Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sound in Afghanistan

I decided to post a short script exercise (and a drawing!) focusing on sound, which I set in Afghanistan, and then I realized this Saturday is Veterans Day - how perfect!

I was deployed to Afghanistan from February 3 to September 10, 2012. I had a pretty cushy job, all things considered, but that doesn't mean certain aspects of life over there weren't an adventure.

This short piece of dramatic writing is based on real events. The loudspeaker dialogue is accurate according to my journal from that time - I heard it so often, I had it memorized, so I'm glad I thought to write it down - and for a while I had a neighbor who hit the snooze button on her alarm clock instead of turning it off, then left it in her bed and went to the showers. We were on different shifts, and this occurred basically in the middle of my sleep cycle.

Good times. :)


SARAH, an Air Force Senior Airman, is asleep. She is in a makeshift room in a B-Hut; the walls of the room are plywood. Since they don’t go all the way to the ceiling, privacy is completed with wool blankets tacked to the ceiling, blocking out some sound and most of the light that could, at any time, emanate from the neighboring rooms. The door is also a blanket, strung across the opening on a length of tan 550 cord. There is a wall locker at one end of the room, a small black footlocker at the other. A rickety, narrow bunkbed rests against the outside wall, sandwiched between the two other pieces of furniture. There are maybe three feet between the side of the bed and the door. Sarah sleeps in the bottom bunk. The top bunk is completely empty; she has the luxury of her own room.

A BLARING ALARM sounds in a steady tone over the base intercom.

Incoming! Incoming!

Sarah sleeps on.

The BLARING ALARM continues for a few more seconds.

All is quiet for a few beats.

Attention on the FOB. IDF impact.

Sarah half-wakes.

Take cover. Don IBA if available.

Realizing the base is being mortared, Sarah lays her head back down to go back to sleep.

A few beats of quiet before we hear the wooden B-Hut door open and close. Footsteps approach, pausing at two rooms before Sarah’s. The footsteps arrive at Sarah’s door. The blanket is pushed aside. A female AIRMAN in helmet and body armor and holding a clipboard shines a flashlight in Sarah’s closed eyes.

Sarah scrunches up her face. As the light is turned away, she opens her eyes to glare at the Airman, who checks her off the roll sheet as being accounted for.

Continue to take cover. Security sweep in progress.


The Airman leaves, footsteps headed for the next room as Sarah relaxes back into sleep and the scuffling sounds of accountability continue. Finally, we hear the Airman leave the B-Hut.

All is quiet for a few beats. Sarah begins to snore.

BEEP BEEP BEEP of the all-clear. Sarah grumbles and props herself up on an elbow, becoming fully awake for the first time.

All clear. Resume operations or initiate recovery. Repeat: All clear.

Sarah looks at her watch and flops back down on the bed, disgusted. A few beats pass and she falls asleep again.

BAAA BAAA BAAA... – her neighbor’s very loud alarm goes off.

Sarah bolts upright in a slight panic. She realizes it’s just an alarm clock, but she doesn’t lay back down. She sits up, waiting to see if the alarm will be turned off. It continues to go off, and Sarah finally gets up and leaves the room. We hear her shuffle to her neighbor’s room. After a moment, the alarm stops. Sarah returns and gets back into bed. She closes her eyes.

BAAA BAAA BAAA... – the alarm goes off again.

Sarah opens her eyes and stares at the ceiling.



Here's a comic-strip take on another fun interaction between sound and sleep in Afghanistan. Like the charcoal drawing of the red door, this is from the sketch book my brother sent me while I was over there:

No comments:

Post a Comment