Episode 10 - Like all dreamers I confuse disenchantment with truth

There was a fight last Monday at base camp. Dr. Johnson and the sarge were arguing about the drawings on Dan's sketch book. The doctor wanted better answers than the ones sarge was giving. At some point Ben and I had to step in and separate them. It wasn't nice. Sgt. Palmer kept saying - I have orders to follow, either you agree with them or not. Roy tried to take Dr. Johnson's side, and was shut off by the sarge with a nasty reply - stay out of this soldier! From the beginning of this mission, there were a lot of questions unanswered, I even had a few (questions) of my own ready to go: Why did so many people disappeared in this area without a trace? Why is the military involved? Why do we have a radiation genetics professor in our patrol team? Why is Donald Rumsfeld such a tool? When you join the Marines you sign a contract, you comply with your orders, without reasoning. But you can't help it, you wonder about things. And right now I wanted answers just as bad as everyone else here at base camp. Just as the situation was about to get out of control, with our whole team screaming at each other, the Professor shouted - That's enough! We all know there's something strange about that pond. Sgt Palmer doesn't know what it is, neither do I. What I know is that there is more to the picture that meets the eye - he continued. The sarge's eyes grew smaller. The veins on his forehead almost exploding as he attempted to speak. - Let the boys know the truth Alan! said the Professor rashly. There was silence. You could hear the dead leaves blowing on the ground, like ocean waves. The sarge set down and nodded quickly, as in agreement. During the decontamination process of the Mulberry Pond back in 1983, a W82-GP missile armed with a Cobalt Bomb in its warhead, was left at the bottom of the pond. It has set in there for over 20 years. Cobalt-60 is a very strong emitter of gamma rays as it undergoes beta decay, which could result in DNA alterations. - Now, we don't know if the "neutron radiation" has contaminated anything, my readings show basically no signs of radiation at the banks of the pond. We don't know anything about a giant reptile. We don't know what happened to Dan. Besides the presence of the bomb, we know as much as you do - resumed Professor Evgeny. Silence again. Sgt. Palmer got up, turned his back to us and said furiously - This information does not change anything! Our mission is to patrol and guard the Mulberry Ridge area. Nothing else. If you boys want some answers I suggest you get busy looking for Daniel's body in the pond before it's too late. Every person in this camp is responsible for one another and most important, I am not going to loose another man in this mission, understood? We all agreed. Somehow things made a bit more sense and I didn't hate the sarge as much anymore. Dr. Johnson then asked if he could have an EPA cage delivered to use as a trap. - If there is a mutated animal out there, I'd like to catch it. It does not belong in the wild - said the doctor in a heroic manner. The sarge just nodded again, as if defeated by the previous revelations. The next evening Capt. Schneider dropped our diving gear, the cage and a little surprise for me. Razors! With them she sent a little note that said: If the wolf is shaved so neat and trim, Red Riding Hood will be chasing him. I wasn't quite sure what she meant. Am I too hairy or is she flirting with me? It doesn't matter, she thought of me, and that's great. I wanted to show it to the men, but decided against. It would've started a riot, plus I would've had to share my razors with them too. We got up earlier than usual this morning. Ben and I went to pick up the assault raft at the end of the logging road and brought it to the pond. Then we had to retrieve Dr. Johnson's cage and take it also to the pond area. Although the cage is made of hardened aluminum, it is very heavy. Roy and the doctor had to help us move it. - So Doc? What are we having for dinner? - said Roy sarcastically. We all laughed. The doctor didn't like Roy's remark at first, but after a minute he responded - If Dan's theories are right, we're having turtle soup soldier! I didn't find his response funny at all. Because within hours, Ben and I were in the water scanning the bottom of the pond with our Hand-held Sonar Pistol. Professor Evgeny and Roy were at the banks retrieving the data sent by us. The water was terribly cold. Not even our diving suits were helping. We had mapped half of pond by 1600 hours. Nothing worth a look on later analysis. It was getting dark, the cage had to be put in place and made into a trap. Roy shot one of the wild chickens and we use it for bait. - I hope there's nothing alive in this pond - said Ben. It made me shiver. Back at Camp Kowal the sarge had started a fire. Not where we usually had it, but where Dan's tent once stood. He looked at us and said - Let's hope Daniel was wrong. We could be getting ourselves in a lot of trouble.

by Corporal John Harris, November 10, 2005