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THE ZOMBIE DECEPTION
A Chelmin and Spaulding CID Mystery
The voice in Warrant Officer Will Spaulding’s ears was clear, urgent, and familiar: It belonged to Captain Greg Chastain, his flight instructor.
“Bluebell Four, drop down and take a good, close, look at that area east of Turtle Creek,” Chastain said. “Watch for the high bluff along the southwest bank, it’s got some very tall trees.”
“Roger, Wilco,” said Spaulding. He stood on the left pedal while easing back on the cyclic, watching the stars move across his windscreen and feeling his OH58D Kiowa Warrior, otherwise known as the Bell Advanced Scout Helicopter, slide into a sharp left bank.
At 500 feet, peering through night-vision goggles and mist rising from the forest floor, the terrain appeared in other-worldly shades of greenish-white. There was the creek, on this cold winter night warmer and thus brighter than the wooded land on its banks. Spaulding throttled back, bleeding airspeed as he descended, watching for the bluff that Chastain had warned about.
After crawling along the watercourse for half a minute while at a little more than a hover, he decided that there was something odd-looking about the water. Glancing around to make sure he was clear of obstacles, he descended to a hundred feet. The water was bright, as he expected, but some small areas seemed a little brighter.
At twenty feet over the deep, sluggish creek, he realized that the brighter spots were men—only their heads were above the water. Men floating down the river past the friendlies whose flanks and rear Bluebell Scout Platoon was screening. Spaulding eased back on his collective, slowly ascending as he counted the bright spots below.
At 500 feet, he continued to follow the water, then flipped his radio transmit switch to FM, the tactical frequency.
“Oxbow, Bluebell 4, over,” he said into his lip mic.
The reply was a whisper in his ear: “Bluebell, Oxbow 6 Alfa, go.”
“Swimmers in the creek at your six. I counted eleven. Might be more.”
“Roger. Thanks. Out.”
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