Smoke poured into the room, making vision murky and gritty. "Brooks!" Markus coughed. "Brooks, you okay?" Brooks picked himself up, shaken and stirred, yet not broken. He stayed low and crawled over to Markus, the fire clawing up the walls and along the floor. "God damn it! Fuckin' IED's!" Markus yapped, choking and spluttering. "Where's Ausitns?" At his bellow, a crying scream came from the other side of the room, calling in pain. "Austins!" Markus yelled over the crackling flames, standing up and pointlessly putting an arm over his mouth. Brooks followed him, hacking into his left hand. What met Brooks' eyes was horror. Aussie's legs were blown apart, black and red with scorched flesh and oozing gore. Sharp bone stuck out at the base of his shins and he wailed in agony. "Help me get him out of here!" Markus hauled one of Austin's arms from under the shoulder and Brooks did the same with the other shoulder.
They yanked him out of the door of the bedroom that lead to the rest of the hallway. They both stopped and laid Austins against the wall, back straight. Markus knelt down, put his hands on Austin's cheeks and wiggled them ever so slightly. "Aussie. Aussie; look at me." Austins' head was going all over the place, his eyes darting in panic and his breath out of time. "Hey! Hey! Aussie, look at me, okay?" Austins paused and slowly gazed at him, his sobbing eyes drying in the heat.
"You gotta get me out of here. I'm beggin' ya please, you gotta get me outta here man! M-my wife and kids an-" Markus stopped him.
"Calm down, calm yourself. Just keep looking at me and focus. Okay? We're getting you out."
"Yeah? You promise? You gotta promise me!" At that moment, Bronte stormed over to them, thundering his feet.
"Gentlemen, what the hell was that?!"
"An IED, sir! Brooks and I are shaken slightly, but Austins down here is in really bad shape! We have to get him to a medic, asap!" Markus expressed.
"Negative, we have to get out of here now!" he paused for a choke on the dry air, "This whole block is going to turn to ashes within minutes!" Markus' eyes dropped in sorrow and anger.
"Sir, we can't just leave him!" he protested, "We can carry him out of here, Brooks and I!" Austins moaned out in tears.
"Don't leave me here, please! I don't wanna die here!"
"Sir, for God sake, we have to get him to a hospital!" Markus pleaded. Brooks had no say in the matter, but he urged Bronte with his hands and arms.
"Sergeant Markus, if you disobey me one more time I will have you removed from the case. Now move your asses, we have to high-tail it outta here!"
"I'm not leaving him!" Markus roared in Bronte's face, a spout of spit hurling from his mouth. Bronte retaliated back, like a counter attack in a fist fight.
"Either do as you're told Sergeant Markus, or so help me, I will shove a boot up so far up your ass, you'll be tasting the leather of my soles, now get going!" he ordered, pushing Markus towards the door with aggressive force. Markus said nothing more. Angry and distraught, he followed his orders, coughing out of the door. Bronte went with him, leaving Brooks and Austins. Brooks looked back at the door, then back at Austins.
"Brooks, man, please. Help me out here man..." Brooks, started to walk to the door, his face still gawking at Austins. "No. Brooks, no! Please, get me outta here!!" he got closer and closer to the door, grabbing the handle. "Brooks!!" The door clicked shut and Brooks ran through the black fog of the hallway to the stairs.
The sad truth was, duty came before brotherhood.