5/06/2004

Assasination

We drove the last 100 kilometers in dirty workmen clothes. Underneath our torn coats, we had army camouflage, pistols and grenades. We were hired to go out and murder a few people, but we followed the moral obligation to only do so in a uniform.

Our old Peugeot sputtered along, whining everytime we tried to exceed 120km/h. It would have been a bad idea to drive faster anyways, the potholes in the road had left more than a few burnt out wrecks on the sides of the roads. One or two still had the brown stains of drying blood around them.

20 KM from our target, the road became wide and perfect. This was were oil money started, this was were westerners were to drive on. The roadside became swampy, dead hulks of trees dotted the landscape. The water had once been fresh, and the trees had carried birds and the forest had sang. But one day, brown muck from deep in the earth had been spilt, accidentaly, of course, and the trees had struggled to breath. But they got less and less air, their food was covered in grime, and they died. Their souls moved on, but their bodies still stood in the swamp, dead branches pointing upwards in to the sky as if they were calling out to the heavens to come rescue them from the crude oil.

The language of the men I was with was crude. They were trained killers, men who lived off death. They did not care why we were here to kill, they only cared about the money they would make of these deaths.

Our car squealed as it entered the smooth road. It screamed as the driver spurred it on. We sat inside, silent, our clothes smelling of grease.

Then the car slowed down and rolled to a stop by the side of the road, shortly before a small bridge. The bride was in the middle of deep valley, the road sunk for about a kilometer down to the river we stood before, and rose up for another kilometer after it.

We removed everything we came with, our driver started the car with the door open, revved it up, driving towrds the swamp, wrenched the steering, and jumped out of the car. It shrieked one last time, and fell into the swamp. The men cheered, and the car spluttered, moaning softly as it sank in. The roof stayed visible, shortly below the water level.

I felt abandoned.

The men shouted out cheerily, and parted the swamp grass, sank into the muddy waters, and disappeared. I was the only one left, and I heard a low hoot of some day owl. I walked up the road, and positioned a small camera by the side of the road. I calibarated the camera, tested that the up-link to the satellites was okay, and then switched it on. There was a short blinking of some lights, and then it became silent.

I walked silently up to the road, gathered together the palm-tree heads we had brought, and sat down beside them. I could imagine the scene as one would see it from the road – a poor farmer waiting for the next bus that would take him and his fruit to the next town, hundreds of kilometers away, where he would sell the fruit for enough money to live for a week. I sunk my head, and watched drops of sweat fall from my forehead to the tar.

The road up ahead was blurry with the heat. And I saw the first bus come. I picked up my small binoculars and tried to make out what the car was. I saw the green-yellow markings, and a sign saying “God is great” on the front of the car. That was not our target. It was just local people moving between the towns.

5 cars and 3 hours later, my binoculars picked up a large white bus. It was moving fast. I saw the yellow and red shell blazoned across the front. A few seconds later, I could make out the words written on the front: “SHELL”.

I spoke, and the other men heard me: “Prepare, 1 minute ETA.” This swamp was old and silent. I was able to clearly hear bullets being pumped into breeches, hear the men preparing to kill.

“30 Seconds”

“20 Seconds”

“10 Seconds”

“Incapacitate in 5. Implement original plan”

And I waited five long seconds. The sweat that fell from my face was no longer just a reflex to the heat. It was also fear. Terror.

The first shot hit the tire. A voice screamed from within the car:

“Driver, DRIVE. Driver, DRIVE. Driver, move the motor! They are attacking us!”

The next 3 shots hit another tire, and the car swerved off into the grass by the side of the road, staggering wildly. The naked wheel hit the edge of the road, and the car bucked and stopped.

The door flew open, and the driver jumped out, running, with his slippers in his palms. The men, who had not yet left the bushes shot him. He ran two more steps, then fell, shouting in some local language.

From the back window, a pale white face peered out, and a shot rang out. I didn’t quite see what happened, but I saw the hole in the glass at the position where his head had been, and the blood marks on the window.

There were at least 3 other people in the bus, I estimated.

Then I saw feet on the other side of the truck. I grabbed my gun from behind the palm head mount, and proceeded to fire towards the feet. He fell, and I saw him lying on the other side of the bus. I shot a few more times at his feet, and hit them a few times.

Two more were in the car.

The other men had made their way out of the bushes, and were gathering on this side of the road. We fanned out, and slowly approached the car, guns held at ready.

Barry, the smiling man, signaled us to move back. He had seen bullet holes in the car. The car was not bullet proof.

We pulled to the other side of the road, and started shooting into the car. The car rocked and swayed. A man screamed inside, then stopped abruptly. It was an execution. I felt sick.

When we were done, we turned away. A car was up on the hill, stopped, and looking at us with fear. It turned and scuttled away.

We blew up our 3 dinghys, and dropped them in the swamp. We paddled away, the GPS device telling us which way to paddle. In 5 hours we would reach a large river, and with the strong current, we would be on a beach in 10 hours.

The night fell, and the sun burnt red. We paddled amongst the dead trees, and their raised up arms made them look like they were wailing. That more living beings had had to die because of that crude and brown oil.