low2go J. Wilborn Posts: 45 (2/12/01 9:09:30 am) Reply ONLY THE SHADOWS--. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ONLY THE SHADOWS--- The hushed passing of the figure seemed like a temperate gust of wind--felt like a draft for a micro-second and then gone. Even the ambient insects, sounding their ‘hard-wired’ calls into the night, or the night birds hunting for them, did not cease their foraging activity as the ghostlike personage glided by. Off in the southerly distance--off over the South China Sea, heavy cumulus clouds seemed to be fixed and hanging on the horizon. Winking flashes of light, not unlike distant, reflected lightening strikes, bounced off the clouds--it was the flashes from naval guns firing what was called H & I (harrassing and interdiction)fire. There were no sounds from the five inch thirty eights naval batteries reaching the shore--it was too distant--only the reflected and flickering flashes when the destroyers fired their salvos. The explosions of the detonating projectiles was faintly detectable however, impacting as they were, in and around areas of the HO-CHI-MINH TRAIL. There was absolutely no firing pattern or rythmn for the naval guns--strictly random rounds--tonight probably the navy ‘tin can’ USS TURNER JOY--random rounds--thus the H & I fire. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Jack Apperson seemed completely at ease with his surroundings--here in this war torn wrinkle of hell on the earths surface--claimed by few and really desired by none. He had made good time since the tiny and secretive hovercraft had set him down on this pre-determined insertion point. The code-crafted message he had recieved earlier in the afternoon by way of the Embassy courier pouch, had loosely ordered the ‘whats’ for the fire mission, never the ‘whys’. The skillfully worded orders had even given such data as the dusk-light and dawn-light times---area overcast, wind projections--temperature gradients. ‘How to do and what needed to be done’ was left up to Apperson. Apperson was as competent as any man that could be called on for so clandestine of a mission. Most would ‘peg’ Apperson as a loner, but he didn’t consider himself to be any such thing---he was as gregarious as the next man when conditions lent themselves. His twin brother John back in DaNang--the one who worked for the civilian contractors--he and John were planning a trip to Kuala Lampour, Malasyia at their next meet--a time for some R & R --have some fun. Apperson had such an active mind--it was like the fast fowards on recording machines--always thinking--planning. This phantom like man, who to most that didn’t know him, referred to him as THE SPOOK. His tumultous mind, ever ebbing and flowing--recalling childhood memories with present day happenings--he recalled reading so many adventure stories when he was young--alone when he was reading, his active imiagination could conger up anyone--probaly to cast the character he was being this day. In his mind he was the silent tracker--the infalliable Indian scout--the blazer of new frontiers--with eyes of the eagle and the nose of a hunting wolf--every sense in his young body honed to a fine, expectant edge--to go where no man had dared go--no man ever knowing he had been there--like a ghost. Apperson coveted those traits so dearly that he was flattered when old J.C. down in Quantico at the FBI academy had told very openly “you are like a gawd-damned ghost Apperson”!! Apperson’s mother had been an Army Nurse during WWII--she had met his shell-shocked father in a Army convelesant hospital near their Wisconsin home. They had married and raised their twin sons. Now his mother worked as a school nurse--his father helped the school janitor when he was able--so many of the school children who knew his father, Mr. William Apperson, called him CRAZY BILL. This kind of behaviour from the other children had made Jack stay away from them--couldn’t fight them all. He never did see anything bad about his father --is dad used to yell and scream sometimes in the night--bad dreams about his Army days his mother would explain--Jack just come to think that probably a lot of fathers did that--screamed in their sleep. When Apperson was in Navy boot camp and was firing rifles on the gunnery range, a sharped-eyed old Gunnery Sergeant spotted his ability with weapons--his unique marksmanship abilities. Apperson was approached by a Navy Seal representive and on his graduation from recruit training, had new doors opened or him to a different world. Here and now, six years later, on a covert mission for his country few men alive would even covet, let alone want to do if they were able. His black smeared face turned upwards to check his bearing--sensing things--the smells--the sounds--like an animal of prey. He glanced at the glowing dial of his oversized diving watch--making good time Jack mused--in a few hours --a date with destiny. The human target named in the orders, had been the cause of untold misery in this war torn area of the world--perhaps someone more evil than this person would replace him afterwards--who knows--that was not for Apperson to reason why--he craddled the big M-21 sniper rifle in the crook of his arm and glided off into the darkness---his was but to do or die. Wilborn sends.