The Few: A Tale of the Marines in the Near Future
Tuesday Morning, US Embassy, New Delhi
walked down the red carpet back into the embassy. He motioned for PFC Rodriguez to leave
Post 1 and take his position by the front entrance. Rodriguez licked his lips and came
out, running his thumbs along the front of his dress blues, removing imaginary wrinkles.
He patted Rodriguez on the shoulder and walked into the passageway to the left. As the
detachment commander, he really didnt have a mission. His Marines were at their
positions, but he wasnt important enough in the embassy hierarchy to stand outside
or even to join the crowd at the consular building.
He walked down the passage to the
Ambassadors office where LCpl Jeb Kramer waited at parade rest. Heads up.
The president is about two minutes away.
He checked over Kramer. A former
jock, Kramer was voted Man for All Seasons at his high school in Des Moines.
Despite having heard this from Kramer about half a million times, Gunny still didnt
know quite what it meant. Something akin to homecoming king, but having to be a
multi-sport star. Regardless, Kramer was still athletic, and he always looked good in
Inside the ambassadors
office, Gunny could see one of the local Indian staff , an older man named Dravid, laying
out the antique Russian tea set. He guessed
the president would get tea in the ambassadors office when he arrived, tea a few
minutes later at the reception, and probably tea when he went to the head (which he would
need after drinking so much tea in the first place). Gunny liked coffee better, but
Ambassador Tankersly loved tea, and he thought drinking tea showed deference to India.
Gunny nodded to Kramer and walked
back down the passage to the Cultural Affairs Section. This was a large office with
windows overlooking the courtyard, so he felt this would give him a good view of the
presidents arrival. As he walked in, he
was only somewhat surprised to see Major Defilice and the DSS Agent-in-Charge agent
already standing at the window. Most of the embassy staff was at the consular building for
The major turned around. Ah, Gunny! Coming to slum with the
I thought youd be at the reception, sir. Theres food there, you know?
Ah, but half the diplomatic
community is there, too. A mere major could never hope to fight off the Romanian Assistant
to the Deputy Science Advisor when there is a buffet line in front of him.
Gunny laughed and turned toward
the window. The DSS agent eyed the 9 mm at his
hip but said nothing. Directly in front of the
windows and below were various embassy staff and spouses waiting for the president to
arrive. Although he could not hear them through the reinforced windows, he could see the
crowd outside the gates starting to intensify its actions. Both the color guard and LCpl
Wynn came to attention.
Well, I guess its
showtime! murmured the major. The gate
swung open and a line of black Suburbans drove in. There was a flurry of people jumping
out of the first two Suburbans while the third drove right up to the red carpet. A secret service agent moved to open the door, and
the President of the United States stepped out. Gunny
had never seen this president in person, but he thought he rather looked just like he did
on television. Overall, a handsome man, he
looked trustworthy. Hard to believe this was the man whod destroyed the Corps.
SSgt Child brought the color
guard to present arms, but the president did not acknowledge them. Bastard!
thought Gunny. He did acknowledge the crowd,
though, waving like he was on the campaign trail. Ambassador
Tankersly came around form the other side of the Suburban and started to direct the
president down the red carpet. One of the
accompanying secret service agents suddenly stopped and looked up.
Gunny thought that rather odd,
still odder when the agent suddenly flung himself at the president, knocking him to the
ground. Did you see that? He tackled the
president! He felt a jolt as the agent standing beside him swore an oath under his
breath and pushed past him, bolting for the door. Out in the courtyard, SSgt Child
faltered, slightly dipping the colors as he took a hesitant step toward the prone
president lying at his feet with an agent on top of him.
The next few moments seemed to
slow down to a standstill. They just couldnt register on his mind.
There was a blinding flash in the
courtyard. Gunny stared dumfoundedly as the color guard, the ambassador, and the staff
secretary seemed to be pushed to the ground. In quick succession there were four more
blasts, rocking the window. Small ticks
sounded as shrapnel peppered it, but the window held. The group of people standing outside
in front of the window, though, collapsed almost en masse where they stood.
Major Defilice grabbed Gunny Mac
by the arm. Lets go, come on, lets go! They ran out the door and down the hall toward Post
1. Inside Post 1, Little Mac was standing up
staring open-mouthed out the front and down to the courtyard.
Seeing him, she started shouting
LCpl Saad was lying alongside the
steps leading up to the entrance. He was
holding his right shoulder, and Gunny could see the blue fabric of his blouse turning red. His mouth was open, and he was panting. Princess
and Stepchild were huddled behind a stone column flanking the left side of the entrance.
LCpl Van Slyke started to follow the agent, who was now rushing toward the president with
a small, lethal-looking automatic weapon in his hand.
Rodriguez had taken a step or two
following Van Slyke and the secret service. The agent charged toward the president when
there was a rattle of fire and a burst of rounds cut him down. He pitched forward with the
boneless flop of someone dead before he even hit the ground. Van Slyke went down as well
halfway between the entrance and the president.
Gunny grabbed Rodriguez and
pulled him to ground, sliding in back of the other stone column flanking the entrance. There was a blast of answering fire from a secret
service agent, and a shadowy figure on the other side of the front gate collapsed. A
single shot rang out, and that agent fell.
Gunny glanced around the column. There were a number of prone bodies lying on the
ground in the courtyard. A couple agents,
whether DSS or USSS, he couldnt tell, were upright and returning fire. One agent rushed toward the president when he
stumbled and fell to the ground. He tried to
get back to his feet when another round struck him, and he fell back motionless.
Off to the left, Gunny saw
movement coming from the consular building. It
was Captain Leon-Guerro, running through the fish pond and into the courtyard. Several
shots rang out from unseen sources, but they merely kicked up chips of brick and stone at
the captains feet. Gunny watched in awe
as the captain ran, powerful legs pushing him along toward the red carpet. A round hit the captains leg, instantly
shredding his blue trousers, but he didnt let that stop him. Then, two rounds hit his chest. This wasnt
Hollywood. Captain Leon-Guerro did not go flying backwards in the air. He just collapsed.
His momentum kept his body sliding across the ground after he fell, past the president,
shoving up the red carpet, and up against SSgt Child and Cpl Ashley. He looked up and lifted his arm toward the US flag
and tugged on it, as if he wanted to take it away from the scene. Then his body stilled.
Within a few short moments, the
remaining agents in the courtyard were down as well. The
gunfire slowed and ceased.
Gunny had pulled his 9 mm and
with fumbling hands, inserted a magazine and chambered a round. But he couldnt see a target. The crowd, which had rushed backward after the
first blast and gunfire, was now crowding forward, looking inside the fence. Gunny could
see Indian police joining them, taking in the carnage.
Then he saw three men push
themselves through the crowd up to the gate and spray the courtyard with automatic fire,
even though there was no obviously moving target. They started climbing the gate. Gunny tried to get in position for a shot, but that
was a long shot for a handgun, especially when made by a piss-poor marksman.
Over at the gatehouse, LCpl Wynn
picked herself up off the ground. Even from this distance, Gunny could see the blood
streaming down her face and neck. She calmly walked up to the gate as if she were back at
Quantico getting ready to qualify on the range. The
three men saw her and started scrambling to get their rifles in position to fire, but Wynn
coolly shot all three, one after the other, one shot apiece.
The men fell back over the gate into the pressing crowd.. She turned around,
holstered her 9 mm, took a few steps back towards the embassy, then fell face first to the
Gunny had five Marines down. And
the president, and the ambassador, and a shitload of secret service agents. In the momentary lull after Wynns shots, he
jumped up yelling for the Marines near him to follow. Rodriguez, Steptoe, and Ramon jumped
up and ran with him. Major Defilice rushed down the red carpet as well.
Gunny reached down to Van Slyke,
but the Marine was pushing himself up. His face was covered in blood and his upper lip
seemed to be hanging off. Im OK
Gunny, Im OK, he managed to get out of his mangled face, blood spraying. Gunny kept going to the end of the carpet.
The closest person to him was
Crocker. The right half of Crockers face
was gone, sheared off. His left eye was open, and looked completely normal, as if nothing
had happened. But it would never see again. Crocker was gone.
Staff Sergeant Child was moving
slightly, but he was obviously hurt pretty bad. Blood was soaking his blouse and trousers,
and a pool of blood was forming on the courtyard stones.
Rodriguez! Help me
here! Rodriguez started to kneel next to Gunny Mac when LCpl Steptoe pushed him
Ive got this,
Gunny. He reached down and slung Child over his back, exactly as outlined in the
Marine Handbook. He could have been
demonstrating to a class. He stood up and started back down the red carpet to the embassy
Cpl Ashley was lying on her back.
She didnt look obviously hurt. Take
her back, Rodriguez. Rodriguez grabbed her by the collar and started dragging her.
As he dragged her past him, Gunny Mac could see a broad swath of red form under her, as if
someone was using a paintbrush to paint the courtyard.
Major Defilice had gone right up
to the president. Lying underneath the secret service agent, his left arm was outspread,
and there was some blood on it. Defilice and
the Princess rolled the agent off the president, who moaned and tried to sit up.
Take it easy sir.
Weve got you. Defilice got his
arms under the presidents shoulders while Ramon picked up his legs. Together they
carried the president back.
Gunny looked around. The agent
who had covered the president was quite obviously dead. Ambassador Tankersly lay in a pool
of blood, his right arm blown off and lying a few feet from his body. The man who he would later learn was the staff
secretary lay on his back wheezing, blood pulsing out between his fingers which were
pressed up against his neck. As Gunny moved toward him, the wheezing stopped, and his hand
fell away. The pulsing blood slowed to a flow. One
hand still clutched the handle of a badly mangled briefcase, broken electronic components
falling out of it to lie scattered across the ground.
Van Slyke came staggering across
the courtyard, Wynn over his shoulders. A shot rang out, and Gunny could see another man
pushing himself through the crowd to fire into the embassy grounds. Gunny stepped behind
the presidents Suburban, then cranked off a few rounds at the man. He didnt
know if he hit him or not, or if he hit someone else in the crowd for that matter, but the firing stopped long enough for Van Slyke to
make it to the red carpet. Gunnys natural instinct was to help him with Wynn, but he
stayed at the Suburban and scanned the crowd outside the gate for another shooter.
Looking back at the embassy, he could see Saad step up to help Van Slyke into the building. Feeling quite vulnerable out there alone, he decided it was time to get back himself. He turned to run and almost fell over the US flag, lying in the blood on the courtyard ground. Looking at Crockers body, he mouthed a small apology for abandoning his body, picked up the flag, then sprinted for the entrance. Little Mac waited until he got through before hitting the release to lower the emergency door.
The Few is available in both regular print and as an e-book at some bookstores and online retailers such as Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobel, and iUniverse.
Click here to purchase The Few from Amazon.com
Click here to purchase The Few from Barnes and Nobel
Click here to purchase The Few from iUniverse.