Episode 64 - He who fails to plan, plans to fail

It was Monday, when the snow storm finally stopped. Consecutive blizzards and a horrible cold front pounded the Mulberry Ridge for almost three weeks straight. It was hard to believe anyone could’ve survived such bad weather out here in the boonies. But I managed to come out ok. Physically that is. Mentally I was a wreck. Boredom and loneliness were driving me crazy. I caught myself talking out loud several times. Nightmares kept me from sleeping several nights. My mind imagined foolish scenarios for a way out of here. How would I spend the rest of my life if I should, somehow, survive this? Or who would pay my funeral expenses if I don't. Would I even get a funeral? I thought about giving it all up. Four months out here, living like a fugitive and I haven’t accomplished anything. Getting shot at didn’t really add up much in my quest for justice. But above all, I was still a Marine, a Force Recon Marine with a job still to be done. The following days after the storm, led me to elaborate a plan that could possibly create enough evidence to put away Dr. Ivanov and Dr. Johnson for good. That plan included a visit to the old Base Camp, a visit to Corporal Malloy. On Wednesday evening I geared up and headed to the end of the Valley, creating a series of dummy tracks to avoid being followed back to the cave. Then using the delivery truck’s beaten down tracks on the snow, I followed the logging road all the way down to Base Camp. It was getting dark and my old team mates were getting ready for the night. I spotted Private Redman first, as he got equipped for his night guard shift. I could hear faint but familiar voices all the way across to the barracks. A feeling of self-pity hit me hard. It was like nothing had happened since I left. They went on with their lives while I struggled for four months in a cold cave. But seeing Malloy getting inside her tent snapped me right out of it. Slowly, Base Camp became silent, dormant. I waited, hidden behind the snow covered Jeep, till darkness crept upon the Camp. With Redman finally out of site, I sneaked inside Base Camp’s perimeter. A note I had written the day before was held tight in my right hand: my cry for help to Malloy. Through a crack in the zippers of her tent, I place the note in. Making sure the note was the first thing Malloy would see before she left her tent in the morning. I gazed on Redman’s last position and booked out of there into the shadowy forest. On Thursday, around noon, I left the cave again. If Malloy read my instructions correctly, she was heading towards Penn’s cave to meet me. To ensure no one had followed her, I headed to the hillside trail where I intended to follow her last steps towards the cave. A few minutes later, I spotted not only Malloy, but Rodrigues as well, marching along the slope. Trying not to be seen, I carefully scanned the landscape for anyone pursuing the two Marines. No danger in sight. If anything I should’ve been concerned with Rodrigues, since my note stated Malloy to come alone. But I knew he was no threat. Rodrigues had once saved my life, I could totally afford the benefit of the doubt. I waited a few minutes till they passed my position, then swung a left and put myself right behind them. I continued following them undetected till they arrived at the cave. To guarantee the secrecy of our meeting, I lingered outside the cave a little longer. When I finally went in I found Malloy and Rodrigues staring at what had been my home for the past few months: a snow covered cave, scanty, smelly and dark. - Looking for me? - I asked as I sneaked behind them. Letting out a scared squeak, Malloy turned around. Without saying a word she grabbed my face tenderly. Rodrigues had a kindly smile on his face. Malloy then grabbed me strongly and hugged me like a teddy bear. - I’ve been dead worried about you! Everyone at Base Camp thinks you didn’t make it through the snow storm. - said Malloy now pulling away from me. - We don’t have much time. Do you wanna talk about this plan of yours? - Malloy asked me. I had a lot to say, but words didn’t come out of my mouth that easy. - Did you bring the camera? - I asked Malloy almost sounding like a robot. She reached for her backpack and handed me a 35mm camera and 3 rolls of film. - Someone linked to Dr. Johnson is using the old Mulberry Ridge Lab. It’s heavily protected and I’ve seen a lot of activity there before Christmas. I have a feeling the Lab is connected to all the deaths around here, including Ben’s accident. I need proof of criminal intent, and that’s where the camera comes into place. Don’t worry: it’s a simple recon mission. Besides, I already found out it’s impossible to get in the Lab alone. - I told Malloy. Rodrigues opened his day-pack and grabbed a monocular telescope. - Here, you might need this too. - he said, passing me the telescope. I thanked him and continued: - In a month, on the 17th of February, we shall meet again. Same time, same place. In the mean time, I need both of you to find out who’s on our side at Base Camp. It’s crucial that you do it with caution. Without help from someone inside Base Camp, my plan won’t work. If I fail to meet you next month, here are the coordinates to the Lab. You’ll be on your own. Send my regards to Roy - I told Malloy while passing her a piece of paper. The two Marines acknowledged my words. Malloy then hugged me again and passed me a small sack full of MREs, two packs of cigarettes and a new GPS receiver. - Be careful John…Be very careful… - Malloy asked me worriedly. The two Marines stood at the cave’s mouth for a second or two and then moved out, disappearing into the white terrain. As for me, I had a lot to do: it was time to get to work.

by Corporal John Harris, January 18, 2007