It was spring, the majority of the snow was gone, and late March was warm. We’d moved out to one of the training areas, and said it was Pre-ARTEP. Our new barracks had been finished being built, and the construction workers had found the LT about 250 feet from the building when the snow melted far enough.
He’d gotten turned around and froze to death.
I was sporting Corporal rank, and nobody had bitched one bit when I was jumped two pay grades. It had taken two months of physical therapy to get rid of my limp, but I’d blown the PT test away.
I sat in the tent, listening to the radio, and calling each guard post in turn. Not bad, I was a mere Corporal, and they let me pull Sergeant of the Guard, put me in charge of the QRF, and had given me my own squad.
Nobody believed us when we told the stories in the NCO club. Everyone blew it off, called us liars, but we talked about it to each other. It drew an invisible line between those of us who had gone through it, and those who had arrived after.
Smith had fully recovered. Just first degree burns on his head and hands. He constantly claimed that the building tried to get him, since “the black guy always dies” in the scary movies.
That was his claim to fame. He was black, and he’d survived.
The charges SFC Vickers had tried to press on me had fallen flat. I’d been concussed pretty badly, and the dispensary had kept me for 2 days for observation after pulling the glass out of my forearms and knee. To top it off, when his reenlistment date came up, the Army declined his services, and he was put out. Captain Bishop had never forgotten that he’d shoved me out of the way, bringing in fresh air for the fire to feed off.
Captain Bishop had made me turn in the SS dagger, but had bought me a heavy duty Gerber fighting knife as a gift. I rode in my boot, and nobody had ever told me I couldn’t wear it there. Even when the platoon was at full strength, and we had a platoon sergeant and a platoon leader. Both the SFC and the 2LT had let the fact I was carrying a knife ride.
So it was in the middle of Pre-ARTEP, in late March, and it was about 0900. I’d been on duty for about an hour, when OP Two called in that they’d found something, and needed me to come out there right away. I asked them what it was, and they insisted that I come out there.
I left Mann in charge of the TC, and headed out there with the walkie-talkie on my belt. My M-16A1/M-203 was slung over my shoulder, and my kevlar was a comfortable weight. I only had on my flak jacket, my field jacket, my winter BDU’s and my long johns. The newbies all bitched about the cold, but shit, at least I didn’t need a fucking parka inside the fucking barracks.
I went out past the perimeter, and into the bushes. I paused for a second to light a cigarette. I didn’t smoke, but the air was cold, and having a cigarette warmed it before it hit my chest and made me cough. I closed the zippo Cobb had given me with a snap, and headed out toward OP2.
Veering around a bush, I called out to OP2 that I was heading in. Two days ago, some overzealous private had taken a shot at me when I forgot to call to them. We had live ammunition, shit, we had to with all the goddamn ammo we were guarding, but that didn’t mean he could shoot at me.
“We’re over here, Corporal.” One of the privates said. I followed his voice, and came out into the clearing they were standing in.
The three of them were standing in front of something that I couldn’t see. Something in the dead leaves and winter grass.
“What the fuck are you guys doing out of the OP.” I asked.
“Private Thomas came out here to take a piss, and look what he found, Corporal!” The kid’s voice was high pitched.
I moved forward and looked down.
Tandy grinned up at me.
Why was all the spooky shit happening every 45 minutes then?
Ice would form in between the walls, on the support beams, but the vents for the heating system leaked badly from the rats and age (which is why the barracks never got warm) and the ice would weaken at the base, and come crashing down, cooling the vents, and the ice would build up again.
That noise I kept hearing, and other people kept mentioning as almost able to hear right before the crashing?
The ice breaking free.
That was my theory.
I tried to figure out the phones, but crossed wires is all I can think of. If I’d been thinking straight, I’d have checked the other lines, and found out which of the others had the hissing noise in it.
It was rhythmic from the hot air blowing out of a hole in one of the vents, and pushing the wires together.
The only mystery that was never solved, that the Army just wrote up and ignored, was the fact that Tandy had supposedly wandered just over 6 miles, in a blizzard, dressed only in his BDU’s.
I’d been out there when we dug the foxhole for OP2. I’d stood right where they found Tandy.
I never saw him.
When it went around that we found him, Stokes, Cobb, Mann, Smith, me, and a few others had nightmares that he had shambled from where he had frozen to death, around the mountain, and was coming to get us.
We had dreams of him bursting into the tent while we were sleeping.
What happened to Tandy?
Officially: Death due to exposure. To us? The building got him.
Our barracks had burned down. Officially, it was listed as the furnace catching coal dust on fire. Unofficially, the barracks tried to kill us all.
We spent two weeks staying with an MI unit in their barracks, then went to Graf to the field for 2 months. By then, spring had come, the snow had melted, and construction had started on a new barracks for us.
The construction crew, all German nationals, were nervous as shit. They only worked during daylight, and it took almost a week to clear out the rubble. Two blackened skeletons were found in the rubble, both times the work site shut down for a day or two while photos were taken and officials looked it over.
We were still missing a man, but neither skeleton was our missing soldier.
While at Graf, the unit had received a quarter of its manpower, a lot of new faces, and a lot of disbelief. Nobody believed us how the barracks had acted. Nobody believed that it had been a breathing, living thing, that hated all of us with a passion and wanted us dead.
Finally, in May, our new barracks was ready. Built on the site of the old one. We were still miles away from main post, on the other side of the mountain. We were isolated, cut off, and despite the fact that our motor pool was 20′ above us, we still felt like there was no way out.
We pulled guard duty in the towers, watching over the crap vehicles they sent us, and I went out to bring my ammunition site up to speed.
This isn’t my story. What happened when the company moved into the barracks was passed on by whispers at night, or over shots of whiskey.
Everyone but motor pool platoon and headquarters platoon had been sent out to their sites to prep them. That left nearly 60 people back. The mechanics rarely spent any time in the barracks, except to sleep. Our messhall was built, and the cooks stayed in our barracks. Our little TMC was built, and the medics stayed in our barracks. There was almost 100 soldiers in the barracks, but that meant over 2/3′s of the rooms were empty.
The first thing to go down, should have been a warning sign, but nobody paid attention.
The room was 221, just down the hallway from my room. My platoon had gotten in some recruits, but there wasn’t any spare working vehicles, and my platoon was entirely deployed to the ammunition sites. Even the platoon leader, the section leaders, the platoon sergeant, and the section sergeants were gone all the time.
These two apparently disliked each other during Basic Training and AIT. Hated each other would be a better phrase. Bad blood from High School that they took with them through the Army.
One morning they didn’t show up for morning formation, and curious, SSG Houser went up to see what had happened. When they didn’t answer, he had the CQ open the door with the master key.
He told us what he saw, and his eyes had a weird look to them. When he told us, his hand shook when he reached for his drink.
There was blood splashed everywhere. The wall lockers had sprays across them, there was blood on the tile of the bathroom, and several large smears led into the main room itself.
The ACQ ran back to the desk to get the MP’s up there. A medic was summoned.
These two men had attacked each other with knives sometime in the night before. This wasn’t a quick stabby stabby fight, both of them had been stabbed over twenty times. Blood was everywhere. They were still holding onto one another, their knives stuck in each other’s guts.
The bodies were taken away, the room cleaned, and the room left for reassignment.
Another soldier came in. A Specialist formerly with 60th Ord out of Fort Lewis (I think that was the unit) who was funny and pretty cool. He was assigned 221 and he waited for us to pick him up.
He started getting depressed, jumpy, and told people he wasn’t sleeping well. Within a week, the jokes stopped.
Then he didn’t show up for formation. SPC Sams went to his room, knocked on the door, and got nothing. The CQ and ACQ were summoned. The 1SG came with them.
The door was unlocked, and the room checked. The bathroom door was locked. When it was opened, the new guy was hanging from the shower head, on a boot lace, a grin affixed to his face and his wrists slashed from wrist to elbow. The water was running, and the whole bathroom stunk of blood, shit, and steam.
The body was removed, the room cleaned up, and it was put as available again.
Word of this reached those of us working in the field.
We came back for the weekend. I was living in 217. Possum was in 219 with two other guys, and Hatchetman was in 223 with two other guys.
In the middle of the night, there was a banging on my door. I opened it, my blanket wrapped around me, to see Possum standing there. Hatchet and his roommates were in the hall, Possum’s roommates were in the hall.
They told me it sounded like people were fighting in 221. I grabbed my PT sweats and walked up to the door. When I pressed my ear to the door, it was ice cold, and I was suddenly reminded of the pre-fire barracks.
When I went into Possum’s room, I could hear the cussing and banging from 221.
The CQ was summoned, the door unlocked. Cold air blew into our faces, and the lights were burnt out.
Fuck this, there was no such thing as ghosts.
But the room was empty.
We went back to work on Monday, and the people from 219 and 223 spent the weekend in other people’s room. They refused to go back.
More men and women came in, our unit was at 80% strength. Between the cooks, the TMC personnel, and my unit, there were nearly 300 people in the barracks.
One Wed, the two men who had been assigned to room 221 didn’t show up for Training. (Wed Training Day! WHEE!) The 1SG, the CO, and the CQ showed up, and the door was opened.
Beneath two of the wall lockers inset into the wall, were pools of blood. The wall lockers were opened, and both men were found.
They’d cut their own throats. Inside the wall lockers.
Room 221 was labeled off limits, and furniture was stacked in it.
Time came and went. We got a new CO, who wanted that room freed up. Us old timers were regarded with scorn. Nothing like that happened in the Army, it was all bullshit.
Three men were moved into Room 221. Some of us held a wake for them in my room. I went back out to the site, I had stuff to do.
They got grouchy, irritatable, quick to fight.
Then, they weren’t there one morning at formation.
The door was opened up, only the CQ and the platoon sergeant present. Everyone thought that the three of them had just gotten drunk and missed formation. The platoon sergeant was looking forward to having someone on extra duty. We needed a BBQ pit dug.
They were in there. Not drunk. Not sleeping. Dead.
They’d beaten each other to death. One man was barely recognisable. The other two had died strangling each other.
The bodies were removed. The room was cleaned. A month went by.
One man was placed in room 221.
A week later, he smashed up some beer bottles, ground up the glass, and swallowed it down with some beer.
I heard it was messy.
The man that replaced him held out for a week, then stayed in other people’s rooms. He refused to return to his room.
When the CO went in to the room, there were puddles of dried blood on the floor.
The door was locked to 221. It was marked as uninhabitable.
The CO told us all, in formation, that ghosts weren’t real, to stop being such babies, we were adults, we were fucking soldiers.
A week later, he was dead.
Nobody ever lived in 221 again, and we were never called superstitious, children, or fools again.
Stems and Lopez
SPC Stems was high speed. She got to the unit right after the fire, believed us, and was nervous when we got back to our brand new barracks. She was cool though, she had her own room, all to herself (not that big of a bennie then, most of the fucking barracks was empty) but was pretty level headed. I liked her. She threw herself into work, and was the kind of female soldier that should be a poster child.
Once again, this is not my story, this was told over a bottle of Jack Daniels during motor pool guard.
The CQ, ACQ, Duty Driver are sitting in the CQ area, playing cards and in general, bored shitless. It’s about 2AM.
Suddenly, Stems’ door bursts open, and she comes screaming down the hall, her blanket wrapped around her. She ran to the CQ area, screaming like a banshee, and dropped her blanket as she scrambled over the desk.
Depending on how drunk the person was, was how many bloody welts were down her back.
She claimed to have woken up when two ice cold hands grabbed her breasts. All she saw was glimmering white eyes and razor sharp teeth. When she leapt out of bed and ran for it, whatever it was raked her back all the way to the door.
After that, she refused to enter her room. None of the females would go in that room.
A couple months later, they assigned a brand new to the unit female soldier to that room while most of us were at Graf again.
The CQ heard her screaming rape at the top of her lungs. People burst out into the hallway, and the CQ couldn’t get the key to work, so he kicked open the door.
PFC Lopez was huddled in the corner, her back torn to shit, her breasts covered in red lines, and her ass had red lines on it.
The CO closed the room. We used it to store camou nets.
(I wasn’t present for any of this, but heard about it. The amount of cuts, the depth, etc, varied according to the alcohol. HOWEVER, both Stems and Lopez had scars on their back)
Our CO had screamed at us that ghosts weren’t real. That anyone refusing to stay in their own rooms would be Article 15′d. He told us we were cowards, that this was the US Army, and bullshit like that wouldn’t happen.
A week later he fell down the steps and broke his neck.
Legend had it, he had a maniacal grin on his face when they found him.
Officially, he had overbalanced with his ruck on, and fell backwards down the steps, breaking his neck.
Over drinks, we all agreed that something had killed him.
We found Tandy. Jesus Christ, we’d found Tandy.
Tandy had been lost in the original barracks. He’d gone into a windowless bathroom to shave, and vanished.
We found him, that same goddamn smile on his face, miles from the barracks, in a place I knew hadn’t contained the frozen body of a missing soldier.
A lot of guys had nightmares. Tandy was coming to get them. Tandy was coming to get us all. He’d been possessed, and if those privates hadn’t have found him, he’d have stabbed us to death with A) A bayonet B) An SS dagger C) His fingers, worn to the bone and the bone sharpened by his travel from the barracks to the field site.
Even I had nightmares about Tandy. That grin, it was horrifying. It was stretched too far, you could see his fucking molars.
Somehow, he had travelled from our barracks, to a field site several miles away.
The Army said he had travelled with the melting snow.
We said he had been coming to get us.
A couple of Rangers were running on one of the trails through the woods on main post. Everyone used this trail, had forever. They had Battalion fucking runs on this trail. The Rangers ran the trail 3x a week.
For the Rangers, their luck had run out.
The three of them had passed mile marker 2, and they hit a land mine. A fucking German land mine from World War Two.
Somehow, that mine had survived for 40 fucking years out in the weather, there had been whole battalions run over it.
These three guys got the fuck knocked out of them. Broken legs and shrapnel.
Oh, but the story doesn’t end there.
One night, at that table, the one that when someone comes up and tells us fucking BT stories, we just stare at them till they leave, the guys told us something that made our blood run cold.
They’d been laying there, in the woods. They’d used their PT uniforms to bandage each other. They weren’t sure if they were going to die or not.
All three of them saw a tall, gaunt figure, dressed in an SS figure, step onto the trail, walk up to them, and stare down at each of them.
He smiled, touched the blood, licked it from his finger, walked down the trail, and disappeared around the corner, just past the mile marker.
All three of them saw him.
The taxi drivers refused to go to our barracks. The Duty Driver came and got everyone when they called, as long as you were on main post.
(Once again, not my story. This was being whispered about by people when I came back to the unit)
One night, the Duty Driver heads off in what looks like fog where we are, but is really a cloud. He’s heading out to pick up a drunk guy from motor pool.
An hour goes by, Drunk Guy calls and asks where the hell the Duty Driver is. The CQ tells him to wait, and goes and wakes up the alternate.
Another hour passes, Drunk Guy calls again. No Duty Driver.
Alternate heads out.
Twenty minutes go by. The ADD calls back, and he is fucking FREAKED!
The CUC-V the Duty Driver had been driving had gone off the road at Suicide Corner. OK, that’s to be expected. It happens. Hell, we lost people every fucking year on that corner.
ADD gets out of the vehicle, and walks up to the vehicle. It’s in the bushes/trees, the headlights are on, the hazard lights are on.
He opens the door, and it’s empty.
He calls out for the Duty Driver, telling him that this shit isn’t funny.
The fog rolls in, he’s heard the stories about the old barracks. He says fuck this, runs back to the vehicle, and the fucker stalls. He admitted he started crying, trying to start the fucking CUC-V, which is just grinding. He swore he saw movement in the fog, movement that circled the vehicle and got closer.
Finally, the vehicle roars to life, and he drives for main post like a bat out of hell. He watched, he LOOKED for the Duty Driver walking along the road.
The only thing he saw was fucking fog.
He refused to come back to the barracks. He stayed at our friendly MI unit.
The next day, they went in and hauled the CUC-V out of the bushes/trees. The keys were in it. The dispatch was in it. The chain and lock were in it. The emergency kit was in it.
The company searched for the Duty Driver. Even the Rangers pitched in and helped. Rumors were flying. He was listed as AWOL. A week went by. Then two.
Oh, but it’s not over yet.
It was foggy again, when all of a sudden the Duty Driver comes popping in the door. Everyone stares at him.
“Goddamn that’s a long walk from suicide corner!”
He claimed to have no memory of the time between when he veered off the road to miss “some asswipe standing in the middle of the fucking road like a goddamn moron” and when he arrived.
Two fucking weeks later.
He told everyone they were fucking high, to quit fucking with him. Said he’d prove it wasn’t two weeks later.
Went down to his room, the door closed behind him, and time passed. Curious, the CQ knocked on the door. No answer. His room-mate was at one of the sites. He unlocks the door, goes in...
And the fucking room is empty.
The next morning, some guys on a field excersize, practicing land navigation, found his body.
He’d crawled less than a 100 yards, and died from internal injuries.
Our unit had searched. The Rangers had searched. He was less than 100 meters from the fucking vehicle, but we’d never found him.
Bullshit. That goddamn mountain got him.
Motor Pool Guard
Motor Pool Guard time for the Monkey. This is the first time I’ve been back to the unit longer than it took for me to grab a hot meal, shower, change, sleep in a bed, and go back out.
Motor Pool Guard meant chill out time. Telling stories while we manned the fucking towers that overlooked the perimeter.
Sergeant of the Guard tells me to bring my sleeping bag, since I’d never pulled Motor Pool Guard. He tells me to take it with me to the tower “just in case.”
Fuck this, I survived the original barracks, what the fuck will the motor pool have to fucking offer.
I’m on duty with Watson, neither one of us has done this before. The other two guards, who we are supposed to switch off with, are huddled in their sleeping bags, sleeping in the tower.
The fog rises. The bottom half of the barracks is devoured. Then the fog spills into the motor pool. It pools around the bottom of the vehicles for awhile, then slowly rises. We lose sight of the barracks. All we can see is the roof.
The fog holds about 5 feet below the tower. It feels... wrong. The hair on my arm and neck is standing up, I’ve got a feeling of unease.
That’s when I see it. A ball of light appear on the roof of the barracks. It dances around for awhile, is joined by another, and vanishes.
“What the fuck is that?” Watson asks. “Fuck if I know, call the SoG, I’ll wake these guys up.” I bend down, and wake up the other two.
“Holy shit, there’s ghosts or some shit on the roof of the barracks!” I tell them.
“Yeah, it happens. How deep is the fog?”
“Ummm, about 5 rungs down, why?”
“You’ll see.” With that they laugh like a couple of assholes and roll back up in their sleeping bags.
“Ummmm, Monkey...” Watson says.
“What?” I look around. What is it? Ghosts? Vampires? Zombies? Democrats? PETA? WHAT!?!??! FOR GOD’S SAKE! WHAT??!?!?!?!
“The radio, it’s making weird noises.”
I snatch it from him and put it up to my ear.
“FUCK YOU!” I scream, and throw that bitch out of the tower. I am not reliving that shit again.
We watch these pale bluish balls appear, dance around the roof of the barracks, and vanish.
After awhile, I realize I was shivering. I was cold as fuck. There was frost coating everything, my weapon, me, the wooden fucking tower.
“Moooonkey...” Watson says. He’s pointing over the side.
It’s dark, but the fog is, well, it’s lit. We can see patches of light appear and disappear in the fog. We can see shapes moving down there. Shapes that AREN’T human. There’s whispers, and a low thrumming sound now and then.
I refused to go to sleep. The other guys told us to relax, not to worry about it.
I fucking worried. I was stressed.
Just before dawn, the fog lowered, and the barracks could be seen again. I could see the radio where I’d hucked it.
I went in the barracks with a bad case of the shakes. Everyone who’d done guard duty told me they saw the same shit. The SoG had stayed in one of the gate towers.
My (brand new) platoon sergeant laughed at me. Said it was some shit called Foo Fire, that it happened all the time, don’t be such a baby.
I once paid $150 to get out of Motor Pool guard.
Say what you want, but I was creeped the fuck out.
Nobody I knew EVER walked patrol on the ground in the fog. As soon as the fog started drifting up the barracks, SOP was to run up into the nearest tower.
I wasn’t the only chickenshit.
The Talking Dog
Vic had a dog. He’d found it after about 3 days when he moved into on post housing with his wife. This dog was night black, with two white tufts of fur above its eyes. Its head was slightly misshapen, and it looked evil, wrong, somehow.
We’d party at Vic’s place, and sometimes, when you woke up, this dog would be staring right into your eyes. It’d make a chuffing noise, and slink away into the darkness. Some of the neighbors had called the MP’s because this dog would sit on their back patio and stare into their dining room at night, freaking you out.
So there I am, it’s before PT and I’m getting ready. I hear a knock on the door, yell come in without turning around, and keep shaving. Vic comes stumbling in, and he looks like shit.
“Hey, Monkey, can I ask you a question?”
“Have you ever had a dog talk to you?”
What. the. fuck? I set down my razor, wiped off my face, and turned around to look at him. He looked shakey and scared to death.
“Ummm, no. What’s up?”
“I was in the kitchen this morning, right, making coffee.”
“And in walks my dog, right. You know my dog.”
“Yes, I’m familiar with your fucking dog.” I grit from between clenched teeth.
“Well, it walks up to me, looks up at me, and says: ‘Hey, kill your family, burn down the house, and kill yourself.’” He looks at me, almost pleading.
“I told it I wouldn’t, and it followed me around trying to convince me to do it.” he told me. “You believe me, right?”
I pulled on my uniform in a hurry.
“Where’s your wife and kid?”
“Still at the house.” He says, then follows me out into the hallway. “Do you think I’m crazy?”
“What do I do? If I tell anyone else, they’ll think I’m mental.”
“First thing we’re going to do, is kill that fucking dog.” I growl, and we head down to the armory.
Clance is down there, doing whatever armorers do to get out of PT. I walk up to the caged window and bang on it. Clance comes up, looking at me oddly.
“I need my .45, and Vic needs a weapon.” I tell him. “We’ll need full magazines too.”
He raises an eyebrow and goes and gets my .45 and a company .45, then looks at me.
“I didn’t know you were going to the pistol range today.”
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“You know Vic’s dog?”
Clance shudders. “Yeah, I know that creepy fucker.”
“It told Vic to kill his family and burn down the house.”
“Jesus, what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to kill that fucking dog.” I tell him.
“Here, take extras.” Clance gives us about 5 clips.
We walk up to my car, I’ve got the pistol in my cargo pocket. Vic is silent, we get in the car, I start it up, and we head toward the housing area.
“You really believe me?” he asks. “I’m not mental.”
“Fuck that dog.” I tell him.
We pull up in front of his house, I pull out the pistol, load it, and pop a round in the chamber. We walk up the walk. It’s a beautiful morning, the birds are chirping, it’s not too cold, not too warm, and the day has promise.
And I’m here to kill a dog.
I walk up, and true to Monkey Form, I just kick in the fucking door. I’m not bullshitting around with this dog. It’s gotta die.
In the entryway, there’s the dog. The house behind it is torn to shit. Cushions are scattered around, dishes are broken, picture frames are torn to shit.
And that goddamn dog is in the entryway, a baby’s onsie in its mouth. It lifts its lip to smile. The goddamn dog smiled.
I raised the pistol, the dog’s eyes opened wide, its white eyebrows shot up almost comically.
And I shot that fucker right in the head. I ran in, and pumped the rest of the clip into it, reloaded, and stared at it.
Vic came in yelling for his wife. I went outside and lit a cigarette.
Vic’s wife comes stumbling out of the house. Her nightgown is ripped, she had been bitten on the calf. She’s holding the baby in her arms. I’m standing there, the pistol in one hand, a smoke in the other.
After Vic left, the dog went apeshit and tore up the house. She got the baby out of the bedroom, but the dog bit her, and she locked herself in her and Vic’s room, and the dog tried to dig through the door. The baby’s room was trashed. The clothing torn up, stuffed animals massacred.
The MP’s pull up. I make a show of dropping the pistol onto the grass and raise my hands.
John, an MP I know and drink with, comes up, his hand on his pistol.
“What the fuck happened here? We’ve got a report of somebody shooting off a pistol. Are you drunk, Monkey?”
“Then what the fuck happened?”
“You know Vic’s dog?”
“That creepy looking fucker that slinks around our vehicles at night and stares at us? Yeah, I know that son of a bitch.”
“It told Vic to kill his wife and kid, then burn down the house.”
“Jesus! What did he do.”
“He came and told me.”
“I shot that fucking dog right in the goddamn face.”
He looked at me, looked at Vic’s half-hysterical wife, looks at Vic, then turns back to me.
“Good. I hated that creepy looking fucker.”
Vic never had anything tell him to kill his wife and family again. Not even the cat they got to replace the dog.
I still maintain that the dog actually told Vic to kill his family.
I hated the goddamn dog.
We’ve been out at the site for awhile. We’ve got everything running high speed, and our day to day routine is pretty simple. The East Germans across the 1K Zone from us have set up their little base. They’ve got a couple of buildings, a couple armored vehicles, and even a pair of ZSU’s out there.
For Christmas one year, we ran a box of Hustlers, booze, and bootleg cassette tapes into the middle of the 1K Zone and left it there for them. They gave us Vodka and some seriously hard core porn mags in return. (I’ll admit, I got the idea from the old story, I guess they read it too)
It’s after dark. We’ve just finished loading a bunch of H104′s into the bunker (That’s MRLS rocket pods) and are taking down the light sets, when we hear it.
Gunfire. Coming from the East German side.
I tell Harding to get everyone, I get the M-60 team set up, the sniper rifle, load my M-203, have two men grab LAW rockets and Stinger missiles. The rate of gunfire is steady, but once in awhile there’s just a frenzy of it.
“What do you think is going on?” Smith asked me. We were crouched down in the space between two bunkers.
“No fucking clue. Whatever it is, it’s bad.” I tell him.
Something explodes out there.
“Might be they got the push signal, and they’re fighting about it.” I hope not. That means World War Fucking Three has started, and these guys are killing each other so they don’t have to fight it. We’d been briefed that it was possible it would go down like that.
Tonya comes running up. She’d done what I told her, threw the box of keys into a bunker, locked the bunker, and hidden the key on her person. No, not there. The front of BDU’s has a little pen pocket on the front button hole side, she’d tucked it in there for safe keeping.
“LIGHTS! I’VE GOT LIGHTS!” Ell calls out. I look with the binoculars and can see them. They’re coming hell bent toward us, gaining speed.
“Hold your fire.” I call out. This feels weird, something isn’t right. I’d sent Harding up to call Corps on the hotline, tell them what was happening. We’d have helicopters here in an hour, a jet overfly in a half hour.
The vehicle is in the 1K Zone, and they ain’t stopping.
“Orders?” Is called out from the darkness.
“Hold fire!” I answer back.
The vehicle crashes through the two lines of fencing, hits the blast ditch, and gets stuck. Six men come scrambling out of the truck, their arms raised, and shouting for us not to shoot.
“Smith, you’re with me. The rest of you, watch the flanks, this might be a trick.” I tell them. Smith and I jog over to the men who are walking up the short hill. I get to the first guy, he reeks of blood and cordite.
“Thank God. Please help us.” The guy says. Unaccented English. Oh. Joy.
“What’s going on? What the fuck was all the shooting?” I stop him there. Smith isn’t pointing his weapon at them, but not away either.
“He went crazy. He just went crazy!” the guy says.
“Calm down, who went crazy?”
“One of my men, he must have been drunk, or maybe on drugs, but he went crazy and started killing people!” He’s pretty freaked.
“How do you mean ‘crazy’ exactly?” I ask. I’ve got a sinking feeling in my gut.
“I hear shooting, from my office. I come out in the hallway, he has one of my officers on the ground, and he’s stomping on his head. He looked at me, and he was smiling! He had a pistol.”
My blood ran cold.
“Smiling?” I smiled wide. “Like this?”
“Nien.” He tells me. I put my fingers in my mouth and pull my lips into the biggest smile I can force.
“JA! Like that!” he says. Two of the guys flinch.
“SMITH! Get everyone up range, into the blockhouse NOW!” I yell. I turned back to the East German. “Come with me. Run!”
It’s almost a mile, in the dark. Fuck not trusting them. Maybe the lunatic will kill them and give me a chance to get away. I’m faster than they are. I don’t have to outrun the crazy fuck, I have to outrun the guys with me. The 5-ton slows down, and we all swing aboard. I’m standing on the running board next to the driver.
“What the fuck is going on? Why are we pulling back to the blockhouse?” The driver, a newbie, asks.
“You wouldn’t get it. DRIVE FASTER GODDAMN IT!”
We get to the blockhouse, and we lock that fucker down. We put the East Germans, Russians, whatever, into the spare office. I start handing out ammo. Smith is closing the metal shutters.
“What the hell is going on?” Tonya asks.
“Tandy. Tandy’s out there!” Ell says. “He killed the Russians, now he’s fucking coming for us!”
Half my crew freaks out. We’re talking completely fucking lose it.
We’ve got the M-60 set up pointing at the door. I’m got a Claymore set up in front of the door. Everyone has magazines locked, everyone has their pistols ready, I’ve got an APERS round loaded in my M-203.
He’s out there. Cold, blue skin. Fingers worn to the razor sharp finger bones. He has an SS dagger in one hand, and a pistol in the other. He’s feasted on the souls of the Russians, now he’s coming to finish off me and Smith. I can almost hear him whispering “join me” outside the windows.
We give first aid to the guys who are wounded. Only the English speaking officer was unwounded. Two guys had bullet wounds. Everyone was scared.
A little over an hour, we get a call that security has landed on the upper and lower pads, and a thermographic flyby revealed nobody out there.
Fuck your thermograph, the asshole’s dead. He won’t show up. We open that door, he’s gonna get us! YOU stay out there and look for him. He can kill your ass.
After about another hour, I hear banging on the door. They gave the correct code group response, and we opened the door.
They took the East Germans into custody, and flew out.
Six months later, I got a letter of thanks for providing aid and support to the East Germans from the East German government.
We all went everywhere on the site in at least twos, all of us armed.
They didn’t catch Señor Crazy.
Tandy in the Mirror
Once again I’m on CQ. I’m strong and mean enough to handle any bad shit that goes on, I’m known for being fearless (bullshit there, I just won’t let my fear control me!) and ready to do what needs to be done.
Now, when they rebuilt the barracks, they followed the basic plan for some reason. Cheaper I guess. So there was a bathroom set on the first floor.
I’m sitting in there, behind the counter, smoking a cigarette and reading a shitty Mack Bolan novel someone left in one of the drawers. By about page 20 I could understand why. Jesus Christ, that book was bad. He had to be around 60, but he could still outfight Super Ninja IRA Robot Monkeys. I decided that every time they made reference to Vietnam, I’d take a shot tomorrow. Maybe invent a Mack Bolan drinking game, get some use out of the schlock.
The Platoon Leader for Motor Pool comes in, waves to me, and goes into the bathroom. I nod and go back to the shitty book, wondering if the guy just used the same fucking story over and over again or what.
I hear the LT yell, and he comes scrambling out of the bathroom, eyes wide and pale as hell.
“THERE’S SOMEONE IN THERE!” He screeches at me. Totally lost all his cool points.
“So? Were you jerking off and got caught?” I like the LT, he’s pretty cool.
“NO! Goddamn it! I’m serious!”
So I follow him in, telling my ACQ not to steal any of my smokes (he does anyway), and walk into the bathroom.
It’s ice fucking cold in there. We’re talking front glittering in the paint cold.
“Fuck you, if someone’s in there, he can STAY in there!” I tell him, not even leaving the little entry alcove.
“I’m telling you, I was standing right there washing my hands, and when I looked up, there was this tall, thin dude with black hair, wearing BDU’s, reaching for my HEAD!” The LT says. He’s kicking open the stall doors.
I’m backing away.
The LT stops and looks at the mirror and goes pale again.
“THERE HE IS!” The LT screams, looking behind him. There wasn’t ANYTHING behind him. I could see, there wasn’t.
“What the hell is going on?” He asks, then notices I’m backing out, very slowly. He rushes up next to me, grabs my arm, and pulls me from the bathroom.
“OK, what the fuck is going on?” he asks. We’re standing in the middle of the CQ area panting like we’d just run a mile. My fucking fingers, the tip of my nose, and the tops of my ears were painfully tingling.
“Ummm, I’d say that the bathroom is haunted.” I told him. “See, right before the old barracks burnt down, this guy named Tandy vanished out of this bathroom, and we still haven’t found the body.”
“Bullshit. There’s no such thing as ghosts.”
“Fine, sir, you explain why you could see someone in the mirror, but there was no-one behind you. I didn’t see anything in the mirror from where I was standing.”
He LT just looked at me, looked at the bathroom door.
“Lock the door, have maintenance replace the mirrors, they’re defective.”
I locked the door. I logged it in the duty log.
The rumor flew around the company.
NOBODY used that fucking bathroom.
Ell and the Mirror
Now, our wall lockers were embedded in the wall, and inside each door was full length mirror. Ell had some godawful fucking name, something like Ellwingworthtonting or some shit. It wouldn’t fit on a normal nametage, the letters on his were smaller than shit.
We just called him Ell.
So we’re hanging out in Jody’s room, getting absolutely shitfaced. It’s winter, and we can either use the tunnels to get to the lower motor pool annex to go out to our sites, or we can sit around every day and get drunk. Usually, we got drunk. The snow would pile up, the weird shit would start (not nearly as bad as the original barracks, so it wasn’t that bad to me), and people would start getting... well... weird. We’re not talking facial tic weird, we’re talking like:
“Hey, Sergeant, I keep waking up and my room mate will be crouched on the dresser, naked, staring at me, and drooling. Can I move to another room?”
“Hey, Sergeant? I think my room mate is possessed. Every time, when he opens his eyes in the middle of the night, they’re glowing red.”
“Hey, Sergeant, get a detail, so and so cut his wrists/hung himself/beat his own skull in/spontaneously combusted/vanished up his own ass.”
So winter was pretty fucking nervous. Our CO tried to come up with shit to do, but the nights were LONG and COLD. People had the creeps, there had been suicides, attempted murders, murders, people going shit house rat insane. We got classes every fucking week on how to identify stress related mental injuries.
But I digress.
Ell is standing in front of me, and we’re lying about pussy, when he leans back against the open wall locker.
Against the mirror.
And halfway fell through. His reflection was staring at me over his shoulder, grinning its ass off.
I grab the front of his BDU’s and haul, and suddenly he’s thrown against me, and we both go down in a heap.
“Jesus, Monkey, did what just happen what I think just happened?” he says.
“GET OFF ME YOU FUCKING FREAK!” I yelled, scrambling out from under him and kicking the wall locker door shut. Everyone at the party is staring.
“Ell, did you just fall into that mirror?” Jody asks. Perfectly calm, like he’s asking for Ell to pass him the salt.
“Naw, that’s impossible.” Someone says.
The next morning, the CO wanted to know what the garbage cans were full of broken pieces of mirror.
He gravely listened to us, stared at us for awhile.
And had us piss tested.
But he never said it didn’t happen, and for some reason, that made it worse.
I kept a close watch on Ell. He was left handed, and I swore if he suddenly became right handed...
I’d fucking murder him and shove him back through the mirror.
The Return of Tandy
The original barracks had been some kind of Nazi training facility. It was a horrible, creepy time that left some of us with PTSD. Tandy had gone into the bathroom one evening, and none of us saw him leave, despite the fact we were all sitting on the floor, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes in the only room that the bathroom led to.
His shaving kit, the towel, had been left behind. He vanished out of a windowless ventless room.
A couple of people reported seeing him in mirrors. At first just him normally, then him blue faced, then him blue faced, with white eyes and torn up uniform.
Then we found him.
The sightings continued.
The next winter rolled around.
I can’t describe to you the way we felt, those of us who had been there the last time. Who had almost died in that fucking building. The snow level was slowly dropping. It was raining on main post, but we knew we’d be snowed in by November at the latest. We had snow flurries during formation. We started holding formation inside the barracks in platoon areas.
The CO ordered everyone into the barracks. You had to live there, whether you lived off post or not. Officers on Third Floor North, Upper NCO’s on Third Floor Center, NCO’s on Third Floor South and Second Floor North. Female soldiers on Ground Floor South.
You could get to the main motor pool building, the Dispensary, the Chow Hall, or the “Exit Point” via the underground tunnels. The tunnels weren’t there before the fire, but they were there afterwards. They were built expressedly for our unit. ALl the fucking bells and whistles. According to METL, main post would take a nuclear hit to wipe out the tanker battalion as one of the opening shots of World War III, and we were supposed to survive and fight. Those tunnels, that area, was fucking badass. The Chow Hall, the Dispensary, and the motor pool building were all built on the foundations of other buildings. The “Exit Point” had a small building there. We called the Exit Point the Auxilary Motor Pool on official documents. We kept an armed guard at all times, and two CUC-V’s and a 5-ton.
There was even a secondary armory, bunk rooms, and other shit down in those tunnels. It made us feel real high speed. Dedicated Pentagon lines, dedicated V Corps lines, all kinds of cool shit.
In other words, more Cold War Bullshit.
Anyway, I’m in the game room, losing badly at pinball. This pinball machine is doing everything but extending a robotic leg and kicking me in the junk. Somehow I lost so badly (under 100,000) that the game actually gave me a free game, like it was helping out retarded lemur or something.
I’ve got Tunnel Duty, and that means making a sweep of the tunnels every 2 hours to check the locks, check the seals, check the logs, all that happy Cold War Bullshit you have to do. So I’m in uniform, my .45 at my hip, and about about an inch from whipping out my pistol and murdering the pinball machine.
I hear a commotion out in the CQ area, and I walk out there. The CQ is this poor Corporal from First Cavalry Division whose been with us maybe two months. He’s reeling in culture shock, going from high speed First Cav to the Unit of the Damned. He wasn’t coping too well with our barracks life. The cold spots, the whispers, the motor pool calling in the lights, shit like that, all set his nerves on edge. He’d come in a teatotaller, by his second month, he was well on his way to his first alcohol ulcer. ACQ is this kid, maybe 17, whose on CQ for the first time. The Duty Driver is sitting down at Exit Point with a fucking phone and a vehicle, just in case. ADD is asleep in his room.
I’ve got two men with me, for TD, but I’d sent them to their rooms to do whatever the hell they wanted. Their M-16′s were left behind at the CQ desk, along with the LBE which was full of ammo. Duty personnel carried loaded weapons.
“I’m telling you, I saw something!” It’s Stokes, and she’s pissed.
“It was probably your reflection,” Corporal Cav tells her. He sees me coming and quips, “This is why we shouldn’t let women in the Army.”
Stokes snatches him across the counter, pulling him off of his feet.
“Listen to me, you runty little shit, there’s something out there...” she snarls into his face.
“Stokes! Enough!” I yell out, walking forward. “What the fuck is the problem?”
Stokes turns to me, and I can see the tell a tale signs that she’s on the edge. Her nostrils are flared and white, and her eyes are so narrow I can’t see them. She’s got a tic at the corner of her eye.
“I was in my room, reading a porn book and “inspecting my gear”, and I looked up, and there was someone staring into my window!” She says.
“OK, what did he look like?” I ask. Great, someone decided to play Peeping Tom tonight of all nights. The fog outside was thick as fuck, and you could feel ice crystals bite your flesh when you went out there.
“All I saw was his face and his hands. He had his hands on my window, and his face pressed against the glass. He had a big fucking smile on his face and was staring right at me!” She said.
“OK, I’ll go check it. CQ, log this in.” I tell him. He protests, but I remind him that we log EVERYTHING in this fucking unit.
I grab my parka off a chair in the day room, zip it up, put on the hood, pull out my trigger mittens, and head out into the fog. I hate the cold. To this day, I fucking hate it.
I counted windows down to Stokes room, then looked up. Her window was a good five feet off the ground. The only way someone could be looking in is if they stood on the ledge. I sighed, headed back and grabbed a chair out of the day room and walked back through the fog.
Standing on the chair, I couldn’t see any evidence that someone had been looking at her. No handprints, no grease from a faceprint.
For some reason, all the hair on my body stood up. Ever had your pubic hair try to stand up? It normally doesn’t, so it doesn’t put someone’s eye out, but right then, it was trying to thrust through my boxers like little spears. The skin over my spine prickled, and the metal implant in my hand suddenly started to ache.
I grabbed the chair, and doubletimed it back to the building, stopping and looking up at the building.
That’s when it dawned on me.
The building was painted OD green, yeah. It was recently built, yeah. It was full of state of the art shit, yeah.
It was identical to the building that had burned down. Even the layout was close.
I suddenly had an urge to hike down the mountain and take my chances.
Instead, I pushed my way through the two sets of doors, and walked in on someone else freaking out. Another female, Smith, the one I’d held hands with during my first formation at the unit.
“I’m telling you, I came out of the shower, and saw this fucker hanging on my window! He had his hands on my windowsill and was trying to push his way through the gap at the top!” He was yelling.
Now, the windows in our barracks were the coolest design. When the handle was pointed down, the window was closed. When the handle was at a 90 degree angle, the window opened into the room. When the handle was straight up, the top levered out about a foot, giving you air flow without opening the window all the time.
“I don’t know what you guys think you’re doing, but this ghost stuff is bullshit! I’m not some fucking ’cruit you guys can fucking scare!” Corporal Cav was yelling.
I grabbed Stokes arm and pulled her into the game room, leaving the chair in the CQ area proper.
“I want the fucking truth.” I snarled at her.
“Don’t you believe me?” she asked.
“What did the guy look like? Tell me, and tell me the truth!” I shook her. I had a sudden bad feeling.
“Black hair, big fucking grin, white face, white hands, he looked like... oh.” The last was said in a little girl voice.
“Was it goddamn Tandy?” I asked.
“Oh my God, Monkey, I think it was.” she whispered. She looked scared. “Do you think it is him?”
“No. He’s fucking dead. This is some asshole in a goddamn rubber mask. I find him, I’m fucking stabbing him.” I told her, letting her go. I walked back into the CQ area, and there was more argument.
“Look, asshole, there’s someone outside. He was scratching on my window, and when I whipped open the curtian, I saw someone move away.” Paulson, another of the First Twenty.
“Sergeant Monkey was just out there, you probably saw him!” The CQ said. He looked angry, but I could see the fear in his stance.
“Corporal, send the runner up to wake the CO and the First Sergeant, now.” I ordered, then looked at Paulson. “Go up and get Bomber and Ell, tell them to get down here ASAP, then get Smith, wake him up, tell him I need him down here.” Paulson nodded jerkily and ran off. He hesitated at the stairwell for a second, I think it suddenly dawned on him too.
“I’m not waking them up without good reason!” The CQ told me. “I’ll get in trouble!”
“You’ll be in more trouble if that fucker in the mask kills someone!” I told him, moving around and grabbing my M-16/M-203. I wished I had shells for Thumper. I looked at Stokes. “Go wake up Clance, tell him what you know.” She nodded, glancing at the doors, and left.
I moved around and grabbed a phone. We had over a dozen phones behind the CQ counter. I grabbed the one for the motor pool and waited.
“Sergeant Kreskin, Motor Pool.” He told me.
“This is Monkey. We’ve got some freak in mask trying to get in people’s rooms. Tell your men to watch out for him. Do a quick commo check, then get back to me.” Kreskin trusted me. I waited, I could hear him on the radio.
“Tower Nine said they thought they saw someone standing out front of the building, but he vanished into the fog.” Fuck, that could have been me. Dammit.
“Tell them to stay sharp. Tell them he’s trying to break into rooms.” I told him, then hung up and grabbed the next phone.
Our Dispensary answered on the third ring.
“Private Pool, Dispensary.” He answered.
“Can you see the front door?“I asked.
“Sergeant Monkey? Yeah, I can.” he said.
“Are any of the other doors unsecure?” I asked.
“Go secure the front door, right now.” I told him.
“Why?” He asked, but I could tell by his voice he was standing up.
“DO IT NOW!” I screamed at him.
The phone clattered, and I waited. I pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Corporal Cav made a faux-coughing noise and I stuck my middle finger in his face.
“OK, I’ve locked it, what’s the big deal?” he asked.
“HOLY FUCK! JESUS FUCK!” he started screaming. Bomber, Ell, and Smith were running up. I waved them at their M-16′s.
“Pool! Report! Pool!” I yelled.
“There’s some fucker out there in a white mask! He came out of the fog, yanked on the doors, and now I can’t see him! Oh Jesus, I’m all alone in here!” he said.
“Where’s your weapon?” I asked. I covered the receiver. “Paulson, make sure the doors are secure, Bomber, Ell, go with him. Smith (male) and Smith (female), you’re with me.”
“The Doc won’t let us have the weapons in here, he makes us leave them behind.” He said. He sounded panicked.
“Pool, listen to me. Hang up the phone, fall back to the tunnel entrance. Shut the blast door, I’m sending someone to meet up with you as soon as I can. Just stay calm, I’m coming for you personally.” I told him.
“OK. JESUS! He’s at the door again!”
He hung up the phone.
“Smith (male), call the Chow Hall, tell them to secure all the doors ASAP.” I ordered.
“HEY! I’m the goddamn CQ, I’m in charge!” Corporal Cav yelled. “In the Cav, we understand the chain of command!”
“Shut the fuck up, this ain’t Cav Country, this is fucking Hell.” I told him. “You wanna do something useful, wake the Quick Reaction Force and tell them to arm up.” I told him.
“Don’t you think you’re over-reacting?” He asked me. “It’s just one man.”
The CO came out of the stairwell on that note. He ran up and looked at the Corporal.
“Report.” was all he said.
“Monkey’s freaking out because there’s some asshole outside with a clown mask on.” Corporal Cav sneered. “He’s acting like Michael Meyers or Jason Vorhees is trying to kill us all.”
“Sir, he’s attempted to break into multiple rooms, then he tried to enter the Dispensary. Doctor Hinch has refused to allow the duty personnel to carry weapons, so I ordered him to fall back to the tunnel entrance.” I said, turning and standing at attention. “I’ve ordered Chance to open the armory, and I’m having the QRF woken.”
“What reasons do you have for calling an alert?” He asked.
“The first people who saw him are members of the First Twenty. Stokes said he looked like Tandy.” I told him the truth.
“Jesus Christ, this better be a joke.” The CO said. “Are you sure?”
“No. That’s what makes it worse.” I answered.
“Wake QRF.” Was all he said. Corporal Cav saluted and ran off.
“Chow Hall reports they are secure. Someone has tried a couple of the doors, I ordered them to fall back to the tunnel entrance and close the blast door.” Smith said. He listened for a second. “Mess Hall OIC says that someone is trying to kick in the doors.”
“Tell him to fall back, my orders.” The CO said. “Fuck this.”
He grabbed the phone, and dialed quickly.
He was calling the MP’s.
“Get up here, we’ve got another maniac on the loose.” He told them. “No, I’m not joking, and... Hello? Hello?” He looked at me.
“We just lost phone contact.” He told me. He looked shocked.
“Try the dedicated line, get the Rangers, get V Corps, get someone!” I yelled. The 1SG showed up, with the ACQ next to him. Stokes was right behind. She’d used the key I had given her, and was packing one of my knives.
“What’s going on?” the 1SG asked. We brought him up to speed.
The V Corps line was dead. The dedicated line to Rangers was dead.
“Monkey, gather up my personnel,” the CO ordered. “First Sergeant, we need a complete head count. I want to know where everyone is.”
“It’s happening again, isn’t it?” Stokes asked, hugging herself and shivering.
“No, it’s trying something new this time.” I told her. Everyone was back, I pushed my .45 into Stokes hands.
“Stokes, you’re with me. We’re making a tunnel run, Smith (female) I want you in main room. You see anyone who isn’t tapping shave and a haircut before the first blast deflection corner, I want you to shoot to kill.” I told her. She looked at the CO, who nodded.
We headed down the hallway, then down the stairwell, and behind the stairs. We opened the heavy door that led to the tunnels. The flourescent lights kicked on, buzzing as we moved down the stairs and into the hallway at a trot.
We got to the central hub, and I told Stokes not to fuck around. She checked the phone, and verified she had phone contact with the CQ desk.
Bomber, Smith, Ell and I started jogging down the tunnel to the Dispensary, weaving through the blast deflection corners. I wasn’t the only one who kept checking the roof. The walls were shielded, even if I’d used my radio, nobody would have been able to hear me. It felt surreal. There was a maniac up above us, some psycho who either got off on scaring someone, or was out to kill.
Don’t be stupid. It’s Tandy, and you goddamn well know it slithered coldly through my brain. He’s come back to finish you all off.
We reach the decon room and just rush through it. We hit the door, and I put in the key, turn it, and the door starts moving. From the other side, Pool is yelling at us to hurry up. He squeezes through and tears the buttons off his BDU top. I hit the key the other way, and the door closes.
Together, we all run back.
I’m wearing my Kevlar, my LBE, my helmet, I’ve got a radio, I’ve got a canteen, I’ve got a compass, I’ve got a bandage, I’ve got an XM-16/M-203, and 180 rounds of 5.56 ammunition.
If it’s Tandy, I’ll whip his fucking ass. Dead or not, I can take him.
We slide to a stop at the last blast deflection corner, and I rap out shave and a haircut. Smith yells back “TWO BITS!” and we run over there.
“Pool, head upstairs, report to the Colonel.” I tell him. He nods jerkily, breathing hard but pale.
“Smith, same thing, we’re going to recover the Chow Hall people.” I say.
Same drill. The 6 man mess crew were nervous as shit. I stood in the room, cracked open the blast door, and listened. Nothing. They all swore that it was in the building as little as 10 minutes ago.
We head back, they head upstairs. Smith hands me the phone.
“Sergeant Monkey, Motor Pool is falling back to the tunnel entrance, QRF is ready. Go get my men.”
“Yes, sir.” I tell him, and hand the phone back to Smith.
“Let’s go, men.” It didn’t matter Stokes was there, when shit was going down, it was “men” not “men and women.” Stokes looked at it as a matter of pride.
The motor pool was the closest, also the weirdest.
We ran through decon, hit the overrides again, and went through the bays. Well, we waited till the lights came on in the bays, swept the elevator area to make sure it was clear, THEN moved out to the access hatch.
Turn the key, and the motor pool guards, all fucking 40 of them, come running in, yelling “SHUT IT SHUT IT SHUT IT!”
I hit the key, and we all backed up. Goddamn that door took forever.
“What the fuck happened? I thought you were secure!” I said.
“HE WAS ON MY FUCKING TOWER!” one of the privates yelled.
“At ease. Who was on your tower?” I ask. He takes a deep breath.
“I look down, figuring this is just you crazy fuckers playing games with us, to scare us, like you get scared, right?”
“I look down, and there’s this fucker with a white face, and a HUGE fucking grin, and he’s holding onto the leg of the tower.”
“I shot at him, and he dropped off into the fog!”
“I told the CO, he told me to pull back, to get out of there.” Kreskin looks shook the fuck up. He was a Master Sergeant, did a couple of tours of Vietnam. I wave everyone ahead and drop back.
“You guys are fucking armed to teeth, what happened?” I ask him.
“Well, I was telling him to calm down, and all of a sudden this thing plastered itself on my window. It was scratching at it, and chewing on the glass with these goddamn teeth. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Was it a man?”
“Maybe, shit, I don’t know. I shot at it, and it vanished. That’s when I realized that the window was open. I called everyone off the towers, somebody fired off a magazine, but nobody is saying shit. I told the CO, he told me to fall back. What the fuck is going on?” He looked worried.
“Remember those stories we tell, when we’re drunk, about the barracks trying to kill us?”
“I think Tandy is here to finish the job.”
Our boots echoed in the tunnel as we walked.
By the time we get upstairs, everyone still in the barracks, and not out at a site or on leave or detailed to another unit is there.
Counting the motor pool guards? That makes 70 of us. QRF is ready to go, they’ve got the M-60′s out and are ready to kick ass.
The Colonel puts everyone on the south side. That means there’s a floor underneath, whoever it is would have to climb up a story, or fucking levitate, to get at the windows.
The CO is setting up a TOC at the CQ desk. I’m standing there with the QRF when it dawns me.
Of all the fucking people...
Cobb is on Duty Driver.
That means he is over 2 miles away via the tunnel. Three miles via the road.
With no clue as to what is going on.
“Sir.” The Colonel looks up.
“Specialist Cobb is on Duty Driver, and hasn’t been alerted, nor has he been retrieved.” I saw, speaking slowly and distinctly. Both Smiths and Stokes suck in their breath.
The CO picks up the phone and waits.
The CQ looked at me, looked at the QRF guys, looked at my TD crew and my draftees. He’d heard the stories, read Captain Bishop’s notes, hell, Smith (male) had burn scars on his head that reminded us daily of that goddamn fire.
“Sergeant Monkey, take your team, bring back Cobb.” he told me, hanging up the phone. I heard it right before he hung up.
“You heard the man, let’s go, men.” I said, rolling my shoulders. I turned to the ACQ. “Give Specialist Smith your rifle.” He nodded and handed it to her.
We went down to the tunnels, they seemed cold, barren, and our footsteps echoed weird. Smith (male) grabbed the phone, the dedicated Pentagon line that was supposed to survive a fucking nuclear hit.
Nothing. Dead air.
“THIS IS BULLSHIT!” he yelled, slinging the phone against the wall.
“Come on, we gotta get to Cobb before Tandy does.” We were convinced it was Tandy. Nothing, nobody, else could survive out there. That’s what we told ourselves.
We doubletimed it down the tunnel. It was a long way. Normally, we didn’t check that tunnel, just the primary access door. We didn’t take too long, we ran at Smith’s (female) pace, and she ran a 15:50, so we made good time.
Through the decon area, to the egress point door. Turn the key, and the snow flurries blew into our faces.
There was no use in yelling. The wind would snatch away our words. Someone on main post, jerking off in the shower, would probably hear us plain as day, while Cobb, 100 yards away, didn’t hear jack.
“Bomber, Ell, you two stay here.” They nodded jerkily. They weren’t in any danger.
We were. Tandy was coming for us. The fucking Nazis had brought him back to shambling, enraged life, and they sent him from some underground lab, infused with unholy energy from their dark rites, and he was out for revenge.
I shook my head to clear my thoughts. Stupid Eerie magazines. I needed to lay off the goddamn vintage horror mags we’d found at the site.
Out of the nook and into the night we went. I had turned on my flashlight and was using my compass. I’d made sure to shoot azimuths on all the outbuilding from the egress points. Just in case.
The wind plucked at us, threw odd noises at us. Was that a growl or someone on main post starting a tank or a car? Was that a hissing, bubbling laugh, or was that someone’s rap music from main post?
Smith (male) yelled out “CONTACT!” and fired off a burst. We all hit the ground, searching.
“Sorry, sorry.” Smith said. “I could have swore I saw something.”
We got up, and headed back along the azimuth.
We found the building, and I hammered on the door.
“OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR COBB, IT’S GODDAMN COLD OUT HERE!”
And Cobb put a fucking burst of rounds right by my head. A step to the left, he would have blown my fucking head off.
“FUCK YOU! STAY OUT THERE!” OK, he was freaked, around the bend.
I shot a burst into the roof.
“IT’S MONKEY!” We heard something heavy moving, and the door opened a crack. A rifle barrel came out first, then I could see Cobb’s eyes.
The door was flung open, and we all rushed inside.
“Jesus Christ, am I glad to see you guys.” Cobb said.
“What the hell are you doing, you almost fucking wasted me!” I yelled.
“Soemthing’s been trying to get in here. The phones went dead, and I lost power.” Cobb looked nervous. “I think someone’s out there.”
“No shit, come on, we’re getting you out of here.” He nodded, and we abandoned the building and made our way back to the tunnel.
Once inside, I looked at everyone.
“I want two volunteers.” I said. Everyone stared at me. Stokes and Smith (male) shot up their hands.
“We’re going back out. The rest of you, head back, tell the CO we’re going to try to make main post.” They nodded. Smith (female) kissed us on the cheek for luck, and we headed out.
The building first. We dug around, found the keys in the desk, and went back out into the darkness.
We got to the first CUC-V, and I tried the keys.
Smith popped the hood and I got out.
“Oh. We are so fucked.” I looked at where his flashlight was pointing. The goddamn plug wires were torn out and the wiring harness was torn to shit.
“Check the other one, and the five ton.” I ordered.
No love. Both were disabled. To top it off, the tires had been slashed.
“WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE!” I yelled into the darkness. I was going to die here, I fucking knew it. I was going to die, and probably be eaten.
We went back to the egress point, and into the tunnel. I looked at Stokes and Smith, I’d known them a long time. Stokes was a wonderful woman, I was proud to serve with her. Smith was cool, a good sense of humor and fun to be around. I was proud to call him friend.
“I’m going for it.” I told them, and started taking off my parka.
“Are you stupid?”
“I can make it. I’m on the goddamn combat cross country team, I ran the Fulda marathon, I more than max my PT run time.” I dropped my parka, pistol, and LBE on the cement floor and looked at Stokes’ knee. “Can you do that, gimpy?” I dropped my helmet on the floor, it went bonk. I looked at Smith. “We both know I can outrun you, and you’re shit for land nav.” I grabbed Stokes’ cold weather mask and put it on. I needed to be able to at least slightly warm the air. “Wait here for me. If I’m not back by morning, my will is in my top desk drawer.”
Neither looked happy.
“Wish me luck.” I told them, and went out into the snow. It was cold as fuck, but I didn’t bother thinking, I just started running.
A little over two fucking miles. I could do it in less than 12 minutes, way before exposure could set in.
I was cold at first, but by the quarter mile, I was warmed up. You have to breathe deep at that altitude, the air is a lot thinner. After awhile I stripped away the mask, I couldn’t fucking breathe in it.
The air was like a fucking knife into my chest, but I ignored it and pushed on.
I hit main post, and ran like the devil was after me to the first barracks I saw lights on in.
The Ranger unit.
I came busting in the door, breathing hard, and stumbled up to the test.
“Jesus Christ, Monkey, what the fuck are you doing here?” the CQ asked, staring at me. I knew him pretty well. We’d met in the middle of a brawl, a bunch of fucking skinhead krauts against five of us. We’d won.
“We’ve got a fucking maniac on our side of the mountain. Our phone lines are all down, and I’m willing to bet power went since I’ve been gone.”
“You RAN here?” He looked outside. There were snow flurries, and the wind was screaming. “Are you stupid?”
“I ran from the motor pool egress. This guy is fucking nuts, he’s tried to attack people, and is trying to get in the barracks.”
“Fuck. Wait here.” He handed me his field jacket and took off. I knew he was getting someone higher up on the chain of command. His jacket was warm, and I wrapped it around myself.
One of their officers called the MP’s, and they got a vehicle.
By the time we got back to the barracks, I was coughing. Deep, wracking coughs that didn’t seem to bring anything up. The Rangers hit the perimeter with their night vision, the MP’s patrolled.
One of the MP’s had a huge rock fly through their windshield, breaking a couple of ribs.
Dawn came, the fog burned off.
There was no resolution. There was no solving the mystery.
The door to the chow hall was kicked in. The window of the motor pool main building was shot out. There were bullet holes in the DD building.
I got fucking pneumonia.
The CO wouldn’t have believed it, but he heard a thump on the doors, and when he and the 1SG turned to look, the face was pressed against the glass, grinning crazily, and the hands on either side. He couldn’t see the body, it was lost in the fog.
He said it looked like a deranged fucking mime.
V Corps sent an investigator.
They wanted to know why the dedicated lines cut out. They wanted to find out why we suffered the casualties we did.
That motherfucker found out.
But that’s another tale.
(I actually called my uncle to hear this one again, he laughed and told it to me, and it made me feel just as creeped out as ever)
It was the Summer of 1972, the Vietnam War was in full swing, and things weren’t exactly looking all peachy keen as far as my uncle was concerned.
As was the way back then, my uncle and his team were given orders to hurry up and give support to a unit just inside the border of Cambodia, and away they went.
The helicopter dropped them at the secondary landing area, about give miles from where the guys he was supposed to be going to pull out of the fire were located. The pilot was worried about flying into an ambush, and was nervous about being in Cambodia. Their officer told them to hurry up, and they started making as best speed as they could through the jungle.
As they’re moving, they start hearing the sounds of heavy weapons fire, .50′s, M-60′s, and the weapons used by the VC and NVA in counterpoint. They could hear the explosions, so they tried to make even better time while avoiding contact with the enemy.
The first bodies they stumbled over were VC irregulars, a bunch of them around a machinegun, it looked like they’d been chopped up by machinegun fire. They went slower, keeping an eye out for any of the enemy.
The next thing they found was a crashed helicopter. It had burned, and was long cool. Still, the volume of fire was picking up, so they pressed forward, encountering more dead NVA and VC. All of them dead for awhile.
Their officer was convinced that the battle had been raging for several days. Everyone was nervous as shit as they pushed through the jungle, positive they were going to stumble on the NVA or get shot by the guys manning the fire base.
Just before they reached the kill zones around the outside fire points, the gunfire petered out. As they crossed the kill zone, they heard yelling, in Vietnamese and English. The Vietnamese manning the eastern fire point were all dead, their position full of dead NVA. There was a machinegun turned inward on the base, and a dead NVA soldier was slumped over it.
They hurried, keeping an eye out for anyone, but the place had gone silent. Their Captain rushed them too the strong point in the middle of the firebase, positive that they were in time to save the men who would have fallen back to that last, final position.
They passed booby traps which had gone off and killed NVA and VC alike. Past the inner line of defense, where men had died and were laying about, rotting in the summer sun.
The main door to the final fortification was off the hinges, blown off by an RPG, and my uncle was the first inside, yelling out that he was American and there to reenforce them.
There was noone but the dead inside. NVA, VC, and American alike. They’d managed to destroy the radio and other sensitive items, but had died to a man. According to my uncle, it got down to bayonets and knives. To my uncle’s eyes, the last of the men fighting had died when someone had detonated a satchel charge toward the back of the bunker.
They were too late. By minutes.
Or at least, that’s what everyone thought, until one simple fact was pointed out.
The men inside the bunker had been dead for days, bloated by the summer heat, eaten by insects and animals both.
The fight had been over for days. Everyone had died. Both sides had wiped each other out to the last man.
The team my uncle was on radioed back, asking if there was any fighting going on in the area. There wasn’t. There wasn’t another American presence for miles.
But they’d heard the gunfire, the explosions, the yelling, as they’d hurried to reenforce the Americans and save them.
Yet everyone had been dead for days.
The Nazi Flag
My grandfather had a Nazi flag folded and hung up on the wall of the “Man’s Room” where there were weapons, plagues, pictures, and other trophies brought home by the men of my family. Now, before you point and scream NAZI! just remember this fact. On December 7th, 1941, he fought the Japanese. He was eventually transferred to the European Theater after being wounded in the Pacific.
Anyway, about this flag.
It was signed by all the men who had chopped the flag pole down. There were forty names on the flag, all fading, almost illegible, along with six people who had signed with an “X” because they couldn’t spell their own names. (A sad fact of the times)
One evening, while all of us kids were gathered around my great-uncle, listening wide eyed to his tales of horror and valor from the Pacific Theater, my grandfather came out of the Men’s Room.
“I need a rag, mother.” He told my grandmother. “The dead are restless again.”
My grandmother, whom he called “mother”, nodded and brought him a tattered rag, wet from the water bucket. (Getting water from the pump was a job for us kids, grandfather and grandmother didn’t have indoor plumbing) My grandfather took it, and went back in the room.
I was at an angle where I could see the flag, folded so that the names were visible, but the whole flag wasn’t draped across the wall, and running from the bottom were dark red rivulets that were pooling on the floor.
My grandfather saw me staring before he closed the door, and gave me a knowing nod.
When I got up, later that night, to use the outhouse, I looked in the washing pile, and that rag was soaked with what smelled like blood and looked like blood.
Sadly, my grandfather took the secret of that flag to his grave. It sits in a glass case at my mother’s house, in the attic, and sometimes I wonder if that case is now full of blood.
Hey Man, Open the Door
The Congressional Investigator had ruled “circumstances outside the control of the US Army” after his visit to our section of post. I guess being trapped in a stalled out vehicle in the fog will do that to you, make you a believer that is.
I never experienced it, but others did, and they told me.
See, when you are on CQ, you have to make rounds of the barracks. Make sure the secure areas are secure and that people aren’t killing each other. You have to make sure the arms room is secure, that the radio storage is secure, the NBC room, QASI, the various offices, and that the outside doors are secure.
According to some people, on those dark nights where the hair on your neck raises and goosebumps cover your skin, walking the second floor was a particular chore.
See, you passed by the door of 221.
Every once in awhile, as a CQ passed it, they’d hear someone try the door, which was locked (and someone, I wouldn’t know who, had used a glue-gun to permanently lock the door), as if they were trying to get out.
But that wasn’t the worse.
Once in awhile, a voice would be heard.
“Hey man. Open the door.” would come from inside the room.
Sometimes, if you stopped, it would repeat its request for you to open the door.
“Come on, man, I’m going to get in trouble if I’m caught in here.”
As far as I knew, nobody had ever opened it.
Late at night, when we’d worked our way through a few bottles of rum, we’d often wonder what was in there. Who was trying to get out. What would you see if you opened the door? Would it be alive, or dead?
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