by Caroline Leary '19
*Pop, pop* I heard the faint sound of popping in the distance. Fear struck my heart, and I stopped dead in my tracks, whipping my head around from left to right. I looked for my friend, Charles. He was no where in sight. I rushed around through crowds of people, looking intently. I started to worry. The dark night began to surround me, and swallow the crowds the further onward I walked.
“Where are you?” I said under my breath. My stomach started to twist and turn. I began feeling queasy, as though I may be sick. More popping began going off in the distance, first quietly, but louder the farther into the darkness I walked. The night air felt cold and stung against my skin. I was wearing large cargo pants with a plain green t-shirt. My shoulder length blond hair hung down like strings, brushing against my neck in the cold night breeze. I began seeing flickering lights in the distance, over and over. All of a sudden, the popping stopped. I stopped where I was, and looked intently into the night, unable to see a single thing.
I heard a stick snap behind me. I swung around, frantically looking into the night. A figure began to emerge from the dark.
“Charles!” I screamed, beginning to run, quickly, carefully into his arms. His embrace around me felt like the safest place in the world. He was squeezing me tightly, his tags jingling in the movement of our embrace, but after only a few seconds, a loud noise came from beside us. An explosion, a planted mine. We both jumped to the ground, covering our unguarded heads. He grabbed my wrist and began running, pulling me behind him. We took cover behind some abandoned jeeps, and grasped our weapons tightly. The enemy, only less than 100 yards away. Charles began to say something, before he was abruptly cut off by another loud explosion, this time from in front of us. The enemies were throwing grenades, they had us surrounded. A bright light emerged from the darkness, landing on us both, not moving from our bodies. We had been caught, and this time, we both knew there was no escaping. With no reason to put up a fight, we both threw our weapons to the ground in front of us, raising our hands high in the air. Two short, rounded woman came forward, pushing us both the the ground on our stomachs. Our hands were wrenched behind our backs, and bound tightly. As we were marched through the forest, we approached a small village. They marched us into a small building in the center of the village, where a large screen was mounted to a wall, and images were being projected onto it. The guards threw us into a chair, and tightly tied down our hands and feet, and mounted our heads to the rests on the back of the chairs. The images were being flipped through fast, I noticed. My eyes began scanning the screen. The speed of the images across the screen began to give me a headache. I glanced over at Charles, and he seemed to be in some sort of trace. It all suddenly came rushing to me, they were trying to hypnotize us. I began to breath heavily, and tried to rock in my chair. My chair wasn’t budging, I looked over at Charles and saw that his chair was bolted to the floor. I began panicking once again, trying to get Charles attention, but he wasn’t looking over at me. I had no choice but to look at the screen. I looked at the wall with the images, and intently sat and stared. I began getting very tired, and allowed myself to drift into a light sleep. I dreamt of sweet things, being back home with my family, playing with my baby sister, and seeing my pets. They were all waiting for my return home, I had been in Vietnam now for nine months. I saw my pets running towards me, and I was about to embrace them.
“Mariam! The movie is about to start,” Charles whispered in my ear as he lightly shook my shoulder from my left. I opened my eyes, with slight blurry sight. I looked over and saw images on the wall begin to display, as I heard the light sounds of popcorn popping in the distance, for all the customers of the theater to enjoy.