A hot night. Damn hot! Even during the monsoon season over here it never got cold. But now the rain is far behind us, and the moonless evening drips with heat and humidity. Shit!
My fatigues cling to me, and my GI issue boxers are giving me one hell of a wedgie, threatening to strangle my balls. Some of the guys have taken to not wearing the boxers to prevent this, but I tried it once and the jewels looked like someone had taken a meat pulverizer to them. It’s a no win deal. Wearing the boxers is a better option for me.
There is no resting tonight. Charlie is just the other side of the hills. If our intelligence is right, they have no idea we’re in the area. Yeah, right! How many times have I been told that, only to wind up in the middle of a bloody ambush? Who tips these damn Cong off? If I only knew . . .
The sounds of the jungle, the myriad forms of wildlife scattered everywhere, add a buffer to the sounds of our feet plodding through the dense underbrush. There is not much of a trail here. In terrain such as this with optimal conditions for forest rejuvenation, paths can vanish rapidly, replaced by new growth.
However, it means the enemy has not been through this area too recently. Not even here could the jungle put up a fence of vegetation to deter interlopers that rapidly.
It’s rough going through this terrain without light, but the darkness is our friend for now. If we can’t see, neither can our enemy. That makes us even. At least for the moment.
A weird odor attaches itself to the moist air, strangling me with the very obscenity of its foulness. Something tells me not to go in the direction of its source, but that’s not possible: the Cong are in that direction, and we have to strike while the irons are hot.
The air circulates more and more the closer we get to the hills, and the stench builds. I have smelled it before. It is the odor of death and rotting flesh. Human flesh.
Wondering if something is wrong with me since the others appear not to notice anything out of the ordinary, I say nothing about my increasing fears of death closing in on us. This goes far beyond any battle experience I have encountered up ’til now. And I’m not certain war has anything to do with this. Not this war; not a war between humans.
Jesus, I’m suffering some kind of sensory hallucinations reaching beyond my ability to fight them off! I appear to be rational, but rationality is an abstract concept, one not readily agreed upon.
“Straighten up, man!” I say to myself. “Something’s going down. You know it, even if the others don’t. You have to be alert.”
The night gets darker; the stench gets worse; and the comforting sounds from before lessen the farther we go. We are thrust into a vortex of darkness so deep that it seems no light has ever existed here before. Darker and darker, the closer we get to the center the more we are drawn to whatever mystery resides within.
The center explodes outwards, enveloping us in an unbelievable cloak of invisibility, forcing us to use our other senses to navigate, touch being the dominant one because taste and smell are too intertwined with what lies ahead, and we need to be concerned with what is here. In order to forge ahead, we need to conquer the present.
Hairs on my neck signal that a power resides here that is all around, sizing us up before it acts against us. For the moment we are safe, but that will change. Our acquaintance with what looms ahead will not be pleasant.
The enemy has shifted from the Cong to whatever is waiting for us, drawing us into its realm: a place where no prisoners are taken. My mind is telling me these things, but how could I possibly know? I can’t fucking see, damn it ! But I feel it . . .I feel it watching, eyes everywhere, knowing we are to come in to its lair.
Still, the others are unaware, walking along as if nothing is wrong. To them it is another day in the jungle looking for Charlie, waiting for a chance to come out on top in this topsy-turvy war.
But I am aware.
The spinning orb, totally bereft of any light, draws them to the right. Fools! They are being drawn into a trap, one from which there is no escape.
“No! No!” I shout. “Don’t go there! That’s what they want.”
No reaction. It’s as if they don’t even hear me, yet I know they’re still here. Their footsteps surround me as they steadfastly march towards their impending demise. Darker and darker; quieter and quieter. That’s why no one reacted to my warning yells! All sound no longer exists. Along with the sense of sight, we can not hear either. It is almost as if we are in another dimension, another plane of existence playing tag with our own.
My skin crawls, the stench becomes worse, and the taste in my mouth becomes a smorgasbord of filth and decay. Close. We are close now.
The air around me shakes from my comrades struggling, but struggling against what? And then I know! A sticky, rope-like substance grabs me, and the more I attempt to break free, the more entangled I become. The . . .the web, a very thick one, is increasing its mastery over my every move. I am powerless to escape. It has me in its grip. What the fuck has a hold of me?
Gagging from the odor of whatever else is trapped within the morass of servitude I’m stuck in, I feel them coming. They move quickly, and there are many of them. At this moment I’m glad I can’t hear or see anything. The frenetic shaking of our gooey prison tells me all I need to know. My fellow warriors are under attack, and they’re going down.
Within moments, they’re on me! Long fangs tear into me, some kind of liquid flowing into my body, numbing me but not doing a complete job. I struggle against all they do, even managing to grab a hold of one, feeling long, sharp body hairs, and I’m able to gouge out some of its eyes. This thing has more than two eyes. I feel them rubbing against my hands and arms. The creature goes berserk and tears huge chunks of my flesh out of my carcass with its strong jaws.
The others respond to the pain their comrade is in by upping the attack on me. They bite, chew, and drag their many legs across my wounds, twisting as they go, as if attempting to teach me a lesson.
Pushed against the web even more from the brutal assault of my adversaries, I’m totally trapped, unable to move, as bit by bit they tear into me, feasting on my flesh as if there is no food left for them or ever will be.
Even as my limbs separate from the rest of me due to the incessant, never-ending attack from their jaws, I refuse to give in, figuring and hoping that something will stem the tide, and maybe, just maybe, there will be a way . . .
Blood gushes out of me as the demons once more inject something into my body, the numbing more complete now, but putting me into a whole new hell as I am still alive, just barely perhaps, but still able to feel my body for what it is: a buffet table for my antagonists to come by and suck out what juices and eat what flesh they want, long after I’m dead. Soon, very soon, I am to join and become one with the stench from the earlier assault on my nostrils.
I don’t need sight or hearing to know that I have become fodder for entities so many humans have become accustomed to stomping on.
Who is doing the stomping now?
The giant spiders attack what is left of my body and eat their fill. The Black becomes blacker as I fade into a state of semi-awareness.
At the moment my genitals are ripped off and devoured, my spirit leaves my body. I hover over the monsters and can see them for what they are now. But it matters not to me anymore.
They can’t hurt me any longer . . .
~ Blaze McRob
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