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Radio Watch

I had radio watch. I usually did four hours a night. I wrote letters by flashlight. The letters all had a box in the lower left corner with tick-marks that I slashed into the notebook paper every time I saw a falling star. Mars marched angrily across the Iraqi sky.

"ROAD KNIGHT ONE . . . THIS IS BLACK HORSE . . .RADIO CHECK, OVER." came a crackling voice on the radio. We were supposed to do radio checks every hour, but it turned into every five or ten minutes sometimes, because the guys liked to hear my female voice on the radio.

"BLACK HORSE . . . THIS IS ROAD KNIGHT ONE . . . RADIO CHECK, OUT." I turned back to my letter and told my friend Jana about the day before. There was a buzzing sound overhead and I saw a darker moving patch in the sky. A drone that belonged to the Marines was doing a routine patrol.

Sometimes I dozed off for a moment, but nodded back to my senses when the radio demanded attention. The sky was getting lighter, it was four in the morning. Radio watch was a fairly causal thing. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt with flip-flops. I slipped out of the cab of the truck and flop flop flopped over to the Como-Sargent's cot. He was the only one of us to put a mosquito net up.

"Sargent, it's four." I said.

"Ok."

Flop flop flop flop... my flashlight was swinging from it's little lanyard. Flop flop...I stopped because I saw something moving on the ground. There was a white spot that moved against the white sand. I followed it with my beam. It was a scorpion about the size of my hand. It ran from my light. This was fun. It came toward me. I took a step back. It lunged toward me. I ran twenty feet. It was right there. I ran a few hundred feet.

Panting with panic I stood by Sargent Smidley's covered cot.

"Big . . . big . . . scorpion . . . help . . . big." I scoured the sand with the beam of my light.

"ROAD KNIGHT ONE . . . THIS IS BLACK HORSE . . .RADIO CHECK, OVER." said a voice calling me back to the radio in the truck.

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