could see they were both pointing opposite directions with the driver appearing to be intent on going right.
The morning sunlight entering through the bullet peppered windshield suddenly disappeared as the truck was engulfed in darkness. A percussion ripped through the cab like a wrecking ball. The immense pressure became a vice grip clenching down on my body from all sides with a force that slammed me forward and backward and eventually sideways into the radio mount nearly breaking my jaw. The explosion was so loud and violent it felt like devil himself was the producer and he was bouncing around in the truck with us.
I grabbed the turret gunner’s legs and pulled him down into the cab. Holding the side of his face I yelled out, “Are you okay?” to which he replied “I think!”. Except I couldn’t hear him. I couldn’t hear anything. For a short moment I was in absolute silence, seemingly stuck in a vacuum floating through space. I found it to be oddly peaceful. Slowly my hearing booted back up, gifting me with a piercing ringing sensation that stayed with me for the next few days. The morning of the second day I jokingly missed the silence the blast granted me.
When death comes knocking the complexities of life are simplified. Its power can break through the noise life creates with a sound so loud it cannot be ignored. Pushing all of the bullshit out of your head and leaving you to analyze what is most important with a level of clarity thought to be impossible to achieve. Sitting in that silence half concussed watching the light trickle back in through the now completely shattered windshield I knew only two things to be important…
The love I have for my brothers and the hatred I have for those trying to kill us.