Eagles Cry Blood
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by Donald Zlotnick
Description: While too many soldiers are fighting for the brass in the midst of the sanguineous Vietnam battles, Lt. Paul Bourne is compelled to fight the enemy for his country's freedom. But when he comes up against his captain--a man driven by selfishness and a desire for recognition and glory, Bourne is even more determined to destroy the enemy--even if this means sacrificing his life.
eBook Publisher: E-Reads, 1986
eBookwise Release Date: June 2001
14 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [591 KB]
Reading time: 407-569 min.
The rain beat down hard against the female spider monkey's face, making her instinctively lick the water accumulating around her mouth. She sat curled up in the nook of the giant mahogany tree holding her week-old baby tightly against her chest and making a worried clicking sound that made her infant shift his position against her warm breast and snuggle even closer to the secure sound of her heartbeat. The young mother wasn't afraid of the loud sound coming from the rain but of the large green boa constrictor she had sighted only moments before the heavy monsoon storm had appeared above her tree. The large snake was too slow-moving to catch her when she could see it, but the solid sheet of water obstructed her view and was making her very nervous.
The monsoon stopped as suddenly as it had started, leaving the shiny leaves dripping tons of water down to the ground. She reached up to push the branch in front of her to one side as she tried locating the green monster. A loud noise below her on the animal path drew her attention away from her search. She saw the human fall down and regain his feet by grabbing hold of a clump of young bamboo. The soft whimper from her baby brought her attention back to her perch on the tree limb just in time for her to see the ten-foot tree boa coil the front half of its body for a strike. She bared her fangs and screamed at the tree villain, jumping off the limb and reaching out for a serendipitously located branch that bent under her weight like a fishing rod and then sprang back, hitting the snake when its load was released.
Paul looked up in the large tree and saw the snake, but could only hear the screaming mother scold the boa as she scampered for safety through the trees. He stopped on the trail, breathing hard as his body fought for oxygen from the difficult climb up the trail from the valley floor below. The noise of gear rattling against metal and high-strung voices chattering to each other through the thick undergrowth reached his trained ears where he stood exhausted and dripping wet. He looked up the hill, trying to locate the only other remaining survivor from the North Vietnamese ambush, but he couldn't see ten feet up the trail.
A loud voice called down the trail from only a few feet below him and was answered by one of the enemy's comrades farther down the path. Paul whirled around too fast on the mud and felt himself falling down on the trail. He felt the air escape from his lungs and wondered to himself if he had the strength left to draw it back into his body. Finger-wide rivulets of brown colored water created by the recent monsoon downpour rushed past his cheek, forming up with more of its kind into a decent jungle stream in the valley. Releasing a pain-filled groan, Paul rolled over onto his stomach and pressed his mouth against one of the brown runnels; he sucked the cool water mixed with mud into his dehydrated body.
The three other members from his reconnaissance team had been killed down in the valley in a well-executed North Vietnamese ambush just minutes before, and Paul had escaped, covering his team mate's trail up the hill. The North Vietnamese had screwed up when they had stopped to strip the Americans of their watches and clothes. The barbaric act had given the two survivors time to gain a respectable lead on the enemy patrol.
Paul knew that he couldn't stay ahead of the enemy soldiers too much longer if he kept Bill on the trail--and breaking through the thick jungle growth lining the path would be impossible considering his condition and the wounds Bill was suffering from the ambush. Paul had to find a good hiding place and hope that the Vietnamese would either pass them by in their haste or allow him to conduct a counterambush.
Paul listened to the NVA calling to each other as they followed the mud spoor. He started climbing again using both his hands and feet to claw up the hillside. The fresh monsoon mud clung to the sides and bottoms of his green mesh jungle boots, building up layers on top of each other until the weight became so heavy that the mud broke its hold against the hard rubber soles and fell off in huge chunks that made it easy for the enemy trackers to follow his trail.
Bill staggered twenty meters ahead of Paul on the trail. He was falling regularly and was regaining his feet by using the reserve strength only those who are fighting against certain death can muster from somewhere inside their inner souls. A field of small boulders and slabs of vine-covered rocks replaced the mud on the trail for the next hundred meters of the gradual incline leading to the top of the ridge and a possible helicopter extraction. Bill struggled over the slippery rocks and collapsed along the side of the animal path, too exhausted to move any farther.
Paul found Bill on the trail and stopped to see if his partner was dead. He leaned over the man's chest and could hear a faint heartbeat. Paul sighed. He knew that he couldn't carry him. The voices coming up the trail gave Paul the strength he was searching for, and he grabbed his buddy by his web gear and pulled him off the trail into a thick stand of bamboo. The thin strip of thick vegetation that separated them from the path sprang back into its haphazard pattern as soon as Paul had passed through, making it difficult for the trackers to spot the exit off the trail by the Americans. Using all of his strength, Paul dragged Bill over to the bombed-down tree and tucked him against the rotting, sweet-smelling wood. He scooped up handfuls of the brown bamboo leaves and covered Bill with a two-foot-thick layer of camouflage before he took up a defensive position near his hidden buddy.
The first powerful strike created so much instant pain that Paul bit through his lower lip rather than release the scream that had rushed up through his throat from his lungs. Blood seeped between his teeth and covered the taste buds on his tongue. Pain flashed up his leg in violent ripples, forcing him to involuntarily tense his leg muscles tight as a stone. The huge, four-inch-long black jungle scorpion spread its legs on his camouflaged trouser leg and curled its tail for a second strike. Paul slowly shoved the warm barrel of his CAR-15 submachine gun over until he poked the monster, forcing it back into its hiding place under the loose tree bark.