Get Me Back to Oceanside
Thomas Calabrese –In 2010, an experimental drug was seized in Florida and a few other places around the world. It was a synthetic concoction called Pyrrolidinopentiophenone or Alpha-PVP and was sold as a whitish or tan powder similar to cocaine. In 2012 the drug became more potent and was called Gravel by drug cartels and street users. A few minor changes were made in 2013 and the name was changed to Flakka and caused hallucinations and rage. None of the previous three formulas were anywhere near as dangerous as the one that hit the market in late 2015. A very tiny amount could create excited delirium and extreme paranoia in anyone that inhaled it. The reason that it was so popular was that if it was injected in the bloodstream it would send the user into an intense state of euphoric bliss that could last eight to twelve hours. This was much, much longer than either cocaine or heroin.
A group of anarchists sprayed ‘Hacksaw’ during the Octokerfest celebration in Munich, Germany. For three days, there were riots in the street. Everybody was fighting and it didn’t matter if they were family or best friends, individuals would attack each other as if they were bitter and lifelong enemies. When the effects of the drug had worn off, no one who had been exposed to Hacksaw could remember what happened around them or what they had done. Millions of dollars was looted from banks and financial institutions during the melee.
Sergei Mengala’s heritage was formed in the bowels of hell. On his father’s side, his great- grandfather was Josepf Rudolf Mengala, the ‘Demon of Death’. He was a SS officer, physician and close confidant of Adolph Hitler during World War II. Jospef Mengala became infamous for his gruesome experiments on captured Allied prisoners and innocent civilians. He was a leader of a team of doctors who selected victims to be executed and was equal parts evil, merciless and bloodthirsty. On Sergei’s mother’s side, Ivan Brukhtanko was a Soviet physician, biomedical scientist and technologist during the Stalinist era. His experiments were brutal, heartless and he was known for his freakish experiments that involved decapitating humans and putting them on life support then conversing with the heads for hours. They say that there is a fine line behind genius and insanity and Bruktanko straddled that line for years until he was hanged for being a war criminal and mass murderer.
You would think that anybody with this type of ancestry would do everything in their power to keep it a secret and maintain a low profile, but that was not the case with Sergei Mengala. From the time he was a boy, Sergei felt a sense of pride that drove him incessantly to exceed his family’s dubious accomplishments. He was a very intelligent and obsessed individual, a combination that lead him to study biomedicine and chemistry at Tomsk University, the oldest university in Siberia.
After graduation, Sergei began working for the KGB, Russia’s spy agency in their chemical warfare division in 2017 and began to make a name for himself with his innovative research.
Five years later and it was now January 2023. The previous year had been a tumultuous one for the world to the say the least. There was the war in Ukraine, China was saber rattling in the South China Seas and expanding its influence into Africa. North Korea’s was routinely launching missiles in the vicinity of Japan and there was a migrant invasion at the Southern Border as well as a dramatic increase in human and drug trafficking.
There was rampant crime in cities all over the United States and the divisive environment in Washington was having a demoralizing effect on the citizens of the country. It also didn’t help that inflation was high and a recession looked inevitable. Don’t forget the ongoing effects of COVID-19 which had a devastating effects on the global economy and disrupted the supply chain. The last thing that people needed was more bad news.
Sergei determined that if he put in Scopolamine into Hacksaw it would dramatically increase the strength of the user, take away their free will and make them impervious to pain. This discovery endeared him to Vladimir Putin who thought it had great possibilities, but wanted to be sure. He ordered Mengala to prepare some men for an attack on an American Special Forces unit working with Congolese soldiers, “I want to see how our men perform against America’s best.”
Mengala traveled to Africa with a group of Russian mercenaries and injected them with the drug before they began their attack. The assault was recorded with a video camera and the footage proved that the Russian mercenaries fought fearlessly against the Americans to their last breath often taking ten or more bullets before dying. When the Americans looked at the dead bodies after the battle, every corpse had a smile on his face.
When information of the suicidal attack reached command, autopsies were performed on the dead attackers and the results were sent to the Pentagon. This created great concern among the higher ranks of military leadership so when the Joint Military Chiefs met, General Ed Deline commented, “The floor is open, gentlemen.”
Admiral Dan Holman turned to the man sitting to his right, “This is Doctor Matthew Renton, he’s a forensic pathologist and analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency. “Doctor Renton, please tell everyone what you found out during your autopsies of the dead combatants.”
“Their bodies were severely overheated and our toxicology reports showed a variety of narcotics in their systems including Alpha-PVP, methamphetamine and Scopolamine. If they had not been killed by our forces, they would have eventually died from massive organ failure unless they were cooled down very quickly.” Doctor Renton explained.
Admiral Holman asked, “Any idea on who might be responsible?”
“Sergei Mengala,” Doctor Renton responded, “He has the skills, equipment and the complete backing of Putin. Our Intel has confirmed that he’s been working on creating a super-soldier for a while. This could have been a trial run and a sign of things to come.”
“I do not like the sound of that?” General Deline added, “Russian soldiers are already brutal. Imagine what the world would look like if Putin unleashed a couple hundred thousand drug induced bloodthirsty maniacs on the world. We need a solution in a hurry.”
“John J. Colton,” Doctor Renton interjected.
“I’ve heard that name before…refresh my memory on who he is,” General Deline said.
Doctor Renton started to explain, “John J. Colton was a Recon Marine who was severely injured while on patrol in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan when a meteor hit near him. He was in a coma for three months and when he awakened his body had undergone significant changes including body chemistry and mental acuities. I was part of a medical team that was assigned to evaluate him. One of the changes is his ability to produce four times the amount of adrenalin that a normal human can create. His adaptive immune system instinctively releases strong antibodies against pathogens. The autonomic nervous system has two branches; the sympathetic and parasympathetic. The parasympathetic system is sometimes called the ‘rest and digest’ system. It conserves the body’s energies and recovery system. The sympathetic system is also called our ‘fight or flight’ response. These systems were vital to our ancestors who had to remain vigilant about personnel safety. The fact that Colton can affect both these systems at will is something that science is still trying to understand. He has a superhuman control over his mind and body. Colton has something that medicine and psychiatry do not, which is a natural way to deal with pain and discomfort. He has achieved a long list of tremendous physical and mental feats under the most extreme conditions.”
General Deline said, “Now I remember, he sounds like he’s just the man that we need. Where is he now?”
“He has a facility in Oceanside, not far from Camp Pendleton. He works with Special Operators and extreme athletes,” Doctor Renton replied.
“This is a matter of national security, tell him that his country needs him,” Admiral Holman said.
When Doctor Renton arrived at the Expanding Limits facility, John Colton was instructing six men and six women in the proper method of breathing while sitting in tubs of ice. When John saw Doctor Renton, he told his students, “You have 30 more minutes…stay focused.”
Doctor Renton followed John into his private office.
“I know this isn’t a social call, what’s on your mind?” John Colton asked.
“Sergei Mengala,” Doctor Renton said, “The country is currently at Defcon 4.”
John shook his head in resignation, “Five years ago when I told people in the government about Mengala, they told me there were higher priorities. Using the tried and true philosophy of ignoring a problem until you can’t ignore it anymore, they now want to deal with Mengala when he’s stronger, more powerful and more dangerous.”
“We can go down the road of should have, could have or would have, but it won’t do any good. We’re in the here and now,” Doctor Renton said.
“You’re right, you had nothing to do with it. What do you want from me now?” John said.
“I need you to take him out,” Doctor Renton said.
“Why not send Special Operations?” John asked.
Doctor Renton answered, “His fortified compound is in Norilsk, one of the most remote towns on the planet, located deep in the northernmost parts of Siberia, within the Arctic Circle. He grew up in the area and his experiments work better in colder climates. It is only accessible by air and there are no roads to connect it to wider Russia, effectively closing it off from the outside world. Because of its strategic importance, Norilsk is heavily guarded by Russian forces. There is another way to get to Mengala’s compound, but it requires traveling long distances over some the roughest terrain the world under very brutal conditions. Special Ops would take the mission if we gave it to them, but you’re the best at dealing with frigid conditions and we can afford to take any chances.”
With Doctor Renton and his group of medical specialists in support, John began intense training for the mission. He would have liked at least two more months to get prepared, but the world couldn’t wait and he was given one week.
Andrea Hickman was a highly skilled CIA mission specialist. She played a video of the terrain on the large wall mounted screen that John Colton would have to traverse and explained how the mission would go. “You’ll do a high altitude low opening jump. Your landing zone is exactly 28.2 miles from Mengala’s compound. On the south side is an opening when a large natural gas pipe enters the facility. You can crawl under the three foot thick wall at this point. Once inside, your first priority is to terminate Mengala and if that is not possible then destroy as much of his laboratory as possible to slow down his research. If you can’t do either of those, then abort and get back to the extraction point. Any questions?”
“What is the weather forecast?” John asked
“Clear, frigid and windy with temperatures in the balmy range of 25 to 35 below zero,” Andrea replied.
While aboard the aircraft, Doctor Renton briefed John about the state of the art insulated exposure suit. “You will be able to control the temperature of your boots, gloves, core and helmet. The heating element is powered by a special battery. Each one is good for 24 hours and you’ll be carrying three. They weigh four pounds each. In your pack, you have special high protein high calorie food, water, ammunition, explosives, compass, transponder and radio. I know that you are used to extreme temperatures, but remember this is not a test to see how much you can endure and you are not here to set records. This is a high priority mission and anything that helps you accomplish your task, then you need to take advantage of it.”
“I understand.” John agreed.
The pilot informed John that they were twenty minutes away from the drop zone and to get ready. He put on his exposure suit and strapped the parachute to his back. His eighty pound pack and his weapon were tightly secured to his front. John could barely walk so two crew members assisted him to the ramp. The green light came on and with a firm push from a crew member, John vanished into the dark skies. He fell for 30 seconds until the altimeter automatically deployed his chute at 2000 feet.
When he touched down, John immediate felt the eeriness of the environment engulf him. It was black, cold and empty, void of sound and light and it felt that he had been dropped into a giant sensory deprivation tank. John put his pack on, checked the digital display on the device strapped to his right forearm. The temperature was 33 below zero and he clicked on his night vision capabilities and proceeded on a Northwest heading.
Considering the distance, temperature, terrain and the amount of gear he was carrying, John calculated that he could travel the 28 miles in 5 hours. To anyone else, the solitude might have been disconcerting or even unbearable, but to John, it had no effect. He slowed down his breathing, adjusted the temperature control on the suit to 20 degrees to conserve power. The former Marine meditated as he walked through the frozen tundra. He sensed the structure even before he saw the lights flickering in the distance. John found the pipeline that supplied fuel to the generators which in turn provided power and heating to the buildings and followed it to the perimeter wall. He took out the pistol with the noise suppressor, six ammo magazines and several C-4 plastic explosive charges and put them in a smaller pack and crawl on the top of the pipe into the courtyard. Several large generators were humming inside a building and John entered through the unlocked front door. He carefully inspected the control panel and thought about his next move. He didn’t want to arouse suspicion or cause a lockdown so anything that he did had to appear to be a mechanical malfunction and not deliberate sabotage. He touched a circuit with the tip of his knife and all the lights went off. Hopefully this would buy him enough time to accomplish his mission before the problem was found and power was restored. John looked at map that was given to him that and headed to the living quarters of Sergei Mengala.
The mad scientist was working on a new formula in his laboratory and drinking vodka when his back-up generator automatically kicked in. Sergei could see the compound in darkness from his window so when there was a knock at the door he yelled out, “What happened to the power?” The knocking continued and Sergei opened it and saw John standing there. He asked, “Who are you?”
John smiled, “I should have done this a long time ago, “John pulled out his pistol and shot Mengala between the eyes and closed the door behind him. On the way out, he set the timers for six hours and planted plastic explosives throughout the lab then left the same way he came in. John was about a half mile away when he saw the lights come back on.
Everything was according to plan until Mother Nature decided to intervene. A once in a century winter blizzard struck Siberia with fury and force. Temperatures dropped to 50 below zero and the wind coming in from the Arctic Ocean gusted to 60 knots. It was impossible for perform any type of extraction until the weather let up so John was on his own.
Two weeks passed and the conditions had only slightly lightened up. When Putin was informed of Mengala’s assassination, he completely locked down the border and the airspace around Siberia.
Andrea Hickman briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “It is our assessment that John Colton is dead. There has been no communication with him for 18 days and it would be impossible for anyone to survive for that length of time in the current conditions in Siberia.”
Admiral Holman reminded his peers, “This was a covert mission and we don’t know anything about this. Is that understood?”
It took 29 days for John Colton to travel 1762 miles to the border. He waited in a ravine until an r Russian patrol left the area before crossing over from Russia to Finland.
Doctor Renton received a phone call and eagerly responded, “I’m on my way.”
John Colton was waiting at the American Embassy in Helsinki when Doctor Renton and Andrea Hickman arrived.
“Did you walk all the way here?” Andrea asked in disbelief.
John replied, “Remember when they asked Forrest Gump about why he started running and he said, I ran to the end of the road and when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow county and I figured, since I ran this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama?”
“Vaguely,” Andrea responded.
“It was kind of that with me, I’d walk a few days, then I thought I might as well walk a few more since I didn’t have anything else to do. Then I started thinking that I must be a lot nearer than further from where I wanted to be so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other while keeping a positive attitude,” John said.
“You’ve got a hell of a story that you’re never going to be able to tell anyone about,” Doctor Renton reminded John, “This is classified.”
“That’s alright with me, from my experience, I have always found it to be more interesting to do something than talk about it later,” John said.
Andrea said, “I told the Joint Chiefs of Staff that you were dead. I’m glad you proved me wrong.”
“Call me a dreamer, but I still like to believe that a noble heart will always be victorious over an evil brain,” Doctor Renton said.
“Most of my experiments are with ice or very cold weather, but after spending 30 days in Siberia in the middle of winter, I’m looking forward to some Southern California weather,” John joked, “So if you have a plane, get me back to Oceanside!”
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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