Episode 47 - The road to truth is long, and lined the entire way with annoying bastards

Dealing with Willis’ sudden death has been hard for all of us. I caught Malloy crying several times through out the week. I was even wondering if the turtle attack was meant for me. Perhaps in retaliation to what I did to Dr. Johnson last week. One thing I know for sure: Dr. Johnson was definitely partly involved with Willis’ death. I don’t believe it was an accident. To top it all off, I still haven’t heard from Ben. I really messed up when I didn’t show up for our meeting, two weeks ago. What is he doing? Is he alright? Aunt Ann must be going crazy by now, without any news from us. I must remedy that soon. Although the Giant Turtle hasn’t been spotted since the incident, the sarge decided to halt pond patrols till further notice. For most of the time, we spent the rest of the week working at the logging road, trying to clear the last stretch of an old path, where a ground re-supply line is going to be established. Having a road connecting the Mulberry Ridge to the Town of Arcadia meant trouble to me. The road could possibly bring more unwanted visitors to the area (like the kid, Steve Hayes, who we found sleeping in one of our tents). The arrival of the first supply truck was schedule for today at 1300 hours. Most of the road was free of debris, except for a 20 meter long path, where some boulders had rolled down from the Mulberry Mountain side. Sergeant Palmer’s team had cleared the smallest rocks the day before. When my team arrived at the location this morning, we found out that the largest boulders still had to be moved out of the way. It was hard work. With me, I had Brian and Roy working the shovels and Redman with the sledgehammer. - This is crazy! We’ll never finish it in time! - complained Redman, while Roy and Brian worked hard on the boulders. - I think we can do it, Private! - I replied. I walked back to the Jeep. Underneath the backseat, a half a block of C-4 plastic explosive laid there covered by dead leaves. Left there when Ben and I sealed off a few caves a few months back. By its side, enough detonator cord and a blasting cap to do the job. The minute Redman saw me pull the cord out of the Jeep, he freaked out: - Are you crazy? There’s no cover around here. We’ll get blasted too! - he said all worried. I just smiled. I passed him the C-4 piece and instruct him where to put it. - Yeah! Right there. This way the explosion will blow rocks to the right. Besides, that’s the direction of the wind. It will protect us from the smoke. - I told Redman, while he attached the half block of C-4 to the boulder. At this point, Brian and Roy just watched. I passed the detonator cord to Redman and started to set the blasting cap in place. I could hear Redman mumbling while he stretched out the cord: - Crazy son of a gun…gonna get us all killed...- I didn’t take the Underwater Demolitions Course for nothing. Sure, the boulders weren’t underwater…but the principle was the same. Once we had everything in place, I asked Roy to park the Jeep perpendicularly to the road. - I understand now, Harris. We’re using the Jeep for protection. The sarge will kill you if the vehicle is damaged! - said Roy concerned, as I gathered the men behind the Jeep. - Well, if everything goes as planned, the Jeep will be fine. Besides, I asked Major Munsch for the vehicle. Not the sarge, remember? - I said all cocky. I grabbed the end of the detonator cord an attached to a BA-30 battery, left from a broken satellite dish. - Is everyone ready? - I asked. No one objected. I kneeled down behind the men and cranked the battery top. Booom! Smoke, containing mostly nitrogen and carbon oxides, blew to the right as planned. But tiny rocks made their way towards the Jeep, hitting its metal side like a burst of a machine gun. A small amount of C-4 packs a pretty big punch. Less than a pound of C-4 can potentially kill several people, and several military issue M112 blocks of C-4, weighing about 1.25 pounds (half a kilogram) each, could potentially demolish a truck. - Is everyone ok? - I asked nervously. Everyone nodded. I took a look at the side of the Jeep and to my relief it only had a few scratches. I then looked over to the boulders. Redman was already there checking out the damage. He smiled and saluted me. I had succeeded. We now had to clear up the mess from the explosion. 50 pound rocks laid across the road still. I grabbed Redman's sledgehammer and started to break them in smaller sizes. - Let’s get moving soldiers! The supply truck should be here any minute now! - I yelled. It was a mess. The C-4 had left a fine white dust all over the place. It was hard to breath. Roy still was my best man. Moving as fast as he could he managed to lift more rocks than Brian and Redman together. He was also filthy. We had barely finished cleaning up the path when we heard an old diesel engine through the forest. The men were exhausted. Within minutes we spotted a M998 Troop Carrier driving straight to us. For a change we didn’t get some old piece of junk. The driver stopped. As I approached the truck’s cabin, I notice the driver was Corporal Greg Baxter. Greg and Ben went to SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape School) together. I remember drinking beers with them at Camp Mckall, California. He was a jolly guy. - Well, well…look who it’s! Corporal John Harris, eh? - said Greg as he shook my hand. - Good to see you too, Baxter! - I replied content. The back of the carrier was full of crates. Some contained perishables. I explained to him that we weren’t very far from base camp. He agreed to follow us. I was glad to see someone who I could trust. Perhaps Baxter could help me figure out what is going on with our mission. Perhaps, after all, this road could be a good thing. My avenue to hope.

by Corporal John Harris, August 24, 2006