Category Archives: Frank Sonderborg

Entry 12 – Throwaway Soldier

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Scoped, I could reach out and touch the mark. His brown manicured hair blowing in the light summer evening breeze. My electronic media eye twitched and I was looking at him through a TV camera, then a view of the crowd. As his, “We have to spend more, to combat the evil of terrorism,” speech gathered momentum. I lay comfortable in my blind. The long deadly shape of the South African NTW-20, with its14.5mm barrel stretched out in front of me.
+++++The mark had been advised to wear the latest liquid foam ‘Kevlar Vest.’ Fat chance of any survival when a round from the NTW-20 comes a calling. It was developed as a large-calibre sniper rifle. The rounds where also built to take out gun emplacements and ordnance disposal. I’d been impressed with the accuracy of the South African rifle. It had been used by a South African Special Forces sniper in the Congo. A ‘Mega Shot,’ of 2125meters, done in the name of yet another, ‘United Nations Stabilization mission.’ You shall have peace and stability. But first, let’s kill a few of the bad guys.
+++++My back shot, on the day, was just a shade under 2,100m. The marks security cordon was setup to stop close frontal shots. And anyway, who would want to take out the leader of the New US Constitution party. The next possible gun loving President and saviour of thee ‘United States of America.’
+++++I still marvelled at my left arm. Living plastic and near to perfection. It held the NTW like a lover. I stroked the barrel with fibre fingers. The cold metal touch traveling up through the intelligent fibre optics to my brain. It was part of me. My right hand trigger finger was old fashioned. Still capable of making the well trained moves, of bone and muscle. Now outdated, but still as sharp as the day I started in, ‘Camp Pendleton.’ My left leg ached of cramp. The fibre right leg adjusting itself, to allow for the circulation of blood around my stiff body. The implant was feeding me more wind stats and digital information than I could deal with. Enhancements were still a work in progress. I peered through the scope with my good eye. I could see the sweat on the faces of the adoring crowd. A young ponytailed blond in the front row, gazed in awe at her messiah. Her hair barely moving in the summer wind. She had her hand raised, as if waving, trying to catch his attention. I expanded the view so I could see the pores of her fresh vibrant face. I could get lost in a girl like that.
+++++The handlers stood in sweaty blue suits looking worried. I had been plucked from a, “Hostel for Shattered Heroes.” Given a new arm, a new leg. An all seeing electronic media eye. And a promise that they were mine to keep. But first, I had to do a favor for my benefactors. This New Constitution guy was railing against the Government machine. He wanted to increase military spending. To combat the evil of the coming hordes. He was, against the pushy foreigner, against the new, the strange. Make America big and strong again, was his winning mantra. A classic, throwaway opposition candidate, I was told.
+++++A well place 14.5mm NTW projectile, would ensure, all his policy statements would be enacted by Congress, in a heartbeat. I stood up shakily and walked over to the table to get a drink of water. I felt good. Months of hard training. Good food and zilch alcohol does that to a man. I felt more than good. I felt normal. From being nothing, half a man. An alcoholic, drug addicted ex-military zero. Now, I was part of something, again.
+++++The handlers where getting edgy. Sweating hands on their guns. But I had bought into their dream. They need not fear me. I knew my place in the coming chaos.
+++++The NTW was setup on a long solid oak dining table. I took up my position again. The mark was nearing the end of his long speech. I could hear and see him, as the various wind speed and media information came flooding in through my media eye. Constantly adjusting as the parameters changed.
+++++The immediate thought of a head shot was dismissed as a vain glory. I switched back to my good eye and centred on his broad back. My breathing slowed way down, as I waited for the zone to arrive, that magical stillness in the midst of an oncoming storm. Slowly squeezing on the trigger. I took the shot. And immediately, felt the massive recoil building, then just as quickly absorbed by the muzzle brake. The buffer slide in the receiver, doing its job. The shock of the hit on the mark alone, would kill him.
+++++My spotter at the window confirmed the hit, said, “Smack down.” The rest was just ketchup window dressing, for the media ghouls. I was up and moving fast, out of the room, as the handlers started stripping the NTW down into two packs. In the back of a Chrysler, I lay down, as they removed my arm, leg and bionic media eye. Then I was discreetly dropped off, at our, ‘Hostel for Shattered Heroes.’ Back again on the mean streets.
+++++Keep a very low profile, you’ll be hearing from us,” was the last words I heard as I left the Chrysler.
+++++Back to reality with my shitty arm. Badly fitted metal leg. Long John Silver socket patch.
+++++Thought, all I needed was the fucking parrot and I could go on the speaking circuit with, ‎‘Treasure Island, my part in its downfall.’
+++++The Hero Hostel sitting room was full of broken Vets, watching the rolling 24hr News stations. CNN and Fox where full, of the latest bloody terrorist action.  I just smiled and thought, I would take that shot again and again and again. I had been sent away to the wilderness. But I had been redeemed, I was alive, I was back where I belonged, and soon, I would be permanently whole. The politicians, who had remade me, had promised me that. I was no longer, half a man. A throwaway soldier. I was back where I started, a trained weapon, remade in the image of my new overlords. And I had no qualms with that.

The Irish Nagual

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By a blazing log fire on a winter’s night in an old An Oige hostel. We settled down to hear the story of, ‘The Irish Nagual.’ Seamus was an old Irish folkie. He sang songs we all enjoyed, as the fire warmed our faces, and whiskey warmed our souls. Seamus could spin a tale with the best of them. But on that snow filled stormy night, he swore on the grave of his mother, what he was about to tell us was true.
+++++He still shivered at the memory of his hitchhiking road trip, along the Rio Grande. Seamus had been drunk when he was picked up. When the car finally stopped, he’d just managed to grab his guitar, before the, ‘Vaquero,’ all hat and no poncho, drove off. His heart sank, when he was told, he was on main street Juárez. He had meant to give Juárez the body swerve. A town with a reputation for people going missing. Death, he knew, came dripping slowly to the random victims of the drug wars. Tortured beyond any form of meaning. The powerless Federales, out gunned, out bribed, by the Cartels.
+++++Seamus was broke. So he headed for the only place he could generate some cash. The nearest Cantina. With any luck he would soon, be on a bus heading north to Gringolandia.
+++++The bartender studied him with pity as he approached. Seamus went through the international language of travellers. Pointing at his guitar. Then taking his hat off, pointed at the hat. Then pointing at the stage.
+++++The bartender was drying a beer glass and said, “Are you a simpleton Señor, or just loco?”
+++++Seamus apologized and asked, could he play and collect some morralla.
+++++The bartender arranged a paid gig and took his passport as security for the offered beer and food.
+++++As Seamus ate, the bartender asked, “You know who comes here, every night?”
+++++“No?”
+++++“The Devil Señor, and he sits and he listens, and if you do not entertain he will consign you to hell.”
+++++“Sounds like a tough audience.”
+++++“They say he enjoys the screams of his victims. It’s his favorite, música.”
+++++“OK, is there anywhere else, with a less demanding audience?”
+++++“You play tonight and if it please him, you live. No try vamoose. He will find you.”
+++++Seamus was shitting himself, at the prospect of this gig of death. And decided to vamoose, like, immediately. He had no cash, no passport and after one of his madder off the grid moments, no plastic. Spotting a Church in the distance he made a beeline for it.
+++++The Church, as expected, in a city of impending death, was a moving experience. Seamus entered, sat, and tried to feel like a believer. But felt only the shame of the hypocrite. Someone spoke in Spanish. Seamus turned, to see it was an old priest. Then looking closer, he could see the priest was not old, just worn down. He reminded Seamus of someone, but he couldn’t quite place him.
+++++“Sorry Father, I’ve just arrived, I’m desperate. I need help.”
+++++“You’re Irish. Me to, name is Father Phil. So, you need to get out of town.”
+++++“I’m expected to play the Cantina, in front of the Devil incarnate. Yep, I need to get out of town.”
+++++“You must play for El Diablo,” was all he said, “then we can see, if we can get you over the border.”
+++++Then he left to do his rounds.
+++++Seamus sat in the Church and pondered the life of a gigging musician. It was hard enough, without having a rear end hot poker as an added incentive. He now remembered who the priest looked like. But dismissed it as a ridicules coincidence.
+++++The Cantina was packed with a screaming rowdy crowd. El Diablo was front stage, surrounded by his entourage. He was ugly and small of stature, as all these wannbe Santa Anna’s seem to be. Seamus went on after a Mex-Tex band, singing a string of Narcocorrido songs, in tribute to El Diablo. Seamus went with Irish rebel songs, to tame the beast in the room. Then he played, ‘Sally Gardens,’ a soft, powerful love song. That could move the heart of a frozen mountain.
+++++Bad Career move, as El Diablo rose and pointed at Seamus and stormed out of the Cantina.
+++++Seamus was bundled off stage, punched and beaten into the back of a pickup. Then driven out of town.
+++++Out in the mountains a burning pyre. Sharpened blades laid out on a table. El Diablos crowd of comancheros baying for fresh blood.
+++++Seamus lay where he had been thrown. A rough cross had been made out of slabs of wood. Seamus was berating himself. Should have stayed with, ‘Whiskey in the Jar.’ Juárez was clearly not yet ready, for the message of love.
+++++A thunderbolt split the black clouds. El Diablo studied the sky and pointed at Seamus. He was being dragged to the cross when he was dropped. The comancheros were pointing and getting excited. Father Phil came striding through their midst and stood in front of El Diablo. El Diablo was frothing at the mouth, seeing his entertainment being interrupted. The heavens where going crazy as the wind whipped the black thunder heads. The lightning bolt seemed to come from the heavens or the earth or both. And there in place of Father Phil, was a prancing black stallion. It rose on its hind legs and hammered down on El Diablo, battering him to a bloody pulp. In panic the comancheros ran in every direction. Seamus ran as well, but the stallion came for him, and he instinctively knew it was his ride out of this nightmare.
+++++Seamus awoke to Father Phil standing over him. Then in a blur he was a great Golden Eagle that flew away into the black night.
+++++Seamus retold this confused tale, to the bemused US Border guards who found him.
+++++“Irish, you been drinking too much Chuco mescal. There aint no Irish priest in Juárez. Never has been never will be.”
+++++But a couple of days later his guitar turned up at the Irish Consulate, along with his passport. A note was included. It was signed Phil.
+++++Seamus spoke at length to the Shamans who travelled the border country. And they all agreed,
+++++“Yes, the Nagual, the shape-shifter can become anyone he wants. A great Stallion. A great Golden Eagle, and yes, even an Irish rocker called Phil Lynott.”

There Won’t Be Snow In Africa

There is nothing like little victories to sooth the tormented soul. I was convinced in what I was about to do. Killing is never easy. I’d never killed a man in anger. Tonight I would kill three. And rejoice in the moment.
+++++I parked outside the pub, The Jumping Stag. All lit up in the glitzy shiny soulless festive spirit of US imported Xmas cheer. Charley the bouncer was at the door. He nodded and smiled as I went past him. His only words, the expected Ho! Ho! Ho! As if I’ve never heard that before. The pub was heaving as you would expect on the night before Christmas. The Scandinavians would be at home now, sitting around the family table, celebrating Christmas with all their family. The Irish spent it in a pub getting hammered. Relying on the non-drinking wives to do the Xmas stuff at home. I had no home. No family. No friends. Well maybe just one. Father Pat was at the bar and nodded as I came in. The crowds broke like the Red Sea before Santa Claus.
+++++“Do you really want to do this Niall?” He had asked when I set up the meet.
+++++I laughed at him. “You can’t be fucking serious. They’ve murdered my sons. I’ve just buried my wife. Died of a broken heart. And you ask me that?”
+++++“Niall I know you’ve been hurt, but there must be another way.”
+++++“No Pat, there is no other way. The Law is being twisted. Them fuckers have the city by the balls and they’re squeezing and the Politicians are dancing to the O’Gunning Jig.
+++++The Jumping Stag was my chance to join the Celtic boom. Cian  wanted to be an Architect. Travel the world, build tall Towers. Seamus wanted to be a Doctor. Go to Africa. Save the planet. What gave those shit bags the right to walk in to my pub and gun them down. Gun me down. A bunch of drug peddling old age Pensioner beating slime bags.”
+++++“The court case will sort it out.”
+++++“Pat, what planet are you living on? They will walk, they always walk.”
+++++“Jayzus Niall you’ll end up in Jail. And just as bad as them.”
+++++“I have a plan. Are you in or out?”
+++++Pat was in as he owed me from our UN time in the Irish Rangers, saving the world, patrolling the borders of Lebanon. And even a born again Christian knew right from wrong.
+++++I had the sack over my shoulder as I headed for the stage. Some stoned out band were blasting out ‘Do they Know it’s Christmas time.’
+++++The VIPs where all sitting in the front row. Peter, Eric and Bobby O’Gunning
+++++The Gunning gang. Ran the town. Ran the drugs. Out on bail on a murder charge.
+++++Compassionate leave for Christmas was the Judge’s ruling. I had testified against these low life snakes. Now there was a bounty on my head.
+++++Peter was fondling some blond bimbo’s breast. Eyes glazed from snorting his own merchandise. They all had families, but clearly not here on the Eve of Christmas.
+++++Bobby said “look its Santa, hope you have something nice for us, ya fake fat bearded bastard.” Then he laughed.
+++++Eric was more aware, more sober and was staring at me. I had sat in court on the witness stand and pointed at this overweight slug and said, yes, he was the one in my pub that night who shot and killed my son Cian. He had screamed at me then.
+++++“You’re going to die motherfucker. You and the rest of your fucking family.”
+++++The Judge just ignored it. It was then, I knew what had to be done.
+++++The rare times these guys where away in prison, hard crime, the killing brutal torturing kind, fell in the town by a whopping 80%. It was a clear case of logic for Ducks. Removing them would do everybody a favour.
+++++I dropped the sack and reached inside. Eric had clicked who I was and was standing up shouting to Peter over the noise of the crowd. They felt safe and secure in their cosy Pub. Like I once had, a lifetime ago.
+++++I pulled the Glock and watched Bobby’s face drain away. Father Pat at the bar, dropped two Flash bangs on the floor. The explosion caused the required mayhem. The inbuilt panic of a bomb attack taking control of the mob, freezing everyone for vital seconds. I shot calmly and precisely. Aiming for Peter’s throat. Aware that these scumbags had best of breed Kevlar vests. It was my time. It was Cian and Seamus time. It was fucking payback time.
+++++Eric was up and lurching forward. I pumped a couple in to him and he toppled into the screaming crowd. Bobby had turned and was trying to move away and I blasted him in the back of his head. There was a stampede for the door as I went to each of the brother’s and tapped them once more in the head. As a gesture of Christmas goodwill.
+++++Then I dumped everything and left by the back lane. On to a waiting motor bike and was safely back in my room without anybody knowing I had left. I was under close 24hr protective guard. But a bitter hate will find away.
+++++The knock came early in the morning. It was my car for the airport. I was driven in silence by the security detail. No words were spoken. But I could see the questions on their face. At the Airport Superintendent O’Neil was waiting with my papers.
+++++“A new life Niall, in America. You’ll be safe there until the trial starts again. Though I am getting some muddled reports that this whole exercise may be totally redundant.”
+++++I was going away under the witness protection program. To Omaha Nebraska. A solid new life. Solid new name. With a solid alibi. But my thoughts were with the O’Gunning Brothers.
+++++Merry Christmas ya filthy animals.