The damn jungle is virtually, pitch black, it is a moonless and clouded over night here in Cambodia. In addition we’re camped under triple canopy jungle, which of course adds to the darkness and gloom. The fear exuding from every one of us is palpable. The air is not moving at all and is close to being steam. The sulfur, methane, acidic stench of the place is damn near combustible. And if that’s not bad enough I have to piss so bad it hurts! Earlier there was a nice breeze and we believed that we had picked a good campsite.
Anyway, my name is Johannes Petermann, professor of Archaeology, Arizona State University in Tempe. And at this moment, I wish to hell that’s where I was! Instead, I’m the hell and gone out here S.E. Asia on a field trip with a bunch of grad students, on what should be a mundane archeological dig to find some ancient relics that we could all write about. And would possibly, just make us all famous!
Now, to put it bluntly, we have been attacked! By some creature, we have still not clearly seen. Several people are dead, including some of the Cambodian soldiers sent to guard us. Worse still, we don’t know what in the hell this thing is. I know it came from the ruins about half a mile away. And that it is not the only denizen in those ruins.
This whole thing began back in 1969 when my Dad was in Vietnam during the war. I was a military brat and I grew up listening to his stories. Later I spent six years in the Army myself as a Cavalry Scout and I came out as a Sergeant. One of the stories he told was about a Recon mission across the Mekong River into Cambodia into an area they called the “parrot’s beak” because of its shape on the map. Apparently chopper pilots flying river patrol had been seeing strange bright green glowing areas off in the distance to the west, in Cambodia. So the Army sent a Recon Team led by my Dad to investigate. For five days they wandered around in some bad assed bush looking for signs that the Viet Cong or the North Vietnamese Army were up to something. Nothing of any military significance was discovered, but the guys on that patrol all talked about weird happenings, strange lights at night, huge spiders and spooky temple ruin complexes.
About a year ago, in a meeting of the Archeology Department of the University. We were asked if anyone had any suggestions for an expedition, if monies became available for one. Something out of the ordinary, that the School might sponsor a dig. So I told them about the story. There was some interest in a field trip to Asia, but I thought no more about it, until 3 weeks ago.
Now, I’m the hell and gone inside some bad assed bush on the other side of the world. Four of my team of grad students, are dead. Two of the six Cambodian soldiers sent to guard us are dead.
Two were eaten by Giant Cobras of a species never before seen, over in the ruins proper, and the other four were half eaten by whatever in the hell that thing out there in the dark, hunting us is.
The first attack came just after full dark, caught us fully by surprise. It blew through the camp not making much noise at all, it was big, it was fast, it was either pissed off or real hungry. It knocked down all of the tents and the lights went out. Then we heard Jerry Duncan screaming as the thing carried him off into the dark. His screaming lasted for few moments and then there was silence. We were scrambling around like mad trying to get everyone together using only flashlights. Most were under collapsed tents screaming and hollering. Then four or five minutes later the second rush came and this time Donna Martin the tall redhead was taken, and again the screaming lasted for a few moments and was followed by silence.
I dug around in the pile of my stuff from my tent until I found my gun shotgun and bandolier of shells. I managed to load it with eight rounds of heavy slugs. Whatever this thing is, it “ain’t no snake!” Everyone was hollering at the same time in blind panic, two of the soldiers were firing their M-16 rifles into the brush.
My first thought was, whatever this thing is, you are going to need more than that military varmint rifle to stop it. Secondly I thought, If, it weren’t so serious, this damn scene would be comical. The din from it all, is unbelievable, flashlights are waving all over everywhere. Now, two more of the guards have opened up on the jungle. The shouting has now become shrill and is bordering on hysteria. Some are running from one little group of people to the other, waving their arms and shrieking about monsters. Any moment now they will break apart and run screaming into the night, into the jungle, in Cambodia with an unknown oogie-boogie out there waiting for them.
I remember my Dad saying “Son, you can’t trust civilians! They don’t cut their hair, they don’t wear uniforms, they never walk in step, and absolutely no-one is in charge! And this little group is just about spooked enough to stampede. So I Jack a shell into the chamber, click off the safety, point the Mosssberg at the base of the campfire, pull the trigger and “BOOM” like a thunderclap. Debris and sparks from the fire go at least 30 feet into the air. Several people fall down covering their heads and everyone is ducking, even the soldiers stop firing. God I Love this Mossberg!
“If everyone is quite finished with panicking and hysterics! Perhaps we can stay alive for bit longer!” I say, as calmly as I can. They are all quiet now but a few are still wild eyed and wanting to choose flight over fight. Several are crying openly. As if this afternoon’s exercise in terror wasn’t enough.
But this is not generally how 14 graduate students, looking to complete their credentials in Archeology, with a successful field trip and some new discoveries, hopefully launching their new careers. No, it is most certainly usually a more sedate and scholarly scene. This group came prepared for adventure, not terror!