I scrambled, slid and crabbed my way through the low growing debris spread like small islands of living flora all over the mud flat I was trapped on. The NVA gunners had opened up high or were trying to take out the Ontos instead of shooting at a few scavengers trying to reclaim dead bodies and riddled supply boxes and tins. I couldn’t see in the miserably low light because, what the lack of light didn’t hide, the everlasting misting rain made so invisible that nothing of substance or real form could be distinguished. I moved laterally, turning away from the NVA filled jungle down the river and directly away from the river itself. The river’s presence ruled everything because it was a given in the night. The noise of the rushing water could be heard over all else. With the Bong Song at my back, I did what I did best under fire, I tried to get away before the enemy got around to cleaning the mud flat of all living things. I’d taken one quick look over my shoulder to see if the fire was directed at Sugar Daddy’s strung out platoon, but there’d been nothing to see in the blackness, which was good for the members of that platoon. But those of us down in the supply area were in a previously registered position, and it wouldn’t take the NVA long to go back to playing cleanup, with our lives being what were going to be cleaned up.
I found a spider hole. I hadn’t prayed to find one, but I murmured “thank God” when my hands plunged over the front edge of the hole. There was no hesitation on my part. I didn’t care what was in the hole, I plunged forward and then dove over the lip head first. The hole was big. Bigger than I would have imagined. My body had time to flip over as I fell, which was a good thing because I landed in a pool of water at least a foot deep, with a foot of sucking mud right at the bottom of it.
The water and mud cushioned my fall, although the depth of the fall caused my legs to fully bend, descending my lower body into the water along with my feet and legs. My first thought wasn’t the relief I’d expected to be overwhelmed by getting off the deadly mud flat. Instead, I felt fear that I wouldn’t be able to climb back out, with the depth and the slippery nature of the mud. That fear was driven from my mind, as I stood up to my full height in time to be crushed flat by another falling body. I slammed down again, realizing the body had to be that of Nguyen, who’d crawled in after me. There was no mistaking the light ropey feeling of his hardened thin body. He crashed down onto me and then bounced off. There was no time for me to recover because more bodies cascaded down into the water-filled muddy chaos. I knew the Gunny and Fusner had come down but was shocked when I pushed myself violently backward to get away from the crush of their bodies. I rammed my torso right into the chest of another human, and my fear came rushing back. Everyone inside the hole had come across the mud with me. Anyone already inside the hole had to be an enemy. My right hand went down to grab the butt of my .45 as I twisted and turned, but I never had the chance to unsnap the holster and drag it out.