when hell is full

the dead will walk the earth

I have nightmares. It's been years, and I still have nightmares.

It all began with a simple phone call. From the President. And when the President calls, I jump. It's the least I can do for the man who once saved my life in 'Nam. But this particular phone call caught me by surprise.

"I want you to go to Pakistan," he told me, smoothly. "You're the only one I can trust to verify that Osama bin Laden is dead."

"Of course he's dead," I answered. "We've both seen the video."

I paused... and then we both broke up laughing at the same time. Video. What a joke.

"And don't worry," he assured me. "Your little, ah, 'problem' in the Middle East has been smoothed over."

That's Obama for you. Mr. Smooth. And that's how I found myself back in Pakistan, taking a freight elevator down to the basement where bin Laden's murdered body was kept.

The elevator stopped. There were three guards, all of them big. The one in the middle was the approximate size of a truck. He stood in front of me. Not moving.

"He wants a gratuity to let you enter," my interpreter explained, business as usual.

The Incredible Bulk took an aggressive step forward. He was trying to use his size to intimidate me. His mistake. I gave his kneecap a swift kick. It shattered, and down he went. He fell in slow motion, like a giant oak in the forest. Screaming all the way down. Fat men amuse me. When they fall, they make more noise.

I knelt over him, and relieved him of his weapons. An old AK-47 that had been hanging casually over his shoulder, an old hunting knife strapped to his ankle, and... a brand-new .45. He must have collected a lot of "gratuities" to pay for it. I stood and secured the gun in the waistband of my jeans. And then I stepped over him. The other two guards got out of my way.

In the middle of the room was a wooden table so old Jesus probably used it at The Last Supper. On top of the table was the lifeless body of Osama bin Laden. The real one. Not the decoy the SEALS unceremoniously tossed over the side of a boat.

I stepped closer. They hadn't even bothered to clean him up. I took out a pair of scissors and clipped a lock of his hair. It was filthy. I put it into a small plastic baggie and sealed it.

"Did he have any last words?" I asked my interpreter, conversationally. But I really didn't care. I was just distracting myself from what I had to do next. With a cardiac syringe I took a sample of his blood directly from the source. "I mean, besides, 'Don't kill me!'"

"He vowed to come back. To revenge himself upon his enemies. You know, the usual camel dung."

"Is that a fact?" I said, my mind a million miles away. I put away the blood and hair samples. Just one more thing to do. I forced open his jaw. It was easier than I expected. In fact, it took no force at all. Using several sterile cotton-tipped applicators-Q-Tips-I swabbed the inside of his cheek. I couldn't help but see his teeth. They all had gold fillings. Every one. I laughed.

"Only the living are rich," I said in Arabic.

My interpreter came closer.

"It would be a shame to let all that gold go to waste," he said, sticking a finger in bin Laden's mouth to take a look for himself. The guards both grunted greedily in the affirmative.

Bin Laden's eyes opened suddenly. They were a dead, milky color. He bit down. Viciously. Like a starving jackal. My interpreter screamed. Blood gushed out of where his finger had once been. The two guards rushed to help. I don't know why they bothered.

Me? I headed for the freight elevator. As I stepped inside I could see bin Laden grab one guard by the head, gouging out the man's eyes with his thumbs. Then he brought the screaming guard closer and took a nasty bite out of his neck. More blood. Everywhere.

Bin Laden was standing, off the table now. He began lumbering toward me. Every step an effort. I looked down. The guard whose kneecap I shattered was trying to crawl inside the elevator with me.

"Mercy," he cried. "Mercy."

Using his own gun, I shot him in the head. A quick death is mercy of a sort. With some effort, I rolled his lifeless body back, out of the elevator.

I pushed the "up" button, and the freight elevator creaked to life. The elevator was slow. It barely moved. I could hear screams all the way up.

Finally, the screaming stopped.

No sooner did I exit the elevator, than it began to descend again. I heard it stop. And then I heard it start to climb back up again. I stepped back and waited. The .45 heavy in my hand. Whoever got off that elevator...

I would be ready.