Meanwhile, a handful of men from Easy still creep through the woods. No one talks. "Sure is quiet," O'Keefe finally says. Clearly, the silence unnerves everyone. And here, quoted verbatim, are my notes from the ensuing sequence: "Nothing around, nothing nothing, nothing, Bull and his gun, nothing, creeping, silence, nothing." I think that about covers it. Slowly, the men edge toward a clearing, forming an impromptu line with guns raised half-heartedly. As they inch closer and closer, their arms begin to falter, and disbelief takes over their faces. Cut to a frontal shot of them emerging from the forest, smoke and dust blowing across the clearing. They stop, agape.
Perconte sprints back through the woods toward HQ, darting alone down abandoned roads and evoking images of the Greek myth of Marathon. Panting, he scrambles through the town trying to find any available officer. Confused men beg him to stop and explain why he's in such a state, but Perconte won't. Finally, he grabs Major Winters (I love typing that) and coughs, "Sir, we found something." But he can't quite get out the words, leaving Winter s a bit confused. "What, what, what?" he asks, worried. "Frank, what is it?" Perconte simply shrugs. "I don't know, sir," he replies, helplessly. Webster hears this, but it doesn't matter, really. I just happened to notice him in the background, camera-hogging like a pro.
A Jeep speeds toward the patrol's location, with Perconte guiding Winters and Nixon. As the trees thin out and reveal the clearing, we see a high, wire fence and a locked gate, forming a very makeshift open-air prison in which stands a long line of human beings who are each physically and mentally emaciated and destroyed. Their fingers wrap weakly around the fence's chain links, heads bobbing low, eyes skittishly avoiding contact with these soldiers for fear of whatever new torture they might bring. Nonplussed, Winters cautiously walks toward the fence, passing Bull Randleman, who has perched on a rock and turned himself away from the horror. Easy gradually congregates behind Winters, every man equally startled by the discovery.
The men's complexions are gray, sallow, with sunken cheeks and dark-ringed eyes. Ghostly, they stand, like dangling puppets without a guiding hand. Winters quietly orders his soldiers to open the prison gates; they do, but can't get all of the men out of the way in time, so many end up swinging backwards with the door. Nixon removes his helmet, proceeding forward with trepidation. A bony man in a black-and-white striped jumpsuit and hat -- the standard "uniform" for this torture chamber -- hugs one of the gate's poles, but loosely; his defeated, dead-eyed gaze never rises above knee-level. Another man clutches the precious blanket wrapped around his shoulders. All heads are shaved bald. No one can speak.