Wednesday, April 17, 2013
(After playing Steven Walkups D20 Modern Walking Dead scenario “Walker, Texas Danger” Saturday (March 23) with Adam Frager, Christopher Sparks, and Kevin from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at CaesarCon 2013)
From the Journal of Francis “Frank” Strazynski (also called “Sarge”)
The day it all went to hell, I was on a mission.
We were members of an elite DEA squad, code-named Omega Squad. We had assembled in an undisclosed, secret location on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas, where we waited to be briefed on our next mission. Chester Brickhouse was our heavy weapons guy and wore a tactical vest, as I did. Sam “God” Everready was a sniper and wore a light duty vest. Jed Caliber was our medic and wore a concealed vest.
A man wearing a black Armani suit with matching tie finally entered the room.
“Welcome gentlemen,” he said. “You all know why you’re here. You’re the special arm of the DEA, so as always, what is said in this room stays in this room. You’ve all heard about the recent incidents of cannibalism. The U.S. government has linked it to a new street drug, desomorphine, street name crock, a deadly, addictive derivative of morphine that can be up to 50% stronger and three times cheaper than heroine. It’s also more addictive. First-time crock users can be expected to live no more than two to three years after initial injection. Once the drug enters the user’s bloodstream, it immediately starts killing off the white blood cells of the flesh around it, leaving the user’s skin grievous and scaly, like a crocodile’s, before it completely rots away.
“People produce crock by purchasing over-the-counter codeine and mixing it with iodine and red phosphorous, sometimes adding other things like gasoline or hydrochloric acid. For many people, crocodile is easier to make and obtain than other comparatively less desired drugs. It is described as having a fast onset and short duration of action, with relatively little nausea or respiratory depression compared to the equivalent doses of morphine.
“The U.S. Government is finished trying to find a political solution to the war on drugs, so the President has authorized us to strike a blow against a major drug cartel leader.”
He picked up a cord with a button on the end and pressed it. The picture projected onto the screen at the front of the room showed people who had been using crock. Their skin was desiccated and damaged, obviously beyond repair. On at least one of the victims, bone showed through the torn skin of the user.
“We think the drug messes with their minds,” he went on. “They go crazy. If you see people with their flesh coming off, walking funny, in a dazed state, they’re usually on crock.”
“Do we get to shoot ‘em?” I asked.
“This drug started in the soviet block and it’s coming to America,” he went on.
The next slide came up, showing an Hispanic man wearing a turban.
“His name is Alberto Guerrera,” he went on. “He’s the leader Hueva Del Demino.”
“Demon Spawn,” I translated.
“He has a mountain compound south of the Coronado National Forest. He runs drugs across the border. We are unable to track the routes he takes because he doesn’t use vehicles to transport his drugs. He uses pack animals. With our satellites focused on heat signatures and vehicles, his traffic shipments are travelling undetectable. He has contacts with MI-13, the Mexican mafia, and other street gangs to distribute them once they cross the border.
“Gentlemen, we caught a break.”
He snapped his fingers. A small Hispanic man entered the room.
“This is Enrico,” the government spook went on. “He was captured a month ago and has offered to lead you up the trail to the mountain hideout. Time is of the essence. It seems that Alberto himself is supervising this shipment personally. Your mission is to capture or eliminate him. As usual, the U.S. Government does not acknowledge the existence of this squad, so leave your DEA badges and IDs with me. As a bonus, you can keep all the cash you can find.”
“Fair enough,” I said.
We handed over our IDs and he left the room.
“Enrico, do you speak English?” I asked.
“Yes, I speak English,” Enrico replied.
“You think I’m stupid.”
“You might be. We don’t know yet. We’re gonna find out. If you survive, you’re probably not.”
“Hey, I’m just getting you to the trail, then I’m leaving.”
“What’s to stop you from taking us to the trail and warning this guy?” Everready asked.
“See, I got caught with a little drugs,” Enrico said. “I don’t want to go away forever.”
“So, the government’s paying me and giving me a new identity and all that good stuff.”
“So, how many guards are at this place?” I asked.
“There’s about six or seven ... teen,” Enrico said.
“What are they armed with?”
“AK-47s, M-16s. You see, your government sent a load of weapons to us. Thank you U.S. Government.”
“Damned U.S. Government,” Caliber said.
“You’re welcome. We’ll repay you in kind with bullets,” I said.
“‘Thank you U.S. Government,’” Caliber said. “Hell.”
I asked the man to draw us a map of the compound and show us weak spots and strong points, as well as where Alberto might be. There was only one entrance on the map he drew and we took only a short time examining it. The place was actually within a cave in the side of the mountain and contained barracks, an armory, stables, a common area, storage room, and laboratory. He also showed us “Alberto’s Door” which was off the common room. Apparently, only Alberto went into that door. Two guards were posted outside of the main entrance of the place at night. Guards were changed every two hours or so.
He also told us there were tripwires and booby traps that he would lead us through. He said he was not allowed to go into Alberto’s chamber but did know the location of the door that led into it. Enrico was to lead us to the cave entrance and then find his own way back.
We got loaded up. I requisitioned a few flashbangs and a few concussion grenades in addition to my frag grenades, Beretta, and H&K Mp5. Caliber carried an M4 carbine. Brickhouse was armed with a desert eagle, an M4 carbine, a sawed off shotgun, and a hatchet. Everready was armed with an M82 sniper rifle. We had suppressors for most of our weapons. We were also given some C-4 and simple timers to demolish the site. Enrico was only armed with a hunting knife.
A stealth Blackhawk took us from the briefing area into the wilderness. The vehicle flew nap of earth and made a few false landings, just in case we were being tracked. We flew for about an hour before we were offloaded in Mexico.
I moved to a secure position as Enrico motioned us to move out. Brickhouse took point and I followed behind with Caliber behind me and Everready in the rear. Enrico lead us, walking by Brickhouse. We kept about 15 feet between us.
It only took us a while to get close to the objective. Then we heard a woman scream somewhere up ahead.
“I think we’re close,” Caliber whispered.
A woman ran down the trail at us. She was obviously terrified as she approached Brickhouse and Enrico.
“Los muertos! Los muertos!” she screamed.
The dead! The dead!
She had badly torn bite marks on her arms.
“Los muertos! Los muertos!” she cried again.
“What’s she yelling?” Caliber asked.
“Los muertos! Los muertos!”
“She says there’s dead people up there,” I hissed at him as I moved into the brush on the side of the deer trail we’d been following.
“I think we should kill her,” Caliber said. “Knock her out, anyway.”
She pushed past us and ran down the trail, pointing back behind her. We spotted several people shambling down the trail.
“Stop where you are!” Brickhouse called. “Stop where you are!”
Nicer than I would have been, I thought.
The men didn’t stop. I noticed one of them was missing an arm, probably a victim of crock. Enrico pulled out his knife. Then we opened fire.
Brickhouse’s first shot struck one of the nearest men in the chest and it should have killed him but he only staggered and then kept coming. Caliber shot the same man, blasting him in the neck and taking his head off as if the body had been rotten for some time. I fired at one of the men towards the back of the group, hitting him in the chest. He didn’t fall. I began to suspect they were wearing some kind of armor.
“They must be hopped up on goofballs,” I said.
Then the night was torn by the crack of Everready’s 50-caliber. The blast took off the man’s arm and left it hanging by a thread. There was no way he should have been still walking towards us.
“Must be some new kind of crock,” I said.
“This ain’t right!” Everready said. “This just ain’t right!”
I switched my weapon to full auto as Jed fired into the three remaining cannibals, barely missing Brickhouse. The men moved towards us, one of them closing on Brickhouse while the other went for Enrico, who stabbed the man in the chest over and over. It didn’t seem to slow the cannibal down. Brickhouse put the carbine right to a cannibal’s head and blasted most of skull to pieces. He still didn’t go down!
Brickhouse moved back away from the crockheads.
Everready shot the same one he’d hit before, blowing a hole through the man’s body and ripping him apart. I moved through the woods nearer to Enrico and then opened up with the H&K, firing rounds into the area with the two remaining cannibals. None of my bullets struck the targets sufficiently to slow them down, however.
“Los Muertos! Los Muertos!” Enrico shrieked.
He turned and ran away.
Caliber shot another of the men and he went down. Brickhouse stepped up to the last man, who had moved towards Caliber.
“Cover your mouth,” Brickhouse said to Caliber.
He put the carbine to the cannibal’s head and blew it off his shoulders. The body kept walking for a moment before it fell to the ground. I was glad I was over in the woods.
As the smoke cleared, the smell of cordite filled the air. Black ooze seeped out of the bullet holes, cuts, and gashes on the bodies. One had a bowie knife stuck in his chest where his heart should have been.
Enrico came back, badly shaken.
“Alright Jed, so what are these guys on?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Caliber replied. “Let me check them out.”
“Ay dios mio,” Enrico said. “I knew these men. They are some of Alberto’s runners? These are the guys that would take the shipments down this trail.”
“Are they taking the drugs?” I asked.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Everready said.
“I know these men,” Enrico said. “Alberto’s rules are no drugs. No drugs.”
“These guys weren’t on any drugs,” Brickhouse said. “I looked right into their eyes; there was nothing looking back out of that head.”
“Figure out what happened to them doc,” I muttered to Caliber and moved up the trail as Everready pulled the bowie knife that was almost as big as a machete out of one of the corpses.
I found a position to keep watch up the trail as the others talked quietly.
“They must be on some kind of combination of drugs that keeps the body active,” I heard Brickhouse say.
After examining the bodies, Caliber went through the pockets of our attackers.
“I found some pesos,” I heard him say.
“I’ll get you to the entrance and the entrance only!” Enrico hissed.
“Where’s the boobies?” Caliber asked him.
“I’ll get you to the entrance.”
We resumed our marching order and headed up the trail, soon arriving at the cave entrance. It was a rocky outcrop on the side of the mountain. Vegetation was scattered around; large pieces of bushes were thrown around in the area, probably for camouflage. No guards were evident.
“Something’s going on!” Enrico hissed.
“We may not be the first ones here,” Everready said.
“Enrico, when was the last time you were here?” Caliber asked.
“Four months ago,” the Mexican answered.
“Four months!” Everready said.
“For the love of all that’s pure and holy!” Caliber said.
“I’m your only hope!” Enrico said. “I got you to the entrance. I am done.”
He turned around and walked down the trail. Caliber started to examine the area around the entrance.
“Why aren’t we moving?” I asked. “We should be moving in.”
He and Brickhouse pointed out the scorch marks on the side of the mountain where there had obviously been explosions. Caliber also found pieces of bodies that had been blown apart.
“Looks like they started the hoedown without us,” Caliber said.
“Well, this is taken care of then,” Brickhouse said. “Let’s finish her up.”
“I say we’re late to the party. Let’s go.”
We crept up to the entrance, Brickhouse still taking point, followed closely by Caliber and myself. Everready followed up behind. There were no guards at the cave entrance itself. Brickhouse moved forward, flash grenade in one hand, and looked down the other directions of the first intersection while Caliber and I covered him. He seemed to pay particular attention to the corridor to the left.
Bare light bulbs lit the corridor straight ahead.
Brickhouse crept back to us.
“Cannibals eating the livestock down there,” he said, pointing to the left corridor.
“I don’t think we should bother ‘em,” Caliber said.
Brickhouse pointed to the corridor to the right and headed back to the intersection, slipping around the corner. We followed him.
A door at the end under another bare light bulb had a sign on it. It read “El Arsenal.” Brickhouse headed down the hall, followed by Caliber. Everready and I stopped at the intersection. I covered the corridor to the stables where I could see two people hunched over a dead horse. Everready stayed near me and trained his rifle down the corridor towards the other two.
Brickhouse checked the door to make sure it was not rigged and then tried the latch. It proved to be locked. He leaned back to kick it, but Caliber quickly stopped him.
“We’ve got to be quiet,” Caliber hissed at him.
He took out a small lock pick set and worked at the lock. They pushed the door open and a scream and a blast of AK-47 gunfire came from the room. A crash followed from inside.
“Die stinking Americans!” I heard someone yell.
There was more gunfire from down the hallway and I barely heard the “pup-pup” of return fire by the silenced weapons of my companions.
“Keep an eye on them,” I said to Everready, nodding at the two cannibals.
I moved down the hallway to support the other two, keeping close to the wall. I could see Brickhouse in the room on the floor on our side of a desk. One of the Mexicans jumped up and aimed down at him.
“Put down your weapons!” the Mexican yelled. “Put down your weapons or your friend dies!”
“I don’t know him that well,” I said.
Caliber shot the man, hitting him in the abdomen. He cried out and fell to the ground, firing his gun as he went down.
“How dramatic,” I said. “He’s watched too many movies.”
Brickhouse got up, moving by the injured man and kicking the gun away from him. He went to another hallway that led out of the room on the left and peered around the corner. I also moved into the room. One of the men was lying under a small pile of rubble. I peered up at the ceiling and saw the bullet holes right above him. He’d fired into the ceiling and the falling debris had incapacitated him.
“We could interrogate him,” Caliber said.
I nodded and we used the zip straps to cuff both of the prisoners. Caliber saw to the man he’d shot though it looked like he actually made the man worse. We called Everready down to the room and closed the armory door behind him.
“Do you speak English?” I asked one of the prisoners.
He spit on my boots.
“Shine ‘em while you’re down there,” I said.
“Alberto’s going to kill all of you!” the man muttered. “This is his cave.”
“It’s his cave?”
“Americans set this plague upon us. He’ll kill every American.”
“Set what plague? You don’t see the los muertos walking around?”
“The Los Muertos? That’s what you call your cannibal friends?”
“The dead. They’re dead!”
“That would explain why they were so hard to kill.”
“They’re all dead.”
“So, what kind of drugs do you give these dead people to make ‘em dead.”
“Alberto’s no drugs. No drugs. We’re not allowed to take drugs. Alberto catches us taking drugs, he kill us. One of our scouts came down the trail and said some crazy man bit him. So we took him. We thought it was not a deep wound so we let him sleep it off.”
“Sounds like they got rabies.”
“And then, one by one, people started dying and coming back.”
“Not good,” Caliber said.
“How many are left,” I asked the prisoner.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Me and José, we locked ourselves in here and said we’d shoot anything that comes through that door, until–”
“Alberto know that?”
“Alberto will save us! He has not saved us yet but he will save us. You cannot kill him.”
“How long you been in here?”
“What you been drinking, your urine?”
“No, right over there.”
I looked to my right. A refrigerator stood against the wall.
“A refrigerator full of beer,” he muttered.
“Who were you waiting for?” Caliber asked.
“Alberto,” the man replied.
“No. Enrico, that little swine! He ran away like the little bitch he is.”
“But the muerto aren’t going to get him, right?” I asked. “So who’s the bitch now?”
He glared at me.
“Why don’t you tell us where Alberto is?” I continued. “Because we know where some of those muertos are and you’d make a wonderful distraction.”
“He’s probably in his room, plotting his revenge,” he said.
“How many more are in here?” Brickhouse asked.
“Five!” the man suddenly said.
“How many of your people who aren’t muertos?” I asked.
“Me and José were the only two. We locked ourselves in. We were not going to open up until Alberto gets us.”
“How many muertos?”
“I don’t know.”
“How many were in the place before the muertos?”
“Six or seven ... teen.”
“You got rats in here?” Brickhouse, still watching the other door, asked.
“No rats. Alberto makes sure we keep it clean.”
“Sam, how are those muertos doing over there with the horses?” I asked Everready, who was still watching out of the door we’d come in.
A slow, determined banging began on the door we hadn’t entered yet.
“Yeah, uh, José, if you don’t want to get left for the muertos, you’d better be really cooperative about right now,” I said.
He looked at the door and then back at me.
“Alberto save me,” he said. “I’ll be okay. That’s probably Alberto busting through the door. He’ll kill all you Americans! Wear your ears as a necklace.”
“Oh,” I said.
“Sweet,” Caliber said sarcastically.
“That would be really not a clean necklace,” I said. “Then we’ll just leave you here.”
“Just uncuff me first,” the Mexican said.
“No. There’s no way. That’s not going to happen.”
“We could kneecap him and then uncuff him,” Everready said.
“I thought Americans were kind to their prisoners,” the Mexican said.
“We are,” Everready replied.
“We’re not American,” Brickhouse said.
“We’re not Americans,” Everready echoed him. “We don’t exist.”
“Australians?” the Mexican said.
I turned from him.
“So, should we just declare this a black op and kill everything?” I asked the others.
“I thought it was a black op ...” Everready said.
“I’m not talking about José, here,” I said.
We ignored the persistent banging for the moment to search the room, though Brickhouse put a grenade on the handle with the pin out so that it would fall if anyone opened it. There was a box of old pineapple grenades and Brickhouse suggested we rig a few doors with them. We talked about circling around the barracks and I pointed out that there were so many ways to get flanked in the terrible place. Caliber suggested we lock the door we’d come through and move linearly through the place to Alberto’s rooms. He also suggested booby trapping the doors we went through.
I searched more carefully and found five claymores and tripwires. I suggested putting a claymore in the hallway between ourselves and the stables and taking the rest with us. I ended up setting two claymores, one pointing towards the stables and the other up the other hallway. I told the others where I’d set them up.
Someone was still banging on the door to the barracks. Then they started jiggling the handle. The grenade was still sitting there.
“Someone get that grenade out of there,” I said. “Where’s the pin?”
Caliber dragged the two Mexicans to the corner.
“We don’t have the manpower to take prisoners,” Everready said. “It’s a black op. I say we just stack ‘em like cordwood somewhere.”
“Okay,” Caliber said.
He executed the two prisoners with his silenced sidearm.
“He’s the medic, he knows how to handle these things,” I said.
Brickhouse took the grenade from its place, then he pushed the door open, shoved the grenade into the crack, and tried to pull the door shut.
“Oh fuck me!” I said, as I ran for cover. “Thanks for the heads up!”
To my horror, I saw that Brickhouse had not gotten the door shut. It slowly opened into the other room.
“Duck and cover!” Brickhouse shouted and ran.
Someone was coming through the door when the grenade went off behind them, blasting them to pieces and sending their body parts flying into the room.
“Five hostiles, two just went out of sight, one’s legless!” Everready, who was the only who in position to see into the room, said.
Brickhouse moved to Everready and fired at the legless thing that was pulling itself towards the two men. The headshot was tore away part of the skull but the thing kept coming.
“Never send a weapon’s guy to do a sniper’s job,” Everready muttered.
Caliber blew the thing’s head off. Two more people stumbled into the room, their guts hanging out.
You can’t see me, I thought over and over. You can’t see me.
I shot the nearest one in the head and it dropped. Everready finished off the last one with his handgun by blasting its head off. Brickhouse aimed at the door and the rest of us waited to see if anything else came into the room.
“I don’t hear anything,” Caliber said.
“There were two more in the room,” Everready said. “I don’t know where they’re at. No confirmation of down.”
Brickhouse fired into the doorway and I heard someone hit the ground. The last one shambled into the room towards Everready. I shot it in the head and it slammed against the wall and slid slowly down to the floor where it lay still. I trained my Mp5 back at the doorway.
“Clear,” Everready said.
Brickhouse moved into the barracks and I followed him. There were some more dead bodies, one of them with a hunk of door stuck into the side of the head.
“What is going on here?” I muttered.
The room had several cots. Bloodstained blankets littered the floor. Bits and pieces of bodies were scattered around the room and we figured that we’d dealt with at least 17 dead since entering the place.
While the others searched the room for valuables, I secured the other door that led into the room.
“Should we trap the doors behind us that are still intact?” I asked. “Grenade trap ‘em?”
“If we can, yeah,” Caliber said.
I went back to the arsenal and brought back the a dozen grenades. We rigged the door with a grenade that would go off if anyone came through. I also rigged the door to the arsenal so that the grenade would go off if that door was opened.
“Just remember them if we have to get out of there,” Brickhouse said.
Brickhouse took point again, leading us into a kitchen. A long table with unfinished food sitting upon it stood near several upset chairs. A quick look under the table revealed nothing. A set of double doors appeared to be secured from the other side while an archway led out to the main corridor. I quickly secured the archway.
Brickhouse kicked open the double doors to the kitchen. Screams of girls filled the air and a heavyset woman stood defiantly in the middle of the kitchen. She held a butcher cleaver in her hand. Behind her, three young girls cried out in fear.
“The dead! The dead!” she screamed in broken English. “I bring the girls here! No diablos get here! You Americans?”
“I’m American,” Brickhouse said.
“Did you bring this plague?”
“Your boss did. We’re here to clean it up.”
“Alberto is my son!”
“Then your son did,” I said.
“You will not speak of him this way!”
“He’s feeding these people the crock and turning them into cannibals,” Brickhouse said.
“We don’t do crock. We don’t do crock here. We do simple drugs. Dope. Heroin. Cocaine. Nothing bad.”
We all stared at her. Then I moved back to cover the archway. The girls were all very young.
“These girls help me clean around here,” the woman said to Brickhouse.
“You’re Alberto’s mom?” Caliber said.
“Put your butcher knife away,” Brickhouse said.
The old woman put the butcher knife down.
“You’re not dead,” I heard her say. “I let no muertos in here. No muertos come here. I told the girls no muertos get here.”
Brickhouse walked over to us.
“You understand that she’s going to have an issue with our mission here,” he said to us.
“To kill her son,” Caliber said. “Yeah, we won’t tell her that part.”
“We could always take him prisoner,” I said. “That is an option.”
“It’s kind of a sticky situation,” Brickhouse said. “Let’s just go ahead, escort her out of here real quick, tell her to get the hell out of here, and then get back.”
“To where?” Everready said. “She’s probably safer where she’s at,”
“We could rebar the door,” Caliber said.
Brickhouse lowered his voice.
“When I put a bullet in her son’s head, I don’t want her coming at me with a butcher knife,” he said.
The three of them discussed it while I looked at the metal door to Alberto’s safe room. There was no camera there. I asked Caliber to put another claymore facing down the tunnel and he set it up. In the end, Brickhouse escorted the woman and the little girls to the entrance of the caves and returned a few minutes later.
The door to Alberto’s inner sanctum was made of metal and an intercom was set into the wall beside it. It proved to be locked. Caliber worked on the lock for a couple of minutes and managed to pick it. He drew his pistol and pulled the door open. A narrow corridor turned sharply to the left and opened into a small chamber.
Brickhouse led the way. I was close behind, followed by Caliber and Everready. Brickhouse moved to the corner and peered around it. Then he chucked the flashbang down the hall. It exploded and he pressed into the room with me close behind. Alberto was sitting behind his desk, blinking his eyes. He threw down an AK-47.
“Policia!” he screamed. “Policia! Policia! American policia? Save me!”
He moved forward, arms outstretched to embrace us.
“Get on the ground!” Brickhouse screamed at him. “Get on the ground!”
He shoved Alberto to the ground.
“Oh, God bless America!” Alberto said.
He was shaking with fear.
“I will give you one million dollars if you get me out of here!” he said.
“Each,” Everready said.
“One million American dollars!”
Everready tied up Alberto with zip ties.
“Each,” Everready said again. “I haven’t heard the answer to that yet.”
“I only have a million on me,” Alberto said weakly.
“You’re in no position to barter there, boy,” Brickhouse said to him.
I moved back down the corridor, watching the way we came. Alberto was gibbering and they finally gagged him. The others searched the room.
There were a couple million dollars worth of valuables, as well as a laptop and records of his organization.
“I’ll give you the password if you get me out of here!” Alberto mumbled through the gag.
“Password to what?” Everready said.
“The computer,” I muttered. “Grab the laptop. Grab the prisoner. Grab the money. Let’s go.”
Caliber put the laptop in its case while the rest of us grabbed everything of value. We discussed taking out the drug lab and Caliber suggested using all of the claymores near the entrance to cave, saving us the time of dealing with the cannibals and the drug lab. I pointed out we had C-4 too and he added that to the equation.
“All right, let’s just go down to the main entrance, plant C-4 on our way out, and a couple claymores, and let it go to hell,” Brickhouse said.
“I’m okay with that,” Everready said.
“Something’s very wrong here,” I muttered.
“Any other children here?” Brickhouse asked Alberto. “We found three already.”
“And your mom,” I said. “She’s safe.”
“She’s safe?” Alberto muttered. “There’s only three kids, they help out in the kitchen. Just get me out of here! The generator’s about to run out right ... now.”
The lights suddenly went out in the room. I switched to night vision and saw that the others had as well.
Brickhouse stared at Alberto.
“He’s covering his ass, guys,” Brickhouse said. “He’s not giving us shit.”
“Okay,” Caliber said.
He fired a single bullet into Alberto’s chest. The man looked very surprised before he dropped to the ground, dead. Someone took his photo. We had the proof we needed.
There was a crudely made secret door in the wall. Brickhouse suggested that it might be a quick way out and opened it up. Then we heard an explosion from down the corridor somewhere. It sounded like a claymore going off. Brickhouse returned a few moments later and told us it led to the main passage.
“Entrance’s got fireworks going on,” he said.
He closed the interior secret door and we headed out of the safe room, back the way we came. We crossed the kitchen and went through the barracks without incident, returning to the arsenal and putting the crude grenade traps back into place. En route, we heard explosions in the main corridor deeper into the complex where we’d left more claymores.
Looking down the hallway outside of the arsenal, we spotted several more cannibals wandering around in the dark.
“Take ‘em out,” Caliber whispered.
Brickhouse and I coordinated our shots while Caliber watched the way we’d come. Two head shots and both of the men in the hallway dropped to the ground and stopped moving. We watched for several seconds to make sure there weren’t more of them. It looked like there were a couple more bodies there.
“You might want to hit those in the heads,” Everready said, looking through the scope of his sniper rifle.
We again coordinated and both fired at the corpses on the ground. They both jerked and then lay still.
“You see any more?” Brickhouse asked Everready.
“Don’t see any more,” he replied.
“Clear,” Brickhouse said. “Let’s go.”
He headed up the corridor and two more of the cannibals lurched around the corner.
“Oh crap!” I said.
I took a knee as one of the things grappled with Brickhouse. He shoved the man off, put his rifle barrel to the man’s face, and blew his head off. He crossed the corridor towards the cave entrance.
“One hostile!” he called down to us as the other man lurched towards him and grabbed him.
Brickhouse flung the man off him. There was the report of the 50-caliber rifle from Everready behind me and the man’s head blew to pieces and the body fell to the ground.
“Clear?” I called.
“Clear!” Brickhouse said, a little shook up.
We set charges of C-4 at the entrance and set it off as we headed for the LZ. As we cleared the woods around the mountain, we called for evac. As we boarded the Blackhawk, the pilot hollered back at us.
“Good thing you guys called when you did!” he said. “There’s rioting in El Paso and they’re calling every able-body to come help. I was told to give you 20 more minutes and then I had to go back.”
As we flew towards the city, I could see smoke and flames rising towards the sky. The helicopter landed on a roof not far from where we’d originally taken off. We walked to the edge of the roof and realized that the things we’d encountered were not contained to the mountains.
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