Episode 82 - The solution of every problem is another problem

Susan, Roy and I walked quietly, keeping a good pace since most of the hike was downhill. Base Camp was still miles away and I felt like we didn’t have much time to spare. To the right we could see parts of the Abrams River, coming in and out of the forest. For a second I remembered the time when we first set foot in this part of the country. It all looked the same. Wolf Rock, a massive ledge projecting a shelf on Mount McMillan's cliff was still there, like it was never touched. But this time the circumstances of our visit were different. Something terrible had happened. In my heart, the anticipation and the fervor for revenge grew bigger with every step. Nightfall came, but darkness didn’t stop our quest. I never heard a single complaint from Roy or Susan, which assured me they were with me all the way, for better or for worse. It wasn’t till daybreak, only a mile and a half from Base Camp when I started to get a little worried. Roy, who was leading the line at the time, heard leaves rustling up ahead, perhaps warning us that we weren’t alone in the trail after all. We stopped for a minute, surveying the tall grass for any movement. Another crackling sound sent chills down my spine. I pulled the safety off my rifle and ventured into the tall undergrowth. Susan and Roy were right behind me. - Hold it, right there - said a familiar voice, followed by the distinctive sound of shotgun’s sliding pump. I froze. My brain took a few seconds to match the voice to its face. When it did, he was right in front of me: Sgt. Palmer. - Jesus Christ, man! I almost sent a burst of bullets through your chest! What are you doing here? - I said relieved. He gave me a smirk, winked at Roy and then replied: I think you know the answer, I had a feeling you would be here too. They wouldn’t tell me anything, so I decided to show up and find out what’s happening. After all, this place used to be under my responsibility - explained the sarge strapping his shotgun around his shoulder. - What’s your plan? - I asked him. - Well, I was just planning on showing up. How about you, do you have a better idea? - he asked me. I realized then, that I didn’t put much thought into the matter. Besides, I had no idea what kind of trouble we were going to encounter. - I guess we are all crashing their party! - I replied sarcastically. Sgt. Palmer smiled. - Glad to have some company - said the sarge satisfied with my response. We hit the trail again. I walked steadily, leading our group under the glare of the morning. It felt good to let my body absorb the warmth of the first sun rays, though not really knowing what to expect drove me crazy. We waded upstream following the Abrams River for about half an hour. As we approached the pond, our wading turned into clambering over slippery rocks. Then as we climbed over a small hill we came upon a sight I didn’t expect. At the East side of the pond a command post had been set up. A large infantry unit under Captain MacAlister command, stood ashore, like watching the peaceful morning waves of the pond. Cautiously, we descended the small hill, only to be interrupted half way down by one of Macalister’s soldiers: - Drop, your weapons! Now! - yelled the soldier aiming his automatic rifle straight at Roy. - Do as he says! Everyone! - said the sarge, lowering his own gun. The soldier looked at the sarge a bit confused and then asked: - Sgt. Palmer? Wait… You… you must be Corporal Harris! - The sarge and I nodded. The soldier got on his radio, and soon his attitude changed to a more polite manner. We were then escorted through the standing troops, who couldn’t help but to look disconcerted, probably wondering why a bunch of civilians were being ushered into their center of operations. Up by the shore, Captain MacAlister! didn’t look so happy to see us. He looked at our group, shook his head in disagreement and looked back at the pond. I hurried, scrambling through soldiers to get to the shore. Right there, right in the middle of pond, I saw the source of all our problems

by Corporal John Harris, July 19, 2007