I went down the stairs and out of the front door of the training center. Thomas and Anna followed.
Saturday morning, as usual, was a good time to be doing iaido. The weather was cold but not too cold. Spring was in the air, though I was sure that we hadn't seen the last of Winter and the snow. For now, the Winter and the snow were far, far away. It was hard to get to the keys to my bike with the gloves on because the pocket was quite small. I had to take of the right glove to get the keys out.
I opened the lock to my bike; put the keys back in the pocket. "See you guys Tuesday." I got on the bike and left the center.
On the way home I went to the kiosk and bought bread, milk, and energy drink. As I walked to the bike I opened the energy drink. I really love the taste of them. I know they are not good for me, but still, I cannot keep my hands off of them. It was a great morning, not a cloud in the sky, birds were singing, and the smell in the air was pure Spring.
I always biked home through the park. It was the easiest way and it saved me a couple of minutes. This morning was no different.
I biked from the road into the park and found myself on a wide path. Then I saw it. A large object on the path about 150 meters in front of me. I slowed down and rolled slowly toward the dark thing lying on the ground.
About 75 meters from the object I saw what it was. A scooter. The scooter was lying on the side with the bottom toward me. Something, somewhere in my body screamed that I should stop. So my body did.
I looked to the sides. A thin strip of forest was on both sides - about 150-200 meters from the dirt path I was on. There were no birds singing. Something was not as it used to be. The screaming silence was almost unbearable.
I walked slowly toward the thing lying on the ground, continuously looking right and left. The buildings on each side of the road had the natural beige/sand color. I heard over the radio "Second group is on the north side of compound 26. You can go and check the motorcycle out." I moved my left arm from the rifle to reach the button of my radio. "Got it! I'll go look at it. You got my back."
I filled my lungs with the dust filled air, pulled up in the fragmentation vest, and began walking. There was nothing to see, there were no people on the street, no one to see, women and children had already left the area over half an hour ago, when we entered it. I stopped, lifted my rifle, and looked through the optical sight. Looked at the motorbike on the street and on the doors to the different compounds; nothing.
"It's ok now. Just stay where you are. I'll send the engineer up your way so he can check it out. Confirm" I pushed the button on the radio "Yes, I'll stay 'till the engineer is here. Got it." It was very hot, about 56 degrees in the shade. I took the tube from my Camelbak, the drinking system I had on my back, and put it in my mouth. I sipped some water. Still looking down the street, just in case, anyone popped out from one of the doors or over a compound wall.
"Hey, are you ready to make sure I'm safe?" the engineer looked at me. "Yep, let's go" I said.
We walked down to the motorbike. The engineer didn't seem to take much notice of anything. "Damn Englishman." I thought to myself.
He stopped like a deer caught in the headlights. He was 10 meters from the motorcycle. BOOM!!!! The wall next to him blew up in an inferno of fire and dust. The dust filled the street and turned the day into night. DAK DAK DAK DAKDAKDAK! Almost at the same time the fighting began. PEW PEW! I could hear the sound of the bullets breaking the sound barrier over my head. I was still lying on the ground, covered in a thick layer of dust and the taste of metal in my mouth.
The sounds began to get very loud now, the hisses over my head, and the dust clouds from the projectiles hitting the ground. I looked down myself to see if I was hit. Nothing. "Are you ok?" TH was calling me over the radio with a more and more frightening voice. I tapped the button of the radio, "I'm ok, but I'm not sure about the Englishman." The engineer was lying on the side of the road - both legs missing.
I took my rifle and looked down the street from where the bullets came; I emptied the magazine and ran to the English engineer. Quickly I lifted him by his vest, pulling him behind the wall that was blown to pieces.
The engineer was moaning as I put tourniquet on both his legs to stop the bleeding. I looked at him.
"Are you ok?" he said. I got very confused "What did you say?"
"Are you ok? Do you need any help?" He said again. I looked at him in misbelieve, so I closed my eyes and shook my head.
"Are you ok? Is anything wrong?" And elderly man stood in front of me with his hand on my shoulder. He was looking deep into my eyes. I looked around and saw my bicycle lying on the side of the path. The smell of Spring and the sound of the birds in the sky. I looked at the man again. He was very upset, still trying to get me to speak. "I'm ok now" I said. "For a minute there, I thought I was going to call 911" he said.
I looked at him and smiled. "No need for that, I'm ok, I'm home now." I picked up my bike from the ground and walked past the scooter. I looked at the birds in the sky. "I'm home now."