• Paul heard it.
    Jim saw it.
    O’Connell denied it.

    The platoon as a whole metaphorically cracked into two sects based on these blatant facts. O’Connell was left alone, no soldier daring to go near him..

    Paul stared about rigidly, his blank pupils singed to a beady focal point. He had wet his fatigues at the shrill voice, the stale urine drizzling down his muddy boots. He took no notice, his stringy legs had gone numb anyway. In fact, he had drifted from a physical mindset, his thoughts reeling…
    And he had only heard it.

    Jim’s eyes were blank. Dull and starkly lifeless, his mouth agape. Unbeknownst to his own mind, he was mumbling uncontrollably. “They came just like he said they came just like he said they came jus-”
    O’Connell slapped him. Hard. Jim literally jumped from his shock induced state, his wide bloodshot eyes unpleasantly reminding O’Connell of a dumbfounded deer caught in headlights.

    Even worse, he felt this way.

    He had told them the story. A story that had been twisted and eroded to the dullest of fairy tales. A farce. It couldn’t be true, just couldn’t be…
    Somewhere nearby, a childlike giggle traveled through the now shattered air, and O’Connell knew he was wrong.
    It had begun with records. O’Connell always had the big mouth, blabbing on and on momentously about old war legends and false figures. The platoon had sat about the old war bunker, listening to whatever he had to say. It wasn’t an act of will to try to not listen to him. He began talking boastfully of how the army had set most of these standardized stories. Navy captains and Marines had laughed, and braggarts about spoke of their own forces feats in battle.
    Yet what silenced the team for more then one minute, was one word. One thing so blasphemous and evil that even O’Connell regretted saying it. Feet shuffled uneasily, and the click of iron based guns could be heard softly..
    Not a record to be bragged over one might think, yet thank God sweet Ol’ America didn’t hold the record. In truth no one knew.. only oddities of the martial sin.
    Tallies, tortures…that kind of wicked stuff… O’Connell spoke up. “One village, round..” He stopped, tapping his forehead unmindfully. “These central parts… A massacre occurred.” All grew silent, the air now tense as O’Connell spoke, sparingly wiping the sweat from his forehead. “Only men and women were killed..”
    Jim screamed, his leg bleeding immensely now. Some of the men looked about rigidly, their eyes beady, sweat accumulating about their faces. “Tie something around it damn’t! Tie it off!” One unit yelled. Few reacted, yet it was quickly knotted about, claret quickly forming on the white rag.. A click of hard wood could be heard, and a thin whisper of laughter was cackled. One man screamed and opened fire with his lead spitting M-20, firing at air.
    The laughter ceased, but the rustle of movement could still be heard in the vicinity. Only 14 men were left.
    “A religion?” Paul said uneasily, his voice cracked from constant walkie talkie back washing. “Your shitting me.” He drawled out, seamlessly going back to radio work, back talking coordinates to the static voice.. “Yep, a bloody cult more like it.” O’Connell said with a frown. He was speaking to no one, yet all listened. “No food for weeks.. Word is they ate their own dead patrons..” Jim slapped him on the back, shaking his head. “Cram it. I don’t want to barf..” He spoke raptly. A roar of one mans voice ripped through the air, the commander listening intently. All the men gathered about Paul, himself banging on the portable radio angrily. “It just shorted.. I don’t understand it!” He said spitefully. Another voice rose, this one deeper, more base. “Aye C.O! The compass is goin craaazy!” Panicked voices rang through the air.
    How will we reach camp? Where will we bunk? Where’s contact?
    “Keep headin’ North.” The Captain ordered, and the men simply marched on…
    “My God… there’s hundreds of ‘em…” A man spoke gutturally. It was the last thing he spoke, a gurgle rising from his now arrow pierced throat. Blood gurgled from his maw, one man crying unaware beside him. Few men were left un-hysterical, many screaming off into the forest… most screams had been cut off now. Paul scrambled on all fours below one of the bamboo house decks, barraging through ancient cobwebs, Jim limping close behind, crying his now red eyes out. They had forgot their weapons… Finding they were useless. From only a few feet away, above deck, sinister snickers and clicks of old language were heard, and the pad of small feet against hard wood echoed. Paul and Jim sat face up, each trying to control their breathing..
    Jim turned, looking from below the old deck with wide eyes.
    They had been strung up.
    All of them.
    Each of his now dead men had been roped off and tied into a tree, a sick trophy to these.. These.. things. O’Connell could be seen.. His dead weight hanging lifelessly from one of the tropical trees, spatter of blood running from his mouth…

    “Lost? Lost?!” The captain roared, and Commander Yevarde clamped a hand on his shoulder. “Keep it shut, the men are high strung as it is..” He spoke in a moderately controlled tone, yet even he himself couldn’t control his fear, it showing in his wide lily pad green eyes. The captain sighed openly, swiping his cuff against his forehead. “We have the most advanced tactical map system on the planet second to the Russians, and your saying it malfunctioned? That’s farcical Yevarde..” He said with the grit of his teeth. He stared about at the once again stopped men, their lives in his simple hands. He placed his forefinger and his thumb deep into his temple, meditating his rough thoughts for a moment. “Alright, we head off Northeast…”

    “Village!” One man cried as he broke ranks. Each man gathered around the cut forest, looking wide eyed out at the deserted town stead. Paul flipped through countless maps, one might wonder how he knew what he was doing. “This is nowhere on the map.” One man rolled his eyes. “We don’t know where we are.. How could you know it could be on the map if you don’t even know where we are.”
    “Because, They’re no villages for over 200 miles.”
    The uncomfortable shuffle of feet once more, but Yevarde spurred them on. “We can try to get a signal here. Paul, bring up the radio…”
    The men moved on into the strange area.. and a figure stirred in the outskirts of the land…