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Short story 39

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by inayat, Dec 19, 2021.

  1. inayat

    inayat Head Game Master Moderator

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    I have seen and killed real evil. I’m not talking about people... well, I’ve killed plenty of them too. But, no man compares to real evil; no man is capable of the same atrocities and chaos that real evil inflicts. I hunted giants during my first deployment to Afghanistan and they are the epitome of evil.

    I’m a U.S. Army Ranger. I’ve been serving in Batt for 12 years and I’ve seen and killed the scariest shit imaginable. I haven’t told anyone for fear of what would happen to my family and me. I lay awake most nights, wishing I could tell my wife what I’ve encountered, my mind and soul breaking from the weight I have to carry. I relive the horrors every night when I go to sleep. I’ve kept it all to myself until I found nosleep.

    I recognized many of the stories posted by my brothers in the spec ops and military communities, and realized I finally had an outlet. I’ve checked in on some of the posters to confirm they’re still breathing. I guess the government assumes that nosleep is fake, so they don’t monitor it. What I’m about to share with you is all real. You deserve to know what lies in the shadows. You deserve to know what they’re hiding from you. And you deserve to know about the men and women that have sacrificed their lives to keep the forces of evil at bay.

    Skip the next few paragraphs if you are knowledgeable of the spec ops community. It’s important that you have a basic understanding before I get to the crazy shit. I promise you that the stories that follow will be worth the wait.

    Army Rangers are a Tier 2 Spec Ops Unit, along with Green Berets (SF), Seals, Marine Force Recon, and MARSOC. Tier 1 consists of CAG (Delta Force), DEVGRU (Seal Team 6), and numerous groups that I won’t speak about (there’s value in being unknown to the world). We’re often joined by Tier 1 groups from around the world, which are usually the SAS (Brits, Aussies, and Kiwis) and Joint Task Force 2 (Canadians). Tier 2 consists of the top .1% of the military. Tier 1 generally only recruits the best from Tier 2. We all train for years for Selection/Qualification Schools, we all possess Top Secret Security Clearances (or higher), we’re all very good at killing, and we all will forfeit our freedom or lives (and possibly those of our families) if we share what we’ve done.

    Our government utilizes spec ops units because we work in secret, we are the best, we’re well funded, and we can deploy anywhere in the world without congressional approval (declaration of war). You’d be shocked by how many countries (and which countries) that we’re currently serving in. Our track record is impeccable but usually closed to the public.

    I’m 34, a Major, and have been serving in Batt (Ranger Battalion 1st/2nd/3rd) for the past 12 years. I’m from Kansas City and a Mizzou grad. I’m currently attending a military school (CGSoC) at Ft. Leavenworth while I work on my PHD from Kansas State, and await my next deployment to some hell hole. The good news is that I have plenty of time to share my experiences before I head back out.

    My first encounter with real evil happened during my first deployment to Afghanistan. It was 2009; I remember checking the computers in Kuwait while awaiting a C-130 to take me to Bagram (Air Base in Afghanistan). I was excited the Chiefs had just signed Matt Cassel, thinking we’d be headed to the Super Bowl soon (talk about naive). Anything to get my mind off of what awaited me... death? Paralysis? Loss of limbs? I was 24, just a year out of college, and didn’t even have a serious girlfriend. I had a lot to live for. I pushed it out of my mind, leaning on the fact that I’d be leading the baddest mother fuckers on the planet. My Rangers would get it done and I’d make my Batt and Rangers proud.

    I flew into Bagram at 2200 with a couple dozen other Soldiers, wearing our IOTVs (bullet proof vests) and ACHs (Kevlar helmets). The C-130 was dark, only the dim green lights illuminating the inside. Those around me glowed an alien green. The pilot gave us a warning to strap in as he began his descent, circling over the airfield and shooting flares to ensure no RPGs could hit us on the way down. Some fobbit whimpered and cried in the corner, while an NCO, making eye contact with me, yelled at the Soldier to stop being a bitch, as he rolled his eyes with a small grin.

    The ramp lowered, slamming hard on the cement runway with a loud, metallic crack. I grab my gear and head out in the dark. A huge Staff Sergeant (SSG) yelled “LT, get your shit and follow me!” SSG Vasquez, 6’5 and built like a brick shit house, shaved head, looking like the Hispanic version of The Rock. He led me to the hooch in the spec ops gated community on base. It was a storage container, which had 3 sleeping quarters divided by plywood. He told me to throw my gear on and head to the TOC (Tactical Operations Center). The Commander had a mission for me.

    I stood in the TOC, in full gear, M4 hanging from my sling and Glock in a leg holster, looking at the dozens of TV screens and Soldiers monitoring radios. The room was full of chatter... too much chatter. Something big was going on. My Commander, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Williams introduced himself, telling me “I was in the big leagues now, shut the fuck up, and do exactly what Captain (CPT) Stone said.” He then ushered me into a side room. I looked around and realized this wasn’t going to be a normal mission. SSG Vasquez sat at a table with 8 others, their sleeves bare, no Ranger Scrolls. I realized it was an ODA (8-man team of Green Berets). My Commander started his brief.

    “Team 329 (Team #s/names changed to protect identities) went missing approximately 4 hours ago in a desolate portion of the Al Asay Mountains. Their last transmission came in broken. They were escorting a CIA operative to a cave high in the mountains. We haven’t been told anything else. We’re sending in Team 357 for search and rescue. LT, you and Vasquez are tagging along. Your platoon is on mission for another few days, so you’re going to get some experience, learning from CPT Stone and his team.” The S-2 (intel officer) stepped in and provided as much detail as he could for the mission, while my Commander pulled me out of the room.

    “LT, we don’t know what the fuck is going on. The CIA are being shitbags as usual. They’ve left the Teams and us in the dark. I want you and Vasquez to gather as much intel as possible while you’re there. These fuckers are getting our guys killed and we don’t know what for.”

    I met CPT Stone and his team at their vehicles; three HMMWVs that had been stripped down. They basically looked like dune buggies with mini guns mounted on top. CPT Stone looked me in the eyes. He had a steely resolve, but there was worry behind his eyes. He raised his hand above his head and said “LT, aim high.” I responded “Roger Sir, head shots,” gathering that he meant the enemy had body armor on. He looked at me again, fiercely serious, and fully extended his arm above his head. “No, aim HIGH.” I nodded and we all loaded into the vehicles. Is he saying they’ll hit us from the top of the cave? I remember thinking. I pushed it from my mind as we took off.

    We left Bagram, still pitch black, wearing NVGs as we rode through the hot, desert night. I was constantly scanning the perimeter, waiting to be ambushed on the roads. I looked back at the huge, bearded Team guys. They were all looking straight ahead. They all seemed to know something that I didn’t. They had zero concern for the road and seemed to be a million miles away in their minds. It was as if the real threat far exceeded what we’d see from the hajis enroute.

    We hit the Al Asay Mountains a couple hours later, pulling into a small combat outpost (COP) and dismounting. “Ammo, grenades, water, and NVGs” is all that CPT Stone said. I grabbed my assault pack as one of the Team guys tossed me a few grenades and extra mags.

    We stepped off from the COP, moving up the mountain in a wedge formation. I remember thinking we were invincible, as I looked at these huge warriors, carrying M4s, SCARs, M2 sniper rifles, and 203 grenade launchers. These guys had probably taken down entire Al Qaeda units by themselves. They had the look... the one you earn from taking the lives of other men. I felt like I was superhuman. Little did I know what awaited us.

    We came upon the cave just as the sun was cresting the mountain. The sky was blood red, as the darkness faded into oblivion. The cave looked like the mouth of a giant serpent. The opening was on the other side of a sheer ledge that stood 10-15 feet high. As we approached, CPT Stone said “eyes up, keep your distance.” As we got within 100 meters of the cave, I saw something shiny on the ground. I signaled for the squad to halt and called CPT Stone over. It was a radio. The mic had been ripped off and the radio had a massive dent. Dried, black blood caked the side of it. Chunks of skin and tissue littered the area. CPT Stone said “Shit, James...” as his face turned to anger. He stood up as one of the Team guys pulled out some climbing gear. He fastened it and we all climbed the ropes as silently as we could. I was last to climb, cresting the ledge and seeing the squad in the prone, pointing their weapons at the cave opening. As soon as I was up, the squad stood and started to move slowly toward the cave. E, one of the Team guys took point and took a few steps toward the cave. I was overcome with the worst smell imaginable... like sulfur, shit, and rotten milk. I began to get an intense feeling of despair and hopelessness. It wasn’t the adrenaline rush and heightened senses of a normal engagement. It felt... it felt evil.

    Just as E put his hand up to motion for us to stop, I heard the deepest, loudest roar emanate from the cave. It sounded like a cross between a man yelling and the roar of a lion, but blended in an impossible manner.

    Before we knew it, something HUGE came charging out of the cave and impaled E with a massive spear, lifting him 15 feet off of the ground. I looked in amazement at what looked like a huge man. It was absolutely massive, standing 13-14 feet tall, its shoulders as wide as I am tall. It had long, red hair and a shaggy, red beard. It had a loin cloth on and leather sacks on its feet. We were all momentarily frozen. There was an absolute sense of pure, unbridled evil that emanated from this thing. Finally, CPT Stone yelled “head shots!” We all unleashed a barrage of rounds into its head and face. 9 Soldiers, all emptying 2-3 magazines worth of ammo into the beast. It dropped E, who was still skewered on the spear and began to charge me, the ground shaking with every step. It looked at me with such cruelty and disdain, open mouth revealing two rows of giant teeth. I felt like an ant that was about to be stomped on by a child. It yelled something, in another language, that I didn’t understand, its voice splitting my ear drums. As it reached out its massive hand to grab me, it finally fell, riddled with bullets, its head and face caved in.

    CPT Stone empties another magazine of 7.62 into the giant’s head, before going to check on E’s body. It took three of us to lift the spear and another two to pull E’s body off of the spear shaft, which makes a sucking noise as we pull him off. The spear had ripped out his entire chest cavity. His ribs were splintered and sticking straight out, like crooked, jagged teeth. All of his internal organs lay in a pile on the desert floor. The five of us covered in his warm, sticky blood. CPT jones called in the SITREP and requested transport.

    We all sat down for what seemed like an eternity of silence. Normally, after a mission, we joke around and tell the most inappropriate stories. It’s tradition and makes the horror of war feel a little more acceptable. Today was different; every eye was glazed over, everyone sat, facing away from the giant. We had seen... felt real evil. This thing was not a man. Being in its presence brought on a feeling of hopelessness that I can’t begin to describe. It was like all of the joy, hope, and good had been sucked out of the world, replaced by despair and agony.

    We finally stood up and examined the beast. It had six fingers on each hand. Its hands were large enough to wrap around my torso. Its mouth revealed two rows of teeth, with each tooth being the length of my finger. The hair on its head and beard was an unnatural shade of red. I wrapped my hands around one of its fingers in an attempt to lift its arm. I couldn’t even get its hand off of the ground. The spear, still dripping with blood, weighed as much as the logs we use in training, that require 6 men to lift above our heads.

    We stepped into the cave, seeing hundreds of human bones. Chunks of skin, tissue, and military uniforms littered the pile. In the corner were hundreds of weapons. Modern guns, like M4s and FALs, rusted out AK-47s, and ancient, rotting swords, spears, and shields. It’s like it was keeping trophies.

    An unmarked chinook showed up 15 minutes later. A bunch of spooks (CIA ops) walked out. One said “Grab the neph.” The Team Sergeant yelled “Fucking clowns, thanks for the intel.” The agents never made eye contact. They unloaded a forklift and cargo net, wrapping up the beast, and loading him into the chinook.

    CPT Stone motioned for me to come over. I asked if he was doing his closure report (a brief officers have to fill out to summarize battles). He said “No, wait for it.” Shortly after, one of the agents walked over and pulled out a piece of paper. It was a pre-filled closure report, detailing how we had been ambushed by Al Qaeda. E had been killed before we scared them off. He said “Sign here.” CPT Stone signed and motioned for me to do the same. With a threatening look, the agent said “You can never speak of this.” He turned to walk away and I asked “What’s a neph” He paused momentarily, then walked off.

    When we returned to Bagram, we did a full debrief. Some spook sat in the corner the entire time to ensure we didn’t speak about the giant. After the brief, my Commander told me to shower and meet him at the smoke pit in 20 minutes. “Ditch your electronics.”

    LTC Williams handed me a cigar as I approached the smoke pit. He asked me what I had actually seen on mission and then explained to me that 6 other teams had encountered these giants. Most were less lucky than we were. He informed me that he was trying to figure out what the hell they were. And he did eventually. But, that’s a story for another day. My first engagement with a giant set off a chain of events that brought me to the truth of those evil beings (and many others).

    After the mission was over, I was approached by one of the team guys. He removed his hat to reveal a kippah underneath. “Sir, do you want to know what that thing said to you when it charged?” He asked. I nodded without hesitation. “It said, Son of Yeshua, I will eat your soul.” He then looked me in the eye and said “We’ve killed dozens of these things. We’re figuring out what they are, and it’s not good. Head out with us on mission tomorrow and I’ll fill you in.”

    **********


    “I think the evil hiding in the dark has always existed. It seems like they’ve come forward in recent decades. Maybe it’s technology and the explosion of population, or maybe it’s something else. Maybe they’ve been unleashed...” -E

    What I’m about to share is 100% true and a vital part of the fight against the “neph” and other creatures. You deserve to know that there are elements within the government that are fighting for you. You also deserve to know that small elements within the government are working against you. Will you be ready to fight?

    Day 2 in Afghanistan-2009

    I dreamt the most vivid and lucid dream the night after we killed the beast. I was dead, standing in some unnatural place. It was pitch black, stretching for an eternity. The only light in this place imminated from my body. I felt like I was floating, like my body did not physically exist.

    I ran in every direction, screaming for help, never seeing another soul or light. I finally gave up, sitting down, ready to spend eternity in isolation.

    I suddenly began to sense the same fear and despair that I felt in the presence of the giant we had killed. “Please God, no,” I thought. On cue, the giant walked out of the darkness. It looked the same, but it’s eyes were now yellow, with red pupils. It bent down to look me in the eyes, licking its lips, and giving me a look of disgust. It said “You sent me to this place... you and your filthy God. Now that you’re here, I will make you pay for eternity.”

    As Its hand was inches from snatching me up, I saw a flash of light dart between us. I shot upward, hearing the beast yell a gutteral cry of agony.

    I was suddenly back in my bed, drenched in sweat, feeling like I’d just gone somewhere I should not have been.

    Vasquez, asleep in the other room, awoke to the sound of freedom being delivered at Mach 2. The shipping container I’m in rattles so hard that my gear falls off the hooks on the wall. Bagram is one of two main US/Coalition Air Bases in Afghanistan, so jets and bombers take off at all hours of the night.

    SSG Vasquez yells “Son of a bitch. Shut the hell up,” as he throws something at the ceiling, leaning over (my less than sturdy) plywood wall, smiling and stroking my hair. “Wake up young one..” I threaten to bash his skull in, knowing full well he can snap me like a twig. He laughs and slowly lowers below the plywood.

    I throw my leg holster on, pulling my Glock out. I release the mag, ejecting the chambered round, catching it in midair, and pushing it into the top of the mag with my thumb. I tap the mag on the side of my ACH and pop it back into the Pistol with a resounding click, leaving it in green status. I holster it on my right thigh and quickly check to ensure my gear, weapons, and grenades are in place, grabbing my patrol cap and heading out into the heat.

    The sun is barely up and the temperature is already in the mid 90s. My fire resistant ACUs make it feel 20 degrees hotter. I squint, keeping my eyes down to avoid the rising sun while Putting my Oakley’s on.

    In the daylight, it becomes apparent that I stick out like a sore thumb. Everyone around me wears whatever they want. Most have baseball caps on and have beards. Some have uniforms on with no identifying patches. Some wear cargo pants and polos.

    I’m one of the few in ACUs, my Batt Scroll on my left arm. Clean shaven and short hair. Rangers are one of the few Spec Ops units that wear uniforms and abide by shaving/hair length standards. I’m 24 and a Second Lieutenant (2LT). The gold bar on my chest might as well be a bullseye. Being a 2LT in Batt is like being a freshman that is captain of the varsity football team. I technically outrank the enlisted Soldiers and NCOs, but I lean heavily on them for mentorship. I prepare myself for the daily hazing rituals, knowing I better be ready to laugh at myself.

    I step into the TOC to check in with LTC Williams, who is leaning over a Soldier, staring at a computer screen that is showing troop movements. Activity in the TOC is much slower today. Most Soldiers stand behind screens, dipping or drinking coffee. Some are talking about football. Others look like zombies in need of a break. The place feels different than the night before.

    I wonder how much they actually know about what happened the previous night. They couldn’t know, or they wouldn’t be at peace. There’s no going back from what I saw. It was weighing on me heavily..

    LTC Williams interrupts my thoughts, nodding at me and motioning for me to follow him. He is tall, 6’4, thin, with graying hair on his temples. He looks like he probably runs marathons, but has a slight limp. Word is that he’d lost most of his right calf in an IED (improvised explosive device) attack. He still walks so fast that I had to power-walk to keep up. He pulls me into the conference room and tells me to sit down.

    “LT, CPT Stone told me you did a great job last night and that I can trust you.” The way he said ‘trust you’ led me to believe there was more behind what he was saying. “I’m giving 1st platoon to another Lieutenant that is enroute.” I start to object but he holds his hand up to stop me. “This is not a punishment. You’ll get a platoon eventually. For now, you’re taking over the PSD team and you’ll augment some of the Team guys while they’re recovering from the last few months.”

    He gives me a look of reassurance that lets me know there is more to this. I thank him and accept my fate. He tells me to get unpacked and settled and that he’ll find me for my next mission. He hands me a phone, saying “It’s secure. Well, it’s secure from the hajis.” I wonder what he means by secure from the hajis. I didn’t understand who else we needed secure comms from at that time.

    I leave the TOC dejected. PSD are the three letters that most don’t want to hear when deployed. PSD stands for personnel security detachment. It’s the military’s less fancy version of what you see the secret service doing on TV. It’s a great job when you’re in Garrison. I’ve planned and led the security, for multiple Presidents and even for the Queen of England, during visits throughout the West. But, while deployed, I want a platoon. I want to be the blunt instrument, not the bullet proof vest.

    I couldn’t shake the feeling I got from him though. He was trying to tell me something. And telling me I was augmenting Team guys was really strange. That’s not typically something an officer would do. We’re leaders and managers, not extra guns. Also, Team guys normally don’t get augmented unless something catastrophic happens.

    The next month went by in a blur, as I spent 16 hours a day escorting general officers and high ranking politicians around Afghanistan. I sat in on meetings that decided the fate of the nation, I fought through a couple of attacks on our principals (VIPs), narrowly missed a VBIED (vehicle born improvised explosive device), and even took a round to the arm (just a graze, but left a badass scar).

    None of it seemed to matter though. It wasn’t even exciting. I spent most days thinking about what that giant was and thinking that I should be hunting the Real Evil of this world. It’s like the “neph” left a scar on my soul. I just couldn’t shake it from my thoughts. And where the hell was David and 357? He said he would talk to me about the giants they’d killed. But, I haven’t seen him since my first night in country.

    Then something happened that changed my life forever..

    A few guys walk into my office, Two of the guys look completely out of place. They have khakis and black polos on that say CBTI. Both are a bit plump. They aren’t CIA operatives and clearly aren’t Soldiers. The third is a spook. He has on cargo pants, a black polo, and a black cap. He has the look... spooks stick out like a sore thumb.

    The spook shakes my hand and takes his cap and sunglasses off, introducing himself as Jake. He looks like a legitimately good guy. He has balding, gray hair, is about 5’10, and has the friendliest smile you’ll ever see. He looks like everyone’s favorite uncle. He isn’t being distant and isn’t talking to me like I’m retarded. A far cry from the CIA asshats that I had interacted with thus far.

    He looks me in the eye and says “Mike, I’m going to be needing you and Vasquez for the next couple of months to run security for an operation we have going on.” It’s jarring to hear my first name. As far as I know, only LTC Williams is aware that my name is Mike. I try to hide my angst and ask “What for Sir? What’s the mission? I need to run it by LTC Williams since we’re the only dedicated SOCOM PSD team in the area.” He says “Absolutely, run it by your boss. But, it’s already been settled. He’s aware.” He’s avoiding my question about the mission. “What’s the mission entail? I’ve got a 10-man team, so I need specifics to allocate the proper number of personnel,” I said. Jake responded “Just you and Vasquez. These gentlemen will fill you in on the mission.” He gets up and gives me a very nerdy fist bump, smiling, and says “I’ll see you boys at 1900. Meet me at the heli pads. We’re going to be working nights.”

    He then walks out of the TOC without glancing back. The other two guys fill us in on the basics. “We’re going to be dropping orbs around the country... to uh, test out a new technology we developed.” I know at that point to stop asking questions. I’m not going to get anything from them.

    They leave the TOC and Vasquez gives me a funny look. I ask “Who the hell were those 2? Jake is clearly a spook, but those 2 look like they work at my uncle’s engineering firm.” Vasquez filled me in on CIA contractors.

    The 3 letter agencies hire a lot of civilians for technology development/implementation and intelligence gathering. CIA contractors are much more rampant than you realize. If you’ve worked at a major engineering firm or technology provider to the DoD, then you’ve worked with or for someone that has been contracted by the CIA at some point.

    You’ve clearly picked up on the distrust (or outright animosity) between the Spec Ops community and CIA. It’s not always that way. There are a lot of great CIA agents that try to take care of us. The problem is that the majority of Joint CIA/Spec Ops missions leave one side wanting for intel... and that’s always the Spec Ops side. We’re generally treated like blunt instruments, whose only value is to “hammer the nail.”

    I’d distrust them, even if they hadn’t fucked us over by failing to inform us of the giant. Our missions and core beliefs are just vastly different. The Spec Ops community works in the shadows to eliminate threats to the United States and our allies. We can’t publicly share what we do, but we have zero interest in misleading the general public.

    I don’t want you to have to worry about the evil people (and creatures) of this world. But honestly, I’d like for that to be your choice. When dealing with the “nephs,” there were good and bad elements within the CIA (and other 3 letter agencies). It just took us a while to see which side most were on...

    I talked to LTC Williams, who confirmed what Jake said. Vasquez and I were tasked out to Jake and his team for the next couple of months. He said something strange as I was leaving the TOC. “LT, Jake is one of the good guys. Trust him entirely and ensure he comes back in one piece.”

    I step out into the bright sun, throwing my patrol cap and Oakley’s on. I stare off into space, thinking about what he said. Why would he tell me a CIA agent is one of the good guys and to trust him entirely? Aren’t we all on the same team? The CIA can be dicks, but they’re still on our side... right?

    I meet Jake on the heli pad at 1900. The sun is starting to go down. I recognize the gunner. He was in the 160th helicopter that picked us up after we killed the giant. He nods at me as we board the Blackhawk. The Rotars push us upward, the helicopter rocking forward a bit as we lifted to a few hundred feet in seconds, the nose stabilizing as we speed forward.

    There is always something comforting about riding in blackhawks. For some reason, I get a better rush from leaning out the door than I do jumping out of a plane. It doesn’t hurt that 160th has the best pilots in the world. My pilot, John, is a Warrant Officer 3 and an artist in the sky.

    We shoot forward, flying NOE (Nap-of-the-earth), 200 mph, just above the tree line. I clip a carabiner to my belt and pants leaning out the door, feeling like I could reach down and touch the top of trees. We snake in and out of the canyons, helicopter pitch black, as John flies only aided by NODS.

    We travel for about an hour as I hear Jake say, “right here, put it down above that cave. We step out of the bird, Vasquez and I sprinting in opposite directions, diving into the prone and facing the tree line.

    One of the engineers pulls a small robot out that looks like the kind you see bomb squads use in the States. Using a remote control, he wheels it down the cave opening. It’s carrying a large crate of small orbs that look like they are full of wiring. The robot returns and we all load the Blackhawk, flying up into the brisk mountain air. Periodically, the engineers drop loads of orbs off the side of the Blackhawk. No one speaks the entire trip. They just monitor their computers, which Vasquez and I aren’t allowed to view.

    This happened every night for the next couple of months. For 12 hours (-refuel time), we headed out over the countryside, dropping orbs, and sending the robot into caves. I had no idea what the hell was going on. Vasquez and I were frustrated, because we were wasting valuable time in country, staring at the tops of trees and pulling security for a robot. Most nights we didn’t even return to Bagram. We landed at some desolate FOB, leaving from there the following night.

    Jake would smoke cigars with me after missions. He’d talk about his family back home or about how he joined the CIA to protect America and reveal the truth. “Truth with a capital T” he would say. He had a necklace, a crucifix with rosary beads, that was always wrapped around his wrist. He constantly fidgeted with the crucifix between his fingers. It was like he was always nervous of some unseen force.

    He’d talk to me about my high school, which made me supremely uncomfortable at first, because no one knew where I had gone. It was a private Christian High School in Missouri. He’d talk to me about how I’d played football and basketball there. We’d have philosophical debates about Christianity, since he was Catholic and I was Protestant. Always respectful and always interesting.

    I’m not sure when it happened, but he became like an uncle to me. At the end of our conversations, he would always pause and look me in the eye. He wanted to tell me something about the mission, but just couldn’t do it.

    One night, once we were nearly complete with the mission, he came to my hooch late at night. It must have been 0200. The only activity on the COP was Soldiers pulling security in the towers and fighting positions. He tells me to ditch my electronics and rubs some sort of wand over me like security at an airport.

    We then walk outside the COP, which makes me highly uncomfortable. We aren’t exactly in Missouri.

    He walks over to a shallow cavern and drops a few of the orbs we had been leaving around the country. I watch as a small green light comes on each one. They suddenly roll forward, spacing out, and coming to a rest at opposite ends of the cavern.

    Sitting on a rock, he pulls out his laptop and motions for me to look. It was the cavern we were sitting by. It was like staring at a 360 degree picture online. The cavern was completely mapped out. He moves a joystick, steering his way around the cavern. I could see, in great detail, the granite walls and even the small bugs that were flying around, frozen in mid air.

    It finally dons on me as I look at him. “Holy shit. We’ve been mapping the caves of Afghanistan.” He says “Yep. It’s not perfect. Some of the deeper caverns have dark spots. But, it’s a start. My team thinks we’ve covered about 30% of the cave systems.” I’m blown away. “This is going to be huge. Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, the Taliban... we’re going to make some major progress in the war on terror.” He looks at me and raises his hand above his head, just like CPT Stone had before battling the giant. “Think bigger” he says, grabbing his computer and heading back to camp.

    The next morning, Jake grabs Vasquez and me, telling us we’re going to see a friend. We borrow a vehicle from the Kiwis responsible for the area, driving into a tiny village a couple of hours from the COP. Jake dismounts, motioning for us to follow him into a small home.

    Al elderly Afghan man, long white beard, head wrap on, smiles, saying something in Dari. Jake gives him a hug and responds. We sit down at a table full of traditional Afghan foods. We spend an hour with small talk, Jake translating the entire time. The Afghan Elder finally says, “You have new friends? You want me to tell them about the Beast...” Jake nods, looking at me. He says, “Asadi is the elder of this village and a dear friend of mine. He led me on the path I’m on. He introduced me to the giants when I was about your age.” Asadi begins his story, Jake translating.

    “My village has always feared the Beast. We have always feared the night. We all go inside when the sun sets, even pulling our animals in our homes” (he motions toward a goat that is standing outside). “The Beast has always done what it wanted. No man could stop It.”

    “When I was a young man (15), I thought the elders were just trying to scare us. I had never seen the Beast. So, two of my friends and I, went to explore the countryside at night. It felt very freeing to no longer fear the stories of my elders. We explored for hours, enjoying the cool air of the night. The grass was wet with dew, as we ran up and down the hills near our village.”

    His facial expression changes to sadness. “We are at the top of one of the forbidden hills, when we are overcome with a terrible smell. We are all frozen in fear. We feel it in here (he points at his chest).”

    “Suddenly, a very large man.. like 2 of us (he puts his hand above his head) grabs one of my friends. My friend screams in pain and fear, the Beast crushing him, his bones loudly popping. The creature then bites down on my friend, ripping his body in half. He chews the top half, loud cracking with every bite. He swallows and drops his legs on the ground.”

    “The Beast looks at me, speaking in a language I do not understand. The only word I recognize is my name. It then grabs my other friend, smashing him flat on the ground. Blood pooling underneath. The giant stands over me and yells like a lion. It then grabs what’s left of my friends and walks off, chewing on one of their legs as It goes.”

    The elder is crying at this point. He says “I waited every night for the Beast to come back for me. Some years we heard nothing of It. Some years, entire families disappeared from their homes. We always felt the ground shaking and heard the roar like a lion. Every time, I heard my name yelled, between the splintering and cracking of homes being destroyed. I was always too afraid to reveal myself. I can still hear the crunching of my friend in It’s mouth.”

    He then looks at Jake with a small smile. “Until Jake. Jake and other Americans found and killed the beast many years ago. I’ve slept soundly for many years now.”

    We thank Asadi for the food and give him gifts. Jake gives him a hug and says the Pashto word for ‘friend’ as we leave. We head back to the COP, not saying a word. All that I could think of was the giant’s yellow eyes. My heart was pounding with rage for the innocent people of Asadi’s village.

    The next morning, Jake informs me that we’re done mapping for now. He puts his arm around me and walks me around the corner of the sleeping quarters. “Mike, I’ve enjoyed our talks. I informed LTC Williams that you and Vasquez did an awesome job and that I trust you entirely.” He reaches out and slides something in the breast pocket of my ACUs, saying “Go see LTC Williams,” before closing the Velcro. “John will take you to him. LTC Williams has a new mission for you. Welcome to M.” I must have looked extremely confused. He smiles and gives me one of his patented, nerdy fist bumps, and walks off.

    We descend toward a COP in the most remote part of Afghanistan. Jagged mountains litter the landscape, snow covering the peaks. The Blackhawk dips sharply as we pass through two peaks and into a small clearing, landing within the walls of a COP.

    I had just spent the last couple of months flying all around Afghanistan. I never saw this COP or these peaks. I had no idea where we were. It was placed in the most counter-intuitive fashion possible. It was at the base of a hidden pass, sheer cliffs all around. There were only a few pilots I knew that would risk landing in a place like that. And we were on the low ground. An enemy ambush would leave us defenseless.

    The roter slowly winds down as we step out of the chopper. David is there to meet me. He has a huge smile on his face, which is weird for Team Guys. His patrol cap off, only his kippah covering his head. “Welcome to FOB Exodus” he says, nodding at the pilot and door gunner. He grabs my bag for me and ushers SSG Vasquez and I toward the TOC, which looks like every other shitty TOC in a desolate outpost. Maps and TV screens littering the walls, Soldiers sitting at tables, monitoring radios.

    The odd part is that two huge Team Guys stand in the back of the TOC, each at the low ready with weapons. David says “All good, guys.” They push the shelf to the side. It makes a loud, grinding noise as it begrudgingly slides across the floor.

    Where the shelf used to be is a staircase. David says “I hope you’re ready to be tortured” with a smile.

    He motions for us to follow, leading us to a door at the bottom of the stairs. He knocks 3 times and waits for a voice to call him in.

    I follow him into a large conference room with a huge table in the middle. LTC Williams stands in front of a tv screen, conducting some sort of intel brief. A dozen guys sit at the table. I recognize CPT Jones, a few Team Guys, and a CIA agent from Bagram. There were a few SAS officers, 2 Brits and an Aussie. A Canadian JTF2 NCO and an ANA Commando (Afghan). On the end sat an Israeli Commando, who I would later learn served in Sayeret.

    The wall has TV screens, dry erase boards, and cork boards. All are littered with pictures of creatures. Most look like the giant we killed, labeled ‘Nephilim/Rephaim?’ Other terrifying creatures litter the wall.

    There are maps with red tacks, signifying targets. One cork board has pictures of what look like angels and Greek gods. It’s labeled ‘Watchers/Fallen Angels?’

    SSG Vasquez takes a seat at the table, winking at me and smiling. LTC Williams says “Welcome back Vasquez.” He turns to me and says “Welcome to Task Force M. We’ve decided we can trust you entirely. Are you ready to kill Real Evil?”

    **********

    I was randomly pulled out of class (military school I’m attending) today. Which is highly unusual, since the General Officers don’t even interrupt coursework.

    Some guy in a suit talked to me and said he wanted to meet me face-to-face. It was a really weird interaction. The guy had a creepy, sleazy vibe. He wasn’t a CIA operative and definitely wasn’t a Soldier.

    He never introduced himself and never said why he was talking to me. I think we all know why though...


    I’ll try to get the rest of the stories up over the next week or two. Screen shot them if you want to keep them for reference. There is a possibility that they’ll disappear at some point; it won’t be by my doing.

    David’s first interaction with a “neph.”:

    Whose turn is it?” LTC Williams says, looking around the massive conference room. “LT, I know you must have questions. We’ll get to them soon,” fixing his gaze on me.

    David moves to the front of the room, snapping to attention. “I think it’s me Sir.”

    LTC Williams tells him to stop being a smart ass and to get started. David smiles and begins his story.

    “There I was, just a young Sergeant. It was the summer of 2001. I was on Team 177. They were much cooler than my current teammates. You know... since we were MFF (Military Free Fall).” The room boos, as CPT Stone throws an empty can of ‘rip it’ at David’s head. He continues with a smile.

    “These Guys were true warriors. I was pretty sure they would find Bin Ladin by themselves. I was just a young Sergeant, first Team. I was in awe. I was invincible.” He looks at me with understanding.

    “Anyway, we’d been rolling out on missions for about 6 months. Afghanistan was the Wild West. Limited FOBs, and resupply was a bitch. We were all over the south, running reconnaissance,” he uses his fingers to make quotations.

    “We were in and out of Kandahar, which was absolutely overrun by Taliban fighters. Every recon turned into a tactical retreat... well, after we dropped about a million pounds of ordinance. It was like shooting fish in a barrel, until the hajis moved into the caves. We killed a lot of evil sons of bitches.”

    “The weird part was that it took them months to move into the caves. It was like they were afraid to go underground, even with Predators and B-4s bombing them back to the Stone Age. They just stayed out in the open.”

    “Afghans aren’t stupid. They come from a long lineage of fighters. They’ve been fighting for 2,000 years. They stopped Alexander the Great in his tracks. The Soviet Union got sick of fighting these fuckers.”

    “But, it was like they lost all tactical bearing. It took them months to move everyone underground and we didn’t understand why.”

    “One day, we received a mission to reconnoiter a cave system east of Kandahar. We were told that some Taliban HVT (high value target) was operating a cell in a system of caverns. Air support was unable to penetrate far enough underground to flush them out.”

    “We step off from a COP, traveling only at night. Iran hadn’t snuck in many NVGs to the terrorist cells at that time, so we were able to move un-impeded. We follow the Arghandab River for a few days, setting up a patrol base a few clicks from the cave, sending two 3-man teams out to establish LP/OPs (listening/observation post), monitoring the movement in and out of the cave.”

    “One of the LP/OP teams comes back one night, sprinting into the patrol base, muttering “Rangers,” the running password.” David looks at me and says, “Don’t get any ideas. It wasn’t you slack jaws. It was the baseball team,” he said with a grin. He pauses to collect his thoughts and starts again, looking back at the room.

    “So, the 3-man team runs into the patrol base. They look like they’ve just seen a ghost. J, one of the Bravos, says “It was fucking eating them!” He is breathing heavily and panicked. I ask “What are you talking about? Calm down.”

    J takes a few deep breaths and throws some dip in his bottom lip, then starts again. “For 48 hours, we watched hajis, armed with AKs and RPGs, go in and out of the cave. There must have been 50 total.”

    “A few hours ago, the cave suddenly sounds like it’s the 4th of fucking July. We see the hajis sprinting out of the cave, screaming, stumbling over each other, scared to death man. Suddenly, there is a loud roar. I swear to God, I felt the ground shake as this thing moved.” He paused to spit.

    “This thing... it comes out of the cave and is just annihilating the hajis. It must have been three times their size. It’s ripping through them like butter.”

    “It side swipes a group of them with Its arm, knocking them against the wall. It grabs a haji in each hand and squeezes. Their bodies explode, heads popping from the force. I swear I could hear their bones break from our position 200 meters away.”

    “It grabs one of the fighters, their RPG shooting straight up, snaking off into the distance. It uses the man as a fucking war club. I swear to God. It smashes the fighter’s body against half a dozen men, before biting him in half and swallowing.”

    “The ten hajis that were left, sprinted out of the cave and into the forests. I’m pretty sure they’re still running.”

    “CPT Holmes, the Team Captain, looks J in the eyes, waiting for him to say it was all a joke. Nothing. J stares back at us, eyes completely glazed over. The other two witnesses nod in unison to confirm J’s story. CPT Holmes stands up, walking away with his radio, speaking to Higher, who inform us to maintain our current position and wait for direction.

    A couple hours later, CPT Holmes informs us that we’re heading to the cave. We’re to kill anyone and anything in there. J, completely out of character, yells at the Captain, “Are you fucking serious? It took down 50 men like it was killing ants.” CPT Holmes nods understandingly, only saying “We leave in 20.”

    David pauses like he’s catching something in his throat and starts again.

    “We leave our rucks at the patrol base,camouflaging them the best we can, then head out into darkness.”

    “We walk, using our NODS, because it’s fucking pitch black on the mountain. A green haze replaces the darkness. The trees and fallen logs look like shadows. The entire movement, all I can think about, is becoming food for some unknown beast.”

    “NVGs and lack of sleep makes me hallucinate the entire trip.” Everyone in the room nods, because we’ve all been there.

    “Every fucking tree looks like a huge creature. Every branch looks like an arm reaching for me.”

    “We walk down the mountain, J leading us to the other LP/OP team’s position. We find nothing but blood, weapons, and casings...”

    “I take point and step into the mouth of the cave, which must be 30-feet tall. We flip our NODS up on their mounts, and turn on our SureFire flashlights, since there wasn’t enough ambient light in the cave for the NVGs to be effective.”

    “This cave is absolutely massive. We’re in a full wedge formation, spread out 60 meters total, and still have room on either side. We step over the arms, legs, and torsos of dead hajis, as we move. I can hear the slosh of pooled blood under my feet. Bones crunch as we step, heel to toe.”

    “We see tables and communication gear, all within a couple hundred meters of the cave opening. The hajis were afraid to go deeper. Yet, our dumbasses were doing just that. We continue walking for at least an hour, before the smell overcomes is. It smells like corpses and shit.”

    He looks at us, as we nod in unison. He has tears in his eyes and starts again. “You’ll never forget the first time you feel that fear. It comes over you like a tidal wave, moving from head to toe, until your body stops working.”

    “I instantly know something is wrong. I try to tell the Team to halt, but nothing comes out of my mouth.”

    “We instinctively pull in tighter and face outward, our flashlights darting back and forth against the pitch black walls. I see the ridges of these ancient caves and giant stalagmites.”

    “Suddenly, what I think is a wall, begins to move. My flashlight catches this... enormous beast. It looks like a man, but it’s at least 15 feet tall. Its head and hands look disproportionate to its body. Absolutely massive.”

    “It slowly turns its head at me, peaking around a cavern wall, its eyes glowing unnaturally from my flashlight. Smiling, it speaks in Ancient Hebrew. “Israelite. I hate His chosen,” with the most menacing look on its face. The evil is nothing you can see on a human, no matter how terrible they are.”

    “It bends down and flicks me. I swear to G-D it flicks me like a human would flick a bug. The blow knocks me backward and against a wall, the creature laughing so loud that the cavern shakes.”

    “The team opens up on the beast.” He pauses, as I can hear the regret in David’s voice. “We are totally unprepared. The entire team shoots center mass... I mean, that’s what we are taught our entire lives. It Does Absolutely Nothing. The creature grabs CPT Holmes and throws him against the wall, killing him instantly. It bites down on J’s kneck, snapping his head off in Its mouth. J’s headless body slumps to the floor. Blood pours down its lips, smiling while It chews. It looks at me and says “Having fun yet Jew? Where’s your God now?”

    “One by one, the team falls. I’m the last one standing, having expended all of my ammo. I fall to my knees and begin to pray.”

    “The ground shakes as It slowly walks toward me, chewing on one of my teammate’s arms. The beast is taking its time... it’s taunting me.”

    “The thing picks me up around the torso, breaking three of my ribs, and bringing me to eye level. It then says “I will let you live, because you are weak and useless. You who are made in your God’s image. You will remember me when you sleep and you will seek death.”

    “It then tosses me to the floor, knocking the wind out of me. The beast gathers what’s left of my team and walks deeper into the cavern. I scream for It to kill me. It just laughs maniacally and disappears into the dark.”

    “I spent the next six hours, walking back to the patrol base. I was finally picked up by a MEDEVAC chopper. You know the rest... CIA agents are onboard and don’t let my story see the light of day. They threaten me with prison time and death. All that I wanted was to get onto another team to avenge my brothers.”

    “Now I’m here, five years later, with you assholes. And I did avenge my team. We avenged my team. For that, I thank you. I’m going to have a smoke now.”

    ***********

    “This thing was massive. It was at least 50 feet tall…its wings spread, filling up the cavern. Its voice shook the ground. My Marines went crazy and started killing each other.”-A

    The conference room I sat in had 37 chairs, each with a different nameplate. I didn’t recognize the names. They sounded like Ancient Hebrew.

    LTC Williams said “Welcome to Task Force M. We research and kill the enemies of mankind; those things that hide in the shadows… that campfire stories were created about. From now on, you’ll be referred to as Benaniah (Ben for short). Never use real names when referring to task force members. We don’t know who to trust. The last man to hold your seat died in a most terrible manner. But, he did so while saving his brothers. His memory and contributions to the safety of humanity will not be forgotten.” The dozen operators seated, pounded the table three times in unison.

    LTC Williams told David to give me the tour of FOB Exodus, as he went back to briefing the rest of the team. David hit my shoulder, smiling in excitement, as he took me out of the conference room.

    “There are four wings connected to the conference room within COP Exodus. Each represents an evil that our task force has encountered. Each is used to research and teach about those entities. The end state is to figure out how to kill them effectively and figure out what their plans are for humanity. Generally, two TF M members are responsible for each wing.”

    “Wing 1 is all about the big guys… that giant that you helped take down was one of them. We believe they’re Nephilim or Rephaim. Keep in mind that everything we learn is theory. We base it on first hand accounts, Scripture, and other ancient texts and legends; all seem to contain stories of the giants. It’s hard to prove these things are what we believe, because they’re not exactly easy to have a conversation with,” he said with a chuckle. “Ira, the Israeli Commando, and I are in charge of this wing. Mainly because we can both read and understand Ancient Hebrew and translate early Scripture and texts.”

    ***********

    “I was the one that saved you from that abomination. It was not a dream, your soul was in Sheol for a brief time, before I lifted you from that purgatory.” -Yura

    I was pulled out of my Military class five months ago by the same man that visited me before.

    He clearly has some clout, because no instructors, in the school, even questioned his motives.

    I can’t explain how difficult it is to walk into a building full of 1,200 U.S. Military Captains and Majors, and just walk out the front door with one of them. He must work within the government and must have some serious connections.

    I knew what was happening but also knew that he was likely looking for information about Task Force M (TFM). I knew that I would be admitting guilt if I fought him. So, I went along. The experience was not a fun one...




    January-June 2019

    “I’m John… John Smith. I just have a few questions for you,” the man said with a devilish grin, as he led me out of the classroom.

    “OK, I’m an open book, what would you like to know sir?” I said, ensuring my voice didn’t waiver and that I didn’t show any outward evidence of my heightened awareness of danger. My 6th sense was now trickling up my neck, hairs standing on end, and chills cascading through my body. This guy radiated evil.

    He looked at me, with his sleazy smile, and $5,000 suit, and said “All will be understood in good time.”

    I could see the evil behind his eyes. This man was a predator, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I knew from the moment that we made eye contact, that I was either going to end up in a body bag, or that I would have to convince this scum that I was on his side.

    I waved at the security guards as we left the building. The nice thing about getting shot at for a living is that you learn how to keep your composure in dangerous situations. I wasn’t about to show this man any fear or weakness.

    He walked me to a large, black van, which was parked near the front entrance to the building. Four guys jumped out and ushered me into the backseat. They were his security team, but they looked more like goons than Soldiers. All four were very large men and had matching tattoos on the left side of their necks; it appeared to be a triangle or pyramid.

    If you’re in a profession that practices violence for long enough, you learn how to size people up quickly. These guys were highly trained. Likely former special forces, and clearly not American, based on their accents.

    The driver started the van and we began moving toward the main gate on post. My captors pretended to be friendly, making small talk, and avoiding my questions.

    As soon as we were off post, they changed. The large, bald headed bastard next to me, elbowed me in the face. The others put zip ties on my wrists and ankles and threw a black hood over my head. One of them then stuck me with something in the neck and I passed out instantly.

    ....

    I woke up in a pitch black, 6’ x 6’, room. No toilet, no bed, no freedom. I couldn’t even see my hand inches from my face.

    “Well...fuck,” I said aloud.

    I began to feel along the wall and floor for any possible escape. Nothing. The walls felt somewhat like glass, but the texture seemed to move and ripple with the motion of my hands. It was like moving your hand along the top of water... but the wall behind was much too firm for that. It didn’t budge when I shouldered it and I was unable to find a door anywhere along the wall. I decided to lay on the floor and think through my situation.

    I began to think of my wife and mom but pushed them out of my mind immediately. SERE C (Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape) taught me to concentrate on the moment and not allow my beautiful memories to break me. Those memories can be utilized to stay alive, but you should not dwell on them, or they will likely do the opposite. The sooner you accept that you’re dead, the better off you will be; that acceptance makes it easier to fight.

    I began to think through the situation in my mind, deciding how to present myself to my captors. I knew this was likely about Task Force M (TFM) and knew that my captors were not fans.

    Do I carry myself in my usual manner? Confident, strong willed, and dangerous? The advantage to this is, if they know anything about me (which they likely do), they’ll be confident that I’m not hiding my true self.

    Or do I pretend to be a push over and passive, making them feel superior, and making them doubt my capability to serve on TFM?

    I decided to blend the two, displaying my true personality, but dumbing down my knowledge and intelligence. LTC Williams once told me “A blunt object is much less dangerous than a well-informed Warrior”.

    So... I became the blunt object.



    You need to understand that I was being drugged for the rest of my time in this compound.

    I believe they were using 3 drugs. The first was a sort of truth serum, which didn’t seem to affect me. The second was meant to break me by causing incredible pain. The third was some sort of hallucinogenic, which caused visual and auditory hallucinations.

    I believe I was able to sort through what was real and what wasn’t, based on my ability to feel physical touch. But I have no way to support my claims and no way to know if the drugs affected me more than I realize. Maybe you can help me sort through the past five months.

    ....

    Suddenly I heard a loud bang and a whooshing sound. It didn’t sound mechanical... more like magnets moving something, as if the walls being moved were not physically touched in the process.

    Bright, red lights flashed on. I was standing in the middle of a giant room, half a mile long, and 150 feet high. I had not left my prison cell, but I was somehow no longer standing in it. There was no evidence of where the walls and ceiling had gone.

    Cubes, like the one I was being held in, were littered throughout the room. They seemed to contain absolute darkness; the red lighting seemed to crawl around them, blotted out by the black within. It was clear that, if there were occupants in them, they could neither hear, nor see me.

    The red lights flooded the entire room, making it appear to be soaked in blood. A foul stench was in the air, like blood, shit, and vinegar mixed together. The feeling of absolute evil surrounded me. It was almost enough for me to immediately crack. I felt like I was somewhere that no human is meant to see.

    I slowly turned in a circle, scanning the room, and realizing that I was surrounded by at least two dozen guards. They were wearing all black, with gear resembling that of elite special forces (SF) units. They had ballistic helmets, plate carrier vests, and additional protection up and down their legs. All wore ballistic masks. Some had painted the masks to appear as skeletons. Some painted their masks to look like devils. All seemed happy to be there. I could sense that they were giddy to begin torturing me.

    ‘John Smith’ stood in front of me. He still had the same $5k pinstripe suit on. He was around 5’9, with pale, white skin, and a slightly plump body. He had the scariest fucking grin and kept licking his lips, like he was looking at a steak.

    He was flanked by two huge men. Each had to be at least 6’8. Both had long, black cloaks on. They reminded me of Pyramid Head from Silent Hill. I started to think that I must really be tripping balls, when I noticed the weapons in their hands. They looked like long, swords, but the blade appeared to contain a black liquid, that slushed back and forth, acting as if it had a life of its own. A plume of black smoke was emanating from the weapons, seemingly dancing toward their leader.

    Fear... they’re putting on a show to break me, I thought to myself.

    I rattled off my name, rank, serial number, and birthday. That’s what all Soldiers are trained to say when interrogated.

    “Cut the shit Mike,” John said. “I’ll make this easy on you if you tell us what you know. Where is Task Force M?” He was clearly enjoying this. He remained motionless, but his eyes had an air of delight to them.

    “I’ll do you one better, why is TF M?” I responded, smiling like I was clever. Apparently, he wasn’t fond of Drax references, because pain suddenly electrified my body, dropping me to the floor.

    I was hit with the most intense pain imaginable. It felt like my skin was melting and my blood would boil through my pores. My head felt like it was going to pop, and my internal organs felt as if they were being slowly ripped apart.

    I heard a hum, then a click, and the pain stopped.

    I rose from my knees, glancing down to ensure my body was still intact. I went back to attention and stared John in the eye, pretending that I wasn’t impressed by the torture. Remember, you’re a big dumb ape, I thought to myself.

    “What do you want?” I said, playing dumb. “Where am I? People are waiting for me. Kidnapping a U.S. Army Major is probably not a great id…”

    He interrupted. “You’re in Hell... my Hell. I’m the King of this place, and I’m protected by my demons.” His security team all yelled in unison as I was dropped by the intense, fiery pain again. “You’re going to tell us what you know, or you’ll never get out of here.”

    “I’m not afraid of death, but I also don’t have anything to hide," I said, bracing for the next blast of pain. “I won’t do say anything that puts my Rangers at harm though,” I yelled.

    I was concentrating on my life as a Ranger, not my life within TFM. Always stick to a half-truth if you’re ever in captivity. It makes it much easier to layer lies.

    “I don’t care about your Rangers, and you will tell me everything you know about TFM,” he said calmly.



    I’ve always had this gift... or curse, depending how you look at it. Only 3 people know about it: my wife, mom, and aunt.

    Since I was a teenager, I’ve been able to look into people’s eyes and know what type of person they are. Generally, the dominating force in their life shows through. I’m not telepathic or empathic. I can just see who that person is; I see what good or evil is the dominating force in their life.

    I’ve seen a bit of everything in the eyes of others; violence, apathy, greed, pedophilia, bigots, occultists... The ability is so intense and disheartening, that I often avoid looking people in their eyes. It’s exhausting seeing so much evil and so little good.



    John’s eyes were like nothing I’d ever seen. They didn’t look human. The physical eyes were those of a normal human. But what lay behind the eyes, was demonic. I was looking at the ultimate predator; one that did not see people as anything more than ants. A creature that has no capacity to do good.

    I was falling to my knees in despair on the inside. The dread, fear, and evil he emanated was much worse than that of the giants. This being could break humans by simply standing in their presence.

    I decided that if I was going to die, I might as well put up a fight. I rushed the guard nearest to me, narrowly avoiding the asp that he swung at my head. I grabbed his wrist and torqued it to the left, slamming him to the ground. I got in a few punches to his throat, which was the only place without body armor, prior to being dropped with the boiling sensation again.

    I noticed that the guard had a patch on his right arm. The red lighting made it difficult to see clearly, but it appeared to be the All-Seeing Eye. The pyramid was surrounded by the letters O, N, W.

    “Bring back his cage,” John said. “Let him marinate for a few days.”

    To my astonishment, my cage seemed to come directly out of the ground. Nothing appeared to be moving the walls or ceiling. They simply floated into position and formed around me.

    The walls looked clear, except for the liquid pulsating inside. The liquid looked like black ink, bouncing rhythmically, like a heartbeat. The walls and ceiling slammed shut around me, trapping me in eternal darkness again.

    I tried to yell and pound the walls, but it sounded like I was underwater. No one was going to hear me, and the walls felt harder than steel.


    Then they started the fucking noises…


    I think the noises rotated every 12 hours, but I’m not sure, since there was no way to gauge time.

    At first, they played a high pitched, shrieking sound, like nails on a chalkboard. This seemed to go on endlessly. It was so intense that my eardrums felt as if they’d explode.

    Next was the sound of babies crying in agony. It sounded as if they were being tortured, mixed in with cries of neglect.

    The final sound that was rotated in was that of puppies being tortured. I’m not going to lie… that one fucked me up.

    I lay on the ground and tried to put my fingers in my ears, but the sounds were too deafening. So, I tried to create a pattern of the noises in my mind. Instead of hearing puppies crying, I’d try to come up with rhythms, and think of the syllables in the sounds. That seemed to give me a microscopic bit of peace.


    Then the crazy shit started to happen....


    The music suddenly cut out and my prison cell became illuminated. The light grew so powerful that I had to cover my eyes with my forearm.

    A massive figure was suddenly standing before me. It was as if the ceiling to my cell was suddenly pushed higher to accommodate this giant, humanoid figure.

    I stood up, my head barely eclipsing this thing’s torso.

    He must have been 10-12 feet tall, wearing a white robe, with a silver breast plate, and silver armor along his shins and arms. His armor was adorned with gold symbols that seemed to pulsate with each breath. He had a massive sword that was sheathed by his right side.

    He looked Persian, with curly, black hair, a large, well-groomed beard, and olive skin. He was ripped, but wasn’t as bulky as the giants I had fought. It looked like he was built for speed and power. Essentially, he looked like the ideal Soldier.

    Light seemed to radiate from his body, which was especially bright above his head. White wings were furled behind his back. He shook them gently, as a bird does after flight.

    Still in fight mode, I looked into his bright, blue eyes, as I gained the courage to say, “It isn’t going to be pretty, but I’ll make you work for my death (clearly a lie).”

    The being chuckled a bit and his booming voice said “You’ll have no fight from me Ranger. In fact, we’ve fought side by side in many battles.”

    I looked at him with a puzzled expression.

    “Do you not remember me?” He said. “I was the one that saved you from that abomination. It was not a dream, your soul was in Sheol for a brief time, before I lifted you from that purgatory.”

    The dream I had, after killing my first giant, rushed back to me.

    I tried to crack a small smile and said “Thanks for that. That giant seemed a bit pissed at me.”

    He boomed the loudest, most affectionate, laugh that I’ve ever heard, and said “My name is Yura, and I’ve been with you since before you were born. I protected you while you grew and fought by your side, even when you couldn’t see me. Your fight is not over, in this world, or the next, as long as you hold firm to your faith.”

    I began to ask what he meant by “this world, or the next,” but he stopped me. He took a knee, resting his hand on my shoulder. The weight of his hand caused me to lean to that side. He looked me in the eye with an expression of mourning.

    “You will one day, as a brother, lead me in battle. But I can’t take you out of here. The I Am desires that you experience your time here, for it will provide you the strength you need in future fights. He is always with you, as am I. Do not bend to the captor’s will. Many souls depend on you.”

    I glanced to Yura’s arm, where I noticed a long gash. The meat was pulled apart and blood was slowly trickling down his wrist. When I looked back to him, he was gone. The room quickly turned pitch black.



    Alarms suddenly sounded, as the walls to my cell folded into the ground, and I was spilled back into the large room, illuminated by the red lights once again.

    To my horror, John, my captor, rushed into the room. He did not seem to be moving like a human though. It was as if he was floating at the speed of sound, a plume of black smoke that traveled half of a mile in an instant. His body suddenly formed in front of me.

    “Where is he?!” He screamed.

    “Where is who?” I responded.

    “That enemy of the Order, Yura.” He said, nearly choking when he pronounced the name.

    I suddenly noticed that John had a large gash on his chest and that his face was bloodied and bruised.

    The bodies of his guards littered the room. It was a massacre. There must have been two dozen bodies scattered on the floor and in the rafters. Some were missing heads, some appeared to have been cut in half. Others were missing multiple limbs. All were clearly dead.

    There were pools of blood everywhere. The site was almost mesmerizing, since the color of the blood matched perfectly with the flood of the red lights.

    “Wow, someone really fucked you clowns up, didn’t they?” I said, while I laughed at him. Big mistake.

    He picked me up above his head, clinching my throat with one hand. He was shaking violently and seemed to be trying to snap my neck. I could feel my life slipping away.

    But he couldn’t kill me. It was as if some invisible force was stopping him from closing his hand completely. He threw me down hard and the cell suddenly formed back around me.

    ...

    Over the next few months. I gathered as much intel as I could while being tortured. The guards kept referring to something called “The Order.” I heard accents from every part of the world.

    I was starved and drugged repeatedly. They’d sit me in a chair every couple of hours, inject me with a drug, and then proceed to torture me. The drug somehow enabled them to hijack my mind and make me feel death over and over again. I couldn’t feel their actions with my physical body, but my nerves responded to what my brain was registering, so the pain felt real... just different than physical touch.

    In the simulator, they’d chop me up piece by piece, only for my body to reform again.

    They’d make me feel as if I was dropped in the ocean, taunted, and then eaten by great white sharks.

    They’d light me on fire and I’d have to feel my body melt and would hallucinate my skin and muscle falling from the bone.

    They’d take me to the top of a building, 1000s of feet tall, and push me off the side. It’d take minutes for me to hit the ground. I secretly preferred this one. Those minutes were the most peace I got in this place.

    They made me relive my worst nightmare. In 2009, I was escorting a General (4*) through Kabul one summer, when a vehicle born improvised explosive device (VBIED) narrowly missed my vehicle. The Al Qaeda fighter managed to miss my convoy and blow up 80 Afghan civilians. I had to pull security while Afghans shoveled limbs, torsos, and hamburger meat off of the road. I can’t think of a worse thing to see… and those bastards made me relive it every day.

    The worst by far, was when they’d simulate the giants that I killed. They’d taunt me and break my body slowly. I’d then have to watch them eat my body before I would awaken, and it’d start over again.

    I don’t know why they let me go. They seemed to be on a timeline, and I heard the goons saying that there’s no way I knew everything. “He didn’t break. No one could have withstood that.”

    John ordered his men to strap me in a chair and told them to “wipe my memory and implant a chip. If he knows anything, he’ll lead us to them.” Only one guard remained. He started to turn the machine on, then leaned forward, inches from my face. He pulled his balaclava up slightly, revealing what looked like an ash cross underneath. The kind Catholics put on for Lent.

    Whispering, he said “I’m sorry, but you must remember everything. I trust you entirely.” He then injected me with something and turned on the machine.



    I awoke in front of my home, in uniform, and 40 pounds lighter. Apparently, they told my wife and instructors that I’d been pulled for a special mission. My wife immediately knew something was wrong though. She embraced me tightly for what felt like hours and told me “If you’re ever ready to talk, I’ll listen.” I gave her an understanding look, which told her to never ask about what happened.

    That night, I awoke to LTC Williams standing at the foot of my bed.

    He said “Well done Ranger, I’m so proud of you. I’ve got a mission for you to relay to TFM... and the warriors of the world. We’re going to be fighting side by side soon.”

    He put his hand on my forehead, and I could suddenly see armies converging toward somewhere in the Middle East. It looked like the entire world was getting ready to fight over one small piece of land.

    LTC Williams pointed up, and that’s when I saw armies fighting above.

    On one side, there were hundreds of thousands of angels, with swords and shields or bows and arrows. All were glowing as brightly as Yura.

    It appeared as if humans were mixed within their ranks. Most appeared to be in the lead of elements of angels. They too were armed with golden swords or bows.

    They all marched in step, yelling something in a language I did not understand. The rhythm and language was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.

    I heard a horn on the other side of the battlefield and saw a force of millions marching toward the angelic warriors.

    The enemy seemed to be led by angels. These angels looked much different though. They had black wings and their armor was all black. Green swords unsheathed.

    They were leading giants, grotesque beasts, and humans.

    They sounded a horn that elicited a great fear in me. They shouted obscenities that no human could imagine.

    The ground began to shake under my feet, as the sky turned to darkness, and the moon turned red.

    LTC Williams touched my head again, and I was back in my bed.

    He said “Get them ALL ready. The fight is coming soon. All must choose a side. The true warriors of God will not end their fight in your world.”

    He smiled and suddenly disappeared.

    My wife, lying beside me in bed, said “That was LTC Williams... But he’s dead isn’t he?”

    I replied, “Yes, I held him during his final breaths and watched his body burn. I guess it’s time that I tell you what I’ve truly been doing for the past 12 years. We’re going to have to warn the world and pray that the true warriors come forward. It appears that his world and ours will both be at war soon......”
     
    Gix and Kefflar32 like this.
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