This may be a rough story for some people as it touches on the subject of child abuse. BEFORE you go ballistic and “one bomb” the story or call in the Mods, understand this ... people who hurt children are below scum; pedophiles should be publicly executed. This thinking may be viewed as harsh, too black and white, but it is mine. It is largely responsible for ending one of my careers.
While we are on the subject of children ... ask yourself this ... if by definition US Marines are warrior gods (sorry my Army friends, but you know it is true) why did they establish “Toys for Tots”? I submit it is because they know in their souls that children are the future and are precious treasures to be cherished and protected ... at all cost.
She slowly came out of sleep, becoming aware of his presence. She could feel his cold clammy hands groping her breasts, his hard cock thrusting into her, his hot breath tickling the back of her neck. She began to struggle, to escape from him. His arms wrapped tighter around her as he thrust harder and faster into her. She began to scream and to thrash about, trying to escape, trying to get away. “You are mine,” he whispered into her ear, “You are mine for ever and ever.” With a final scream she sat up ready to run only to find that she was alone ... in her sleeping bag ... in her little tent ... in the woods. Her ragged breathing continued as she struggled out of the sleeping bag and got out of the tent barely in time before she vomited on the ground. She remained hunched over with the dry heaves long after everything in her stomach had been lost. Her tears mingled with the sour taste of vomit in her mouth and her sinuses. She curled into a fetal position, hugging her knees to her chest, as she screamed into the slowly approaching dawn. He had found her again. This time after only a few weeks, he had found her. Her bitter tears continued until, with the rising of the sun, she fell asleep in the protective pool of sunshine making its way through the forest trees.
He realized the mission was coming apart at the seams. The children and the Nuns were barely half way to the LZ and the clock said they weren’t going to make it.
As the group continued to trudge through the forest, he fell back along the line of march until he was walking beside Lieutenant Maxwell and Gunnery Sargent McCrery.
“I don’t think we are going to make it guys. The claymores slowed them down and made them cautious, but at the speed we are going, they will get to us before we get everyone to the LZ.”
“I agree, Sir,” the Gunny replied, “I think we need a little rear guard here to slow them down again.”
“I am not going to risk you or your Marines, Gunny,” he said.
He looked hard at the young Marine Lieutenant. “Sorry I got you and your Marines involved in this Mike,” he said, “How about you give me the SAW and all of its ammunition. I will lay back and give them something to think on while you get the NCs out the backdoor.”
When the LT and the Gunny objected, he made it an order.
“What do you think you are you going to do by yourself, Sir?” McCrery asked
“I can establish an ambush,” he said, “I can hold off pursuit long enough for you to get the civilians and troops to the LZ.”
“You might have the balls but you don’t have the skill to do that, Sir!” exclaimed the Gunny. The Navy Officer, for that is what he was, had not noticed the impromptu conference had drawn the attention of the other Marines who were circling the three participants.
“Johnson,” he snapped at the Lance Corporal, “you and Bonehead are with me. Sargent Kepski, you stay with the El-Tee and Mr. D here. Make sure everyone gets to the LZ.”
He was objecting and countermanding the Gunny’s orders when he felt a blow to the back of his head and things went dark.
He came to sitting with his back against a tree, feeling the down wash from the blades of a CH-47 helicopter. Sgt. Kepski was looking at him sheepishly, “Sorry about the hit, Sir, but what the Gunny said is what the Gunny wanted ... so sorry, but you were out-ranked.”
“Where is the Gunnery Sargent?” he asked.
The boyish grin fell from Kepski’s face. “He didn’t make it Sir, they held for almost an hour but ran out of ammo and got overrun. We couldn’t move the platoon back until we got the kids here and by then it didn’t matter.”
He struggled to sit up better. “Where is your Boss?” he asked. Kepski’s face got even darker. “When the shit was hitting the fan, the El-Tee, did what all good Marine Lieutenants do ... he took half a squad, charged back to join the Gunny and died.”
He sat next to the open rear hatch of the ‘47 as it climbed out and went skimming across the tree tops of the forest below. He was angry, angry that things had worked out as they had. Angry that the children had been put in danger in the first place. But he was livid with anger at himself ... it was his plan and his leadership that had killed those Marines. He had fucked up ... he had failed them.
The old man was staring intently at the screen of his laptop. He had been trolling this site for months now and it looked as if his efforts would be paying off again. The site was a chat room utilized by the BDSM crowd. It was part of the ‘dark web’; if you knew it existed, you were allowed in, but if you did not know how to get there already, no one would ever tell you. He was looking for a specific type of person, a trafficker in children. His teeth were bared as he spotted his latest target enter the chat. He had identified and localized two traffickers previously in this room. Both ultimately had been dispatched and as was his want, they had not disappeared, but were left significantly disassembled and publicly displayed as warnings to anyone who would hurt a child.
As he was about to engage in tonight’s planned activity ... starting the dance to reel the next trafficker to his doom, his focus was drawn to another name; one that he had seen before but had dismissed as the wrong profile. He knew she was female and in her mid-twenties and was identifying herself as a submissive. Beyond that and her user name “noh mask,” he knew nothing but something was tugging at his mind, trying to get his attention.
He was sitting in Comms, having traded the night duty with one of his fellow JOs when the call came in over an open freq in the clear. No one ever contemplated that HIS billet or skill set would ever be called upon for use, so he had become the “utility infielder” of the JOs; he filled in with everything from PAO for reporters to covering slots as needed. Tonight was no different but tonight the fates had set things in motion as they determined things needed to be.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday,” said the tinny voice coming out to the SSB radio that monitored the civilian Guard Frequencies, “We are in need of medical and security aid.” The voice had the weird inflection that was typical of someone for whom English was a second language and who had learned it from media and interaction rather than through formal schooling.
Grabbing the microphone for the SSB, he clicked the transmit button and said, “This is USS Saipan on Guard, who is calling Mayday?”
The voice came back, “this is Sister Emilie Garson, I am with the Little Sisters of Charity. We run an orphanage and school in Kigali province.”
“Why are you calling Mayday, Ma’am,” he asked, “do you have an emergency?”
“Yes, the local warlords are moving through the area and rumors are they want to take the children. They will sell the girls into slavery and turn the boys into soldiers. We need help. Are you Americans?”
“Yes ma’am, this is USS Saipan with PHIBRONSIX and MEU Two Five (25) embarked. Can I relay your distress call to anyone in your government?”
“They are all corrupt. We do not know who to trust. For all we know, the government officials ARE the warlords.”
“Ma’am, there is not much we can do here. I can forward your call, but that is about all.”
The signal strength was falling on the SSB’s meters and the Sister’s voice was modulating higher as a consequence. “Please, help us. Please ... children ... hssssss.”
Standing to leave the shop he turned to the duty RM. “Localize that transmission and get me the co-ordinates soonest,” he ordered, “I’ve got some people to talk to. If I’m not back before you rotate, drop the info off at my quarters; 1-90-2-Lima. Tell the CS you have my permission.”
Over the ensuing nights, he found that her “English” name was Windy and that she was a member of the Kwakiutl tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw culture. She had selected the username “Noh Mask” because she felt that who she presented to the public was a Noh. The person that everyone knew was a mask. That the true Windy was not something people would want to be around.
She began to confide in him. Explaining why she needed the Noh. As he questioned her, she began telling him of her past. Why she was seeking refuge in the BDSM culture. Why she felt she needed the mask. Finally, she began whispering dark and evil things. Explaining why she herself was tainted, dark and evil.
He began to sense something else about the young woman, something she was not telling him but something that was there all the same. He knew it was nothing physical or that what she had told him was false. It was something she was NOT telling him that was the problem. He began to lose his immediate interest in his project and began to focus more of his attention on her. One night after their discussions his mind finally “clicked.” It was like looking at one of those black and white optical puzzles where you don’t see the picture because it is actually in the reverse of what you would expect but once your mind “triggers” on it, the picture is clear. His senses had been correct. This was the mission. The other thing could wait.
Realizing that it would take him some few days, weeks even, to close down his life and arrange travel to the Nespelem area, the man decided he needed to ask for a favor.
“Hey Doc,” he said as he entered Sick Bay, “How’s it going?”
“Aww, crap! John, you never come to see me just to be social, you ALWAYS have something you just need me to do,” he said. The smile on his lips belying the harshness of his words.
“I need enough supplies to support an NCE op, maybe for 30 – 40 kids and a few adults. Maybe a Corpsman or two?” His attempt at a boyish grin was not working too well that day.
“So, Mel, we have been meeting twice a week for almost a year now and I don’t really think we are making any progress. You say the nightmares are still happening and your anxiety is still through the roof. I have stayed away from medications as I don’t think you want to walk around like a zombie.”
I sighed, “Doctor Urban, please, you need to help me. I don’t sleep. I don’t eat. I can’t hold a job. Every day, all the time, I am waiting for “HIM” to show up again.”
“Mel, you know that ‘HE’ cannot show up. That he lives only in your mind, right?”
“God damn it, Doc! HE is there. He is real. Why can’t you fucking believe me!”
“Mel, I am sorry but there is nothing I can do to help you as long as you cling to this fantasy that HE exists. I am afraid this will be our last session.”
“I will be to you in about ten to fifteen days. I have asked a favor for someone to watch over you until I can physically join you. He has agreed to guard you, to keep you safe.”
“Who is he?” she asked, “how will I recognize him? What does he look like?”
“Ah, little one,” he chuckled softly, “you will not see him and there will be no need to ... If you truly need his name, it is Wolverine.”
“The comic book guy? What is he, a nut case? I have enough trouble and if you are screwing with me, I don’t need it.”
“Softly, little one, softly,” he said, “he is not a comic book character. You have known him all your life. He is not A wolverine not even THE wolverine ... he is BROTHER Wolverine.”
Her eyes grew big and her voice grew small... “You mean like WOLVERINE wolverine? Like the SPIRIT?”
Her voice trailed off. Her mind was racing, either the man she had been and was talking to was demented and therefore she had been very stupid to reveal herself to him, or, and this was scarier, he was a person of power.
“Why would wolverine agree to guard me? I am no one, I am nothing to him.”
“Little one,” he whispered, “why he agreed is not your concern and as for your value, THAT is not yours to determine either.”
She was a young girl, maybe in her mid-teens. She was at the local county fair with a few of her friends. The few that remained her friends after the recent incidences at school. For years, the bottled-up anger and hostility had been playing havoc with her social interactions. Her “acting out” and rebellions had pretty much limited her social group to a few of the other ‘losers’ in the school matrix. Recently, however, the anxiety attacks, the claustrophobic feelings and the constant fear had shredded even those contacts.
It was not her fault. She thought that once she was free of him that things would settle down, that she could live a normal life. Such was not the case.
She entered the small tent on the midway. The sign outside said “Tarot Readings.” As her eyes adjusted to the dimness of the interior she saw a middle-aged woman sitting at a small table. Upon the table were several candles, smokily flickering in the breeze of her entrance, and a deck of cards.
“Come in child,” said the woman, “I am Madam Futura.”
After the traditional exchange of money, the psychic began to deal out the Tarot cards. As the cards were revealed one by one, she began to get more and more agitated. The cards were not right, they were telling her the story of TWO people. The message was completely garbled.
With a sigh she abandoned the cards and asked for the young girl’s hand. Immediately upon touching the girl, it was as if a vise had clamped onto her arm. She was sucked down into a vortex of dense heavy smoke. The feeling of dread, of evil, clinging darkness washed over her senses. In her vision she saw a man begin to come at her from within the swirling smoke. His body was indistinct and hazy but his eyes ... his eyes were burning coals, piercing her very soul with a hunger and longing that scared her worse than anything had ever scared her before.
After several moments of her struggling to break the vision, she was finally successful. Her pulse rate was elevated, she had a coppery metallic taste in her mouth and she was sweating profusely.
“Get out,” she shrieked, “Get out of here! GO AWAY!” The Psychic stood up and was physically pushing the young girl out the tent flap. As soon as the girl was outside, she dropped the flaps and tied them shut. She then ignited a bundle of sage and began a cleansing ritual which she continued for many hours. Until her death, many years later, she could still see those eyes boring into her soul.
Gunnery Sargent McCrery surveyed the open hanger deck until he spotted his quarry. Sidling up beside the Navy LT, he did not announce himself right away.
He watched as the naval officer talked with one of the rotorhead pilots. They seemed to be having a rather animated discussion. The two officers were starting to get loud when his target pulled a photo out from his back belt, displayed it to the pilot, whose face drained of color, and said something quiet and hash. The pilot slumped and nodded his head before he turned and sought sanctuary in the depths of the Hanger Deck. Seeing his opportunity the Sargent stepped forward.
“So, Mr. D,” he said, “I understand you are laying on a bit of excitement on the QT. It would be a shame if someone spilled the beans to the Captain or worse, the Commodore, and put a stop to it.”
The Officer turned to the Marine while assuming his mask. “I don’t know what you mean Gunny. No one here but us church mice. Nothing to see, so might as well move it along.”
The Gunnery Sargent grinned and replied, “Oh no, Sir. You are going to try to pull off something interesting again and this time I’m going to go along.”
“Father, you have to try again. HE is still here. I can’t stay in the house for more than a few hours before I feel him. He whispers things to me. Please, you have to help.”
“My child, I have done all that is within my power. I have blessed the house. I have given you a blessed St. Michael’s medallion. We have even anointed you with Holy Water. Your belief that an evil ghost is following you cries out more for medical attention than religious. I am sorry, but there is nothing more I can do.”
It had been arranged that he meet the girl that evening. It had taken him some few days to arrive, which gave the young woman time to make the arrangements he required of her. He had asked if her tribe had maintained the tradition of the Elders and if that was the case, could someone from the Council of Mothers, someone who still believed in the old ways, be convinced to participate is a small ceremony. Further, if there were still any of the men who followed the old ways, who would and could stand in protection of the Council Mother and the young woman.
“Mrs. Greystone?” The quiet voice caused her to look up from her keyboard.
“Yes, dear?” The elderly women replied. As she did, her eyes took in the person who stood in front of the clinic’s reception desk. The young woman wore old clothes and had the long-time dirt of the homeless ground into both the clothes and her skin. “Can I help you?”
“Yes ma’am. I’m Linda Deer-Run’s daughter, Windsong Melody.”
“I remember Linda, and I remember you, dear. It has been a very long time since I have seen you. I am sorry still about what happened to your parents, child.”
The young woman was skittish, the panic of being inside was building in her. It was as if at any moment, she would bolt for the door and the safety of the open spaces. “Thank you, ma’am. You were very kind to my little sister when Mama and Daddy died.”
“What can I do for you now? Do you need to see the Doctor?”
“No, Ma’am,” she said just a bit too loud. “Sorry, no ma’am. I needed to talk to you, actually.”
The older woman raised her eyebrows, “Me, child? What on earth for.”
The young woman leaned forward and quietly whispered, “Because you are on the Council of Mothers, you hold a seat.”
The older woman sat back, more than a little surprised... “Child, you have shown little or no interest in your culture since you were a toddler. Why do you need me in my capacity as an elder?”
With that the young woman broke down in tears and huddled into herself.
Realizing that something more was going on, the older woman came around from behind the desk, gathered the weeping girl into her embrace and guided her back into the clinic’s break room.
After motioning the occupants out of the room and letting everyone know that bad things would happen if they were disturbed, the old woman began her questioning; soon to learn this broken child desperately needed to be returned to her family, her culture and her roots.
The party got out of the van, the young woman offering support to the older woman by her side but if the truth be told, it was the older woman who gave support to the younger. Surrounding them were five thirty-something men. They had the quiet dead eyes of people who had been there, done that and had the T-shirt. They belonged to the tribes “Sportsmen’s Club,” a euphemism for the Warrior Society. The whites had forced the tribe to abandon its warrior skills and ways (at least out where the whites could see), when the wars were lost and they were forced onto the reservations.
The small group began to walk down the path in front of them. Finally arriving at an open glen in the otherwise scrub trees and brush they saw an old white male standing next to a pile of wood.
The old man followed their progress with the stillness of the dead. He moved not a muscle until the group was well into the glen and then with a wave of his hand, the pile burst into flame. The resulting light illuminated the glen, banishing the shadows to the rough edges.
“Please,” the figure said, “take seats.”
The man pointed to a group of folding chairs that had been set up a bit away from the fire. There appeared to be an almost complete circle of some sort of white powder surrounding the chairs.
As Mary Greystone settled into her chair, she watched the “man of mystery” before her.
He stood around six feet tall. He was medium build, with close cropped grey hair and eyes that seemed to change color depending on the firelight.
He was totally clothed in black; shiny black dress shoes, black pants, black long-sleeved shirt and even a black tie. The tie was twisted around and the end tucked back into the shirt between a set of the buttons running down the front. There were a few bits of shiny metal devices stuck to him but the shadows from the fire made it hard to tell what they were, except that they were there.
Bowing his head in a sharp gesture, the man said, “I am sorry, Grandmother, but I do not know your culture, your ways, to make this work. One needs to BELIEVE for any magic to work, so I must by needs follow MY traditions.”
Stepping back, he pulled a cloth bag from his belt and with a simple gesture, completed the circle surrounding the three people.
Walking back towards the fire, the man reached down to an object on the ground. Picking it up he turned to the little group and revealed that he held an “old school” K-Bar combat knife. Thumbing the blade with his left thumb he looked at the group and said, “I wish to tell you a tale. It is a hard tale, an evil tale but a tale that must be told.”
His eyes scanned over the small group inside the circle and he continued, his voice seemed to be coming from all directions, from out of the night itself.