"GEORGE!!! COVER ME; I'M MOVING UP!!", I scream at my teammate. I run forward, crouching, trying to keep my head away from the line-of-sight of Mr. Sniper. Meanwhile, those little yellow balls are whizzing by and bouncing everywhere. I zig zag and slide feet first into an upright piece of plywood - my temporary shelter from the onslaught of the orbs. BAM! BAM! BAM! The plywood shudders. Any moment, an enemy could sneak from behind the makeshift wall and plant one square in my chest.
A little bit of back story - Apparently, terrorists have seized control of a nuclear reactor and have initiated a meltdown. In ten short minutes, everything within a twenty mile radius will glow hot for the next 25,000 years. As the SWAT Team, we're trained to disable the terrorists and terminate the meltdown sequence. To do so, we simply need to cross through a horizontal waterfall of bullets without getting hit, deactivate four switches spread throughout the room, and, of course kill every terrorist in the room. Needless to say, the terrorists have strategically positioned themselves to eliminate anyone that comes within fifteen feet of these switches. Snipers, infantry, and even suicide gunners - all have their fingers on their triggers, silently waiting for that one, all-too-eager SWAT member.
I slowly raise my head to look through the makeshift window. If I can just get my gun through the window, maybe, just maybe, I can take out that sniper. BAM BAM BAM! The paintballs hit the edge of the window and burst; The sniper knows exactly what I'm thinking. My helmet is covered in yellow slime, but luckily, I haven't taken a direct hit. The scent is overpowering. I taste the unique combination of orange hand cleaner and naphthalene on my tongue.
Clearly, my position is no good. I need to get to that tower and take out the sniper. "LEFT SIDE! LEFT SIDE!!!," George shouts. What is he talking about?! Left Side? There's nobody there. BAM! BAM! BAM! The plywood cover rattles. The sound from each hit sends a deep shudder through my body.
"STAY LOW!!! STAY LOW!!" I scream at myself. I lie flat on the ground and work my way with my elbows up the left side as George provides cover fire. As I make it to the next barrier, I realize that the enemy George was warning me about is right behind the wall. In fact, the only thing that is separating me from my expedient death is a half-inch-thick Hermann Nitsch painting.
In every direction, I hear the chronic sound of the release of 3000 psi of compressed air shooting a paintball through the musty air. Combined with the pulsing throb of my heartbeat, my ears get saturated. My cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for processing sound, is overwhelmed and is quickly tiring.
"Okay, Touf, he doesn't expect you," I whisper to myself, completely oblivious to whether my enemy knows the only thing between me and him is a half inch sheet of cruelly abused pine. "Can he hear me? - Does he have a teammate watching my every move?" George sees me; He knows what I need to do but is helpless in protecting me. If I blitz, I'll be right in the middle of his cover fire. George could easily disable me, his teammate and comrade.
"Okay, one quick burst. Breathe...Breathe...Breathe...," I think out loud. "AND GO! GO! GO! GO! GO!" I stand up and round the corner. The poor twelve year old boy was slouched back against the plywood barricade. He was trying to protect himself from George's onslaught of slime-filled bullets. Once he saw me, he froze with trepidation. He wanted to shoot me, but he couldn't move. Like a deer caught in the headlights, he just stood there. I point my barrel at him and simply say, "You're dead." At this range, pulling the trigger and shooting him would have been too cruel. The impact would leave a black and blue welt the size of a quarter. Having received a few of these earlier in the day, I spared the poor kid this painful misery.
"One down, just a few more to go..."
The screech of a doomsday siren fills the room. The loudspeaker crackles, "ONE MINUTE TO GO...ONE MINUTE". I realize there's no time for sensible actions anymore. There's no time for cover fire. There's no time for mercy. I needed to get to the other side of the field and deactivate the nuclear reactor...And I only had sixty seconds to do so before the imminent meltdown.
I stand up and blitz the opposition - Pkhow! Pkhow! Pkhow. My gun begs for a break. My legs feel like rubber. Pkhow! Pkhow! Pkhow! Sweat gushes from my forehead. I feel like Rambo. I don't care what I hit. Pkhow! Pkhow! Pkhow! I round behind the tower. Two enemies inside. Luckily, this paintball field has a rule that allows you to simply "grenade" the tower. Two taps on the wall and everybody inside is dead. "TAP! TAP! TOWER DOWN!!!" My nemesis, the sniper, has fired his last round.
I continue running. I search for every last bit of energy my body has to offer after six hours of this torture. I convince myself that I'm in Pamplona and there's a livid bull chasing me through the twists and turns of the city. In reality, I'm in a rank, humid paintball arena, and I am being assaulted with a barrage of those pesky yellow balls.
I dive for the switch and disable the reactor. 15 seconds to go and only one reactor remains. George is on it. I'm too far to provide cover fire, but I try anyway. Then, I hear the two words that signal immediate death. "You're Hit." I look around for the source of the mysterious voice. In the shadows, there's a fourteen year old lad with his gun pointed at my face. With less than 15 seconds to go, George is our team's only hope. In fact, he's the last man standing. Without the sniper in place, he only has to duck the assailment of two opponents.
My executioner, reveling about his recent kill, pays George no attention. As I walk of the field, I know the meltdown is seconds away. 10...9...8..."We almost had them! We were so close!!," I pessimistically believe. 4...3...
Suddenly, the overhead lights start to flicker as they re-energize. The apocalyptic siren, all too reminiscent of that fateful day at Chernobyl, is abruptly stifled. The lights come to full brightness and I turn around to see George in the far corner, his clothes soaked from perspiration, his lungs gasping for air, standing next to the last deactivation switch.
The loudspeaker buzzes. "MELTDOWN AVERTED. ALL SYSTEMS NORMAL."
With 2 seconds to spare, we're safe...until the next game...
So, the Baha'i Youth of Melbourne decided it would be fun to have a Youth Group activity where we could all bond, form healthy relationships, learn to work as a team, and extoll our virtues. And what better way to do it than shooting at each other with high powered paintball guns?
It was a great day - Orlando Paintball has this April 1 special. Gear rentals and admission to their facility only costs a buck. You just gotta pay for the balls. $150 and 4000 paintballs later, we all agreed this needs to be an annual event.
On the docket was Fere, Farah, George, Navid, Nabil, Benji, and of course, yours truly. Sophia Neda, and Nika weren't able to make it unfortunately, and we definitely missed them. Next year, gals!
Well it's been an arduous day. I'm covered in filth, I smell like I haven't showered in weeks, and I basically pollute everything I touch. Time for me to take a shower, say my prayers, and enjoy seven hours of well-deserved sleep.