the Blacklight Arrow

David Blacker’s Blog

Fear

It could happen:
Don’t think about it;
Must think about it.
It could happen:
Don’t talk about it;
Must talk about it.
It’s going to happen:
Avoid it;
Can’t avoid it.
It’s happening:
Thought it would;
Said it would.
It happened:
Always knew it would.

— Henry Zeybel. The First Ace

For yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I am the meanest motherfucker in the valley.
— Unofficial motto of the US Army Special Forces.

it was the inability to see that vexed us most. In that lies the jungle’s power to cause fear: it blinds. It arouses the same instinct that makes us apprehensive of places like attics and dark alleys.

Men with active imaginations were most prey to these fears. A man needs many things in war, but a strong imagination is not one of them. In [war], the best soldiers were usually unimaginative men who did not feel afraid until there was obvious reason.
— Philip Caputo. A Rumor of War

Combat spared far more men than it wasted, but everyone suffered the time between contact, especially when they were going out every day looking for it; bad going on foot, terrible in trucks and APCs, awful in helicopters, the worst, traveling so fast towards something so frightening.
— Michael Herr. Dispatches

The soldier’s prayer comes in two versions: Standard, printed on a plastic-coated card by the Defence Department, and Standard Revised, impossible to convey because it got translated outside of language, into chaos — screams, begging, promises, threats, sobs, repetitions of holy names until their throats were cracked and dry, until some men had bitten through their collar points and rifle straps and even their dog-tag chains.
— Ibid

“Quakin’ and shakin’,” they called it, great balls of fire, Contact. Then it was you and the ground: kiss it, eat it, fuck it, plough it with your whole body, get as close to it as you can without being in it yet, or of it, guess who’s flying around about an inch above your head? Pucker and submit, it’s the ground. Under fire would take you out of your head and body too, the space you’d seen a second ago between subject and object wasn’t there anymore, it banged shut in a fast wash of adrenalin.
— Ibid

Some feared head wounds, some dreaded chest wounds or stomach wounds, everyone feared the wound of wounds, the Wound. Guys would pray and pray — Just you and me, God. Right? — offer anything, if only they could be spared that: take my legs, take my hands, take my eyes, take my fucking life, You Bastard, but please, please, please, don’t take those.
— Ibid

I once read a book about a soldier: “He was a soldier and feared nothing. He was big and brave. Death was his friend and helper. He behaved with sureness and confidence as only the brave do”! The writer-sod who wrote that should see us now as we march the steppes, shaking with fear.
— Sven Hassel. Wheels of Terror

For some men, fear was a crippling and destroying emotion, but for those like Sean, it was an addiction. He loved the sensation of fear, it was like a drug, flowing through his veins, heightening all his senses, so he could feel the chequering on the polished walnut stock of the rifle under his fingers and the brush of each individual blade of grass against his bare legs; his vision was so enhanced that he saw it all through a crystal lens that magnified and dramatized each image, he could taste the very air he breathed and smell the crushed grass under his feet and the blood…
— Wilbur Smith. A Time to Die

He felt the shriveling inside him, the involuntary tightening of his scrotum, the male animal’s first primitive response to unexpected danger.
— Eric Van Lustbader. Jian

Fear is a woman… with all the myriad faces and voices of a woman. Because she is a woman and I am a man I must keep going back to her…

I know she is evil, I know that after I have possessed her I will feel sick and shaken. I will say, “That was the last time, never again.”

But just as certainly I know I will go back to her again, hating her, dreading her, but also needing her…

I have followed her into the Jessie bush on the banks of the Sabi and the Luangwa, and she was there, waiting, wounded in a robe of buffalo hide with the blood dripping from her mouth. And the smell was the sour-acid smell of my own sweat, and her taste was like rotten tomatoes in the back of my throat.

I have looked for her beyond the reef in the deep water with the demand valve of a scuba repeating my breathing with metallic hoarseness. And she was there with rows of white teeth in the semicircle of her mouth, a tall fin on her back, dressed this time in shagreen, and her touch was as cold as the ocean, and her taste was salt and the taint of dying things…

We met in darkness at the road bridge and her eyes glinted like bayonets…

I hate her… but she is a woman and I am a man.
— Wilbur Smith. The Dark of the Sun

This was the worst moment, the worst before the best, the time when the guts turned to ice water, and controlled aggression was the only answer.
— Tony Geraghty. Freefall Factor

He had hung his head in shame. “I am afraid of them.”

“Fear,” Yumiko said sternly, “has nothing to do with it. It is solely a matter of honour…”
— Eric Van Lustbader. Jian

Take not counsel of your fears.
— Gen George Patton

Dave. Stop.
Stop. Will you.
Stop, Dave.
Will you stop, Dave.
Stop, Dave.
I’m afraid.
I’m afraid, Dave.
Dave.
My mind is going.
There is
no question
about it.
I can feel it.
I can feel it.
I can feel it.
I’m afraid.

— Arthur C Clarke. 2001: A Space Odyssey

The fear of death was so pleasurable as to be almost unbearable, an emotional orgasm, stronger than any woman had ever given him…
— Wilbur Smith. A Time to Die

Ere Mor the Peacock flutters, ere the Monkey People cry,
Ere Chil the Kite swoops down a furlong sheer,
Through the Jungle very softly flits a shadow and a sigh–
He is Fear, O Little Hunter, he is Fear!

Very softly down the glade runs a waiting, watching shade,
And the whisper spreads and widens far and near;
And the sweat is on thy brow, for he passes even now–
He is Fear, O Little Hunter, he is Fear!

Ere the moon has climbed the mountain, ere the rocks are ribbed with light,
When the downward-dipping trails are dank and drear,
Comes a breathing hard behind thee–snuffle-snuffle through the night–
It is Fear, O Little Hunter, it is Fear!

On thy knees and draw the bow; bid the shrilling arrow go;
In the empty, mocking thicket plunge the spear;
But thy hands are loosed and weak, and the blood has left thy cheek–
It is Fear, O Little Hunter, it is Fear!

When the heat-cloud sucks the tempest, when the slivered pine-trees fall,
When the blinding, blaring rain-squalls lash and veer;
Through the war-gongs of the thunder rings a voice more loud than all–
It is Fear, O Little Hunter, it is Fear!

Now the spates are banked and deep; now the footless boulders leap–
Now the lightning shows each littlest leaf-rib clear–
But thy throat is shut and dried, and thy heart against thy side
Hammers: Fear, O Little Hunter–this is Fear!

— Rudyard Kipling. The Jungle Book

…Fear has many eyes. Courage only one. And the dark a thousand more.
— Anton Myrer. The Big War

At a hundred feet we began drawing fire. Groundfire reflex, clench your ass and rise up in your seat a few inches. Pucker, motherfucker; you use muscles yo didn’t even know you had.
— Michael Herr. Dispatches

The fear leaped onto his shoulders. It clawed and barked around his head and eyes. The fear bit into his neck, and another second passed.

Here, Vasha, take the spear, a voice from the taiga cried in his memory. The fear has power. Kill it and take its power! Take the spear! Do it! You are one of us, Vasha, a hunter!
— David Robbins. War of the Rats

He was feeling with them the corrosive knot of fear that had to be forcefully stifled into its little cage in the chest and kept there only by will and determination. You could walk by the little cage and glance at the creature within, but you could never stop to examine it too carefully. The creature could reach out and grab you by the throat and pull you to it, locking you into an embrace that would leave you outwardly whole but broken and crushed and vulnerable within. Soon that vulnerability would drive you from the sky and into a lifetime of self-doubt wherein, every once in a while, the face in the mirror would stare back coldly, accusingly, contemptuously, leaving you with the knowledge that you once had an opportunity but turned away from it and left it lying there in the dust, along with a large part of your pride.
— Gerry Carroll. Ghostrider One

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
I ask the Lord, the King of kings,
Protect me from Her black wings.

— Margin Walker. Her Black Wings

In Europe and America, there’s a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy
There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the President
There’s no such thing as a winnable war
It’s a lie that we don’t believe anymore
Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too.

— Sting. Russians

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