Episode 84 - To die would be an awfully big adventure

If my plan was going to be successful, it needed to be executed fast. But from the start things weren’t looking up for us. As soon as Roy and I arrived at Base Camp, we noticed that we only had one rebreather and suit available in the shed. To make things worse, one of the rebreather’s twin hoses had been cut off. Ivanov had thought of everything. Bits and pieces of equipment were scattered on the floor. In one corner, a single-hose open-circuit scuba set was missing its primary regulator; its air cylinder had 1/3 of its oxygen capacity. - Alright, Roy! We gotta make this work somehow. You take the rebreather and the suit. See if you can reattach the hose to the counterlung. I’ll take the scuba set. I’ll use the cylinder’s main valve to control my oxygen supply. It should work fine - I told Roy, who didn’t waste any time. He cut a hole in the rebreather’s case, carefully watching for the scrubber which contains the carbon dioxide absorbent. He then reinserted one of the hoses back in the counterlung, securing it with a broken diving mask strap. - That is ingenious, Roy! - I told him thrilled. He looked at me, smirked and said: - When you’re born poor like I was, you learn how to fix things with what’s around you! Are you ready, Johnny? - he asked me. - As ready as I will ever be! - I replied. We got back to the Jeep and headed back to the pond. On our way there, I radioed Captain MacAlister: - The toads are ready. Release the conductor. I repeat… release the conductor, over and out - We parked the vehicle a few yards away from the command post, staying out of Dr. Johnson’s sight. Sgt. Nash, our bogus helicopter pilot, could be seen on the other side of the pond. He walked slowly by the shore, heading towards the helicopter. - Let’s get moving, we need to take their diver down first, then reach the other side in no time - I told Roy, who was already geared up. He agreed. We then slid down to the water. Roy got in first. He checked for leaks in the twin hoses of his rebreather and disappeared underwater. Following him, I opened my oxygen cylinder’s valve slowly, letting out just enough oxygen for small gulps of air. I checked my goggles and plunged into the pond. Something wasn't right. An eerie feeling crept over me while sinking in the water. The water temperature felt pretty good, though. Visibility wasn’t bad either. Not far from our position, I could see one of the several toxic waste barrels that littered the bottom of the pond. I adjusted my mouth piece and waved at Roy, signaling our course of action. I took another breath of compressed air and took off swimming towards Dr. Johnson and the raft. I swam close to the surface, keeping an eye on Ivanov’s diver. I didn’t want to be caught by surprise. It didn’t take long for us to reach the middle of the pond. I floated up once again, and peeked at the raft. Dr. Johnson was still there, unsuspicious of our presence. I submerged, and told Roy to get moving to the other end of the pond. I had to take care of the burly diver. If I didn’t succeed at least one of us would be there when they unloaded the missile off the raft. While Roy swam away, I got closer to the rubber boat. I had to succeed. I had to avoid getting hurt and I had to accomplish my mission leaving no room for Dr. Johnson to complete his. I also had to manage to do it fast, considering that I didn’t have enough oxygen to waste, or else I was looking to spend eternity at the bottom of the Mulberry Ridge Pond. I came from behind, gliding underwater like a dart. I pulled him underwater by the leg, clutching to him and praying to the gods that his grip around the raft would come loose. It did. We plummeted to the bottom slowly, wrestling against the burdensome water. Almost instantly, I watched Dr. Johnson taking off, paddling the raft towards the helicopter. I failed to grab my knife several times during the fight. Ivanov’s diver was a strong man and even though he wasn't using his rebreather, my efforts to eliminate him were scarcely effective. At some point I managed to grab his chin and attempted popping his neck up; a maneuver that back-fired when he turned his body around and shoved me against a wall of underwater foliage. I was choking on water. I was considering evasive action when out of nowhere Roy appeared, like a mirage through the cloud of algae and sand. He grabbed the husky diver by the head and managed to pull off his scuba goggles. Unable to breathe and see properly, the husky diver slowly became incapable to fight Roy and soon water filled his lungs. He stopped moving: dead! Noticing that Roy had finished the adversary, I immediately headed for the surface gasping for air. I spit out my mouth piece and vigorously sucked air in. I felt dizzy for a second, but the sight of Dr. Johnson getting closer to the shore put me back in the water, making me swim even faster than before. To make things worse, Sgt. Nash had finally reached the helicopter and was being held at gun point by Ivanov’s men. We had wasted a lot of time and my plan was about to fail. I kept swimming, hoping that by some supernatural reason, I would reach the shore before the Doctor. But I never made it in time. Dr. Johnson had reached the west banks of the pond and had already started to unload the missile. I was still several yards away from shallow waters. Roy was right behind me, still swimming strong. My mind was swept by the feeling of failure. I was out of breath and my legs showed signs of cramping. The chances of Roy and I launching an attack at the shore were gone. What now? I thought. I had succumbed to the stress of the moment and my mind went simply numb, unable to process a thing. And then the most amazing thing happened. I had come to the conclusion that the most unbelievable of events usually happen out of desperation. Some may call it a miracle.

by Corporal John Harris, August 01, 2007