“So what’s the
plan now, LT?” Simmons moved his arms in a repetitive semicircle manner like he
was making a snow angel in the leaves. “We just going to sit here and wait for
the jungle to take us? Or do you think we’ll just die from boredom and
Simmons,” Garcia said.
“We keep going.”
He didn’t want to let them know that they might be stalked by a tiger, which
would only cause more panic in the group.
“I guess there’s
only one answer right now,” Donovan said, resting back on his elbows.
Donovan could summon a smile even in the direst of situations, thrusting his
hips in the air. “We’re completely and totally screwed. No chance at all.”
say that,” Harris’s voice cracked.
seriously? Why do you have to go on and say something stupid like that?”
Jackson nudged Donovan’s thigh. “You’re gonna scare the kid.”
true. He’s right.” McEvoy smacked the back of his neck, smashing some insect
guts into his skin. “Look at us. Nobody wants to say it, but we’re lost. No
map. A useless compass. Not much food. Lost. And don’t get me started on these
bugs.” McEvoy slapped the back of his head again, this time catching the bug
and causing it to pop like a balloon. McEvoy gagged as he looked at his palm
before wiping it across his thigh.
“They sure seem
to like you,” Simmons said. “Must have some of that sweet boy blood.”
“Why do you have
to start when I’m worrying over here? And I don’t have any sweet boy blood.”
“Enough. No more
talk of death,” Williams said, tossing one of the river pebbles he kept in his
pocket at McEvoy. “No more talk of anything. We take a short sleep and get
“If you say so,
boss.” McEvoy squirmed as the rock plunked him on the shoulder.
“What I wouldn’t
give to listen to a little Doors right now. Just fade away with it all.”
Donovan looked up at the stars. “Seems appropriate to die while listening to
some good music
injury?” Garcia dropped to one knee and went to untie Williams’s makeshift
compression bandage. “I’m not sure how many we of these left. Maybe one.”
“Shouldn’t I ask
how your shoulder is doing?”
“No need to
worry about something small like that,” Garcia responded. “I’m not the one with
a rotting leg.”
“Since you put
it so gently.”
“You said it
yourself. Might as well be honest. We’re just a sideshow.”
Williams knew there was reason to be concerned. He could smell the infection
from three feet away: rotting eggs. Based on Garcia’s tempered reaction, it
could only be getting worse.
“Hey, what about
the radio? We’re on higher ground. Might be worth giving it another shot.”
Harris, with his naïve youthfulness, held on to a simple hope.
“Go for it. Not
like it’s going to hurt,” Williams answered, drifting back to the memories in
his mind. Seagulls cawed from around Annapolis harbor, the zip of a fishing
line pulled as a fish splashed on the surface. It was only a pipedream.
“It ain’t even
turning on,” McEvoy said. He clicked the switch a few times, relying on a
miracle that would not happen.
“Oh, come on,”
Harris whined. He slapped the radio a few times—the old magic trick never quite
worked out for anyone with experience in electronics.
That things as useless as both of you.” Donovan said, drumming his fingers
along the ground to the beat of whatever Doors song played in his head.
“Wait. Think I
got something.” McEvoy’s words called their attention. The radio whined as
McEvoy adjusted the knob until a muffled song broke through the static.
Jackson asked, leaning in as if he could listen better.
“I don’t…I don’t
know.” McEvoy honed in on the signal until a distinct muffled chant emerged.
The small troupe stared at each other, a mixture of confusion and disbelief as
the unknown words captivated them.
“It can’t be,”
local station?” Harris asked.
grew more distinct with little melody to the deliberate words.
station…out here? No damned way.” Williams said, noticing the VC perking his
head up with a glaze covering his face. It was as if the chanting signaled the
VC to wake.
have some weird tastes,” Jackson said.
gathered closer, exchanging glances between each other and the radio. The
lights flickered with the strength of the foreign words, the dials shifting
back and forth.
any of this?” Williams looked at McEvoy.
old. An older dialect.” McEvoy shrugged.
intensified, the chorus of foreign words almost shouting. The treetops around
them rustled as a stiff breeze suddenly rolled across their makeshift camp.
Williams looked back at their VC prisoner, who remained silent, transfixed by
the radio’s signal.
right. None of this is right.” Harris withdrew from the contraption.
“Hold on to
yourself,” Donovan said. “Nothing we can do.”
The radio shuddered with the strength of the signal.
“Turn if off.
Turn it off,” Garcia demanded.
The VC’s lips
started to move, almost in unison with the chanting, but he did not make a
McEvoy twisted the dials, but the radio refused to obey.
crackled then sparked, causing McEvoy’s arm to snap back. The sharp smell of
burnt rubber and metal poured out of the case. Then, with a pop and brilliant
flash, the radio went silent, its light fading to black. The VC then dropped
his head in concert with the chanting as it came to an abrupt halt.
said, blowing on his finger.
Garcia muttered in a voice low enough for only Williams to hear.