Here's how you voted on what should happen the night after Cal starts his close combat training:
The Fleet: Part 7
(CAUTION: LIGHTLY EDITED)
I tried not to move my aching body as I lay on my new bed, the metal frame creaking with every labored movement I made. The other Marines hadn't taken it easy on me. Not that they were malicious, but the training was, well, demanding. Kicking, throwing, punching. I had a bunch of welts up and down my body, every one doing their best to keep me awake.
Glancing at the neon green electric clock in the corner, the readout glaring at me, 12:43. Fuck.
I needed sleep, but every time I dozed, my body relaxed and some stabbing pain jolted me awake, triggering a chain reaction. Motrin hadn't helped.
Gallagher snored like a freight train on the opposite side of the room. We hadn't said a word to each other since our little altercation, but at least he hadn't tried to ambush me again.
Between the pain, the green blaze in the corner, and the roaring bear across from me, I knew I wasn't going to get any sleep.
Wincing, I slipped out of bed, my feet touching the cold ground searching for my shower shoes, flip flops to all non-military types. Finding them, I stuck my feet in, threw on an olive green t-shirt to go with my short PT shorts, and headed for the door.
The hot air hit me as I stepped out onto the catwalk, sweat instantly beading up on my back. I rested my arms on the railing, catching my breath, looking out at the silent night. No one moving around, one or two barracks rooms with light peaking out of the curtains. The night owls.
After a couple stretches, none of which helped my aching muscles, I turned to head to the stairs. I paused, thinking that I'd heard something. Nothing. I kept walking. Then I heard it again. A muffled cry. Someone watching a movie? Walking again, the stairwell maybe twenty feet away.
There it was again, louder now. I looked around and saw a faint red glow streaming out from underneath the barrack's door second from the end. Careful to not let my shoes flop against my heel, I crept closer, listening intently. It sounded like someone was in pain.
I didn't know what to do. I was the new guy.
But something pulled me, the right thing to do always the hardest, my dad had said since I was a kid.
Stepping up to the door, I knocked tentatively. I heard a Shhhh from inside, then nothing. I waited, then knocked again, this time more forcefully.
A moment later the door opened slowly, someone's body shielding my view of the room. "What the fuck do you want?" asked the guy who answered, my size, face pockmarked, eyes red even in the dim light. I didn't recognized him, but I was new. I tried to see around him, but he moved closer. "I said, what the fuck do you want?"
"I just wanted to make sure everything was okay. Heard something," I said, knowing how lame it sounded coming out of my mouth.
The guy laughed, snickers also coming from whoever else was in the room. "Get the fuck out of here, boot."
I nodded as he closed the door, me turning back to the stairwell thinking that maybe I should just mind my own business. Right before the hatch closed all the way, I heard a muffled Help.
That one I didn't imagine. Options screamed in my head. I could get the duty NCO or even the Duty Officer, but that could make me look like a rat, something that could follow me for as long as I was with the battalion.
I made my mind up, heading back to my room instead. Gallagher was still snoring when I entered.
"Gallagher," I whispered. Nothing.
I shook him a bit and he came to with a jolt, his eyes wide at me looking down at him. He hopped up scooting until his back touched the wall. "What the fuck?" I could tell he thought I was going to do something to him.
I put my hands up. "Look, I'm not gonna hurt you. I need your help."
He looked at me like he thought I was lying, trying to trick him somehow. "No way."
"Come on. I think they've got someone, well, I don't know what they're doing to him."
Again his hesitation. "Go get the duty." He didn't trust me and I didn't blame him.
"I need your help. Either you come with me or I'm going in alone."
That seemed to wake him up. Whatever piece of real Marine was in the guy came to the surface. "Let me get my shoes."
A minute later he crept after me, the red glow once again my beacon as I moved closer.
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