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Authors: Kirk Adams

Left on Paradise

BOOK: Left on Paradise
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Left on Paradise

By Kirk Adams

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are either fictitious or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

Left on Paradise

Copyrigh
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©
2014 by Kirk Adams

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form, without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

 

This book was published in the United States of America.

 

ISBN 978-1-4951-3337-4

 

Kirk Adams Books

45497 Lost Trail Terrace

Sterling, Virginia 20164

 

Cover design by Reed Sprunger

 

This book is dedicated to every American who has contributed

to the greatest experiment in self-government

that our world has ever known.

.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:

for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;

and there was no more sea.

— Revelation 21:1 —

 

 

 

 

 

1

The Second Coming of Officers and Gentlemen

 

“Captain, Lieutenant Howard’s on the radio.”

A young Marine with a slim waist and a smooth face gave his handset to a squat, thick-necked captain dressed in desert-brown fatigues—who carried a holstered pistol on his hip and displayed twin bars across his shoulders.

The officer dropped his helmet to the ground as he put the receiver to his ear. “Captain Bradford here. What’s that firing?”

A breathless voice came from the radio. “We’ve taken rounds, Capt’n. One man ambushed us. We took him out without taking casualties.”

“Awww, crap,” Captain Bradford muttered, but not into the radio. “Lieutenant, what’s your situation?”

“We’ve taken up a position at the base of the hill,” the breathless voice continued, “maybe a hundred meters inland from the LZ. I’ve sent a squad to secure our flank and deployed the rest of the platoon forward. What’re your orders, sir?”

“Was the man alone?”

“Yes, sir. As best as I can tell, I’ve sent scouts forward.”

“Lieutenant, hold your position and secure the beach. We’re moving forward as planned. Recon reports no contact on the hill and I’m approaching the north shore. We’ll circle the island and be back to the LZ by dusk. Is that clear?”

The radio crackled. “Yes, sir.”

“Lieutenant, you still there?”

Garbled speech came across the air.

“Don’t let anyone get hurt,” Captain Bradford ordered. “Or dehydrated.”

The next reply sounded crisp.

“Roger.”

A corporal packed the radio away as the captain turned toward a hard-muscled man with several stripes sewn to his sleeve and twenty years service stitched into his face.

“First Sergeant Rogers,” Captain Bradford said, “have Lieutenant Diaz sent to me—and give the men a rest. Make sure they drink water. And keep scouts posted.”

The sergeant hurried away to execute his orders.

A few minutes later, Captain Bradford and Lieutenant Diaz were seated on a fallen tree, drinking from canteens and nibbling food drawn from their fatigue pouches. A compass dangled from Bradford’s neck as he studied an unfolded map. Though Lieutenant Diaz had only a single silver bar pinned to his shoulders, it was he who took the lead.

“Intelligence,” Lieutenant Diaz said, “reported these people would be waiting on the beaches with outstretched arms.”

“I haven’t seen any parades,” Captain Bradford said. “Have you?”

“I suppose not,” the lieutenant said, grimacing. “We’re going to be stuck here two days. Maybe longer.”

“Most likely searching for stragglers and recovering remains.”

“Looking at that beach near the LZ,” Lieutenant Diaz said, “I’d like to get in some volleyball and a clambake. It’d be a shame to pass up a South Pacific paradise without a little rest and relaxation.”

The captain gave a weak smile. “There aren’t going to be too many native girls.”

“And a shame it is, sir. A crying shame.”

“To tell the truth,” Captain Bradford said with a laugh, “I’d rather not see too many hula girls.”

“Well,” Lieutenant Diaz now raised his eyebrows, “I suppose times really are changing, so I won’t ask if you don’t tell.”

“It’s not that, you cretin. It’s just that the wife’s at Pendleton and I’m not. No use sniffing steak when you keep your teeth in a jar.”

Both men laughed.

“Howard will secure a position,” Captain Bradford said as he pointed to his map, “on the east side of the island while we move the company north, keeping a flank anchored to the shore and deploying a recon patrol inland to scout for unpleasant surprises. After we reach the north shore, we’ll turn south down the west shore for the southern tip of the island and then complete the circle until we reach Howard’s platoon at the LZ. It’ll take the rest of the day to cover the outer perimeter of this god-forsaken place. We can wait till tomorrow to search inland. Since we’re stuck here no matter what, we might as well do this right. Heck, we might even get the men a day on the beach out of this—and maybe that clambake you mentioned.”

“There’s no hurry,” the lieutenant replied. “I’ll post a squad forward—and I’ll stay with them.”

“Sounds good,” the captain nodded as he folded his map.

“To tell the truth,” Lieutenant Diaz said, “we’re going to be boxed in that ship for the better part of six months, except for desert maneuvers. We need to exploit this opportunity.”

“There’s the making of a general,” Captain Bradford said as he stood, shaking a leg that fell asleep while he crouched. “You bring clubs and a cart?”

The lieutenant said that he hadn’t.

A few minutes later, both officers had secured their maps and now directed Marines into line. Sergeants slapped men on the back and jostled them into position, threatening extra duty if they didn’t hurry—their brisk orders bringing sharp responses. Within minutes, every Marine moved forward at a steady, careful pace; not without noise, but with eyes trained ahead and weapon at the ready. The platoon made a broad sweep around the island, keeping one flank of the advancing line secured directly against the sea and the other extended inland. One man stayed near the lines of trees just off the shore while everyone else fanned out several feet apart. The captain remained with a reserve force stationed to the rear.

 

“Look, sir. There’s another one behind the trees. That’s not even a tough shot.”

“Sergeant, hold your fire unless he shoots first. We’re not savages.”

“Yes, sir. I mean ... no, sir, we’re Marines.”

Lieutenant Howard lifted field glasses to his eyes and surveyed the tree line. Sergeant Abbott was right. There was someone in the trees, hiding behind a few broad-leaf palm bushes. But the man posed no immediate danger and orders were clear: to fire only in self-defense. This was former Russian territory and spilling blood could cause a stir for everyone; most of all, for a mere lieutenant exceeding his authority. He’d put in too many long days and sleepless nights at Annapolis to forfeit his commission now. The lieutenant dropped his glasses and searched among his men until he spotted a fair-faced Marine crouched behind a clump of palm trees twenty yards to his right.

“Corporal Michaels,” the lieutenant said, “can you put a few rounds over that man’s head? To keep him down.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then do it. Over—I repeat—over his head. Don’t hurt him.”

The corporal, a thin youth with a boyish face, took aim from a sitting position. The stock of his rifle near a cheek, he closed an eye and squeezed the trigger. A single three-round burst exploded from his rifle and its bullets whizzed into the crown of the palm tree, striking a clump of coconuts—which burst open. From a distance it looked as though they exploded directly atop the half-hidden stranger—who immediately raised his hands and stood, shouting for the Marines to hold their fire.

Lieutenant Howard ordered his men to keep watch as he himself stepped into the clear. “What’s your business?” he yelled to the stranger.

“I want to go home,” came the distant reply.

“Then go.”

“Not here,” the man shouted. “Home. California.”

The lieutenant looked through his binoculars before yelling out a short question. “You alone?”

“Yes,” the man replied, cupping his hands over his mouth.

“Then move forward—slowly. Hands on your head. Drop the sack. It stays there. One false move and you’re dead.”

The lieutenant turned to Sergeant Abbott.

“Keep a bead on him,” the officer ordered. “Don’t make my fiancée a widow before I marry her, but don’t get us court-martialed either. Fire only if he fires first or I give a direct order.”

The sergeant aimed his rifle directly at the distant stranger’s chest and held his position fast, his right forefinger resting against the frame of the weapon and his thumb posed to disengage the safety (as needed). Several others prepared to provide supporting fire. At less than two hundred yards, none would miss their target.

Lieutenant Howard watched as the stranger moved forward as ordered, hands raised high. It took the stranger a minute or so to cover the ground. Only at the last instant did Howard advance to frisk the stranger before leading the captive through the platoon’s perimeter. There, the man stopped before a squad of gun-toting Marines—hands over his head and coconut shards sprinkled in his scraggly hair. Sticky coconut milk covered his unshaven whiskers.

Lieutenant Howard laughed a little. “Anyone for coconut?” he asked.

The captive fell to his knees. “Don’t kill me,” he cried out. “Have mercy.”

Lieutenant Howard pulled the man to his feet. “No one,” he said, “is going to kill you.”

“Please don’t hurt me,” the man said as he dropped to his knees a second time to plead for his life.

“Get a grip,” Lieutenant Howard answered as he pulled the man to his feet. “We’re here to evacuate the island.”

“Oh lord,” the stranger said as he fell to his knees yet a third time, “don’t lie to me. Tell me the truth.”

This time the Marines just stared at him.

Only after the captive saw that not a single Marine fingered his trigger did he take a deep breath and relax.

“Finally,” the man said as he stood up, “you’ve come.”

“We were told there’s a hundred Americans here,” the lieutenant said, “but you’re the first person we’ve seen. Other than the stupid bastard who took a shot at Sergeant Abbott—God rest his soul.”

The stranger looked to the ground.

“They’re crazy,” the man said. “There’s maybe half a dozen left. Radicals under the command of Father Donovan. We’ve fought ‘em for days.”

“How many guns,” Sergeant Abbott now joined the interrogation, “do they have?”

“One they stole from a yacht.”

“What kind?”

“A black one.”

“This it?” Sergeant Abbott asked as he pulled a semi-automatic pistol from his belt and showed it to the stranger.

“I think so,” the man replied.

“This was the only gun on the island? For a hundred people?”

A puzzled look came across the stranger’s face. “We’re pacifists and idealists, mostly. Even hunting was forbidden.”

The sergeant moved his face within a foot of the stranger’s, speaking with a growled whisper and pointing a finger to the stranger’s face. “If you lie to us, I personally will ...”

“Sergeant,” Lieutenant Howard said with quiet control, “let him speak.”

Sergeant Abbott checked himself and considered his words before glancing at his officer and then looking straight at the captured stranger. “He’ll stay with us. Any traps and it’ll be his ass too.”

The lieutenant nodded before again addressing the captive. “You mentioned a yacht. Whose yacht?”

“A good Samaritan’s,” the man whispered as he dropped his eyes and shuffled his feet.

The lieutenant’s face tightened. “Captain James Strong?”

The prisoner nodded.

“Where is he?”

“Dead.”

“And his wife?”

“All of them. His wife, her sister, his brother-in-law.”

“You sons of ...” Now it was Lieutenant Howard who struggled to check his anger as he turned to his sergeant and spoke with a sharp voice. “I roomed with his son at Annapolis.”

Sergeant Abbott said nothing.

“Sons of bitches,” the lieutenant grabbed the man by the shoulders and growled through clenched teeth. “Where’re all of your hippie friends? Where are they? Where?”

The prisoner dropped his eyes and turned white before choking out a quiet answer. “They’re gone.”

Howard let the man go and stepped back—his forehead furrowed and cheeks crinkled. “Where’d they go?”

“Gone,” the stranger said, his voice high pitched and anxious. “There can’t be more than a dozen of us left, plus the rebels. Maybe a few more on other islands. I don’t know. Everyone’s dead. Some are buried.”

“Corporal,” Lieutenant Howard gave orders to a clean-shaven youth waiting several feet away, “get Captain Bradford on the radio. Pronto.”

The corporal just stared at the dirty stranger, shaking his head in disbelief and saying nothing.

“Now, Corporal Billington,” Lieutenant Howard snapped. “Now!”

As the corporal reached for a handset, the lieutenant composed an operational plan that he briefed to Sergeant Abbott.

“Deploy recon teams,” the lieutenant said, “to secure a base camp for the night. Looks like it’ll take a couple days to clean this mess. I hope no one gets hurt in this operation.”

“Yes, sir,” Sergeant Abbott said as he glared at the stranger, “it’d be a waste to lose a good Marine to save a bunch of Clinton-loving liberals. These are probably the jackasses—I mean, Democrats—who got my vote thrown out.”

“You have no idea,” the stranger said, “how good it is to be insulted by an American military fasc”—the man looked at the line of Marines in their fatigues, rifles at hand, and came to the conclusion that some things are better left unsaid—“by an American fighting man.”

BOOK: Left on Paradise
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