His ears were ringing, his head hurt, everything hurt, he didn't know what to do so he did what he was instructed to do. 'Man down,' he tried to shout but it was barely a whisper, 'Man down'. They had told him if he did that then help would come, but there was no help coming. He tried again, 'Man down.' Still nothing, he must have done it wrong, he was always doing things wrong. A tear ran down his cheek. He must have failed the test, now they wouldn't let him stay; and Kenneth closed his eyes.
Noise, hands, pain.
Light, words, pain.
'Are you with me soldier?'
'His stats are stabilizing and his …'
'No, no next of kin listed, contact is with a state home …'
'Soldier, open your eyes.' Kenneth did as he was told, he always tried his best to do as he was told. 'That's right young man, now we are just going to do a few tests so lay still.' Tests! Kenneth hated tests, he was never any good at them. Maybe they would be kind like that recruiting sergeant and let him pass anyway.
The next few days were some of the hardest Kenneth could remember, his head was even fuzzier than normal, it was hard to keep up with what they wanted him to do but he was getting stronger, he could sit up on his own now, but he was lonely. There was no one else in his room to talk to. He liked to talk to people, it was how he got to understand things, but even the doctors and nurses never said anything aside from his medical evaluations.
He missed his army friends, they talked and told him things. He wasn't sure he believed everything they told him but at least they let him be part of their team. He even missed the sergeant, even though he kept calling him, 'a god damned stupid hick.' Kenneth had been called worse things and at least the sergeant wouldn't let anyone else call him names. That was good. He hoped the sergeant was alright but they wouldn't tell him where his friends were. He was very afraid that he might know, but he was usually wrong, so he hoped.
It was good when the other doctor came in, he talked to him. Told him he was safe, asked him easy questions he could answer. Even asked him if he would like to stay. Kenneth had nowhere else to be so he tried his hardest to pass the tests and answer all the doctor's questions.
The happiest day of his life was when they told him that they were going to let him stay. They even told him they were going to make him better than he was. This made Kenneth feel like Steve Austin from the TV re-runs he had watched when he was a kid. Kenneth was going to be the Six Million Dollar Man, he was going to work for the government and be a hero and save the girl.
Kenneth was happy to stop being Kenneth and become Aaron. He would be a good soldier, he would pass every test, and he would do anything for Colonel Byer because he let Aaron stay. Kenneth was sure that Colonel Byer was the best officer in the world, and he knew that he wasn't wrong this time.