At 6am, the sound of rapid burst machine gun fire ripped through the air followed by incomprehensible primal screams coming from the dense thicket and echoing down the river valley.
The transport vehicle flew down the pitted, rocky, dirt road. Running as if it were really possible to leave this nightmare behind. The pistons roared under the hood as the vehicle lurched up and down through another crater like pit, in the road. Heads slammed into the ceiling and then people lay inert in their seats , too weary to even moan. The energy to moan was lost 15 hours ago in this nightmare ride.
The night was quiet and gave a false sense of security, but as soon as the sky turned from black to mottled hues of blue, it started again. It was as if the sun itself brought bright red tracer bullets along with the bright tropical sun rays.
“We’ll make it , We’ll make it”. “Only 12 more hours to go”.
These thoughts echoed in his mind over and over. A broken record with the claw marks from the devil himself, repeating for all eternity.
“What did I ever do to deserve this?” .”I’ve been good to God , Allah , Buddha, Yewah, Shiva , all of them!” . “Maybe the animists had it right? If I live , I’ll hunt bad the biggest and the baddest of all the tigers and sacrifice him.”
More blood to appease the blood lust. The jungle already stained crimson with men, women, and children.
The head in front of him exploded. Little globules of strawberry jam sprayed forward, creating abstract modern art on the seat ahead. Bits of cranial matter burst forward at 500 miles per hour and embedded themselves neatly in the upholstery. Like a sick version of connect the dots he saw himself creating images of rabbits frolicking in a forest in his mind. Years of this shit had numbed the senses. Reducing a man’s death to a normal occurrence. Equating bits of brain and blood to an everyday event , like the alarm clock going off, like the sound of eggs sizzling in the pan.
“Dear God, war is hell, or Dear Lucifer, war is heaven?”
It was hard to tell anymore. The mind was so scrambled.
Brakes smoking , screeching noises emanating from deep within the speeding death trap, the casket desperately tried to cut speed. The 180 degree twist that suddenly popped up in the mountainous jungle road loomed ahead like the Grim Reaper clutching his scythe. The end seemed inevitable , maybe then they would have some time to rest. But somehow , miraculously even, the transport made it with seemingly every bolt and screw protesting the indignities they were being inflicted with.
“I wish it would have just careened off the path, I’m tired of all this”.
Like a massive joke , one danger was passed and another lay ahead. However, he wasn’t laughing at the tiny ,malnourished, children soldiers , who were brandishing massive machetes , AK-47s, and grenades. Children, who instead of holding stuffed animals and play fighting with sticks, were swimming in huge, tattered ,mildew green uniforms, and were trying to ruthlessly kill all of those aboard. The children leaped at the vehicle. He punched one , two children in the face. He slammed the butt of his assault rifle into the solar plexus of another. The youths were weak but then again so were the badly beaten soldiers.
The young warriors were getting grips on the shattered window frames. Blood was gushing from fresh wounds as they attempted to pull themselves over shattered stubs of glass into the vehicle. It was seeming hopeless but somehow the unscathed driver was still going. The driver slammed the bus into another 180 degree turn on the twisty mountain road and many of the kids lost their grips on the vehicle and plummeted thousands of feet down. The bus kept going.
He couldn’t really believe it when they finally pulled into the ruins of the village. He couldn’t really be happy about it, seeing as how it was just a demolished , burnt down, bombed to shreds village, just one of hundreds of similarly destroyed towns. But they could finally get out of the vehicle. The remaining men piled out of their moving home and down onto land, most barely able to keep on two feet. More corpses stayed aboard than men came out. But they had arrived , they were “home”.
Yikes! , sorry everyone for that morose little entry. That didn’t really happen to me on the 28 hour bus ride from Kunming to Luang Prabang but it was inspired by the ride.
To all those Mothers , please please please do not give your 3-year-old child a plastic toy gun that lights up and emits a loud burst of automatic machine gun noise followed by a man yelling “FIRE FIRE!!” which then letting off a few more bursts of gun fire , with EVERY pull of the trigger. If you want to drive yourself insane then please equip your child with this “toy” at your own convenience in the safety of your own home. Not on a packed public bus on an overnight 28 hour journey.
If common sense has failed to stop you from giving your child this toy in public then at least please f***ing take it away from your child (monster) when he repeatedly pulls the trigger over and over and over again starting at 5:30 in the morning. 5:30am after already being on said bus for more than twelve hours and not being able to sleep due to constant bumps and turns on the shitty Laotian roads. The abuse didn’t let up until 3 hours later when they got off the bus.
During the entire cacophony of gunfire , I got the inspiration to try my hand at penning a little war story after I got back. This quickly assembled little dittyba was the result.