This story is based upon a vast set of inspirations, personal experiences and predictions I have made.
Last, I would like to thank Maxwell for helping me avoid making alot of the mistakes any other first timer would make. I have the entire story already planned out and roughly 1/3 of it written, so I don't plan on abandoning it if enough you readers get hooked on it. I hope you enjoy the story.
It all started in Iraq; I can still remember seeing it on TV. Our soldiers were fighting and dying to help a people who neither wanted nor needed our help. The election which soon followed brought about our continued involvement in the Middle East. Who would have thought our invasion of Iran would bring about our demise? As Americans marched into Tehran, the world watched in shock as the newly formed Russian-Chinese alliance united in their hatred of the West, declared war, and began to attack our troops in South Korea and Iraq.
Our European friends are a myth as a coup and two historic elections have finished the islamisation of Britain, Germany and France, all of whom have sworn to have nothing to do with the evil Americans. China then took the opportunity to launch the largest invasion ever on the United States' west coast. Now, five million Chinese troops are marching towards the Atlantic. This is my story as a nine-year-old boy, of how I faced the destruction of my home, and how the most unlikely of friendships helped me survive it.
I looked up to see my father standing at the door of my bedroom.
“Are you ready to go, son?”
I glanced back at him, uneasily shifting the weight of my backpack onto my shoulders.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
My father was fumbling with his own gear. He carefully adjusted the strap of his helmet, as I waited for him. The mere sight of my father attempting to be a soldier was enough to make me cringe.
“Let’s go,” he finally said, and I followed him downstairs. My mother was waiting by the door; she was wearing winter camouflage and carrying an M16. Her expression was a mix of both worry and complete resignation. Together we left the house; my father locked the door, hoping it would not be his last time doing so.
As we began to walk down the street toward the South Park community center, I could see many of the other South Park residents following suit. Passing a dark-green-painted house laden in heavy snow, I saw a heavyset woman fastening an overly-large helmet atop the head of a boy. The boy, who had a look of annoyance and fear on his face, was my age.
The boy looked up at me; he was happy to see me, but was embarrassed to have such a ridiculously large object strapped to his head. My parents halted their march as I walked over to meet him.
“Dude, I don’t know about this. It's one thing for your Uncle Jimbo to go fight in California, but now all of our parents are going, too,” Kyle mumbled at me. All I could do was look into the eyes of my best friend. He knew immediately that I understood and felt his distress.
Finally, I broke the silence. “Well, I guess we should get going, then,” I said.
All the kids of South Park who were too young to fight were taking refuge in the community center. As I approached the building with Kyle, I could see many other families bringing their children in. The somber mood which had been rancid inside immediatly infected the Marshes and Broflovskis as they entered the building. Everywhere, mothers and fathers were hugging their children as if it were the last time they would ever do so.
Meanwhile, many of the fourth-graders of South Park Elementary were grouping together in a corner of the meeting hall, and I could make out many familiar figures. A blonde girl named Bebe was whispering quietly to Wendy, their faces sullen and full of distress. Tweek was shaking more than usual with his hands clamped around a steaming Styrofoam cup. A mousy-haired and slightly husky boy named Clyde was busy making his bedspread next to him. Behind Clyde, Stan found Eric Cartman with his fat body hunched over a large duffel bag full of candy. He noticed me and Kyle and approached us. “What's up, fags?” he greeted us in his usual brash way.
Eager to relieve my shoulders of their burden, I heaved my backpack into an empty space next to Cartman. Kyle followed my lead, and we both began to settle in.
“All this sh*t so that Kevin and all his Asian fags can steal our land!” Cartman sneered.
Kyle immediately scowled at Cartman, and the two began bickering back and forth. I looked over my shoulder. I could see Kevin Chang, a short Asian boy with his hair in a bowl cut. Kevin was quietly playing his PSP -- most likely Star Wars, I figured.
“Well, if you can’t stand it, go sleep somewhere else!” shouted Kyle as I instantly began to pay attention to their conversation again.
“Why should I leave when it’s a Chinaman and a Jew f*cking things up?”
“Because you’re a racist and sadistic assh*le who can’t tolerate anyone!” Kyle retorted. He looked around for support, but to no avail; most of the others were looking at us pointedly with attitudes supportive of Eric, particularly Clyde.
“Whatever, Kyle. Time will prove me right again.”
“Now, boys, let's try to get along. It's going to be up to all of you to work together and see each other through this,” Randy Marsh said as he sat down beside me. At this point, many of the parents were now getting ready to leave.
My father gazed at me, a combination of admiration and sadness in his eyes. “Stan, I just want you to know that I love you. I am very proud of you as my son,” he told me gently.
I quietly thought about this as my mom wrapped her arms around me, squeezing me with amazing strength. “Please stay safe, my angel. We will come back for you." With that, both of my parents got up and left me still sitting there.
Nearby, the Stotches were having a similar farewell. “Oh, Butters, I am going to miss you,” Linda said, looking at her son sorrowfully as tears rolled down her soft cheeks.
Wrapped in her arms, Butters also seemed to be crying. “I’ll be all right, Mom. T-tell Dad that I said hi.”
“He never was able to tell you how much he loves you and how happy you make him.” Linda gave Butters a final kiss on the forehead and got up to leave with the others.
With the room devoid of parents, the kids of South Park all huddled around a small radio to listen to the war news.
“The 101st and the 2nd still hold strong in Texas, despite many casualties. We also regret to report that San Francisco has finally fallen to the Chinese early this morning.” The same grim shadow which had gripped the nation was now cast upon all of us. “Chicago is still in flames after enduring another night of carpet bombing. A critical shortage of jet fuel keeps many Air Force planes grounded.”
There was a crack of static as another report began. "This just in: A large force of the Red Army has surrounded Ft. Collins, Colorado. General Watson of the 10th mountain division is in command and has vowed to hold the fortress at all costs."
“Dude, that’s where our parents were going!” Kyle shouted with a terrified look on his face.
“They don’t stand a chance now. We've gotta go stop them.” I responded.
“They told us to stay here and stick together. If we go out there, we're going to die!”
“We have to try!” I got on my feet and looked around at the other kids of South Park. Most were debating with each other; some looked back at me, but they were unable to meet my eyes.
“Who will go with me? We must warn our parents if we ever want to see them again.”
The uncomfortable silence lingered. Cartman had his hands crossed, he was resolved to staying here. Craig and Token, wanting to avoid any further attempts to get them to risk their lives moved away from the crowd.
“Please guys, please help me!” I cried in desperation.
Finally, Cartman joined the conversation. “Screw parents! We don’t need them. I’m not going to get killed because of their stupidity."
All I could do was stare at them helplessly. Then, suddenly, a different voice chipped in.
Slowly, a boy with short blonde hair and a heavy green winter jacket emerged from the crowd. I could feel my jaw drop. Butters never volunteered for these types of missions; we usually had to trick or force him into doing them, and he always got hurt or in big trouble as a result. Usually, I went along with the crowd; I never stopped him from doing them, either. A surge of guilt entered my heart at that thought.
“Butters, it’s probably best for you to just stay here and be safe.”
Butters looked down to the floor, nervously kneading his knuckles together. What he thought in those long seconds is still a mystery to me, but he finally looked back at me straight in the eyes and said, “Our parents are in m-mortal danger. If someone doesn't warn them, then we w-won’t have parents. You can’t go alone, so, by golly, I will help you.”
“If the butthole wants to go, just let him. It's not like anyone else is dumb enough to go,” Cartman finally yelled out in frustration.
“Fine. Come on, Butters.”
As I swung my backpack over my shoulders and picked up my rifle, I heard slow footsteps behind me.
It was Kyle. He was looking at me with a concerned face and his hands in his pockets.
“Dude, our parents aren’t in trouble. Please don’t go. You don’t stand a chance out there with Butters.”
I heaved out a long sigh and turned to face my friend. “Our parents are walking straight into a death trap, and I have the chance to stop them from doing it. If Butters is the only one who will help me, then so be it. He may be a dumbass, but I don't have much of a choice.” With that, I turned my back and walked towards the door.
“Stan, please be careful," Kyle called after me. "You're my best friend, and I don’t know what I would do if something happened to you.”
Butters was waiting for me by the door. I surveyed him; he seemed to be laden with an oversized backpack and an aged rifle that seemed to be from another era. Two sixth-graders began removing the furniture and debris that was barricading the door. Finally, the door creaked open, and I moved through it with Butters. One of the sixth-graders chuckled at me and grunted a “Good luck” as I passed by him.
The chill of the winter Rocky Mountain air hit me like a wall as I stepped outside, and it enveloped me as if I had jumped into a pool of ice. The door slammed shut behind us, and I could hear the thumps of objects being piled up against it. This is going to be a long trip, I thought.
The party began their march through the thick snow. The sun had already set, and the reflection of the full moon glistened on the frozen surface of Starks Pond. The snow-laden trees glowed a soft blue, casting a mystical shadow across the plain. Other than the soft whisper of the wind, it was startlingly quiet. Butters was following me closely behind, humming to himself in deep thought. I was also thinking, but my thoughts were on the mission. Fort Collins was only ten miles away from South Park, and hopefully the adults were only an hour or two ahead of them.
My train of thought was interrupted suddenly when Butters started singing aloud.
“He's tearing you apart, every every daaaaay..”
“Do you have to sing?” I could not hide my annoyance with him. He was always singing, and the songs he sang were always lame.
“Well, I just thought…”
“Just don’t sing and avoid talking as much as possible!” I cut him off. “You know, I really didn’t want you to come, but I am stuck with you anyway. Let's make this as painless as possible.” I looked back at him; he seemed very surprised by my reaction.
He sadly stared down at the ground and gave his generic, “W-well.. all right, then.”
End of Chapter 1
I should have chapters 2 and 3 up some time this week.
One major suggestion comes to mind. This is supposed to be a dramatic account of World War III taking place on US soil, right? I think you could definitely afford to include a lot more emotion and dramatic elements, because given the circumstances under which the story takes place, the characters come across as if it hasn't quite sunken in yet.
Your detail and descriptions when describing the settings are pretty good though.
This next part picks up now from Butter's point of view. During the fight scene it will switch between Stan and Butters, who are my two main protaganists. I tried to make it clear when POV is switched Once again, read and review. Chapter 3 and 4 have been writtten, they are just waiting to be edited.
Chapter Two: Leopold's Legacy
“Why does he hate me so much?” was all that I could think as I trotted along behind Stan.
I could still remember when me and Stan were best buddies. Of course, that was until they fired me. The memory was still fresh in my mind. Eric Cartman was sitting behind a desk flanked by Stan and Kyle. They all had glum looks on their faces as they proceeded to tell me that I wasn’t worthy of hanging out with them anymore.
Those words stuck in my mind.
I am too lame to have any friends.
I glanced up at the boy in front of me. Stan had plugged the ear buds of his iPod into his ears. His hands where deep in his pockets, and his puff ball hat was pulled down low on his head, which was struggling to stay warm.
I always did what they told me to do, and got into loads of trouble in the process. Eric never helped them like I did, and he’s their friend while I’m not. The rage was slowly building up inside of me. I’ve felt this way before, and each time I found myself transformed into a mighty super villain. Through Professor Chaos, the world has felt my wrath. The pain I kept concealed inside the deepest chamber of my heart was unleashed upon my unsuspecting victims without mercy. Still, I didn’t want to be a shadow of a man consumed by rage and self pity for the rest of my life.
A small rumble in the distance, which sounded a lot of thunder, brought me back to reality. I looked up to see another flash just above the horizon and followed by the same distinct rumble. I have lived through many terrible storms, but I somehow knew this was no thunder. Deadly artillery shells, not a natural manifestation of water laden clouds where producing the rumbles. Stan must have heard it too, because he was staring in the direction of the bright flashes. I now knew that the war I had heard about on the radio and seen on TV was now reality before my eyes.
A sudden deafening screech forced me and Stan to the ground. Two twin jet Chinese MiGs swooped past us, both of them were flying at low altitude. I turned my head to watch them charge in the direction we came from, towards South Park. A much louder explosion echoed through the woods as several fireballs emitted from just beyond the forest.
“Oh my God”, was all I could scream as I took off running back to South Park. Stan, who shared my panic, ran behind me. As we got closer to the town, the stench of burning rubble permeated through the forest, but nothing could stop us from getting back.
Right as South Park came back into view, I could see the catastrophic scenes of devastation. The community center or what was the community center was now a smoldering ruin. All me and Stan could do was stand there and stare in complete horror. Our friends and classmates where gone. I began to run towards the blaze in hopes of finding survivors. Stan however, was paralyzed with sorrow and dropped down to his knees. He buried his face in his arms and did not say a word.
The determination of saving whoever had survived the attack kept gave me the strength to search through the mounds of rubble. But to my surprise, I could find no bodies in the debris, living or dead. The bomb must have completely incinerated them. I walked sadly back to join my friend in mourning our lost friends. The people who I had known my entire life were gone. I approached the place where Stan was previously sitting to find his backpack and M-16 there, but no Stan. A set of footprints that were deeply engraved into the snow indicated that perhaps he ran into the woods. I quickly began investigate the trail that lead back into the forest.
Why would he run off like that? Unless perhaps…WAIT! These tracks are too big and numerous to be just from Stan.
I continued to follow the trail into the forest in hope of finding Stan and whoever was with him.
I never had the chance to scream, two black leather gloves gripped my mouth as I was carried away. I kicked and thrashed in hope of escaping my captors. They were carrying me deeper and deeper into the forest, until they finally threw me down to the ground. One man stretched a large strip of duct tape over my mouth, and then grasped my shoulders to resume carrying me. Another soldier tried to grab my ankles, but before he could get a solid grip on my foot, I kicked upwards with all my strength. To my luck, my foot landed straight into the man’s jaw. He spit blood and teeth out at me as he screamed in agony. The soldier, who was previously holding my shoulders dropped me again and went to help his comrade. I tried to get back onto my feet, but a third soldier kicked me straight back to the ground. He planted his foot on my chest, pinning me to the ground. He removed a small syringe from his pocket and proceeded to inject me with a mysterious substance.
Words turned to incoherent thoughts and images went to blurs as I faded from reality.
The painful screams of a man consumed by mortal anguish alerted warned me that that I was not alone in the forest. I had followed the track into the forest a short distance and knew that my query was nearby. My concern was on the condition of Stan. However, I couldn’t see him from where he was hiding. Three soldiers clad in heavy winter clothing, where no more then twenty yards away. One soldier was sitting up against a tree; his lower face and uniform were covered in crimson blood. Another soldier was examining his injuries. The third soldier was digging around in a small bag he had on the ground. When he was content with whatever he had placed in the bag, he swung it over his shoulders and babbled a series of commands to the other two soldiers. The other men rose to their feet almost mechanically, and walked over to pick up an object lying on the ground next to them. I still could not see exactly what it was. Moments later, the two soldiers heaved up the object and I could finally see it. A small boy with raven black hair was unconscious in their arms. They immediately began to march behind the third man, heading away from where I was quietly hidden.
When the soldiers seemed to be a safe distance away, I immediately ran up to the small clearing where I last saw my friend. Drops of blood stained the snow in several places and a small blue hat with a red puff ball was halfway buried in the snow. I reached over to pick it up and I found an empty syringe right next to it. My examination of the syringe revealed no clues as to what it had previously contained. Was Stan dead? I could feel my eyes swell with just the thought. Still, I decided to pursue the three soldiers. I was going to rescue my friend or avenge his murder.
Laughter and unintelligible words echoed through my ears. I slowly opened my eyes to find myself near a warm fire. The three men nearby where sharing in that warmth while eating dinner. One of them must have noticed me wake up, because he nudged his nearby friend and pointed at me.
“So he does live” He said in a crude, yet comprehendible voice. “Good, one more for the new army”. I was clueless as to what army he was speaking of. All I could feel was the nausea in my head and the pains of hunger in my stomach.
“We should start education, yes?” the man said as he pulled out a small tazor. “See China is superior to America, we teach you Chinese ways and you will obey us”, the man then proceeded to shock me. The pain of electricity zapped through my body, and caused me to squirm uncontrollably. All I could do was hope for was the end, the end of all this pain and to join Kyle in heaven.
The crack of a twig breaking emanated through the woods as I gazed through the forage. My eyes were fixed with undying determination on a distant fire in the middle of field. A shiver ran down my spine with every gust of winter chill that hit my face. I tightened the hood of my green winter coat across my head, and tried to concentrate on my target ahead. Three figures were gathered around a small fire, they all seemed to be occupied with an unseen object on the ground. In my frustration to make out exactly what they were doing, I reached into my backpack to remove a worn leather case. Inside of it was a long telescope, which clipped onto my old M1C rifle with ease.
I now got into the prone position, and peeked through my scope to survey the camp with unrivaled clarity. One of the soldiers, who seemed to have an aura of authority, was holding a small electrical device in his hand. He was busy muttering some words that I was too far away to hear. Then suddenly, the man jabbed the device into an object into the ground. This was followed by a sharp yell of pain. The two other soldiers, who were next to the man, were giggling to themselves, and pointing to who I realized was Stan being tortured. I now knew what he had to do, and I could feel my heart rate increase with the very thought of it. My hand reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out a clip of bullets, which where loaded into my rifle. With the feeling that my weapon was ready, I took fresh aim at my targets. The officer with the tazor had his back to me, while the two other soldiers where now standing and surveying the field surrounding the camp. Panic now gripped me as I snapped the cap of my scope closed. Hopefully the reflection of moonlight in the lens did not reveal my position.
Become the trees.
I quickly crawled several yards to hide behind nearby boulder. Several minutes passed before I finally returned to aiming my rifle at the camp again. The soldiers were still staring blankly into a distant patch of the forest. This was my only chance; so I calmly took aim at the chest of the closest man. Although my mind was surging with the new experience of aiming at a human being, another yell of pain from Stan resulted in me pulling the trigger.
The deafening sound of the gunshot echoed through the woods as I worked the bolt action of my rifle. I immediately retook aim and noticed that both of the soldier, whom had previously been standing, where lying on the ground. They had been unable to pick out where I was hidden in the dark winter night. While he was lying on the ground, the second sentry was fumbling with his AK-47 while scanning the forest for any sign of me. I carefully aimed at his forehead and fired.
Two loud gunshots immediately brought me out of my trance. The man, who had been previously shocking me, was on the ground. He was busy loading a magazine into his AK-47. With a click he was set and he proceeded to spray the nearby forest with a hail of bullets. Without regard to the searing pain in my back or the possibility of living, I dove at the man reaching for his rifle. He was surprised by my attack and jumped back. He got up to his feet and lowered his rifle at me. Suddenly, realizing the stupidity of my actions, I closed my eyes to prepare for the inevitable. Another shot echoed from the forest, and was immediately followed by a loud thump. I opened my eyes to see the man lying on the ground; he had a gaping hole in the side of his head. Another armed figure was running towards me, I knew I would not be able to cheat death twice. Yet the figure that approached me was too small to be a soldier. He had a wooden rifle slung across his back and small wisps of blonde hair poking out the front of his green hood. Overcome with emotion, I stumbled towards Butters and embraced him. The other boy was initially shocked by this, but returned the hug in complete understanding. The numbness, which was already rampant in my body, finally overtook my head as I once again faded into deep sleep.
The faint sensation of soreness and grogginess gripped my senses as I re-awoke. A faint yet familiar voice kept calling my name. I finally began to open my eyes but the searing pain of the bright sunlight kept them reduced to small slits. I could see Butters leaning over me; he must have noticed my movement because his previously concerned face was immediately replaced with a smile of relief.
“Where am I?” was all that I could manage to say.
“Well we are in the forest, n-not far from home” he responded.
A series of disorganized memories and images flooded my head. I could remember being carried by two men, followed by them injecting me with some sort of poison. And then screaming for my life as I man repeatedly electrocuted me with a tazer, then nearly getting shot. The last thing I could remember was an angel-like figure holding me before I fell back down.
“How long have I been asleep?”
“Oh well it’s been at least a day I reckon, those Chinese sons of a guns really knocked you up good”
Butters was busy with a tin pot perched over the camp fire. He was carefully filling a small cup with what looked like baked beans.
“Hungry?” he asked me.
Without even answering I grabbed the cup and devoured the contents with an inhuman appetite. Butters watched me closely and began to giggle. He refilled my cup and I resumed eating. Butters also began to eat his own food while quietly thinking to himself. I found myself staring at the boy. When I was unable to contain my curiosity any longer, I finally asked him, “Butters, how am I still alive?”
“Well, I was sure lucky I went to go check for survivors when we got back to South Park, w-when I got back I found you gone. I followed your footprints into the woods and…”
Butters went on to describe his day long pursuit of me. All I could do was look back at him. My mind was simply perplexed that such a story was being told by Butters Stotch.
“And right as that last fella stood up I got a good shot at him, I thought he had already killed you but by golly you survived.” He gleamed back at me happily.
“Butters how the hell did you kill three adult soldiers by yourself? I never knew you were such a good shot,” I responded.
Butters looked at me with a proud look on his face; he turned to his side and grabbed his rifle which was set next to him. He presented it to me to look at. I slowly took the rifle from his hands.
“You see Stan, this is an old M1C rifle. It belonged to my grandpa back in World War Two. Why he was a famous sniper back then, very famous yep. He fought all in France and Germany, later he went to Korea.” Butters explained to me.
Staring closer at the rifle I couldn’t help but feel amazed at how old it was. Yet it was so smooth and well polished, and according to Butter, it worked as well as it did nearly a century ago.
“My dad learned everything there is to know about shooting f-from my grandpa. When he turned sixteen, grandpa gave him this to keep and to later on give to his own son, me. Well my dad kept his promise to my grandpa, to keep his legacy alive and to teach me how to shoot. Me and m-my dad have gone hunting and shooting loads of times until the war started.” Butters’ body language of coarse became noticeably sadder with the though of his now absent father.
“Right before he left to go and try to stop the Chinese in California, he gave me my grandpa’s rifle to keep. He knew I was mighty young to get this, but in these dark times he decided it would be for the best.” Butters finished while watching me examine his heirloom.
He then said in a noticeably quieter voice, “It’s now up to me to keep my family name and to make my grandpa proud.”
He reached into his jacket and pulled out a set of dog tags, which where attached to chain around his neck. I knelt closer to read them.
“Your grandfather was also named Leopold? Is that why your parents named you that?” I asked
“Y-yea, it seems too old fashioned and long to use now-days that’s why I like to be called Butters.” He answered.
How Leopold Stotch got that nickname, I never could figure that out. I had known him as Butters ever since pre-school. His golden blonde hair, his overly friendly personality and his hopeless misfortune made that nickname perfect for him.
“Well now that you are free, we should figure out what to do” Butters said to change the subject.
“We could return to South Park, maybe some people survived in other parts of the town. We would be safe there with food and shelter.” I offered.
“I dunno.” Butters said while kneading his knuckles nervously. He reached into his backpack to reveal a map. It was obviously foreign in origin since it had many weird symbols and writings on it. However, the names of the towns where still written in English and the layout of the terrain revealed it to be our region of Colorado.
“We are around here.” He said, pointing his finger at a point between Ft. Collins and South Park.
“If we can make it to F-Fort Collins we can get help and maybe even find our parents.”
The sudden urge to finally re-unite with my family immediately made me agree to this plan. With that hope, I immediately began to help Butters pack up camp so that we could get back on the road again. Somehow, I felt much more comfortable knowing that I would be traveling with him then I did before.
I now lied down into the prone position, and peaked through my scope to survey the camp with unrivaled clarity.
You have the wrong verb tense for "lay," you shifted into past tense from present tense, and you used the wrong homophone for "peeked."
Chapter Three: The Path Through the Mountains
“I gotcha!” Was all I could yell. My hands were firmly gripped on a rope. That rope was all that kept Stan from plummeting to the bottom of the chasm. Slowly but surely, Stan climbed down the icy cliff.
“Alright dude, I'm down!” He called back to me.
I shuddered with involuntary fear. I was never very fond of heights, and the idea of climbing down a fifty foot cliff made my stomach boil. I started to search for a sturdy tree that would be able to support my climbing rope. The thick forest in front of me offered a wide variety of acceptable candidates. A bulging fat conifer with snow laden branches was my tree of choice. I double and triple knotted the thick nylon rope to the tree, and then did a quick sign of the cross. I strapped a harness across my body and locked the rope into the carabiner. Now, I approach the ledge while avoiding the urge to look down.
“That looks like a good place to start Butters!” Stan yelled back up at me.
I took a deep breath and then began my decent. My arms and feet worked in unrivaled coordination as they each found a rock or crack to support my weight.
All was going well until suddenly, CRACK!
The outcrop, which I assumed my foot was securely placed on, turned out to only be a large chunk of ice that was frozen on to the side of the cliff. It crumbled away under the stress of my body weight.
“Holy sh*t! Hang on Butters!” Stan cried up at me as he dodged the shards of ice that where falling towards him. Screaming was all I could do to release the horror raging through my heart. My hands, which were planted in a crack in the frozen cliff, and the repelling line were all that kept me alive. My feet were dangling freely in the air. Unable to contain my curiosity any longer, I peaked down to investigate my progress. My heart skipped a beat as I quickly regretted my mistake. All I could do is pull myself closer to hug the frosty stone of the cliff. My pulse was raging in my eardrums and my rapid breathing made a steady cloud of white steam in the dry winter air. I was trembling from head to toe as I tried to restore my thought process and contemplate my next move.
I had at least thirty feet to descend before I would be at the bottom. Having had climbed mountains many times before in the mountain scouts, I could not figure out why this one so different. The memories of my previous climbing excursions instantly revealed the solution to me. It was so obvious what I should do. I slowly moved my jittery hand towards my harness and gripped the lever that regulated the flow of the nylon rope. I closed my eyes in a vain attempt to soothe myself.
You can do this.
And without wasting another moment, I pushed myself off the face of the cliff with the power of my feet. In perfect synchronization, I depressed the lever of my harness, allowing the rope to run through the device. The eerie sensation of free fall was an odd relief to me as I continued downward. By the time I had my feet planted again on the side of the cliff, I had fallen at least ten feet. I now was standing perpendicular to the wall, as if nature had suddenly reversed the effect of gravity. With renewed confidence, I repeated my jump down allowing the rope to control my fall back to solid ground. Happy to finally be back on solid and level earth, I looked up at an astonished Stan. Before he could even say the words that where on the edge of his tongue I said,
“How s-silly of me to forget that repelling is easier then just climbing.”
Stan just shook his head at me, he was grinning in mild amusement.
“I hope that will be the last time we gotta climb down something like that.” He said back to me.
“Why? I-I think that was mighty fun now that I’m down here.” I said playfully.
We laughed together as we resumed our journey towards Ft. Collins. We were still surrounded by a dense forest of evergreens. The sky was dark and grey, burdened with a thick blanket of clouds. The unrelenting darkness of the clouds kept the much desired warmth of sunlight away from us.
“I wonder how the war is going.” I said out loud.
“Can’t be good,” Stan replied in a cynical tone.
“B-but how can we loose, huh Stan? Our soldiers and our nation are supposed to be the best in the world.” I responded in hopes of countering Stan’s pessimism.
“It's complicated Butters” Stan sighed back to me. However, he must have sensed my unwavering curiosity. He slowed down so that he was walking right next to me. He looked at me in the eye as he started to explain.
“Butters, we used to be the best. We were a nation built on strength and systematic chaos. People were strong because that's what it took to survive. You see, back then, a man had to either grow his own food or make enough money to buy some. If he didn't, he and his family would starve. Now, anyone can go to a welfare office and pick up a check from the government. The motive to work hard so that you can live has disappeared. That same person who received the welfare check can go and buy cigarettes and beer with that money he didn't earn. Then, a few years down the line, he gets a government paid stay at the hospital so that doctors can undo the damage he did to his lungs and liver. Back when America was at her best, the weak either had to become strong or they died off. This natural system has been destroyed by welfare, social security and universal healthcare. People no longer strive to be the best because they do not perceive any reason for it. There is no reward for their efforts.”
“So, we did this to ourselves?” I whispered. I was kneading my knuckles in contemplation while trying to understand what Stan had just told me.
“Yea dude, then we sent our diplomats and troops around the world to brag and bully everyone into believing how much better our government and culture is. But we had already forgotten what had made us strong in the first place. We forgot about the constitution, and the value of hard work. We have become a nation of hypocrites.” Stan finished with those words which chilled my heart.
Deep in thought I glanced back up at the sky. The blackness that had enveloped my emotions and my nation was also literally spreading across the atmosphere as night approached. My legs ached from the stress of continuous usage. My shoulders pleaded to be relieved of the heavy burden or my backpack.
“Hey Stan, maybe we should camp out here tonight. I suppose we can make it to Ft. Collins tomorrow with a good night's sleep.” I said while hoping Stan would agree with me.
Stan also looked like he was exhausted. His sky blue eyes were half closed as they succumbed to drowsiness. We pitched a camp at the edge of the dense woods that we had just been traveled through. Currently, I was locked in an epic struggle with the viscous winter wind. It was blowing through my hair without mercy and caused my scalp to go numb. I lit my twentieth match, but before I could guard it from the relentless gust, it flickered out. I angrily tossed the smoldering splinter of wood into the pile of wood and other wasted matches. Stan, who was seated next to me, was digging through his backpack. Finally, he produced a small tin can full of clear liquid. The rancid odor revealed it to be some sort of gasoline. Stan proceeded to pour a liberal amount of the fluid all over the pile of firewood. We then both moved to form a human barrier to combat the wind. I lit another match and threw it into the pile just in time to ignite the fuel. The bright flash pushed both me and Stan back as we admired our newly created inferno.
“Neato!” I cried out.
I could already feel the heat begin to thaw my face. The long day’s hike had really made me hungry. I searched my backpack for something edible and only found a few remaining MREs. Unable to decide on one, I turned to Stan and said,
“H-Hey Stan, what do you prefer? Chicken habenero, chicken soup with rice or chicken fettuccini alfredo?”
“Do you have anything other then chicken?” He replied with a scowl on his face.
My second search of my pack revealed nothing; I shook my head to indicate a no.
“Chicken habenero then.” He said in resignation.
I immediately set out to prepare our dinner. Stan remained lying on his side next to me, enjoying the mellow warmth of the fire. Although the chicken was very bland, it was very filling. I was now resting on top of my freshly unrolled sleeping bag. My eyes were staring up at the heaven above me, wishing that the sky would clear out so that I could gaze at the stars. If anything fascinated me, it was the stars. I often dreamed of traveling amongst them and to visit other planets. The forest was still very quiet; the whisper of the wind flowing through the branches of the trees was barely audible. Hoping to quench that silence, I grabbed my MP3 player out of my backpack. After placing the headphones over my ears, I selected a song and listened in relaxed euphoria.
“Hey Butters, watcha listening to?”
Butters looked over at me and said,
“Well, I don’t think you’d like them too much, didn’t you say you hate my music?”
“I said I hate it when you try to sing dude, I honestly don’t know what you usually listen to”
Perhaps he recognized my genuine interest, because after staring at me for a few moments, he passed his headphones to me. The band was unlike anything I had ever heard. The music sounded like some strange mash of rock and jazz.
“Who are these guys?” I asked
“Dream Theater” Butters replied back excitedly.
“’This the only song you got of them?”
“Well heck no, here’s one of my favorites called Change of Seasons” Butters said while tapping a couple of buttons on his MP3 player. This song was a bit different from the first song I heard. It started with a fast paced instrumental intro, and with each passing minute, I started to like the band. I closed my eyes as I relaxed to the melody playing. Butters soon nudged me.
“Look Stan” he whispered.
I sat up to find dozens of flashes lighting up the horizon. The flashes came in twos and threes with an occasional bright red flare. Had the flashes been coming from the direction of our destination, I would not have been as concerned. However, the dark shadow of fear entered my heart. I looked over to Butters, his usual bright and happy face was also consumed with terror. We continued to watch the artillery fight rage on in the distance until I finally fell asleep.
It must have snowed some time that night, because I woke up to find myself covered with a thick blanket of winter powder. Unable to bear the numbness anymore, I rubbed my hands over my cheeks to warm them up. I then proceeded to “water” a nearby conifer tree. The clouds, which covered the sky all day yesterday, had disappeared. I could feel my eyes struggling to adjust to the bright sunlight. By the time I returned to my sleeping bag, Butters was stirring back to life. He was yawning uncontrollably while rubbing his eyes.
“What time i-is it?!” he asked.
“Must be pretty early”, I said after examining the position of the sun.
Now curious to judge exactly how close we were to Ft. Collins, I panned the horizon. The brilliant white landscape of a winter wonderland was all that my eyes were able to intercept. The forest behind us was heavy laden with snow. The downward slope of the large clearing we were camped in smooth with powdery white snow. With the sun finally out and my high position on the hill, I had a perfect view of the valley below. I large, partially frozen river snaked through the trees. Next to the river, rose a large mountain, small clouds of smoke were rising from it.
“There it is.” I said to Butters. He stepped over to me to also gaze at our now visible destination.
“It, it’s burning…” I said in hopelessly.
“Now Stan, Ft. Collins is the strongest fortress in all of Colorado. My dad might be there and his soldiers are the toughest sons of guns you will ever meet.” Butters said to me encouragingly.
His optimism never ceased to amaze me, and his words hit me in all the right places. I simply nodded to him with a reformed smile. Together now with my friend, I packed camp to make our final run to safety.
Our track through the trees immediately surrounding Ft. Collins was nerve wrecking. The forest was so quiet and deathly still. We expected to be attacked at any moment. My eyes where constantly scanning my surroundings, Butters stayed very close to me with his M1 ready. Halfway through the forest, I heard a rumbling sound that seemed to get louder with every step I took. The source was a clearing not fifty yards away from me. Unable to contain my curiosity I stopped. Butters looked up at me with a puzzled expression.
“What?” he mouthed to me, not even daring to whisper it.
I motioned for him to follow me. We both approached the clearing from which the sounds where coming. There must have been thousands of them; who were all scurrying around like ants. The camp was surrounded by several layers of razor sharp barbed wire and six foot deep trench. Inside the fence was a city of snow laden green tents all in perfect alignment. Most of the soldiers were huddled around large fires, all trying to keep warm in the unfamiliar rocky mountain climate. Butters was gazing through the scope of his rifle, aiming at the far end of the camp. I quickly nudged him in fear that he would fire the gun.
“I’m not going t-to shoot, look” he said while pointing at what he was targeting.
Even without telescopic vision, I could see the dozens of massive howitzer guns lining the opposite side of encampment. The barrels must have been thicker than my entire body.
“Those must have been what were causing all those explosions last night” I whispered to Butters, who was still peeking through his rifle. An uncomfortable tingle was developing on the back of my neck with each moment we remained staring at the distant enemy soldiers. When it became unbearable, I nudged Butters and said,
“Dude, we better go before someone sees us”
He nodded back to me with a now nervous look on his face. We both quickly turned around began to run away from the clearing. Suddenly two figures, whose white camouflage had made them previously invisible, jumped up in front of us. They both pointed their assault rifles at my chest, daring us to try and go on any further. I immediately turned around to find five other soldiers clad in the same camouflage closing in behind us. Butters dropped his rifle and held his hands up.
“Oh double hamburgers, we’ve been caught” he moaned in resignation. I turned back to see one of the soldiers walking towards me. He reached up to his face to remove the smooth white mask covering his mouth and lift his emerald green goggles. His steel grey eyes where wide with surprise and suspicion.
“Americans? Children?!?” He said in a deep and crisp voice. The other soldiers in the group started to lower their rifles, glad to have found friends instead of foes.
“Who are you boys and what are you doing out here?” The man inquired.
“I’m Stan Marsh and this is Butters Stotch. We are both survivors from South Park” I answered.
The man looked back at me apprehensively, but he seemed to believe my explanation.
“Good thing we found you two before another Chinese patrol came along.” He said while pointing to a distant patch in the woods where his unit had ambushed the enemy.
“I am Lieutenant Johnson of the 116th Army Rangers regiment. What was your name again?” He asked while pointing to Butters.
“Butters Stotch sir,” my friend replied in a nervous voice.
The man stared back at him in deep thought. He retrieved a radio which was clipped to his belt and began to have a conversation with a man on the other end. When he finished, he replaced the radio and continued to look at Butters.
“Come with us boys, you are safe now. The captain wants you both brought back to our outpost.” He said to assure us.
The other rangers formed a protective bubble around us while gazing around the forest for any hint of an approaching foe. We immediately set off at a very fast pace. The forest was darker than ever; the thick tree branches barely allowed any sunlight through. There was now a large pile of boulders, which where the size of cars, directly in front of us. Our party proceeded towards the rocks. Hidden within those rocks where several more army rangers, all them dressed in the same white uniforms. They where all idly talking to each other, until they noticed our approach.
“Butters?!?” one of the soldiers cried out in a familiar voice. I turned around to see my friend run towards the man.
“DAD!!” he yelled as he jumped into his fathers arms. Chris Stotch grasped is son in amazement.
It may be a week till I finish typing and editing chapter 4. Chapter 4 will conclude the first part of my story.
The fourth chapter will end the first of five parts of this story. Several of you have asked or chastised me for killing the other kids of South Park. They ARE NOT dead, what exactly happens to them will be the main plot of part two, which I have decide to entitle "Generation Y". I hope to have the first chapter of it posted by the first week of August.
I am still looking for good and strict grammerians to help review my work. If you are interested please PM me. Also, I have my story posted on FOSFF.
Nothing could have disrupted our reunion. For the first time in my life, my father was quivering. His iron grip made me believe that he never thought he we would see me again. Finally, he released me out of exhaustion. I simply fell down to my knees while looking back up at his face in wonder. The hood of my coat fell back off my head and I had a smile stretched from ear to ear. The war had obviously taken its toll on my father. His skin was unusually unhealthy tint of grey. The shallow bags beneath his hazel-blue eyes only hinted me of the many sleepless hours he had suffered on the war front. He had lost at least twenty pounds, since his face and hands where so bony. I still could not help it, but admire his uniform. He was dressed in a solid white camouflage, including his helmet and boots. A sleek set of binoculars hung from his neck and rested just above the rank insignia of a captain, which was sewed smartly upon his chest.
My father finally sat down in front of me, and placed his hand on my shoulder.
“How did you get here son? How are you and Stan alive?” he asked.
I started from the beginning as recounted my long journey through the forests and mountains of Colorado. The other rangers gathered around to hear our tale. When I got to the part where I rescued Stan from the Chinese, my father’s jaw dropped. The other soldiers were whispering to each other in amazement. When I finished my story, I looked back to my father and asked, “I ain’t grounded am I?”
“No-no Butters.” My father replied with a chuckle as he rubbed the top of my head. His attention now turned to Stan.
“And you Stan, it’s good to see you too. Your parents will be so happy to see you.”
Stan, who was pleased to hear about his parents, said, “I owe it all to Butters, if it wasn’t for him…”
“I know. You would have been better off dead then where they would have taken you.” My dad responded.
Me and Stan both looked back at him in confusion.
“Well uh, whadda mean dad? Where were they gonna take him?” I asked.
“Nothing, nothing, you boys shouldn’t worry about that now.” He replied while shaking his head. I could sense that a very disturbing piece of information was being kept from me. But, I knew better then to ask my father to talk about something before he was ready to do so.
“So, what do we do now?” Stan asked to break the silence.
“Well, we are out here scouting the enemy encampments. I think our work is about done now.” My father answered. He turned to one of the soldiers next him.
“Johnson, has your platoon finished probing enemy camp bravo?”
“Yes sir! We have a good idea of the enemy strength there.” The officer named Johnson replied.
“Alright, prepare your men. We move out in five minutes.” my dad replied.
Johnson saluted my father and then moved to carry out my father’s orders. My dad now kneeled back down to me and Stan and said, “Get ready boys, we are going back to Fort Collins.”
All around us, dozens of army rangers where gathering together. They were each fumbling with their rifles, making sure they were ready for action. All of them were eager to return to the warmth of the mountain fortress.
The forest was becoming noticeably thin, with an increasing amount of fallen trees. Several craters were scattered across the forest floors, created by the volleys of artillery shells launched the previous night. Our fast pace was suddenly halted when the entire company dropped to the ground into the prone position. My father forced me down with him and we both hit the dirt. The rangers all had their rifles pointing directly in front of us. I joined them in this by pointing my own sniper rifle in the same direction. Wondering what was impeding our progress, I looked into the scope of my rifle. A vicious column of black painted tanks where prowling through the trees, progressing in a leftward direction. My dad was also watching them through his silver binoculars.
“Chinese armored battalion.” My father announced.
“They must be trying to assault the east slope again. We will continue to the check point when the pass by. Radio command and alert them of the impending attack.” He said to a nearby soldier, who proceeded to mumble into a receiver in his hand. The rest of the company began to rise to their feet.
“We will have to sprint the rest of the way boys.” My father warned us both. “The sally port into the mountain is very close.”
When the tanks were just a distant rumble, we began to penetrate the forest with great haste. An eerie whistle followed by an explosion nearby indicated that the Chinese attack had begun. We continued to run until we reached the end of the tree line. In front of us stood a huge mountain, the sides of it were composed of jagged, ice covered granite. The southern part of the mountain was steep and hid many small opening which contained gun emplacements. Behind the impressive mountain peek, was a plateau which the town of Fort Collins was built on top of.
“Two hundred yards from the entry point sir,” said Lieutenant Johnson. The officer was pointing to the steepest side of the mountain which faced the fierce river.
“Lets go!” My father called out as more artillery shells exploded nearby. As we sprinted across the frozen plain, which marked the “no mans land” surrounding mountain, five viscous looking tanks painted in night black poked out the forest.
“Enemy armor at 8 o’clock!” yelled a nearby soldier.
“Spread out men!” My father ordered as two high explosive rounds shot from the tanks landed barely ten feet away from me. The explosions were followed by the blood curdling rattle of machine gun fire being sprayed at us. I ran as fast as my flimsy legs could carry me. The ridge right next to the river loomed closer with every step I took forward. Stan was having difficulty keeping up with our fast pace. His breathing became heavier as his merciless asthma restricted his trachea. I slowed my pace to help my friend along.
“We must hurry Stan!” I gasped as I moved my hand along his back to push him along.
Snow and frozen earth flew up into the air directly in front of us as another round from the pursuing Chinese tanks exploded in front of us. They were quickly gained speed, and it became increasingly obvious they would overtake our group before we could reach the safety of the mountain. But suddenly, the rumble of two chopper blades swooped over my head. I looked back to see four of the five pursuing tanks erupt into pyres of flame. The one surviving tank immediately screeched to a halt. The hatch on top of the turret opened and the occupants began to get out. Another hellfire rocket from the overhead Apache helicopters met the final Chinese tank, leaving a charred steel chassis in its place. All around me, the rangers who had been running for their lives, were cheering at the top of the lungs. Me and Stan joined them in celebration and waved at the pilots inside the helicopters who had just saved our lives. We finished our final run to the side entrance of the mountain at a more relaxed pace. Two armed soldiers stood at attention beside the large steel door, which was dug into the ridge that overlooked the raging river.
The soldiers saluted my father as we approached the door. With several large clanks, the door loomed open and another uniformed soldier stepped out and saluted my father.
“Captain Stotch sir, Major Gomez and General Watson are awaiting you in the command center.” He said.
“I will be there shortly sergeant.” My father responded, as he returned the sergeant’s salute.
We all began to file into the tunnel which had been concealed by the huge, vault-like door. The passage way was lit by a series of bright fluorescent lights, which were bolted to the ceiling. The cement walls were covered from floor to ceiling with boxes and boxes of supplies. The hallway seemed stretch on for several hundred yards until it finally brought us to a huge room, located at the heart of the mountain. The atrium was cavernous and was surrounded by many balconies and walkways. These all revealed the many levels of rooms and tunnels carved inside of the mountain. Men and women in uniforms were walking briskly to the man the formidable defenses of the fortress. A massive stalactite stretched from the ceiling of the cave, to the first tier of walkways. Water dripped steadily from it into a small pool in the center of the room. A bank of elevators was located directly in front of us, all busily carrying the defenders from the lowest dungeons to the sky high peak.
“Johnson, take the men back to company barracks. Compile the recon data and submit it to divisional command, stat.” My father said in his trademark commanding voice to the lieutenant standing next to him.
“Yes sir!” Johnson replied as he turned and motioned for the other soldiers to follow him.
“Welcome to Fort Collins boys.” My dad said to me and Stan.
“It was built back in the 1950’s as a bastion to defend Colorado against a possible Soviet attack on US soil. It is home to the fine 10th mountain division and our hope of stopping the Chinese invasion here in the Rocky Mountains.” He explained with an edge of pride in his voice.
I was still staring all around myself in amazement. Stan’s eyes were wide open; utterly impressed that such a huge compound could exist inside a mountain. Dad then dropped down to look me in the face again.
“Come son, it’s time for your mother to see you again.” He said with a fatherly smile.
We proceeded down another corridor, which split off from the atrium. Many doors were located on each side of the passageway. Most of them where closed, but the open ones revealed a vast variety of rooms. Their purposes ranged from storage, to sleeping quarters, to computer rooms.
“My unit is located two levels up with the other Army Ranger company that has been attached to the 10th”, my father responded to my curiosity. He continued,
“The mountain can protect almost 10,000 soldiers for three months. Your mother has been working on keeping the fortress’ systems online during the siege.”
We reached the end of the long hallway of stone, a large steel hatch stood before us, partially open. The soft hum of working machinery rumbled from behind it. My father opened the hatch and we all stepped inside. I gasped as I glanced around at the vast array of mechanical devices surrounding me. Several men where working around inside the room. Some of them had clipboards, which held schematics and maintenance protocols for all the equipment that kept the mountain fortress alive. Several more of them were dressed from head to toe in dark blue jumpsuits, which where stained in many areas with grease and motor oil. I began to move to get a closer look at a large white washed iron tank labeled “boiler #3”. But before I could reach it, two snakelike arms wrapped themselves around my abdomen and I felt myself fly up into the air. I glanced up to discover my captor to be my very own mother. She proceeded to bombard my face with a barrage of kisses as she held me tight.
“Oh my baby is alive and safe” she said between each kiss. She then set me back down onto the steel deck.
“I need to go report to HQ hon. I’ll try to come back when I finish talking to the general.” My father said. He gave my mother a kiss on the cheek, and Stan and I a re-assuring smile. He then left the room.
“Are we the only ones here from South Park mom?” I asked as when my father was gone. My mother gazed back at me with a sad look on her face.
“Most of the other adults from South Park are here, but you two are the only children that have made it here. Oh, you poor dear.” She said as she hugged Stan. Stan was initially surprised by this. But, the long absence of his own parents and the recent tragedy made him appreciate the renewed sensation of being mothered.
“Sharon and Randy are staying in town with the other people from South Park.” She told him.
“How do I get there?” My friend asked. His voice was laced with excitement.
“If you go back down that hallway, you will reach the central atrium. Take the elevator to the fourth floor. The left hallway on the fourth floor will take you to the main entrance.” She answered.
“Thanks Mrs. Stotch!” Stan said as he dashed to the door, nearly ramming into a hardy looking engineer on his way out. My mom now looked back down at me.
“Oh Butters, I’m so happy to see you. You must be so tired and hungry.” She said to me. Her voice was calm and harmonious, and every word that I heard her say made my muscles relax and my mind more mellow.
“Wuh-well mom, I sure am. But this place is so neat. Can’t I look around a bit?” I asked.
My mother smiled back at me. She knew I was fascinated by machines and large buildings.
“Ok baby, let me show you what mommy has been working on for the past few days.” She took my hand and we embarked on our tour of Fort Collins.
The town of Fort Collins seemed to be carved out of the forest which covered the plateau right behind the peak. I could see a vast collection of building looming above the trees; several those buildings were burnt or collapsed. The majority of the town homes appeared to be standing strong, despite the siege. I ran down the slope of the mountain entrance towards the town. I passed through a large and inviting park, and arrived on Main Street. Several of the town shops were open, but their shelves were devoid of merchandise. The occupants were busy talking amongst themselves rather then shopping. The sidewalks were surprisingly well populated with the people of Fort Collins. Their faces all shared the same expression of resilience and determination. Feeling lost, I stopped at the doorstep of a small and cozy looking barbershop. Two old men, who were wearing heavy wool jackets, were talking to each other in a somewhat upbeat mood.
“Excuse me”, I said to get their attention. They both look at me with mild curiosity.
“What can I do for you young lad?” One of them asked in a lively voice.
“Do you know where the South Park Militia is staying?” I asked.
The man who had spoken looked to his friend, hoping that the other might have the answer. The other old man looked at me and replied,
“I believe they are all staying at the Jackson Hotel two blocks down.” He was pointing at a collection of buildings further down hill.
“Thanks.” I said as I resumed my march downhill and approached the square that contained the hotel.
The Jackson hotel was an old three floor building. It appeared to be at least one hundred years old. The building had many old carvings on the wooden exterior. Before the siege, this place was obviously a fancy hotel which offered a comfortable bed to the many visitors who came to see the historic downtown of Fort Collins. I entered the hotel to find myself in a beautiful dark wood paneled lobby. The many couches and chairs where filled with refugees who where currently staying in town. I approached a large desk, which was composed of polished brass and green marble, located at the back of the lobby. A uniformed soldier, wearing the three bars of a sergeant on his sleeve, was seated behind the desk. He looked up at me with furled eyebrows.
“Uh hi, do you know which room Randy and Sharon Marsh are staying in?” I asked him.
The sergeant began to scan a paper on the desk in front of him.
“Room 309 son”, he responded when he found my parent’s name.
I ran to the grand spiral stair case located in the center of the lobby. The steps where covered in thick red carpet and the rails were carved out of majestic brown wood. A brilliant crystal chandelier hung down the center of the stair case. The third floor hallway was filled with a vast assortment of men and women who were unable to find an empty room. Most of them were dressed in militia camouflage and seemed to be from the many nearby towns of Fort Collins. I passed by them while glancing at the doors along the hallway, looking for room 309. My heart lurched when I passed by a sleeping Mr. Testaburger, the father of my ex-girlfriend Wendy. It took every bit of self control I had to suppress that loss in my heart. I finally found room 309; inside was my mother sitting beside a bed with my father was lying in it. My mom looked up at me in shock, I ran to greet her.
“Oh Stan, this is a miracle! I knew you would survive and come to me!” My mother said, while hugging me.
“Stan?” gasped a wheezy voice. It came from my father, who was staring at me from his bed. He looked weak, as if his body was loosing a hopeless battle.
“Dad?!” I screamed back in surprise.
“So good to see you son,” he said, while forcing a smile with his lips.
“Its pneumonia, the doctors say he should survive it.” My mother said in her overly optimistic voice.
“Daddy will be ok Stan, I just need to….rest.” he struggled in a wispy voice. I looked over my shoulder to find Mrs. Broflovski standing behind me.
“We were all stuck out in the cold for days, trying to break through the siege”, she said while giving my dad a hopeful nod. She then began to look around the room, and then glanced into the hallway as if looking for someone.
“Kyle are you there bubby?” she called out.
“Mrs. Broflovski” I began, feelings my face swell and my eyes flood with tears.
“Kyle, well Kyle he’s….” I couldn’t hold it in any longer. My voice was erupting with pain and I found myself crying in front of my best friend’s mother.
“He’s dead!” I finally blurted out.
Shock was hardly the word to describe the reaction of Sheila Broflovski. She immediately dove into her husbands arms sobbing deeply.
Escape from Camp Vu: Spectors of the Past
The room was saturated with thick, white steam. A steady stream of hot water sprayed my head. Never before did I think a shower would feel so darn good. Three days in the frozen mountains of Colorado had deprived me of such simple comforts. Now I was finally safe and reunited with my parents at Fort Collins. As I scrubbed my hair with a handful of shampoo, I reflected on all the recently occurred events, but there was just one memory that kept haunting my thoughts. The hellish, burning ruins of the South Park community center were as clear as ever, the closest my mind can get to reality. All my friends were dying right in front of me, and I was powerless to stop it. Warm tears began to drip from my eyes down to my cheeks. I turned off the water and dried myself with a fresh terrycloth towel. Still, I was sniffling; the loss of my classmates would not leave my emotions alone. I wrapped the towel around my hips and opened the bathroom door. Stan was standing there, his own towel in hand, impatiently waiting for his turn in the shower. He immediately noticed me sobbing and asked me in a concerned voice,
“Butters? What’s wrong dude?”
“They’re dead Stan, all ‘our friends are gone.” I spat in between my sobs.
Stan immediately knew what I was talking about and I could see his own eyes water. However, he was able to maintain his composure. He gently embraced me and I rested my chin on his shoulder. After a few moments, he pulled away and looked me straight in the eye. In an assuring, fatherly tone, he whispered,
“Go downstairs dude, your mom is cooking dinner. I’ll be down with you soon.”
I nodded back at him with a forced smile, feeling guilty that I had burdened Stan with my emotions. Still, the comfort of releasing some of that bottled up pain with a friend made it a bit easier for me to hide them again.
My mom had taken over a small, abandoned house on the west side of the town for us to live in during the siege. When I arrived in the kitchen, my mother was there hard at work. She was wearing the same rough tunic she had on in the mechanical room of Fort Collins. Her silvery blonde hair was gently tied into a bun and he face was overly pale from the apparent lack of makeup. She instantly noticed my entry into the room and moved towards me in a hurry.
“Butters? Sweetie? Are you ok? I thought I heard you crying upstairs.” She asked me.
“Wuh-well mom, I well, I miss my friends from back home.” I answered her. She quickly gave me hug and a kiss to my forehead that only a mother could give.
“It’s not your fault that they are dead sweetie. They are in a better place now. And don’t forget that you still have Stan.” She comforted me.
Despite everything that had led up to this horrific war, Stan was actually showing signs of accepting me. Had my deepest wishes finally come true?
Stan soon joined me at the table. His hair was still wet from the shower and his jeans and t-shirt seemed to be at least two sizes too big for him. My mom came around with a pot full of stew.
“I’m sorry boys, but this is all that we have. The siege is starting to put a strain on the variety of food in town.” She said as she filled out bowls.
“Its ok Mrs. Stotch, I’m sure it’ll be better then the chicken Butters made the other night.” Stan joked while slipping me a playful smile. I chuckled in response and began to eat the steaming hot stew.
“I need to return to the mountain now; can you boys behave and look after each other for a little while?” My mom asked.
Both of ours mouths were full of stew, so we just gave her an identical, convincing nod.
“Ok then, I should be back in a few hours to tuck you both in.” she assured us as she moved the leave the kitchen.
When we finished our dinner and cleaned up the mess in the kitchen, me and Stan entered the small living. We were both disappointed to find it devoid of anything that would keep two nine year old boys occupied. A pair of leather couches were arranged against the walls in an L shape. A mahogany coffee table was placed in the center of the room with several old magazines stacked on top of it. A large wooden bookcase, on the other wall of the room, was filled with old leather bound novels.
“Weak dude, there’s not even a TV” Stan vented aloud.
“So whacha wanna do now?” I asked him.
“Let’s go check out the rest of the town.” He proposed.
“I dunno Stan, I-I think we’re supposed to stay here.” I nervously countered.
“Come on dude. What could possibly happen?” He said. Stan was always talented at convincing me to do stuff.
“Well alright then.” I finally gave in.
We both put our coats on, and once Stan had his puff ball hat stretched over his head, we walked out into the night.
An unrelenting fury of snowflakes was plummeting from the heavens onto the town of Fort Collins. The street of our temporary home was devoid of any other humans but us. Most of the other houses on the street were dark and devoid of life, it seemed that many of the town residents had fled before the place was surrounded.
“Main Streets that way.” Stan pointed out in a direction down the street. We proceeded towards the center of town. As we arrived onto Main Street, more people were visible. Most of them were coming or going from the few store fronts that weren’t closed and boarded up. Their hands were devoid of any newly purchased merchandise, the stores were just places for social congregation.
We soon passed the Jackson Hotel. Stan’s eyes were solidly glued to the ground that we walked on.
“What’s wrong Stan?” I asked my friend.
“Huh?! Oh…nothing.” He lied back at me.
“Aren’t your parent in there?”
“Well then why don’t we go visit them, I’m sure they’ll be mighty glad to see you right now.”
Stan’s sky blue instantly snapped to meet my own. He face was a twisted combination of fear and revulsion. He seemed to be searching for the right words to describe what he was feeling.
“I-I, I Can’t!” He finally admitted.
“Well, why not?” I asked, surprised he wouldn’t want to see his own mom and dad.
As expected, his asthma was beginning to take a hold of him as his emotions darkened. He sounded like he was breathing through a narrow plastic straw.
“My dad, he’s dying Butters. I could see it on my Mom’s face. I’ve lost Kyle and Kenny and-and well now it seems like I’m going to loose my father too. I just can’t stand seeing him like that, it’s just not right.” Stan suddenly stopped to the throw up all over the snow covered sidewalk.
The stench of fresh stomach fluid nearly caused me to add my own vomit to his puddle. I noticed a winterized park ahead of us, just past city hall. Hoping to at least my friend temporarily bury his family woes, I said,
“Hey Stan, there’s a park over there, lets go check it out.”
He nodded at me and we proceeded to the place. The Fort Collins Park was larger then I expected. In the center of it was a large pond, which was currently frozen over by the harsh winter chill. A series of conifer trees and wooden benches surrounded the pond. Had it been warmer and the town not surrounded by viscous enemies, I knew this would have become one of my favorite places to rest. Me and Stan settled down on a plot of snow right on the edge of the frozen pond.
“Be great if we had ice skates, huh Stan?” I started in hopes of making conversation.
“Yeah, just like Stark’s Pond back home” Stan added wishfully.
“Maybe we can find some to borrow” I offered.
“I guess so. He responded. His low voice and lazy body posture gave me the impression that he was content to just sit here and relax.
I wasn’t opposed to this, so I simply lied down on my back and stared up into the sky. The clouds above us were still unleashing a steady shower of snow flakes upon us. The full moon was translucently masked behind the arctic clouds, making them come to life with a subtle blue hue. Instead of tracing the absent crystal white stars, I played a mental game of deciphering the shapes and figures formed above me. This kept me occupied until a tiny bright red flame floated into the clouds from the ground below. I stared at it in wonder, curious as to what would produce a light of majestic beauty in the atmosphere. The answer came as a deafening shriek followed by a thunderous explosion. Panicked and confused, I jumped back onto my feet. A soldier, clad in dark camouflage was running as fast as he could from the town square. His M16 was ready in his arms and he was screaming at the top of his lungs,
“Incoming! Everyone take cover now!”
Two more whines in midair announced the arrival of more artillery shells from the distant besiegers. One exploded a few blocks away from the park, setting the roof of an abandoned house ablaze. Another smashed straight into the branches of a nearby tree. The shards of ice and wood from the explosion blew the nearby running soldier off his feet. The man was now rolling around on the ground, hands wrapped around his leg and screaming in agony.
Stan and I, defying the terror caused be furious attack raging around us, ran to the soldier’s aid. He was both surprised and happy to see us.
“I think I broke my ankle.” He managed to force out through his desperate gasps for fresh air. His hands were quivering from the shocks of pain that were reverberating through his entire body.
“I’m not sure we can carry you, can you at least try and walk with one leg?” Stan asked.
“I-I think so.” He replied. It took the combined strength of all three of us to get the man back to his feet. I never felt so much weight on my shoulders, the force I used to keep him from falling back to the ground was coming from some unknown source within me. We progressed through the park towards the entrance of the mountain. Suddenly, I saw several figures moving in the shadowy night. I quickly recognized them as US soldiers, working furiously as they loaded their long range howitzers to return the enemy fire.
Two of the nearby soldiers noticed us approach them and they immediately ran out to help us. Stan and I were soon liberated of the burden as they took the soldier.
“Thank you boys for your help, you both need to hurry and take cover inside the fortress.” One of the other soldiers called back at us before he carried the injured man away towards the first aid station.
“Let’s go!” Stan yelled at me as he took off running towards the mountain.
I immediately set off at my fastest pace to follow him. As we ran along the side the large pond, a monumental set of explosions raped my ears with excruciating pain. Dozens of cleverly hidden artillery pieces positioned throughout the park fired in perfect synchronization. Their thunderous barrage was answered by another horrific Chinese volley. The firefight dwarfed even the most epic of firework shows I had ever seen my short life, it made me run all the faster towards the entrance of the mountain fortress.
The door of the main entrance to Fort Collins reminded me distinctly of the vault of high security bank. This one was designed to keep humans, rather then gold safe from evil. And just as the explosions around us seemed to get closer, we finally made it through the large door.
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