Hello dear readers!
I know I’m early in posting this, but I got so deep into writing I had to. I will apologize to anyone who this part disturbs although I didn’t go into great detail about things. But as you can see from the picture (which I got from http://www.history.army.mil) it may bring back some not so pleasant memories.
And I know how painful those can be – my grandfather was a P.O.W. in WWII.
At any rate, I hope you enjoy this. And – and this goes out to one blogger in particular because we already spoke about things like this – if anyone is good/great at writing Vietnam-type stories, you’re more than welcome to fill in the gaps that I’ll unfortunately be leaving here.
He walked on slowly and quietly, his blue eyes scanning the area before him, his ears straining to hear the faintest noise that would indicate any trouble.
“Zane?” he jumped when he heard his name whispered and quickly and subconsciously raised his left arm, elbow bent, and fist clenched, to tell the guy behind him to shut up and stop moving. Then he tightened his grip on his weapon and motioned for them to get down.
‘Honestly!’ he thought. ‘This kid is gonna get us all killed if he doesn’t keep quiet while we’re on patrol.’
Both men squatted low. Granted they were still in the midst of the jungle, but anything could happen. The enemy was better at hiding than they were. Any minute they would hear a weapon click and fire…
Suddenly, Zane shook his head quickly. What was he thinking? Exactly how long he had been in this place? He closed his eyes and took a deep breath then raised his hand up and wiped the sweat from his brow. For a moment he felt the cold metal through the mesh of his helmet against his skin. This wasn’t right, they had to keep moving; he opened his eyes, stood and motioned for them to continue.
They walked on in silence, but now Zhovaer was more aware of what was going on. Pretty soon things would be clearer for both of them and then … what? He wasn’t exactly sure. Nothing was changing and it was beginning to worry him. He thought for sure that the green of the jungle would meld into the dark and red desolate desert that he saw when he met Karen, but nothing was. Doubt began to gnaw at him and it took everything in him to push down the feeling that maybe he had actually gone crazy from the war and he wasn’t actually leading them both to their deaths.
What had Karen said? She had felt this way when she rescued him? Scared? Afraid she would lose him back to whatever part of Hell she had taken him from? Everything she had told him, all the preparation but nothing said hinted at anything he had experienced. But thinking about her, her words, hearing her voice tell him he had an important job to do, all of it started to calm him down, to have more faith in himself. If nothing else he convinced himself that he was doing this for her.
Suddenly, he felt pressure on his shoulders and a tug against his back. Reaching up, he took hold of the straps to his backpack. He felt the wind in his hair and lifting his hand to his head felt the helmet was gone. He looked down and saw he wore fatigues but not what he had been wearing only minutes before. Gone also was the weapon he had been holding. His spirits rose, everything seemed well. Except that looking around, what he saw surprised him. The jungles of Vietnam were gone, but instead of a desert scene, he saw what looked like a sunrise in the distance to the right. Although the area was becoming more and more empty, there was grass and rocks on the side. For a moment he wondered if he didn’t come out the wrong door.
Then he started hearing noises, but different noises than what he had experienced back in the section of Hell he just escaped from. There was an especially loud sound coming from behind him. Breathing a sigh of relief, he turned mid-stride and looked behind him. Then he thanked God.
Glen was there, walking behind him, looking around. He was still wearing his uniform, but his helmet was hooked at his waist and he no longer held a weapon. The man also had a hold of the straps of his backpack and his face held a rapture that Zhovaer couldn’t place but was glad he was able to witness. When Glen turned back and looked at Zhovaer, he smiled.
“What happens now? Where do I go? Do I follow you?” Glen asked him, fear starting to gnaw at him.
Zhovaer smiled brightly, then looked down at the path beneath them. He glanced behind him and saw the fork in the road. “No man, this is where we part ways.”
“But … but … you’re just gonna leave me?”
Zhovaer shook his head and grinned brightly. “Just follow the path.” He responded, pointing up and to the right. “Don’t leave it, and you’ll get to where you’re supposed to be.”
Glen looked in the direction the man pointed. “Where I’m supposed to be? You mean with my family? Finally?”
Zhovaer clapped his hand on Glen’s shoulder and grinned. He saw the fear evaporate and become replaced with hope and happiness. “Yeah man. Finally, they’re waiting for you.”
Glen turned back to and hugged him. “Thank you! I can’t tell you …”
“It’s all good, man. Just don’t get off the path. And don’t lose your ticket.”
Glen let him go, gave him a funny look, but turned and started walking up the sloped road to the right.
“You did really well, Zhovaer.” Karen said as she walked up behind him.
He wasn’t surprised to hear her voice. He was actually now grateful to know he got something right. “You think so? He didn’t even look like he remembered what happened.”
“You helped him let go of what was keeping him here – those were the only memories he had. Besides, do you remember?”
He thought for a moment, and found he couldn’t, not entirely. Just bits and pieces. “No, not really.” He turned and looked at Karen. “Is this how it is for you?”
She grabbed the straps of her backpack and started walking up to the fork in the road. “I think so. I don’t remember. I guess I never needed to.”
He followed her quickly. “Until me.”
“I was starting to worry. Things don’t look the same.” He started looking around: things weren’t changing, except that the light of the sunrise he saw was fading. But the forest-type scenery he first encountered pretty much stayed.
“That’s because you’re in charge now.”
“This isn’t my Hell now, it’s yours.”
He nodded in confusion, and then quickly shook his head. “Wait. What?”
“Do you know what Hell is?”
“It’s torture – a punishment.”
“Mm … yes and no.”
“Simplistically speaking, it’s a torture because you’re away from God. And the reason that keeps you away is the punishment.” They walked along as she explained things and he watched her intently, not wanting to miss anything that would give away the truth of what was going on. “Everything here has no memory – no lasting or long term memory. Only the redundant emotion that eats at us is allowed to survive here. That is what creates the world you see around you.” She motioned her arm out in a sweeping gesture. “Only you don’t have those emotions, so your world here will always look different.”
It still didn’t make much sense, but as he looked around it made him feel better about things. Especially knowing what he did for that young man. “So, where to now?” He thought for a second, and then added. “Hey, you weren’t with me at all. Where were you?”
She sighed softly and then ignored his second question. “I don’t know where we’re going yet. But there’s no rush. We may not find our way for a long while.”
He didn’t miss it. “Why not? And don’t think you’re off the hook, I asked you a question, Missy.”
She grinned and softly chuckled for a moment, but kept walking until he grabbed her arm. When he turned her around to look at him there was sadness in her features.
“Oh, I’m not gonna like this right?” He asked as he let her go.
“Come on. There’s much to tell you and no, you may or may not like it, I don’t know.”
They continued walking down the path, to the left, away from Glen.