It’s Sunday morning in the Big Brother house and we should have about four guys from the guns. That’s what I usually get. Stomach ailments and I had a guy yesterday with Schermulie burns to his face. His muckah was gonna set one off, they heard movement outside the FOB and the silly bastard fired it into the sangar. The Poor bastard got it in his face. I think Captain Hutchinson wants to keep it quiet. Like the claymore incident and the grenade. Too many people fucking around with stuff and I ain’t got enough stuff in my med box to sort them out with.
A yank patrol came by when we were out in the desert and they said they’d bring some more supplies for us if they ever swung by. I remember them driving off in their Humvee with two smiling Afghan soldiers, high as kites in the back, waving at me.
“Henry, isn’t it? How you doin’? What can I do for yer?” This is my usual response to the sickies.
“I’m getting stomach cramps –“
“Stop there. Don’t come any closer,” I ain’t catching D&V off this fucker, “Wait,” I order and put a facemask and a pair of gloves on.
It’s not D&V I find and probably a stomach bug, the usual order of things around here. You never get to hear of the D&V until it a whole troop. The marines over the other side of the FOB lost an entire platoon to the shits.
These fuckers are just the worst. They’re like babies and half of them don’t know what hygiene is. I wonder what sort of parents they’ve got.
I pull out my bag and begin to work on a guy’s gammy foot. Trench foot he reckons. In the height of summer in Afghanistan! Bloody moron. I’m still raking through my supplies, but something isn’t right. The creams are there, the bags of seyline… where’s my diazipan? I fucking need me diazipan. They’re not there.
I look at the latest patient and grin. He gets thrown a tube of cream and told to apply some, liberally every 24 hours. That should keep the grotty fucker happy. Magic balms always works.
That can’t be right. Someone stealing drugs? I’m meant to do an inventory check every 48 hours on the bag. Half of the shite in here would sort a junky out for a couple of days. I check again and I can feel beads of sweat on my brow. Shit.
“J. J.” Someone is calling me and I’m in this bag like a fucking ferret.
“What!?” It’s Fred. The other medic. He holds out a bag.
“I found this near the accommodation.” The bag is ripped and I can feel the bottom of my world flood out of me.
“I only found out this morning. We’ve got a junky on our hands somewhere.”
“Probably an Afghani. They’re on dope constantly.”
“Precisely. Which is why I’m not looking to them. If they’ve already got a substitute why would they go through my bags.”
We’ve got first aid training this afternoon and I’m not sure I can do it in this heat. You literally walk outside and your shoulders burn. I have to keep my body armour on to protect my shoulders. I’m sweating, but that doesn’t stop me pouring the coffee down my neck. I have a 20 minute snooze to myself and I can hear the chatter of soldiers in the gun pits. The gentle drone of a plane overhead helps me off.
When I’m awoken. It’s with screams and a heavy thud. Jesus. My fucking head feels likes it’s been stuffed with jelly – I’m all over the fucking place. I can hear people running around outside. Is that me being dizzy or am I being… Shit! I’m in my body armour and grabbing my med bag. It took seconds for the message to get to me, a bit like the fucking mail here. I hump my gear outside and the guns are blasting the shit out of somebody, the lads are screaming and throwing shells to breaches.
“Medic!” There it is. I perk up at that sound and I’m galloping to that sound. A gunner is waving me away, when I realise I’m running straight into the barrel of an artillery gun. The barrel is literally horizontal – bloody hell! They’re close to the FOB then. A soldier points me to a group of guys huddled over one. It looks bad. I go through checklist – it’s an automated task that is rebooted every time I get a major casualty. Seyline, Fluids, drip line, feeder….
Shit where’s my drip line? The fucking bags been ransacked! It’s Tommy. Oh fuck! Not Tommy. I can hear myself repeat this as I’m dragging my bag of shite with me. I hear a scream. It’s like nothing…
I’ve heard it before… When the 152 to Sunderland went over the bridge.
I’m on him. And it is Tommy. He looks pasty.
Dust, rock and something else just punches me over. I’ve got Stan on me and he’s cursing away like a fucking lunatic.
“That was artillery! They’ve got fucking artillery!” Stan shouted and I’m aware of being pulled away from Tommy. I’m fighting to get the person off me, but he’s got a good grip on my body armour. I can’t feel my arms anymore and watch as the gun disappears in an explosion of sound and light. Sparks fly into the sky. I watch helplessly as an arm flips over, from soggy end to hand end. What stays with me is the bent SA80 rifle still gripped in the hand, its barrel is bent backwards.
“Don’t look. Don’t look.” Stan says to me and I can see he’s been hit. I’m on my knees and pulling out a bandage for his shoulder. “No. No.” He says to me and pushed me away. He points behind me. “Fuckers.”
He’s crying and I leave him. The trauma bag is in the Command Post. I ditch the first aid bag and sprint off. Another scream and my ears are in pain at the upheaval of sound. I’m pushed into the concrete barrier, but keep on going.
“Number three is out..” I can hear a voice on a radio.