The scene outside was infinitely worse than what they had just walked through. Absolutely nothing was wrong. This in itself wouldn’t be a cause for concern, but considering the soldiers, the bullet holes and the whole being rushed out of their 5 star hotel scenario, normal was not what they expected. A long line of buses were parked side by side, with lines of people in the process of boarding them. Soldiers seemed to be everywhere.
All of them were dressed in the same black uniform, with the same body armour. Only their weapons were different. Some carried long rifles, others had shorter sub machine guns. They stood alongside the footpath Jim and the others were walking on, arranged in lines. Not one of the soldiers were speaking. Several of the hotel patrons tried to talk to them, but they just pointed to the buses with gestures from their weapons.
"Where are we going Jim?" Aimee whispered.
"I don’t know hunny, but if they wanted us dead, we would be." Jim held her hand tighter. The crowd moved closer to the buses, but were stopped from entering by a large Spanish soldier.
"Can everyone please stop and listen?" he shouted, his English was perfect. "Now we must sort you out, so you go on the correct bus."
"What the hell is going on?" an English man shouted.
"You will listen while we sort you out. A full explanation will be available to all of you, but for now please just listen."
"I’m not going anywhere, until i know what’s going on". A number of people started to murmur their agreement.
"You will listen or i will leave you here. We have no time to waste. You will have to get on buses now, we will explain it all then. But trust me, if you stay, you die!" this time the Spaniard stared straight at the Englishman.
"Now you are all listening. All Germans go to the first 2 buses, go now!, all French go to buses 3 and 4 and all English go to the last 4 buses, now, we must hurry." He finished speaking, then walked away from the group. Other soldiers started shouting at them, "English come here, Germans come this way."
Jim and Aimee found themselves in a smaller group now, and Dave and Ella were soon stood next to them. Ella was soundly asleep in his arms.
"Are we being kidnapped?" Dave asked.
"I don’t know, but the first chance we have to get away, i think we should." Jim looked at Aimee, "What do you think?"
She just looked back at him, her eyes seemed to be struggling to focus on him.
"What’s wrong with her?" Dave looked worried.
"Too much i think. We got here last night, saw bombs dropped on people this morning, then got forced out of our hotel by very big men with very big guns. I just think she’s in shock." Jim moved her slightly behind him. Dave turned to look at the nearest soldier, "She looked alright this morning mate."
Jim looked at him in surprise. "When did you see her this morning?"
"She was in the town, about 7 mate. Ella was up early and i went to get us some breakfast. She was on her way back in."
"Well keep that to yourself will you?" it was more of a demand than a question.
"Sure mate, sure" Dave shifted Ella onto his other hip and they carried on towards the buses in silence. A small blonde woman behind them relayed the full conversation to her husband.
The buses soon started to fill. The first two, the German buses, were the first to leave. Each one carried a number of soldiers on board, and an open top pick up truck moved in front. The escort was also full of troops.
Within 15 of leaving the hotel, only 1 bus remained, and the two couples were waiting to get on board.
"We have too many people for the bus." the loud Spanish voice silenced the group. "Some of you will have to wait with us."
They tourists went wild. Pushing and shoving each other. The panic was overwhelming. Jim and Aimee were about 3ft from the door, and he was trying desperately to pull her along. Loud shots could be heard. One of the soldiers had fired into the air, to try and restore calm.
"With people standing up, 12 of you have stay here. you will stay with us, and will leave when we do." The Spanish soldier moved towards the bus entrance. Another trooper, who had been holding the door closed, stepped aside. "I will point to you, and you will get on the bus." He started indicating people to move forward. Now order was back in place, the crowd thinned rapidly. Dave and Ella were allowed on the bus and Jim and Aimee were the last 2 pointed too.
Before they could board though, the blonde woman who had been stood behind them shouted out.
"Why do they get on, she’s sick look!"
Jim was stopped by a rifle barrel.
"She has not been outside right?" Black Spanish stared straight into his.
"No, she’s not." the tension was almost unbearable. Jim knew she had been outside, but he kept it quiet.
"Ok then, get on board."
Relief washed over Jim, but it was short lived.
"She went into town this morning!" It was the blonde woman, she had overheard Jim’s conversation with Dave.
"No!" Jim shouted. But the woman was insistent, and her husband was all too ready to agree with her.
"Take her over there!" the soldier didn’t sound like he was giving Jim a choice. He stood with his back to the bus and raised his weapon.
"Right, Ok!" Jim shouted. Before he could move though, more soldiers started dragging them away from the bus. Jim tried to fight with them, but their armour prevented him from doing any damage. Aimee put up no resistance whatsoever, she seemed to be in a hypnotised trance.
They were dragged back to the hotel entrance and forced to stand clear of anyone else. Jim stood in front if Aimee. He didn’t understand what was going on. She didn’t seem to care. Four of the soldiers stood in a line in front of them, the middle 2 seemed to be arguing.
Jim stood helpless as the bus left. The remaining tourists were being led towards the entrance gates, presumably towards another extraction point.
"Move!" someone screamed at Jim. He stood frozen in place, the thought barely registering. "Move!" the same shout. What did it mean?
One of the troops ran at Jim and punched him in the face. The tough armoured gloves were no match for Jim’s unprotected face, and he flew through the air away from Aimee. He was barely conscious but still managed to look back towards his girlfriend. Blood was running down from her ears. The shoulders on her shirt were stained dark red, and it was starting to join up with the blood coming from her nose. Jim started to get up, but the soldier who had punched him landed directly on his chest.
Gunfire raged as Aimee’s chest exploded. It seemed as though she stood there forever, her chest a ragged mass of blood and bone. She made no move to save herself, no defensive movements whatsoever.
Jim screamed her name, and tried to get back to his feet, but the weight of the soldier kept him pinned down. Finally her shattered body fell backwards, it landed with an undignified thump. Jim continued fighting, and it was only when a foot hit his jaw, did he fall silent. Unconsciousness silencing his screams.