An experiment into writing war horror, I first came up with the idea shortly after watching "Good...
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June 9th, 1965 Somewhere in the Phuoc Long Province, South Vietnam 13:34 hours “Alright, tea time is over! Get your crap packed and your ass in the saddle!” Sergeant Darkin boomed over my fireteam of talking heads. We laughed, food still in our mouths. Shitty military sludge, manufactured somewhere in a Jersey industrial plant. America sure loves her soldiers. Lunch time was our unwinding time. We told jokes and stories to keep ourselves entertained, to keep us sane. Laughing still over the joke Private Rindell told about the woman and the bird cage, we cleaned up our mess kits and set out into the Vietnamese jungle. “Where are we goin’, Sarge?” PFC Farsty asked. A scrawny ginger from the Bronx, he, like most of us, didn’t escape the draft. A bright student in school (as he told us anyway), but lazy as all hell. “Our orders are to support a Marine company that has been pinned down since 0800 near National Highway 15. NVA has been giving them one hell of a fight.” “NVA are just hit and run guerilla forces, how are they pinned down?” I asked. “They got machine gun emplacements and artillery. Minefields too, apparently; the company can’t cross ‘till they get some sweepers out there. But then again, it’s coming from Command. General Taylor loves to exaggerate.” Darkin turned to Rindell “Put out that smoke, soldier! You want the Cong on our asses?!” Rindell gave the Sarge a dirty look and extinguished his cigarette. Rindell loves his smokes like a wife. We walked for damn near 5 miles before Darkin finally said “Take 5, men. Sit, rest, and s*** your brains out.” Glad for such a relief, we plopped down and did such. Our navigator was Corporal Sunder, a very quiet fellow who only talked with the Sarge about the map and compass. Other than that he was completely silent and stoic. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t notice him falling towards the ground with half his face blown away until Darkin shouted “NVA! Get down!” The area was then covered with bullets. The unique sound of the AK-47 hammered from the trees in front of us. I took cover behind a log with Rindell and a private named Husky, who was a close friend to Rindell. Darkin escaped to a nearby tree and returned fire. I leveled my M16 and took four shots at a seemingly black shadow. A scream and a fall answered my lucky shots. Another yell came from the woods as Husky reloaded, a smile on his face. As soon as it began, the fire stopped. Carefully, I stood up from behind the log and checked the bodies. 7 NVA soldiers. Just a patrol, but it had felt like an entire army was attacking us. Darkin examined Sunder’s body. The entire left side of his head was a pulpy, brainy mess with bits of skull fragments and hair. It looked like a large tumor on the side of his head, except it was leaking yellow, white, and red fluid all over the place. Rindell started shaking. “Oh my God, Oh my God, he’s dead, oh God his teeth are stuck in his f*ing BRAIN…” “Shut your trap, Private! Get a hold of yourself!” Darkin shouted. His words were of little use, however. Rindell was out of control, babbling incoherently and near-convulsing on the dirt ground. He tried to tap a cigarette from his pack with shaking hands, but as fate would taunt the poor lad, there were none left. Husky made his way to Rindell. “Alex, Alex…calm down.” Before he made it to him, though, Husky seemed to disappear. Darkin watched the whole thing, and ran over to the spot where Husky went poof. In fact, he fell, as the sergeant pointed out. Fell into a pit of s***-covered pungee stakes. He didn’t say a word, and he didn’t need to. One of the stakes pierced his skull and went out his mouth. Thank God it killed him instantly. I hoped he didn’t feel the other stakes going in him first. “Fucking Gooks are gonna kill us, gonna grind us up! Do you see now? DO YOU FUCKING SEE NOW?! THEY’RE GONNA F*** US ALL UP! I don’t want to die! I DON’T WANT TO DIE! DO YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND, YOU DUMBFUCK JARHEADS?!” Rindell was screaming and visibly crying. It was too much for the Private. Darkin was ready to shout at him when I tapped his shoulder and shook my head. He got the message. He nodded and turned to the rest of the platoon “Farsty, signal for a medivac. Rest of you, make the ground clear and prepare to head out .” Rindell looked up from his frightened stance “What about me?! You can’t just leave me here!” Darkin spoke with a deadly tone “That’s right, I can’t. Therefore, your new orders are to guard the bodies until the medivac chopper arrives. When it comes, you are to get on that chopper and get the f*** out of my platoon.” Rindell whimpered “I don’t want to be alone out here!” Darkin didn’t even glance back. “You’re scared? That’s fine soldier. We all are. Being a dramatic little simpleton, however, is not. You want to be a coward? Go to the NVA, perhaps they’ll let you in. I heard they love cowards.” Rindell stared at him with cold, black eyes. “I’ll kill you, Darkin. You HEAR ME? I’LL GODDAMN KILL YOU!” Farsty smacked him on the head as he was retrieving Husky’s impaled corpse. “Can it, asswipe.” Rindell glared at Farsty, said nothing else, and lay back down on the ground, breathing hard. Darkin started towards the jungle once Farsty set a signal smoke flare. “Driven, you’re our new navigator. Lead us north-northwest to these coordinates. A Huey will be there to transport us to the combat zone. Its about 20 miles out.” “Yes, sir.” I replied, and pretended to know where I was going.