THE NIGHTMARE WAS ALWAYS the same. Jeremiah Munro, a young soldier with the American Expeditionary Force in France. The time – September of 1918, the eve of the final bloodbath that history will remember as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive….
He is crawling out of a trench filled with blood and mangled, burned flesh and bone that were once human beings. Walking across the desolation that is No Man's Land, he holds his rifle in front of him.
Heavy fog and acrid smoke, with the sharp scent of cordite mingling with the of decaying flesh, assaults his nostrils. It causes his eyes to sting. He cannot see far – but he hears the rumbling ahead, growing louder...louder...
Out of the smoke and fog, a large, heavy machine emerges. Jeremiah recognizes it as a German Type A7V tank. It stops in front of him, its front cannon aimed squarely at his chest.
The hatch opens. A sinister red glow can be seen, like the fires of hell. A head begins to emerge. The hair is black and silky...the face, that of a beautiful Oriental woman with eyes that are innocent, yet compelling.
She looks down at Jeremiah. There are tears in her eyes. She cries out in French, “Jere...pour quoi?”
Jeremiah falls to his knees, dropping his rifle. “Minnie,” he says, “sweetheart...I – I didn't know...”
Suddenly, the beautiful Asian girl is transformed into a bleeding, decaying vision of hell, with glowing red eyes and a wide mouth with jagged teeth dripping blood. A voice, not of this world, thunders in Viêt: “TĄI SAO ANH LĄI GIÊT TÔI?!?”
Jeremiah does not speak nor understand the language...but its meaning explodes in his head: “WHY DID YOU LET ME DIE?!?”
Why did you let me die, Jere...?
It was this nightmare from which the Reverend Jeremiah Munro awakened, screaming.
He came to, shaking and sweating, looking at his surroundings. It was an office...over six thousand miles and nearly thirty-two years distant...
The door opened and Reverend Chun, the senior pastor of the First Chinese Baptist Church of Port Lewis, Oregon, looked in. “Brother Jeremiah...is everything all right? What's going on?”
Jeremiah looked up. He had come down to the church office earlier to finish the sermon he would be delivering the next day. He looked at his watch. 11:35 PM. “I – I'm sorry...I – must have been dozing off...”
Reverend Chun, who had on his grey overcoat and fedora nodded. “Go home, Brother Jeremiah. Get some rest. We'll see you in the morning.” With that, he turned and left.
Afterward, Jeremiah could barely remember leaving the church, or the drive home through the darkened streets of Port Lewis. He remembered thinking he saw Minnie on the front porch of the parsonage, but was never completely sure.
He didn't even remember falling down on his bed, still fully-clothed, falling asleep on top of the quilt...