R.I.P. Van Winkle part I

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R.I.P. VAN WINKLE

AN UNDEAD JOURNEY THROUGH WASHINGTON IRVING’S CLASSIC

BY JOSEPH A. COLEY

© 2013 JOSEPH A. COLEY

            When I was a kid, I got an illustrated version of Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle that quickly became one of my favorite stories.  It was the waking up in an unfamiliar setting I think that drew me to like the story as much as I did.  I read and re-read the story over and over, each time getting just as much pleasure out of the tale.  As I got older, I never lost the love for Rip Van Winkle, and having written my Six Feet From Hell series, I thought that I’d give the remake a try…well here it is.  I hope you enjoy reading the serial novel of R.I.P. Van Winkle over the course of the next year, as it will be released in bi-monthly installments, and please check out my Six Feet From Hell series books.  If you love zombies, you will love my works.  Thanks, and enjoy!

Halloween, 2013

Joseph A. Coley

PART ONE

The Adirondacks are cold.  The misfit section of the Appalachians stretch into Canada, funneling the arctic cold into the United States across its dome-like peaks.  They are not just cold, but cryogenically frozen kind-of-cold.  In the middle of winter, it was no problem for Mother Nature to drop the idyllic scenery down into the negative teens and toss a thirty-mile-per-hour wind chill for good measure.  The kind of freezing temperature would make you wonder how those steaks in your freezer felt.  An unbearable, stinging, biting chill that almost literally left you breathless and wishing that you had stuffed an entire bucket of hot coals into your boots.  It was icy enough to freeze time dead in its tracks. 

Many who traversed this section of the Adirondacks did so very carefully, or against their will.  It was a cold, forbidding area, especially in the midst of a terrible winter that had seen the mountains covered in snow since late November.  None of that mattered to the men of the men of the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division.  They were the masters of the extreme weather here in upstate New York.  They were well versed in the ways of the northern stretch of the Appalachian Mountains that extended from Buffalo to Fort Drum.  The fort was the home base for the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, the roughest and most combat seasoned unit in the Army’s arsenal.  They had taken on the mountains of Afghanistan, the hilly, muck-infested terrain of Kosovo, the searing heat of Iraq, and the oppressing heat and humidity of Haiti.  They were salty.

None of the soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, or “Spartans,” was more dedicated to their job than Master Sergeant Geoffrey Irving.  Irving had joined the 10th Mountain in 1998, shortly before being deployed in Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  He’d seen it all, done it all and lived to tell it all.  He was the wily veteran who knew his way around every situation as well as he did the nomenclature of his M4.

It had been his last tour in Afghanistan that had shaken him and made him rethink his options in the military.  He’d lost more men in the last tour then all the others combined.  One especially sore spot was the loss of a lifelong friend nicknamed “Crayon.”  Crayon had been an easygoing, strong-but-silent soldier.  He’d earned his nickname from an absentminded conversation about filling out his enlistment papers in the waxy pastel colors of Crayola.  Like most odd nicknames in the military, it stuck. 

Crayon would give you the shirt off his back and never ask for a favor in return.  He was an odd type for the military, quiet and reserved.  He preferred sitting by himself, staying at home alone, or enjoying an occasional fishing day with Rip.  Rip and Crayon had an understanding that many in the military had forgotten.  Rip understood as much as Crayon did that it was about the man next to you and taking care of them, putting yourself above others.  Crayon never drank or smoked, preferring that his body be as well maintained and as clear as his mind.  Rip sorely missed him, adding to the pain of the traumatic stress that he endured.

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