The Death of Me.

© US Army

None of the following of which I write is a lie, every word I wrote is true.
I must have been mid-teens, perhaps fourteen or fifteen, I had  never seen a movie about Vietnam. Not even read a book.
I knew of atrocities committed, of people who left behind parts of their bodies and their soul, they’d never get them back. I knew nothing of weapons, of the vehicles that fought, I knew nothing of the landscape or the situations that were. Yet I dreamed the following, and I still cannot explain, how I dreamed all of this in perfect detail without knowing a thing.

A noise, a rumbling, which thunders through me – resonating in my bones, my blood. The deep bass of the engine, of rotors cutting through damp air.
Winds swooping over my face, through my hair, gliding across my body and cooling me down. I sit against the back wall of the open bay door, one leg outside the helicopter, the other with the knee against my chest.

I look out over the glowing hills of Vietnam, rice paddies stacked like terraces, in the water which they hold reflects the glimmering of the sun. Orange tinted is the landscape, with many shades of color.

In formation we fly, closer than any sane man would dare, and dominate the skies in our metal birds of war. By now for me it’s all routine, like car ride for another, as the landscape flashes by and the choppers sway in the winds.
We fly with many, I look at the others flying close-by. Some of our Hueys are with rocket pods, or a nervous gunner hanging from the open bay door, in others sit men like me with their legs hanging out and their arms wrapped around weapons as if surrogate lovers.

Below me, atop the hills, I can see what appears an artillery battery of most likely Soviet origin. This is Charley, the yellow-skin, the Commie bastard. I hear the pilots chatter back and forth, they’ve seen it too.
And perfectly within my view the other Hueys open fire, rockets speeding from their pods towards the misfortunate on the ground.
Explosions, right on target, the artillery disappears into clouds of orange flames and black dust. I feel fantastic, as I know they’re dying, enjoying every second that unfolds. No mercy, no sympathy, not a thought that counts.
I’m alive and they are dead, I’m safe because they perish, I win because they are gone. Supreme.

Without warning, everything changes, as rounds fire into the chopper through the open bay door. They bounce of off the ceiling, just above my head, sparks fly as I drop backwards against the floor. The crackling of metal ripped to shreds, the wails and screams of my fellow men.
I lift my head up and look down over my body as I am covered in blood. I do not care about the other men with me, only panic controls me now. I can barely fathom what has just happened, I’m so scared to die.
I keep wondering if this blood is mine or theirs, if I can feel anything at all. They are screaming still, they’re wounded and dying, God please not me…

The many alarms in the cockpit, the engine and the rotors trying hard, the screaming and the bleeding, if we’re flying or falling – I can’t even tell. I think this is it. Everything stops. Black.

I woke up screaming, sweat pouring down my back and forehead. And now a decade later, I write it down for you, what do you think happened? Did this somehow happen to me?

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22 comments

  1. deadlyeverafter

    Fascinating! It’s incredible what our minds can remind us of, when we have no way of knowing if it’s memory or sometimes yet to come. This is something you will always wonder about, but thankfully you have the imagination vivid enough to bring it to life. It’s someone’s story.

  2. mari wells

    My grandpa is a ‘Nam vet. He suffers from PTS. I’ve never asked him the questions that run through my mind. I try to respect the choices he had to make. “Kill or be killed” comes to mind often. I’m glad he’s here, I’m glad I got to know him and it seems cruel to think of others’ families.
    I’m thinking reincarnation.. Or maybe a spirit trying to tell you a story.

    You’re story was amazing as always. I felt like I was there. It gave me a little look into grandpa’s life at that time. Thanks

  3. dylanjmorgan

    A past life, mate. You died right there in a burning helicopter in some paddy field in ‘Nam, and you relived it all these years later through a dream.

    I don’t know–it could be, right? Or, it could just be a vivid, writer’s imagination bringing to life something you’d read or seen but hadn’t been aware of.

    Sometimes dreams are awesome.

  4. kristoffrable

    My guess would be that this is a memory from someone’s past life, possibly yours. I would tend to think yours because you can recount it in such detail. Memory is more powerful than dream, so, that’s what it seems like.

  5. Christopher Shawbell

    Intense, Brother! Very well written. I used to have a reoccurring dream of Vietnam and a battle there. I decide around 25 or so that it was factual; it had happened (I began having the dream very early in life). I stopped having it after that.
    My guess would be that you have experienced the same phenomenon. It’s not the first intense dream you’ve had, but it has had such power as to remain with you all these years. There’s a definitive reason for that.
    Embrace your Shadow and move on.
    Those are my thoughts on the matter, my friend.

    ~Chris

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