suspend disbelief - have an adventure
Knight of the Dragon
How did I end up here? I hate the jungle, I hate swamps, I hate fighting
mosquitoes the size of Bengal tigers.
It seemed so easy at the time. Canada was involved in a peace-keeping operation
in south-east Asia. I was sent over as a radio operator to work at a station
base: air-conditioned office, half-hour coffee breaks, and trips into town. I
was supposed to come out of this with a nice big pay cheque and an ugly orange
ribbon. Somehow that peace-keeping operation turned into a second Vietnam War,
only Canada decides it's in the best image of national prestige not to withdraw
its troops. That finds me, Drake Goodman, a year later, stuck in a jungle fighting
an enemy that I can't see for some country that can't even produce a good
I think that's the reason why I didn't care when the thing appeared.
I was on a combat patrol, me and five other guys; three others had
already been waxed. We divided up their ammo, and then threw the bodies under
some logs. We radioed in the location on the off chance that somebody at Command
wanted to collect the remains before they were devoured by bugs. I doubted
I was holding my trusty rifle and eight mags, fully loaded. I also had
five fragmentation grenades and one white phosphorus incendiary grenade. I
managed to round out my complement with three para-flares, a light armour
rocket I got off an American in trade for five dirty magazines, and a service
pistol. The ammo weighed a lot, but it did not slow me down. You don't become
Airborne if you can't haul ass and fortunately, I was built like an ox.
6'6" is a stupid height for a radio operator, and even stupider
height for somebody trying to hide in the jungle. I weighed two hundred and
fifty-six pounds of solid muscle, and I needed all that muscle just to keep
I must have looked quite the sight with all that ammo and grenades
strapped across my webbing. Under the web was my flak jacket. Under that I was
resplendent in my stained, torn and dirty combat uniform. The only comfort
items I had were my ranger blanket and ground sheet that were slipped through
the D rings of my butt pack. I had all the other shit a soldier is supposed to
have, but I rarely used rain gear, bug juice, or my right-angle flashlight. The
only other things I had that I considered useful were the loads of green paint,
and the machete I had through the back plate of my web.
My helmet had the traditional "Victory or death", "better
dead than red", "Airborne # 1" and other sayings on it. I only
started wearing my helmet recently. I had always thought that they were useless
because nobody aims for the head. They go for the centre of mass.
That is what I used to think until some shrapnel took off the right side
of my face. I am not hampered by the damage but did receive a really ugly scar.
The mark itself looks like some sort of long-necked bird in flight. A real
imaginative person can make out wings, a long neck, a head, and a long tail. The
cut is a series of deep gashes that start behind my right temple and work
downward, covering my cheek with the tail looping around under my chin. One of
the bird’s legs was a deep crack across my lips that left my mouth in a perpetual
Regardless of the many job perks, such as free funeral and live combat,
I had to say with all honesty, I really hated my job. The problem was that I
was damn good at it. I was a killing machine. In unarmed combat I was a god. In
close-quarters fighting I could maim, kill, or destroy at leisure. I was a very
good shot, not the best, but that is the reason we had automatic fire. I was
thinking to myself about how much I hated my job, a decision between a lot and a
great deal, when the thing appeared in front of me.
It looked sort of like a hole but it was not a hole. I would have been
able to see the edges of a hole, or the bottom, or punji sticks or something but
this thing was a four-foot circle of flat blackness just lying on the ground.
I then thought it might have been black paint on the ground but
discounted that because I still would have been able to see the ground and
twigs and leaves. A manhole cover? No. It was a big circle of nothing, black
nothing, but still nothing. I spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out if
it was some new sort of trap. I was going to throw a rock on it but then
decided "fuck it!" I placed my right foot over the dark blotch and