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Art by Noelle Richardson 2020


J brooke

excerpt from






Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the usual Manifest Destiny fuck up, had been cannibalized, an acid bath, eaten from the core, regurgitated into a horror show, caskets, coffins, black-body ash, all of it vaporized into the heart of the Mekong Delta. The generals had lusted for it, the President had rock’n’rolled. Millions of indigenous innocents had been slaughtered for it.

Collateral damage was a bitch, so the fuck what, you gotta pay the VIG if you want the prize, hell, every gambler knew that. Body counts, black body bags, nobody wanted to know the numbers or the tote board for such a blasphemous genocide. It was an abortion that had gone bad, the dead fetus, well, they wanted it to go away, but it would not.

He was a Ranger, as were his hand-picked group of Green Berets. His white flesh was rotting, decomposing, as were his heart and soul. Jungles, bullets, blades, napalm, rain, blood, killing, hunting did that to a Ranger and it had done that to him.

The monsoons had come, crippling, drenching, and quieting the screams of the jets, high above. He had been stationary for hours now, planted on the edge of the paddy, gawking out through his binoculars. His men were wounded, ripped up, it had been an ambush by Viet Cong regulars.

They had fought their way through it, killing every one of the yellow, fierce soldiers. His wounded men were stationed behind him in the jungle. His Green Beret unit was waiting far behind him, safe, deep in the jungle, and he was waiting for a sign, the rain to cease, so they could be E-vac’ed out. 

Watching, the Captain peered out through the glasses as thirty Viet Cong began to cross the rice paddy some hundred meters across the plateau. He winced; fire ants were eating his sponge skin. He didn't blink for he no longer felt physical pain. The Cong were moving in his direction. His men needed help, he needed help, he was going insane from the senseless killing, he wanted out.

His radio crackled. Lifting up the phone, he watched as the soldiers drudged across the paddies. It was decision time, death time, final time, they were less than fifty meters away, and it was the right time. He cared no longer if he lived or died. His soul had vaporized long ago, his heart along with it.

Lightning thumped in the black clouds, it illuminated the paddies, partial remnants of his blond hair. He saw the Vietnamese soldiers faces, clear, their weapons, AK-47's, rocket launchers, they were formidable, and he knew it.

He whispered into the radio, 40 meters, 30 meters, a roar off in the storm, the ants eating his skin, more death, more grief, he heard it now.

There were flashes of fire, not lightening this time. Jet engines roaring, there were flames in the sky as his eyes closed and his heart imploding. More death, soon, now, it was time to remake his skin, for he wanted change, any way he could get it, he was ready.

Twenty meters, ten meters, their faces were his own; soldier’s faces.

SILENCE, blackness, Thor's Hammer of light in the sky, silent, mute and, then a thunderous rolling liquid cataclysmic explosion ruptured of fire and flames. The earth ignited, night became day, screams, bodies burning, shrieking, the world became a holocaust of fire, then silence, darkness, smoldering odors of burning flesh permeated the lost world of the monsoons.

SILENCE, darkness and, then a single man ran bellowing in pain, he was engulfed in trailing flutes of flames.

THERE was silence, the cave was dark, black, water dripping, cool, pungent of deep life, SILENCE, and it was waiting for something, something odd, beautiful and odious.

Blackness, then a fireball of sweeping flames flowing off a white soldier’s skin ignited the cave, threw up blisters of purples, yellows, greens, for skin burns green when caught in the love of fire.

Flashes, fire flashes, then SILENCE, the cave returned to night. Water and mud sizzled; burnt skin smelled as of death. Then, a scream of unbearable joy and pain crushed through the night world of Cambodia.

Engulfed in mud, blue eyes exposed, whites of the eyes, stark, struck of understanding, the final transformation from soldier to something so very odd, horrific, wonderful had ended, begun.

THE clouds were heavy, like lumps of cordite, a full ochre moon, at a man’s touch, breaking through the clouds illuminating the world. There was silence, quiet, the sounds of rotor blades, men's voices, winds swirled, mixing the stink of burnt flesh with monsoon winds.

A SCREAM from a creature ruptured all sounds. It was filled with understanding of the brutality and finality of transformation.

There is SILENCE and, then a SCREAM again.

The morphing from cocoon to butterfly to gargoyle had just begun, was not complete. It would take many decades of a secret life for the final canvass to be completed. Over three decades will pass, it will be a surreal world of Indian lore and pain, and then death will visit in the guise of physical female beauty, and it will be as if it had never left him at all. It will be a completion of what he was, what he wishes to become. It will be a full circle of finality, tragic, filled with awe and a woman's lips and above all it will be deadly, yet, so very beautiful.

He will, in a moment of cosmic destiny meet a stunning blonde killer and in that moment his entire life will come to fruition, pain, joy and recognition and her name will be Mandel.



J Brooke is a writer with over 100 credits, and never lists them. It’s simple for J., for it’s never what you have already written, but what you are going to write next. Contact info: jbrooke2001@yahoo.com

Noelle Richardson comes from a relatively large family and has been illustrating and painting for about twelve years. She writes a little on the side, plays a couple of instruments and dabbles in tattoo design.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020