When did this all come apart?
Lt. Myron Goldman was on one knee, his weight balanced against the
other leg, hands held up in the pouring rain. Anderson and the rest of
Team Viking were behind him and Myron could feel their anguish
and confusion. Doc Hock lay on the ground between Goldman and Sgt.
"Let me help the Doc, Montrose, please," Myron spoke gently, his
right leg throbbing in time with his pounding heart. He lowered his
hands carefully, reaching slowly for the young medic, praying that
Hockenbury was still alive.
The voice whispered against Myron's thoughts. He edged closer to the
medic, reaching slowly for Hockenbury who lay on his side, back to Myron
and the rest of the squad. Goldman could see the blood mixing with the
rain and mud, pooling around the fallen man.
Please let him be alive... Goldman begged.
"Montrose, now you don't wanna do this..." Anderson took a cautious
step forward. What was left of the squad kept their rifles trained on
the trembling Montrose. "You made a mistake. Let the L-T help out the
"Your fault!" Montrose shouted at Goldman, ignoring Zeke.
"Shooting the L-T ain't gonna make it better now, Carl," Anderson
edged one more step closer to Goldman and the wounded medic. He had one
hand behind him silently warning the rest of the squad to stay put.
"Montrose, think about this..." Goldman met the younger man's wild
eyes, trying to focus past the anguish and madness. He was close enough
now to lay a gentle hand on Hockenbury's still arm. "Just lower the
weapon. I promise no one will hurt you." Goldman slid his hand carefully
up Hockenbury's arm to his shoulder. The medic twitched with his touch,
sending relief rushing through Goldman. He was still alive, at least
for the moment. "Let me help the Doc here," Myron coaxed.
"NO!" Montrose shouted and lunged forward, his rifle trained on
Goldman. "It's your fault! All of it's your fault!"
Goldman tensed, raising his head and again meeting the other man's
wild eyes without flinching. In that same maddening moment he heard the
shift and click of Anderson's weapon. The anguish of the rest of the squad rose to a new level of
despair, washing over Myron.
He jumped with the crack of the rifle report.
* * *
He was surrounded by lush waist high grass silvered by the bright
moonlight. The sky was clear with the stars, brilliant against the
blackness. A light breeze moved the heavy air, softly rippling across
Something or someone whispered across his thoughts and Myron
raised his head into the gathering breeze, listening, trying to
comprehend the words.
A movement from the corner of his eye and he dropped to one knee,
scanning the tree line. Shadows shifted and drifted in the darkness, his
eyes unable to settle on anything.
The voice whispered again as he sighted down the AK-47, trying to
make out a target. He felt alone and vulnerable.
The whispering agreed.
Another movement to his left and Myron turned, aiming.
A woman stood, alone, not more than fifty feet from him. Something
dark was spilling from her cupped hands. She was Vietnamese, beautiful
with ebony hair that spilled around her like a cloak.
Myron could only stare, the voice going silent across his thoughts.
She raised her head, dark eyes meeting his. He swallowed, captured in
those eyes that were as black as the clear sky above. Eyes that weren't
like his... eyes that were filled with stars.
He rose slowly to his feet, lowering the rifle. She raised the cupped
hands, parted them, palms facing Myron. He blinked, gaping when he
realized they were covered in blood. It dripped down her wrists.
He reached for her, confused, and saw blood all over his own hands,
dripping to the silvered grass.
The voice whispered... you knew...
* * *
Myron erupted out of the nightmare with a cry, drenched in sweat. He
scrambled free of the sheets to his feet, flipping on the light as
quickly as he could get to it. He was unable to catch his breath, the
walls of his hootch both confining and suffocating.
He shoved out the door, his mind reeling when he stumbled down the
steps. Two officers were talking only a dozen yards or so away. Both
were startled with the Lieutenant's abrupt emergence.
Myron pulled up, eyes bright, finally managing to suck in a lung full
of air. The two men continued to stare. Myron stepped backwards till he
found his back against the wall of his quarters.
"Myron, you okay?" That would be Wilson, one of the two officers
still watching him.
"Yeah, fine Ted," Myron ran a hand through his shorn hair, "just
Myron laid his head back against the wood, swallowing, counting while
he concentrated on getting his breathing under control. He didn't see
Wilson say something to the fellow officer before both men parted,
disappearing into the night.
* * *
By the time Zeke showed up, Myron had pulled on a pair of pants and a
T-shirt. He had grabbed a bottle of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes,
and was now sitting on the steps leading up to his hootch.
"You're up late," Myron said with little humor. The smoke from his
cigarette rose lazily in the still and muggy air.
"Well, you know, L-T, it's a nice night for a stroll." He had that
usual mischief dancing in his eyes. And barely concealed concern.
"Or to not sleep," Myron muttered and poured the glass full on the
step beside him. He offered the bottle to his Sergeant. Zeke politely
declined with nothing spoken, but continued to approach the young
"Lots of that goin' round," Zeke placed one booted foot on the
bottom step, resting his arms on his knee. Myron wasn't looking at him,
but across the compound. The Sergeant studied his friend; body language
telling him more than words ever would.
"I can't sleep," Myron reached for the glass.
"We all have bad nights, L-T."
"I keep having the same dream - this nightmare," Myron finally glanced
up, and met Zeke's patient gaze.
Anderson noted how dark those eyes were, almost black with the
younger man's bewilderment. "There's lots of death here, L-T. You
losin Miss Devlin-"
"No, it's not that..." Myron cut him off, pushing the pain back
before he could think on it. He broke the eye contact, switching his
gaze away. But not before his friend saw those walls come up in those
Myron did not want to remember. Not remember how she died, and he
unable to do anything about it. It was still too fresh, too close. If he
closed his eyes he could still remember it all, every last detail right
down to the noise, the smells, the warmth and stickiness of her blood
on his hands. The taste of his own tears...
He drained the entire glass and started to pour another one. "It has
nothing to do with that."
"If you say so," Zeke nodded.
Things had not been the same in the last several weeks since the
reporter's death and Zeke regretted that. He couldn't quite reach past
the Lieutenant's guarded pain to the man he had known before. Goldman
had put up careful walls that the entire squad was instantly alerted to.
Zeke had patiently been waiting for the right moment to bring those
walls back down, to pull the younger man back from the edge he now
walked on. He was getting closer, could almost reach past that
"It's alright, Anderson. It's like you said, we all have bad nights,"
Myron's voice had something in it that made Zeke look up. A distant
"Yes, Sergeant?" The coolness was back; that same coolness that made
the sensitive like Percell and Johnson pull back in confusion when it
was directed at them. And made Hockenbury avoid the Lieutenant all
"Why don't I just keep you company here 'till you think you're ready
to try it again."
Myron glanced back up at his friend, the sorrow mirrored in those
dark eyes, "I'd like that, Sergeant."
* * *
Myron hated paper work, yet he could rarely escape it. So he was
thankful that after an entire morning of filling out reports and what
not, that he could retreat to the quiet of his own hootch. He knew he
should go over to Anderson's as they had a mission tomorrow, and he
wanted Zeke's take on the situation. He also wanted Zeke's opinion
of the two newest members of Team Viking.
Myron found that he liked the two new guys, in a distant detached
sort of way. When he had been a platoon leader, he had more than thirty
men under his command. It was hard to really get to know any of them
very well. There were always exceptions, and those men he had
transferred over with from third squad to make team Viking had been that
Buck Sgt. Carl Montrose had signed on for a second tour. Myron liked
having a man with experience coming into the team. He had an easy and
quiet manner about him and Myron's squad took him in smoothly as if he
had always been apart of the team. It was Montrose who also took an
instant shine to the other new guy; a sweet boy called PFC Jimmy Clark.
Jimmy Clark was painfully shy and would barely speak to anyone
because he stuttered. This was especially true around the Lieutenant.
Clark was unable to string more than two words together without tripping
over them and Goldman could not help but take instant pity on the newest
member of his team.
Afraid that Taylor might make sport of the kid's handicap, Goldman
had asked Anderson to make it clear that anyone caught tormenting Clark
would have to deal with the L-T personally. Myron tolerated what was
done to Hockenbury, only because he knew the medic was capable of
shoving it back in Taylor's face. A gentle and shy soul like Clark was a
different matter all together.
Myron rounded the corner, stepping into the main compound. A burst of
laughter brought his head up, Taylor's voice drifting over on the
almost nonexistent breeze. It took him a moment before he spotted most
of his squad on detail, filling sandbags.
In the heat of the late afternoon sun, they were either in T-shirts
or stripped to the waist. The men were streaked in sweat and dirt,
bragging and laughing as Taylor, Percell and Montrose shoveled. Ruiz and
the new man, Clark, were holding the bags at the bottom of the funnels,
before tying them off and stacking them.
Taylor, no matter what the detail entailed, was rarely at a loss for
Myron walked up, smiling indulgently as he reached for a cigarette.
For a moment, he wanted to be included in the warmth and friendship
these men shared, if only briefly.
Taylor was going on full tilt about the attributes of a particular
stripper they had all seen the night before at some bar in town when
Ruiz looked up and grinned at Goldman before stacking another finished
bag on the pile. "Hey, L-T," Alberto greeted genuinely.
The other men all paused, straightening up or leaning on shovels as
Goldman closed the gap. "Sounds as if everyone had a nice time in town
last night." He took the opportunity to light up the cigarette.
"Ya shoulda been there, L-T," Ruiz took the canteen from Percell.
"You think so?" Myron smiled carefully, but the coolness crept back
into his voice before he realized it. Purcell sensed it immediately and
Myron cursed silently to himself. This wasn't what he had wanted and
yet there he was, already putting distance between himself and the men
he had once allowed himself to be close to.
Montrose finished drinking from his canteen before handing it to the
younger Clark. The shy young man was so busy watching his Lieutenant
that he jumped when Carl tapped him. He turned, blushing and reached for
"S-s-sorry," he stuttered, his cheeks reddening even more
with the stammering.
Clark's stuttering drew Myron's curious attention.
Despite the heat of the late afternoon sun, a sudden chill swept over
him, leaving Myron awash in a feeling of dread.
Something was wrong...
Myron couldn't stop gaping at the two men.
What do you see? The voice whispered across the back of his
Montrose caught his gaze, pinned him there under his control. Myron
mentally struggled back from the flash of fury that rose in the man's
You know, don't you?
Myron seized control, breaking the contact, forcing his attention
The voice slipped away.
Now they were all staring at him.
Flushing, Myron hastily averted his eyes. "What is it Percell?" That
coolness crept deeper into his voice. Confused and somewhat embarrassed,
it was never his intention to snap at Danny.
Percell flinched, becoming more uncomfortable with every passing
second. He switched his gaze away, but not before Myron caught the flash
of hurt in those bright blue eyes.
"You alright, Sir?" Percell finally ventured.
Myron took a pull on his cigarette, stealing a final glance at
Montrose and Clark before nodding to all of them. Carl had moved in
front of the shyer Clark, tactfully blocking Myron's direct view of
"Yeah fine. Listen, I just remembered something," and with nothing
further to say, Goldman turned and left the men, heading off in the
direction of Anderson's hootch.
* * *
Myron rested his backside on the edge of Anderson's desk, hands
fisted on his hips and legs crossed at the ankle. He watched Zeke field
stripping his weapon with his usual zeal and efficiency while seated on
his rack, preparing for tomorrow's mission.
When Zeke took a moment to look up, Myron found he couldn't meet the
older man's eyes and switched his dark gaze to the compound framed by
the door of Zeke's hootch.
Goldman had simply appeared at his door, all edges and angles and
Zeke had gladly let his friend in. Yet once inside, Goldman seemed
unable to find words and after pacing around the floor for several long
moments, finally backed himself up against Zeke's desk.
He's spooked, but by what?
Zeke studied the Lieutenant with a certain measure of quiet concern.
Often, body language was all he had to go on with the young man. Even
now, with Myron backed up against his desk, Zeke saw so much more than
Myron would ever had guessed at.
Last night's nightmare had left Myron more open and vulnerable than
at any point since Alex's death. Today the young man was struggling to
reestablish walls but the raw edges that were so much a part of him now
were threatening to undo him.
There was a time in the past, when Zeke could reach past Myron's
defenses. In those times, Myron had hesitantly reached for the older
man's friendship and strength. In return for that trust, Zeke had made
damn sure that Myron never regretted the choice.
That was gone now. Her death had buried everything deeply. Goldman
was simply a soldier now, placing as much distance between himself and
anyone as he could emotionally, including Zeke.
Don't touch, don't be touched...no spark without flame in which
to be burned...
But it wasn't quite as easy as all that. Zeke had come back, had
extended his tour. If he had stayed in the States with Jennifer, Myron
could have kept those walls intact, possibly till the end of his own
He had only just returned from the real world ten days ago. In that
short time, his simple friendship and loyalty were slowly eroding those
carefully erected walls. Zeke had been prepared for Myron's moods, as
he had dealt with them before when the young man first came to Firebase
Ladybird. The Sergeant wasn't entirely sure there wasn't something going
on with Percell on a completely unrelated topic, but trusted the guys to
let him in on that as it unfolded. Hockenbury seem to be keeping a real
close eye on Danny, so Zeke decided to concentrate on Goldman for the
Setting the unfinished rifle aside, he reached over and pulled a beer
out of the nearby cooler. The movement brought Goldman's attention back
to him, which is exactly what Zeke wanted.
He tossed the beer to the younger man who caught it smoothly.
Myron looked up, eyes dark when they met Zeke's curious gaze.
"I'm sorry, I wasn't listening," he flushed with
embarrassment. "Did you say something?"
"What's on your mind, L-T?"
Myron took a deep breath, then set the unopened beer aside. Pushing
himself up off the desk, Myron wandered to the open door, staring for a
long moment out the screen, hands buried in his pants' pockets.
"What's your take on the two new guys?" Myron finally
glanced back over this shoulder.
"Clark and Montrose?"
"You've been here, what- almost two weeks? Surely you've got
an opinion here, Sergeant," Myron leaned back into the doorjamb,
digging out his cigarettes.
"First day I arrived, L-T. I'm figurin' you knew that,
though." Zeke watched Myron light up.
Dark brown eyes, eyes that showed so many things if one knew how to
read them, met Zeke's quieter blue.
"What are you seein', L-T?"
Myron hesitated; those endless eyes shading to almost black again.
"I don't know!" Myron shoved himself off the doorframe,
spreading his arms wide in frustration. "I'm telling myself
there's nothing there, yet... he trailed off, feeling incredibly
ridiculous. "It's probably that foolish nightmare, making me see
things that aren't there," Myron turned away again, staring out
across the compound. "But I can't seem to shake this
"Of what, L-T?"
Myron shook his head as he placed his hands above the level of his
head, gripping the doorframe to either side.
"Zeke, I can't seem to get it out of my head that
something's going to happen, something horrible."
* * *
Zeke spotted Myron first, from across the compound.
The younger man was a million miles away in his own mind. He was
still in his gear from the mission earlier that morning. Zeke waited,
watching, knowing that Myron's bush sharpened senses would alert him
to his presence, even from this distance.
Myron stopped mid stride. He hesitated, then turned slowly,
Zeke raised his head, blue eyes meeting those deep brown eyes, eyes
that immediately darkened when they filled with surprise and then sorrow
at his return. It was there, clear as day in those bewildered depths:
you shouldn't have come back- not because of me.
...In a moonlit meadow, a king stag stepped from the tree line,
raising a proud and majestic head to the increasing breeze.
A younger stag, leaner, not as broad across the chest and shoulder
cautiously joined the older one, stepping from the shadows,
A young Vietnamese woman stood across the meadow. Moonlight cascaded
down raven hair that spilled over her shoulders like a midnight cloak.
Something dark was spilling from her delicate hands.
The younger stag stumbled, going down on his front knees, tossing his
beautiful head back in fright. The king stag stepped closer, his
nostrils filling with the scent of blood and fear, and despair. The
young stag struggled to reclaim his feet, the king stag moving to
protect him. He tossed his head, snorting, pawing as he glared at the
woman who still stood in the meadow.
She now held an M-16 in both hands, hands that were covered in blood.
It was splattered across the front her dress. She raised her head and
Zeke found himself staring into fathomless eyes that were filled with
the night's stars...
* * *
Zeke sat up in his bed, gasping for breath. Balancing his weight
on one hand, he raked the other through his shorn hair. Drenched in
sweat, he couldn't understand the sudden chill that wrapped around
Where the hell had that come from?! Zeke tried to shake the
images that remained crystal clear in his mind. He swung his legs over
the edge of the cot before he pressed the heel of his hands into his
Something whispered across the back of his thoughts, raising the
hairs on the back of his neck. He couldn't make out the words as he
found himself staring out the door of his hootch. Except for one...
* * *
Myron didn't even know what time it was. Only that for some
inexplicable reason, he had been drawn to the perimeter fence. He
didn't even remember walking out here.
A voice whispered across his thoughts, the hair standing up on the
back of his neck.
Myron dropped immediately to one knee, pistol in hand. He scanned the
distant tree line shrouded in the darkness beyond the camp's
The voice slipped away, leaving him alone and cold.
Myron was up and around, weapon leveled on Anderson's chest. Zeke
raised his hands up, freezing, eyes huge.
"Zeke!" Goldman immediately tipped the pistol up, drawing it to his
chest. "For crying out loud-"
"L-T, what the hell's goin' on?" Anderson came forward, glancing
past the younger man to the dark fields that surrounded the camp. Like
Goldman, he had a keen sense that something wasn't quiet right.
"Nothing, I'm sorry..." Myron stumbled over the words, struggling to
regain some composure. "I thought I heard something, that's all," he
trailed off lamely.
"Let's get off the perimeter," Anderson couldn't explain why, but
he had an urgent need to get the both of them away from the fence.
Myron started to holster his pistol when a hiss and flash made both
A single trip flare rose lazily above the camp.
"Ah man," Myron followed the flare with huge eyes.
"Get to cover, now, L-T!"
* * *
Taylor, Hockenbury and Percell spilled out of their hootch with the
second flare that rose lazily above the camp.
"What's goin' on, man?" Hockenbury saw several other
soldiers all come rushing out of barracks and hootches, most with rifles
"Uninvited guests, that's what," Taylor snapped, still
standing on the steps, his upturned face was starkly illuminated by the
descending flare. Turning, he threw the door open and jumped back inside
More men spilled into the compound from various hootches and
barracks, tossing weapons to each other and taking defensive positions.
Percell spotted Goldman and Anderson sprinting in their direction.
"There's L-T and Sarge!" Danny pointed across the compound.
"Over here!" he shouted, waving the two men over.
Taylor slammed back through the screen door, a small arsenal of
weapons in his hands that included an M-1 Carbine, a couple of AK-47's
and a shotgun. He had a pouch of clips slung loosely over one shoulder
along with the strap of another in his teeth. "Danny!" he
tossed the shotgun and one of the 47's to his friend when Anderson and
Goldman came sliding up, breathless from the sprint. Percell immediately
handed off the shotgun to Anderson before Taylor flipped one of the ammo
pouches their way. Taylor then tossed the remaining AK-47 he still held
over to Goldman.
Myron caught the rifle smoothly and then the two clips that sailed
Hockenbury pushed past Taylor and back into the barracks.
Myron slammed the clip home, took the safety off and pulled the
action back. Taylor and Percell were doing the same. Anderson was
loading shells neatly and as quickly as possible into the shotgun before
he ran the action on the weapon.
Hockenbury shoved back out through the door, his med kit slung over
his shoulder. Myron glanced up, meeting with medic's wide eyes.
"Where's the rest of the team?"
"Watching a movie in the Rec. Hall with McKay," Hockenbury
looked up with everyone else when two more flares arced over the
"Ya may wanna rethink that no guns policy of yours, Doc,"
Anderson suggested, shoving several shells into his pockets.
A distinctive whine of mortars cut through the heavy air, freezing
everyone in place for one long moment, drawing all eyes skyward.
"GET TO COVER! GOGOGO! MOVE!" Anderson snatched Hockenbury
off the barracks' steps, shoving him towards the nearest wall of
sandbags. Goldman, Taylor and Percell ran the few steps before bailing
over the wall behind the Sergeant and the medic. Everyone barely had
time to shove up against the relative safety of the sandbags before the
shell exploded in the compound. Grass, debris, and dirt showered down on
all of them.
"Heads up!" Johnson came sailing over the bags, rolling
onto his back as he hit the ground. Anderson grabbed a handful of
fatigues and dragged the young Sergeant bodily between Goldman and
himself. Streaked in sweat, Johnson was wide-eyed and panting.
"Where the hell did you come from?" Demanded Anderson, all
of them ducking when more dirt and debris rained down on them from
another shell that exploded bare yards away from their position.
Barnett's guns roared in the distance.
"Didn't like the movie," Johnson gasped, still trying to
catch is breath.
Goldman bit back his reply and instead shoved his rifle at the
younger man. He then drew his pistol before pulling himself up along
side Anderson and the others who were already on top off the sandbags,
surveying the developing chaos. Johnson joined him.
"We can't stay here, L-T," Anderson noted when another
mortar exploded across from them, sending men running for new positions
of safety. Others went down, killed or injured, the latter crying out in
fright and pain.
Myron felt Doc start to shake with his need to get at the wounded
men. Another long moment and the medic couldn't stand it.
With the cries for a medic, Doc lunged forward, scrambling over the
sandbags to get to the injured men, heedless of the danger that rained
down around them.
"Doc, NO!" Goldman tried to grab him, pull him back. Doc turned,
pulling free from Goldman's grasping fingers, going down on his knees
when he lost his balance. Myron sprawled across the sandbags, still
reaching. "Hockenbury, get back here!"
Another shell spiraled in, impacting into one of the nearby
barracks. The resulting explosion threw everyone down. Doc went flat to
the ground, curling around himself, hands over his head. Anderson had
grabbed the shouting Goldman, pulling the younger man back behind the
Barnett's howitzers punctuated the din, distant accompaniment to the
steady rattle of gunfire. The screams of injured men calling for help
mixed with the shouts of those soldiers calling out orders and
Doc scrambled back to his feet, started racing for the nearest
injured soldier. Smoke ghosted across the compound with the shouting,
gunfire and screams. Anderson and Goldman, with the rest of the men had
leaped back to their feet, searching for the medic, Danny shouting his
"Damn kid is going to get himself killed!" Anderson threw himself
over the bags, gaining his feet with the shotgun in both hands.
Several figures emerged from the mortar's smoke, racing across the
compound. They wore only black clothes wrapped around their hips;
headbands tying midnight hair back from dark eyes, armed heavily with
rifles and satchel charges. One slid to a halt, aiming his rifle at the
Hockenbury slid to a stop, going down on his knees, hands up in the
air, eyes enormous as he stared at the rifle barrel only yards from him.
Everything stopped in that moment, even the noise of the attack muted
for those agonizing seconds.
"Oh my God," Myron whispered hoarsely. He couldn't get his pistol up
Anderson squeezed the trigger on the shotgun, the sapper thrown back
by the force of the blast. Taylor, standing directly behind the kneeling
Goldman, neatly dropped another sapper directly behind the one Anderson
had just killed. The Sergeant ran the remaining yards to Hockenbury,
grabbing the stunned and shocked young man by the shirt and dragging him
to his feet. "No time to be a hero, Doc!" He shoved the medic back at
Goldman and the other men.
"Zeke!" Goldman shouted when another sapper emerged from the smoke.
The Sergeant spun around, running the action on the shotgun. This time
Goldman aimed, leading his target for a few agonizing steps before
pulling the trigger. The sapper went down in a heap before getting a
shot off. Zeke turned back, eyes filled with gratitude. He dashed back
to the safety of the sandbags behind Hockenbury. Both men bailed over
the wall before the next mortar exploded.
The dirt hadn't even finished falling when everyone was at the top
of the bags, shooting into the chaos. A satchel charge hit the ground
yards in front of their position before Danny and Taylor could kill the
sapper. Everyone dove back behind the wall of sandbags before it
exploded, showering more debris over them, tumbling some of the bags
"Everyone, with me!" Anderson shouted, "Let's MOVE, now!"
Myron pulled Hockenbury to his feet, "Go, I'll cover you!" The medic
scrambled over the bags, following Percell and Taylor. Myron, along with
Johnson, squeezed off several more shots before both men leaped over the
wall and joined Anderson. Myron went down on one knee beside the
Sergeant, digging for a new clip as he cleared the empty one from his
pistol. Johnson took up position next to the Lieutenant, firing into the
smoke and chaos.
Halfway to the next bunker, Percell pushed Hockenbury past him.
Taylor dropped down on one knee, taking position and Percell stood right
behind him, both men laying down a covering spray across the square.
"Let's GO!" Taylor shouted at the three men who had remained behind.
Anderson, Goldman and Johnson leaped to their feet and made a dash
for the sandbags, all three firing as they ran. Hockenbury made it
safely, diving headfirst into the bunker. Johnson slid up next,
continuing to fire. He bailed over the bags when Anderson and Goldman
joined him. All three men were immediately back on their knees, laying
down a cover fire for Percell and Taylor who were still out in the
Danny snatched Marcus to his feet. Both men sprinted, shooting as
they ran, covering the rest of the distance before leaping over the
wall. They shouldered up against Anderson and Goldman, panting and
The ground shook with the distant roar of the howitzers. A satchel
charge exploded nearby, pushing everyone down with a shower of dirt and
debris. Another volley of mortars arced over the camp, raining into the
compound. Those soldiers not behind sandbags, vehicles or buildings,
dove for whatever cover they could find.
A distinctive whine drew everyone's attention skyward from Goldman
and Anderson's position.
Myron felt his blood run to ice.
"GOGOGO!" Anderson was shouting, shoving Johnson up and over the
sandbags. Myron felt Percell and Hockenbury surge forward when Anderson
and Taylor scrambled over the edge.
Myron couldn't move. It was as if he was mired in waist high mud.
Everything seemed to slow down. He could see the mortar heading in on
their position. He couldn't seem to breathe. He stood frozen in place,
staring stupidly at the incoming missile.
Hockenbury was in his face. "L-T, NOW!" Grabbing handfuls of
fatigues, Hockenbury hauled back with everything he had- somersaulting
Myron over him. Anderson was shoving Taylor and Johnson to the ground,
covering both of them with his own body.
Hockenbury and Goldman went sprawling next to Percell when the mortar
hit the barracks directly behind the piled bags they had only moments
ago been sheltering behind.
The building exploded outwards, debris soaring everywhere, raining
down on the men.
Hockenbury scrambled, trying to cover Goldman who had rolled onto his
back, eyes huge when the building went up.
Anderson was already grabbing Taylor by the scruff of his shirt,
dragging him to his feet. "MOVEMOVEMOVE! GET TO COVER!"
The whine of more shells pieced the air. Myron's ears were ringing
and sparks danced at the edges of his vision. There was the metallic
taste of blood in his mouth.
Danny was dazed, tripping over his own feet and falling to his hands
and knees. His bright blue eyes were glazed over, his nose bleeding.
Myron scrambled to his feet, grabbing for Percell. Hockenbury was beside
him, helping to pull his injured friend back to his feet.
Anderson shoved Taylor down behind the next bank of piled sandbags.
He turned just as Goldman and Hockenbury ran up, supporting Danny
between them. Another satchel charge sailed over their heads.
"GET DOWN!" Anderson leaped, shouldering into the three men, knocking
them down when the bomb hit the ground behind them. Hockenbury rolled,
instinctively covering Percell, arms over his own head as the dirt and
debris exploded past them. Myron tried to shield both the medic and his
wounded man with his own body. Anderson rolled back to his knees,
shotgun to shoulder, taking the sapper down that had thrown the bomb.
"GOGOGOGO!" Anderson gained his feet, yanking at Hockenbury, shoving
him past him to the banked bags that were mere feet away. Myron was
dragging at Percell when Anderson pushed him aside. The Sergeant
shouldered Percell up when another charge drove both he and Goldman down
on their knees, sprawling Myron backwards across the sand bags.
Anderson dumped Percell over the edge like a rag doll, then grabbed
Goldman by the arm, pulling him up to his feet. Hockenbury and Johnson
bailed to either side of the bunker when the Sergeant and the Lieutenant
leaped over the sandbags.
"Johnson, help Doc shove Danny up against the bags!" Goldman ordered.
Another mortar went off, the dirt and debris raining down on them,
shoving them back down as they covered their heads.
"ENOUGH ALREADY!" Myron shouted in fury and frustration.
The howitzers stopped their distant booming. A final mortar exploded
near the motor pool.
"CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE!" Echoed across the camp. That was Brewster's
booming voice, carrying across the compound. A chorus of the same order
filtered through the air, the remaining rattle of gunfire ending as
suddenly as it had begun.
Goldman and Anderson, along with the rest of their men, lay panting
and shaking, listening.
An unqualified silence filled the air, smoke drifting on the breeze
across the compound. Everyone just remained frozen, listening, hearts
"It's over, L-T," Anderson finally dragged himself up to his knees,
bracing himself against the top of the sandbags. Myron joined him, the
two men slowly climbing to their feet, rifles dangling from numbed hands
as they surveyed the damage. Two barracks smoldered and burned, the
thick black smoke filling the dense air. Those injured cried out for
help. Those not, slowly emerged from their positions, bloodied, smeared
in dirt and ashes, exhausted.
Goldman swallowed a mouthful of blood, and knelt by Percell who was
starting to struggle to his knees despite Hockenbury's efforts to keep
him still. "Easy," Myron coaxed, steadying the young man as he stumbled
to his feet with the help of both men. Danny's eyes were still clouded
and glazed and he leaned heavily on the medic.
Taylor stumbled to his feet, holding onto Johnson. He nodded to
Anderson who then turned, and met Goldman's troubled eyes.
"I sure as hell hope this is what you meant, L-T, when you said
somethin' was gonna happen." He ran his free hand through his hair,
shaking out dirt and ashes, the other laying the shotgun back against
his right shoulder.
Myron desperately wished he could assure Zeke that this was what he
must have been sensing. The two men stood facing each other for a long
moment, Myron's eyes nearly black when Anderson's widened in
realization. The younger man swallowed, dropping his gaze away from
Zeke's. Before Zeke could ask, both men turned at the sound of their
names being called.
McKay, his pistol in one hand, led Ruiz, Montrose and Clark toward
them. With the sight of the men, Myron was again awash in that cold
feeling of dread.
"This ain't over yet, is it L-T?" Anderson wasn't looking at him.
Myron watched as Montrose steadied Clark who stumbled on wobbly
knees. Montrose then looked up meeting Myron's troubled eyes.
The voice whispered across his thoughts, making him flinch.
Anderson reached a cautious hand out, putting it on his shoulder.
Starting to tremble, Myron couldn't answer his friend. He only stood,
trembling in the aftermath of all the adrenaline, shaking his head.
* * *
The rain poured down, soaking everyone. The men huddled under the
jungle fronds and their ponchos, silent in their misery.
Goldman shifted his weight, the damp aggravating a pulled muscle in
his right leg. He could see Percell shouldered up against Taylor, the
two sharing their c-rats in silence. Ruiz dozed in the gathering
twilight, his back against Hockenbury. The rest of the squad, including
those watching the perimeter, were pretty much in the same shape-
soaking wet and settled in for the evening.
Anderson stepped into the clearing and silently tapped Ruiz on the
boot with his rifle muzzle. Goldman watched as Alberto woke instantly,
glancing up at Anderson. The young man then climbed to his feet with a
huge yawn and shook out his poncho, showering Doc Hock before setting
off to take his turn on watch.
Anderson said something to Hockenbury who shook his head in reply.
The medic then gathered himself and quietly moved over to Percell and
Taylor. Both men looked up and without comment, moved enough to let
Hockenbury share their spot.
Goldman, always watching how the men were with each other, saw
Percell offer Hockenbury whatever was left in the can he had been eating
out of. The medic shook his head, shouldered his back up against both
men and settled into his poncho. He raised gray-green eyes to Myron.
Both men considered each other for a long moment before Myron switched
his attention to Anderson.
Myron always felt there was more to Hockenbury than a smart mouth.
Sensing that though and pursuing it were two different things. He knew
all about walls and a smart mouth was Hockenbury's defense against
many things. Myron had not missed the fact that the young medic very
much wanted to be a part of this team, yet was still very much on the
outside looking in. He had seen this young man in action, seen him take
extraordinary risks to save his teammates. Myron sensed there was a
great deal more to the medic than any of his men realized. And he
wasn't sure what to do about that.
Zeke settled down behind Myron. The thunder rolled in the distance
and lightning flashed across the sky. Both men silently tracked Johnson
with dark eyes when he passed quietly by them, checking the perimter.
Goldman shifted his weight again and settled his gaze back on
Hockenbury. The medic was already starting to doze off despite the
steady rain that continued to pour down.
"How's the leg, L-T?" Anderson started pulling out cans from his
pockets, deciding on dinner. Myron glanced over his shoulder at his
"Nothing to worry about. Doc said I pulled a muscle was all." He
pulled a can of c-rats out too, considering it, trying to decide if he
Not long after the rain had started earlier that day, the team had
been negotiating a trail with a drop off into tangles of vines and other
not so obvious delights. Clark, ahead of Goldman, lost his footing quite
suddenly. Myron, being closest, had lunged for the young man, grabbing
him and pulling him bodily back before he fell off the trail. In doing
so, though, Myron slid in the mud, his right leg going one way, the rest
of him in quite a different direction. He lost his footing completely
and went down hard, taking Clark with him. The poor kid came down right
on top of Goldman, hard.
It had knocked the wind out of Myron and caused sparks to dance
before his eyes momentarily. His leg hurt like hell.
It had taken Anderson and Doc Hock a few minutes to sort the two men
out and to get Clark off of Goldman.
Doc had assured him that the boy was just fine. Poor kid was more
embarrassed by the fact that he ended up on top of his lieutenant than
anything else. Then Doc Hock informed Myron that he hadn't done anything
more than badly strain a few muscles and that once out of the damp and
rain, and with a good hot shower, the worst of it would go away.
Unfortunately, they still had two days left on this recon.
"Why don't you get some rest, L-T, I'll wake ya if you wanna take a
watch." Anderson finished whatever was in the can.
"You do that, Anderson,"
* * *
The wind had picked up, the silvered grass waving and rippling,
surrounding her. The moonlight colored everything the same, bleeding the
colors away and leaving everything in stark detail.
Except for the blood. It was a crimson splash across her dress. It
dripped from her hands that she held cupped in front of her. Eyes that
had no whites- eyes that were black and filled with stars met his.
The voice whispered across the back of his thoughts.
"You know, don't you?"
There was blood all over his hands. It was pooled at his feet,
seeping into the ground around him.
"The choice is yours," whispered across his mind.
Myron looked up, and met Hockenbury's sad eyes. The young man
raised his head, the moonlight spilling off the rims of his glasses. He
was trembling, and a single tear slipped down his cheek. He held a
pistol in hands that were covered in blood.
A young stag stood several yards behind the medic, dark eyes watching
The cold washed over him. Myron started to tremble when Hockenbury
raised the pistol and put the barrel beneath his chin. Myron remained
frozen, he couldn't move. Hockenbury held his eyes, his pleading for
forgiveness, for understanding.
The woman was standing beside Myron, the blood spilling from cupped
The young stag tossed his head back and bellowed in anguish.
Hockenbury squeezed the trigger...
* * *
Myron sat up instantly, his breath catching in his throat.
"L-T, you alright?"
He jumped when Anderson laid a gentle hand on his shoulder from
It was dark, the rain still pouring down. Myron swallowed,
remembering where they were. He shivered with cold, despite the
stickiness of the dripping jungle around him.
"I'm fine, Zeke," he finally managed to find his
The Sergeant hunkered down next to him, catching the younger man's
gaze and holding it. He nodded after a long moment. "Your turn at a
watch, if you want to, L-T."
* * *
The rain had cleared off with the early morning sunrise, leaving the
surrounding jungle wrapped in mists that hung like gray curtains amongst
the trees and vegetation. The air was thick with the humidity.
The entire team was silently edging their way down a shrouded trail,
the mists ghosting and swirling around the men with every cautious step.
Despite the mugginess, Myron was drenched in a cold sweat, still
gripped with the uneasy feeling that something was going to happen. He
had never before had reason to believe in premonitions or superstitions.
The ability to read past surface emotions in another person's eyes,
such as what he and Anderson did on a daily basis, was something he had
always been comfortable with. Whispered words that slipped unbidden
across his mind and chillingly vivid nightmares that made absolutely no
sense to him, now that was a completely different matter.
Then there was Doc Hockenbury, who Myron finally concluded, had a
sensitivity to people's emotions that bordered on being a gift.
Taylor went down on one knee; his fist raised high in warning to
everyone on down the line. The entire team followed suit, crouching
silent and waiting. The misty jungle closed in around them.
Zeke moved up, brushing quietly past Myron as he slipped up next to
Taylor and Montrose and knelt down between the two lead men.
Myron studied the jungle past Anderson and Taylor. The mists were
still thick and ghosting, his eyes unable to settle on anything
distinct. The uneasiness that haunted him ratcheted up another notch and
he double-checked that the safety was off on his rifle.
Glancing behind him, Myron made eye contact with each of his men,
making sure they were alert. Hockenbury was only an arm's length behind
him, and Clark not that much further away. The others were spread out
from there, silent and waiting.
Satisfied he knew where everyone was and focused, Myron cautiously
shifted his weight off the sore leg that still bothered him and turned
his attention back up the trail to his point man and Anderson.
Zeke turned back from Taylor, raising his head, and met with Myron's
dark eyes, holding his gaze until he was sure the young Lieutenant
understood what he wanted him to.
There were at least five NVA ahead of them, moving as silently as
they had been. And completely unaware, for the moment, that Team Viking
had spotted them first.
Myron nodded carefully; understanding exactly what Anderson was
proposing and agreeing with him. He started to turn back around and
motion Hockenbury and Clark up next to him and to hand signal the rest
of the men behind him to new positions when the last thing any of them
expected to happen, did.
An NVA soldier, not part of the main group Taylor had originally
spotted, stepped unwittingly out onto the trail in the space directly
between Anderson and the Lieutenant.
Stunned, Hockenbury and Clark were the first ones to see the man step
out from the dripping vegetation. Myron saw Hockenbury's eyes go
enormous and the color drain out of Clark's face. He spun back around,
sighting down the barrel of his rifle and met with the shocked eyes of
the NVA soldier.
The crack of the rifle report split the heavy air.
A second shot slammed into the Vietnamese soldier and sent him
spinning and falling.
There was a splash of blood on the trail... and the jungle exploded
around them with gunfire.
Everyone dove for cover in the surrounding grass or behind nearby
trees. Goldman grabbed at Hockenbury, pushing him behind a fallen tree
at the edge of the trail. He rolled over the log himself, firing up the
path as he tumbled and rolled before he shoved up against the medic.
Myron fired again into the mists, noting in the back of his mind Percell
and Ruiz's position in the tall grass across the path. Another moment
and he spotted Johnson.
Oh my God, where's Clark?!
Anderson, Taylor and Montrose had been cut off from the rest of the
team at the head of the trail. Myron could hear Anderson shouting orders
and the other two men's answering shouts.
Hockenbury scrambled over the log, scuttling on hands and knees back
to the trail before Myron realized what he was doing. There was someone
sprawled on his back on the ground where only moments ago they had all
Myron reared up on his knees, laying down a covering fire over the
young medic's head.
"Percell, Ruiz! Cover Doc!" Goldman shouted over the gunfire. There
was an explosion at the head of the trail, the ground shaking under
Myron's knees. The nearby trees trembled, rainwater showering down that
had been clinging to the broad leaves.
Hockenbury made it to the fallen man, ducking and covering the body
when several bullets tore up the ground only feet from him. Myron
spotted the NVA responsible and sighted down the barrel of his AK-47. He
squeezed off the shot, dropping the gook before the man could take
another shot at the medic and wounded man. Hockenbury hunched over the
figure, protecting him with his body as he emptied out his med kit with
one hand onto the ground in an effort to get at what he needed.
"Doc! Pull him to cover!" Danny was shouting.
"Hockenbury!" Myron squeezed off several more rounds, "Come on! Pull
him back!" Myron stripped the empty clip free from his weapon before
slamming a fresh one in and resetting the action, all in one smooth
motion. An NVA soldier jumped clear of the foliage in front of
Hockenbury and the wounded man, pulling the pin on his grenade. Myron
and Percell both sighted and shot simultaneously, the force of their
attack sending the man tumbling backwards into the vegetation while
still gripping the grenade. It went off, showering Hockenbury with dirt
and leaves as he covered the boy.
Another explosion at the head of the trail made the ground tremble
and the nearby trees shake. Leaves rained down from above, a small tree
toppling. Myron could hear the screams of dying men. There was an angry
shout from Marcus and another explosion. Myron heard Anderson call to
Montrose and Taylor, ordering the two men to follow him and chase down
the remaining enemy that were now making a run for it.
"CEASE FIRE!" Goldman shouted to the rest of the team, "HOLD YOUR
Percell and Ruiz both tipped the barrels of their rifles up,
listening. Johnson pushed himself back up to his knees from the prone
position he had been in earlier, studying the trail ahead of them. There
was a distant rattle of gunfire; Myron recognizing the carbine that
Taylor was fond of. Anderson's muffled voice, indistinct, came drifting
back on the swirling gray mists.
"L-T!" The urgency in Hockenbury's voice drove out all other
Myron struggled to his feet, stumbling over to Hockenbury. The medic
was kneeling in a frighteningly large pool of blood, frantically trying
to staunch the flow. He was holding a pressure bandage to the wound in
what was left of Jimmy Clark's throat.
The boy lay twitching beneath the medic's hands. Myron knelt quickly
in the widening pool of blood, placing one hand on the boy's heaving
chest as he set his rifle aside. He met those terrified green-brown
eyes, frightened eyes that begged Myron to not let him die.
"L-T, he's bleeding out! I can't stop it!" The bullet had torn half
his throat out; Myron realizing Doc could do nothing to save him. The
Lieutenant looked up, met with Hockenbury's anguished eyes over the boy
who lay dying between them. The medic was trembling, tears welling up in
his eyes and there was blood smeared across one cheek from where he must
have rubbed his hand.
Myron laid a gentle hand against Clark's cheek, capturing the
frightened gaze of the dying boy. Jimmy struggled to speak, the blood
welling up in his mouth, bubbling at the corners and spilling down. He
was going into shock, and Myron could do nothing more than whisper
reassurances that everything was going to be all right.
A tear slipped down the side of Jimmy's face and spilled over Myron's
fingers as the boy's eyes started to glaze over. Myron held Jimmy's face
in both his hands now, and watched the boy's life slowly slip away.
* * *
Darkness had settled over the camp hours ago, but Myron was not the
least bit interested in sleep. Instead, he left his hootch dark except
for the lamp on the bedside table that shown dimly over his shoulder,
staring blankly at the open book in his lap. The smoke from the
cigarette he held rose lazily into the humid night air.
"I could have prevented this."
"It's your fault! You knew..."
He shifted his balance enough to set the empty glass back on the
nightstand before he tapped off the ashes and resettled his weight back
onto his cot. It creaked with his movement, the only sound in the
otherwise silent hootch. It occurred to him, in a distant detached part
of his mind, that he didn't even know what book this was. And that he
had been reading and re-reading the same two pages for four nights now.
But the thought of more of those nightmares was all the incentive he
needed to stay awake.
"You knew! The choice was yours..."
"Please... I don't want to feel this way anymore! I didn't mean for
him to die!"
His reports were done. In fact, Brewster told him to lay off the
paperwork for a few days and catch his breath. Maybe enjoy some personal
time with his men, or at least for himself. Myron had thanked him
politely, and distantly.
Brewster didn't miss much, and the grieving that the young Lieutenant
had been struggling with since his arrival at Camp Barnett was no
exception. That same anguish, it appeared, had ratcheted up another
painful notch with the death of Jimmy Clark. Brewster made a tentative
gesture to Myron, letting his concern show in his dark eyes, offering
the young man an unspoken invitation to reach back. That he would
Myron flinched from the sympathy, building those walls another layer
deep. He was, after all, a soldier. Men die. Men under his command had
died before, and would more than likely die again. He wrote the letter
home to Jimmy Clark's parents- end of story.
There was a polite tap at his door, cutting across his thoughts,
pulling him back to the present and the confining walls of the darkened
hootch and the unread book. He took a long pull on the cigarette still
in his hand, pretending he didn't hear the knock, hoping that whoever it
was would take the hint and leave.
Another, hesitant and polite tap.
"What is it?" Myron made no effort to hide the irritation in his
voice. He heard the squeak of the screen door and the cautious step just
"I don't remember saying you could come in."
Doc Hock paused just inside the door, letting his eyes adjust to the
gloom of Goldman's hootch. The Lieutenant was leaning forward on the
cot, refusing to look up from what appeared to be a book in his lap. He
was still dressed, dog tags dangling over the green T-shirt. He was barefoot though, with one leg tucked under him and
the other draped over the edge of the neatly made cot.
"What is it Hockenbury?"
"Sir, I um-" Doc trailed off, clearly now at a loss for words and
starting to regret his decision to come in the first place. He knew the
L-T was hurting. Hell, he could sense it clear across the camp,
drawing him like a moth to the flame. He just hadn't bargained on
this much grief and anger.
"Hockenbury, say what you came to say, and leave." There was a cold,
detached edge to the words. The L-T, still not looking up, flipped the
page of the book.
Hockenbury flinched, but refuse to back down. He swallowed, gathering
whatever courage he had left and moved another careful step into the
darkened hootch. "Sir, about Montrose,"
An uncomfortable silence stretched out between them, hanging in the
"In for a penny..." Hockenbury told himself.
"Sir, there's something you should know," Hockenbury paused again,
carefully choosing his words. "He's not sleeping, Sir, not at all. He
just sits and stares out the hootch door. He's not eating either. Not
"How's this my problem, Hockenbury?" Goldman cut him off icily.
"You used to care! I know you still do!"
Myron looked up slowly, those dark eyes black in the dim lighting,
and Hockenbury took an involuntary step backwards, awash and pinned
under the crushing guilt and fury.
"Not any more... I won't anymore!"
This man was walking dangerously close to that edge again, that
same edge he nearly crossed when he killed the two bodyguards with that
tax collector. Hockenbury, with that rare sensitivity he had, realized
that Montrose wasn't the only one who was not sleeping or eating since
their return with Clark's body. His eyes found the whiskey bottle and
glass on the nightstand beside the L-T's bed.
"You knew..." the other voice whispered between the both of
"You're the medic, Hockenbury. If Montrose needs something,
then give it to him. Otherwise, I recommend you speak to Sgt. Anderson
about it." Goldman returned to the book, taking another pull on the
"My god, he's completely shutting down!" Hockenbury thought.
"Anderson was so close; now the L-T's gone back behind those
"Sir-" he wanted to reach out, to try and touch this man and reach
what he knew was deeply buried under all the anguish. He had only seen
glimpses of it till now, but he knew underneath all that hurt, that
crushing guilt, there was the man that Taylor, and the guys spoke of. A
man that Hockenbury had only sensed at.
"Is there anything else, Hockenbury?" The neutrality in his voice was
clearly a dismissal, not a question. All Lieutenant, with a capital "L".
And a statement to leave him the hell alone.
A long hesitation and Myron looked up coolly, the cigarette smoke
hanging in the still air between them. This time the medic caved under
the force of that angry dark gaze. "No, Sir,"
Turning, Doc stepped quickly to the door, starting to push it open,
but for whatever reason, paused. He glanced back, the camp lights
catching on the rims of his glasses and spilling off. The L-T had
already returned once again to the book, and in that moment Doc decided
he had absolutely nothing to lose at this stage of the game.
"Her death was not your fault, Sir. Nor was Clark's."
And before Goldman could respond, Hockenbury shoved out the screen
door, letting it slam shut behind him as he jumped down the steps.
* * *
Hockenbury, his hands shoved in his pockets and head lowered, started
to make for the barracks and away from the L-T. He did not see Anderson
in his path and the two would have collided if Anderson had not been
paying attention. The Sergeant stepped easily aside, placing a hand
against Hockenbury's chest.
Startled, the medic looked up, clearly out of sorts. He sidestepped
around Anderson, pulling away from his touch; a flash of fear slipping
across those expressive green eyes before he could hide it.
"Hey there, Hockenbury," Anderson didn't like what he saw in the
young man's eyes. "What's goin' on?"
"Nothin'," the medic ducked his head, running one hand through that
too long hair, the other still jammed into a hip pocket. "Everything's
just fine, Sarge," he couldn't bring himself to look at Anderson.
"Seein' the way you just rushed out of the L-T's hootch the way ya
did, I'm thinkin' differently here, Doc." Anderson paused, considering.
"What were you doin' in the L-T's hootch anyway?" Under normal
circumstances, Anderson knew the medic wouldn't have gone near Goldman's
quarters. So why was he here now?
"Nothin' special, Sarge." Hockenbury, still not looking directly at
him, started to edge away. Anderson reached out, snagged an arm,
refusing to let the young man get away so easily.
"Now I know better than that, Hockenbury. You go outta your way to
stay clear of the
L-T here at the base. So why don't you tell me what's really goin'
on," Anderson still held the medic's arm. Hockenbury looked up, those
odd gray-green eyes confused and filled with hurt. "Hockenbury, what
happened back there?" Anderson knew Goldman could be hard-edged, but
never deliberately cruel. "Doc?"
If the medic thought he could bolt and get away cleanly, he would
have. Hockenbury swallowed, wanting to trust that he could say what he
needed to say to Zeke, but so afraid that Anderson would burn him to the
ground for it. The boy was dead anyway, what difference would it make if
he told Anderson what he knew? But Goldman...
"I'm worried, Sarge, worried about the L-T."
"Well now," Anderson finally released the medic's arm, but not his
"I didn't know him, Sarge, not before she died. But I've heard the
guys talking." His voice was soft, unsure and there was that hint of
loneliness and quiet sorrow. He was still odd man out, always at the
edge of things, Anderson realized. Hockenbury raised his head, the camp
lights reflecting off his glasses. "I wish I had known him before all
this. I wish..." Hockenbury stumbled, the words slipping away from him.
He ducked his head, letting that too long hair fall across his eyes.
"He's bleeding out, Sarge."
"I know he is, Doc," Anderson turned, shaking his head slowly. "I
know he is."
* * *
Bathed in the moonlight, he stood alone in the meadow again. He
was trembling, unable to stop the shaking. He wrapped his arms around
himself, feeling cold and empty.
"Your fault!" the voice was whispering on the wind, slipping over his
"Oh God! I didn't know! Oh please..."
"Your choice! You knew... your choice..."
Myron realized he was holding an M-16 again, his hands covered in
blood. She was watching him with those star-filled eyes. She raised
cupped hands, blood spilling from between her fingers.
"Please no!" he begged. The trembling gripped him tighter. He was so
alone, so horribly alone. Tears slipped down his cheeks, chilled by the
breeze that rippled the tall grass.
She was looking at him, sighting down the barrel of the M-16 she now
held in bloodied hands.
The voice was angry, accusing, "Your fault! You could have prevented
it! All your fault!"
"NO! Please, I don't want to feel this way anymore!"
He was kneeling in blood. It was everywhere, he could taste it in his
mouth, and the scent of it filled his nose. Everything was hazed in red,
his breath ragged, sobbing in his lungs, his heart laboring.
He threw his head back, trying to breathe, struggling to gain his
"You knew! Your fault!" echoed across his thoughts over and
* * *
Myron jerked awake, shaking. His mouth was dry, and he was covered in
sweat. Sitting up, he started to shake uncontrollably, trembling in the
aftermath of the vivid nightmare.
He hadn't meant to drift off. He was just so exhausted...tired of his
mind chasing itself in endless useless circles. He had set the book
aside, allowing himself to finally lie back on his cot and close his
She watched him from across the meadow with those endless star
filled eyes, blood spilling from her cupped hands...
"NO!" He threw himself off the bed. "Oh god, I think I'm losing my
mind!" He spun himself in a complete circle in the middle of the floor,
panting, the breath burning in his lungs.
"L-T?" There was a quick knock, then the squeak of the screen door on
its hinges, "L-T, you alright, Sir?"
Still dressed, Myron stood barefoot in the middle of the darkened
hootch. Zeke watched his friend run trembling fingers through sweat
soaked hair. Myron rolled his head back on his shoulders with one arm
still behind his head, eyes huge and all pupil in the gloom when he met
Anderson's concerned gaze.
Everything was too close to the surface, was all raw edges and angles
again. Myron couldn't hide it from Zeke, not all of this. The despair
and grief flashed across those dark eyes. Ashamed, Myron twisted away;
afraid his knees would give out. He managed to get to his desk and
placed both hands on the edge, leaning heavily onto them in an effort to
control the trembling that still held him.
"For crying out loud, Anderson, what were you doing? Sitting outside
on the damned steps?"
"Outstanding," Myron muttered, again running a hand through his shorn
hair. He started looking for a pack of cigarettes he knew he had left on
the desk somewhere. He thought he had the trembling under
control...mostly, until he almost knocked the lamp over when he went to
switch it on. "Hockenbury stops by, and now you," there was that edge
of annoyance. And Myron knew Zeke was the last person in Camp Barnett
who was going to run from it.
Instead, Zeke took another step closer to his friend, knowing he
finally had the opportunity he had been patiently waiting for to pull
down Myron's defenses. "L-T, ain't nothin' changed. Not between you an'
Myron stopped tearing his desk apart and slowly turned back around.
Still shaking, he raised his head, dark brown eyes meeting those intense
blue eyes of the Sergeant's, eyes that shaded to almost sapphire with
his genuine concern and care. Stumbling back a step, Myron came up
against the edge of the desk.
The silence hung between them, Myron struggling with the emotional
storm that threatened to undo him. Zeke continued to reach out in hopes
of being an anchor for the boy to latch onto, knowing he could be the
one solid thing in this damned war if Myron would only allow himself to
trust again. To feel again...
"I'm not gonna let her death destroy the man I know you are..."
Zeke's voice was soft and steady.
All of it, the tears and the still vivid memories welled up into
those dark eyes. The desperation and despair as she slipped away from
him... the blood all over her and dripping from his own hands. The taste
of his own tears...the crushing anguish...
"Oh god, Zeke, I can't-" Myron stumbled over the words, his voice
catching, still caught up in Zeke's steady gaze. "Oh please, I don't
want to feel this way anymore!" He was shaking so hard now, Myron
thought he would come apart.
And Zeke moved another step closer, refusing to let go of his gaze.
He was close enough now to reach out and touch Myron. "There's people
who care about ya, L-T, right here, an' right now."
Too close! Zeke almost had his defenses down. Myron started to
shake his head, finally breaking the eye contact. He so wanted to reach
for the comfort of that friendship, but if something were to happen to
Zeke... he pushed away from the desk, desperate to put distance between
himself and the Sergeant. He needed to put that distance between
He was still a little shaky when he made it across the floor and to
the other side of the cot. "No, don't ask this, Zeke, not now." Myron
found his cigarettes on his nightstand. He shook one out, searching for
his lighter. Anything to not look into those eyes that held a world of
compassion for him if he would only give in and let himself trust.
"L-T," so damn close...
"Zeke, I can't, not now." Myron found the lighter, and somehow
managed to light the cigarette, relieved to see that his hands shook
only a little now. He took a long pull, letting his lungs fill with the
smoke, concentrating on the simple act for a moment in order to get
himself back under control, to re-establish the distance and the walls.
He blew the smoke out, and raised his head, finally looking at Anderson.
"I need this distance, Zeke, I'm sorry..." he hesitated when he
saw the disappointment slip across his friend's eyes. Hurt, Myron
withdrew that much further, whispering, "I don't know any other
* * *
Leaning back into the doorjamb, hands shoved in his pockets, Myron
watched the distant thunderstorm start to roll in across the valley. The
wind picked up, stirring the heavy humid air. There was a scent of rain
on the breeze, and just the hint of coolness. Myron leaned his head
back, resting against the wood and closed his eyes.
"You should be seein' Doc about somethin' for that headache ya got."
Zeke watched the younger man from where he sat on the edge of his desk
with one booted foot on the chair.
"It's not that bad." Myron shrugged; his eyes still closed, and drew
a deep breath. The breeze whispered through the screen door and gently
teased the papers on Anderson's desk.
"What's on your mind, L-T?" Zeke finally rose and went over to his
cabinet, pulling out a bottle of whiskey and two glasses.
His movement drew Myron's attention, dark eyes following the Sergeant
across the hootch. "We have a mission prep in an hour," the lightening
flashed in the distance, "we'll be out at first light."
Anderson was back at his desk, unscrewing the cap. He glanced at
Myron, still holding the bottle and Myron wordlessly nodded yes. Pouring
both glasses full, Zeke then set the bottle aside. The thunder growled
distantly. Zeke waited for Myron to push himself off of the doorjamb and
come to him before extending the glass.
The two had been a little uncomfortable around each other, neither
sure what to say after last night. Zeke was still hurt with Myron's
withdrawal. But the friendship was such that Zeke knew he simply had to
be more patient. Pushing this young man now, reminding him of what had
happened the night before would only put more distance between them, and
send Myron further behind those walls.
Last night, Myron had been all raw edges and contained grief. Now,
here in Zeke's hootch, the kid was strung together with nothing more
than sheer will and determination. Exhaustion and grief were taking its
toll on the younger man, evident in the shadows under his eyes and the
crease of pain across his forehead. When Zeke had switched his lamp on
earlier, Myron had winced back from the light. Even now, the L-T ground
the heel of his hand into one eye as he reached for the glass
distractedly. The kid shouldn't be going out into the bush in this
shape, Zeke reasoned.
"L-T," Zeke hesitated, still watching the younger man. Outside, the
rain started to come down, hissing against the walls of the hootch and
on the dusty path in front. The lightning flashed. "L-T, ya look like
Myron looked up, those dark eyes narrowing. He knew instantly what
that look on Anderson's face was and it was just enough to annoy him.
"Don't start with me, Zeke," he warned. He finished the whiskey and
dropped the glass on the desk with a clatter.
Zeke's eyes darkened a shade and he leaned his backside up against
the edge of his desk, crossing his arms across his chest. "Alright then,
what about Montrose?" The L-T's sudden flashes of irritation and temper
had never cowed him in the past, and it wasn't about to now.
Another flash of lightening and the thunder rolled closer. The main
storm front was moving in quickly now.
"What about him, Anderson?" Myron stepped toward the door before
turning back, hands on his hips.
"I'm thinkin' we should leave him out of this one, L-T,"
"I don't agree, Sergeant," Myron shook his head in frustration.
"We're going in short as it is. Montrose can't be spared on this
"I hear ya, but Doc says Carl's a mess. Now L-T, short or not, taking
a man out like that is bad for everyone."
Myron pushed a hand through his hair, clearly annoyed. Zeke could
sense Goldman's headache was starting to reach monumental proportions.
"Listen, Anderson- it's not as if I don't sympathize with what happened.
Clark was a sweet kid and I liked him too, but he's dead and we have a
job to do! That includes Montrose." Myron shook his head again, walking
back to the door. "Do we understand each other, Sergeant?"
"Have it your way, L-T," Zeke made no effort to hide his disapproval.
Myron pushed the door open, standing in the threshold. He glanced
back over his shoulder, eyes nearly black when he met with Anderson's
gaze. "Just tell the men to be on the pad at first light, Anderson."
* * *
McKay had the chopper on the pad, running a last flight check. False
dawn was coloring the eastern skies, creating long shadows and softening
the edges of Camp Barnett.
The early light found Team Viking sitting on the edge of the platform
in tiger stripes and making a final check on their gear and rifles.
Taylor helped Ruiz harness down the last of his ammo for the M-60.
Johnson was reading a letter from home and Percell paced restlessly in
front of him.
Anderson was up on the pad itself, M-16 across his chest and resting
in the fold of his bare arm.
Silent, Montrose sat slightly apart from the rest of the team, eyes
Goldman came walking up to the platform with his AK-47 in one hand,
hair tied under a head rag and black smeared across his cheeks. To
Anderson's trained eye, the L-T looked tired and harried.
"Where the hell's Hockenbury?" Goldman stopped at the bottom of the
ramp, making no effort to hide his annoyance. The men shifted
restlessly, with the exception of Montrose.
"He's comin' up behind ya, L-T." Anderson nodded in the direction
Goldman had just come from, not the least bit daunted by the
The medic, with his head down, was pulling the last of his gear on,
snugging the straps of his webbing as he approached the pad. "I'm right
here, don't go an' get your tiger stripes in a knot now," he muttered
distractedly, truly not realizing who he was talking back to.
The men froze, shocked and waiting. Startled, Anderson couldn't help
Hockenbury stopped within a few feet of the L-T, and slowly raised
his head, peering at the Lieutenant from behind the hair that hung in
his eyes. Goldman pinned him with an icy glare and the color drained
right out of the medic's face. "Sir!" he amended quickly.
"Lord," Taylor leaned in close between Johnson and Ruiz, "I just felt
Hell freeze over, right here in the Nam!"
"Put a lid on it, Taylor," Goldman snapped, turning away from the
panicked medic and glaring at Marcus. He switched his gaze up to
Anderson who kept right on quietly grinning. Too tired to sustain the
sudden flash of anger, Myron simply shook his head in resignation,
climbing the ramp. "I should toss him out at 2000 feet, " he muttered
with ill humor.
"Well, ya could do that, L-T, but it'd be a waste of a good medic."
Anderson shifted the rifle to rest on his right shoulder.
The conversation between the two men carried on the still air back to
Hockenbury, who couldn't look any more horrified if he tried.
"Let's get this over with, shall we Sergeant?" Goldman pushed past
him and climbed into the chopper, nodding to McKay.
"Alright now, ladies, you heard the L-T! Let's get movin'!" Anderson
waved at the men, "And Hockenbury, if you're done fixing your skirt, you
can haul your ass on up here too!"
* * *
In the misting rains of the gathering twilight, Goldman found himself
with his back shoved up against a tree, his rifle gripped in both hands.
Hockenbury was on the ground beside him, partially hidden in the tall
grass. From the corner of his eye and to his left, Myron could see Zeke
shouldered up against the next tree with Percell pressed against the
Myron swallowed and turned his head just enough to meet Taylor's wide
eyes. Both he and Johnson were on their backs behind a fallen tree and a
screen of tall grass, rifles held in both hands across their chests.
Goldman silently signaled to maintain position. He waited till he saw
Johnson repeat the signal to Ruiz and Montrose who were a few yards
further away and out of Myron's direct line of sight.
The Lieutenant reached down and placed a firm hand on Hockenbury's
damp shoulder, the medic flinching from his touch. Doc glanced up, eyes
all pupil in the dusk, his face pale against the lengthening shadows.
Myron squeezed his arm just enough to reassure him.
The voices drifted closer, the grass rustling on the other side of
the tree line they had all hidden in. Myron could hear the shift and
click of a rifle being moved from one hand to another. He saw Anderson
silently shift his weight.
Myron met Zeke's eyes, and Anderson softly nodded. Another
"NOW!" Myron shouted, rolling from behind the tree, away from
Hockenbury and onto one knee, firing. Anderson and Percell did the same,
both going to either side of the tree they had been hiding behind. The
rest of the team joined in, surprising the unsuspecting squad of VC with
the carefully laid out ambush.
Several of the stunned VC went down under the assault of gunfire
before their comrades realized what was happening. Panicking, the
remaining soldiers bolted back for the tree line they had only just
emerged from, firing back across the meadow at Myron's team as they
Percell sighted down his rifle, choosing his target with care before
he squeezed the trigger. Another VC went down in a heap with strangled
cry, shot neatly between the shoulder blades. Two more disappeared into
the dark shadows before Percell or anyone else could get a clear
"Montrose, stay back with the L-T!" Anderson ordered when everyone
spilled into the meadow, setting chase for those soldiers that had
Both Myron and Carl tipped their rifles up, Myron watching his men
disappear into the shrouded tree line. Doc Hock emerged cautiously from
where the Lieutenant had left him, looking pale in the remaining
"Carl, Doc, check the bodies," Myron ordered. He then rolled one of
the VC over with his foot before moving on to the next one. He glanced
back to see Doc kneeling beside one of the other bodies. Montrose shoved
one onto his back with the muzzle of his weapon.
All of them glanced up with the distant rattle of gunfire and muffled
shouts that drifted back through the woods. They could hear Anderson's
voice along with Taylor and Percell's answering shouts.
Myron returned his attention to the task at hand and went down on one
knee by the uniformed body of the one NVA regular with the VC. He
started to go through the man's pockets and uniform as he balanced his
rifle on one hip. Montrose was already doing the same, silent and
Hockenbury moved to another body, kneeling and checking for a pulse.
He knew the L-T would want any papers found on the man, and so like
Goldman and Montrose, began checking the pockets. He tried to ignore the
feeling he always got when he ransacked the dead bodies, telling himself
that it was necessary in order to help possibly save American lives, but
it didn't make him feel any less a ghoul for doing it.
There was a movement out the corner of his eye and Hockenbury glanced
up, startled. It took him several long moments to realize what it was he
was looking at before he finally saw what had drawn his attention.
Curious but cautious, he rose and went over to the VC that Percell had
shot in the back.
"L-T." Doc knelt by the enemy soldier who was still barely alive and
somehow trying to crawl off into the tall grass.
Myron was by his side in a moment, "What ya got, Hockenbury?" He
knelt beside the medic and helped him to roll the dying man over.
"Ah man," Doc whispered, horrified by the young face of the VC, "he
can't be more than fifteen, L-T."
The misting rain started to come down in a steady pour.
"I know." Myron shook his head in sympathy. The boy shuddered beneath
his hands, blood spilling from his mouth and nose. "Can you do anything,
"He's already gone, L-T, he just don't know it yet," Hockenbury
placed his hand on the boy's forehead and pushed the midnight hair back
out of sightless eyes. The boy took a last shuddering breath, his head
lolling to the side.
Something whispered against the medic's thoughts.
There was a rush of fury and despair, Goldman snapping his head
up in confusion.
"Your fault! You knew!"
Montrose stood about twenty yards away from the two men. He was
staring at the dead boy, trembling like a leaf in the wind. "Your
fault," he whispered, his handsome green- brown eyes filled with
There was a roaring sound in Myron's head, the crush of anguish and
despair pushing all other thoughts out of his mind, making him almost
dizzy with the weight of it.
"Your fault! You knew! All of it- your fault!"
She was standing at the edge of the clearing, her hands cupped
before her... there was blood spilling from her fingers... it was
splashed across the front of her dress...
"He wasn't suppose to die!" Montrose took a step closer to
Hockenbury and Goldman, "Your fault, L-T! He's dead! You knew!"
"Carl, I don't understand! Who wasn't supposed to die?" Myron started
to rise to his feet. Montrose raised the rifle and sighted down the
barrel with shaking hands.
"You knew!" The voice wailed across Myron's thoughts, "You
could have stopped it! Your fault!"
"Carl, come on, lower your rifle and we can talk about this." Myron
kept his voice even as he extended his hand, taking a cautious step
There was a sudden rush of rage that nearly blinded Hockenbury.
"Oh my god, NO!" He lunged to his feet, throwing himself at
Goldman, "L-T- NO!"
* * *
With the crack of the rifle report, Zeke and the rest of Team Viking
looked up. There was a second shot echoing in through the trees.
"Sarge, that was a M-16." Percell stood, wrapping the strap of his
own weapon around his forearm.
"Oh Lord!" Zeke's mind started to race in fear. He thought he
saw something drifting between the trees, his blood running cold as he
She stood, blood splattered across her dress, the rifle in her
hands and her endless eyes were filled with stars...
"Get back to the L-T, NOW!"
* * *
It was like stumbling into a nightmare, and in the center of it all
was the L-T and a trembling Montrose, the rain pouring down around all
of them. Everyone pulled up at the edge of the clearing, stunned and
"What the hell-" Taylor whispered. Confused, they raised their
rifles, sighting down on Montrose.
"Stay where you are!" Montrose shouted, his aim on Goldman never
faltering, his eyes wild with grief and madness.
Myron was on one knee in the mud, his weight balanced against the
other leg, hands held up in gathering twilight. He could feel the
team's anguish and confusion. Doc Hock lay wounded on the ground between
him and Montrose, the blood starting to pool around him.
Montrose's second shot had grazed Myron's right leg.
"Let me help the Doc, Montrose, please." Myron spoke gently, his leg
throbbing in time with his pounding heart. He lowered his hands
carefully, slowly reaching for the young medic, praying that Hockenbury
was still alive.
The cold washed over him. Myron started to tremble when Hockenbury
raised the pistol and put the barrel beneath his chin. The medic held
his eyes, his pleading for forgiveness, for understanding... he pulled
The voice whispered against his thoughts. Myron edged closer to
the medic, reaching slowly for Hockenbury who lay on his side, back to
Myron and the rest of the squad. He could sense Anderson's solid
presence just behind him, knew without needing to see just where the
rest of the team was positioned behind the Sergeant. Myron could see the
blood mixing with the rain and mud, pooling around the fallen man.
"Oh God, please, not Hockenbury!" Myron begged silently,
"Please let him be alive!"
The rain splashed into the pool of blood.
"Carl, now you don't wanna do this..." Anderson's voice was even and
calm as he took a cautious step closer to Goldman and the wounded medic.
The team kept their rifles trained on the trembling Montrose. "You made
a mistake. Let the L-T help out the Doc."
"Your fault!" Montrose shouted at Goldman, ignoring Zeke.
"You knew! You knew! You knew!"
"Shooting the L-T ain't gonna to make it better now, Carl."
Anderson edged another cautious step toward the Lieutenant and
Hockenbury. Realizing this could go from bad to worse, Zeke raised one
hand behind him without looking back, silently warning the rest of the
squad to stay cool.
"Montrose, please- think about this..." Goldman met the younger man's
wild eyes, eyes that were filled with a crushing guilt. Myron tried to
focus past the anguish and madness, trying to understand the connection
between Carl and the sweet kid, Jimmy Clark.
Myron was close enough now to lay a gentle hand on Hockenbury's still
arm. "Just lower the weapon. I promise no one will hurt you." He slid
his hand carefully up Hockenbury's arm to his shoulder. The medic
twitched with his touch, sending a rush of relief through Myron.
"He's still alive, oh God!"
"Let me help the Doc here," Myron coaxed gently.
"NO!" Montrose shouted and lunged forward; his rifle still trained on
Goldman. "He knew! You both knew! It's your fault! All of it's your
The two stags stood at the edge of the clearing, and she beside
them. She raised one hand, blood spilling through her delicate
Goldman tensed, raising his head, meeting with the other man's
wild eyes without flinching. And he knew. It suddenly all clicked into
place and he finally knew who Jimmy Clark and Carl Montrose really
Too late! Your fault! You can't change it, you can't bring him
In that same maddening moment he heard the shift and click of
Anderson's weapon. The anguish of the rest of the squad rose to a new
level of despair, washing over Myron like a wave. The rain pouring down,
Montrose, drowning in despair and crushing guilt, too far gone to pull
back... turning the rifle on himself...
"NO!" Myron jumped with the crack of the rifle report.
* * *
Climbing the steps to Team Viking's barracks, Myron could hear
Taylor's laughter as he teased Hockenbury about nursing his wounded
shoulder and getting as much sympathy as he could from the nurses over
at the dispensary. Myron pulled the screen door open, grabbing his cap
off at the same time and stepped inside.
Everyone was gathered around Hockenbury's cot, playing cards. The
medic, still looking pale, was sitting up with his back against the rail
at the top of his rack and his arm in a sling across his chest.
The laughter stopped when everyone looked up at Goldman's entrance.
"Out," he said, nodding in the direction of the screened door at the
other end of the room.
The guys scrambled over cots and each other to get to the door with a
chorus of "Yes, Sir!" "Sure thing, L-T," and "Whatever ya say, L-T," The
door slammed shut with a bang, leaving only Hockenbury and Goldman
behind in the sudden silence.
"You have an amazin' effect on a room, Sir."
Myron allowed himself a quiet smile and walked over to the medic's
rack. Reaching over, he pulled one of the abandoned chairs around and
straddled it, much as Zeke would have done. Myron studied the medic who
had his head down, too long hair across his eyes.
Hockenbury played nervously with some of the chips and discarded
cards piled on the blanket.
"How long did you know about Carl and Jimmy?" Myron pulled his
cigarettes out of his pocket and shook one out. He lit up, then extended
the pack to Hockenbury who shook his head.
"Not long after Jimmy got here." Hockenbury swallowed nervously
before finally glancing up at Myron. "I know I shoulda said somethin',
but..." he faltered and looked away again, feeling trapped.
"You were grieving so much, I didn't know what to do..."
"Well, maybe if I had been paying more attention myself," Myron
took a long pull on the cigarette, "if I hadn't been so damn wrapped up
in my own problems, I might have seen that the two looked too much
alike." Myron hesitated, "That they were brothers never occurred to me."
It had been Anderson who had brought the files over to him, pointing
out what Myron had already figured out that tragic evening a few days
That Carl Montrose and Jimmy Clark had been half brothers, both
sharing the same mother who had remarried when Carl was quite young.
Hockenbury looked up, green eyes filled with guilt. "His mom wrote
him, made him promise to take care of Jimmy." His voice caught in his
throat and he swallowed, dropping his gaze back to the blanket. "And
when that poor kid got killed, Carl blamed you, L-T. He couldn't come to
terms with what happened, and he blamed you."
Myron reached across and put a gentle hand on Hockenbury's knee,
startling the young medic into glancing back up at him. "Don't let this
eat you up, Doc. It wasn't your fault." Myron's voice was gentle, not
accusing. He then rose to his feet, pushing the chair aside, "Try to get
some sleep," he added with a nod. He walked across the barracks to the
screen door, starting to push it open.
"L-T," Doc hesitated.
Myron paused, his hand still on the door, glancing back. Hockenbury
had his head down again.
Hockenbury gathered the tattered edges of his courage together. "Her
name is Danh tõ," his voice was barely above a whisper. "She's
the reason I decided to come here, L-T, to Vietnam."
She stood alone in the meadow, the wind whispering around
Myron looked up, and met Hockenbury's sad eyes. The young man
raised his head, the moonlight spilling off the rims of his glasses. He
was trembling, and a single tear slipped down his cheek. He held a
pistol in hands that were covered in blood...
Stunned, Myron felt a chill wrap around him. "The woman in the
nightmares? The one-" he faltered, his mouth going dry, gaping at the
medic, horrified with the realization that the young man knew about the
nightmare. He knew and came anyway...
The cold washed over him, Myron started to tremble when Hockenbury
raised the pistol and put the barrel beneath his chin. Myron remained
frozen, he couldn't move. Hockenbury held his eyes, his pleading for
forgiveness, for understanding.
She stood beside Myron; the blood spilling from cupped hands...
Hockenbury squeezed the trigger...
The medic finally raised his head and met with Myron's horrified
eyes. "Her name means destiny, L-T."