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23 Spectral soldier

Kindred in '65, Cambodian Bandit Recon long range reconnaissance patrol LRRP in Vietnam, penetrating deeper where others feared to tread.

Unit winning Presidential Unit Citation, extraordinary heroism. Kindred with blue Jungle Expert patch living up to the slogan Sudden Death.

Conducting first night combat rappel along the northern Cambodian border to extract a mysterious solo Airborne Ranger, guy named Culhane.

Culhane coming back with a box full of bombing coordinates, mapped during a 75 kilometer patrol over two weeks, top secret up river, insane.

Maps and plans, detailed most desirable targets, dropzones, killspots, no go areas, prime ops, sunspots, moon phases, riptides, river depth.

Kindred dubbed it the Insane Unknown Offensive. IUO. Nobody knew Culhane went up there until he came back. No one knew why, or how, or when.

Thought he was dead, captured, buried, dismembered, beheaded, disemboweled, castrated, skinned, boiled alive, tortured, drained, out, empty.

Culhane gut shot, leaking oil, going down, ammo gone, Kindred emerging from the the jungle into a clearing, sees him on a river rock dying.

Three enemy open up from the treeline and according to Culhane, retelling the tale for years to come, Kindred simply disappeared midstride.

Bullets thunking into the trees, whining through the space where he was, or used to be, he wasn't there any more, he was submolecular, true.

Kindred sucking the life out of the three men, their lungs imploding with a sick pop, no other sound, using no knife, no grenade, no weapon.

Rematerializing in midair above Culhane, hovering angelic, Culhane swore to investigators later he could see right through him, see the sky.

Kindred carrying Culhane 50 clicks through muck and slime, torrential hot rain, heavens melting vengeance like warm lifeblood of the gods.

Flashbacks always, answers never, Culhane could not figure out how Kindred did what he did, savior of the Insane Unknown Offensive, alone.

Trying to put the war behind us, I started to work with Culhane, odd jobs, busy work. Two hours of pushing broom. Kings of the open road.

In the summer of 1970 we took janitorial jobs at Stanford, heard a man named Ingo Swann talk about remote viewing, I fell back five years.

Culhane reeled me back, told me it was new age mumbo jumbo. Crystal skulls. Appearances on the Mike Douglas Show. Undercurrents of deceit.

After Stanford, we took our roadshow to the burnt ruins of Fallon Ridge, caught in a cornfield nexus, downstate Illinois. Pirate pillaged.

I did not know Culhane had been slipping synthetic ununoctium in my drinking water and, rather bravely, beryllium copper shards in my toast.

Stanford had changed him. The copper in my bowels offset the magnesium in my scalp; we still took odd jobs. I dreamt about a man named Bundy.

Culhane and I caused the riot at Attica. We dressed in aluminum underwear and saluted Hitler to hillbillies in Greenville, Alabama. Lucid.

I could almost grasp it, my tranquility. Like my origins rewritten; retconned by the faces I see in a sky of torn plums. Sci-fi-noir nowhere.


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