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Musical Chairs

Combat! Fan Fiction
by
Mary Wright "Eagle Lady"
eaglelady80010@netzero.net

            Lieutenant Hanley glanced over his shoulder at the squad of men following him up the hill.  Caje was immediately behind him, Littlejohn and Kirby following.  Nelson was several feet behind them, then Doc with Saunders bringing up the rear.  Silently cursing the steep hill, the bushes with their sharp thorns, and the war, Hanley continued climbing.  An artillery shell slammed into the ground, knocking the men off of their feet.  Hanley heard someone cry out in pain, but there was too much dust and debris flying for him to see who it was.  Two more shells, then it was quiet again.

          "Who got hit?"  Hanley demanded.

          "Saunders."  Doc called out, already bending over the sergeant.

          "How bad is it?"

          "I'm fine."  Saunders grunted.

          "Sure you are."  Doc retorted.  "He took some shrapnel in the arm and side, Lieutenant."

          Hanley slid down the hill to crouch next to the injured man, the rest of the squad gathering behind him. 

          "He's finished for today, isn't he, Doc?"  Hanley asked.

          "Yes, sir."

          "Can he make it back alone?"

          "Well, sir, the wounds themselves aren't too bad, but he's already lost a lot of blood, and if he starts bleeding again, he could be in real trouble."

          Hanley was silent for a moment, thinking as he watched the medic care for the sergeant's wounds.  He hated to lose the sergeant, as he was one of the best soldiers he had; but even more he hated to lose another soldier to take him back.  He needed all he could get to take this OP.

          "Doc, you take him back."  He decided finally.

          "No."  Saunders protested.  "You may need him.  I can make it alone."

          "Doc, you take him back.  Saunders, you will go with him.  Doc is in charge."

          "Lieutenant..." 

          "That is an order."  The lieutenant snapped.  "Alright, let's move out."

          Turning his back, the lieutenant started up the hill again.  One by one, Caje, Kirby, and Littlejohn touched each man on the shoulder as they passed by.  Doc finished bandaging the arm wound, got to his feet and reached down to help Saunders to his feet.

          "I don't need you, Doc.  You should be with the squad."

          "I've got my orders, Sergeant.  It'll be easier for both of us if you quit arguing about it."

          Doc pulled him upright, tactfully saying nothing when he had to steady injured man.  Shrugging off the medic's hand, Saunders started walking back the way they'd come.  Shaking his head, Doc followed.  When they reached a small stream, Doc called a halt.

          "We ought to go around that grove of trees, Sarge.  There's a lot of undergrowth in there that will make it hard for you."  He suggested, handing a canteen to Saunders, who took it one-handed and drank gratefully.

          "No.  We'll go straight."

          "But, Saunders..."

          "I said, we'll go straight.  Help me up."

          Reluctantly, Doc did so, staying as close as he could while the sergeant moved on into the trees.  Partway through the grove, Saunders swayed and nearly fell, only Doc's quick grab keeping him on his feet.

          "You need to rest, Sarge."  Doc told him.

          "No, I..." Saunders paused, lifting his good hand to rub his face, apparently surprised at the moisture he found.  "Maybe you're right.  Just for a few minutes."

          "Yes, I agree."  A heavily accented voice came from the left.

          Badly startled, Saunders tried to turn; to bring up the Thompson slung over his right shoulder.  He went to his knees and Doc moved in quickly to support him, lowering him to sit on the ground.  A German sergeant stepped out from behind a tree, followed by a couple of soldiers.  He gazed down at the wounded American, who squinted up at him, his face lined with pain and weariness.

          "A sergeant."  The German smiled.  "A nice prize."  He looked at Doc consideringly.            

"Normally, we would leave you behind, but in this case you will come with us to keep the sergeant alive until we finish with him."

          He turned and spoke to one of his men, who nodded and took off at a trot.

          "We will wait here for him to return.  Medic, do what you can for your sergeant.  We don't want him to bleed to death.  Not until we are finished questioning him."

          His eyes sparkling with fury, Doc knelt beside Saunders, checked the bandages and gave him another drink.  They waited in silence, the sergeant trying unsuccessfully to hide his pain and weakness.  When the soldier returned, the German sergeant motioned to Doc.

          "Get him on his feet.  Leave the weapon on the ground."

          Getting to his feet, Doc took hold of Saunders' uninjured arm and his web belt, pulling him upright.  He drew Saunders' arm over his shoulders and looked at the German, waiting for further orders.  When the German jerked his head in the direction the soldier had gone, Doc shifted the injured man's weight and started off, the Germans following closely.  A German troop truck was waiting for them when they finally emerged from the trees.  With rough assistance from one of the soldiers, he managed to get Saunders into the back of the truck, lying on the floor.  The vehicle started with a jerk, promptly bumping into and out of a hole, drawing a groan of pain from the injured man.

          They had been on the road a little over ten minutes when gunfire erupted around them.  From his position where he'd thrown himself across Saunders, Doc identified the sounds of M-1s and a BAR.

          "It's Americans!"  He grinned at Saunders, then grunted as the body of the German sergeant fell across his back.

          In a matter of moments, the gunfire ended and an eerie silence descended.

          "Help!  We're Americans!"  Doc shouted.

          "Who are you?"  Came a return shout.

          "I'm a medic.  I've got a wounded sergeant here.  We're from the 361st."

          "Hold on, we're on the way."

          Unable to get out from under the dead German without reopening Saunders' wounds, Doc did the best he could to keep their combined weight off of the injured man.  He sighed with relief when the body was lifted away, then two G.I.s had him by the arms, lifting him off of Saunders, who appeared to be unconscious.

          "Is he dead?"  Asked one of the G.I.s.

          "No.  He's breathing."  Doc answered, shrugging out of their hold to kneel at Saunders' side. "Damn!  He's bleeding through.  Gimme your kits."  He demanded without looking up.

          He worked on the sergeant for several minutes, finally straightening to look at their rescuers.

          "Thanks.  Where did you come from?"

          "Back that away.  Where did they get you at?"

          "A couple miles down the road.  I'm trying to get the sarge back to the aid station at Ouray."

          "It ain't there no more, brother.  They pulled out what was left after they got shelled.  Nearest aid station is at Avranches now."

          "How far is that?"  Doc asked in dismay.

          " 'Bout five miles, I think.  This truck ain't goin' nowhere; the engine's all shot to hell.  I can give you one man to help carry him.  That's the best that I can do for you."

          "I'll take it."  Doc answered promptly.

          "Okay, a couple of you guys rig up a litter."  He called.

          A short time later, they were on their way again, a young private at the head of the makeshift litter.  Saunders was conscious, in a lot of pain, but refusing morphine.

          After several stops to rest, they reached the area where Doc and Saunders had been captured, continuing on their way.  They tried moving into the trees, but it was too difficult with the litter, so they returned to the road.  Doc called another halt in the shade of a large tree, sprawling on his back beside the litter.

          "They oughta make a rule that only little, skinny guys get shot." The private commented, taking a swig from his canteen.

          "I agree."  Doc replied with feeling.

          "Maybe I'll..." The private broke off with a grunt of pain, falling backward as a single gunshot rang out.

          Doc rolled over, automatically trying to shield the helpless sergeant.

          "Do not move." 

          Several Germans rose from the slight dip in the ground beyond the tree, weapons trained on the Americans.

          "Not again!"  Doc groaned in disbelief.

          "This man.  He is a sergeant, yes?"

          "Yes, but he's badly wounded."

          Doc soon found himself carrying one end of the litter, a German on the other, moving back toward the front lines again.  Saunders, drifting in and out of consciousness, began to mumble as his fever rose.

          "He needs water."  Doc pleaded.

          "A short rest."  The German conceded.

          Kneeling beside Saunders, Doc helped him drink then bathed his face and neck with the tepid water.  As soon as he finished checking the bandages, they were on the move again.

          The German in charge called a halt as an old Frenchman ambled across the road in front of them, a nearly full bottle of wine in his hand.  They lowered the litter to the ground and Doc massaged his aching, trembling arms.  They had been walking for nearly an hour without stopping and he was grateful for the rest.  The old man came to a swaying halt when the German yelled at him.  Doc knew enough French to know the old man was saying he didn't speak German as he waved the bottle at the Krauts.

          With a disgusted grunt, the German stalked over to the old man and snatched the bottle from his hand, nearly knocking the old man off of his feet.  Raising the bottle to drink, the German paused and grabbed at the front of the shabby coat the Frenchman wore, jerking it open to reveal two more bottles tucked into his waistband.  Turning, the German said something that resulted in the other soldiers leaving Doc and Saunders alone as they gathered around their leader, drinking and laughing.  The old man sidled away, keeping a wary eye on the Germans. 

          Doc watched them, wishing that he had a bottle, too.  As the leader raised the bottle to his lips, Doc stared in disbelief as the bottle shattered and the German flew backwards, half of his neck blown away.  A volley of shots roared and a moment later, the Germans were all down and dead.  The shambling old man straightened and strode directly toward the Americans.  When he reached them, he started talking fast and furious, gesturing wildly.

          Doc, having no idea what he was saying, could do nothing but shake his head.  A much younger man suddenly appeared and knelt on the other side of the wounded man, speaking firmly to the older man, who finally quieted.

          "I am Francios." The younger man said. "Jacques, he is excited."

          "No kidding."  Doc replied.  "I gathered that.  What's he yelling about?"

          "Do you want to know exactly or just the high points?"  The man grinned.

          "Just the high points."

          "He says what are you doing?  Are you playing musical chairs?  We follow you and see you go with the Germans, then with the Americans, then with the Germans again.  Is this how you Americans fight your wars?"

          "Well, you tell old Jacques, there, that it sure as hell wasn't my idea!  I'm just trying to get the sergeant some medical help before he dies!"  Doc's voice rose as his temper did.  "Instead of standing there yelling, maybe Jacques can tell me where to find some help!"

          When the younger man translated, the old man's mouth opened to reply, then he broke into a laugh and nodded.

          "We are with the Resistance.  We will help you."

          "Thank God for that!"  Doc sighed.  "Where can we take him?"

          "You have carried him far enough.  We will carry him now.  Follow us and we will take him to Avranches."

          "How far is that?"  Doc asked anxiously.

          "Less than a mile.  Do not worry, your friend will soon have help."

          Doc stood there for a moment, watching as Jacques and Francois picked up the litter and walked away.  Following them, he shook his head.  The lieutenant was never gonna believe this!

The End

 

Story Copyright Mary Wright. All Rights Reserved.

Read more Dogface Tales by Mary:
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The CombatFan web site thanks Mary (aka "EagleLady") for letting us share these fan fiction stories on this web site.


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