In this episode, We get to meet Victor Ruiz, the soldier that Sam spared on his rampage.

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The Most Amazing Story Ever is a tale about the birth of a modern God. This action-packed, emotional, whirlwind of a story takes the listener through a dramatic and dark process as Sam seeks out the light and attempts to claim the title of God Almighty. But his path out of the darkness is filled with peril as he confronts his inner demon, Malice. This beast consumes Sam’s soul and takes control of his body in an effort to bring death and destruction to the world.

Don’t miss out on this high powered tale of sorrow, struggle, and redemption. The Most Amazing Story Ever will remind you of what dwells within us all and show you the true power of the human heart.

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Chapter 9: The Soldier

Standing amid the carnage and wreckage that surrounded him on all sides, the soldier felt a hand on his shoulder. Warm and soothing, it posed no threat. He turned to see that the hand belonged to the police chief. He was a moderately tall black man. About six feet tall, one-hundred-eighty pounds, though the bulletproof vest made him look about two-hundred pounds. His hair was thick and peppered white. Bits and pieces of his close-cut goatee were starting to turn white. From the gray in his hair to the wrinkled brow and crow’s feet, the soldier put the chief in his mid-fifties. His hand, placed on the soldier’s shoulder, was callous and weathered. Not the hand of a man that lived in luxury, rather the hand of a man that spent too many winters laboring out in the cold. The veins were apparent and laced themselves in between the knuckles.

While pulling a cigarette from his lips and exhaling with a deep and raspy voice, the chief asked, “What’s your name soldier?”

“Ruiz, sir,” the soldier said, “Sergeant Victor Ruiz.”

“Well, Sergeant…why are you here?”

“I don’t think I follow, sir.”

“Let me rephrase that. Why is a soldier in full fatigues and body armor in the middle of the south side shopping district? You are out of place,” The chief took another drag from his half-smoked camel. He looked at Victor in an inquisitive manner.

“You got any idea what the hell that thing was?” the chief asked.

“He is a monster, sir,” Victor responded.

“I don’t believe in monsters, Sergeant?”

“I don’t either sir, but I just watched one kill twenty-nine of my buddies down in that hole sir,” said Victor, with a look of anger and frustration, scribbled across his face as he pointed to the massive hole in the middle of the street.

“You wouldn’t happen to have another one of those would ya?” he asked gesturing towards the chief’s cigarette.

“Of course.”

The chief pulled the pack from his shirt pocket behind his bulletproof vest. He shook one to the top of the soft pack and offered it to Victor, then struck his lighter with the other hand. As he did so, he noticed a very visible shake in Victor’s fingers. Clearly, the sergeant had just gone through Hell. Even though it wasn’t in the chief’s personal nature to pry, it was part of the job and considering the circumstances, his job ruled out whatever he wanted.

“What’s down in that hole sergeant?”

“I am afraid that information is classified,” snapped a voice from behind the chief.

The chief turned to see a sharply dressed soldier walking towards him. He wasn’t for sure, but the two stars on his shoulder told the chief that things were about to get very interesting. Victor snapped to attention, swiftly flicked his cigarette and fired off a crisp salute.

“General,” said Victor.

“At ease, Sergeant. You won’t be answering any more questions. The colonel over there will be debriefing you and taking your statement.”

“Yes sir,” said Victor as he snapped back to attention and saluted again.

He nodded to the chief, and the chief did the same in return. With that, he headed toward the colonel leaving the general and the chief behind.

“Chief, I am gonna need you to clear your people out of here. This area is under the jurisdiction of the United States Government by order of the Pentagon,” said the general.

The chief took a second to survey the scene. He saw the massive flood of military personnel that had arrived. They filtered into the streets like ants pouring out of an ant hill that just got kicked.

Every single one of his men was having a similar conversation with someone in a military uniform. There was no way this was going to stay a police investigation or a standard crime scene and he knew it. With as much experience as he had, the chief was used to having the CIA or FBI stepping all over his toes. The events of this evening were far more severe than a murder or terror attack. Tonight he witnessed a massacre, and it was way above his pay grade.

“My officers and I are happy to cooperate. What can we do to help?”

“Chief, we appreciate the help. I will need all your men to clear the area. We could use your help in keeping civilians and all the media out.”

The General took the camouflaged hat off his head and ran his hand through his very short GI-style hair. He took in a deep breath as his eyes fell toward the ground. As he exhaled, he looked up at the chief with a deep look of concern.

“Look,” he said. “This is just the beginning. I can’t tell you much, but this city is getting ready for a complete shit storm. If our intelligence is on the money, this guy is going to do this again. I need any video of this as fast as you can get it to me. We’ve got to get this guy before he flips out again,” stressed the General. “We are gonna be here for a while.”

“Should I be worried about these people’s safety?” he questioned.

“We have no real way of knowing what he is capable of or where he’ll pop up next. We are just going to stop him before he has a chance to do this again,” said the general. “Now if you’ll excuse me…”

The general nodded to the chief and briskly walked past him. Walking away, he began barking orders to other military personnel.

Elsewhere, Victor sat down in a very barren room. There were only a couple of chairs and a table. This room was actually in a trailer that was pulled up by a diesel truck when the military showed up. It was a quiet room. He couldn’t hear any sound from outside. He found it kind of strange that the United States Army showed up within twenty minutes of the first shot fired in that underground room.

What made it even more strange is that the nearest military base is over one hour away. That means all these soldiers were out for coffee at the local Dunkin Donuts, or they knew this was going to happen. The situation was all definitely of the top secret variety. Hell, he needed to have top secret clearance just to get the job.

Victor heard the door crack open behind him. He knew the Colonel who walked into the room, so he saluted. He did not, however, recognize the egghead that walked in behind him. The Colonel was about five feet, ten inches tall with salt and pepper hair. His chest, covered in medals, and his face said that he earned every one of them. He was about sixty-five years old and had the wrinkles to prove it. The egghead was a completely different matter, though. Standing at about six foot three inches, this guy looked like he was fresh out of high school. He was cleanly shaven with thick black curly hair. Victor was able to tell that that he was of Indian descent, although he had no idea whether he was actually from India or somewhere else in the world.

The Colonel started the conversation, “Where is the rest of your team, Sergeant?”

Victor clenched his jaw in an attempt to hold back the overwhelming rush of emotion.

“They are all dead, sir,” he said in a broken and shaky voice.

“I find that hard to believe Sergeant. Those were all highly trained men. Some of them even served under my command in Afghanistan.”

“Yes, sir. We were all special operations Colonel. I did several tours with a couple of those men.”

“So, what killed them, Sergeant?”

“With all due respect sir, I was hoping you could tell me what that thing was. It looked like some scrawny guy, but I’ve never seen anything that could do what that thing did. No way it was human.”

“Why are you still alive Sergeant? If that thing did indeed kill all of your team, how come it didn’t kill you?”

“Honestly Colonel, I have no idea. We did everything we could to kill it, though. First, we put a bullet in its head. Then it got up and started picking us off like flies. Our rounds weren’t even penetrating the target.”

The egghead put the papers he held in his hand down on the table as he eagerly sat down in the chair across the table from Victor.

“You mean he was bulletproof!?” asked the young man.

“What kind of armor was he wearing?” the Colonel asked.

“He wasn’t wearing any armor. Just a tee shirt and shorts. The rounds that made contact with him didn’t seem to have any effect. He just stopped the other rounds before they could hit him. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it. The bullets just seemed to stop…right in front of him,” said Victor.

The egghead got very wide-eyed and leaned into him a little bit closer as he slid a picture in front of Victor. It was a picture of the flower that Sam and Frank were trying to steal.

“Did he have this with him?” asked the egghead.

Victor looked up to the Colonel as if he were silently asking for permission to answer the question and at the same time asking who the hell this kid was. The Colonel cleared his throat and took a step toward the table.

“Sergeant, I would like for you to meet Hamned Gupta. He heads the scientific division of Project Twelve, which is the research center you and the rest of your team were assigned to.”

“That was a research center? It looked more like a bunker to me,” said Victor.

“That’s because you never saw our lab, just the bunker,” said Hamned, in a very matter of fact tone.

The egghead was right. Victor didn’t even know how he got assigned to that boring-ass job. He was originally supposed to be on his third tour in Afghanistan kicking in doors. Two days before he was due to leave, his orders were changed, and he was assigned to that bunker.

Every day he would show up and swipe a security card that would open an elevator. Once inside the elevator, he would swipe his card again, and the elevator would take him to the bunker. Every day his job was to sit in that bunker with his other teammates in full gear and wait. It was the most boring assignment he had ever had.

For months, he sat in that bunker with those guys. They would play cards and talk about why the hell they thought they were there. He had never even seen what was on the other side of that black door until tonight. And now he wished he had never known.

“Yeah, he had that in his hand when we shot him the first time,” Victor said, “But when he got back up he left it on the floor.”

Hamned quickly looked up at the Colonel and jumped to his feet.

“That means it is still there; I need to get my team down there immediately, Colonel.”

Once again the Colonel nodded and took a step back to clear the way for Hamned to exit. He quickly gathered his papers and the picture in front of Victor and walked out of the soundproof room.

As the door clicked shut behind him, Victor turned his attention back to the Colonel, who was taking a seat at the table.

“Sergeant, we’ve got to take this guy out before any more civilians get hurt. We assigned you to that post because of your outstanding record. I know you just lost a lot of buddies down in that hole.  There will be time to mourn them later. Right now, I need someone who has some experience with this thing to lead a strike team to eliminate this threat. Are you the man for that job?”

“Colonel, right now I would like nothing better,” said Victor.

“Well, you are gonna get your chance. We will see to it you get time for some shut eye while we gather intel. You’ll meet with your new team in the morning and then we will hit this bastard hard!” proclaimed the Colonel.

“Thank you, sir.”

Both men rose to their feet, and Victor saluted the Colonel as he exited the room. Victor couldn’t help but feel concerned. He was still quite shaken from the day’s events.  On top of that, he was exhausted.  He hadn’t slept. A mission to take down this monster seemed impossible. The strangest part of it all was that the violence he had witnessed was not what was weighing heaviest on his mind. It was the way that the monster was able to push thoughts into his head. He couldn’t seem to get the vision of its burning white eyes out of his head.

Why did it leave him alive when it did not hesitate to kill everyone else?  The truth of the matter was, he may never know. One thing was for certain, though, tomorrow he was going to have to face him again. He had never been so scared while thinking about a mission before.

What was he going to be able to do against something that could stop bullets in midair and run up walls? How do you stop something that can throw full-sized cars like toys? How do you kill the thing that chose not to kill you?

There was only one answer. Bigger guns and better strategy.

The next morning Victor woke up from a deep sleep in his hotel room. It was probably the best sleep he had ever gotten. Shockingly, the experience from the prior evening had not kept him awake at all. Almost as soon as his head hit the cheaply-made pillow, he passed out. His dreams were that of his family. Amazing visions of romantic times with his wife and time spent playing with his children in the backyard of the house they always wanted but never had the financial means to buy.

There were no visions of violence. No feelings of fear. Just calm, peaceful sleep. Victor woke twenty minutes before his alarm, which was highly unusual for him. He had trained his body through many years in the field to get every last drop of sleep he could because he never knew when he would get it again.

As was normal for his morning routine, he went straight into the shower. He found it to be the quickest way to wash away the grogginess away after a crappy night of sleep, but this morning it was simply to clean up. Before he even got in the shower, he turned on the TV and changed the channel to the local news. Listening to the local weathermen yammer on about how they thought the weather was going to be was somewhat of a morning pastime for him. Of course, they never got it right, and that was part of the entertainment of it. It also served as background noise to keep him out of his thoughts. It was a simple way to keep his mind clear of distractions and worries before missions.

Victor showered swiftly, then turned off the piping hot water. As he got out and wrapped a towel around his waist, he shoved a toothbrush in his mouth and exited the bathroom. He could hear the elevated and concerned voices of the newscasters talking about some horrific tragedy. He darted his eyes over to the TV only to get a harsh reminder of last night’s events. There on the screen was a shaky cell phone video of the monster he had encountered only hours before. The media chose the perfectly horrifying clip of Sam throwing cars at the firing police officers.

The debate that was raging from one so-called expert to another was if it was real or doctored footage. However, the consensus was that something horrible was going on, and the media were not allowed within ten blocks of the area. A massive chunk of downtown had been cut off from the public. Entire buildings were closed and evacuated. A no-fly zone had been established around the city to keep media helicopters away from the area.

The military officially had no comment and the local police were citing problems with local gas lines hoping to ease the public.

In a brief press conference, the chief of police stated that the problem would be resolved quickly and that the closed part of the city would be reopened as soon as possible for business as usual.

Reporters on the street were stopping people and getting their reactions. No one was buying it. Victor picked up the remote and started flipping through channels as he ran his toothbrush back and forth across his teeth. Every channel was the same. One station after another was broadcasting with titles like “Mad Man On the Loose” and “A City in Chaos.” Speculation was running wild.

Victor hit the power button on the remote and tossed it onto the bed. He walked over to the half steam covered mirror and continued to brush his teeth. He hated the media. They always over-sensationalized everything. It makes sense when you are in the business of telling stories, he thought. The scarier, the better, to keep people tuned in. Still, he only had respect for war journalists. War journalists had the balls to show you the real shit. The type of stuff you saw in a movie theater when the shit hit the fan.

As he spit the mixture of toothpaste and saliva from his mouth into the sink, it started to hit him. Today he had to face that monster again. He rinsed his mouth and spat that into the sink as well. Looking up at the mirror, he could see the fear in his own eyes. It wasn’t fear for himself, it was fear of how many of his men were going to die today. Every soldier signs on knowing that he is writing a blank check for nothing less than his life. Rarely are those checks cashed. Today, he was holding the check of every man on his team. Victor would be leading this mission, and if he screwed up, everybody on his team could die. This monster was nothing to be messed with.

A few minutes later Victor had finished putting on his fatigues and headed out the door of the cheap motel. The sun was sitting low in the early morning sky, but the temperature was already around eighty degrees. It was going to be a hot one, and the humidity was starting to bring sweat to his armpits. Today was about to suck. He bounced down the staircase and quickly hopped into the car that was waiting for him.

The car returned to the site of the previous evening’s chaos and met with onlookers and press. Dozens of police were on site in the two blocks before the checkpoint to keep everything under control. As they moved closer to the site, the sea of blue police uniforms turned to a sea of light and dark brown digital camouflage. Each one heavily armed with assault rifles and body armor. Victor had seen several lockdown situations, and this is what they looked like. No one in and no one out without the proper credentials. The car was stopped three times before they made it all the way in and both the driver and Victor were asked to produce identification.

After ten minutes of driving and checkpoints, Victor was finally standing where he and Sam resurfaced onto the street the night before, although he wasn’t able to see the hole anymore. It had several very tall makeshift walls erected around it. The debris was still there. The broken pieces of concrete and asphalt scattered across the ground. Among them were hundreds of bullets. People in civilian attire were taking photos and marking them. It seemed like a mundane task that could take all day because there were so many. One of the civilian workers put down a tag next to a cluster of bullets that said three hundred forty-two.

Victor raised his eyebrows in disbelief. He had seen this madness with his own eyes, but the truth was, his adrenaline and the urgency of all the evening’s actions blurred the details.

There was a call from behind him, “Sergeant, we are ready for you.”

A solid look of resolution came across his face. It was time to go to work. All his emotion and fear needed pushing away. There was no room for a scared little boy in the room full of men he was about to enter.

The room was indeed full of men, eighteen of them. Some he knew, others he didn’t. But there was no doubt about it, this room was full of real men. Each one was Spec Ops. Each one had the look of war deep in his eyes. Every single man in there had seen action in the past two wars and some had prevented other wars from happening. No doubt about it, each one of them was a professional killer. They had all gotten to see the remains of the battlefield outside that room, and they had all watched the horrific footage of it taking place.

Victor stepped up to the front of the room and began to recount the events of the evening in detail to the room full of soldiers. Though none of them spoke, he could see the looks of concern on their faces as he told them about the soldiers who had died in the room below the city. Occasionally, one soldier would shoot a glance to the other in complete disbelief.

A glance that said, “This guy is full of shit.” Victor saw it. He expected it. After all, what he was telling them sounded far-fetched. There was only one way to convince them of the truth. He stepped back for a moment and leaned over to whisper into the ear of the Colonel, who was standing beside him.

“They don’t buy it.  If we don’t convince them of how strong this thing is, they are all going to die,” He said.

“What do you suggest we do, Sergeant?”

“Show them the room, I assume everything is still there?”

“Cleanup is tomorrow; we are still documenting everything. You seriously want to show these men this before they head out?”

“They need to know,” Victor whispered.

The Colonel paused, then looked Victor straight in the eyes for a moment. He was trying to process what Victor was saying to him. Showing a room full of dead soldiers to the next team didn’t sound like too great of an idea to him. But Victor was right. These men needed to be prepared for combat against this thing. With a slight nod to Victor, the Colonel turned toward the men.

“On your feet gentlemen. We are going on a field trip,” the Colonel barked.

Moments later all of the men stood in the dark cavernous room below the city. There was very little light. Most of it was generated from flashlights and portable LED lights on rickety stands. There was a faint bit of light coming into the room from the hole that Sam had created. The random pop of light from a camera flash disappeared into the deep recess of the room. From where they were standing, they could see the waterfall catching the faint glimmer of light as it forced its way across the large pool of water.

The streams of blood that led into that pool of water appeared as their eyes adjusted to the light. They could see the white sheets that covered the bodies of all the dead soldiers. Dead bodies were nothing new to them. These were highly desensitized soldiers. Victor turned to the men and addressed them.

“Last night I lost twenty-nine of my teammates down here. Twenty-nine highly trained soldiers dead in under a minute. Killed…by one guy. A single guy with no gun and no armor. We didn’t have a single shot that penetrated. This is no joke gentlemen. We are up against a monster.”

One of the soldiers stepped forward and asked, “One guy killed all these men with no gun?”

His tone still reeked of disbelief and sarcasm. It was still a lot for them to swallow. Victor walked over to one of the boulders where a soldier had landed in the mayhem. Atop the massive rock was a sheet with a bit of blood seeping through. He reached up and snatched the cover off the body to expose the dead soldier that had his throat ripped out. There was a general sense of discomfort that washed over the group. Several groans and moans slipped out from the pack of men.

“He didn’t just kill them, gentlemen,” Victor said “He ripped them apart with his bare hands. I know that is a tough pill to swallow, but I assure you it’s very true. Later today we are going to be tracking this guy down. We are under very strict orders to kill on sight.”

“Sir. I see shell casings all over the floor. Looks like you guys squeezed off a lot of rounds. How many times did you hit the target?” asked one of the soldiers.

“Not once,” said Victor with a bit of disbelief still in his voice. “We threw close to a thousand rounds at him. We even launched grenades at him, and they had no effect.”

The men grumbled for a brief moment. Victor expected no less. He had just told them that this guy they were going after was bulletproof. The whole idea would be completely unbelievable to him too if he hadn’t experienced it himself.

“This guy is faster than anything you have ever encountered. He was able to move so fast that our eyes couldn’t keep up with him. He is wicked strong and mean as all Hell. Make no mistake gentlemen, if you give him the chance he will rip you apart too.”

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