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“For once there was heaven, deep in the jungles of Vietnam hidden behind the monstrous coconut trees. You will find signs of El Dorado, the land of gold. Because, long ago this was the most productive gold mine in history. There’s a railway line which isn’t quite a railway line, because either way round you’d reach the same place. Down here you won’t be a man sane enough to talk to the world but you’d be man enough to listen to yourself. I lie here in the jungles of hell, waiting for the train to come and take me to heaven. Because long ago there was gold here and now only darkness, the railway line will take you there into the vast fields of nothingness. I was a man once and I am a man now. I man enough to call myself a man.

34 miles North East, inside the jungles of Nap Bang you’ll find what man has craved the most. Farewell my dear soldier because once you find it, you won’t be going back.”
 – Sgt. Walter Brooks.

“Jim, are you sure this is what it means? Don’t you, don’t you think this is a bit paradoxical?”
“It is, but that’s what’s in there doc, his coding is a bit erratic here and there but this is the exact translation of the code he sent to USAF Y-12 over Halong bay.”
“Did he use the standard encryption procedure?”
“He did to an extent but he was in some sort of a hurry, as there are innumerable mistakes”
“And you don’t think that he followed a different encryption procedure”
“No, because then the crew on Y-12 couldn’t have decrypted it.”
“But isn’t the message a too distant? I mean, too poetic for normal, rationed soldiers in the sky to understand?”

“It is. But probably the message wasn’t intended for the air fleet doc, it must’ve been intended for another receiver in that area and the Y-12 must’ve received it accidentally”
“He didn’t use any destination code?”
“No. That’s what is puzzling me, all radio transcripts should have a destination code and Sergeant Brooks didn’t follow the protocol”
“So, the message could’ve been for somebody else other than the Y-12, is that what you’re saying?”

“Yeah… But doc the thing that’s puzzling me is the fact that he mentioned a gold mine, what does the US army got to do with it?”
“The gold mine. Probably the army must have busted out one of Charlie’s mint, there have been no accounts of any mint that has been captured but yes there have been a lot of attempts to get on under control”
“A mint in the middle of the jungle?”
“The Viet Cong must’ve had no other option; security is must’ve been their first priority”
“Hmmm… So what about this?”
“This gives us additional information about a mine in the jungles. The government here denies the existence of any such mines and so do the people. I think we should go on take a look ourselves”
“What if this transcript is a fake?”
“I don’t think so. Who’ll hide a fake transcript three feet down in the ground”
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Sergeant Walter Brooks. This man led the last mission the US army ever carried out on Viet Cong’s mints. The last mission where eight soldiers went missing. This incident went on to be quoted as one of American Army’s most flawed mission in the ‘Nam. I’m standing here in ‘Nam at the Cong’s old military base in Nap Bang. It was almost empty for us to find anything, well at least until Leslie decided to dig. 

                                              Vietnamese had a thing with burying, they buried everything under their ground, I even doubt that Charlie’s secret air base was situated somewhere underground. So after Leslie finished his digging, we found some interesting artifacts which were quite sensitive in nature. Had the US army captured this base a year before then the war would’ve been easier to win. Amongst them I found an old, battered file which read, highly confidential. And just like any other person, the title intrigued me and I went on to rip it off. I expected some botched off plan to kill the American president but it was something different. It just a paper full of codes. I asked Max whether he could decrypt it or not and within a few seconds he got his gear out and started decrypting the letter. Till then Sergeant Brooks was the last thing on our minds, but then suddenly we were all interested in it. We were in Vietnam to find a gold mine in the middle of the jungle, which apparently had a tremendous amount of gold which America wanted to exploit. Yes sir, we had our tails high up in the air when we read the letter. The Y-12 was bomber a few seconds after in decrypted its last transmission. And it held a clue to where the mine was situated.
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Max, Leslie, Prius, Monk, Adrian and me set out into the forests of Nap Bang in the morning. We were in our trekking gear as, walking in forests of Vietnam didn’t exactly mean forests, but it meant climbing over small hillocks and crevasses. Mosquitoes the size of leeches hit our faces like pieces of clay. To add to our woes it started raining heavily and down here in ‘Nam, standing in the rain for five minutes is enough to get ourselves eroded in the rain. Leslie and Prius called for a break and we had to stop. There was a big toe shaped rock which was sitting on another stone at an angle which saved our day. We sat under it and shared a cigarette. It rained and it rained and there were no signs of it stopping.

“Is this fucking thing going to stop?”
“I guess yeah, every piss bitch will stop oozing sometime”
“Uh?”
“Guys! Hold it. I think we’ve to stay here for the rest of the day, get your tents out, it’s camping time”

There was enthusiasm in the guys to find what’s in store for them after the trail. I didn’t want to dampen that and I joined in too, we smoked some pot and retired for the day hoping that the rain would be satisfied by the water job it gave us. And should it be satisfied? Oh yeah!
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There was a drizzle the next day morning, it was slight and we thought we could start again.
“Oi Prius, hand me that rope there, we need to tie it up to that rock there”
“Help yourself; you want the 50 meters one?”
“That’d do”

Monk was an expert rock climber. And he was the unofficial leader of the pack for this expedition. Due to yesterday’s heavy water bashing the soil became loose and climbing up with the help of poles became a risky proposition. Monk suggested that we should throw a rope over one of the rocks above us and then climb up with the help of the rope. He made a lasso and threw it over the rock, but he couldn’t get a firm grip. He tried and tried and in the tenth attempt he decided that the rope won’t give away.  He nailed down the last piece of the rope to the ground and started climbing up. He was halfway up when his pole broke into two and all of a sudden he lost his grip. The trip was enough for him to lose the grip of the rope and he fell backwards in a long arc onto the toe shaped rock. We could hear him scream and then there was blood on Max’s face. Without even looking I was sure that Monk was no more. And when Adrian scaled up the rock an hour later, he brought down Monk and his jaw, with the tongue still attached to it.
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“Revere this bridge as this is the bridge to heaven. Without which you mortal soldiers will be sinking in the land of the dead. Look neither left nor right as the path that lies straight is yours alright. Revere the bridge O mortal soldier, ‘coz minus its help you’ll be dead alright.”

“What the fuck is this supposed to mean?”
All eyes were looking at me. How the fuck was I supposed to know?
“Max, are you sure that’s what it means?”
“Yes doc. It’s quite creepy you know, it’s rhyming even after translating and the Vietnamese is a bit different”

“Are you sure about it? This looks like a trap to me”
We left Monk’s body below the rock and paid the last respects. We were mot in the mood to proceed ahead but the promise of gold ignited our cause. We changed our route and took less dangerous paths and finally walked 10 miles until we reached a sign which told us about a bridge that lie ahead.

Max’s translation was quite shocking. The person who put up the sign there knew that English speaking people would come to that point. But there’s a probability that Sgt. Brooks put up that sign, he was a man who knew both the languages. What intrigued me is that the usage of the word ‘heaven’. It seemed familiar, and I was curious to know what lay in store for us on the other side.

“I think it’s here to scare people away, are we not men? Let’s move up boys, one after the other”
We walked a few meters ahead and we could hear the sound of water from the dense foliage.
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The bridge came as a shock for us. The wild mountain stream flowed capriciously beneath the bridge made of the barks of three coconut trees tied together. A fall from the bridge into the river meant instant death as the countless little rocks looked tenaciously towards us awaiting our 20 foot fall.

“Guys!” I shouted. “We must move in a file and this going to be very tricky”
 I expected the group to agree in unison but I didn’t hear any answer. I looked back; there was something on their faces which gave away their answers. It was fear .

“Doc, I think we won’t be able to do this”
“What?”
“The bridge, it’s too dangerous, I think we should find an alternate route”
With everyone belching out the same opinion I had to ask.
“So who’s with me here?”
Three hands went up; Adrian looked at me and said “If it is necessary Doc”

And we’ve decided to split. There’s always something right in the human conscience. At least that’s what my life long experience suggested.
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The three of them left under the condition that they’d send us regular updates through the radio. Adrian and me got ready for the testing act. We’ve decided that I’d be the first one to cross the bridge. I slowly climbed onto the log and spread my hands perpendicular to my body like a rope walker. I felt like I was falling down, but I somehow made it till the end where I hopped on to the other side. It wasn’t easy, just that I didn’t look down. If I were to look down, then I’d be a dead man. Adrian followed behind with his arms wide apart just like mine. But a few feet after he started the rope which connected the three barks gave away, and snap, the bridge fell down like a house of cards. There was a splash of crimson in the water and there were no shouts for help and by the sign on the other side I knew that Adrian wasn’t going to live. I panicked and reached out for my radio only to realize to my horror that my radio was with Adrian.
Fuck!
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I stood rooted on the spot for over an hour. When the mosquitoes reminded me that I was alive. I turned around to see what the heaven was all about. Darkness, trees and mosquitoes. That’s it? I moved a bit forward and then something hit my foot pretty hard. I looked down and for a moment I knew that I was on the right track. No, no. I was on the railway track. The one which led to…
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“Hell. Welcome to hell, soldier. As there is no realm of hope on the land you tread upon. Because there is no blood to sanctify you. But there is the hope of gold that will bless your soul, to come deep into the monster’s lair. For you are without food and without hope. You are without water to drink and a soul to talk to. The horror of the deeds you’ve done is all you will see because for the doors of heaven to open you have to see what you’ve done. You will stay alive and you will pray. And ask God to send a train to take you away. The station you’re standing has a door that’ll open the heaven for you as the difference between heaven and hell is just a thin straight line. From that deafening pain you’ll pray for death as many of the insane have asked for the same. You were a man once and you are a man now. Are you man enough to call yourself a man now? ‘Coz the horrors will haunt you as you plead for death but you will open the doors of heaven and wait for it. The train won’t come and you will not go. You will just wait here and watch time go slow”

The big, black board welcomed me with this wonderful message. It was a station alright, it was no mint. But what’s with the door?

“Hello!”
Nobody answered. I looked around, nobody. I climbed up the platform and walked towards the door. Something lay behind them that’ll bring me pain. What’s that? I am not a person who’s easily fooled by signs and superstitions. I went ahead and pushed the door open.
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The room smelled of dust and I couldn’t see a thing. There we no windows and there was something that was blocking me from moving ahead. I took out my matchbox and struck a match and then I knew with whom I was fighting. The room was as big as a football field and it had corpses in military uniform spread all around. A pile of them formed a barricade which prevented me from moving ahead. And the walls were full of brown lettering and all of them read the same, “Please kill me”. And I fell down dead. Or did I?
“You will just wait here for the train of the dead to come. As you’ve opened the doors of heaven but you’re the evil one”


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The Viet Cong used innumerable backlash operations to kill the overly powerful Americans. One of the main reason was that they just didn't have the technology and fire power as the Americans. What did they do? They lured the guileful American's into their own vicious, horror traps. They led them into a jungle to be left alone, lured by an urban legend. They knew what humans fear the most. Loneliness and death. And when combined both of them simply lead to insanity and  finally to death. A gruesome way of torture that was enough to distract the tactical American's after the war. Revenge, is what they wanted. For all the horrors they've committed to the land and their children.  

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Note: For all I know, this didn't happen :)
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