Date: August 18, 2009. Time: 0645. Location: Deep in the Florida Everglades.
Crawling and scratching his way through the thick swamp is the lone survivor of the recent plane crash. He awoke to the splashing of hungry gators. Dangling 20 feet over the infested swamp he took it all in. It took him a while to come to his senses. When he did he realized he had been hanging for 2 days. Covered in bites, starving, and thirsty he tried to focus on his current predicament of which the snapping jaws of the gators below were a constant reminder. Clearing his head and remembering his training the Airborne Ranger set out to free himself.
Two hours later panting and exhausted Airborne found himself in the safety of a crotch of the tree from which he was previously prisoner. There remained one threat below. The voracious gators. For hours they circled below him. Jaws crashing together again and again. Then he heard it. A scream. Not just any scream. A blood curtailing scream. The scream of a man being tortured. He had to know. Working out a plan he made his way to the next tree. Exhaustion threatening to stop him in his tracks. A passing beetle fell prey to his hunger. As did any creature with in his reach. Hey if they could make a meal of him the least he could do is return the favor. For what felt like an eternity the screaming continued and he made his slow painful way to a small parcel of dry land he could make out in the distance.
Then it stopped. With the screaming stopped his stomach dropped. He looked back at his progress. He had finally made it to land but it had taken all day. The sun was nearly set. He knew the temperature would drop. The bugs would come out in force. He was in hell.
Date: August 20, 2009. Time: 1345. Location: Deep in the Florida Everglades.
- The screaming came from this way. Or was it that way. Keep it together man. You're better than this.
Having survived on little more than the insects he could catch and the rancid water of the swamp Airborne crawled on. He had to know who was screaming and why. It wasn't THEM he was sure. THEY would have finished by now and moved on. Probably to him. Only hours before the screaming had started again in ernest. He had heard nothing since they stopped. But he had to know.
When he had given up hope of finding the source of the torturous sounds that's when he found him. The clearing was straight out of a bad horror movie. Chains hung from dilapidated trees. The earth was stained brown with blood. Bones were scattered around the edges. Death was in the air. The shock of it swirled his vision. He stumbled. His face hit the ground with a sickening slap. The world was spinning. Pulling his head from the cold wet ground was too much. He wretched. Thankfully there was nothing to add to the smell of the circle. He rolled and saw him. Hanging by his ankles above him. The man's face, at least he thought it was a man, was swollen and purple. The nude body covered in horrific wounds. Blood caked over every inch. Airborne didn't know the poor soul but he knew he couldn't let him hang.
Searching for anything that might help cut him down Airborne discovered a blade covered in what he knew must have been this poor man's blood. Sawing through the rope sapped what little Airborne had left. He couldn't hold it. The man fell into a pool of his own blood and excrement. Airborne went over to the body. Weakly looking for anything that might identify who he was. There a tattoo. Upper right arm. Red. Blue. A box. Letters. "A. A." A yellow and black rocker above it reading "RANGER."
One last time his vision swirled. He knew the tattoo. He knew the man who had it well. They had served with each other for years. They had jumped into combat more than either cared to remember. If only he had gotten their sooner. If only he hadn't been so weak. He could have saved him. He could have saved him. God willing he'd get his revenge. He'd find whoever did this to his friend Crazy Legs. He'd find them and do much worse. Crazy Legs.
Then blackness. God wasn't willing. There would be no revenge. No succor. No last minute rescue.
The Everglades. The Swamp. Had claimed another victim. Tonight her denizens would feast on the flesh of two Real American Heroes.
R.I.P. Crazy Legs