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Sample from Chapter Five

"I don't want to go down there"

Within a few minutes we had arrived over Jonestown and began our descent from the gloomy clouds. It was comforting to once again be able to see the ground. We were about 1000 feet over the commune when we broke through the clouds.

"Where are all the bodies?" I asked, trying to sound as self-assured and confident as possible. "Right down there mate," was the co-pilot's answer.

I told the pilot and co-pilot that it was difficult to make out the bodies from this great height and before I finished getting the words out of my mouth, the blaze orange GDF helicopter made a rapid spiral descent to about 150 feet over what we learned was called the "Pavilion."

From this elevation, what had appeared to be multicolored piles of trash in a landfill from 1000 feet were easily recognized as masses of bodies in various colors of clothing. Arms and legs were extended from bodies so bloated the formerly loose fitting shirts and trousers that are so comfortable to wear in the tropics, were tight against the gas-filled bodies of the wearers. Even the severe prop wash of the helicopter hovering overhead did not make the taut cloth flutter in the powerful rotor blast.

It looked like the scene from a macabre horror film, but the people laying below were not mannequins set out by some Hollywood set designer, nor were they movie extras in make up who would rise and walk away when the director called "Cut!" They were the quickly rotting remains of dead humans: men, women and children; who until a few short days ago, had been living, breathing beings with dreams and aspirations that probably were not too different from our own. It was determined that for the past year or more, most of them had been living a miserble existence, but at least where there is life, there is hope. There was no hope left in Jonestown, only horror, and I said aloud to no one in particular, "I don't want to go down there."



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