I'm not completely sure why I did it. Why did I jump in front of some chatter box guy I had barely met? It probably had to do with the fact that I was trained to save lives. I'm a military medic in the United States army and I was travelling with a British platoon so they could drop me off at the next base, but we came under fire. I managed to stay out of the way while the other troop took down the attackers, but I saw what no one else saw. There was an attacker hiding in everyone's peripheral, I saw where he was aiming, the man who wouldn't shut up while I was riding with his crew.
I would like to assume that my training is what made me do what I did next, but the truth was that…I was thinking of the little girl in his wife's womb never having her father; Just like me. I wonder if he hadn't mentioned it, would have still saved his life? I would like to think so.
I scream as the bullet rips its way through my chest. My breathing becomes sharp and every time I try to draw breath the feeling of fire in my chest becomes apparent. My mind flashes into a white color and I can barely comprehend what is happening. I know I am far away from home, overseas, and serving my country. I know my family as back home in Colorado, waiting for me. I know that the man I just saved is going to be a father. I know that had just stopped one tragedy from occurring, but I also just created mine. The burning sand and the sun are the only things I see before I fall. The hot desert sun beats down on my bleeding body and as I struggle for breath I inhale the dust hanging in the air, the only remains of the firefight.
People have talked about becoming cold when you lay dying. For me that wasn't the case. Everything made me feel like I am burning alive; the hot sand, the sun, and thick, hot blood filling my lungs. The sky manages to look almost white as lay dying, but it was kindly blocked out by the face of a man. The man that I saved, he looks like he was going to cry. He should be happy shouldn't he? I just saved him and he is one of those "glass half full" types. Despite his annoying attempts at conversing, he had the kindest face, as if everything he said was something to be cherished; maybe that how I managed to listen to him before and how I knew so much about him. I can feel my tears now; they are so cool against my burning face.
I see the man's mouth move screaming for help, unsure what to do. It's funny when you think about it. I'm the medic that he's probably looking for. If everything didn't hurt so bad I might have cracked a smile. All at once my body painstakingly convulses and I feel like I'm falling again, but this time I know I can't get up.
The fall feels like an eternity, but that's when I realize I can still feel. The burning disappears entirely and for some reason…I'm not scared. Then another surprise happens: I can hear the omniscient voice that begins to speak.
"Child, you have fought honorably and your self-sacrifice has provided you with a second chance."
"Am I going to live?" I ask, uncertain of my own voice.
"No, child, I'm afraid you can never return to your old life."
I am still surprised at my ability to feel. That's probably why when my heart breaks the next thing on my mind bursts from my mouth, "But my sister is going to have her baby soon, and my little brother will be graduating in May. They need me and I need them."
"They will learn to live with you in their hearts, my child. You on the other hand will have to learn to go on without your family," says the voice.
"If no one needs me than what's the point of a second chance?"
There is a warm wave that passes through my body; making feel light and almost normal. It is almost as if I hadn't been shot only moments prior. My eyelids become heavy and my mind fuzzy, but despite these feelings of weariness I manage to hear the voice continue.
"There are those in need of you. They are in a land very different from your own; where magic and swordplay are real. The people you meet there will help you to determine what you will do next. I am sending you to help them in their battle for freedom from tyranny. I know that you will succeed."
As the warmth passes through me a second time I can feel myself falling into slumber. Before my mind grows dark with sleep as ask one more question:
"Are you God?"
"No, my child. I am Aslan."
My eyes flutter open and my eyes hurt as they adjust to the light. It is nowhere near as bright as the sun I had become accustomed to in the Middle East. My eyes had even been shaded by the trees, but that didn't change the fact that they hurt. Trees? I allow my eyes to look around me as far as they could and it seems that this forest I am in stretches for miles. I am clearly not in Iraq anymore. Perhaps I really am dead and that voice was wrong about that second chance. Feeling confident I start using my head and neck to get a better look at my surroundings. I bet I look ridiculous, but I am worried that I might strain myself. I am surprised to find that my body feels fine. Not it believing for a moment, I quickly sit up – only to find that I am truly okay.
I grab at my chest where my bullet wound should be and even though there is no bleeding, there is a large red mark present on my chest. I find it rather ironic that it looks like a burn mark. Taking long deep breaths I smell the pine from some of the evergreen trees and I can hear the sound of a stream nearby. I am lying in a patch of grass amongst the trees. As I sit here in this strange forest the more that I feel this isn't a dream; it all seems too real. I place my arms behind me and lean on them. I can feel the slick blades of grass being pressed by my hands. It kind of reminds me of home – of Colorado. A breeze stirs and pushes my hair behind my head. That's when I notice a major difference between this land and home – I can smell the salt water on the air. An ocean?
I decide I need to something besides sitting around all day. I might as well head towards the ocean and hopefully find a port of some kind. I carefully pull my legs up to my chest and cautiously rise, worrying that either my legs or the ground beneath me might just give way. Now that I'm finally standing I manage to get a better look at myself. I'm partially in my uniform. My standard issue boots and pants are still present, but my jacket is missing. I'm down to my white tank top and my tags stand out against the contrast. On my hip is my Gloch and I can feel the nylon of the my sheath around my ankle; telling me that I also managed to keep my knife. At least I'm not unprepared; I would feel a lot worse otherwise. My hair remains in the ponytail that had been there when I died…when I died. Am I really dead? I wonder if I even could die here…well I'm not willing to test it and find out. I am about to begin walking into the wind, starting my trek for the ocean when I spot my M16 lying in the grass. My eyes widen and cautiously pick it up; it feels real enough in my hands, but I can't help feeling like this is too much of a dream. Taking the firearm with caution I begin doing a three sixties and calling out…
"Is anyone out there? Hello?"
After a few minutes of unrewarded silence I stop and check the magazine. It's full, but I also check the chamber and find it empty. Frightened for a moment I also check the clip in my Gloch, but that's full too. After check my ammo I sling my rifle on my back and I begin my trek towards the ocean. Because I don't know of any sources of water and I wasn't prepared to hunt in the area, I am travelling at a slow pace to conserve energy. I cannot say there is much to see in this forest except for trees and the various boulders that would get in my way. I make my way listening for anything suspicious or threatening, but for the longest time I could hear the only thing that surrounded me – nature. I pass a stream and try to take a drink only to find that it was salt water; like an idiot I spit it out and wiped my mouth. At least I was close to my goal. I follow the stream about half a mile or so and I come upon the end of the tree line. A small beach was in front of me, but being my conscious self I look and waited a good half hour in the trees before finally coming out with my weapon drawn. Much like my trek through the forest I walked slowly down the beach near the trees, waiting for something. Again I am met with the sound of the waves and the gentle sea breeze. Finally feeling safe I sit down at the beach and look across the water.
I remember a vacation my family and I had made to California once. Before we had gone to Disneyland we had stopped at the beach. I had been about thirteen and my older sister was about fifteen. My older sister thought that this was all lame, but I enjoyed it and so did our ten year old brother. We were a good close knit family even after dad had left us. At that age I thought the ocean was the most beautiful thing in the world, but now I can't help feeling terrified; a strange land with strange waters and absolutely nothing the same. I sat there until the sun started to set thinking of home of what this 'Aslan' wanted me to do; I still don't understand what he wanted of me. I stand and return to the tree line where I pick a sturdy tree and find a sturdy branch to sleep for the night. I had yet to see anything even any people, but that seems to be all the more reason to sleep above the ground until I knew what was out there. Using my belt on my cargo's I strapped myself in for a good night's sleep. However, just like any other normal human being I had the hardest time falling asleep. I listened to every noise and tried to watch every possible flicker of movement. I am very much afraid of this place, but even my brain which even now was processing so much, wasn't able to keep me awake for the whole night.