How did we survive?
Easy, Tre says. We weren’t the fighters.
He lets out a sigh, shaking his head in disbelief. God, I shouldn’t even be telling you this stuff.
Why not? I get angrier with each word that comes out of his mouth.
He looks right at me, and says, You told me not to. You made me promise, alright? You said, if you ever see me after the wipe, just look out for me. Don’t bring anything back.
And that’s what I’m doing.
And that’s when I got really mad.
You owe me some goddamn answers! The words jump out of my mouth and hit him in the face. I’m furious. I don’t care what I said! I don’t care about any of that! I spent the last month being treated like a goddamn kid and an outcast, and I swear I’m going to pound you until you tell me how I ended up in the middle of nowhere with a duffle bag and a fucking no-limit credit card!
You could see the pain on his face, like he was trying to decide which was worse; trying to live a life starting at – god, I don’t even know how old I am – or knowing something I obviously didn’t want to remember.
He started with an explanation.
Like I said, there were eight of us. And ‘brothers’ was a loose term. Shouldn’tve said that, but that’s basically what we were – brothers and sisters. We had Ein, Nikki, Me, Dreyfuss, Goh, Essex, You, and Octavius. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight of us.
Like I said, I shouldn’t be calling them brothers and sisters. We were related. Don’t know about the rest of them, but Nikki and Goh were definitely related, and same with the triplets.
Triplets? I knew triplets?
Yeah. Ein, Dreyfuss, and Octavius. Nice guys, but Octo could be a real dick sometimes.
So what were we?
We, sis, were US-8. He pauses, to think things through, and figure out how to explain it. He starts up again, after a drag on his cigarette. You ever watch the A-Team, with Mr. T?
Good show. Anyway, the idea is that each guy on the A-team, and there’s five of them, had a special talent. A role to play. That’s what we were; part of an experimental A-Team.
That would explain the base in the middle of nowhere and the guy I punched on the way out – working for the military.
He continued. Like I said, everybody had a role. Ein was reconnaissance and our PR guy, Nikki was demolitions. I was the mechanic. Never saw the middle three work too much, but Octavius was the HMFIC –
The what? I don’t like abbreviations. It’s like people talking in code.
Head Motherfucker in charge. Leadership, tactics, that kind of thing. You were the medic.
He laughs, Yeah, the medic. Hippocratic oath, field kit, “Is there a doctor in the house?”, all of that. He pulls up his shirt and shows me a jagged scar on his lower back, one that cuts along the left side, twisting and turning like fractured glass.
You took care of that for me right before Godensk, when I took a hit from some shrapnel. Got it out and patched me up in ten minutes. You were a goddamn miracle.
The shirt goes back down. But, like I said, we’re the only ones left.
I’m still trying to work it out in my head. Why did I want to forget all of this? I could’ve gotten a job at a clinic or something. I could help people. I could save lives. I could be useful.
I could do more than just loaf around all day, watch TV, and try to catch up with twenty-something years of life.
What were we like before all of this?
I can hear the pain again.
I wish I knew.