Our squad descended into the thick jungle. We were quite the gang. In the back was Brooklyn (Real name Tim), an 18 year old black kid from New York. He was about average height and skinny, looked like he hadn’t eaten his entire time in country. Front of him there was Jackson who we called Hollywood, on the account that he wanted to act once he got back to states. Hollywood was from Milwaukee, but looked like a standard surfer with his blonde hair and muscular build. Then walked Woody, real name was Calvin, a short red-headed guy with thick black rimmed glasses. He got the name Woody because we would never shut up, also he looked like that cartoon bird. He rambled on as we made our way along the overgrown path. Then, we had our interpreter, a pudgy brown haired kid named Vic. I didn’t know Vic all that well, he was brought in after our last interpreter took some lead to the skull during a village raid. Lastly, it was just the old man and I leading the group. I wasn’t sure if I could trust him, but seeing as the alternative was getting lost out here, I didn’t have much of a choice.
It was 5 miles through the valley until the next village. 5 miles of dense, overgrown, bug infested, humid, jungle. The canopy had blocked the sun almost completely except for a few rays of light punching through the layers of foliage. It felt like hiking through a goddamn sauna. We passed the time talking about the girls we had waiting for us back home, the ones waiting for us in Saigon, and the ones we wanted to meet once we went home. Vic mostly talked with the old man. Woody didn’t strike me as me the romantic type, but he had a fiancee, proposed right before he left for basic. Which in my opinion was bad move.
“Hey Woody, you do know that you’re on the other side of world from your old lady right?” I asked him, “How do you know she ain’t running all around town?”
“Don’t talk about Miranda like that man,” Woody’s face got red. well technically redder, “She isn’t like that, we love each other.”
“Yeah I loved a girl in Saigon once, she was my soulmate,” chirped in Brooklyn.
“And what happened with her, man?” asked Hollywood.
“She said my hour was up,” stated Brooklyn as we all erupted in laughter.
“Well what about you Chief?” asked Woody, “Tell us about one of your broads back home.”
“I don’t have one,” I responded, “There was this one girl, but she-.”
“Quiet, get down,” Vic, who had barely spoken, ordered and we went prone.
“What did you see,” I crawled up the small hill Vic and the old man were positioned at.
“Looks like we got a Vietcong encampment up ahead,” Vic responded, “Campfires are still going, see the smoke?”
I did see the smoke, I took out my binoculars to get a closer look. The camp was set in one of the few open areas in the canopy. There were dozen crudely set up tents, enough for roughly 20-30 men. This was an expedition mission, so we didn’t enough ammo to take on all of them. Best plan was to sneak around and report it once we got back to the platoon. Brooklyn and Woody crawled up beside me. I turned to look at them, Woody had a strained look on face as he squinted his eyes and tried to see. His glasses fogged up pretty badly in this heat.
“Do you see anybody?” Woody asked.
That’s when I realized that I hadn’t seen anyone. Strange considering the size of the camp. Plus we were definitely close enough for one of their look outs to hear us. I ordered everyone to be ready for an ambush, we waited and watched the camp. An hour passed and nothing had happened.
“I don’t think anyone’s there,” said Hollywood confidently.
“Yeah maybe they thought we was a whole platoon or something,” added Woody.
“Alright, let’s move in slowly,” I said, getting a very strange feeling from the camp. It’s hard to describe, but it felt like something was drawing me to it. Kinda like what made we volunteer for this mission. Some kind of force drove me into this jungle and I wanted to know what.
The jungle fell eerily quiet as we approached the camp. Not a single bird or bug made a sound, not even the wind rustled a single leaf. As we reached the edge of the camp. At first I noticed an odd smell. Then what we saw next froze us in place.
“Holy Shit,” Brooklyn uttered.
Holy shit was right. We had solved the mystery of the missing soldiers. What laid in front of us was a massive display of gore, blood, and brutality. Limbs, entrails, various hunks of human flesh tore apart scattered all over the camp. Imagine sticking a firecracker into a frog’s ass, but instead of a frog you used 20-30 Vietcong. That’s what it looked like, and that’s no exaggeration. I had been in the shit, I had seen people lose limbs and get blown apart. I watched men burn alive and scream for forgiveness. This was worse then all of that combined. Woody only looked for a couple seconds before he started hurling his guts out. Vic looked emotionless at the carnage. Hollywood and Brooklyn exchanged obscenities, no combination though could really sum this up. I stared in actual terror, because I knew. No human did this. The old man began examining the bodies, like he was looking for someone. Then unfortunately, he found them.
He began sobbing as he knelt down and cradled the mutilated carcass. He began crying out in Vietnamese, rocking back and forth. I motioned to Vic.
“What’s he saying?” I asked concerned. Vic listened for a moment and turned back to me.
“It’s his grandson,” he said solemnly.
I felt for the old man, he likely had nothing to do with the war, just wanting to live out his days in his village. Until we came and screwed it up. No time for this, gotta bigger issues at hand. We needed to search the camp for any survivors and maybe get some goddamn answers.
“Chief, you’re gonna wanna see this,” Brooklyn shouted from the other side of the slaughter.
I made my way over, Brooklyn and Hollywood were standing over a pile of gore with guns drawn. They stepped aside and I looked down. A VC soldier who couldn’t have been over 14 had had his guts completely ripped out of his body. Then I noticed, he was still moving slightly. Before I could utter any words, his body shot up straight, his eyes a glowing dark red, and began to stand. Behind us 6 other mutilated corpses stood up, all misses various limbs or organs. Hollywood freaked out and unloaded on the corpse. It continued unfazed until it was struck in the skull.
One down, six more to go.
Brooklyn backed away in terror, right into another corpse. This one was dressed in what used to be an officers uniform, but was now stained with blood. The jaw was completely removed only had one whole arm. With that one arm he picked up Brooklyn and slammed him into the wet, blood soaked dirt. He cried out in a mix of fear and pain. The corpse stood above him and prepared to deliver a death blow. I drew my M16 and fire into it’s back. The corpse turned and began to charge at me. Behind it I could see everyone else dealing with the other corpses. I fired some more shots at it, this time aiming for the head. Miss, miss, miss, miss, hit! Right into the forehead and down it went, back to its natural state. I went and picked up Brooklyn, he only hit his head and was other wise just shook up.
“No time to shit yourself,” I pointed to Vic and the old man, fending off 2 corpses.
Hollywood’s clip had ran out, the corpse approached him snarling. He swung the butt of his rifle and cracked the corpse right in the skull. It did the job. We headed to help out Vic. The whole time the apocalypse seemed to starting, the old man kept cradling his grandson. Vic had tried to keep the two corpses distracted, we still needed the old man alive.
“Aim for the head!” I shouted to Vic. His next shot went through the corpses eye socket and it fell. The second corpse was within arms reach now and began trying to wrestle away Vic’s weapon. It’s arms missing huge chunks of skin showing bone. It was weaker, but still as strong as Vic. They struggled against each other, we couldn’t get a clear shot of the corpse. Finally something must’ve snapped in Vic, he was able to slowly move the barrel right under the corpses bloody chin. BANG. The corpses head exploded into a thousand pieces of bone and brain. Blood splattered over Vic’s face, completely covering him in it.
“Vic you alright?” I asked.
“I’m good,” he asked, “The old timer all right?”
The old man still clutched his grandsons remains and cried.
“Where’s Woody?” asked Hollywood. A scream came from the far side of the camp. We ran to see Woody being dragged into the jungle kicking and screaming by two corpses. He went silent after they smacked him upside the head and knocked him out cold. Finally found a way to make him shut up. Brooklyn and Hollywood stepped to go after him, but I held them back.
“We can’t just rush after him, we need to resupply,” I told them in a calm commanding voice.
“There gonna kill him!” Brooklyn shouted at me.
“If they wanted him dead they would’ve done it right here,” I pointed out. Why they need him is beyond me, but at this point it could be for anything.
“What are we gonna do then, Chief?” Hollywood asked.
“Well first we’re gonna collect all the guns and ammo we can find,” I stated, “then we’re gonna get Woody back from those bastards.”
TO BE CONTINUED….