April 3, 2008

Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 4 (Greyrock: Protect the Oil)

By liam

Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 4 of the my online book “Excited Delirium”. Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index .

“Hey JackMax … I think they’ve set up an IED just around the corner of that building,” Liam Jones shouted to his manager as they drove into the dusty town of Fallujah in their bullet-proof Humvee vehicle. Jones was pointing to a shambles of a building that had been pounded more than once by guns that were miles away.

“All right. We’ll get the military to inspect. No point causing any harm to ourselves,” his partner grinned as he winked at Jones. “I’ll call it in now.”

Jack MacDonald, or JackMax, to his buddies was the supervisor of the small crew of Greyrock employees that were working in Iraq and were a tiny representation of the hundreds of thousands of private contractors that were working in this country since the US led the occupation of Iraq in 2003. On any given day, this unofficial army dwarfed the US forces by a factor of about 2 to 1, a significant change from the first invasion in 1991, when private contractors barely existed.

As JackMax called in his instructions to the US Marine Corp, Jones guided the armored vehicle towards a safe nesting spot where they could watch the action through their scopes and cameras.

Within a few minutes, a small squadron of 10 regular combat soldiers came around the corner on foot, unprotected and with very little armour. They were simply following the orders of their superiors, not knowing that they were basically being used as bait for the insurgents. If the Greyrock crew did their job right, they’d be able to ‘save’ the squadron and win some positive publicity that would help Greyrock land a few more contracts in the future.

As JackMax and his crew waited, he lit a cigar, pounded back a swig of Jack Daniels and laughed out loud to his junior militia. “I swear to all that’s holy, this gig gets better day by day! All we have to do is point out the hot spots and we send in a bunch of chumps that would otherwise be home right now stealing TVs from our bosses to do the dirty work. I don’t know what I’m going to do if this thing every ends!”

“But we all know that won’t happen, right boss?” Jones asked, trying not to show any concern for the duration of his assignment.

“Of course not, you chump! We’ve got the best thing going here: a war without end. This time we’re attacking the dudes that bombed all those pinkos in New York,” MacDonald said callously. “It’s not like ‘Nam, you dumb fuck, where people never saw nothin’ about what was going on except for a bunch of body bags being flown home. We do that in the middle of the night now with no cameras in sight,” he said as he winked again.

As they spoke, the squad of USMC grunts crept alongside the decrepit and destroyed shells of rock that were once home to a number of large families. Yellow plaster and mud that had housed generations of families from the dawn of man were now a little better than a ‘handy-man special’, as the militia called the local buildings after a bombing run.

Today, the reek of rotting corpses made three of the 8 members of the patrol gag as they got closer to their target.

“Here’s a tenner saying that young coloured kid in the rear gets it first,” Jones said as he planted a crumpled $10 bill on the dusty dash of the Humvee, as he did his best to put on a brave face.

“Oh come on Jones, you big pussy!” chirped Underwood, the youngest of the group of four in the vehicle, “here’s a C-note that says the one in front loses an eye and the dude behind him gets a new a-hole.”

“Hey guys, remember what I said about betting on the regulars,” MacDonald said, pausing a little for some drama. “Make sure you bet to win! I bet we only lose three of these pikers today,” he said as he matched Underwood’s bet and raised it by another hundred.

The whole truck shook with the laughter of his comment, and they all put in their cash earned from an hour’s work. Cash that would take any one of the guys in the group that they were watching at least a week to earn.

Everyone – the squadron and the group in the Humvee – paused for a few moments as the air seemed to collapse with a giant breath. In. Out. In. Out.

Complete quiet. Everyone could hear and see the movements of everything else. Even subtle things like the edges of a soldier’s shades or water bottle were reported as flashes from the intense mid-day sun.

The first shot came from above the small alley-way, from an insurgent that was behind the squadron that was trying to sneak up on the IED, or Improvised Explosive Devise, that was identified by the Greyrock crew.

This shot broke the silence and within a few moments, the scene was in complete disarray. Nobody knew what was coming, but they were all about to pay for their encroachment. Four cars exploded around the squadron, which surprised the entire mercenary group as they sat and waited for more insurgents to expose themselves.

JackMax gave the order for everyone to stay in the truck while he casually radioed for support.

The squadron outside was in a shambles. Shortly after the explosions, which were used mainly as a distraction, a missile fired into the group, sending three of the young recruits into the air, parts of their bodies landing in different locations.

JackMax and his team continued to watch, hiding their horror. Within a few moments, Grant, the fourth member of the group shouted out “Hey Underwood! Looks like your boy bought it. You’re out!”

“Hold on a second,” Underwood said calmly. “Let’s wait until this shit settles before we get too excited, ah-ite?”

“OUCH!” Jones shouted as he watched one of the squad members lose a chunk of his shoulder, “That’s gotta hurt!”

The Greyrock team laughed again in the cover of their armour.

“Hey … what’s that?” Underwood said, as he pointed to the top of one of the muddy crumbles of a house.

Before the others could register their opinion, a missile slammed into the hull of the Humvee, shoving it over on its side, like an awkward and drunk giant turtle, heaved upwards by an angry earth.

Underwood and Jones, who were both on the right side, were dead in an instant. It took MacDonald a few moments to get his senses. Even though he was still feeling the shock and was unable to hear anything, he yelled to Grant, who was sitting behind him, to cut his belt buckle so that he could maneuver his way out of the passenger seat.

As he turned his head to bark his order, he could see that Grant was dying and was not going to be of much help. He looked further back, behind Grant’s right ear. The munitions in the rear of the truck were on fire.

“Oh fuck,” he said, shortly before the truck was blasted into a thousand shards of metal.

Greyrock does not disclose the numbers related to the wounded or dead that come out of ‘theatres’ like Iraq, Turkey, various countries in South America, Asia, Africa and now even the United States. It doesn’t have to. It’s a privately held corporation that is currently acting above the law. If the law does catch up to it, the lawmakers change its status or the level of scrutiny because of the profits involved and the none-to-subtle reminder that if private military companies (or PMCs) like Greyrock were coerced into full disclosure, America would cave into revolution.

In Iraq, American kids with nothing better to do, but not quite so desperate that they actually join the US army, are dying by the hundreds each month in Iraq, mainly in an effort to protect the oil lines that were secured with the second landing in 2003.

Iraq was unique, because Saddam and his cohorts were once great friends with people like Rumfeld and Cheney. However, Saddam refused to buy more weapons from the West and also started trading their oil for other currencies, including the Japanese Yen and the Euro.

Embargoes were imposed, but they did nothing to taunt Iraq into attacking its neighbours, so the US opted for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq, a country that sits on more than $1 trillion in untapped oil and gas resources. The rationale for the attack was the abundant supply of Weapons of Mass Destruction, an inventory that could even be proven if various American suppliers were willing to cough up receipts, but in the end, no one was willing to cut off their cash flow.

As the ‘war’ continued, the public started to understand why George W. Bush had announced that the mission was a success: dozens of companies like Greyrock were perpetuating the state of instability in Iraq and they weren’t about to let the last remaining citizens get in the way.

In the process, Greyrock had become America’s largest military subcontractor, and was making billions each year for its owners. Oil revenues were deposited to the coffers of the puppet government brought in by the US and expenses climbed as ‘reconstruction’ bills continued to grow. Iraqis are becoming wise to this unfortunate formula, but they are consistently finding it harder and harder to stand up to world-class bullies who have rockets launchers and spy satellites while they have rocks and sticks.

As Jack MacDonald drew his last few breaths, all he could see was fire. Flames licked at his face, taunting him to try to do something about it with their cruel hot fingers wrapping closer around his life.

It was a fitting revenge for the scenario that “JackMax” had lead himself into.

Fire is oil. It’s all about the burn: oil is fire, rage.

The relation between Jack MacDonald’s last few moments on this planet and our quest for oil are all too simple. We live off of oil and gas and other basic natural resources because we as a species have evolved into a hunter society. We continue to explore, dig, shape and manufacture our world from its raw, natural form and transform it into petroleum products and plastics because in our deepest hearts, we feel we must ‘convert’ something to be satisfied with ourselves. We can’t leave things alone. We feel compelled to burn and destroy before we can enjoy our end product. And each step in the process generates money for someone else. The only one that doesn’t get paid is the earth itself. At some point, a deficit so huge will eat us whole and absorb quicker than we could possibly imagine.

Like roasting a pig on a spit, we burn what we find in our great resource hunt, manipulating and translating the character of the original product to a point where it is unrecognizable, perverted and fractured. Where it is toxic and impure.

It’s a sad turn from the direction we should have taken with renewable energies. If you think of them with the same approach, renewables represent a lost mentality that we had about agriculture and collecting. We harvest the sun, wind, rain, lightning, moon and earth’s temperatures. Of course, they are positioned by the oil industry as unreliable, insecure. But when you read past the propaganda, you realize that they are truly and significantly more reliable because they are infinite in their availability and like the water on the surface of the earth, they can become virtually free to humankind. And if we make a commitment to build things that last, like we used to as Romans, Chinese or Egyptians, we will be able to harness these powers and ride them to a new era of evolution in our economics and political direction. No more wars in the Middle East. No more battles for land for new pipelines. Just thousands of docile and complacent solar panels and wind turbines; vast pipelines collecting heat and cold from the earth’s crust; millions of buoys out in uncharted waters collecting energy from the earth’s tidal movements.

We can harvest the earth’s energy. There’s no longer a need to burn it.

Collecting. Harvesting. Collecting. Harvesting. A full cycle that follows the circadian rhythm of the planet and the path of the universe.

But no. We’ve allowed the hunter and paternalistic consumer and objectivist mentality to invade and destroy our more reliable instinct to plant, grow and reap the benefits of a patient agrarian history.

Our symbols of yesterday were of fertility and growth. Our symbols today are of destruction and ruin.

Crash and burn.

Lights out JackMax. Thanks for defending our oil, you stupid son of a bitch.

(Note: “Excited Delirium” is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)

Read more with Chapter 5

Did you miss a chapter? If so, click here to see all chapters or click here to go to Excited Delirium: Chapter 1 (Prelude)

Creative Commons License

Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .

Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .