Episode 72 - The foundation of justice is good faith

Walking along the Abrams River felt good. After six weeks imprisoned in a research facility I was finally released thanks to my fellow Marine soldiers. We were heading for a clearing at the border of Beacon Hill State Park. Our helicopter waited for us there. Considering that Dr. Ivanov had vanished taking our friend Ben with him, I was on high spirits. I had recovered my camera which contained loads of pictures of Ivanov’s wrong doings. It was just a matter of time before we could indict the evil Doctor and his associates. But I couldn’t deny that the events from the night before had taken a toll on me. I had killed many. Was that the price of justice? How many more terrible decisions must we serve to preserve Human Dignity? They say justice begins with truth, but for me, it had begun with murder. It was just awful. In addition to my brand new horrific memories, Redman was still injured and my shoulder throbbed like hell. We kept a steady pace, occasionally stopping to give Redman a rest. - How is your leg holding up? - Malloy asked Redman during one of our breaks. - I don’t know if I can keep up much longer - said Redman while loosening up his boot laces. Thanks to a little Chitoson, a carbohydrate polymer which helps to instantly stop blood loss, Redman was doing better than expected. But the amount of tissue disruption on his leg, of course, temporarily limited his mobility. Dr. Susan Walker constantly checked his wound for signs of infection. By 900 hours I started to get worried. - How much further? - I asked Captain Jill Schneider, our pilot. She assured me that we only had another mile or so to go. Roy nicely volunteered to help Redman on the last stretch of our journey. I haven’t seen Roy in so long; I had forgotten how carrying he was. When we finally reached the end of the forest, an unexpected view caught us by surprise. - Where’s the helicopter? - Redman said in panic. And just like that, our hopes to get out of the Mulberry Ridge suddenly faded away. Instead of our helicopter, Dr. Ivanov’s van was the only thing in sight at the clearing. - How could I’ve let this happen? - said Jill sobbing in front of the van. Roy who was still carrying Redman yelled from behind us: - Well, what’s the big deal? We can drive out of here instead of flying, right? Malloy got hold of her binoculars and scanned the clearing. Nothing, she signaled. I looked inside the van: no keys. Behind me, leaning against the side door, Jill shed tears in disbelief. - Someone must’ve told Dr. Ivanov about the helicopter, but why??? - Jill kept saying. Redman sat in front of the VW van, his left boot off. We were all shocked but still trying to make the best out of the situation. Roy got inside the vehicle. - Well, looks like we’re going nowhere. I think we are out of gas - said Roy from the driver’s seat. - Yep! There’s gasoline all over the ground back here, looks like they tried to blow up the car - said Malloy from the back of the van. Susan Walker tried to make herself useful. She attempted to calm down Jill. - Alright, we’re going to need another plan. Do you think we can patch the gas tank? - I asked Malloy. - Well, we used to have some epoxy back at Base Camp - said Malloy optimistically. By now Jill had stopped crying, giving Dr. Walker time to check on Redman once again. We needed a solution fast. Roy and I discussed the gas problem: - We may have some gas at Base Camp. Our generators hold about 3 gallons of gas each. That gives about 4 to 6 gallons. That’s enough to drive us to our fuel station at the logging road. If I remember, I think we have enough gasoline there to fill up the van’s tank - Roy finished. It all sounded good. But I had so many plans go wrong in the last few months, that I had my doubts. - What if the fuel station is gone? What if Ivanov blew the whole thing up? - I asked Roy uncertain. - Well, it’s a risk we’re gonna have to take. Either way, we are stuck here - he finished talking again. Roy was right. Before I could say anything else, Dr. Walker stepped in the conversation. - Ok, soldier. Let’s see that shoulder of yours - said the female doctor pointing her finger at me. Although I had more important things in my mind, I couldn’t ignore the fact that my shoulder was in pain. I complied with her request. I took off the jumpsuit and sat by the van’s sliding door. My sweatshirt had gotten stuck to the wound. It was nothing major, but it sure hurt to get it off. Susan patched my injured shoulder, while in front of the van, Roy explained our new plan to Redman. I was tired and hungry. I kept thinking about Murphy's Law: If anything can go wrong, it will. It had became obvious to me that we had a traitor among us, but who? As I wondered about the possibilities, I held my camera tight. Those pictures were my only hope for real freedom.

by Corporal John Harris, March 22, 2007