Captain Carruthers settled into one side of my cleft, which wasn’t really wide enough to have two sides, but he wedged himself in anyway. There were clefts like my own up and down under the folded rock and he could, with his rank, have stayed in any one of them, but I understood. He wanted to be alone and somewhere else on the planet. Anywhere else on the planet. But he was in the A Shau, and death was lurking everywhere, with living bodies falling to become dead ones all the time. Captain Carruthers didn’t want to be alone, and he wasn’t alone inside my cleft. I was wedged deep, where the rock roof slanted down into the dry river sand. Fusner was pushed inside the opening just above me, while Nguyen lay next to him. Piper and his charge, the remainder of my scout team, were half exposed to the outside, just inside the outer lip of the opening. Sardines could not have been fit closer inside one of those roll key cans they came in than we were, and that’s only when we could get a can in a care package, which was almost never.

“When’s resupply coming in?” Carruthers asked, working to drop his pack and get into it with almost no maneuvering room.