Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bike Light Nights

Dark skies torn apart by spinning helicopter blades and neon tracers were the lasting images from my first m'sakem. This time around a simple blinking bike light is what I will remember from the week long war-games that came to test what we had mastered over the past few months of training.

Like the first m'sakem in late April, this installment was mostly about lugging heavy packs in the dark of the night and hiding out from the enemy as dawn beckoned. Although we rubbed out a few pretend terrorists over the course of the week, the main idea was to remain undetected. So one night when our lead scouts spotted red lights approaching our ranks, the entire squad quickly concealed themselves in nearby bushes. Red lights, we had been told, meant terrorist baddies. With bated breath, two dozen camouflaged commandos prepared to fire as a strange pair of bobbing red lights approached our position.

As the seesawing figure grew closer, I struggled to keep the 100 pounds of kit on my back from throwing off the view through my gunsights. I had no idea of knowing when the order would come through to initiate contact with the enemy. But when the sound of heavy breathing grew so close that the leaves beside me seemed to stir from its breeze, I readied my finger on the trigger. Looking around, I saw my peers doing the same. Lucky for the other team our guns were stocked with phony bullets that would produce nothing save a bang and some smoke when fired. In our keyed up state, the result of our momentary broadside seemed beside the point. In seconds a symphony of violence would shake these woods.

The symphony never happened. Discipline trumped nerves when the bobbing red lights turned out to be the front and rear lights of two bicycles out for a late night ride. The bicyclists never knew what did not hit them. As they pedaled off into the night, my squad coolly stepped from our hiding places, shouldered heavy packs and moved off into the night.

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