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Battlefield Demons Battlefield Demons
by Matt Williamson
2008-08-16 09:30:47
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The sounds of the jungle echo out across this tiny cleared valley as three warriors inch their way through the tall grass. The moon and stars hid themselves behind a thick fog, allowing the men some sense of security, as if the swirling darkness was a shield of perfection. With their training they would never have chosen to cross this unprotected plot of land, but staying to the trees meant having the damned monkeys screaming a warning again, and the last time that had happened the men had to hunker down for two hours while the bad guys walked ever closer and closer to them.

This deployment hadn’t been as bad as Ashkay Vijaram thought it would be. Though he still missed the desert nights, he could handle the humidity of jungle days better than the oppressive, moisture-less days of the Gobi. Fighting the combined forces of the newly formed Chinese-Russian Peoples Army was not a dream job, but then again, the CRPA wasn’t as smart as these crazed Africans either. And at least the Carps weren’t driven by religion. You can convince the guy fighting for land or oil to go home to his family, back to peace, but the attacker who fights you for his god, well, you just have to kill him… Or let him kill you.

Lost in those musings Gunnery Sergeant Ashkay Vijaram failed to see the tiny metal pin as his foot came down on it. He immediately felt the trigger drop, and for a frozen moment he thought that he was already dead, wondering when his brain would catch up with the fact that his body had been turned into pink mist from the shaped explosive under his feet. But instead of an explosion of heat and metal, something far more sinister was unleashed upon Vijaram and his two compatriots, a mix of neurological and bio-pharmacological agents contained within a viral delivery mechanism sprayed out to a distance of six meters before dissipating.

“Son of a,” Lance Corporal Jennings Willoby said as he back-petaled, trying in vain to avoid the mist that now fell over his skin.  As soon as the cocktail hit his exposed hands, eyes, face and neck, it began to unleash a hell upon it’s host.  The faded colors of the night burst forth, changing into a technicolor universe of reds, yellows, oranges and too-bright whites.  The grasses fell away to reveal a hidden alien land of moving sands and plants that attack each other.  Before him stood two megalithic creatures, all teeth and claws, clamoring to eat him in one fell swoop of their enormous mouths.

Four meters to the front and right of Willoby stood the only person he would have called a friend.  Corporal Michael Bane was at the true and correct position, forming a perfect triangle with Vijaram and Willoby, just as Corps doctorine prescribed.

Bane didn’t actually hear the landmine trigger, but instead felt the mist fall over him and then he heard the hissing of the propelant that raced the cocktail out past him in a tiny mushroom cloud of insanity.  As the agent was pumped into his system by his own heartbeat he began to hallucinate wildly.  The sky went halcyon blue with giant winged creatures flying in perfect formation.  Across the grasses he could see tiny, dwarf-like men racing at him with axes held high, screaming a battle cry that thundered into his soul and froze his blood.  He knew this was wrong, in his mind he knew this could not be, but his eyes could not be lying to him.  This is happening, he said to himself as he broke into a run away from the monsters that had just eaten his two brother Marines.

Vijaram fell to his knees as Willoby and Bane screamed, running from this new universe.  Standing before him was a many-armed god of wrath.  Covering the god’s body was a horrible black skin, alive with the screaming souls of those it had eaten.  Each of his thousand arms held a weapon or decaying bady part from a different victim, and his mouth was full of red teeth that chanted his name over and over.

“Assshhhkay, Assshhhkay, Assshhhkay,” the beast chanted, like a mantra of totality, a mantra of complete and final release.  Ashkay Vijaram was lost in despair.  He had failed.  Years of meditation and practice, all to be lost now when he needed it.

“Where have I failed?  Did I not strive for composure?” he asked himself, bowing to this god of pain, ready for the end.

Ashkay Vijaram would never know that his final thoughts were clouded by a new weapon in this war.  As the landmine was triggered it sent a message to the nearest patrols.  Now these patrols fanned out across the clearing, closing on these three interlopers, ready to shoot them at a distance to avoid the chemical agents.  If he had known about these new weapons Vijaram would have approved and gleefully used them himself, but as it were, he was about to be shot at more than 40 meters, while he was begging the many-armed god to spare him.

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