I only stood still on the porch of horrors a mere moment. A scream of anger, a wail of pain and a howl of effort ripped through the tiny house and jolted me into action, any action.
The only thing I knew I wouldn't do is go in the water. At the first beat of the bellowing I lept back to the porch from which I came. The reassuring dryness of the porch encouraged me to continue. I raced across that porch and lept to the next and the next, back to the house from which I began. The familiarity of the porch reminded me of my mission, to find my soldier and bring her back.
The confusion and indecision returned. Then I heard it, the singing. I paused, cocked my ears. It was the same as before, Islamic tones and rhythm, Gregorian progressions, but unknown language. I could hear that there were words now, but I couldn't distinguish what they were let alone what language they could be. There was something more as well. It was just starting, the sound of flutes, I suspect pan flutes because they didn't sound as sophisticated or as in tune as modern flutes.
I turned my head one way, then the other to zero in on the sound, to determine from where it came. On the second sweep my eyes slammed on the brakes of my head.
Across the street on the house facing me was a spraypainted X as we had seen earlier, but this one was queer. At first it was only a feeling I had, an unrightness about it. Then I realized. Normally they give a date at the top, the unit doing the search is identified in the left hand space, who they found in the bottom space and hazards in the right hand space.
This one had a date and time in the top space, an address on the left side, some gibberish words in the right side and on the bottom it said, "All!" The date was the day I was looking at it and the time. I couldn't be sure what time it was then so I looked down at my watch. The time on the X was the same as the time on my watch. As my wide, disbelieving eyes crept back up at the house with the X, and the distant choir grew louder my eyes caught a fleeting glimpse of a moving body, a moving, BDU clad female body splashing through the putrid water away from me.
"Brown!" I shouted at the top of my lungs, but she didn't seem to hear me.
I took a step forward, my instinct to go after her taking the initiative before my fear of the sewage slop covering the ground. My second step was hesitant so that I didn't quite launch myself off the porch, but tottered on the edge as fear lurched up and took hold of my legs.
My eyes darted away from Brown to scan the porch and yard before me. At just the instant I would have tumbled into the rancid dark waters I twisted and heaved myself toward the four foot tall fence that surrounded the yard. The fence was a sturdy wooden one with a wide handrail top. It took my weight with only a slight give. I danced along it like an NFL receiver trying to get to the tree that had fallen across the front of the yard from the parkway. Had I made the tree I might have had a chance of tip toeing along the unstable branches to the hood of a nearby car and onto another. Where I would have gone from there I knew not, but the matter was moot, since I could not even keep my balance all the way to the tree.
My arms and one leg windmilled, I gritted my teeth and strained every muscle within the planted leg to try to pull myself back upright, to no avail. As I fell my free leg seemed to have more sense than I myself had, as it instinctively found a solid, flat landing space and stuck it.
In an instant I found myself with one leg soaked and immersed to the knee.
The house of the horror released another bellow of anger from the occupant, the water moved in a tidal fashion and I put the second leg down, the better to jump back onto the fence.
I was so rattled and so anxious that I put all I had and did a standing vertical leap over the four foot fence, entangling myself in the small, downed parkway tree.
I grunted and struggled against the clinging, grabbing branches, leaves and thorns until something clasped my left wrist and wrenched me free.
I flew backwards through the air and out of the tree, yanked by some unknown force.