A mosquito bite his neck, he smacked it, looked at the blood smear on his hand and suddenly he was in the Republic of Congo, on the banks of the Kasai, with about fifty refugees, the tropical sun just about to sink into the jungle. He’d been with them for three days: families, women with children, orphans. Matt wanted the picture of them crossing into Angola and safety so he splashed across the river and up the opposite bank ahead of the group.
Here the river was safe to cross, wide but not deep. They were all in the water, the leaders two-thirds across, when Matt heard the drone of an engine. The helicopter appeared to come out of the sun firing twin M134 six-barrel machine guns. At five hundred rounds per second, per gun, the bullets shredded flesh, leaving bits of bone and cartilage on rocks for the buzzards and washing the rest downstream.
Matt was sure of the gun’s stats. He had to do research for the story that accompanied his photographs.
He closed his eyes. When he opened them, Darshan was walking toward him backlit by the sun and there was that sound – a plane engine. Matt jumped up and ran towards the boy. The plane appeared coming in low along the river. There was no cover, no place to hide. He pushed Darshan to the ground, threw himself on top of the boy and waited for death.
Gradually the sound faded as the floatplane passed heading for the lake.
“Get off me.” Darshan struggled free. “You’re crazy.” He ran toward the house.
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