16. Dateline Chin Wey / Mystery Attack

Doogan here and I’m lucky to be alive!

This dispatch continues from where I left off in my previous missive wherein Lt. Merian Archer and I were finishing a scant but hard-earned meal in the muddy street of a remote up-river village. Suddenly the ground rocked with a violet explosion! Chaos erupted in the market as panicked villagers abandoned their stalls in terror. Staccato burst of machinegun fire tore the air and Lt. Archer and I dove for cover beneath crates of cabbage, a pal of acrid smoke enveloping us.

The instigators of this heinous attack on defenseless villagers began to emerge from the oily grey haze. I could barely contain my astonishment. Clad from head to toe in rubber coated coveralls, faces obscured by hideous gas masks which sprouted breathing tubes attached to chrome cylinders, these villains were a veritable image from the medieval notion of Hades.

Lt. Archer brought his side arm to bear on the apparent leader. His shot caught the masked figure in the shoulder. At once the marauders poured their fire in our direction, spraying shredded cabbage everywhere. My attempt to surrender was nullified by Merian’s determination to make a hopeless last stand.

It was then that I noticed that the ground, in which my nose was buried, had darkened. Glancing up I saw an unnaturally low cloud formation overhead, almost touching the village rooftops. At once the shooting ceased. To my continued astonishment, the rubber suited attackers seemed to leap into the air and disappear into the strange cloud.  I turned to Lt. Archer but at that instant there was a blinding flash and I lost consciousness.

When I came to I was suffering a hangover befitting Uncle Ernie’s worst bathtub gin and Lt. Archer was nowhere to be seen. I realized now that my quest for missing American genius, Dr. Raullo Ortega, was to be a stranger adventure then even I had imagined it would be. Turn the lights off Ma and let the cat out. This is Doogan signing off.