Tortured Soul

by Casey Keller 2 months ago in career

An Army Soldier's Survival From Being Tortured For A Month.

Tortured Soul

The sun shining through the iron-rimmed glass from the basement window that I could tell from the black sackcloth that covered my head; warmed the iron shackles that bound my wrists. The faint smell of mildew from the corners in this basement filled my nostrils until another bucket of water splashed up against my face.

A voice yelled, "Tell me who you're working for"?

I could feel the hairs on my neck and arms stand on end as a surge of electricity flowed through the air as I heard sparks fly. No doubt from the battery cables hooked up to a battery and causing sparks to fly around my head. Suddenly, I could smell through the blood clots through my broken nose, and I could smell the rotten stench of death and decay in this room. I could feel a trickle of blood going down my right thigh, and tears flowing out of my bruised eyes down to my broken jaw. A veil of blackness fell over my eyelids as the last thing that I felt was the dagger being pulled out of my right thigh.

My mind raced back to when I was just a grunt, a mechanic in the Army. Life was so much simpler and more relaxed. I was working on changing the oil out of an old duece and half Army tactical vehicle. The drain plug was stripped and wasn't coming loose. I thanked God for my trusty mechanic's toolbox and reached for a one-inch closed-end wrench. I attached it to the socket wrench that I was trying to unscrew the drain plug. I gave it a good pull and whooosshhh I was covered in oil. I hurried and put the drain pan under the oil pan to collect the oil that hadn't already covered me. I crawl out from underneath this old duece and a half and survey the oil mess that covered me and the ground. I make my way back to the motor pool to hear one of my NCO's say, "Keller, I didn't know you were black." We laughed, and I went to clean up and change into another set of mechanic overalls. I went to the pll office and got cat litter, oil, a new drain plug, and an oil filter. I finish replacing the oil and starting this old beast up and pulling it forward so that I can toss the cat litter over the oil and get it cleaned up. As I'm parking the rig back in its original position, I feel a stabbing pain in my left thigh.

My eyes blink so fast that they start to tear up again, and I feel a knife intruding into my left thigh. Even with this black sackcloth over my head, I feel dust intrude into the cloth, and it starts to make me dry heave. My bound ankles and wrists make it hard to control my body, and I can barely bend over to get the dust out of my mouth. The ground was hard underneath my bare feet. I feel a cold hard steel brush up against my feet' then I feel the claw end of a hammer. The only thing that I could think of was that my interrogators were going to break each one of my toes until I gave them some useful information about the Army unit that I was with. I feel the hands of one of the interrogators grab my foot and about to start breaking my toes until a voice says, "That's enough for now." I feel one of my captors behind me and choke me out till I pass out again.

We were on guard duty guarding a water tower at Fort Carson, Colorado. Specialist Douglas Mcneil looks at me and says, "who in their right mind would attack a water tower." At this time, I was the E-5 sergeant and explained that our water supply would be ideal. If the enemy wanted to attack a military base. They could poison and take out the whole or part of our military base by taking out our necessities. Specialist Mcneil says, what the hell is that?" We both look up and see a blanket of shooting stars canvas the night sky. I start to think that I see stars inside the cab of our duece and a half. I'm brought back to reality, and I physically see stars of shooting pain circle my head like a cartoon character that has just been whacked with 120 watts of electricity. I can smell the burnt skin of electric burns on my chest. I screamed out in agonizing pain, "Girl Scouts are more torturous than you assholes." I could still flex my toes. They hadn't broken them, Thank God. That would have severely hindered but not impossible to make my escape. Still being chained and shackled and blindfolded, though, I didn't and wasn't sure how I would make my grand escape. Maybe there was a rescue team on there way. But where was I at? Would the Army special forces be coming for me or for the tech package that I was trying to get back into the United States' hands? I was and accepted the fact that I was collateral damage. I knew that when I signed on the dotted line for uncle sam.

The piece of technology that I was sent to get and secure it back at our embassy was cutting edge satellite reconnaissance imagery. It would help our troops in real-time know where by heat signatures where the enemy would be. It would be a game-changer for any country, and anyone would pay billions for this technology.

I feel the interrogators knife slice into my left shin. The pain is almost unbearable, but I still maintain consciousness. I verbally spat out what any soldier should, if ever captured and tortured for information. Sergeant Keller Casey J serial code charlie sierra sierra five one eight eight four eight four nine two. A massive fist pounds into my already broken jaw. The pain is intense and throbbing. I feel my teeth being broke, and I spit them out with a mouth full of blood against the black sackcloth. I know this is getting intense, and I can barely contain the information about the technology. The interrogators wanted the code to the case that the tech was in and see if it worked. I thought I had finally had enough. My mind suddenly got flooded with old songs. I start singing. We all live in a yellow submarine and itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini. Anything that would keep my mind from breaking. Just as I am about to break out into Roxanne, you don't have to turn your red, and a gruff voice says, "shut him up." I pass out from a stabbing into my appendix, and it is surgically removed. These interrogators obviously knew what they were doing. They knew what hurt and what would kill. The didn't want me dead yet; they needed to get into the case that held billions of dollars of a high tech piece of equipment.

I remember Millie and I's wedding; it was beautiful. Her dress was amazing. I even had a hand in sewing some of the sequins on her dress. My groomsmen Tyler, Shadd, and Kirk, were handsome in their tuxedos. Kimberly Kerri, and Trina, Millie's bridesmaids were beautiful in their emerald green dresses, Mathew, my godson, was the ring bearer. Families filled both sides of the church. The wedding song comes on, and Millie comes down the aisle with my dad in tow to give her away because her father had passed away. With Mathew in tow with the rings, my father says his line that he is giving away the bride and seats himself.

Mathew stands behind kirk. Millie joins me at the altar, and in that one moment, everything stood still, and it seemed like it was just her and I at that moment. Our eyes teared up, and with one gentle hand, I reach up and wipe away one of her tears rolling down her face. It was that one pivotal moment that made everyone else in that church well up with emotion. Remembering that moment jarred me awake at the feeling of being sewn up. I presumed it was a doctor that was sewing up where my appendix was once at.

It was as if my memories were being stimulated by what my interrogators were doing to my body. It would be the death of me before I broke down and told them what they wanted to know. I feel the needle and thread sewing up my other wounds on my left shin and my right thigh. Without being on any pain medication, or antiseptics and antibiotics, I almost knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I will have severe health problems to this torture. Especially not being in a clean and sterile hospital room. My head is aching, and I would feel like I would die for a couple of Tylenol to ease the pain that my body was going through. I would give my left arm to have another bucket of water splashed in my face. I hear a tiny nerdy sounding voice asks, "has he given you the code yet?" It was a voice I thought I had heard before, but I can't place it. Another voice says, "Let's break all of his fingers. He'll talk."

Great, I'm going to be an invalid veteran if I ever get out of here. I feel the cold steel of the hammer again against the skin of my hands. I mentally prepare myself for the breaking of my fingers. Whack, whack, whack, but yet my fingers are feeling fine, then the throbbing comes in, and my hands hurt, and I pass out from the pain.

It was the middle of a monsoon season in Korea at Camp Humphreys. "Graeff, let's go have a smoke," I tell the pll clerk. He and I were best buds, always had each other's backs. He and I were also probably the craziest. We put on our ponchos and head out towards the gate that led into the motor pool. He and I were the only idiots in the middle of monsoon by the motor pool gates and smoking our cigarettes. I flex my fingers and try to make fists, and I can't. Kevin asks, me, "Keller, what's wrong with you, just relax we're only over here for a couple more months," as I light up another cigarette. My fingers are aching and start swelling as I put out my second cigarette. We head back into the motor pool, and Kevin hands me a new pll request to pull out an alternator and replace it. I take the new alternator out with me and a creeper and the few tools that I know that I'll need. It had to be done; it was the commander's vehicle.

I felt like I was swimming. The monsoon's water was over my chest as I wrenched the old bolts out, moved the belt aside, and the alternator fell out on my chest. I wheel the creeper over to the humvee's door, grab the new alternator, and put the new one in. By the time I was done, I was soaked and had a burning sensation on my chest. I open up my soaked coveralls and pull up my shirt to see cigarette burns all over my chest. I freak out and wake up to the feeling of cigarettes being put out on my chest.

I was getting tired of being tortured, and my interrogator's guinea pig to what just hurt. I wanted to break, but I knew that the fate of our Armed services members' lives would be at stake. I would not break, no matter what my captors did to me. They placed my knees and head in vice's and would squeeze until blood oozed from my nose and ears then release the vice's just enough to give me a break from the pain. The pain was unbearable, and I passed out from the pain.

We were in the middle of setting up camp in a training exercise with laser gun technology at the end of our M-16's. Four battalions, including ours, were each setting up our own individual camps and tents and fox holes. When done, we all individually had to report to the commander and let him know that all was secure and ready for our posts. Mine wasn't going to be until later. So as an obedient soldier that I was, I gathered all the foot and a half grass that surrounded my tent and fox hole and covered my BDU's with it. I looked like a sniper in a guille suit. I used up some of my camouflaged makeup on my face, and my M-16 and slowly low crawled across a hundred yards towards the other three commanders' tents. I turned on my laser tag equipment. I almost got stepped on by other soldiers walking around. They didn't even see me. I got within 50 feet of the other commander's tents. I slowly raised to assess where they were. I gathered up my courage and quickly came up to a sitting position and fired my laser tags at the commander's sensors. Bang, bang, bang all three commanders laser tag belts were going off. I quickly laid back down and blended in with the rest of the grass until they swore, "Who the fuck gave permission to attack?" I knew I was going to be in trouble, so I might as well have fessed up. I grabbed my M-16 put it above my head, and slowly raised out of the tall grass. I must have looked pretty intimidating, looking like I did, donned with the tall grasses all over my body like a sniper would.

All three commanders came up to me, and each got in my face asking me, "What the fuck was I thinking?" "Specialist Keller you'll be lucky to scrub and peel potatoes for the rest of your military career." The third commander couldn't even come up with a good insult. He must have thought that he saw the potential for an Army sniper. They called my commander, and he and commander Lewis talked while I did pushups at my tent. Commander Lewis came by my tent on his way back to his battalion and said, "At ease, specialist Keller." He told me that he would specifically write me an endorsement for an Army sniper if I wanted to pursue that for the rest of my Army career. When I came to, I had the weight of an anvil on my chest, one of the captors took it off as one of there bosses came into the room and said he didn't authorize such treatment. At last, someone with decency even if it was one of my captors.

I was thankful that my captors spoke English, which was weird. A singular thought entered my head, where the fuck am I? I was so weak from being tortured that I could hardly move. They unshackled me from the chair and escorted me back to the cell that I was inhabiting. They slit open the black sackcloth over my head where my mouth was so that I could eat and drink and get my strength back up, just so that they could continue beating me up and cutting and slicing away at my skin. I felt the blood clotting over my wounds. I peered through the slit as much as I could to try to assess where I was at. The floor to the cell was hard sand that ground up my bare feet. The bars that contained me were old and rusty. But I was far from having enough strength to try to escape. There was a four-inch by sixteen-inch slot for a food tray. This was unusual. Usually, kidnappers or interrogators wouldn't let their prisoners have any food or water. They would starve you until you were deliriously out of your mind. What kind of prison camp was I at? I sat in the corner of my dark, dirt cell and waited. That's one thing about being a prisoner of war; you had all the time in the world to do nothing except count the minutes.

I laid down on the dirt floor and let myself fall asleep. At least that was better than being tortured until I passed out from the pain.

Millie was trying to quietly and quickly shove me awake. I was moaning and telling her to leave me alone that it was a Saturday and that I didn't want to get up yet. She said, "No, Casey, you don't understand we need to get out of bed." I rolled over on my back to give my wife a good morning kiss, and I see why we need to get out of the bed. There was a tarantula spider probably as big as my hand on the ceiling above our bed. Never had I seen a spider so big, but we were living in Fort Polk, Louisiana. Home to the most massive snakes and spiders on the planet. Millie scootches out of her side of the bed. I get out of my side of the bed, and I tell this spider, "STAY." I grab a sheet of plastic and lay it out on the bed and grab the broom and whack. I killed this giant tarantula spider. I collect it off of the bed and throw it away. Remembering that memory in my dream, I start to feel my arms, it feels like I have thousands of tiny spiders all over my body. I wake up to find none on me; I'm just covered in dirt and dust. I hear a gruff voice; "you better eat something if we're going to continue to torture you." I smelled the food through my broken nose that was sitting on the food tray of the cell—scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast with orange juice. Being the smartass that I am, I tell my captor, "could you please have housekeeping come up with some fresh towels and bed linens I seemed to have soiled these ones." I kick at the cell, and the food tray splashes down the front of my kidnapper. He curses at me and sticks a cattle prod in my cell and gives my body a jolt of electricity until my body spasms until I pass out.

My mind travels back to a time when I was still at Fort Polk, Louisiana, going though my pldc training to get my sergeant stripes. All the soldiers in the same class as me and going through the same pldc to get their next rank and I were all in the motor pool answering questions; that would be asked at our board meeting to get our next rank. The base commander was sitting in one of the corners in the room, listening to our responses. He stands up and says, "PFC Keller." I respond with a prompt, "Yes, Sir." He asks me, "What's the first building on base?" Not having a break on my mouth and not thinking first before I say anything I respond with; "The post office Sir." "Why is that PFC Keller," I reply with "so that I can hear from my wife and family." The first building on any base is the commander's office. But I had made him laugh that he let it slide and chuckled as he left the building. I had never heard of any soldier being promoted for his quick wit and sarcasm. Still, I made my next stripe and earned my specialist rank, thanks to that commander.

I feel a cold splash of water being splashed over my body, and I wake up.I hear the sound of keys dangling as they are rattled to open my cell door.Two guards come in and help me up to my feet and drag me out of my cell. No doubt they were going to torture me some more, I thought. They set me down in a chair and secure my wrists and ankles. A voice says,

"I hear you're not being cooperative and not telling us what we want to know," I reply, "Tony, the frosted flakes tiger is cuckoo for cocoa puffs." A hand slaps me across the face. My jaw is throbbing. I feel two hands pull on my left arm, and my shoulder dislocates. I feel a sharp pain of a needle being punctured into my shoulder. "If you're not going to tell us what we want to know, we have other means to get the code to open the case." The only thing that I could think of was sodium pentathol. I say in my mind, "fuck. There's no stopping these terrorists." My shoulder is killing me, and I wish that they would just put it back in. I remember the first time I had dislocated it.

I was in Korea. I was working on one of the humvees and replacing the glowplugs. I had no problem replacing the ones on the right-hand side. I get to the left-hand side of the humvee and start wrenching the glow plugs out. I was straddling the engine compartment with my arm straight down and bent to the left and then to the right, and my body weight slips and I fall into the engine compartment. I feel my left shoulder pop, and I'm thinking fuck that hurt. I drag myself out of the engine compartment, and my left arm is just dangling out of its socket. I walk towards the motor pool, and my nco sees this and tells me to get up to the infirmary and have them put my shoulder back in. But that wasn't the worst of it. I remember May 2016.

In May 2016, I was in the hospital having shoulder surgery on my left shoulder. The doctor had cleaned up bone spurs on my shoulder socket and had to reattach my bicep muscle back to the socket. He also respaced the shoulder socket's spacing so that it wouldn't be grinding bone against bone. I would have been fine if my mind didn't travel back in time a few weeks before my shoulder surgery. In April, I had lost my sister to a vehicle accident. She and I were very close. I was convinced that I could have prevented her from being in the accident if I was there.

As I was coming out of the anesthesia and not being able to feel my shoulder and not able to move it and being doped up, I could have sworn that I was in the hospital because I was in the accident with Kerri. I was screaming in the hospital, "Where's Kerri?" "Where's my sister, take me to her right now, I have to see her. Where is she? Where's my sister? Take me to her right now." My mind didn't know and couldn't tell the difference in the time frame. Kerri had passed away a couple of weeks before my surgery. It was awful; I felt like I was reliving the pain all over again, and again. I remember lying in that hospital bed crying and mourning for the loss of my sister again. I recall this memory to my captors. It must have been the sodium pentathol that was making me spill my guts. They kept asking for the code to the suitcase, followed by punches, kicks and pokes from a knife. They were stabbing me at all different spots on my body from my back to my torso, neck, arms, and chest. All I could think of in this drug-induced truth serum was the memories that I had as a child and teen growing up with my sister and mom and dad.

I had a happy childhood; I was the youngest; My sister Kerri was two years older than me. She was always taking care of me until we got to be teenagers, then we looked out for each other. But as kids, we would go with our father, Sid, who would take us to Nebraska every summer to work his father's ranch. My grandad Keller was a good, hardworking man who ranched a hundred-acre place. Kerri would help our grandma Calona in the garden and doing the house chores and such. I would help granddad Keller with the cows and milking them and feeding them. I also helped with feeding and washing and brushing out the horses. Kerri and I learned that working a ranch was a full-time job, but it did have its pleasures when we learned how to saddle and bridle the horse's Cindy and Cricket. That was one of the things that we loved doing together as kids and as adults, and that was riding horses. That was our therapy.

Before our parents split up and we lived on waterline road in Butte, Mt we had the happiest of childhoods. Kerri and I would always ride our bikes down to the penny candy store and come home with a brown paper bag filled with candy. It was the best of times for us kids. Kerri and I had a swing set out in the front yard. We had a little radio that we would tune into the drive-in theater's frequency that was just down the road from our parents' house, and we would watch movies from our swingset.

I remembered a massive water gun fight that our dad had brought into the house. It was so much fun, dad having the hose was not so much fun, but it was fun. I was hiding in the clothes hamper at the end of the hallway with my tiny little squirt gun pointed at the clothes hamper opening and ready to squirt anyone who opened that lid. Little did I know that it was my father with the hose.

Next thing I know, I am being splashed again with a bucket of water to wake up for my next go-around of torture. I shout out at my captors, "just put a bullet in my head. I'm not going to tell you a fucking thing." You know it's terrible when you start begging for mercy and a bullet to your head to end the never-ending cycle of torture. I was cut and bleeding from all the stab wounds. My jaw hurt like hell, and my left arm was dragging along the ground as the drug me back to my cell.

My body ached all over, but my shoulder hurt the worst out of all of it. I muster up enough strength to raise my arm as much as possible and put it in one of the iron jail crossbars and let my body weight do the rest and pull my shoulder back in place. I scream out in agony and relief. A voice says, "you have more perseverance than we thought Sergeant Keller." My heavily armed two guards come and get me out of my cell and take me out of my cell just as a heavy stock of a gun comes crashing down on the back of my skull, making me pass out.

I must have been passed out for quite a while because when I came to, I was in a brightly lit room with white walls and porcelain floors. The black sackcloth was off my head, and there were small tender hands with long fingers with french tipped nails with a washcloth cleaning my wounds. I hear her voice saying, just relax, your safe now. I could barely see and make out what she looked like, and I could scarcely smell her perfume. It was light and springy. I blink my eyes a couple of times and finally see this black-haired, blue-eyed goddess. Her breasts were small but supple. Her nipples lightly pushed at the white linen fabric that clung to her shoulders. Her lips bore a bright red lipstick. I thought to myself I must be in heaven, while she wiped away the blood from my wounds.

She said her name was Giselle and that she was a nurse and was going to mend me back to health. I had so many questions. What happened to me? Where was I at? How did I get here? What happened to my kidnappers? Who rescued me? The questions were flooding my mind in such a haze that I pass out from exhaustion. Giselle washed every inch of my bruised and to what I thought broken body, back to perfect health in the time that I was passed out. How was that possible? Did they turn me into a vampire?

Now wouldn't that be interesting and fun? I would go and find my kidnappers and torture them the same way that they tortured me. But then I would leave them for dead and to rot in hell.

My mind dreamed of the moment when I was going through my pldc class to get my next rank. I was at the review board. The commanders and lieutenants and a few captains were asking me questions and how I would handle each situation. "PFC Keller, you're in a neurological and biological chemical warfare battlefield; you see one of your best Army friends who is it?" "Specialist Kevin Graeff," I respond.

Colonel Alexander asks, "How do you handle the situation?" I respond with taking my nine mm handgun and shooting him in the head. Everyone's mouth gapped open, and a few eyes looked me up and down in disapproval. I follow my statement with, " If it was my best friend whom I couldn't do anything for and he was already knocking on heavens door and was contaminated, why would I want to contaminate myself and furthermore the base. The best thing I could do is take him out of his misery. I would mark his location on a map with the GPS coordinates. After the area was clear, we could go in and rescue his body and bring it back for a proper military funeral."

That was the last question that they asked me; then, they adjourned into their chambers to decide if I earned my next staff sergeant stripes. Twenty minutes pass by, and they come out of there chambers with there decision. Through the long process and further looks at me, colonel Bell said, "Congratulations, staff sergeant Keller continue to make us proud.

Giselle's fingers were so light and caring with each tender swipe of a washcloth wiping the blood off of my body. Another pair of hands had lathered up my face with shaving cream. A hear a razor being banged against a bowl of hot water. I look up to see a long red-haired green-eyed woman with a razor in her hand telling me to relax while she cleans up my beard and mustache. She introduced herself as Gabrielle. Surprisingly my jaw didn't hurt as bad as she tenderly shaved my face. She was dressed like Giselle. In a clean white spaghetti strap white top with white pajama bottoms. My mind hurt, and I was able to mutter out, "aspirin, please." Giselle gave me a couple, and a small glass of water tipped into my mouth so that I can swallow the pills. Gabrielle finished shaving my face and put a hot towel over my face. I felt like I was in a spa. She lightly massaged her fingers over my temples until I fall fast asleep.

I wasn't sure where I was at. I was low crawling through a tall, dense grass that concealed me as I made my approach to a cave that was in this mountain. I looked up to see smoke in the distance. As the sun was setting, it made a beautiful coloring of light hues of pinks and yellows and oranges throughout the sky. I get to the opening of this cave and make my way slowly to the entrance, where a guard was pacing back and forth, protecting its entrance. As he got closer, I quickly grabbed my boot knife and grabbed him from behind and slit his throat. I dragged the guard's body towards the edge of a ravine and pushed his body down into it, and covered his body with the tall grasses. I get back to the cave and move slowly and quickly from cover to cover not to give up my position. Halfway through the cave, I smell the scent of death and decay and rotting flesh. I want to gag, but I stomach it and swallow the vomit back down just as a guard comes out from nowhere. I quickly take my nine-millimeter silencer weapon out and shoot him in the head. I grab his AK-47 before it hits the ground and ease this guards fall to the ground. I grab him into a fireman's carry and put this guard's body into the ravine and cover it up along with the other guard.

I get through the cave and assess the land's layout and find a perfect shaded outlook fifty feet above my head that overlooked the enemy's compound. I wait till it gets a little darker before I start to make my ascent to this overlook and get into a position to shoot the enemy commander.

I remember when my daughter and I had gone indoor rock climbing. She and I had a blast free climbing with ascenders that controlled your fall as you descend the climb's precipice. There were also climbs where I would have to belay her on as she climbed up a 50 footwall. Her fingers were clenching each little handhold and her toes pushing her 100-pound body up to the next finger hold, and she would pull herself up no problem. After she would reach the top, I would say on belay and apply my hand to the brake as she would swing down the wall to the bottom of the floor of where I stood. She and I had a blast doing this indoor rock climbing.

"Your turn, dad," Kristen said. I clipped the carabiner into the nylon rope and harness and grabbed a part of the wall, "On belay," Kristen says as I start my climb to the top. We had a blast climbing that day. As I recall this memory, I find myself halfway up to the rock outcropping of where I will take my shot. With no ropes but plenty of tree branches and roots, I get myself pulled up to the outcropping with no problem with where I will wait till tomorrow afternoon to take my shot. I set up my sniper rifle and put the crosshairs about where my target is going to be. After that, I drift in and out of tiny short naps as I hear the enemy soldiers' voices that are less than a quarter of a mile away from me, which sounds like a musical box with a ballerina dancing to its music. Nightfall finally creeps in, and I feel comfortable enough actually to sleep.

I feel the pressure of the two goddesses' hands massaging my body and getting my muscles out of atrophy. I hear Gabrielle ask Giselle, "Do you think he'll remember?" Remember what? I wonder. Or were they talking about me or not, I wasn't sure, so I opened my eyes to look at these two beautiful women. Giselle asks, "Casey, what do you remember of your last assignment?" I told her that I wasn't sure, everything is a bit of a fog, and I don't know if it was a dream or a memory if I did kill someone. It felt so real, I could recall the sights, sounds, and the smells of death and decay and the shooting of a soldier in the head and slitting the other's throat. It didn't feel like a dream, and it didn't feel like it was a memory from a movie or something that I had seen before. Had I killed somebody and if so, why can't I remember it. Maybe I emotionally blocked it out. The further I pushed to remember, I got a headache and passed out again. Hopefully, to remember what, who, where, when, and why.

I didn't know where I was at. I just knew I was on the side of a mountain on an outcropping with my sniper rifle covered. I was waiting for the right time to put a bullet in the enemy's commander's head. I didn't know who he was or why he deserved to be put down. I was following orders. But who's orders? My mind was full of questions again; I hear a vehicle approaching; I grab my binoculars and look. It's my target, he's early, but I don't know if I will get another shot. I get down in a laying down prone position. I calibrate my scope to the wind and the coreallis effect. I range it at three-tenths of a mile at the road's wide-angle, push left, and there's my shot. My target is a short to medium height, with a slightly chubby build. His pointy nose and round eyes push the detail to his round face; His eyes have a slight glint. Asian, maybe Japanese or Korean, I wasn't sure.

I look at his hat and see that he is a brigadier general. I use my gloved hand to grab a fifty caliber bullet and slide it into this Lapua 338 sniper rifle's bolt action chamber. I grab my dog tags and say forgive me and take my one shot. That's was all I needed, and my target was down. The shot rang through the hills. Bullets and guns started going off in every direction and barely missing me. I lay there quietly and wait for all the weapons to quit firing before I grab my sniper rifle and slide it over my back and quickly and quietly make my way down the mountain back to the cave. I grab my nine-millimeter handgun and quickly make my way through the tunnel back to where I had come. As I come out on the other side, a soldier was leaned up against the entrance and smoking a cigarette. I holster my weapon, grab my boot knife, and sneak up behind him and put him in a chokehold and slice his throat. I push his body down into the ravine and start a light jog and zig-zag between trees back to where the chopper was waiting for me to get me back to safety. How did I become this killer? Who were the people that I just killed? Why? Where was I at? All these questions kept nagging and pushing themselves to the frontal cortex of my mind. I had no answers. I had to know why and under whose orders were I following.

I wake up to find my head resting in Gabrielle's lap and not knowing who I could trust with what I just dreamed about? But like I was thinking earlier, was it a dream or was it a memory. Why did it feel so real? Gabrielle's finger went to her lips to symbolize not to say anything. I was dressed in a clean and white linen. I lifted my head enough to see three hallways—one to the left, one to the right and straight. Gabrielle said quietly, go right, then take the next right, then left, then go straight and take another right - and you'll find the answers that you are looking for. She eased my head off her lap, and as she got up to leave, she said, "NOW." I didn't think that I would have enough strength to get out of this hell hole. But surprisingly, I had all my strength. I followed her directions, and at the end of her instructions, I found an office door labeled PSYCHOPS.

Was it all in my head? Had the Army and the government finally breached the threshold to Army warfare. Through psychological operations through programs with artificial intelligence and putting our minds through suggestive training that never happens but only in the brain. It would make sense as I didn't have an incision where my appendix was at. The joints that I thought were broken weren't. It was all a part of an elaborate and well-planned mission to see if soldiers would break under undue stress. But did I pass through there sick and twisted means of seeing if soldiers could follow through with intense training to complete missions that were subjected only through subliminal messages? A hand reached out and touched my shoulder. With not knowing how I did it, I immediately grab the hand, twist it, and pull it forward over my shoulder and throwing a soldier into the wall in front of me. Side kicking with my right foot into the groin of another soldier coming at me from the left. My right foot comes up in a back kick to another solder coming at my right. My reflexes were never this quick. I unarmed the three soldiers and opened the office door that said PYSCHOPS.

Giselle was sitting behind the desk and responded with Sergeant Keller nice of you to finally join us. Colonel Bell, Lieutenant Alexander, and Sergeant Graeff each sat at a chair in the room. It was like being in a courtroom all over again when I went for my Sargeant stripe. The first words coming out of my mouth were, "What the hell is going on?" Kevin responded with, "you are our first candidate to successfully go through all the suggestive training and torture without breaking. Were going to use that model to other soldiers on the battlefield so that our wars will be fought on a cerebral level. None of it was real."

"But it felt like it."

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Casey Keller
Casey Keller
Read next: My Review of "Da 5 Bloods"
Casey Keller

Hi, I'm a 47 year-old-veteran/photographer/door dash driver/uber driver as well. When I am not doing any of those things I can be found sitting in front of my computer writing books for amazon/vocal. keep your mind busy the body stays young

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