Today is the morning of April 14, the day when the Irish girl and Ratri will fetch me for this…adventure.
I am excited, I hate to admit. I mean…when was the last time I ever went out of Kentucky? Let me see…
It was when Mary was still alive, and we went to see the sights and sounds of New York City. Unfortunately, the date happened to be September 11, 2001, so…pretty bad memory all in all. It was even the reason why Mary died, according to the doctor, inhaling all that nasty stuff in the dust cloud and giving her breathing complications.
‘At least Mary died in her sleep, thank you God. No more hacking coughs and breathing problems for my dear wife to worry about up there in heaven’
Anyways, yeah, it is the first time in quite a while, and even the fact that I am going into certain danger is just adding to the thrill that I am feeling.
“Grandpa, have you packed away everything you might need for your hunting trip?” Regina calls out to me from outside the home. I turn away from the calendar towards the table to see if I had gathered everything I might need for a trip in order.
‘Hmm…the SKS with a bayonet is looking good…all 20 clips are fully loaded…two 640rd. boxes of 7.62 by 39 bullets…my M7 bayonet I had from Vietnam and it’s sheathe…there’s the lighter…a SureFireflashlight and a box of batteries from the same company…5 cans of sardines…a 1 liter water bottle…2 DBDU and 2 M81 BDU, all military surplus…two changes of underwear…two pairs of socks…a poncho…a snorkel parka… a Gore-Tex bivouac sack and finally…’
I stop my thoughts and look up at the mounts above the door
‘the replica of ‘Annie’ that Ratri made up while I lent it to her. Check’
Seeing that I have all I could need for an extended adventure besides what those goddesses would provide me, and that everything at home seems to be in order, I quickly pack everything else except the SKS into the backpack, carry the backpack and the rifle on my shoulders and then walk out of the door.
Annie and Regina were both there waiting for me to come out, dressed in quite pretty clothes. It just so happens that both Regina and Annie are also going out this same day to Louisville, to visit Annie’s parents. Regina also said that she plans to visit her coven at the same time to fix her ties with those she had pissed off.
“Well girls, are you both sure you got everything you need for your trip to Louisville? No cell phones or wallets forgotten?”
“Yes grandpa.” Both girls chorus like little angels with smiling faces.
“Good. And don’t forget to lock the house up, alright? Be careful on your way to Louisville girls. And finally, say hello to Fiona and Arnold for me.”
“Same goes for you too grandpa. Are you sure YOU have everything you might need?” Regina asks me.
“Not to mention are you ok carrying all those things over a long, long way over to Alaska?” Annie asks like the good girl that Fiona is bragging to me about.
I waved her concern away. “Well, 2 weeks ago I was also thinking the same thing. But when I worked out in the gym at Hazard, it turned out I can still do as much physical activity as a 30 year old man. When I get back, I will tell you the story about that. I assure you, it is funny. Well then, bye girls. See you soon.” I smiled and waved at them walking down the road towards town. I look back at my granddaughters upon hearing them yell ‘goodbye and good luck.’
I sincerely hope this is not the last time I ever saw them.
It was an hour already after I took leave of my granddaughters. When I had reached State Highway 1387, I followed it down to Buckhorn Dam and then left the road at the point where the highway went on top of the dam towards the east. I instead went south, making my way through the forest and keeping sight of Buckhorn Lake until I reached a rocky river bank that is within sight of Buckhorn Lake State Resort.
I sit down on one of the larger stones, leaning on my new SKS and wait.
An hour had passed (I knew this because I had a watch on my wrist that says it is 10 in the morning already) before anything happened.
Of all things to announce her coming, the Irish girl chooses the ringing of a telephone. And the strangeness of her announcement does not stop there. The sound is coming from the WATER.
I look at the water surface and I saw rainbow colored light coming out from under the water. As I watch, it slowly grew until it was around 3 meters in diameter. And then the water in the area of the circle of light parts apart like…like that old Cecil B. DeMille movie ‘The Ten Commandments”. When the water parted completely from the circle, there came the sound of an operating elevator. The figures of both Annan and Ratri slowly comes up from this elevator made of rainbow colored light.
I see that for them, this is quite the formal…make that very formal occasion. I feel a little bit embarrassed that I am only dressed in a military surplus M81 BDU and combat boots.
Annan is dressed in a costume Regina once showed me as an introduction to her neo-pagan religion. Regina’s costume is two long white rectangular pieces of linen sewn together, a sleeveless dress basically, with a belt that is not made from leather but is woven together and a cloak with fringes and bright borders. But Regina’s dress is a pale imitation of what Annan is wearing today.
Annan is wearing a shining gold colored sleeveless dress with black circular patterns that looks like plants, particularly vines, and her cloak is…well, if I remember correctly, I think the colors are of the modern Irish flag, if you ignore the golden colored fringes, the borders and spirals. But the colors are not simply printed like those sold in department stores, they are dyed into the cloth itself, and the colors are…sublime is the only word to describe it. And the patterns are… are making me see scenes of a distant past in my mind, people clothed in animal skins dancing and worshipping stones which look like Stonehenge with the same spiral patterns on them.
I soon snap out of the hallucination (or is it?) in a few seconds.
She is also wearing a strange golden necklace. If it is a necklace, I think it was the thickest one I have ever seen…actually, I think it looks more like a ring than a necklace with its design. The only difference is in its size and that it is more like a C-shaped piece of metal. And the vine patterns are also present on the necklace. And she is still wearing those sandals of hers that looks like it is made of woven rope.
Ratri on the other hand, is wearing a sari (I asked Annie what is that famous Indian dress called. She told me it was a sari). And…oh my…that is…interesting.
She is wearing a sari that is as black as night, filled with silver spots that I think must represent the stars since it does look like the night time sky every time I look up at the stars.
Actually, if I didn’t know better…I feel like I AM looking at the night sky through the sari and yet I still know that I am looking at a cloth, which makes it obvious I am looking at something with magic here.
But that is not what is interesting with what she is wearing. What is interesting is she is not wearing anything else under the sari.
Yeah, you can see the outline of her nipples through the clothing (I am not sure either how I can see it through black colored fabric. Maybe it is because the fabric is a little too thin) and it is obvious that she has no panties either, looking at the way the sari sticks closely to her thighs. But contrary to expectations, I don’t feel my hormones acting up. I actually feel like I am looking at something as sublime as…the night sky. It is like Ratri is the night personified.
Aside from the sari, she is also wearing a big, heavy looking necklace made of gold that is long enough to rest between her breasts and a golden waist chain, and she is bare footed. Compared to when I first met her, she is dressed much more simply but is more beautiful for doing so.
‘I wish Mary wore something like that during the honeymoon. That would make the event more… special than it already is. Hehehe’
Then the moment of sublimity is broken by the sound an elevator makes when it stops at a floor.
Well, it is time for business.
I smiled and stand up from the stone I was sitting on.
“Hello Ratri, kid. What took you so long?” Annan’s eyebrow twitches while Ratri looks away and hid her mouth with the back of her hand, trying to stifle her giggle. Annan turns to Ratri with a betrayed expression to which Ratri answered by saying “It’s really funny!”
“Actually, I am also not comfortable with the lights Mr. Ward. Here, another pair of sunglasses for you. The ride will take about 15 minutes, give or take a few seconds” and she hands me a pair of sunglasses by reaching into her sari…like what you see if you put your hand in the water. Ignoring the weirdness, I quickly but politely take the pair of sunglasses from her hand, put them on, and everything is all right with my eyesight. Annan just looked away and sighs. Then she turns to me “Just making sure we had everything in order. So, are you ready for the adventure of your life?” She changes her tone at the start of the second sentence, from being exasperated to being excited.
“What adventure?” I said while navigating my way through the rocky riverside towards their magical elevator. “This is just a job in exchange for getting my granddaughters miserable luck washed away. Not really too different as the time when I was drafted to fight in Vietnam. After this, I am going to go back to my normal life and live normally until the day I die.”
“Normal? Well…Mr. Ward, once someone deals with the supernatural, one can never go back to a normal life. It is inevitable that weird shit will happen again at least once in a human’s life once they have been touched by the supernatural. Tell me, dealing with me is the second time in your life you are in contact with the supernatural, right?”
“Do you know something about my past, Annan?” I asked curiously as I step down onto the magical elevator after wading through ankle deep water.
“Well, you would not believe who has known about you before, and you will not believe how thankful they are for you taking out a whole temple of their problems” Annan said as she snaps her fingers and the elevator started going to…somewhere.
We slowly descend while above us, the sky is closed up by the water, and then slowly became the same rainbow colored light as the elevator I am in, as well as the sides of the elevator. I really don’t want to describe it since my eyes are hurting from the sheer brightness of the colors.
A few seconds pass and I can’t take it anymore.
“Ratri, just how long are we going to be traveling on this elevator? The light is…to be frank, it hurts my eyes.” I turn to her, finding her wearing…sunglasses?
“Thanks Ratri. So, Annan, what do you know about Cambodia?” I ask, curious about how she knew about that cursed temple.
“I asked around the folks in Indochina about you and I got this story, with the locals talking about it while having drinks, about an American soldier who in the heat of a night time battle with the Vietcong got lost in the Cambodian jungle and stumbled upon a Buddhist temple that had been the source of so many headaches for every supernatural being in Indochina for…since the fall of Rome.”
“I have been wondering all these years” I ask, finally knowing that I can get answers about that episode of my life “what the hell is that place for? It is a temple, and yet it is full of walking stinking corpses and reptile like monsters and…human shaped monsters. Isn’t a temple, supposed to be…you know…holy, at least to someone?”
“You should ask Ratri. She is part of the Indian pantheon, and the younger generation of her pantheon are the ones who are originally supposed to be responsible for the place.” I look at Ratri, who is listening in surprise by this sudden turn in the conversation.
Flustered, Ratri answers “Well, like she said, it was the younger gods who really know that place, but the story I got is that the temple you stumbled upon is originally a Hindu temple, but it was converted into a prison for…believe it or not, extremists from the supernatural communities of Indochina and India between 10 BC and 10 AD in an agreement between the two groups.”
“Extremists? As in…suicide bombing types of extremists?”
“More like the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis and Jack the Ripper types,persons even the Asuras think are crazy or too nasty to tolerate, and that is something that tells you how crazy the imprisoned people are. It was well guarded, but eventually, around the start of the Middle Ages, there was a prison riot, the imprisoned crazies got out, but were contained and quarantined in a roughly 3 square kilometer area by roughly every ancestral spirit, boddhisatva and god in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Burma. The political fallout…was bad, since it was supposed to be us Indians who are responsible for security. Even Buddhist deities from Indochina who are supposed to not feel any desire for the world are asking questions like it was a US Senate committee because the inhabitants of the village around the temple were all turned into those zombies you killed. It was not until the 1400’s that the Indochinese supernatural community are on speaking terms again with us Indians.”
“So basically you are saying I stumbled upon the Indian pantheon’s Guantanamo bay slash Alcatraz, except it was one that was taken over by the prisoners in a prison outbreak…and I killed them all? Uhh…how am I still alive? No…let me take it step by step. How did I get there in the first place and why is there a Vietcong encampment near it if it is quarantined by gods AND spirits?” I was at this point bewildered by these questions about my past.
“Well, the rules used for getting the locals to stay away from the area is that some of the Cambodian and Vietnamese ancestor spirits guarding the area would haunt, spook and even slightly hurt anyone who gets within 500 meters of the 3 square kilometer quarantine zone. If you are not near enough, they don’t do anything. The VC encampment is 1 kilometer away from the quarantine area so they didn’t get bothered, and the encampment is there because the village that is near the prison asked, no begged for the presence of the VC, thinking that it might scare away the ghosts. It did not work, many VC guerrillas got sent back to North Vietnam gibbering in terror because of…overzealousness on the part of the Cambodian spirits, which the Vietnamese complained about of course. In the end, the Vietcong started turning away everyone from the area and turned into the mortal security force guarding the area. As a result, the guards at the temple relaxed their anti-mortal security around two months before you stumbled upon the temple prison.”
“So, I got in there because of a lapse in security? Damn. Next question: I understand how I could kill zombies, you see it in the movies all the time, but I don’t understand how I managed to kill demons and crazy gods.”
“That’s easy.” Annan answers me. Looking at her, she asks me “The spirits and gods guarding the temple lent you a helping hand because it was a chance to finally kill everything inside for once and for all without any risk on their part, but I was told by those who are there that it was not much really, aside from instantly making new ammunition and grenades on your person, putting a lot of magic into every bullet you shot and grenade you threw, and into your gun and bayonet so it would not break while you are fighting in melee and giving you a temporary ESP to counter any attacks from where you could not see them coming from. Oh, and putting that rosary you used as a knuckle into your hands and those Bibles you used as a bludgeon.”
That’s all? At the time when I was fighting in that temple, I was convinced God, or at least somebody is helping me and controlling my body. Now that she is telling me that…that is all those spirits and gods helped me with…then that means…
“Ratri, look here at this guy. I asked those spirits and gods who I talked to that I want to see those memories, and it was awesome. The last time I saw someone fight like that was Oscar at Cath Gabhra.”
I don’t know who Oscar is, or where Cath Gabhra is, but I saw the Indian goddess become really curious, looking at me in a new light. I shrug, not really knowing where the Irish girl is going with this. Annan continued talking.
“You should have seen him in action. He took down a 4 meter tall, six armed asura with elemental blades in four moves, although it is the grenade he smashed into the asura’s mouth that did the killing. And he did not keep his distance from the zombies. When he did not have time to change his magazines once he ran out of bullets, he bayoneted and smashed heads until he had space to reload. I have never seen such skill with the bayonet ever since the United Irishmen rebellion. And with a speed that impressed the spear masters watching along with me in that bar. He also did a number on that naga with his improvised rosary knuckles, which are made of plastic. Never heard anything scream that loudly in centuries, nor did my fellow viewers. And all of this is done while he shouting passages from the Christian Bible and prayers over and over again the whole night, the prayer echoing all around the place and making anything hostile in that temple experience a very painful migraine.”
And that is what bugs me. What she is describing, what I remember is definitely Medal of Honor or DSC stuff, I think, but aside from that temple…I never fought anyone else like that, before or after. In the end, I only got a Vietnam Service Medal and a Purple Heart (the injuries I got to qualify for that one came from the prison temple and that sniper that shot at me when I was approaching a South Vietnamese unit the next day) from all those months in Vietnam. Where did that fighting ability of mine in that temple come from?
For the next 5 minutes I stand there, slowly getting more and more embarrassed by the minute as the Irish girl is telling more and more examples of what I did that night, with Ratri looking back at me from time to time with an expression that says ‘What on Earth?!’
I just did not have the heart to interrupt the Irish girl since I see that she is enjoying telling the story, and I did want to see if I remember things right. The most memorable part of that night is the terror, not the fight.
I had been separated from my platoon when we pursued the fleeing VC, and my compass is broken. I thought I am behind enemy lines and I only had half of my original ammo remaining. Lost for 3 hours I then stumbled upon a fence of barbed wire with a crumbling temple beyond it. I thought I had some shelter, instead I went into a literal hell.
After that...more terror than I had ever felt before and even up to now. And then I suddenly went into action.
I do remember most of what I did next but I still don’t believe I am capable of doing that.
I never imagined that I would rip pages from the Bible and slap them into the face of one six armed demon, nor did I imagine doing an uppercut at its balls it with a Catholic rosary as a knuckle as my next step and then smashing its teeth in with a grenade and pulling the pin out and slowly walked away to my gun as it blew up behind me.
Nor did I ever imagined shouting Psalm 23 and ‘Our Lord’s prayer’ over and over and over again the whole night, as I shoot zombies full of lead, bayonet giant snakes through the eyes and their jaw, smash jaws, and hit balls of magic with my rifle like it was a game of baseball and hitting them all the time (granted, those balls are as big as basketballs).
As I was wondering earlier, where did that fighting ability and other actions come from? Especially doing something so sacrilegious to something holy to my faith? (Or fellow worshippers in faith for the case of the rosary)
Anyways, I think I feel embarrassed enough so I politely ask Annan if she is finished talking about the past, because I want to talk about the specific things I will be doing for her as part of our contract.
“Oh. Sorry, I have gone too far off our topic. It’s just it was such an amazing topic to talk about while waiting for our destination, and really. The stuff you did, it is something heroes from many pantheons would be hard pressed to do.”
“It is not me Annan. It is the US army teaching me how to fight and giving me the equipment to do so. The credit goes to them, really.”
“They teach you to shout like a Norse berserker crossed with an Islamic jihadist during the whole fight? Or use holy objects as weapons even when they are not meant to be used as one?” Annan teases me.
“You know what I mean kid.” I glower at her.
“Alright, alright. Back on topic. This is how it is going to work. I am going to repay my debts and owed favors to 6 particular people. I will repay it in the form of doing a favor for them in return. Your job is to go along with me and fight alongside me if and only if we got into a battle.”
“Ok. I get it. How about these…companions that Ratri talked about?”
“Well, they are other humans who also happened to be my, Ratri’s and Daesun’s worshippers when they are alive who will be going along with us on this trip. Don’t worry about them not pulling their weight because I assure you all of them have been veterans of wars when they are alive.”
“All of them war vets when they are still alive…that doesn’t mean killed in action does it? Because that does not really tell me that they are really good at fighting.”
“Trust me, except for one, all of them died fighting hard.”
“Well…if that is the case…can we even have a conversation? I know Ratri is an Indian, therefore her worshipper is an Indian. And where did Daesun come from? At least I am sure your man can speak English.”
“I’ll just have some magic that will translate languages up and running.”
I nod in approval. Let me see…what else did I forget to touch upon…weapons! Equipment!
“Ratri, what happened to ‘Annie’, my family heirloom?” I turn to the goddess on my other side.
“Me, Annan and Daesun upgraded ‘Annie’ with lots of magical spells. And now, I can assure you that ‘Annie’ will be a gun that you can take with you to World War 3 and win.”
I raise my eyebrows at that boast. “I do hope nothing you did to ‘Annie’ is permanent if you can make that boast. And World War 3 will be fought with more powerful weapons than a magical muzzle loading rifle.”
“Like I said 2 weeks ago, any magic can be quickly unmade by the one who made it. And even if it is not the one who cast the magic, it is just a matter of time and effort before you can uninstall any kind of magic.”
“Good. How about equipment? I brought a lot of outdoor gear in anticipation of a long mission without the comforts of civilization.”
Ratri looked at Annan upon me asking that question. I look towards the Irish girl for the answers, who is giving me a confused look.
She answers “You mean you did not bring that backpack and that rifle to keep up appearances to your granddaughters? And can you give Ratri that rifle? And the ammo too. One of your companions will need that after we are done giving it magic.”
I absentmindedly give the SKS to Ratri, a little concerned that it seems like the organizer of this job has not considered everything about this job she is organizing.
“I was thinking of using the SKS and the ammunition I bought as a backup weapon in case I need it. But I really do think I need my clothing, canned food and outdoors equipment for your mission, and if these companions of yours really are veterans worth their salt, they will also bring their own outdoor gear.”
Annan blinks. And then she asks me what part of ‘used to be alive’ did I not get. The explanation I got after that seems to indicate that a better description of my companions would be souls who had the concept of ‘solid’ applied to them. A lot harder to send them back to their respective afterlives that way. So there is no need to bring food and shelter when you could sleep on the ground.
“But I am still alive. I need the food and shelter you know?” I interject.
Ratri also had her own stuff to say. “Annie, you did not say that is the plan. Me and Daesun resurrected our guys. And I am sure Lieu Hanh also fully resurrected her soldiers.”
The Irish girl looked at both of us, openmouthed, and then facepalms.
Confidence…slowly…dropping to zero.
Last edited by kilopi505 on 2013-04-08 12:05pm, edited 5 times in total.