Deals With Cursed Men

Reads: 360  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
A haunted and seemingly cursed warrior is brought back from the void of death and forced to join a top secret team. Shadowy men from within the government have formed a team of warriors marked by death.

Submitted: September 07, 2014

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 07, 2014

A A A

A A A


It is 67 degrees out, slightly windy, beautiful autumn day. The kind of day that makes you want to get out and walk the dog, or go jogging. To me it’s a good day to drink away some nightmares. It's only about ten 'o clock in the morning and I'm nearly finished with a bottle of whiskey, and a handful of painkillers. Its five 'o clock somewhere right? What time is it in hell?

  I begin to feel drowsy sitting on the roof of my townhouse, in midtown Chicago, the cocktail of pills and alcohol bringing me closer to oblivion. For someone that isn't even midway through his thirties, I've seen a lot, done a lot. Growing up, one of the important life lessons no one ever teaches you is that there are things in life that mark you. That leave an indelible mark upon your soul, like a stain you can’t get rid of no matter what you do. Over time these marks build up, and before you know it they overwhelm you.

  I've always kind of felt that it was a demon sitting on my shoulders, waiting patiently to put me right where I am now. Well played asshole. Little did I know I was right in the middle of another one of those moments. Unfortunately for me, this is only the beginning.

  Soon the blue sky starts to spin, my body is completely relaxed. It's a weird sensation to feel your own heart slow down, and then stop. I don't feel cold, as I always thought, actually it's as if someone pulled a warm blanket over me. Then everything goes black. Maybe this time I finally had too much… damn.

 

  I can feel myself floating, but there is no light, just an odd hazy blackness. I'm aware too; aware that this is not the world I've just left. Nor is it anything resembling heaven, not exactly hell either. More like a waiting room to it, if that makes any sense at all. Somehow I'm also acutely aware of eternity; the concept of time is gone. Just that thought might make someone dizzy, to live in eternity.

  The next thing I notice is a voice, deep and regal, not exactly near me, but from within me. "This has been a long time in coming, James Allen Blackwood." Something about this voice saying my full name has a profound effect upon me, as though it had taken possession of me. Or had power over me, like a spectral tractor beam or anchor. Needless to say, shit was getting really, unreal. Something else I noticed is that this voice is not speaking English, but I understand it. As a matter of fact it sounds somehow like something I've heard in Afghanistan, when I spent time with those villagers in the mountains north of Jalalabad. I seem to recall their village elder speaking something like it when my team and I were presented to him. That was the start of a very bad time in my life.

  "Your sins have caught up with you James, and now they have at last brought you here. Do you know where you are James?" said the voice, continuing its little welcome message. "I suppose it's not Disney world is it?" I reply, don't ask why I still felt the need to be a wise ass. All things considered it's probably not the best time for it but fuck it, I'm screwed anyways right?

  "Ah, your sense of humor. Your crutch to lean upon when you fail to understand or accept your circumstances. James, welcome to Purgatory."

  I had nothing to say to that, something about hearing those words coming from inside me hit home. I knew that this was it, pit-stop to hell. Wonder what surprises they have in store for me, I guess those bible thumpers were on to something, shit.

The voice returned, "You have been given a second chance James, when next we meet you will not be so fortunate."

"What… wait, second chance? How?" I replied, confused and more than a little relieved, like a child that has gotten away with something. But I hadn't gotten away with anything, not by a long shot.

  Have you ever had one of those dreams that feel like you are falling? That's what I experienced coming back into my body. I wake with a jolt, my head still spinning and my vision blurred, but as my vision slowly returns I notice that I am in a medical facility but it is small, with pipes running along the ceiling. Given the cramped nature and the bunks lining the walls and the fact that there is a watertight door leading to a small equally cramped hallway, I'd say I was on a naval ship. OK, now the question is how in the blue fuck did I go from eating breakfast with death on my townhouse roof in Chicago to a damn naval ship?! This keeps getting better and more confusing, as I had mustered out of the military years ago and started working for a Private Military Company, until I got my medical discharge. A nice way of saying that I got "blowed the fuck up", so to speak. I'll give you two guesses where that happened and the first one doesn't count. Yup, fucking Afghanistan. After leaving that village I mentioned earlier my team, a four man Special Reconnaissance Team run by a private military company, ran into a literal shitstorm on what was supposed to be a fairly straightforward recon operation.

  We were already humping the mountains for a couple of days by that point, dropped in by chopper near a valley no one had seen in person since Alexander the Great marched through. We were checking up on a tip that a Chechen warlord had been moving supplies through the mountains in support of the Taliban. We came across the village of our informant and decided to check it out, it was more like a hamlet built into the side of the mountains, and we couldn't see any sign of hostile activity so we moved in.

  Of course we took precautions, our marksman was left tucked into the mountainside to keep an eye on things from a distance and cover our asses if shit went sideways. I walked in with our team leader and our support gunner shadowed us, covering the rear. We kept our eyes open for the usual, IED's tripwires, mines, which were in abundance after the Russians left shitoads behind after getting their asses kicked. You'd think we would have learned something from the local history, but greed and politics are a messy combination and have no place in war.

Once we came into the village we were greeted by a group of elders, we noticed no children in the village, maybe they were inside or the Taliban had been doing recruiting runs. They welcomed us and the team leader spoke to them in broken Pashtu, he advised them that we seek information and shelter as it was getting late. We were ushered into a shanty that looked like it could have been made by hand a few hundred years ago, to meet with our informant. We were seated, given what passed for tea, it tasted like shit, and a small meal. We ate and drank, traditionally you do not get down to business so to speak until after eating and more or less making small talk with the host. It's just how things work in this part of the world.

  When we finished, the team leader begin to ask the village elder questions, using our informant to interpret as the village elder seemed to be speaking another language, the one I had mentioned before. We were told that they had been seeing lights and movement higher in the valley, lots of it too. Which for them is odd as this is not a very populated part of the world. After we had gotten the information on the movements and the direction they were heading, we thanked our hosts and made ready to leave.

  I was the last man out of the shack and as I began to cross the threshold into the night the wise man began speaking to me, pointing directly at me and all of the elders in the shack were staring at me with grave faces. For a bad ass killing machine, that gave me the heebie jeebies. I recall that I did not sleep well that night, we bivouacked just inside the village and left early the next morning. The sun was  just peering over the Hindu Kush as we were leaving the village, and I could not shake that old wise man.

  We ran into trouble not long afterward, we caught the Chechen trail higher up the ridge, not hard to miss really, and began to track it. We came upon the remains of a camp tucked into an escarpment, maybe a day old and well used. Apparently they had been at it for some time. We continued on and shortly after night fall we found another camp, almost walked right into it. They had camo net up and it was very neatly nestled into a boulder-field. We took cover and began to survey the area. There were not many fighters there, we spotted 6 milling about the camp. Had to use the thermal scope to see 'em, gotta hand it to the fuckers, they were well concealed. We noticed what looked like some crates against one boulder and an RPG leaned up against them, some extra rockets lying around. The Chechens weren't exactly heavily armed, they had an RPD and some AK's, and while they aren’t pros they are experienced fighters, they know their shit.

  We found out next that our comms were down, therefore we could not report our find to command. Our team leader decided that rather than let these assholes keep their toys, we were going to move in and take them out, at least then we could see exactly what was in the crates. We attached suppressors to our weapons and began to circle the camp, our marksman moving higher up the ridge for better vantage point. Our support gunner would take them from the front to draw fire if needed and the team leader and I were going to go in and ghost them. I let my M-4 hang from its sling, drew my knife and my suppressed pistol, a .45, and made my way into their camp from behind. Team leader on my six with his weapon aimed over my right shoulder to cover me when I take the first one. I did, driving my blade into the throat of a sleeping fighter, a nice sharp jerk to one side and his vocals and carotid are shredded, one down. At this point we were behind a large boulder by the crates, around the boulder was the rest of the fighters engaged in casual conversation from the sounds of it.

  A silent glance to my team leader and I already knew exactly what we were doing next; we were going to count to three and then play peek-a-boo with bullets. I moved around to the left side of the boulder, team leader stayed on the right, giving us a criss-cross field of fire on the remaining Chechens. I holstered my pistol, sheathed my bloody knife and drew up my M-4 and sighted in on the first one, then I keyed my mic once. I got two keys in response and we began firing, all head and chest shots and all five fighters down in a matter of seconds, silent and smooth as butter on glass.

  Then it all sort of went to shit. After the turkey shoot we do a sit rep each team member calling in "clear" to let the other guys know all is cool on his end. We didn't hear from our marksman, not a good sign. As the team leader and I made our way out of the camp to attempt to get a visual on him we heard our support gunner call "contact rear!" and start firing. Shit had just kicked off, and given where we were and the fact that our sat-com was not working, things were far from ideal. TL and I immediately moved outside to engage targets, taking up cover positions flanking either side of the trail giving us 180 degrees of fire in the direction of the hostiles.

  It was nearly sunrise yet again and we could start making out their numbers, I'd put the accurate count pretty close to a shitload. Now, we didn't exactly have a lot of ammo, comms were out and by the fact that the enemy positions were right where our marksman had been id say he was likely KIA. Either way we couldn't stay here, we had to move. Best bet was to move higher to get a signal and call for evac. Problem was it would make us easy targets, but we aren't Special Recon for nothing. Following TL's lead we began to "leapfrog" higher up the ridge, grabbing cover where we could. One man stays to provide cover fire while the next two, in turns, fall back stop and begin covering the last man to provide cover fire. It went on like that for what seemed like forever. We were lobbing bullets and grenades left and right. If you're gonna fall back under fire, this is the way to go.

  The problem with the top of the ridge, we soon realized is that it was a dead end, worse than that however it was a dead end with little cover. At least we were firing down on the enemy, gotta look at the bright side. We covered the Team Leader while he found a signal and radioed for a chopper, the hostiles kept coming and we realistically didn't have a lot of options or time. By the time TL got a signal and made the call I was out of frags and burning through ammo faster than I was comfortable with. Heavy gunner and I took positions on either side of the plateau, laying prone using some smaller rocks for cover. At this point we were picking our shots, making them count. I chanced a glance over my shoulder as the TL took a hit and dropped to the ground, I laid down suppressive fire and moved to him, taking a hit in the left shoulder. It wasn’t exactly serious but that didn't take away from the searing hot pain I felt, I dropped down next to TL to check his vitals… he was gone. He took a shot just above the eyebrow, and right below the helmet.

  You could say the situation was pretty fucked at this point. I grabbed the radio, and glanced over the rock I was taking cover behind. The heavy gunner was firing away steadily; I ducked back down to call command, and made a profanity laden request to know what the ETA was on our evac. The reply was 30 minutes. A whole lot of time we did not have. Then I heard an RPG fire and an explosion, I chanced a look over my rock and noticed that the heavy gunner was gone, there was a smoldering crater of rocks and bloody bits were he used to be. Shit was getting desperate, behind me on the right was the edge of the escarpment, on the left was a shorter drop that lead to a steep hill of scree.

  I remember getting pissed off, like really pissed off and I stood up and unloaded my M-4, then my pistol. I didn't even take time to re-load I just bolted toward the drop on the left, using the couple of seconds I had bought with my reckless cover fire to give me a head start. It was only about 15 feet to run but it felt like a mile.

  Things get hazy from here, I didn't get a chance to take the leap, I was pushed in a manner of speaking. As I got within a couple feet of the ledge an explosion went off behind me. All I remember after that was a deafening boom, searing hot pain and a brief feeling of weightlessness. Then I hit the ground and I was mercifully taken from consciousness.

  We special operators have beacons on us, for use when shit goes truly pear-shaped. This way search and rescue teams have something to zero in on when they come looking for you. The hostiles must have thought I was dead because when I woke up it was to the sound of a chopper coming in, and then I remember being on board that chopper briefly before blacking out again.

  When I got back to base I learned that I had suffered a serious concussion, several broken bones and had to spend more than a few hours in surgery getting shrapnel taken out of my body. I was in some rough shape, but the worst part was yet to come. You see, I didn't mention that I was married to my high school sweetheart. And while I was off in the asshole of the world she was at home keeping things together. So when I got shipped to Germany for treatment and eventually out-processing to get sent home, I found it a little odd that my wife Samantha had not made contact. I had asked the nurse that was looking after me to check on it to make sure she had been notified.

  Several hours later the nurse returns with a Major, a Major that has a silver cross on his lapel, a chaplain. I had a sick feeling in my gut and I wanted to stand, but I couldn't move. They informed me that sometime around the time of my operation in the mountains, were my entire team were confirmed KIA, my wife had been hit by a drunk driver while she was walking home from the store. I was told that she died instantly. I went numb, completely numb, I barely noticed the chaplain or the nurse as they left.

  That's what led to my current circumstance, more or less. A couple years later here I am, lying on a bunk in the med bay of a ship.

  The place smelled like any medical facility, like sanitized death. When my vision returned I noticed a man in plain clothes staring at me with a navy commander and the doc who was apparently checking me out. The commander and the guy in khakis and a polo just watched as the doc checked me out, asking me the usual questions; "how many fingers do you see?" and "What is your name?" and shining a pen light in my eyes.

  "Commander he's all yours, just remember he’s going to be somewhat disoriented." the doc mentioned to the others, "I'll be outside if you need me." he added.

  "How are you feeling Mr. Blackwood?" said the commander, he had the look of an operator, a fit frame about 5' 11" with salt and pepper hair and dark brown eyes. A glance to his chest added to my suspicions; nothing. Not one ribbon, medal or even a name tag. This indicates to me that he has no need to be identified except by rank. So, a Navy commander and another guy that had the look of a spook, this is almost the start to a bad bar joke. The spook was also relatively fit, and about my age, early thirties. He wore a close high and tight haircut and a beard, his steel blue eyes had the look of a man that did more than push pencils all day. Had to be CIA, not likely on the books either.

  "I feel like I got shit out of a tube of play dough." I replied

The commander seemed amused, but the spooks face didn't change. "Where the hell am I and why?" I had to ask.

  Now it was the spooks turn, "You are on an aircraft carrier in international waters about 200 miles from the east coast of the united states. You are here because we have been watching you for some time, given recent events we have an offer to make you." that was some very interesting information, I knew the US government kept tabs on former special ops personnel, but "watching" me, that was news to me. "I run a unique and very classified project using candidates that have attempted suicide," he continued, "warriors with a death wish."

  I was still trying to get my head around the idea that the government had been watching me so closely that they were able to rescue me from my suicide and bring me here, and then offer to make me part of a project that uses other soldiers like me, soldiers that have tried to kill themselves. "OK, so you're telling me that you have been watching me, waiting for me to off myself so you can offer me a job?" yup it sounded just as crazy when I said it. "More or less," the spook said, continuing, "This project has been in existence since Vietnam. Have you ever studied the history of Japan? The 47 Ronin in particular? These were samurai without masters, and essentially without purpose, they were highly effective fighters essentially because they had nothing to lose. My predecessors felt that the same theory would apply equally well and over time they were proven right. As a matter of fact the success rate has been 100% since they first began the program in 1968."

  "Wow, I knew Uncle Sam was a twisted dude, but this takes the cake. One problem guys I didn’t exactly intend to kill myself, so I don’t think I qualify for your little club." my tone was incredulous; this was some Twilight Zone material here. “Shit, does the president even know about this?”

  "Intentions mean very little now, you still got the job done." the spook reminded me. "And we are a multinational program, known only to a select few in each country's government, completely black operation, total deniability."

I pause, to let things sink in. My capacity for thought is limited, given what my brain has been through.

  "How long have I been here?" I asked

  "Ten days, you were clinically dead when we got to you." responded the commander. See what I mean about the whole time concept thing, I felt like I had just crossed over, and spent maybe a couple of minutes, it turned out to be almost two weeks. I took a minute to let that sink in, I looked up at the bulkhead and let out a long sigh. "Well shit, I suppose I don't have much of a choice do I?" the spook answered in a matter of fact tone "Actually you do, if you say no we will finish what you started on the roof and toss you out to sea. You are, for all intents and purposes dead as far as the world is concerned, a body was left in your place, obvious suicide, so there is no investigation. Shotgun blast to the head doesn't leave much to identify." he said the last part almost as though he was proud of himself. "So no choice then, gotcha. Well I guess I'm on-board then.”

I had no idea what I was getting myself into, nor did I really care. I had no living relatives, no real friends and nothing to live for. If I was going to die, I might as well do some good while I'm at it. Maybe I could solve another mystery along the way; I had no intention of committing suicide, though these guys seem to think I did. I’ve been chasing pain killers with booze for a long time, didn’t think I took enough to die. My mind still feels like a battered old ham radio stuffed with cotton balls and razor blades, the deep thinking is gonna have to wait.

END PART 1

-JBrown86


© Copyright 2020 JBrown86. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Action and Adventure Short Stories