Secrets of the Cave
As Virgil entered the gloomy cave, the crate, soaking wet from the downpour outside, slipped from his grasp. He stumbled to his knees. A sharp crack resonated through the cave as Kodama pulled the trigger. A Shooting pain in Virgil’s left side sapped his remaining energy as the bullet entered his side. His emaciated old body crumpled onto the dusty stones. There was an ominous ‘crack’ as his skull fractured. A trail of blood seeped from under him—the close range shot had shattered his kidney and punctured his lung. The young Japanese ofﬁcer pointed his still smoking Nambu pistol at one of the younger men cowering in the corner. “You! Pick it up.” The lad scrambled forward to take Virgil’s place, trying to stay alive at least for a few more minutes. Breath came in painful gasps for Virgil, but he could still see what was happening around him. The screams of his youngest daughter, Racquel, ﬁlled the air. Other villagers cowered in the nooks and recesses of the cavern.
“No. Please, I beg you, no. No hurt me, please.” Her broken sobs fractured her feeble English. She was less than ten feet from him, but there was nothing he could do for her. She lay on the ground in a state of near undress, with ﬁrm hands holding her writhing body. The sergeant and his men laughed as if drunk. Two of them held an arm each. She’d lost her blouse in the tussle and her breasts wobbled as she struggled. “Hold her. How can I do it if she won’t keep still?” barked the sergeant. The exertion and the heat made the fat and balding man sweat. Virgil’s head now lay on the ﬂoor with blood dripping from the corner of his mouth, his eyes wide open facing the appalling scene. The third soldier wrestled with the struggling girl’s skirt, but her squirming made it difﬁcult and he lost patience. Bunching the ragged cloth to one side with his ﬁst, he sawed through the material in seconds; the nakedness of the girl was complete. She sobbed with shame at her nudity. Blood oozed from the cut in her side; his knife had slashed her as he stripped away her clothes. Virgil did not die soon enough. As his sight faded, he saw his daughter’s futile ﬁght. She raised her head to see the lifeless body of her father and sobbed louder. “I sorry, Father - I so sorry,” she wailed as the sergeant loomed over her.
Hito inserted his sword expertly between her shoulder blades bringing her suffering to an end. Lieutenant Kodama surveyed the bloody scene. “Quickly, get the rest inside, You know what to do. Search the forests— don’t let these animals get away.” His soldiers ﬁnished off the remaining villagers and carried the limp remains inside, piling them up like animal carcasses next to the stacked wooden cases. A few men broke off and ran to the forest to make sure none had escaped. The village was now empty. Chickens and goats wandered aimlessly. Earlier in the day the villagers had prepared a meal for the soldiers, and it was still laid out on tables in the village square. The starving men did not waste the roasted meat. They hadn’t eaten well for a week.