I’m working on a bit of a comeback, writing short stories and hitting up some old contacts. It’s been a while and I suppose that the best way to break back into things is a great story of sorts. But then less than a week ago something happened that affected the lives of thousands in my nation and many abroad. Without any reason or justification an airliner was shot from the sky over the Ukraine. I figured that, maybe, it would be nice for me to open with that instead of something that focuses on me.
Today, for the fourth day in a row, two massive airplanes – a Dutch C-130 Hercules and an Australian C-17 Globemaster – landed at Eindhoven Airport, filled with coffins. Temporary ones because none of those inside have been identified yet, to put it bluntlty – it’s mostly bits and pieces. Scattered remains of people who were going on vacation or a business trip, hoping for a good time and a safe return. Then, someone, pressed a button and fired off a missile at their Malaysia Airlines flight, a Boeing 777 designated MH-17 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, and everything ended.
They stood no chance, had no warning and very little time to realize what was happening – if any at all.
Worse perhaps is how no one at the scene seemed to care, they left them laying in the fields and went through their belongings – looting for personal gain. There was no respect, no mercy and no empathy for the deceased. Treated like garbage and the investigations, still, are being frustrated.
So, I figured, the least I can do is write a little something for those people. Maybe no one will read it, maybe no one will care, I certainly have no expectations of it making any changes to the bigger picture of a tragedy that ripped away 300 people. But I’m going to try and I hope someone appreciates it.
Welcome home dear countrymen, welcome back dear guests.
How much we would’ve done to greet you different, to bring you back your daily lives that will never be again.
The wind weeps through the flags along the airstrip, their ropes chime like bells, for each of your souls lost.
But here you are, in square boxes on the shoulders of quiet soldiers, whom carry you with dignity.
Like rain you fell, from the sky onto fields and roofs, like you were nothing but debris.
But in the hearts of our mere seventeen million, you fell with deafening noise, and thundered in our souls.
How much we’ve said and how much we’ve mourned, our loss is none compared to yours.
All we can give is a nation that cares for each of you, and your loved ones left behind, still nothing takes the pain away.
We promise, for all the disrespect you’ve received, we’ll treat you right.
We promise, for all the gain they tried to make, we’ll search for truth.
Sleep well dear passengers, you’ve earned your rest.
We will forever remember you in the number- seventeen.
Dedicated to the passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17.
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?