Monday, March 17, 2008

Attention Cadets!

You may remember the last transmission of Official Newsletter of the Army of Epiphenomenon; if not, permit me to recap. I had just wriggled free from my hiding place in the crawl space of a fellow AoEer’s home, and though coated in mud and bits of insulation, I was elated to be out of my self imposed prison. I thought that I was a free man again; I was under the impression that the search for me had lost steam, and the government agents on my tail had lost interest. I, of course, was wrong.

You might recall that I had traveled to a fellow cadet’s secluded home in the Southwest. It was to be an opportunity to spend some time outdoors without the need to look over my shoulder. I arrived late one night and awoke early the next day excited to stretch my legs in the great desert expanse adjoining my friend’s property. I ventured off to do a little rabbit hunting and to take in the red rock formations indigenous to the area. I saw a few rabbits early on, but was anxious to get some miles on the old legs before starting the hunt. After hiking for a couple hours, I had circled back to within sight of the house, and decided to try my hand at shooting some dinner. I took out my binoculars to scan the area for life, and before I had the opportunity to unshoulder my .22 rifle, I realized that I was not the hunter, but the hunted.

From the ridge I was atop, I noticed several vans and a couple cars rolling in from different directions. The vehicles were descending upon the house and I was surrounded. I thought about making a break for it into the wilderness, but realized that the only viable chance of eating for the next few days was to head back toward the house. I didn’t know where, or in what direction, I would be able to find human life – and didn’t trust twelve .22 shells to keep me fed until I found it.

I made my way to a little stream about a half mile from the house. I knew I had to submerge myself in mud before they set up their surveillance equipment – particularly the heat sensitive devices. By the time I got to the bank of stream, the heat was on. I could see that the dust that rose from the dirt roads as cars sped along them was no longer being produced, and was now beginning to settle; that meant that my hunters were parked, setting up surveillance, and already looking for me. I was forced to settle into the mud – literally – and wait for the cover of night to move toward the house.

I lay as near motionless as I could on my back for the next nine hours. I didn’t dare sneeze, let alone swat away the flies that crawled back and forth along my lips making my torturous wait almost more than I could bear. When finally it could grow no darker, I started toward the house. By moving upstream, I would be able to get within twenty five yards of the house while keeping my body heat hidden from the sensors. I moved slowly but steadily toward the house over the next hour, making sure to keep my every part covered by a thick layer of the cool sticky clay that lined the bottom of the stream. Upon reaching the point at which the stream ran closest to the house, I took several minutes to spread the mud as thick and as thoroughly as I could in order to hide my body heat until I made it safely to the house. With a prayer, I left the stream and headed for my friend’s home.

My success of making to the house was bittersweet. Knowing that the surveillance equipment would pick up my presence even in the house, I was forced to take refuge, covered in insulation, in the crawl space below the house. It was the only way to keep myself and my friend safe. I spent the next six days nestled in the insulation that my friend had scavenged from the attic, thanking God for the layer of mud that separated me from the fiberglass fibers that would otherwise have surely driven beyond the point of madness.

The only human contact I enjoyed during my time under the house was a twice daily supply drop that consisted of some food, a water bottle, and a handwritten note the kept me abreast of the situation outside. After two days, my gracious host took a stroll out to one of the outposts to ask what they were doing. The agents responded by telling him that a dangerous criminal was in the area, and that he should evacuate the area until it was safe. Luckily for the sake of my nutritional wellbeing, he refused to leave. Strangely, upon a request for identification, the agents refused and told my friend to either go back to the house, leave the area, or he’d be risking his health. Though still confused about how writing a newsletter could subject an American citizen to such intense scrutiny, and worse, being called a “dangerous criminal” by his government, I could do nothing but wait. The pen must truly be mightier than the sword.

After three days, most of the cars had moved out, but three camps were left around the perimeter to stake out the area. By day six, there was only one camp remaining. Upon hearing that only one camp remained, and being as close to losing my mind from constant confinement as I had ever been, I decided to escape. My host informed me that I could follow the stream about five miles to the nearest town, so at midnight, caked in dry mud and wrapped in insulation, I made my way out of the house and to the stream. By first light I had arrived in Kanab.

I must have looked like hell when I climbed into the Greyhound, though I had been able to clean up in the stream before walking to the bus stop. I was pleasantly surprised to see that, despite my unkempt appearance, I fit right in with the other passengers on the bus. It eased my mind to know that I fit in with, rather than stood out from, my fellow travelers.

I arrived in Las Vegas six hours later. I dropped a handwritten copy of the newsletter, which I had been writing during the ride, into the first mailbox I found. It would find its way to Los Angeles to be published by my assistant the next week; I however was not so lucky. I returned to the bus station, thinking I might lay low in Oregon for awhile, but I wouldn’t even get as far as the ticket window.

Ten feet into the station I was grabbed from behind by three men and thrown face first to the hard cement floor. There was a moment of dizziness, shock, and fear all rolled up together, then blackness. When I awoke I was at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the custody of the United States Military, where I would face the hardest eight years of my life ....

1 comment:

Stephanie M said...

AoE - I unfortunately was in one of the camps providing surveillance on you 8 years ago. I was misguided and brainwashed by the government. I am truly sorry for all you had to go through. I want to make it up to you by buying one of your new bowling jackets, if that would be okay?