Larson thought about the question. He was a really bad swimmer.
"Enough to survive," he finally said.
"Good enough for me," responded Carter. "If this is as bad as we think it is, we should wait until dark, low- crawl to the river, and float down to (Combat Outpost) Lowell."
Larson was quiet; he'd been shot in the shoulder. They were surrounded and cut off, with no communications and little ammunition. Everyone friendly in sight was either wounded or dead, and they still had no idea how many Taliban fighters there were.
Sure, he could swim.
Inside the Humvee, Carter fired at a three-man enemy RPG team standing next to the Afghan National Police building near the outpost, and other insurgents. Then he saw Mace crawl out from behind a truck.
Carter opened the window to talk to him. Shots were still coming at them. "Mace, are you all right?" Carter asked.
Too dehydrated to cry, Mace wore his pain on his face. He didn't seem to have the energy to yell. "Help me," Mace said plaintively. "Help me."
"I can get to him, he's right there," Carter told Larson.
"Tell him to stay where he is," Larson said. "He's got cover there."
"Help me, please," Mace pleaded.
"I will get to you as soon as I can," Carter said. He was irate. When the horn on a nearby truck blared, he for some reason became convinced it was a distress call from a fellow soldier. "Can I go to the truck?" he asked Larson.
"There's someone calling for help in there. What if I get out and get underneath the Humvee just to see the truck?"
"Fine," Larson agreed.
There were still bursts of intense machine-gun rounds every 15 seconds or so, but the enemy, having apparently shifted his attention to other targets, seemed no longer to be specifically focused on them. Carter jumped out of the Humvee on his recon mission, only to see that its tires were flat from bullet rounds and there was no way for him, with all his gear on, to fit underneath. He hopped back in with Larson. "The truck is 10 feet away, can I go check for survivors?" he asked.
"Yeah," Larson said. Rounds were still being fired at them, but the enemy was now concentrating more closely on other parts of the camp. Carter jumped out again and ran to the truck. There was no soldier inside, so he recovered some ammunition that was in there and brought it back to the Humvee. He wasn't sure where the sound of the horn had come from.
"Can I go to Mace?" asked Carter, back inside. He'd given Mace his word.
"What do you plan on doing when you get to him?" Larson asked.
"Give him first aid."
"Where are you going to take him?" Larson asked.
They discussed the options and decided that the nearby concrete bridge --- outside the camp --- would provide the most cover.
"You plan on dragging him that far?" Larson wondered.
"F---, no," said Carter. "I plan on carrying him."
Larson rolled down his window so he could fire and cover Carter, who got out and ran to Mace. He was facedown. Carter gently shook him.
"Hey, Mace, you all right?"