The Ghosts of My Lai
By: JC Braswell
Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Publisher: Magothy Publishing
Date of Publication: April 20, 2017
ISBN: 0-9979909-3-5 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-9979909-2-9 (eBook)
Number of pages: 264
Word Count: 89,700
Cover Artist: Marcy Arnold
Lieutenant Chris Williams and his platoon flee My Lai—the site of an unfathomable massacre during the Vietnam War—only to have their helicopter shot down over unchartered jungle. Disoriented and separated from the outside world, Williams faces the unenviable task of navigating the waylaid band of survivors to safety. But Vietnam has other plans…
Fear begins to trump logic. Specters of the assault call for them during the jungle nights. The escape mission descends in to mutiny as they discover an unknown threat unlike the Viet Cong hunts them from within the primitive environment.
Williams soon realizes that survival is not possible without first confronting the ghosts of My Lai…and the sins of their past.
“So what’s the plan now, LT?” Simmons moved his arms in a repetitive semicircle manner like he was making a snow angel in the leaves. “We just going to sit here and wait for the jungle to take us? Or do you think we’ll just die from boredom and exhaustion?”
“Quiet, Simmons,” Garcia said.
“We keep going.” He didn’t want to let them know that they might be stalked by a tiger, which would only cause more panic in the group.
“I guess there’s only one answer right now,” Donovan said, resting back on his elbows.
“What’s that?” Harris asked.
“We’re screwed.” Donovan could summon a smile even in the direst of situations, thrusting his hips in the air. “We’re completely and totally screwed. No chance at all.”
“Please don’t say that,” Harris’s voice cracked.
“Donovan, seriously? Why do you have to go on and say something stupid like that?” Jackson nudged Donovan’s thigh. “You’re gonna scare the kid.”
“’Cause it’s true. He’s right.” McEvoy smacked the back of his neck, smashing some insect guts into his skin. “Look at us. Nobody wants to say it, but we’re lost. No map. A useless compass. Not much food. Lost. And don’t get me started on these bugs.” McEvoy slapped the back of his head again, this time catching the bug and causing it to pop like a balloon. McEvoy gagged as he looked at his palm before wiping it across his thigh.
“They sure seem to like you,” Simmons said. “Must have some of that sweet boy blood.”
“Why do you have to start when I’m worrying over here? And I don’t have any sweet boy blood.”
“Enough. No more talk of death,” Williams said, tossing one of the river pebbles he kept in his pocket at McEvoy. “No more talk of anything. We take a short sleep and get going.”
“If you say so, boss.” McEvoy squirmed as the rock plunked him on the shoulder.
“What I wouldn’t give to listen to a little Doors right now. Just fade away with it all.” Donovan looked up at the stars. “Seems appropriate to die while listening to some good music
“How’s the injury?” Garcia dropped to one knee and went to untie Williams’s makeshift compression bandage. “I’m not sure how many we of these left. Maybe one.”
“Shouldn’t I ask how your shoulder is doing?”
“No need to worry about something small like that,” Garcia responded. “I’m not the one with a rotting leg.”
“Since you put it so gently.”
“You said it yourself. Might as well be honest. We’re just a sideshow.”
“Touché.” Williams knew there was reason to be concerned. He could smell the infection from three feet away: rotting eggs. Based on Garcia’s tempered reaction, it could only be getting worse.
“Hey, what about the radio? We’re on higher ground. Might be worth giving it another shot.” Harris, with his naïve youthfulness, held on to a simple hope.
“Go for it. Not like it’s going to hurt,” Williams answered, drifting back to the memories in his mind. Seagulls cawed from around Annapolis harbor, the zip of a fishing line pulled as a fish splashed on the surface. It was only a pipedream.
“It ain’t even turning on,” McEvoy said. He clicked the switch a few times, relying on a miracle that would not happen.
“Oh, come on,” Harris whined. He slapped the radio a few times—the old magic trick never quite worked out for anyone with experience in electronics.
“Relax, guys. That things as useless as both of you.” Donovan said, drumming his fingers along the ground to the beat of whatever Doors song played in his head.
“Wait. Think I got something.” McEvoy’s words called their attention. The radio whined as McEvoy adjusted the knob until a muffled song broke through the static.
“What’s that?” Jackson asked, leaning in as if he could listen better.
“I don’t…I don’t know.” McEvoy honed in on the signal until a distinct muffled chant emerged. The small troupe stared at each other, a mixture of confusion and disbelief as the unknown words captivated them.
“It can’t be,” Donovan said.
“Maybe some local station?” Harris asked.
The chanting grew more distinct with little melody to the deliberate words.
“A local station…out here? No damned way.” Williams said, noticing the VC perking his head up with a glaze covering his face. It was as if the chanting signaled the VC to wake.
“These people have some weird tastes,” Jackson said.
The troupe gathered closer, exchanging glances between each other and the radio. The lights flickered with the strength of the foreign words, the dials shifting back and forth.
“You recognize any of this?” Williams looked at McEvoy.
“I…no. It’s…too old. An older dialect.” McEvoy shrugged.
The chanting intensified, the chorus of foreign words almost shouting. The treetops around them rustled as a stiff breeze suddenly rolled across their makeshift camp. Williams looked back at their VC prisoner, who remained silent, transfixed by the radio’s signal.
“This ain’t right. None of this is right.” Harris withdrew from the contraption.
“Hold on to yourself,” Donovan said. “Nothing we can do.”
Louder. Faster. The radio shuddered with the strength of the signal.
“Turn if off. Turn it off,” Garcia demanded.
The VC’s lips started to move, almost in unison with the chanting, but he did not make a sound.
“I’m trying.” McEvoy twisted the dials, but the radio refused to obey.
Its housing crackled then sparked, causing McEvoy’s arm to snap back. The sharp smell of burnt rubber and metal poured out of the case. Then, with a pop and brilliant flash, the radio went silent, its light fading to black. The VC then dropped his head in concert with the chanting as it came to an abrupt halt.
“Jesus,” McEvoy said, blowing on his finger.
“El Diablo,” Garcia muttered in a voice low enough for only Williams to hear.
A fan of Lewis, Hemingway and Tolkien, author JC Braswell writes in a few different genres including Thriller, Horror, Sci-Fi, and Young Adult.
In addition to writing JC is a practicing attorney specializing in estate planning and corporate law, he is the recipient of the American Health Lawyers Association award for his legal writing.
JC makes his home along the Chesapeake Bay with his wife and two children.
You can visit his website at www.jcbraswell.com and check out his podcasts at www.freestateradio.com
Author website: http://www.jcbraswell.com
Amazon Author: https://www.amazon.com/JCBraswell/e/B00YLOWUP4/