Its January 5th 1980, after a devastating and nearly fatal birth, John was brought into the world by a young couple by the name of, Wyatt and Jenny Worland. They lived in the beautiful mountain city of Boulder Colorado. Due to complications while in labor, John's mother nearly died and doctors had to perform a medical procedure known as a C section needed to be performed in order to insure both Jenny and John survived. After the surgery John’s mother was informed by doctors she could no longer bare future children.
Outside of where he was born John couldn't really call any place home. Growing up John's family moved around a lot. John's father had little to no work experience and now an unexpected financial obligation. In order to support his wife and newborn son John’s father found himself chasing work as an oil field roughneck around the country, as much work in the Midwest of that type often demanded. John's mother Jenny was a strong willed woman and wanted to contribute financially with hopes to lighten the stress on John’s father. Jenny usually looked for work as a waitress at local restaurants. John knew his parents to be good people with only high hopes for the future. Occasionally John would however hear his parents arguing shortly after he had gone to bed. John new little of financial struggles, responsibilities or stresses of adult life, but the way John figured at that age, as long as his family was together nothing else mattered.
Through John's adolescent years he struggled to make friends with other kids and get along with fellow students at whatever school he was attending. John never sought out trouble but more times than not, found himself backed into a corner with a gaggle of ill mannered offspring chomping at the bit in front and a whimpering smaller one cowering behind. With above average grades, academics were never an issue for John. Countless times John would be approached by teachers and school faculty members and told, "You're too smart to be fighting all the time" or asked, "You know you can always walk away and tell a teacher right?". John asked the teachers and staff in return, "What happens when you can't? What happens when there's no easy way out?".
Moving into college years, and living the life of a young adult John wasn't distracted by chasing all sorts of women or experimenting with drugs and alcohol. At 25 years old John had however become fond of one particular young woman by the name of Charlie Young. Charlie was a vibrant young woman with long blond hair, green eyes and a slim figure that made John weak in the knees just watching her walk by. It was no secret among college campus the connection between John and Charlie. The two were discreet but over the years were often witnessed leaving each other’s respective co-ed apartments in the early hours of the morning.
Inspired like most his age John wanted to be like his father. In his eyes his father was a successful, hard working man, with a loving family. Since his time away from home John found interest in computers and had been working towards a computer science degree. One day John was approached by a U.S. Army Recruiter making promises of adventure, travel, and financial stability. Initially this all appealed to John's deeper drives of inspiration and desires. The recruiter had taken note of John's grades, and offered a chance to fly for the Army. John was also afraid, and told himself he could never run away chasing new dreams so far from home. His place was here safe with Charlie and his parents. Before leaving the recruiter said to John, "Just think about it and the future you could have".
Weeks passed after the Army Recruiter showed up to plant an ever consuming seed in John's brain. Something inside told him he needed to take this opportunity, to risk everything for the chance to be a part of something more. He couldn't shake the feeling. John's father Wyatt urged him not to be hasty with his this decision and finish college. John's father said to John, "Slow down now, don't make the same mistakes I did at your age". John then thought about his parents and the love they shared but the struggles they endured. He remembered then the constant uprooting from town to town, from school to school and all the heartache that came along with it. John allowed himself to fantasize a bit, he could give Charlie a house. They could travel together on vacation rather than necessity. The two of them could have one, two, maybe three or more children and still be able to live comfortably. John then briefly pictured a yard with a half dozen kids running around, smirked at the thought before shaking his head from the dream.
Two years after John's enlistment and six months into his first deployment to Iraq John received a letter from Charlie. Both of John’s parents were killed in a head on collision with a drunk driver. The next three years were agonizing for John. John first began to fall into a downward spiral of depression and guilt. “I should have been there”, he tells himself, “I could have stopped it”. John felt as if he was barely coping with the loss of his parents and that of fellow service members he considered family. Through these delicate years John and Charlie's communication also began to dwindled. Charlie began to notice John's behavior change and became more distant. Overtime John’s letters became shorter and less in depth. Charlie, overwhelmed by the constant worry and fear of John's absence and not knowing whether or not he'd come back, or if he'd come back as himself was too much. John eventually received Charlie’s last letter to him stating she would be moving on to Denver Colorado and pursuing a career in forensic psychology, that she loved him and prayed he’d return safe.
Over the next few years with much needed council from among his fellow soldiers and friends John managed to overcome the losses he’d felt. He decided to focus his future efforts in continuing his career in the military as a helicopter crew chief. After his first few years riding in the aircraft, his dreams of piloting the rickety machines quickly changed to finding satisfaction in simply maintaining the aircraft. He’d of course fly along with the pilots after maintenance and insure his hard work paid off. John had started again and felt as if he could finally move on. He progressed as a crew member in an aviation support unit stationed in Europe. John excelled as a soldier and was promoted through the ranks earning the respect of his peers. His unit was then attached to a naval fleet as part of a NATO. John’s and his unit’s responsibility was briefed as a humanitarian mission across the Black Sea near the southern parts of Russia.
“It's a little brisk still don't you think for this time of year?” the pilot asks. “The hell would I know man I aint from this damn country” said John. The roaring of the engines along with relentless chopping of its rotors would have made the conversation barely audible if it wasn’t for the helicopter’s radio communications. The aggravated co-pilot yells at John while looking out his cockpit window, “The hell they waiting for?, get em in here let's go!”. John slides open the aircraft’s sliding pylon door and ushers towards the opened roof access door on top of the hospital. With John’s NVGs he could see two heavily armored U.S. Marines escorting two visibly upset women dressed in ragged looking lab coats towards the aircraft. As they approached the helicopter with their heads ducked to avoid the rotors, John appeared confused asking the Marines, “where are the rest?”. “There gone! Lets go!”, the lead Marine screams with an almost terrified look upon his face. The passengers each take a seat inside the cabin section of the aircraft. John slams the sliding pylon shut with a “thwack” as the door’s metal hook latches before jumping into the helicopter himself. The helicopter roared even louder as the pilots raised their collective sticks and demanded an increase in lift off the roof.
John didn’t know the details, not really. The constant conflict though was no secret which was why his bird and his crew were assigned to that NATO ship to start. They were supposed to be helping people get the hell out, away from the fighting, at least that was what they were led to believe. The air frame bumped and bounced. John sat in his crew seat looking to his right at one of the scared, sickly looking women. After years of riding in these beasts he was used to it. He could hardly blame anyone for feeling ill, heaven knows he’s given up plenty of lunches. The metal frame wretched and groaned against the increasingly formidable weather as it continued to battle the pilots. “Wasn’t there supposed to be more of them?”, John asked over the radio. The pilot quickly looked back before looking forward again responding, “Not our problem Sergeant. We show up, they get in, we go just like the Colonel briefed. Now stop bitchin sit back and, AHH SHIT hang tight we just lost power”.
John knew the drill; lose power, pilots auto rotate, the whole process he’d been a part of hundreds of times before. This time was different. This time it was for real. John however was strangely focused on the sickly of the two women who he could have sworn just drooled as she sat with her head bowed. “BRACE YOURSSSS!”, the pilot screamed as cockpit glass, tree branches and aircraft debris exploded throughout the cabin. John was simultaneously thrown from his seat behind the copilot to the rear of the cabin with such force he nearly passed out. The aircraft tore through the mountainous treetops breaking apart the rotor blades and lesser durable sections of the helicopter. The aircraft’s transmission, with its rotor blades seized, spiraled down through the cabin ceiling crushing the cockpit along with where John had been previously sitting. Fractions of seconds suddenly felt like they were slowed as if John could have taken a still shot of the floating debris and passengers faces twisted in horror being thrown around inside the cabin. John desperately tried to move but was helplessly pinned to the back of the cabin. Just then the entire air frame jolted with a sudden twist as if a bottle being spun. John was launched across the cabin, through the helicopter’s second sliding pylon door but not before seeing what he swore to be the sickly woman’s mouth latched onto one of the now helpless Marine’s necks. John was falling, wind rushed by him, the sound of snapping branches then to black.
Only John survived the crash. Injured but alive John later found refuge in conveniently abandoned hospital in a city called to the best of his knowledge "Severograd". Days turned into weeks until John found the strength and nerve to venture past the dead or dying to the eastern most coast in hopes of finding a ship to take him home. Only wreckage welcomed him upon the foggy shoreline. Having no family back home and no immediate way out, John is surviving as best he can. John has since lost track of time and the days have long since ran together. With hopes of finding fellow survivors for safety and companionship, John is optimistic he'll find his way home or at least find some solace in aiding others while he's still alive.