Episode 67 - Remembering the past gives power to the present

I’ve been captured and locked up in a small rotting room for a few weeks now. A tiny window serves as my only source of light. Through its bars I can see a wide hallway where guards often passed by. I developed the habit of taking mental notes of the guards, their positions and their guns. I visualize myself sprinting from behind the confining doors and knocking them down quickly. But in reality my days are long and uneventful. I refused to eat during the first few days of captivity, making myself even sicker. If I was ever to get out of here, I needed to stay strong and healthy. Even the wild potatoes I ate during last fall taste better than what they serve in here. A white sticky paste, served up in a nasty unwashed bowl is provided as a meal everyday. Every once in a while I would think about the incident that lead me here. My stomach still turns into knots just remembering it. It was the 30th of January, my birthday. Feeling lucky that evening, I headed down to the old Mulberry Ridge Laboratory to snap more incriminating pictures of Dr. Ivanov’s activities. I had this feeling that something big was about to happen. And Good Lord, I was so right. Hunkered down by the melting snow I watched the events unfold. The first hours of that January night were pretty quiet. About 2200 hours a Chenowth Hellfire FAV (Fast Assault Vehicle) approached the front of the building. Chenowth Racing Products, Inc. developed the Hellfire FAV during the 1980s, as part of the United States' Army's High Technology Light Division. For me that was another reason to believe the Military was behind Dr. Ivanov’s schemes. As I took some pictures of the assault car, the driver and gunman were greeted by some of the guards. Minutes later I heard another vehicle approaching the site: Baxter’s Humvee. He slowly backed up the cargo truck in front of the lab and walked towards the other men. I noticed Baxter had a passenger: It was Dr. Johnson (!!!), who quickly left the Humvee’s cabin and stood by the truck’s back gate. He was promptly followed by Baxter and the FAV operators. I kept wondering what was in the back of truck. Then the civilian man, who seemed to be in charge of the guards, signaled something to a man on the second floor of the lab. Not surprisingly, Dr. Ivanov in his wheel chair appeared shortly after. I finally had all the bad guys together. I let my camera do its job, capturing the event as the unlawful doctors shook hands. My last roll of film was about to run out. At that point I had about 4 pictures left to take. - I’ll find out what’s in the back of the Humvee and I’ll get the hell out of here on the double…- I said to myself. Finally the FAV’s driver came up to the back of the truck and pulled the camouflage net covering the cargo. I narrowed my eyes trying to see what was happening. Foolishly, in an attempt to see the incident better, I left the protection of the pine trees and got closer to the lab. My heart thumped harder and I swear it stopped for a few seconds. I had just realized what was in the back of the truck: Ben!!! My friend Marine Corpsman set inside of a metal cage. I hated what they were doing to him and the fact that I couldn't do anything about it drove me even madder. Baxter climbed into the back of the truck and started to push the cage out of the back gate. In front of the Lab, Dr. Ivanov and Dr. Johnson watched him carefully. Soon the other men came to Baxter’s assistance, lifting the cage and taking Ben inside the building. Right then I got a good look at Ben. His face was still covered by bandages and there was something strange happening with his eyes. Such image will be forever seared into my memory. I could be making this up, but I think Ben actually looked at me. And then everything started to fall apart. My eyes got watery and my nose got runny. My mind drifted back in time, back to the day when Ben and I met. I filled my lungs with cold air and tried to snap out of it. During those few reflective seconds, a guard had started to walk towards my position just outside the pine forest. Realizing that he was about to blow my cover, I grabbed my poncho and the remaining of my gear. I watched in panic as the guard ahead took aim at me. Suddenly, viewing the world now through a haze, almost like underwater, I aimed at the guard as well, a heart beat away from pulling my gun’s trigger. Then I heard Dr. Johnson’s voice yelling something in the background as another guard’s rifle stock came down on top of my head. And that’s all I remember. If it wasn’t for the guards’ uniforms I would say I was taken somewhere else. But I know I’m still at the Mulberry Ridge Lab. I can feel Ben’s presence close by. It’s too bad it ended up this way. But don’t you worry: I’m right here my friend.

by Corporal John Harris, February 08, 2007