A flash and sparkle catches my eye through one of the small forward windows as we approach Kandahar. The lights glitter and swell as we arrow down to touch the tarmac before braking violently.
The back splits open as we start to taxi to the parking ramp – half elevating toward the ceiling while the lower half stays stable as we watch buildings and hangers recede in the night.
Shutting down the engines, it doesn’t take long before the temperature in the seats starts to drop and all of us are more than glad to grab gear and load onto the bus.
From the end where the plane is parked it is a long drive back to the PAX terminal. As we roll in our dark bus cave we pass hard working teams repairing and prepping aircraft for the next day. Fixed wings, fighter jets tucked out of sight in hangers with workers swarming over them. Unmanned aircraft of various sizes and shapes from sleek to praying mantis ready to engulf appearing in profile surrounded by crews blending with the ground. Helicopters of the small and nasty ready to strike to large, clumsy looking creatures squatting on the tarmac with drooping rotors like a bad hair day.
Following a forklift heavily loaded with cargo we pull over and pause, that C-130 passing on our right is just a bit bigger and probably needs the right of way. Certainly it is easier for us to turn aside.
Exhausted at the terminal, I bump into a “young” British Sailor. P.O. Andy is returning from Bastion to his job as an LNO in Bagram also via Kandahar. Traveling by himself, his next flight out is more than 24 hours.
Can’t have that the three of us decide, hauling him along to the outbound PAX terminal. What is the point of being a senior person and not using it for a good deed or two? Registering for the next leg of the journey – we will have an 0220 show time (and I will use my +1 to make the petty officer’s life better).
(Intermission – challenge of the MWR computers and hours later)
We are back at the terminal, clear through the insane safety checks – metal detectors, scanners and the like to stare dazedly at the wall for another couple of hours. At the point where I am ready to scream and all the diet coke in the world will not turn me into intelligent life, once again we are strung out in a line through the icy cold on the way to our final C-130 trip of the day.
Sardines we are – warm and snug in the beast’s belly till we smack down on the Bagram runway. Processing in – Andy will be rescued by his mates while I trundle back to my BHut. You really, really don’t want to hear about my trip to Dental Sick Call. (Pain on a 1-10? No Clue, it is bothering me enough to come in. Afterwards with 2/3 roots drilled out on a molar I can now say with certainty. Before was a 2/10. This is a 4/10. Based on a scale where nothing is 0 and Labor is 8 since there has to be worse pain in the universe than having a child). It might have gone more smoothly if the local had not worn off in the middle of the filing. I took my ibuprofen, my Tylenol and an emergency pain killer out of my secret stash and went to bed. I am premedicating prior to the follow up appointment, ignoring the other tooth that is trying to die. Argh!