This is not an original story; it's a scene taken from the Red Dawn movie and turned into a chapter. I made this in order to deal with my obsession with Red Dawn, but also in hopes that if you read this and have not yet seen the movie, I hope this will motivate you to do so. It is about more than just a war, but friendship, tragedy, love, and coping with the losses of war.
"They found us."
The words resound inside their heads. It's ominous—strikes fear into the souls of those unlucky enough to hear the words—like if one were to awake in the middle of the night after hearing a blood curdling scream. Suddenly one is unable to distinguish between reality and nightmares, and that makes one all the more fearful because then how does one know when one is truly safe? Their last resort—their sanctuary—has been discovered by the enemy.
So they run, like they have been doing for the past few days, as if it's the only thing they know how to do because hell, even breathing is becoming more and more difficult to remember. Only a few feet away, they can already hear the purring of the engines and the sounds of a foreign language; they can already see the army vehicles and the slender outlines of human bodies as they file out of the vehicles one after the other. There seems to be a few more people than they anticipated. The edge of the forest that separates the group from the soldiers is starting to come into view, and at this point, Jed realizes they're getting too close for comfort. He lowers his hand, signalling for the others to begin to crouch down. The seven of them do as they're instructed and huddle up against a fallen tree on the ground. They must be at least a good twenty metres away from the cabin, a safe distance. The only down side is it is too difficult to get a clear view on the situation.
"Who has the binoculars?" Jed asks in a hushed voice.
Nervously but hastily, Robert pulls out the pair from his jacket pocket and hands them to Jed, never taking his eyes off of the North Korean soldiers. Jed peers into the binoculars, brings them into focus. Curiosity gets the best of Danny, for he pulls out the other pair he stashed along.
Out of about the twenty or so soldiers that have arrived at the cabin, only six stand apart from them. Jed scans their profiles. He recognizes one of the soldier immediately, with his thin facial hair and polished appearance; it's the general whose car Jed had crashed into while he was fleeing the town. Two other soldiers that Jed doesn't acknowledge stand off to the sides with rifles slung across their chests. Pete is there. Jed figures he must have surrendered to the enemy and ratted out their location in hopes of securing his safety because he's yelling something along the lines of, "they were here, I swear!". A bulky black man in a suit that Jed can't distinguish. And a man in his police uniform, hair so grey and eyes so heavy of a man who has seen troubles way beyond his years: Jed's father.
A speaker phone is handed to the black man by the Korean general and the man takes a step forward, staring at his companions for assurance. A closer look at his face shows the man is greatly troubled, for he is unable to wipe the anguished expression that is etched into his skin.
The speaker phone gives off feedback as the man brings it to his lips. "Boys? Can you hear me?"
"Who is it?" Daryl whispers. His reaction and tone of eagerness would suggest he knows the man but perhaps he is too far away to identify him.
No one says a word. Danny hands Robert the binoculars uneasily so that he may get a glimpse at what is happening. Robert gazes in just as the man continues.
"Boys, I-I've been asked to deliver a message from General Cho."
Cho. So that's the general's name, the one standing proudly beside Jed's father, the one with hands held behind his back and a stern look on his face. He has a far more relaxed complexion compared to when Jed crashed into his car yesterday morning.
Jed would continue his observation, but Robert's jagged breathing quirks his attention. He has a bewildered expression, mouth agape as he barely utters the words, "Daryl, it's your dad."
Horrified, Daryl reaches for the binoculars. Perhaps that's why the man seemed familiar but Jed couldn't put a name to the face. Well, he had been serving in the Marines for the past six years, and after a certain point, everyone seemed unrecognizable to him.
Sure enough, as Daryl looks on at the situation, he lowers the binoculars, defeated.
Mr. Jenkins continues with his announcement. "Listen... If you boys come forward—turn yourselves in now—they have agreed to let you live." The group, upon hearing this information, exchange tense looks, wondering if they should comply with the man. He goes on: "Please, we promise nothing will happen to you."
Daryl fidgets against the tree, staring at his father. "I'm going," he finally says.
"It's a lie," Jed warns, "your father has given into them, he isn't himself."
"Yeah, well, that's my dad. What am I supposed to do?" His voice is becoming louder, hinting at his confliction, but Jed only scowls at him and it's enough to keep Daryl quiet as he watches on once again.
Daryl's father remains gazing out into the forest that still refuses to exhibit any movement of life, other than the leaves that sway with the wind. In a desperate attempt to get a response, he calls out pleadingly: "Daryl? Son?" Daryl's eyes widen at the sound of a loved one calling his name, yearning for the distance between them to vanish. "I'd really like it if you could come home..." The words cut like a knife. Daryl looks away, ashamed, and returns the binoculars to Robert.
After doing all he can with no response, Mr. Jenkins hands the speaker phone to Mr. Eckert, who steps up to take his place, formulating what message he wants to get across, and Jed silently hears Matt breath the word 'dad'. Dad, the only one they have left.
"Boys," their father begins, "I don't know if you can hear me, but listen up." There's a pause. "I know that you have some difficult decisions to make... But I want you to do what I would do..." His eyes flutter up to the sky and Jed wonders if he's asking their mother for guidance. Jed already knows what his father would do. He glances over at Matt, who is trembling. Mr. Eckert continues. "I want you to go to war, or die trying." He points a finger at General Cho. "And kill this piece of shit!" The words echo, hanging in the air, and Matt holds his breath, watching for the general's reaction. Tears fill their father's eyes as he sobs, "I love you both."
He hands the speaker back to Daryl's father but they both know no more words are going to be said.
Cho looks at Mr. Eckert, his expression remaining the same stern expression, despite being invoked, and ponders for a moment. Finally, he pulls the handgun from his belt. Matt whimpers, terrified, knowing there's nothing he can do to save his father. Cho holds the gun aimed at Eckert's head. Yet, no matter how much one may plead, pray, wish, or hope, one does not always get what they want.
The trigger is pulled. The shot is fired. Their father crumples to the ground.
And as his father falls, Matt bolts upright, trying to make a dash to his father's sunken body as he cries out, but Jed quickly slaps a hand over his mouth and pulls him to the ground. Jed desperately tries to get his brother to calm down, but that's a difficult thing to manage when his eyes can no longer hold back his tears and his voice cracks when he speaks. It had happened so quickly. It is a bizarre and unnatural event to see; a person's soul leave their body. He doesn't want to look back at the remains of his father. Never has Jed felt so powerless as he does right now. So he clutches onto Matt for dear life, knowing that if he doesn't, he might run back to their father as well. He clutches onto Matt for dear life because now, he is the only thing Jed has left.
Daryl and Robert have both given up watching the soldiers as well, and Toni watches over the Eckert brothers, trying her best not to cry. The cabin illuminates a soft glow as the rest of the North Korean soldiers begin to set it on fire, Mr. Jenkins and Cho climbing back into the vehicle and driving away.
There is no longer anyone to rely on. They must wage a war.