I can feel him. He's just on the other side of the wall.
I know there's a wall because he's leaning against it, feeling the cold brick against his back. It's not comfortable, but it's more comfortable than standing up straight, and he'll have plenty of warning before he has to return to attention. He'll hear… a buzz, from the security door, and then footsteps for a bit before anyone even came into view. Plenty of time to look alert and official.
He hates me.
He hasn't been told who I am, or what I'm supposed to have done, or really much of anything except that I'm dangerous, and that's enough for him. If that buzz sounded and the footsteps approached and he was ordered to open my cell and put a bullet through my head, he would do it unquestioningly. He cares deeply. He's a team player.
The buzzer sounds, the footsteps begin. I hear it with his ears. He wonders if he's about to be ordered to kill me. He's excited at the prospect. He straightens up.
Someone very important speaks to him. I can't tell who it is. The face means nothing to me because it means nothing to him: my guard only thinks of the person as a rank, as a source of authority. He is being given additional information about me.
He is re-deployed to the other side of the hall, facing the cell door. He now knows that I am bound and blindfolded, immobilized and robbed of all my natural senses, but he is more afraid of me than before. He suspects that he is under-equipped for this responsibility; he wishes he had a shotgun instead of a pistol.
The footsteps move away, the buzz sounds again and the security door swings closed. My guard feels as if he's had a brush with greatness. When all is silent he creeps back across the hall, reaches out with an unsteady hand, and — sliding the observation window open — he peers in.
It is amusing to see myself through his eyes, to feel his revulsion at the sight of me, his fear, his outrage. He is angry that he hasn't been given permission to kill me, though that anger soon gives way to a satisfaction that his commanders know better than he.
He returns to the other side of the hall, believing himself safer there. It is what he has been told, after all. The precautions are guesses, but they are educated guesses. He does not think of himself as 'expendable', and surely, neither do they.
His mind wanders: there's a girl. There's more than one girl in there, knocking around, flashing in and out, but there is one girl in particular, special, one of perhaps permanent significance. He relaxes his mind with her, he comforts himself with her memory. He plans to return to her, if he gets a weekend pass. There is a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that he will not.
SF Drabble #393 "New Ardennes"
No supply ship for nearly three weeks, not with the flare activity. Word came in from the CP, deep underground, to save charge packs: no more covering fire, no more harassing fire. Every charge is a dead Woolie or we're through. Then the orbital bombing. Not of us; of them. Woolies started approaching our lines to surrender. The pounding must have been absolutely hellacious.
A couple hours after the bombing stopped a 2nd Louie with a clean uniform walked up. "You men are the 7th?"
"The Ninth. We're rescuing you."
"Fuck off, Ninth, we don't need no rescue."