Chapter One - Behind Enemy Lines
"So this is how it ends?" Asked David to himself as he continued to struggle with his parachute."Elite commander of a marine recon team dies stuck in a tree in a VC swamp?" David was angry now as he pulled on his chute struggling to try to rip the threads which were stuck in the branches of a large tree, effectively dangling David four feet above the cold murky water.
David kept his standard combat knife in his boot which had been dislodged during the fall into the jungle canopy. It was only a matter of time before a VC squad found him, and then he would be easy prey. David groaned in annoyance before his heart froze as he heard splashing in the water from around thirty yards away.
"Charlie." David whispered before hurriedly reaching for his 9mm FN Browning pistol. Using one arm David grasped the handgun firmly before a vietcong fighter emerged from the water.
David screamed as the VC fired eight rounds from his AK-47 towards him before three hollow point bullets pierced the guerilla's chest sending splatters of blood into the air, painting the trees and staining the water red as blood from his wounds oozed out into the brown swampy water.
David moaned and dropped his pistol as he looked towards his shoulder and saw a bloody hole in his body. He pressed down on his wound in a vain attempt to stop the bleeding before he saw three more VC in camoflauged gear run towards him.
The tallest of the group, a man who appeared to be chinese in his mid thirties wearing standard khaki pants with a white torn shirt. Over it was a flight jacket with what David noticed to have a 1st Cavalry Division logo on it with what appeared to be multiple holes from what appeared to be a shotgun blast and blood stains adorning the jacket's left sleeve.
David eyed the fighter who reached for a knife which was kept fastened to his head under his red bandana with a yellow USSR star in the center. David froze as the fighter approached him with the blood stained blade and grabbed his arm, cutting the threads which attached him to his stuck parachute.
David fell into the water, smacking his bruised face on a log before being pulled by his hair from the swamp, being brought face to face with the VC leader who was kneeling and smiling as one of his lackeys lit a cigarette inside his mouth.
"Your dead American." The fighter said in terrible english before David felt a pain in the back of his head and his world faded to black.
Chapter Two - Chained and Bound
"What the? What the hell? Where the? Where the hell am I?" David stuttered as light returned to his eyes. "Oh no." He added as he took notice of his surroundings. He was sitting in a room that looked like a cave at a table which was under a lamp which served as the only light. David noticed three shapes that looked like people in front of him, two had what appeared to be shotguns the other was unarmed and walked towards the table.
"Hello G.I." The unarmed figure said as David swore under his breath in realization of who the figure was, the same VC from the swamp.
"Hello Charlie." David replied.
The soldier chuckled as he lit a cigarette and offered one to David who shook his head. "You know G.I. there's no sense in acting strong. You're dead. You're gone. If you cooperate you may be spared. If you don't, you can dig your own grave and I will shoot you into it." The VC blew cigarette smoke towards David who brushed it away. "Now what's your name soldier boy? Surely you can tell me that."
David stared at his interrogater. "Captain David Edgar Torres. 3rd Marine Reconnaissance Battalion. Silver star recipent. All American born and raised in Brooklyn. You're not getting anything else."
This response seemed to further amuse the soldier. "Perhaps Captain you say that because you think you are strong and can withstand what we can do to you."
"I am strong you worthless commie. Stronger than you, stronger than every goop here."
"If you knew how many have said that to me, you wouldn't. Captain Torres, you are making a very stupid mistake. You have one more chance."
David looked at the VC. "Go to hell." He said coldly before spitting in his face.
The VC was stunned and angrily wiped the saliva from his face. "American, you just made a big mistake. You are about to meet pain beyond your wildest imaginations."
The captain stared the man in the eye. "Tell me, what's some chinaman doing in a VC compound? You stupid, or just have a lust for blood money?"
This seemed to strike a nerve with the man who looked at him coldly with all the superior attitude drained from his face. "American, my name is Zhuang Cao, my family's work is a legitimate one we have done for centuries, and that work is that of the mercenary. Do not dare insult my family's honor." Zhuang turned and looked at one of the VC guards. "Lee, take him to the camp. Give him an officer's welcome."
David stood still as two guards walked up to him and pulled him out of the chair, grabbing him by his arms and painfully dragging him on the floor of the dark cave. Torres started to lose track of where he was being taken as he was continually dragged for at least seven minutes before he was brought to a stop in what looked like a hallway with prison cells on each side of the tunnel. Torres listened to one of the metal gates being brought open before he felt his face impact with the cold stone floor as he sat in the rather large cell.
It appeared to be square with an area of twenty or so feet with very dim lighting with as far as David could tell at least three other inmates.
"Welcome to hell." David heard one of the men say calmly.
Chapter Three - Gagged and Caged
"Hell? You've never met my drill sergeant." David replied back in a festive tone drawing laughter from one of the men, a taller african soldier.
"Well." One of the men started. "Comedian, what's your name?"
"David Edgar Torres. Captain David Edgar Torres. 3rd Marine Recon."
"Well," the man started stepping into the light so David could see him, a taller figure with pale skin and a scar from the right side of chin all the way to his left ear with a tightly cut red mohawk. "I'm Sergeant Adam M. Buchanan of the Big Red One, and as far as you need to know the 'M' stands for 'Middle Name'."
"Alright." David nodded to Buchanan as he pointed to another man in the cell, a shorter man who looked to be of latin, if Torres had to guess Peurto Rican origin.
"Meet Francisco Zanzibar-Phoenix Durango. Lt. who can speak a billion latin languages that nobody here speaks. Qualified pistolero, sarcastic nuisance, and Huey pilot. Got here by crashing a bird in a charlie controlled river."
David looked at Durango and nodded. "Wait." He started. "Zanzibar-Phoenix? What kind of a middle name is-"
David was cut off by Buchanan. "He has an eight hour explanation for it and you don't wanna hear it."
"Alright." David said. "And him?" Torres pointed to the african man.
"Ah yes. Corporal Joseph something Dixon. First Cavalry Division and as he puts it, 'The finest negro behind a trigger in the military of the U-S-of-A."
"That's right." Dixon confidently added "Best shot in Georgia black or white. Pistol or rife. Shotgun or Huey mounted machine gun."
David looked at Dixon then back at Buchanan. "Well, he certainly doesn't lack confidence."
"Aye." Buchanan said. "Or skill."
"So" David started. "How long have you all been-" David was abruptly interupted as rather loud singing which sounded reminescent of a knife being dragged slowly and deliberately down a classroom chalkboard.
"Oh beautiful" The terrible and highly pitched voice started. "For spacious skies. For amber waves of grain. For purple mountain."
"What's that?" David asked as the singing continued.
Buchanan looked at David. "It's Chapman."
"Wait Chapman?" Francisco asked as Buchanan nodded gravely. "This is the third time this week, they'll kill him."
"I know." Buchanan replied grimly as four guards ran down the corridor, passing Torre's cell while yelling in vietnamese with loaded AK-47 assault rifles.
The singing continued becoming louder than the sounds of the screaming viet cong guards before a crackle of eighteen gunshots echoed through the caves in a matter of six seconds. Torres smelled blood from around nine yards away from what he knew was a cell and noticed tears welling up in Buchanan's eyes as the guards passed with some laughing.
"Who was he?" Asked Torres.
"Chapman?" Replied Buchanan. "Private Chapman, he was a good kid. About twenty one and from Kentucky. He didn't even join via the draft, just signed up when he could with the 101st. He was here for about two months and was defiant to the end. Shame to see his life go to the hands of some charlie murderer."
David looked at Francisco who appeared to be sobbing.
"What about you?" David asked. "You knew him?"
Francisco looked up at Torres. "Yeah. I knew him well, and before this prison camp. I was a huey pilot like I said earlier, Chapman was my door gunner. We were captured side by side. It's all my fault he's dead. If I had tried to hold onto the bird a bit longer, maybe we would have crashed somewhere else. Maybe he would have survived. It's all my-" Francisco was cut off by an angered Buchanan who had changed to a firm tone.
"Don't say that. Its not your fault he's dead, the VC killed him. Not you."
"You're right. But still, are we ever gonna get outa here?"
"I hope so. I hope so." Buchanan finished as he approached a small cot built into the wall. "Captain, you may want to get some rest, best thing to do now."
"Alright." David replied courtesly as he approached a cot not occupied by the others and laid down, letting his mind rest. "I don't know how" David thought to himself. "But i'm gonna get out of here. This is not my grave."