Chapter 2: Knowing Mack


I returned to the barracks feeling great about my morning routine. A habitual morning exercise is indeed doing the trick.

We haven't got scheduled training today and I decided to take some walk to check on my other comrades in the other room.

As I passed the hallway, I glanced through the glass window. The other soldiers were playing football with their teammates. They were happy as they ran and chased each other. I couldn't help but chuckle when I found my best friend joining some of the soldiers down the wide soccer field that they made.

I continued walking until I reached the corner of the hallway. I knocked at the tenth door from the left side where my room is.

"Hey, Kayel! Nice to see you here." A man his age grinned as he opened the door for him. He's Albert, one of the greatest soldiers in our team and a nice friend as well.

"I just want to check on you. How's Amanda?"

"She's fine. We never talked much but I am sure she missed me. How about you?" He asked me. Should I answer him back knowing that the heartbreak is still fresh and it is still killing me until now?

"I'm fine, I guess." He gestured as if inviting me to sit on the chair next to the bed where he is sitting right now. He is touching the picture frame where her beloved wife's picture is.

"I guess you missed him too, right?"

"Yeah. It's been almost a year since I last saw her."

"Just be patient. I know you will see her soon when everything is over."

I tapped his shoulder. He smiled as he nodded.

"I will be visiting one of my comrades in the hospital near our barracks. Wanna come with me?"

"You mean those soldiers who were involved in a massive shoot-out by the rebels a week ago?"

"Yeah. I got a friend there."

"I don't mind. Besides, I guess we'll be having a lot of time today, right?"

"Yes. There's no scheduled training prepared for us yet. I felt guilty for him myself."


"I was supposed to be in his place for duty last week. I was just assigned in another post last minute. I never thought this would happen to him."

"Don't be guilty. I guess everything happens for a reason."

He nodded as we stood up. I could still see the gloom in his eyes when we parted ways. We agreed to meet at the hospital entrance after twenty minutes.

"What's the name of your friend?"

"He's Master Sergeant Lloyd Kier. He's ahead of me by ten years." I nodded as we walked inside the hospital. We stopped in a ward that has a lot of injured soldiers. I could see at least six beds in here.

There were soldiers who were in a cast on their legs. Some had a lot of serious injuries on their chest covered with gauze with few bloodstains on it.

"Hi sir, nice to meet you." I shook the hands of Lloyd who showed a big smile as we came towards him.

"A newbie?" He said between chuckles. I nodded as I looked at him from head to toe. He is lying on his bed. I noticed a big cast on his leg and a gauze that covered his chest. He looked embarrassed in his situation right now. He has a great body built. He developed large muscles maybe because he was ripe in numerous training.

"Oh, Lloyd, don't bother. We understood." Albert tapped his arm for consolation. Lloyd smiled as he looked at him.

"I am ready to die any time. I just don't want to give this assignment to you, pal. You got Amanda."

"Dude you got your son. What are you sayin'?" Albert almost shed a tear and it didn't escape my eyes. He just punched him hard on his shoulder to hide his being silly. Lloyd shouted in pain that most of the patients turned their attention to us.

"We're okay!" I raised my hands while laughing. The two guys beside me were also chuckling like they were silly kids messing around.

"Yeah. That cute baby. He will be four this year."

"Good for you, you will be seeing him next month." Lloyd nodded as he looked at me as well.

"I miss my son. Good thing he'll be seeing me alive after what happened."

"I am thankful that you survived." Lloyd grinned at Albert. He also glanced at me and smiled.

"What brings you here, young man?"

I looked at Albert and he smiled at me. He also signalled that I should answer Lloyd right away.

"Heartbreak? I guess…"

Lloyd chuckled as he tapped my arm.

"Wow, you're not that desperate, aren't you?"

"No. But after what happened, I realized what I wanted to do with my life."

"This isn't a good idea if you plan to suicide, you know." I couldn't help but chuckle. Lloyd has this unique humor that we could all relate. I also noticed that some of the soldiers inside the room were also smiling. Our voices were a bit louder for the majority of the soldiers to hear.

We spend the next minutes talking about my comrade's different experiences from the army. I excused myself from both of them. I decided to roam around the area, greeting some soldiers too.

"Hey…" A veteran soldier caught my attention. He was lying on the bed located on the corner of the room on the left side. I slowly went to him, curious if it was me whom he called.

"Yes, you…" He chuckled but I could hear his voice slowly fading away. I could see that he's the weakest among the patient soldiers lying there.

"Hi." I smiled awkwardly in front of him. I think I couldn't stand looking at him suffering like this.

"I want to know you, young man." He smiled but I could see that he's having a hard time. If I will rate the soldiers who were there, he's the one who got the most serious injury above all.

"Shouldn't you be resting? I guess I am interrupting it for you, right? We'll be going ahead if you want to relax without any visitors roaming around here."

"No, I don't mind at all. What I am going to tell you couldn't wait anymore."

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