There is more, and it has been forming in my mind overnight after I read, and re-read yesterday’s work.
This operation was led by two ex American army lieutenants who had served in the Vietnam war and afterward searching for lost comrades. The Colonel told me they had spent a few years looking for lost POW’s held in camps just over the border in Cambodia or Laos and had a good track record in the jungle. He trusted them and said I could too.
I thought it odd he felt the need to reassure me.
He said they’d had marginal success, but my own impression was that they were ex CIA, gone rogue, and were part of the burgeoning drug trade that had sprung up during and after the war had ended. For all that, I had also begun to suspect the Colonel had sold out and we were more about protecting the criminals rather than trying to catch them, and for me, that unquestioning obedience he demanded was beginning to slip.
They also had the look of men who had spent their time sampling the product, and as such were treading a fine line between sanity and insanity. Still, at first, they didn’t seem all that different to us.
Thoroughly soaked, we made the camp on schedule, planned the attack, and carried it out. Only there was no one there, it was empty, and had been for some time. I turned to question the two ‘experts’.
Pity then I hadn’t noticed his partner coming up from behind. If I had, my situation may have been very, very, different.
When I woke up, it was not in a nice warm or comfortable bed. It was a dirt floor. I looked up and realized I was in a hut. Daytime, very hot, with sharp, bright shards of light leaking through the cracks in the wall and around the doorway.
My head was hurting, as was just about every other part of me, but a cursory examination showed nothing was broken. Yet.
It took only a moment for clarity to return, and the realization we were prisoners. Survivors from the group, the only survivors.
The other occupant, a soldier whom I only knew by his first name, Barry, stirred, and then rolled over.
“Where are we?” he asked.
‘In a hut.”
“Your guess is as good as mine.”
He groaned, and then tried to sit up, only to slowly sink back down again. Perhaps he had tried harder to escape and paid a heavier price.
“This is not looking good,” he said.
“No.” An understatement, I thought, but to my knowledge, this was the first time I’d heard they took prisoners. Usually, everyone was summarily executed, and the bodies set up as an example to others.
I heard the sound of boots on gravel coming towards the hut, then, in an instant, the harsh light coming in, temporarily blinding me as the door was yanked open.
When my eyes adjusted I saw two bulky men holding machine guns standing behind another, a short Chinese, with a very familiar face.
Then I remembered. A week ago, in Hong Kong, at a hastily arranged meeting between Davenport and the police who were supposed to be helping us with information on a smuggling group known to be operating in the Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos area. He was the Chinese liaison, connected with the Government.
This was bad. Very, very bad.
“Mr. Chandler. So nice of you to join us. Colonel Davenport and I are so disappointed in you.”
© Charles Heath 2015-2023