A Closing Story

Eyes of Truth

7/7/2007, 2:11 AM:

My adrenaline is flowing.

While standing in the dark tunnel, I quickly remove my outer clothing leaving only a black suit covering my body. After checking my weapons and night vision gear, I listen closely to my ear implant for a ďGOĒ command from satellite Intel.

Itís quiet inside the tunnel, except for the faint high-pitched ringing that insects are making all around me. The smell of dampness is thick, and I feel it on my skin. It surrounds me—almost penetrating me.

ďU C TANGO1, GO. SINGLE PARTY NOW PRESENT. GOD SPEED.Ē

A strong tingling sensation ripples down from my shoulders into my arms and calves. The objective that I now have in my mind is as firm as the Earth Iím presently standing on, and I know what I must do. My mission is about the national security of the United States, and Iím prepared to do whatever is required to succeed. I love my country and pride myself in doing what Iíve been trained is right, starting from my early childhood. Quickly, I leave the tunnel and walk briskly towards the restaurant. Iím totally aware of all my surroundings as I move; nothing escapes my senses on this warm quiet night.

As I approach the building, itís completely dark, both inside and out. A strange discomfort fills my mind as I reach its Southwest corner. I wish I knew more about the target located inside. The only thing I really know, is that heís going to receive critical information from a counterparty, and my objective is to neutralize both parties and confiscate as much information as possible. After pausing briefly to scan my surroundings, I break the plastic seal on one of my three ultrasonic audio transducers, and twist its body firmly back and forth three times to mix its internal epoxy. I peel off its thin bottom cover and press the housing against the outside wall of the building. I can feel the epoxy spreading over the surface of the outer wall, and four seconds later, its heated housing lets me know the epoxy is set and the first sensor is ready for use. I press a switch located on its cover and verify that a deep seated LED blinks twice yellow, then turns solid green for one second, and then goes off. Transducer # 1 is up and running.

Cautiously, I move around to the Southeast and Northeast corners of the restaurant and attach the two remaining ultrasonic transducers. I remove the analyzing computer from a large pocket on my left thigh, and lean it against the bottom of the exterior wall near the location of the third sensor. Pressing two buttons simultaneously on its housing, I turn it on and verify that a deep seated LED blinks twice yellow, then turns solid green for one second, and then goes off. The entire system is now up and functional. Itís new technology developed by Raytheon that enables multiple users to see live images of whatís moving inside a building. It works by sending ultrasonic pulses into the building, then analyzing the resulting reflections and interference patterns, and finally transmitting summary data to wrist displays worn by multiple team members. I change the mode of my large wrist display to show the internal layout of the building; static structures like walls and tables are shown in green, and anything moving will be quickly converted into a bright red image. I always get a kick out of the technology that Iím privileged to use on these special ops—it gives me the edge needed to safely defeat my targets.

On the display, I can easily see the walls of the building, but the target is not illuminated in red. Iíve never had a target stand perfectly still for longer than 30 seconds when waiting for a rendezvous, and I fully expect him to move shortly. While waiting, I notice that the restaurant is relatively complicated inside—lots of walls, and it looks like there are several medium-sized eating areas. Itís important for me to memorize the layout right now, for use when moving through the building.

After waiting two full minutes for some kind of red image to appear, I still donít see anything except green static images on my wrist display. How will I know where to enter the building if I donít know the targetís location inside? Whatís going on hereÖ Is he simply not moving, or do I have bad intel?

Suddenly, Iím startled by a second message heard on my micro ear implant: ďU C TANGO1, MULTIPLE SECOND PARTIES IN TRANSIT. ARRIVAL IN 7.5 MINUTES.Ē

A wave of fear suddenly spreads throughout my body. I must act immediately in order to ensure the success of this mission. Reaching over to my wrist display, I simultaneously press two dimly lit red buttons located on its sides. A reverberating ďclunkĒ is heard as the 3 ea. ultrasonic transducers create 3 ea. high energy impulses transmitted 10 milliseconds apart into the outer walls of the building. Iíve heard that sound effect from inside a building before during training, and itís very confusing to anyone located inside.

While intently watching my display, I immediately see the target move; heís now shown in red on my display and the software will track a continuous lock on him. Heís moved quickly to the main front window of the restaurant. His speed surprises me, but I know that itís difficult to accurately judge movements on my small display.

Quickly, I move to the rear entry of the restaurant and using an electronic picking tool, I instantly open the deadbolt. Looking down at my display, I can see that the system still has a lock on the target; heís still by the front window.

I lower my night vision goggles over my eyes, and verify that the IR system is working. The goggles fit firmly on my head, anchored by a chin strap to prevent any movement during physical activity. After removing my silenced 9 mm from my shoulder holster, I quickly begin making my way through the rear area of the restaurant towards the front of the building. Itís a difficult and winding path, and Iím careful not to make any noise while moving through the building. Iím unaware of my body at this point. All I am is a one-track program on a mission to destroy a single dangerous target. I exist as eyes, ears, gun, and mission. I have no other thoughts; nothing exists in the entire universe except for my mission and the target.

From my memory of the building layout, I know Iím getting close to the front area of the restaurant. For just an instant, I stop and hold my wrist display up close to my chest so I can look under my night vision goggles and verify the target is still in the same location. Yes.

GO!!!

As I rush around two final turns, I point my weapon towards the front window and instantly locate the IR image of my target; heís ducked down by the front window. And although he appears somewhat smaller than expected, I quickly fire five rounds spaced evenly across the targetís center mass.

I pause for three seconds, waiting for any sign of movement from the target. Thereís none, and I take a deep breath; Iíve accomplished the first and most risky objective of my mission. I feel the same sense of victory that Iíve always felt after destroying other targets on my special ops missions. I envision the future and think about how Iíll be back in the tunnel shortly with both sets of transfer data, and then Iíll be picked up by helicopter and taken back to my ship where Iíll rejoin my Seal team.

Okay, DAMN IT, I just wasted 4 seconds thinking about things that I shouldnít. Iíve almost gotten lazy somehow on these missions during the last six months, and Iíve told myself repeatedly that I MUST NOT hesitate after killing my targets.

Flipping up my night vision goggles, I quickly turn on my LED headlight and begin moving towards the target to search for the first set of transfer data. INSTANTLY, I AM TOTALLY SHOCKED as I realize the target isnít the man I had envisioned in my mind from the muddy IR image. Instead, Iíve just killed a large dog. Disconnection suddenly fills my mind—I pauseÖ

SLLLAAAAMMMM!!

IíM MOVING UNCONTROLLABLY FORWARD towards the dog and front window. A strange and powerful force has me in its grips, one which I havenít experienced before. I CANíT CONTROL MY MOVEMENT AT ALL. Time stops for an instant in my mind, and I suddenly remember a strong force that I felt long ago in my childhood. I had climbed too far up into a small tree in our backyard, and my stepfather was running towards me waving his arms and yelling. Before I knew it, a branch snapped below me and I was falling through the air, trying desperately to lift my chin up and somehow get my legs positioned below me. It didnít work. When I hit the ground I experienced a new kind of force that I simply couldnít relate to. It was tremendous in nature, nothing like Iíd ever experienced before. Now, 22 years later, Iím reminded again of what itís what itís like to experience a force more powerful than Iíve ever imagined.

AGHHHHHH!!! Iím realizing the force is turning into pain, and I still canít control my limbs. WHATíS HAPPENING TO MEEEEE!!! Iím falling down, crashing through a table and chairs in the front area of the restaurant, realizing as Iím falling that someone is wrapped around me from behind. I CANíT MOVE UNDER MY OWN CONTROL. I CANíT EVEN USE MY LEGS TO STEER MY BODY AS IíM FALLING. Itís like a bad dream that I had long ago, where I desperately needed to run, but I couldnít move my legs no matter how hard I tried. As Iím falling to the floor, I suddenly realize that my body is totally paralyzed, and the pain Iím feeling is centrally located in my neck. Itís like a super burn. The worst kind of burn Iíve ever experienced, except itís not on the outside of my skin—itís deep, deep inside of me. I, I canít do anything to fight the pain and paralysis. Iím just a single uncontrolled burning point of existence. In a sense, my body is disconnected from me now, and I seem to be changing into something less and less. While lying face down on the floor, I sense someone grabbing both of my arms jerking them towards the back of my body. OOOHHHHHHAAAHHHHH!!!! He rolls me over, and my headlamp illuminates his face.

Either Iím dreaming or dying, because this man looks exactly like me. Heís yelling at the top of his lungs, with his face right up to mine, but I can hardly hear him due to the numbness and pain now filling my whole body. Through barred teeth, heís yelling in a foreign language, words that I donít understand and with emotional intensity that Iíve never felt before. While heís angrily shaking me, my headlamp flashes across his face and I notice that his right eye has a mark that makes me think immediately about God. This man really is like me. Is he me? In addition to having a face just like mine, the iris on his right eye has the same exact white birthmark as my right eye. Somehow, I believe God wants me to look at myself, and reflect upon what Iíve been doing with my life. Then suddenly, total disbelief appears on his face as he shines his flashlight in my face.

The burning pain finally begins to ease somewhat in my neck, and my body begins to relax. A strange tunnel vision begins to appear around his face, and a peacefulness comes over me about how this mission doesnít really matter. I somehow understand that everything is going to be okay, and I feel the slightest bit of smile in my mind as I peacefully relax.

7/7/2007, 2:01 AM:

Iíve waited my entire adult life for a time when I could truly serve my country in a big way. Itís been a dream of mine since early childhood, and I praise Allah for choosing me to fulfill this critical mission in support of our countryís nuclear energy development program. I donít know the details about what Iíll accomplish tonight, but I do know that Iíll be trading an encrypted flash drive containing top secret payment information, for a flash drive containing critical engineering documentation to complete our countryís first nuclear power generating facility.

Itís highly unusual for an elite military commando like me to perform a data transfer role, but considering the importance of this mission, I can easily understand why our leadership couldnít risk failure and didnít want a civilian to complete the task.

Iím riding a bicycle for the final mile of my journey to the restaurant. Itíll be easy to hide upon my arrival and wonít cause anyone in the area to become alarmed. Itís a very old restaurant located on the outskirts of Najaria, and Iíve eaten there four times in the last three days in an effort to get to know the floor layout and make friends with the large German Shepard that lives on the premises. Each time Iíve eaten there, Iíve been able to successfully lean down and call the dog over to feed it several pieces of specially cooked meat that I brought with me.

For tonightís transaction, my team has made arrangements for me to have a key to the front door, so I can easily gain access and wait for my trading partner to arrive. Upon reaching the restaurant, I leave the bicycle across the street behind a group of desert plants and remove a two pound package of the same well seasoned meat from my backpack—it smells good as I unfold the top of the bag. What a shame to give this wonderfully cooked meat to a dog, but I know how valuable it will be in helping me to enter the restaurant without the dog becoming alarmed. After quietly stepping up the two wooden stairs leading to the front door, I quickly glance up and down the street to verify thereís no activity. Then I bend down and hold a piece of the meat near the crack below the door. After pausing thirty seconds waiting for the dog to come to the door, I donít hear anything. Gently, I use my breath to blow air past the meat and through the crack, hoping to arouse the dog inside. Almost immediately, I hear a faint shuffling noise inside, followed by the dog sniffing at the base of the door. Okay, it worked, he isnít barking and I believe the dog has recognized the smell of the meat Iíve been feeding him for the past three days.

Gently, I unlock the front door and open it slightly while continuing to feed him. He loves the flavor and sticks his tongue through the crack attempting to solicit more of the tasty meat. Okay thatís it, Iím trusted—I enter the restaurant while continuing to feed him. Closing and locking the door behind me, I turn on a small LED flashlight and quickly scan the room for a safe place to wait for my contact. Over there, a corner by an interim wall within the dining area by the front window. Thatís perfect. Thereís even a small table Iíll be able to sit on while waiting.

Itís now 2:11 AM, and my contact should arrive precisely at 2:30 AM. I was ordered to be here ahead of time to verify site security before the transaction. While standing by the table waiting, I contemplate moving its vase of flowers and taking a comfortable seat. But then I reflect back upon my intense military training and the importance of this mission; I decide to stand for the entire time, motionless, listening for the slightest sound indicating a problem. This is by far the most important mission of my life, and Iím going to use it to further improve my own self-discipline. Iím an elite soldier of my countryís special forces—an accomplishment that my real mother and father would be very proud of. And while thinking about my real parents, I envision my beloved stepmother and stepfather and my long lost identical twin brother who was separated from me at birth. My stepmother and stepfather had told me the true story when I was only 8 years old—they loved me dearly and believed I was entitled to know the truth, regardless of direction received from the military.

They told me that my real mother and father were both killed in a car accident, but miraculously, doctors were able to deliver her two sons using cesarean section, and my brother and I both survived. Shortly after delivery, doctors were able to make arrangements for our adoption. By incredible coincidence, there were special circumstances that lead to both of our new homes. One of the delivery surgeons had a brother who was a high-ranking officer in the special forces (my stepfather) who longed to adopt a single male newborn. The other infant was transferred out of the country to the United States for adoption in exchange for special consideration during secret water rights negotiations. When my stepfather told me that story, there were tears in his eyes and he said that Iíd probably never meet my identical twin brother, but that everything would work out in the eyes of Allah.

CLUNKÖ I hear a strange sound, and the large dog immediately bolts to the front windowÖ Iím instantly alarmed—especially since I couldnít tell where the sound came from within the restaurant. It was one of the weirdest sounds that Iíve ever heard in my whole life and I wondered for a moment if I was getting sick and my left ear had an inner-ear problem. Instinctively, I remained frozen—my pistol gripped firmly in my left hand, and a large knife held securely in my right. I trembled slightly and suddenly began to feel cold. What the Hell was that noise, I yelled inside my mind?!! I glanced up at the luminescent watch I had stuck on the wall, and could see the time was 2:23 AM. My contact would arrive in seven minutes. I MUST remain perfectly still and consider the possible implications of that strange noise.

PVFFFFTTTT--PVFFFFTTTT--PVFFFFTTTT--PVFFFFTTTT--PVFFFFTTTT!!! Five silenced shots rang out in rapid succession, and I didnít move a muscle. My elite training to withstand incredible surprise and emotional shock just paid off in spades. My grip tightened further on both my gun and knife and adrenaline was rushing throughout my entire body. I was ready to explode with intensity. WHERE IS THE INTRUDER—I DONíT SEE HIM YET, BUT IíM GOING TO KILL HIM!! While waiting in silence for several seconds, a period that seemed like eternity, I decided not to fire my non-silenced pistol—Iíd kill him using my knife instead. Iím an expert in delivering death with a blade, and know exactly how to dive steel into a manís neck resulting in immediate paralysis followed by momentary death. A small amount of light from the front window is all Iíll need to determine his body position and Iíll easily take him out.

LIGHT suddenly fills the front dining area and Iím blinded for an instant. I quickly regain focus and see a man moving steadily towards the dead dog by the front window. As he passes in front of me, I lunge upon him with every ounce of energy I can possibly muster, and plunge my blade deep into the right side of his neck, reaching nerves that instantly paralyze him. I then twist the blade and pull back in the manner Iíve been trained in order to sever his jugular vein. As weíre falling forward together over a table and chairs onto the floor, I realize that my knife position is slightly off, and Iím unable to reach his jugular vein to cause instant death. However, I know that Iíve caused the shock needed and the intruder will be dead in just a few more moments. With all of my strength, I slam my adversary down onto the wooden floor of the restaurant and forcefully pull his two arms behind his back. Quickly, I handcuff him, my knife still buried deeply in his neck as his body shakes periodically from severe nerve damage.

I look back into the darkness behind me and feel a horrible combination of fear and anxiety. Is there another intruder? NO, IíD ALREADY BE DEAD. I look back at the person dying in front of me and roughly roll him over. I yell at him, asking who he is and why heís here in the restaurant. He doesnít answer as his headlamp casts into my eyes. He canít speak and is fading quickly into death. I know that Iíll never find out who this man is or who sent him, just like all of the other targets Iíve neutralized in the past. Heís simply just another death required in the path of evolution for my country. Sensing the end of this conflict, I reach into my pocket and turn on a small LED flashlight—I shine it into the soldierís face during his last moments of life, and IMMEDIATELY an intense wave of electricity sweeps through my body. Itís the same intensity that Iíve felt before when a major idea has emerged in my mind and caused an epiphany. Why does this man look exactly like me? HE EVEN HAS THE SAME EXACT WHITE BIRTHMARK ON THE IRIS OF HIS RIGHT EYE!!! Somehow, in my growing disbelief, I believe Allah is asking me to look at myself, and reflect upon what Iíve been doing with my life. As Iím looking down into the dying soldierís face, I see a strange and distant smile appear faintly as he relaxes and passes on into eternity.

I should be alert and thinking about my next move to safeguard my life, but a gripping sadness fills my mind—one that Iíve never felt before as I slowly acknowledge what my subconscious is whispering to me. Tears well up in my eyes and my jaw begins to cramp as I realize that Iíve just killed my twin brother. The strength in my whole body slowly implodes as I fall down against him, my chest resting against his, tears streaming from my eyes onto his dark black suit. I place my right hand gently around his waist and move my left hand to the top of his head. Did I really do this? DID I REALLY ALLOW THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MY GOVERNMENT AND HIS TO CAUSE ME TO KILL MY OWN BROTHER??? Weíve both made the same mistake in life, the same mistake the brotherhood of mankind continues to make every day; weíve taken on faith the ideas that our parents have told us are true, and weíve never thought for ourselves to eliminate the many contradictions we believe in.

Allah, please help me to understand.