The words echoed off the walls in the chamber room. “Skydriver, Skydriver, this is Farmboy. Over.” Colonel Dekker stared at the pilot’s equipment arranged on a table set against the chamber wall. The speaker on the radio he had pulled from the man’s shirt pocket clicked and he heard Jommy’s voice repeat the call. “Skydriver, Skydriver, this is Farmboy. Over.”
Dekker grabbed the radio and keyed the built-in microphone. “Jommy, is that you?”
“Yes sir. Can you hear me? Over.” Dekker could hear the strain of fear in the boy’s voice.
“Yes, Jommy, I can hear you. What’s wrong? Where’s your father?”
“I don’t know sir.” His voice warbled. “He was right behind me but then I lost him. I don’t think he made it.” Dekker’s heart skipped. Made it from what?
“What’s happening, Jommy?” Realizing the boy understood basic radio protocol, he added, “Over.” Routine and procedure wasn’t just a formality. It also provided an anchor for a man’s mind when panic was his first instinct. Maybe it was helping Jommy the same way.
“Th – the Terran Guard sir. They came to the house. They were ev – everywhere. Over.” Dekker heard the tears breaking.
“That’s alright, son, just stop and remember as best you can. Start from the beginning. Over.”
“They came out of nowhere sir. We heard something in the valley and then we had to hide. They were blowing everything up. And then they came here and started shooting everybody. Dad told me to run. So I ran, but he couldn’t keep up and they were shooting everybody – “
Dekker tried to interrupt the boy as his chatter was running away from him. “Jommy -“
“- and they screamed and fell down. They kept shooting. Mama’s cups. Mama’s cups. Mama’s cups -” The boy was hyperventilating, but all Dekker could do was wait. “Unhh. Over.”
“Alright Jommy, that’s good. That’s a good report Marine. Now, listen to me carefully. Are you listening? Over.”
Jommy struggled to talk between sniffles. “Y- unh. Yes. Sir. Over.”
“I want you to turn your radio off and then run as far away from Dirt Hill as you can. Run until the sun goes down. Then, you can stop and call me. Do you understand? Over.”
“Yes sir.” Jommy grunted. “I’ll call you after sunset. Farmboy out.” The radio clicked and the light behind the transmit button went dark. Dekker pushed it anyway.
“Run Jommy. Run.” He let go of the button and bowed his head, closing his eyes.
©2016 Michael J Lawrence