The Woodline

Read part one here, part two here, and part three here.

“Hit the fucking Woodline!” SFC Jordan’s voice boomed as I awoke from my peaceful nightmare with a grunt.

“Hit the fucking woodline!” another, more distant voice screamed as I looked at my watch. The 40 other Ranger candidates around me were running around in the darkness trying to find socks and boots. I quickly rolled out of my cold and wet sleeping bag, and I blindly grasped for my gear.

After slipping on my soaked wool socks and jumping into my boots, I ran onward under the full moon alongside my fellow Ranger candidates, desperately trying to reach a dense wooded area 300 meters away from where we had been sleeping. I could hear the groans of agony, cursing, and surprised squawks as Rangers tripped over themselves trying to make it to the woodline and back within our allotted 20 seconds.

“This Cole Range shit fucking sucks,” a Ranger candidate said under his breath as he ran past me. Cole Range was the culminating hellish period of our Ranger selection course, and we were neck-deep in it.

I knew that it didn’t make sense to attempt beating a 20 second time hack. I also knew that if we were getting smoked at 3:04 a.m., it was going to last a little while longer.

As soon as the last Ranger candidate made it back to the starting point, we were repeatedly made to “hit the woodline” due to some Ranger candidate not following instructions. Of course, the instructions were always creatively crafted so that it became impossible to accomplish the mission without error.

“Hold those fucking rucksacks over your heads,” SFC Jordan commanded as he visibly scanned each and every one of us for any sliver of weakness.

Naturally, a candidate drops his rucksack because it was too heavy and we were again made to hit the woodline.

Curtis, this is never going to end, the voices in my head started screaming in conjunction with the throbbing arm, leg, and neck pain I was already feeling. My legs felt like large trash bags filled with water as I limped my way to the woodline, all the while praying that I wasn’t the reason why we needed to hit the woodline a 12th time.

You will be the reason why your RIP class is going to be hitting the Woodline all fucking morning, the voice said with a creepy I-am-going-to-destroy-you laughter that resonated through my cranium and made my ears ring.

“Buddy carry the Ranger next to you,” SFC Jordan yelled at the collective. I turned quickly to my right and placed Doc Melvin over my shoulders and continued to limp back to the starting point.

“Come on Hamer, you got this shit — only 234 meters left,” Melvin whispered into my left ear as the sweat from his head and mine dripped quickly into my stinging and burning eyes. Melvin was 6 ft 3 bald, black guy who enjoyed wearing confederate themed t-shirts and belt buckles and used the phrase “git’er done” because it confused white people. Sweating, panting, and with a long gasp of air, I arrived at the starting point and collapsed with Melvin on a pile of four other Ranger candidates.

The voices in my head took advantage of my exhaustion and decided it was time to beat me down further with a constant barrage of demotivation: YOU WILL FAIL, NIGGER, BECAUSE YOU ARE A DUMB-DUMB, the voices screamed.

I wiped the sweat from my brow and eyes and tried to find my way weakly out of the pile of arms and legs that surrounded me. The smell of sweat from other Ranger candidates made breathing difficult as I tried desperately to get some air.

NO ONE LOVED YOUR NIGGER ASS, NOT EVEN YOUR OWN MOTHER! the voices screamed and taunted me as I clawed my way from under Melvin.

“You motherfuckers want to play fuck-fuck games, huh?” yelled SFC Jordan as he stood over us like a wolf stalking sheep. “Hit the fucking woodline!”

Groans and moans erupted from the Ranger candidates who littered the field like casualties after Pickett’s charge. A few Ranger candidates yelled “Fuck this!” as they decided to call it quits.

After wiping the tears from my eyes and painfully pulling myself up, I started slowly limping towards the line of trees on the far end of the field.

Just quit, motherfucker, these white people don’t give a shit about you, the voices crept into my soul.

“I don’t understand what you want from me!” I yelled as I slapped myself hard enough to experience a momentary bout of dizziness. In my split second of dizziness, Alexis, a crush from my past who incessantly bullied me due to my awful hygiene and my intelligence, materialized.

I hate you because you are a fucking dumb-dumb,” she mouthed the words as her face became distorted and rematerialized as my foster mother. “You stink, nigger, and no one will ever love you”, she laughed. “Quit, nigger, these white people are laughing at you, there are no black nigger Rangers,” the voice masquerading as my biological mother moaned as if struggling for breath.

I clawed at my throat desperately gasping for air. Thousands of images poured into my head like flames out of an open furnace. My memory started to fade as the sights and sounds of Cole Range diminished as my focus weighed heavily on my past.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

I’m so glad you didn’t give up, Curtis. And I hope you know that those awful voices were the worst of liars.

1 year ago

Hopefully, many of those memories have been superseded by memories of the fairy trails with your daughter. I had a kind thought about you a couple of weeks ago as we put together plans to enjoy a Thanksgiving vacation stay in Portree on the Isle of Skye. I’m amazed at your inner strength.

1 year ago

“Melvin was 6 ft 3 bald, black guy who enjoyed wearing confederate themed t-shirts and belt buckles and used the phrase “git’er done” because it confused white people.” – I love this guy, seriously. Anyone that tries to screw with the status quo, you have to admire that on some level.

Did he make it?

Obviously you did, despite the voices. Just sad to wonder if you still hear them. Hopefully not, and that is behind you.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
%d bloggers like this: