I quickly walk through the ward of children getting ready to leave on next chopper, hearing “Gabe!” squealed by the kids and I smile. I am headed to the intensive unit where the 8 are. And of course, Sergei the doctor, the 2 intensive care nurses and 3 nuns have all heard my discussion through their earpieces and are ready for me with all the “humane” arguments. After 10 minutes of very intense argument, they’ve convinced me of the unthinkable. Just getting most of them ready to board a helicopter would cause excruciating pain even on heavy drugs, most wouldn’t survive the flight. The others wouldn’t last another week anyway. The graves and caskets are ready. Each child’s paperwork is sealed and in their casket, ready for the body. Should anyone discover our small cemetery and unearth it, their entire medical files are there in English and French. I agree to this one condition, I hold each child and talk to them while they go to sleep. And I do. And each time I tell them their favorite “Gabriel” story:
Whenever a child dies
An Angel comes from Heaven.
He spreads his great white wings
And flies the child
Over all the places he loved during his life.
They gather flowers to take to heaven
So they can bloom even brighter among the angels.
God touches each flower to his heart
And it receives a voice
Which joins in the choir of bliss.
These words are spoken by the Angel
As he flies the child towards Heaven.
But as they start to leave
The child sees a dead flower thrown into the rubbish
And asks to take it.
‘Can God fix it?’ asks the child.
‘Oh yes’ replied Gabriel the Angel.
‘But how do you know?’ ask the child.
‘I know it’ replied the Angel.
‘Because I myself was like you.
And God make me as I am now.’
And the child slept.”*
*Angel story adapted from a French fairy tale.
April 7th, 2003, 06:00 PM
Staff told me. Gabe comes stumbling out of the intesive care unit as the last of the kids we can save are being loaded on the choppers. It probably looks strange to the staff, to the mercs, to the kids but somehow or other a 64 year old man winds up being held by this 35 year old wise ass. The sobs are convulsive, shaking both men as they stand there amidst the cacophony of choppers and people shouting last minute administrative nonsense. Nurses loaded, doctors loaded, the birds lift and we're still standing there.
Gabe is getting it back together. His body is calling in some chits from its reserves. He hasn't much fuel left.
This whole thing is about Gabe. I found out from a nun who had been here since the beginning. I don't remember where we found time to talk about it but time must have stretched somewhere because we talked and I know what's going on. The warlord coming at us doesn't represent Nigeria; he represents himself. He has a real bad thing for Gabe because of the revolution and what Gabe wouldn't allow; how all these children came to be here; and how a megalomaniac Nigerian lieutenant got in Gabe's way when he was making these things happen. The lieutenant died a quick, clean death at Gabe's hands and the evacuation proceeded on schedule. Somebody saw what happened and somebody talked to somebody and somebody told the general how his son died. The general does not have a forgiving nature. He wants Gabe.
Looking at Gabe right now, I think the general just may get his wish. The life seems to have drained from Gabe's body.
I can't let this happen. Gabe doesn't have to be here. Gabe doesn't have to fight. The kids we could save have been saved.
From here out, this is a young man's job. There isn't a man standing not willing to keep Gabe alive. Morgan, the mercs, and me, we can do this thing.
Walk Gabe back to the cafeteria. Sit him down at a table; get him a drink, water.
The first shell lands in the compound announcing the festivities have begun.
"Stay here, Gabe. Be back in a few to pick you up. We'll see where the mist takes us."
More shells landing but not a barrage. They don't have so many mortars or cannon they can do the job properly. Like us, they know their limitations. Harassing fire, that's all.
Somewhere out front there's a team waiting for a tank. Think it's time I go see where I can help.
April 7th, 2003, 07:19 PM
The only real sounds are those from the Nigerians but I hear a soft non-stop chatter in the earpiece. People quietly reporting in details. I hear the youngest of group, a computer geek, saying "Good News, Bad News" and I softly speak to him "Joey, just say it." "Good News, I hacked into a US satellite. Only 2 tanks and 296 body signatures. Cameroon government is aware of incursion and sending in their cavalry! Bad News they won't get here until a hour after the Nigerians." So our plan has to stall for an hour at minimum. At best, we win and leave the Cameroon government a fairly well equipped little hospital and a whole lot of Nigerians to present to the world!
More calmly than I really feel, I go into my safe and take out the documents and money. Quickly sign over everything to Morgan. He is getting old enough, he needs to stop this too!
Most people would never believe me if I told them that we have corporations inside corporations inside corporations with some of the best lawyers and accountants in the world. No one would believe that mercenaries could actually be beyond just self interest and money. But my guys are from not only the states, but England and Australia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Bolivia, Panama, and 4 from mainland China. We can pretty much work where we want. Each of us knows someone who knows someone who knows someone else. Even the docs and nurses and nuns are the same way. All of us were tired of politics and saw the world as someplace bigger than nationalities and flags. We do what we do, not just for good money (and we make excellent money!) but we have a lot of ideals still in us.
But no one would believe me if I told them. Mercenaries are suppsed to be bad guys. Only we're not so bad. We're tough but we're not bad men. Oh rather they aren't bad men. I am. Just killed 8 kids rather than move them. Wonder how the universe will judge me on that one?
April 7th, 2003, 07:32 PM
You know you can't hear the one that gets you, right? Mortar shells, artillery shells are subsonic so the noise gets here at the same time as the warhead. Unles your standing off to the side, then you can hear it pass by.
So far, I've heard them all.
The plan is working thus far. Team one took out tank one. The infantry started to spread and ran into the first claymores which encouraged them to congregate in the center with the second tank. They were waiting for team two. The LAW got the tank but the infantry removed the team. Three mercs for two tanks is lousy arithmetic.
Third team comes back in about the time the 105 opens up. It's just bouncing shells haphazardly, looking for reactions. There's a forward observer somewhere reporting results.
We sit tight. They move forward and start to fan and the next wave of claymores removes a few more and encourages the rest back into the path we want them on.
It's just about time. Our 60s are at the corners and the center.
They get down to 75 meters, its time to welcome them to Cameroon.
Trouble is, when those M-60's open up, that FO is going to have targets. Got to do something about that 105.
Tap the LAW team on the shoulder, Let's go boys, got a job to do. Low and fast to the right machine gun. Take a path behind the next set of claymores. Got some cover, probably enough, as long as the other side forgets its arithmetic. We must do something like this; that's pretty damned obvious. Obvious enough they should be protecting against it.
Sometimes it isn't nice to be expected.
April 7th, 2003, 07:50 PM
I hear the results as a constant soft chatter in my head from the ear piece of course. No the mist didn't give me any additional talents. I thought I knew Italian but now I can't remember a word of it!
I hear about our casualties and picture their faces so clearly. I have documentation at the main office about what they want done for them. Most usually asked to be sent home to family. I keep looking at my weapon and go to reach for it, but my hands start shaking and I can't touch it.
I know I have some big decisions ahead but I can't quite wrap my mind around those either. This is not something I ever wanted, you know? It just sorta happened to me. I got tired of fighting the battles dictated by politics and had my own set of agenda to attend to. But have I been as arrogant as countries get? Do I really think Morgan and I can make decisions better than others? Yes, and that's what scares me now. What if every decision I have ever made has been wrong? My hands are shaking worse. I should be out there but sorta hoping too that since the mist didn't see fit to give us the happily-ever-after stuff that maybe a round will just hit and take me. I am ready to take my punishment. Who ever is going to dish it out better do it quick!
April 7th, 2003, 08:37 PM
It takes a long time, too long a time to go the long way around but we must take the time. We can't fight our way through all of them to get our shot at the cannon. We have to get our shot and then fight our way back.
The machine guns just opened up. Both sides' machines guns and the rest of the infantry small arms. The bad guys should be reaching the next line of claymores pretty soon. I can hear the cannon picking up its rate. They've found a target.
God, of god, Gabe looked terrible. He has to make it out of this.
Okay, here we go, One cannon, dead ahead, 150 meters. Need to get closer. Move and cover. Move and cover. 125. Need to get closer.
Oops. They know we're coming. Zig when you should zag. Zag again. Move and cover. One down.
Didn't know his name. How 'bout that. Here we are dying together and we don't know each others' names. That's kind of stupid.
OH MY GOD! That hurt! Zigging is going to be easier than zagging for a while. Damn, ****, piss, f**k, f**k, f**k. It's a triple f**king good one, it is.
Pick up the LAW. We're at 110. Have to do. Flick the sight, find the cannon. Where'd they put the damn cannon? Oh, there it is.
Zero in. Squeeze. One last squeeze. Recoil of the barrel. The way I'm feeling I just sort of fall over.
Two and a half down. Hand signals to three. Why don't I know his name?
Go, go go! Go, man. Get out of here.
Damned fool just grins and rolls over. Single shot, one at a time, squeezing them off.
Roll over to see how he's doing. Pretty damned good, if you ask me.
The mist ought to be showing up about now. Gabe ain't here but Gabe's gonna be okay "cause the cannon is gone and Morgan knows how to handle the rest.
Oh, nuts! That ain't right. That just ain't right.
Three and a half down.
April 7th, 2003, 09:24 PM
I don't understand why I am frozen from acting. But I literally can't make myself move towards the weapons and door. I can hear the constant chatter. I know my mountain and surrounding area as well as the lines of my palms. So I can visualize where they are. I have known these guys, some of them for over 30 years. Most are young guys though. Hand picked by Morgan and me. Same boyish ideals as we have.
I listen closely and realize I don't hear Otto anymore. If he were alive, Otto would find a way to communicate. DAMN! Otto was one of my favorites. Such a big man. He found the twins in a trash dump outside Zalanga! No more than 3 days old. His hands were bigger than they were.
Kazu? I don't hear Kazu! He was a good man. Loved children. Came to us from Mainland China. He spent as much time here as I did. Knew every kid by name. Every nurse too, from what I heard. Quite the Romeo! I wonder if the nickname I heard about him is true?
I heard Peter. He whispered he was down but now I don't hear him at all. Peter from Sweden. Went home every chance he got to see his mother and grandmother. Tried to adopt the 3 brothers that he found Tudun Wada. Nigerian courts wouldn't agree to it because he couldn't prove gainful employment. Idiots! He would have been a good dad to those boys. Why didn't I see it coming? Hell, Morgan and I own 9 corporations and we could have forged whatever he needed to get those boys. DAMN they would have just been orphans again though. DAMN!
When are those helicopters going to get here? I ask Morgan through my mouthpiece and he quickly says "20". Can we last 20 more minutes? I look at the weapons and I still can't touch them. Will all the guys die while I sit here frozen like this?
April 7th, 2003, 09:50 PM
Oh, boy! Oh, Boy! This hurts! Yes, yes indeedy! Oh, Boy! Having difficulty listening in. Got the headphones off the LAW carrier. Hell of a name on a tombstone, the LAW carrier. A man shouldn't die and nobody know his name.
Yes, it still hurts!
What's that they're saying? It's over? How can that be? Leg must be affecting my hearing. Can't be over. They still had at least 200 guys.
Oh, boy. Excuse me a minute, just one little minute. F********K!
Yeah, they're leaving. Their hauling ass out of here. Wonder where the general is? Can't see him leaving. Must still be around somewhere.
They're leaving? The Gabe made it? Gabe's gonna be okay?
Morgan calling me. "Hi, Morgan. How're you? Excuse me, Morgan. Be right back."
"Oh, nothing, nothing really. Just half my leg is missing I think. No, I haven't looked. Just telling you what it feels like.......Yeah, I'm here......no, they didn't make it. Do you know their names, Morgan? I don't know their names. That isn't right, Morgan. I should have known their names, you know?"
"Oh, hundred meters east of the cannon....yeah, I'll wait for you. You'll know me. I'll be the one screaming F*******K!"
No, I won't go anywhere."
April 8th, 2003, 02:51 AM
I don't know that Dan's been hurt because I turned off my radio reception. With my men dying out there, something occurred to me. Since I can't fight it seems, I'll do something I had promised myself. If the mist ever got us back near a computer, I want to know if anything we experienced in the mist is true. I don't know who we were in Vietnam, so I go to the internet and search on concentration camp escapes. One of the most famous ones happened right there in Auschwitz - December 1942. It was the first successful escape from that death camp. It was the coldest winter of the 20th century and the Nazi ovens were running at peak efficiency. I read the description and it is exactly as I lived it and none of the escapees were recaptured. I remember the name of the baby, as the father had announced it proudly to the Rabbi during the Bris Ceremony. I am shocked when the internet search tells me he is one of the most powerful men in the Israeli Knesset today! My hands are trembling and go further. Yes, Galileo had two daughters, Virginia and Livia. Livia was mentally ill and Virginia eventually became Mother Abbess of the convent in Florence.
My palms are sweating. I can hear that the noise outside has calmed considerably, but I am possessed to know more. I check on the identity of the two brothers in Spain. I remember the name on Dan's jacket. Medal of Honor winner posthumously but saved his little brother before he died! And who were the two at Kent State I wonder. We didn't know their names. But the historical account of the event showed that a woman professor in her mid 50's, on her way to teach class, was struck in the upper back by a stray bullet and died. No telling who the two Cardinals were in the extreme future or the couple who lived with the Apaches. And the two who faced the Panzers? Unknown though French resistance fought all though this area against the Germans.
So if we were in their existence, where were they? Were they there with us somehow? I don't think I will ever know how the mist works.
April 8th, 2003, 08:42 AM
Percival Hans Dimitri. That's the medic's name. He arrived with Morgan, looked at me leg, pulled a compress out of his bag and some alcohol. The look he gave me was pure disgust. Hey, I told you I didn't look at it! I just said it hurts like hell.
Ole PhD attended to me and then took off in a hurry mumbling something about having real work to do. Medics have no bedside manner.
"Morgan, where's the general?"
"First tank. He was gone before it started. Major factor in everybody else losing interest."
"That I don't know," he says and the worry lines get more pronounced. He hasn't been on line the whole mess. Think it's about time we go check in on him. Can you walk?"
That was not necessary! After the medic's disgust, this extra little barb went deep.
"Yeah, I can walk. As we go, tell me some names. Who were these men that died keeping me alive?"
Morgan starts talking. Talks all the way to the camp for him to fill me in on their history.
They were good men, all.
After I make sure Gabe's okay, think I'll go back and bury them. Owe them that much.