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Several people were interested in continuing from last week, when Tom was just tipping into a PTSD flashback in his parents’ backyard.
No one asked for my entry in the World’s Longest Run-On Sentence, but I threw it in for free, anyway (Wewriwa moderators: I swear I’m not pulling a fast one. This is how it’s written, which might make me guilty of poor grammar, but not fudging my sentence limit. Right?):
A howl, possibly from the second floor bathroom window, possibly from the past, echoed in my ears.
“Yeah,” I said, rubbing my eyes.
Hands closed on my upper arms and I twisted away and threw a punch, but that wouldn’t be enough (Bryan had taught me that) and I could hear Turner curse and Grant scream and there were more of them coming out of nowhere, leaping out of the swirling sand, taking down the ones who broke and ran because they didn’t know any better, and I didn’t have my rifle and the grip of my sidearm was wrong but it was in my hand and I took aim and shouted in Urdu, which wasn’t right for this region, but it made everyone pause and I might be able to buy the others a little bit of time with bluff and bullets and I knew it wouldn’t be enough, but if I was going to die, I was going to die trying—
“Tom,” Turner said, appearing in front of me, “stand down.” He sounded as calm and sure as always.
I don’t have PTSD—librarians aren’t usually susceptible, even during the final weeks of the Summer Reading Program—but this is what my panic attacks feel like to me, including the inability to catch a breath.
The image, which was taken in 2009 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Patrick W. Mullen III, is actually of a Navy Seabee assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 in Afghanistan, but it was so outstanding, I had to use it.