BLOOD AND FIRE
A MANDEL BECKWITH novel
BEFORE THE BENEDICTION
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
meters, ten meters, their faces were his own; soldier’s faces.
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.
darkness and, then a single man ran bellowing in pain, he was engulfed in trailing
flutes of flames.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
J Brooke is a writer with
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