5 Second Countdown
by.
Poisoned Scarlet

Summary: Skill means nothing against those who are willing to tear you apart with their bare hands. Winry Rockbell becomes a Prisoner of War after taking her grandmothers place in the second war between Briggs and Drachma.
Rating: T+ for minor sexual themes, language, gore, rape, controversial topics, etc. I don't think it should be rated M since it's nothing too explicit but it all depends on the reader. If you do not agree then I will promptly up the rating.
Genre: Horror/Hurt/Comfort/Romance.
Pairing(s): Ed/Winry; mentioned others.
Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist or any other references made in this fanfiction except for the characters of my own creation. I make no profit from this work. It's for my own entertainment.

A/N: This story can be considered horror or angst but I decided on horror as its pretty nightmarish. The way I pictured it, it was brutal and I was kind of hesitant to post it up. I decided, in the end, it's something worth sharing no matter how dark it is and, well, I enjoyed writing it so why not?

This definitely ignores the end of Fullmetal Alchemist. It's just something I made up in order to procrastinate from writing my Spanish homework a while back. Please don't be too critical as I've never been to a POW camp nor do I plan on doing so...

Please review! It's my first time writing such dark themes.


01: Recruitment


The walls were cracked and crusted with blood. There was very little lighting – almost nothing at all – as the window high above her head drafted in the cold winter air of Drachma.

The floor was slicked with something slimy and thick. She didn't want to think about what she was sitting on as her wrists ached from being cuffed for such an extended period of time.

The smell was terrible – a disgusting mixture of urine, feces, and decay – and her stomach rolled every time she inhaled too deeply.

There were dull aches appearing all over her body the longer she stayed conscious and it took her a few moments to realize this was because of the beating she had received during interrogation.

She glanced at the chains, their sharp clinks making her flinch, and trailed her eyes down the trickle of fresh blood that came from somewhere around her hand...then she saw the brutal cut on the inside of her wrist and noticed, rather absently, it wasn't just a small trickle but a flood of red...

Maybe that was why she felt so light-headed.

She leaned against the rough wall, her head bumping against it and causing an bout of vertigo to strike her head on. She moaned and closed her eyes against the waves of disorientation.

She didn't know how she came to be in such a dire situation in such a short time.

She didn't want to dwell on her utter stupidity or naivete for treading down war-torn lands that she knew were lurking with hidden dangers and palpable animosity.

She simply let life take its course as her deprived body continued to deliver massive migraines and hunger pains.

Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea. Maybe she should have listened to her grandmother.

Maybe she should have called them one last time.

In a way, it wasn't her fault for taking on this role as a drafted doctor so early.

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Why not sooner? That was what she had rationalized.

Why not now, when I actually have a choice?

It was her arrogance, she blamed, that landed her in such a position. Her arrogance that she thought she could handle it; her arrogance that she thought nothing would happen; her arrogance that caused her to think everything would be okay because she was some trained doctor and, subconsciously, made her rely on the fact that no one would hurt a doctor.

I was so wrong, she bemoaned. I'm so stupid, I'm so stupid...

The creak of hinges made Winry freeze, a terror like no other clutching her sides. She shakily flashed her eyes to the door, watched as it was thrown open and a shadow loomed before her. The blinding white that came from behind him made her eyes hurt, made her flinch away and start trembling again because she knew what was coming.

Her shackles rang loudly in her ears as she scooted back with her foot, desperate to put as much distance between her and the man.

Her eyes flashed side to side like a caged animal and she only felt panic become fiercer when she noticed her lack-of-cell partner.

She always comforted her and gave her to courage to trudge forward

Where is she?

She remembered now.

She had been taken out by a soldier again.

She was being tortured again.

She wished she didn't remember.

How many hours have passed since? She couldn't recall the last two hours but she supposed this was a blessing and not a curse. The less she remembered, the better, as the draft of cold air coming from the open door made her ice-damaged fingers ache.

"You ready for round two?" asked the man, a grin in his voice even if she couldn't see it on his face.

"I already told you, I don't know anything!" she cried, shielding her face with her hands. "I don't know anything! Why can't you just believe me?"

The man was silent for a moment and when he spoke it was with that same slick of amusement that had her stomach knotting painfully. "We know more about you than we let on, Winry Rockbell." With the statement hanging in the air, he reached forward and grabbed her wrists roughly. He stuck the key into the cuffs, releasing her from the prisons but ultimately leading her to a fate worse than lying around in a filthy cell.

"Then why do you need to interrogate me if you already know what I know?" Winry shouted, as her vision adjusted to the sudden light.

A slap to her face effectively quieted her.

"Don't question us, you filthy Amestrian!" he spat. "Walk."

She clawed the ground, fear clouding her judgment as she clung onto the new chains on her wrists with bloody fingers. They were so new and shiny.

They looked polished.

How ironic.

"I don't know anything! Please, I DON'T!"

"We'll see," he said simply, grabbing her by the neck and pulling her up on her feet when she slipped on the snow-licked floor. "Now walk, Amestrian. I've got nothing against making your life a living hell if you do not cooperate; I've got orders that allow me to."

"You already have," she hissed, forcing her legs to move despite the sharp juts of pain that appeared in her ribs and chest. She grounded: "What difference would it make? It would be better to...to kill me now!"

He laughed harshly in return.

Was she ready to die?

I wasn't ready for this but I made it so far, right?

She could see that dreaded door loom closer and closer with each step.

He was still laughing.

She wished the air would freeze her blood in her veins and effectively shut down everything that kept her alive.

"There are worst things than death, girl," he said finally, after his laughter had subsided.

He threw open the door.

The hole of endless dark was something that petrified Winry

The ground, she knew, with terrible intimacy, was sopping wet with blood and snow and vomit and slops of mud and leaves from outside...

"Please let me go..."

She cried desperately.

He chuckled darkly.

"Answer my questions and we shall see."

The door shut.

She screamed.


03 weeks, 05 days, 017 hours, 53 seconds ago

"Granny, do you think Ed and Al are ever going to come back to Resembool?" Winry asked quietly, staring absently out the window as she sat on the sill on the second story of her home.

Pinako stopped screwing in a bolt into an incomplete automail leg and hummed in thought before actually answering.

"Of course, Winry." She went back to screwing in the bolt. "Those two boys aren't finished yet – they still need a hell of a lot more bumps to cross over before they can finally return home for good."

"But it's been four months since the Promised Day," Winry complained. She rested her chin on her arm, troubled. "He promised he'd be back the instant all of this was over..."

"But it's not over," Pinako reminded, calmly grabbing the artificial limbs cover plate and snapping it in place. She grabbed a few nuts and screws as she continued: "Amestris is in a dire situation, with all the riots and uprisings in the East and North."

"North?" Winry repeated, lifting her head. "What do you mean north?"

"You haven't heard?" Pinako pushed her glasses up, sending her an odd glance. "I thought I told you. Well, there have been war threats coming from Drachma for a while now, ever since their defeat a year ago. Apparently, they want to regain a sense of honor in their name. There've been several rumors saying Briggs is in a bad situation and won't be able to hold up against them." Pinako shook her head. "Bunch of lies, I'll say. Briggs is especially known for their soldiers and special forces. I personally don't believe all this trash!"

Winry stared at her grandmother for a moment, before looking back out the window. "Well, what if it's true?" she asked, faintly recalling the tour down to the lower chambers of Briggs, where they kept all of their tanks and special equipment. They had looked ready to take on anything and everything... but with the coup d'etat they had staged a few months ago, who knew? "Everyone has to run out of resources sometime."

"Perhaps," Pinako conceded, slipping a pipe between her teeth. "But that's the thing about Briggs," she blew out a ring of smoke, "they don't 'run out' of resources."

Winry didn't comment, opting instead to stand and stretch out her arms. "I'm going to go check the mail, granny."

"Alright. I'm expecting a letter from a friend of mine. If you find it, leave it on the kitchen table," Pinako said as Winry walked down the stairs.

"Will do, grams," Winry called back, bouncing down the porch steps and making her way to the mailbox situated in the front of the house. She thumbed through some letters, one in particular catching her eye.

Whats this?

Her breath hitched when she really saw it. She fingered the envelope sealed with the Fuhrer's official seal of approval. She looked up to the second floor window, relieved to see no one standing behind it, and tore it open. She quickly leafed through the stack of papers, face paling as she skimmed the words printed below.

They seemed to melt within each other instantly – blur until it was just a splat of black ink against white – and Winry didn't even notice she had dropped the rest of the mail until Den came trotting beside her and sniffed them.

'...drafted for medical services on official orders of Fuhrer Grumman... must leave within one week of arrival of this letter... obligated unless otherwise stated... will be assigned station upon arrival in Central Head Quarters...'

"No," she whispered, hands trembling with the news. "No. Not granny." She could feel tears accumulate in her eyes; images of her mother and father's apologetic expressions as they stood and left flashing behind her eyelids. She shuddered in sharp breaths, refusing to believe that another member of her family would be ripped away from her because of a letter.

Because of a war.

She picked up the papers and crumpled them in her palm; crushing them until her hands ached from the pressure. She frantically grabbed the last sheet of the stack and read until her eyes went scratchy from not blinking.

One sentence stood out from the rest:

'If disabled or invalid, you are entitled for discharge upon approval from a certified State Military Recruiting officer...'

Winry bit her bottom lip, the sick and frightened feelings brewing in her stomach beginning to fade as she rationalized that perhaps she could take her grandmother's place. She had earned her degree as a professional automail surgeon and medical doctor when she had turned seventeen; after graduating from Garfiel's apprenticeship and taking the final exam in Central University.

She was young, perhaps many were skeptical of her skills on the medical table, but Winry was confident she could work under pressure on the battlefield. Her thoughts drifted to her mother and father; to how they had persevered to help both their own and the enemy. Though their fate had been horrible – death by the very people they had been trying to save – Winry was sure that she would not let that happen to her because even though the concept of war and death scared her, she would endure the fear in order to help.

Edward had once told her her hands were not for killing people but for saving them.

As she stared at her palms, the clammy, shaky, hands that gripped the paper so tightly her nails tore holes through them, she steeled herself for what was to come.

That night Winry couldn't sleep, her grandmothers hoarse shouts ringing in her ears.

But it wasn't like her grandmother had any real control over her actions.

Not in this situation.

Never again if history decided to repeat itself.


02 weeks, 05 days, 015 hours, 12 seconds ago

"You wish to take your grandmothers place?" A recruitment officer asked, stacking up some papers as Winry squirmed under the mans hard gaze.

"Yes," Winry replied. "You see, she's very old – almost sixty now, actually – but I'm fit enough to take her place."

"I see. You have all of your qualifications?" he asked, frowning when he saw her age. He flipped through more papers idly. "You're seventeen..."

"I'm going to be eighteen in a few weeks," Winry pipped hopefully. "Besides, there isn't anyone else in my family that can take my place. My mother and father were both doctors but they... passed away in the Ishvalan War. And I refuse to let my grandmother participate in this war... so the only choice is me."

"Or we may simply discard your grandmother from recruitment due to old age," the man offered, leaning back in his chair. "You are not obligated to participate. You aren't of age yet."

"But I will be eventually, right?" Winry fired back, clenching her fists. "The instant I turn eighteen I'll be drafted for medical assistance so I might as well take care of it right now!"

The man hummed in thought. "When shall you become of age?"

"Two months from today, on the thirtieth," Winry responded, blowing out a breath of dejection.

"I see," the man leaned forward, smiling conspiratorially. "You're right about one thing: you'll be drafted for war the instant you turn eighteen as a result of lack of medical personnel on the field. In fact, you might just qualify right now, if I allow it. I can pull a few strings here and there..."

Winry swallowed, muscles tense as the man leaned in even further. His eyes promised something dark and terrifying, an implication that had her heart hammering in her rib cage.

"Do you wish to participate?"

"Do I even have a choice?" Winry rebutted, faintly. She balled her hands in an attempt to keep them still.

"You do, for now." His smile was almost feral, as if he took joy in inducing fear in her. "Like you said before, you might as well join now while you have the choice, right?"

"Y-yeah..."

"Alright then." He leaned back abruptly and pulled out some sheets, signed his signature on a few lines before asking her to do the same. He then produced an ink pad from his drawer and stamped an approval on the papers, shifting them into place and stacking them neatly in the growing pile beside him.

He gave her a copy which she crumpled in her hand. "All done. You shall be set for dispatch in exactly five days starting tomorrow. Pack up your stuff, leave behind any valuables." He eyed her pierced ears. "I suggest removing any offending material such as jewelry. I also suggest leaving behind no regrets. Take care of everything now before you leave," he instructed sharply. "I don't usually tell people this but you're still a kid. You've got a whole life ahead of you... and you're already throwing it away."

"I'm not throwing my life away!" Winry snapped, hurt by his words. "I don't have a choice! This was going to happen sooner or later and I rather take it now tha-than later..."

"It's still sad," he sighed, voice woeful, "having to see someone so young die..."

"Why would you even say that?" Winry croaked, narrowing her watery eyes. "Don't you have any faith in me? What makes you so sure I won't come back alive?"

He smiled sadly, the first real emotion she had seen since she had arrived. "I have seen many faces come in and out of this office." He gave his pen a sharp tap on the desk. "And I have only seen two of every five I approve come back to me alive."

Silence.

Winry gazed at his grave expression, the eyes that spoke of truth: the pain, the suffering, the terror and grueling nature of what she was about witness and participate in.

She set her jaw, steeled her nerves, and stood, gazing directly into his war-scarred eyes."Well, I'm going to make it! I know I am. I'll make sure I make it." She swallowed thickly and pushed the chair in. "I promise I'll make it..."

A smile ghosted his face. "I really hope so, kid."

As she left, his cold voice rooted her in place; made the cold she had fended off thus far wrap around her heart and freeze it with its burn.

"And remember, if you do survive this war know that it was on pure luck alone. Skill means nothing against those who are willing to rip you apart with their bare hands if they need to."

She had a nervous breakdown when she reached her hotel room.