Site of the writer Andrew Wood

Archive for September, 2012

The Home Guard Episode Five – Behind Enemy Lines

And here is the fifth installment of the Home Guard Project!

**********

Episode Five – Behind Enemy Lines

Date: March 21, 1941

Location: Birmingham

The Man in the Moon pub was quiet; the only sounds within its plain shell coming from two seated Home Guard soldiers drinking the local malted ales. They acted as if there was no war on, but no one in the country could blame them for wanting to escape.

Samurai tapped the bottom of his empty pint glass on the counter and then waggled it at the barmaid as a hint. He beamed as she took it from him and pulled another pint into it. ‘Thanks, sweetheart,’ he smiled. He rested his head onto his hand, elbow on the counter, and looked at his drinking companion. ‘How many you had now, Ollie?’

Ollie slurred something from within his arms and tilted his head to one side to look at Samurai. ‘I… think not enough.’ He glanced up at the barmaid. ‘Could you pour… me… one too?’

‘Please?’

Ollie belched. ‘Please…’

They were both handed a pint of dark ale with a strained smile.

‘Thanks, love,’ said Samurai before sipping the top half of his pint away. ‘Good stuff.’ He looked at Ollie expectantly, half laughing.

Ollie stared at the drink and then laughed loudly. ‘I can do this.’ With that, he picked up the pint glass and drank the dark brown liquid until it was all gone.

Samurai looked at his watch. ‘About five seconds… new record for you.’

‘Yes, damn right. For Mother Russia!’

‘But you’re not Russian…’

‘I know, but… I felt like saying it.’ Ollie slid his glass to one side and held his chin in his hands. ‘I’m fed up.’

‘Aren’t we all?’ said Samurai, shuffling around on his stool. ‘I hate this war.’

A sharp breeze whipped their backs as the door to the pub was opened, the sound of heavy boots stepping onto the wooden flooring.

Shay tousled his hair with his hand and marched over to where Samurai and Ollie were hunched over the bar. ‘Guys?’

‘Hi, Shay,’ they both said in a drunken unison.

‘Can we talk in private?’ Shay nodded at the barmaid who took the hint with a dejected look. ‘Sam, we have a problem.’

Samurai felt his stomach churn, whether or not from the alcohol or potential bad news he didn’t know. He groaned, rubbing his beard. ‘What is it?’

‘Wapz is gone.’

Ollie lifted his head. ‘What you mean he’s gone?’ There was a sudden panic creeping into his voice and face.

Shay hung his head and scuffed his feet. ‘MIA.’

‘What was his last location?’ asked Samurai, standing up.

‘Somewhere outside… Banbury, is it?’

‘That’ll take us a couple of hours to get there,’ Ollie mumbled.

Samurai lifted Ollie up to his feet and ushered him and Shay towards the door. He shouted thanks to the barmaid who was polishing some glasses up. ‘Give us the lowdown on the way to Banbury.’

***

Date: March 21, 1941, Later That Day

Location: Outside Banbury

It had taken them about two hours in the truck to get to Banbury and Wapz’s last known location. Finding him in this literal wasteland was going to prove to be a harder job than they would have liked.

Shay jumped out of the driver’s seat and grabbed his rifle from behind the seat, checking its magazine and grabbing a pouch of extra clips.

Ollie slid from the back of the truck, staggering as he landed. ‘Oh man.’ He turned to lean on the back of the truck. ‘Too many.’

‘I know what you mean,’ Samurai remarked as he appeared from the passenger side. ‘Luckily it’s kind of worn off a bit… but I still feel sick.’ He clutched his stomach and belched loudly. ‘I hate feeling like this.’ He closed his eyes for a moment.

‘Wakey wakey,’ Shay chimed from the front of the vehicle.

‘OK, OK,’ Ollie called. ‘Hey Sam? You think I got enough?’

Samurai opened his eyes and looked Ollie up and down. ‘Are you serious? How many grenades you taking with you?’

‘You can never be too careful.’

‘Don’t go blowing yourself up, for the love of God.’

Ollie shook his head and smiled.

‘Come on,’ Shay beckoned. ‘Wapz’s last known location was in a church just a few hundred yards from here. It’s in the north side of the town.’

Samurai reached into the back of the truck and pulled out a sub machinegun from a satchel.

Shay raised an eyebrow. ‘What kind of gun is that? Never seen one of them before.’

‘It was designed last year after the Dunkirk incident.’

‘You mean “tactical withdrawal”?’ Ollie asked.

Samurai shook his head. ‘No, I mean the cock up. Anyway, this is a… Lanchester, I think, and they’ve given us a few to test out.’

‘You think this is the right time for a test?’ exclaimed Shay with a worried look. ‘We’re here to save one of our own.’

‘We’ll find out soon enough. Let’s make our way to the church.’

***

‘Ollie? You go check the church tower out… me and Shay will scout the ground floor. OK?’ Samurai looked stern faced, his eyes scanning the extent of the well-kept walls, pews and flooring.

With a firm nod, Ollie wandered toward a room behind the altar, looking around intently; curiously. He peered inside and observed the bookcase, desk and holy depictions hanging on the wall – a stereotypical vestry. He noticed the wooden staircase in the corner and hurried over to it, clutching his assault rifle. A quick glance around the corner and he crept up the stairs, his heart remaining surprisingly calm. Everyone told him that he was fearless, hence his carelessness with grenades.

As soon as he reached the top of the stairs he found himself tumbling back down them, the butt of a rifle smacking into his shoulder with surprising force. He landed at the bottom of the top flight of steps, clutching his shoulder and wincing with pain. ‘Ack… God damn it!’ he cried, trying to refocus on the figure standing at the top of the stairs, gun poised.

‘Who are you?’ the figure asked.

‘You Wapz?’

Silence.

‘We’re here to rescue you.’

‘Ollie… of course! You’re the nutter with the grenades, right?’

He scrunched his mouth and puffed through his nose. ‘I suppose I am,’ he replied blankly.

‘Can’t be too careful at the moment, my friend. Who’re you here with?’

‘Samurai and Shay.’

‘Oh so Sam got off his arse at last did he?’ Wapz chuckled.

Ollie eased himself up and breathed slowly. ‘We gave up our drinks to come get you.’

‘He drinks too much anyway… he’s a beast.’

‘A beast?’

‘Well… that’s what Brak calls him anyway.’

‘Oh… right.’ Ollie shook his head. ‘We need to get you out of here.’

‘Can’t at the moment… place is crawling with Nazis.’

‘We saw no one here.’

Wapz raised a knowing eyebrow. ‘Oh trust me, they’re here alright. They know I’ll snipe them if they come out the buildings – one shot, one kill.’

‘So… we’re actually surrounded in here?’ Ollie felt his stomach churn.

‘We sure are. German reinforcements inbound no doubt. I’m expecting a tank as I can’t kill that with a bullet.’

‘Wait here.’ Ollie found himself racing down the stairwell to the ground floor. ‘Sam? Shay?’ he shouted.

They both emerged through the vestry door, their faces awash with anxiety.

‘What is it?’ Shay asked.

‘Wapz is up in the tower.’

‘Is he OK?’ Samurai could feel his heart smashing against his chest.

Ollie nodded. ‘Yeah he’s fine, but he says there’re Germans all over the place.’

‘Since when?’

Shay raised a finger. ‘Where are they then?’

‘Wapz thinks they’re awaiting reinforcements. I’ve heard Wapz is a crack shot with a sniper rifle so they’re probably afraid to poke their heads out.’

It was then that all three of their chests tightened. A voice echoed from the stairwell. ‘Company!’

***

In the distance, a set of crystal eyes peered through the scope of a rifle. Behind the elevated gun was a scarf covered face, a black bandana wrapped around locks of golden hair, and vows of revenge. The figure – a mercenary – edged the gun sideways.

‘The Nazi bastards are assaulting the church,’ a female voice said, muffled behind the scarf. ‘We should move in. I spotted a tank on its way… a Panzer.’

The burly looking man next to her nodded his approval. He then adjusted his army uniform and trotted back to his portable radio. He frantically turned the handle on it and brought the receiver up to his ear. ‘We are a go,’ he mumbled.

A few minutes passed.

The British Crusader tank roared through a hedgerow, followed by a squad of British infantry wielding an assortment of rifles and sub machineguns. Some more plain clothed figures flanked across to the right, along with the mysterious female sniper who seemed to be leading them.

She crouched down and scoped again, watching gunfire coming from the church’s main entrance, quickly followed by a series of grenade blasts. ‘They’re not going to last long in there,’ she growled. ‘We need the British to make a move now.’ She glanced back at her group. ‘When the Crusader moves in we’ll secure the church from the right; I’ll keep you all covered as much as I can.’ Her team all nodded and mumbled their acknowledgement.

‘Ready?’ She bounced on her feet, loosening her knees up, ready for what was about to occur.

The tank fired its mighty turret, the shell pounding into the side of the German Panzer. There was a commotion as German troops realised they were being flanked, repositioning to fight on two fronts all of a sudden. The Panzer had no time to react as another shell hit it on its turret, disabling its capability to fire.

‘Brilliant!’ the tank commander shouted with a laugh stifling his breath.

The team moved along to the right while the British engaged the Nazi forces. The female mercenary moved fast with the others, rapidly advancing on the church. She pinned her back to the wall and dared to look around the corner.

‘They’ve got a sniper up in the church tower and he’s pretty good at what he does.’

One of her team nudged her in the side. ‘But you’re better, right?’

She laughed softly. ‘We’ll see.’ She waved them through, six of them. They were armed with a wide variety of guns from different countries, ranging from Russian PPD-40 sub machineguns, French MAS rifles, and an assortment of Czechoslovakian weaponry.

All she could hear from her corner was the deafening sound of gunfire, screams, explosions and orders. She steadied her breath and whipped from her place, unleashing bullet after bullet from her rifle, each of them hitting its mark. ‘One by one they go down,’ she sang to herself from beneath her scarf.

She suddenly froze as she spotted a British soldier powering his way from the church, grenades in hand. She watched him through her scope and swore to herself. ‘They’re primed! Is he mad?’ she exclaimed loudly, knowing nobody would hear her. ‘For God’s sake throw them already! Have you got a death wish?’

A grenade was tossed through the air, one to the right, and then the second went to the left. The soldier dived to the dirt floor and rolled up behind a wall as massive, eardrum bursting explosions engulfed the other side of the wall in a sea of shrapnel and flames. They had not been ordinary grenades by the looks of things, but they had done the job of ridding the front line of German troops from the assault.

The mercenary heard the distance cry of victory, followed by fervent shouting from the church – curses and scornful reprimands. Two men hurried from the entrance over to the kamikaze soldier, picking him up and leaning him against the wall. The one with the beard was red-faced and angry, shouting every name under the sun.

She checked her gun and proceeded toward them, watching as the British secured the rest of the town and shot after the retreating Nazi troops. Her squad had reformed and were giving each other reports, one cracking some bad joke about his ex-wife and her new lover. She pulled the scarf from her face as she walked up to the British soldiers she had just helped save.

Ollie grunted and stared at her. ‘I… It’s a… woman,’ he stammered.

She smiled, nodding at each of them in turn. ‘Lucky we came along isn’t it?’

Samurai shuffled his feet. ‘Erm… yeah, thanks darling.’

Shay dropped his rifle.

‘Pick it up, Shay, she’s only a woman, not a bloody goddess.’ Samurai rolled his eyes.

He scrambled for his gun and steadied himself. ‘Nice to meet you,’ he blurted. ‘Don’t see many women wielding the guns on the front lines.’

The mercenary chuckled. ‘Well life as a mercenary is full of surprises.’

‘Ah, I’d heard about us hiring people from all over,’ remarked Ollie as he rubbed his chest, soothing it.

‘I’m Samurai, this here is Shay, the one up in the tower is Wapz… and the crazy man sitting here is Ollie, who will be getting disciplined for his actions.’

She smiled at each one of them and rested her rifle on her shoulder. ‘Good to meet you all. My name’s Lolita.’

**********

Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to comment!

The Home Guard Episode Four – Assignment

Sorry for the lateness of this installment. Here is episode four!

Episode Four – Assignment

Date: March 20, 1941

Location: Manchester

It was yet another dreary day in the city of Manchester – wet, grey and depressing. It felt to the locals like the thick shroud of Axis control was already upon them, especially with the harsher rationing and grip of fear hanging over them. Regardless of what was happening to their homeland, most of the residents kept themselves in high spirits – smiling, chatting, drinking and helping out the armed forces whenever they could.

In the centre of the city lay the British Defence HQ: an underground facility that spanned half a square mile underneath Manchester and housed some of the top brass in the British military. Guarded around the clock, it was a near impenetrable place with only two ways in and out.

The war room was dimly lit and smelled of cigar smoke and aromatic scotch, off-set by the faint whiff of freshly brewed coffee coming from the canteen nearby. Daas’s towering figure was hunched over a large map of Britain displaying locations of Allied and Axis forces across the country, ranging from infantry to artillery to tanks to ships and aircraft. He scanned the numerous figurines that were placed along the Commonwealth Line and then glanced at the known Axis forces that were slowly being added to. Allied forces were grossly outnumbered at least three to one; the gravity of that fact weighing heavily on Daas’s shoulders. He was one of the Generals in charge of the defensive operations that were relied on to stop the Nazi dead in their tracks.

‘Have the Nazi’s gained anything on the western seaboard?’

Skippie plonked a couple of Allied warships on the section of map where Daas pointed to. ‘They have tried time and time again to break through but a majority of our naval forces are stationed in that area and successfully kicking their ass!’ He raised a fist into the choking air in celebration.

Daas eyed Skippie’s hand and said nothing, instead turning his attention back to the map. ‘Eastern seaboard?’

‘The Scandinavian fleets are proving to be quite resilient in repelling the Nazis. They’ve surprised us greatly.’ He smiled and picked up a small ship representing some of the Scandinavian fleet and placed it behind the rest. ‘More ships were said to have arrived in reinforcement to help tackle the aircraft trouble.’

‘Good. That’s good.’ He massaged his forehead and picked up his glass of whisky, sipping it gently. ‘This stale mate is taking it out of our front lines, though.’ He nodded at the area just north of London. ‘We’re running out of man power fast. We’re relying on the Home Guard forces a lot now that we’ve had them properly trained and armed.’ He grunted and said something incoherent to himself. ‘If we’re not careful this is going to turn into a damn slaughterhouse!’ He pounded the table with his fist, making the secretaries and war room attendants jump out of their skins.

Skippie strafed around the table and put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. ‘Daas, I know things are dire at the moment but we mustn’t give in or let our frustrations take over.’

‘Oh please don’t pander to me,’ he growled back through clenched teeth, pain throbbing in his mind. ‘No… I’m sorry. We will push these bastards back and out of this country.’

‘You’ll be home soon enough, Daas.’ Skippie glanced around the room which was enough for everyone to resume their tasks and not stare for longer than they dared to.

Daas lowered his voice to a harsh whisper, barely audible above the din of the phone calls, typewriters and strategic meetings. ‘Where the hell are we supposed to get more forces? You can tell things are bad for the British when they give us direct control of things.’

‘What else are you to do? You were a General back home and they saw your abilities when you fled over here the other year.’

‘Like a goddamn coward, you mean.’   ‘Don’t think of it like that, my friend. You would’ve been killed otherwise if you had stayed, or even forced to work for the Nazis.’

‘God forbid. I’d rather shoot myself in the head.’

‘You did the right thing, believe me.’ Skippie smiled reassuringly.

Daas nodded and then sighed heavily. ‘I suppose we’d better get back to it.’

‘Excuse me, sir?’ A blonde haired woman saluted Daas and handed him a piece of paper covered with a decoded message. ‘A message from our defence HQ in Birmingham just came through. I think you’d better read it.’

Without a word Daas took the document and dismissed the woman with a wave of his hand. He took a few minutes to look over the message and then bit his lower lip.

‘What is it?’ asked Skippie.

‘A soldier was picked up near Cirencester after having been pursued by the Nazis and claims to have stolen the plans to the enemy’s next operation. Apparently it’s a move that they’re putting a lot of resources into.’

‘What about the soldier?’

‘A Frenchman who says that they don’t know he’d stolen something. He photographed them apparently.’

‘And?’

‘Our Birmingham HQ has confirmed the validity of the pictures and is in the middle of processing the information.’ Daas looked to one side in thought.

‘What is it?’ Skippie shifted his weight and leaned against the table, half sitting on it.

‘I just get the feeling this is too good to be true.’

‘Well you won’t know unless you investigate it.’

Daas mumbled something and began to nibble at his lower lip. ‘I suppose I could send someone to verify it. I mean, I’ve got a position of importance here.’

‘Send who exactly?’

‘Someone I can trust… obviously.’

***

Vaag threw his jacket onto the desk in his office and rubbed his face with slender hands. The fatigue of his last few days was catching him up, making it feel as if he was trying to outrun a tank after a sleepless night.

He ran his fingers through his thick hair and breathed out slowly, gathering some kind of strength from deep within himself. He would have loved to have been given an opportunity to get some sleep but a mound of missives and order sheets had piled up over the past couple of days. He eased himself into his leather chair and leaned back, closing his eyes just for a moment.

‘Lieutenant Vaag?’

He shook his head as his eyes shot open, quickly looking at the clock. He had lost nearly two hours; not what he wanted. He rubbed his eyes and face, secretly glad that he had gotten some sleep, and stared at the figure standing in the office doorway.

‘Shit… General.’ He darted to his feet and saluted Daas, who stood with a single piece of paper clutched in his hand.

‘How was your trip?’ he asked, assessing Vaag with a suspicious eye.

‘It was… fine, sir; anything to help further our cause.’ He balled up his hands and fought an aggressive urge.

Daas squinted. ‘I’ve got something new for you to look into, Lieutenant.’ He slid the paper across the desk, watching Vaag lean over and examine it.

‘Viable?’ he asked without looking up.

‘According to our Birmingham HQ it is, yes. But I want you to go and double check things for me.’

‘But this intelligence has already been confirmed by some of our best guys.’

‘I want to make doubly sure before I take any course of action. As you can see the Germans have no idea anything was stolen.’

‘Isn’t this a waste of resources sending me down there?’

‘As I said before, Vaag, I want it double checked.’

‘But surely they’ve already done more than double check it.’ Vaag’s voice was becoming tainted with two weeks’ worth of tiredness and frustration.

‘I’d also like you to interview the French soldier who obtained this info.’

‘Why me?’

‘Because I said so.’

‘Daas… I need some rest.’

‘Sleep on the way down there then.’

‘I meant like… a day off.’

‘There are no days off in war, Vaag.’ Daas sighed to himself, folding his arms tightly.

‘I’ve done a lot of shit jobs for you lately, Daas. I want a day or two off.’

‘Request denied. I understand you’re tired but I need you to do this for me.’

Vaag eyed his superior with a resenting look and finally sighed, averting his flaming gaze to the floor; silent.

‘Lieutenant Vaag I would advise you not disobey me on this.’

‘Was that a hint at a threat?’ His voice had turned into a growl.

‘How dare you accuse me of such a thing. I’d appreciate it if you would just oblige me and do this task I’ve asked you to do.’

Vaag bit his lip hard, resisting the urge to tell Daas where to stick it. After a minute of heated silence he locked eyes with Daas and nodded. ‘Fine I’ll do it. Straight to Birmingham… want me to call you when I get there? Or wait until I do the job?’

‘Whichever you prefer,’ Daas replied with a smile. ‘I’ll leave it down to you.’

‘Yes sir.’ Vaag grabbed his jacket from his desk and went toward the door.

Daas grabbed his arm and lowered his voice. ‘If you ever speak to me like that again there will be harsh consequences. Understand me, Vaag?’ His breath echoed his sincerity.

Vaag looked him in the eye, taking in the seriousness of his stare. ‘I understand, General.’

***

‘I reckon this beauty’s ready to roll again,’ the engineer called out as he performed one last adjustment to the tank’s exhaust.

Mac popped his head out of the top and pulled his goggles up onto his head, a wide smile on his cheery face. ‘That’ll do it, Al. Thanks a lot.’ He ducked back inside and gave the controls a once over, checking that they worked properly. ‘Perfect,’ he beamed. With a bounce in his chest he exited his tank and took a moment to step back and admire it. His Covenanter tank stood majestically in the middle of the service yard of Manchester’s defence HQ, the peeking sun glinting from its freshly polished hull. It was his lady.

A gunshot followed by a loud ping reverberated through the air, causing Mac to duck down. He swore loudly as another shot went off, a bullet bouncing off his tank.

‘No! What the hell you doing? I just had this thing serviced for God’s sake,’ he yelled before darting round to the other side, his face flushed with anger. He pulled to one side as another bullet whizzed past, again hitting his vehicle.

Mac glared at Vaag, flailing his hands into the air. ‘What the heck are you doing?’ he screamed. ‘Newly serviced tank? Polished? Does that shout out anything to you? Like STOP SHOOTING IT?’

Vaag grunted and tossed the pistol to the floor, angered at having run out of rounds. ‘Damn it!’ he screamed, kicking a nearby barrel over onto the floor. ‘Damn that bastard, smug-faced shit.’ He picked up the pistol and hurled it at the tank without any thought.

‘For the love of God stop it,’ implored Mac, switching his gaze between the tank and Vaag. ‘What’s wrong with you? You slept since you got back?’

‘Not much,’ Vaag mumbled through pressed lips. ‘Grabbed about two hours by accident earlier.’

‘You’re worked up over something more than a lack of sleep, I imagine.’ Mac folded his arms, carefully eyeing Vaag over in case he went mad again. ‘Who’s pissed you off?’

Vaag raised an eyebrow and a sarcastic look appeared on his face. ‘Hazard a damn guess, Mac.’

‘Daas again?’

‘Amazing how you knew that straight away.’

‘You’ve had many problems with him giving you all these things to do.’

Vaag huffed. ‘No chance for a rest or front line action.’

‘Which one you want more?’

After a pause Vaag laughed. ‘Rest… more than anything right now.’

‘You asked for that I presume?’

‘Obviously.’

‘And?’

‘What do you think?’

‘Sleep on the way there? That’s his standard response to everyone.’ Mac laughed.

‘He wants me to go to Birmingham HQ for God’s sake.’

‘What for?’ Mac walked over and stood beside Vaag.

‘Some intel about a Nazi offensive that’s more or less imminent.’

‘Can’t Brummy HQ verify it or something?’

‘They have.’

‘Then why are you going down there?’

‘Daas wants me to.’

Mac scratched his chin free of a spot of grease and mulled Vaag’s words over in his mind. ‘Sounds to me like he trusts you over them.’

‘That’s as may be but he can’t afford to distrust them in times like this, Mac.’ Vaag rubbed his face rhythmically with both of his palms.

‘That’s true… but maybe you need to do this for him.’

‘Have I not done enough?’ Vaag’s voice suddenly sharpened.

‘Well, yes, but this is maybe the major favour he needs from you before a big responsibility falls upon your shoulders.’

Vaag paused and exhaled heavily. ‘You may be right, but I’m not overly sure of Daas’s intentions when it comes to me.’

‘Maybe you should mull that one over when I’m driving you to Birmingham.’

‘You what?’

‘I’ll drive you all the way to Birmingham, don’t you worry.’ Mac smiled and walked over to his tank, patting it on the side.

‘In… that thing?’ Vaag pointed to Mac’s armoured behemoth.

Mac raised his hands in amusement. ‘Might as well go in style.’

Excerpt from ‘Secrets of Arkana Fortress’

This is something I have not done in a while – an excerpt from my current novel! Feedback is always welcomed :-)

A small rodent skittered through a pile of fallen branches and leaves, barely disturbing the towering figure above it. It whipped round a tree and vanished, almost as fast as it had appeared, and left the shadowy form to its sorrows.

Kelken wiped his face and cursed himself under his breath. He hadn’t felt like this for a long time, not since his last time in Traseken. Being there had brought it all back – his wife, his oath, his service, his friends, his decision to leave – and it had been the key to a treasure chest of bottled feelings that shot through his mind, body and soul like a thousand arrows and tearing him to pieces.

He had failed. He had given up the oath and failed. The first step outside of Traseken all those years ago had been what sealed his life into the routine of drink, battle and repression. The thoughts of his wife came back to him, thoughts of a young-faced Breena looking at him as he left on a search that took up years of his life. He remembered her tearful face as he had to say goodbye to her, the way she had scratched him when she had grabbed him in a desperate attempt to make him stay, and the feeling of regret he had to live with for the rest of his life. It was the one thing he had regretted most of all.

Kelken flicked a leaf from its branch and watched it swivel to the floor like a windmill. He lifted his head as he heard the leaves behind him crunch and shift along the floor. He didn’t care who it was, he stayed where he was and leaned against the tree next to him.

‘I thought I said to Breena I wanted to be left alone,’ he voiced out loud to whoever it was behind him.

San Kiln’s rhythmic purr quivered the night air. ‘I thought we might chat, you know, discuss things.’

‘Chat? Get bent, fur face.’

‘Now that’s no way to speak to a friend, is it?’

‘Friend?’ Kelken turned his head. ‘We are here due to your darling wife blackmailing me and my daughter… this doesn’t make us fucking friends.’

San Kiln stroked his whiskers, trying to adjust his natural night vision to see Kelken’s expression. ‘This has grown to more than a trivial job you were given… this is something all three of us, now four, have been destined to do together.’

‘You believe in that destiny shit, eh? All a load of nonsense to me.’

‘I’d like to think that we’re designed for greater things other than our own self-bestowed destinies.’

Kelken laughed scornfully. ‘Rather an outdated romantic concept ain’t it?’

‘It helps me at night.’

‘Huh… what have you got to lose sleep over?’ he sneered.

San Kiln shifted his weight onto his left leg. ‘Enough, Kelken, enough.’

‘Well? Come on… I’ve got all night.’

‘Why would you be interested in my problems?’ he purred.

‘Might help me forget mine for a while.’ Kelken looked at San Kiln in the strained light and twitched the side of his mouth into a small smile.

‘That’s as may be but I’d rather not.’

Kelken stiffened upright and grumbled something. ‘Then bugger off if you’re not going to talk.’

There was a sudden change in San Kiln’s manner. ‘Have you always been this hostile?’ There was a rising gradient of anger in his deep voice.

He was met with a silent wall.

‘My wife left me years ago and left me to look after our son on my own.’

‘Pakros didn’t seem absent to me.’

‘She’s my second wife. My first one ran out on me many years back. We’d had a son together – Tino.’

There was a slight lift in Kelken’s voice. ‘What’s he like?’

‘He’s a good lad… lives over in Pillin these days last I knew.’

‘You don’t have much contact with him?’

‘Not really. He went his own way once he had grown old enough. Got his own little empire of taverns in Pillin so I believe; about three or four of them.’

‘Very nice.’ Kelken sniffed. ‘When did you last speak to him?’

San Kiln’s purr halted and he let out a long, thoughtful breath. ‘Seven, maybe eight years ago… even then it wasn’t exactly on the best of terms.’

‘How come?’

‘I… kind of raised a sore point about his mother. He always thought highly of her regardless of her leaving us both in the dark. I was bad mouthing her and he went on the defensive… it got out of hand and he ordered me to leave and go back home.’

‘Must’ve been hard.’

‘It bloody was; heartbreaking to be honest,’ San Kiln replied, more calmly. ‘It wasn’t long after that that I met Pakros.’

‘How did you two meet anyway?’ Kelken asked softly.

‘A pretty unimpressive story to be honest, Kelken,’ he chuckled. ‘I was in a crowd that was watching her deliver a rather good speech in Yingtzo about distributing wealth to the poorest people in a bid to get them out of poverty. She’s keen on equality, you see. But anyway, I remember I was near the front of the crowd and she picked a few of us out to come up and talk to her after the speech. She was under the impression I was a Yingtzo inhabitant so you can imagine her awkwardness when I told her I was a visitor from Preull. She offered to have me over for dinner as a way of saying sorry for wasting my time and involving me in domestic matters… it went from there as you can imagine.’

‘You’re right… quite unimpressive.’

They both laughed.

‘This is a lot bigger than you and me, Kelken.’ San Kiln became much more solemn, his voice turning into a harsh whisper. ‘Franlet had a look at the rest of the book…’

Kelken sighed. ‘And? What did she find?’

‘Nothing good.’ San Kiln rubbed his chin.

‘What does that mean exactly?’

He paused before purring again, this time intermittently. ‘It affects everyone in Salarias… shall we leave it at that?’

‘That’s a bit vague.’

‘Maybe you should speak to your records keeper about it…’

Flash Fiction #13 – Seraph

Here is number 13 for you all to enjoy. I am seeing what I can get in 150 words :-)

**********

Flash Fiction #13 – Seraph

One thing you must know is that I am here by my own free will; not sent by a single supernatural being that a lot of humans worship. All they see is their own false idol to give them some kind of orderly reassurances about their own mortality. What they need to know is that constant warring is putting their world through such turmoil that it will correct itself, regardless of the cost.

They are obsessed with monetary gain and where does it lead? It leads to power and then results in such corruption that it is near impossible to overcome. Life has to revolve around money to such a degree that it is no life at all.

With much reluctance I must pick up my own weapon of clarity and show them what will happen to their own kind if they persist.

This is the hand of their judgement.

**********

Don’t really know what to make of most of off-the-top-of-my-head flash fictions :-P

 

The Home Guard Episode Three – Targets

Episode three! :-) Enjoy!

**********

Episode Three – Targets

Date: March 19, 1941

Location: Aylesbury

A low, distant rumble shook the horizon as the sky opened up its waterfalls and started to drown the land beneath. Birds flapped their wings harder to gain speed, desperate to find cover from the wet, their cries muffled by the thundering above them. Down in the vacant street a stray dog, coat drenched and rancid smelling; skittered across from one alleyway to the next, letting off weak whimpers as it went.

Raindrops rolled off a sniper’s barrel as it adjusted its angle, attempting to find its target. A hand slid down the length of the gun to gain more stability.

‘Damn this gun’s a lot heavier than the last issue,’ ZZ remarked as he waggled the rifle up and down. ‘This is gonna take some getting used to.’

Brak looked up from behind his glasses as he crouched next to a window, a pair of binoculars clutched in his large hands. ‘You’ve got to carry that thing around with you all the time so why’s the gun any different?’ he asked, pointing at ZZ’s groin with a laugh.

ZZ adjusted himself with one hand and smirked. ‘The wife never knew what hit her.’ He scanned down the street again. They had both set up in one of the many broken buildings in Aylesbury’s north side – a tall building with a good view of the surrounding area and the Nazi base. A rather large ammunition dump had been located in the rural town and seemed to be a key area for fuel and weapons storage. However, ZZ and Brak were not there for the ammunition and fuel – they were there for a certain Nazi general who was reportedly co-ordinating some sort of imminent tactical operation.

‘You gotten any sight of this Nazi tosser yet, Brak?’ asked ZZ.

Brak hummed quietly to himself as he peered through the binoculars, taking in the ruined views of homes, pubs and shops. A few market stalls still stood among their fallen counterparts, the wares of fresh fruit and vegetables either taken or left to rot in the turbulent weather.

Suddenly something caught his attentions. A small group of German officers emerged from the doorway of some tavern, one of them wearing a General’s insignias and carrying a black leather briefcase in his gloved hand.

‘Got something, ZZ.’

ZZ looked out through his scope, following his cousin’s guidance until he saw the officers. ‘That’s the one. He’s got a couple of captains with him too.’

‘Forget them.’

‘I haven’t got a clear shot.’

‘Shit. We might have to relocate. At least we have a fix on him.’

‘You heard the rumours about this guy?’ ZZ asked as he lowered his weapon.

‘Yeah… no surprise really.’ Brak laughed and flicked his hand down, a smile on his face.

‘You might be in with some luck then.’

***

The rain had somewhat let up, giving one German soldier a divine opportunity to have a cigarette without hindrance. He flicked a steel lighter open and puffed a few times before stuffing it back into his tunic. He watched the wispy plumes of tobacco smoke whirl upwards, disappearing in the moist air before he breathed in the inviting aroma around him.

The ammunitions dump was filled with numerous barrels, crates and trucks that stored everything from fuel to weapons to rations. He gazed over at the far end of the courtyard and hummed a familiar tune.

A pat on his shoulder caused him to drop his cigarette into the pool of water by his feet. He swore to himself before biting his lip, turning around to address whoever had just made him lose it. He nearly jumped out of his skin as a captain stood, steel-faced, in front of him, a flaming glare in his eyes.

‘What are you doing out here? Smoking on duty?’ the captain asked in German.

The soldier gaped like a fish before clearing his throat. ‘Ah… yes sir. I’m sorry,’ he replied awkwardly.

‘Well don’t just stand there looking at me,’ the captain snapped. ‘Get back inside and help move the crates over to the loading bay.’

With a clip of his heels the solider raised his arm and salute and trotted off, a grumble in his throat that quickly fell out of earshot.

‘What is it with these Nazis? They’re all a bunch of morons,’ the captain said to himself, a small smile in one corner of his mouth.

***

‘Where? For the love of God where?’ ZZ grunted as he refocused the sight on his scope.

Brak sniffed harshly then spat onto the floor. ‘I dunno, mate.’ He looked around again, this time from an abandoned house that looked down the main street of the town. ‘Wait a minute… there in pub down the street on the left, second window on the right.’

ZZ moved his sights onto the pub’s bricked form and breathed slowly, eager to finish his mission already. He waited for a minute, his lips drying up like a well in a drought. ‘Come on you Nazi scumbag.’

He squeezed the trigger.

The bullet travelled with unimaginable speed; spinning through the air with a high pitched whoosh. ZZ grinned widely, watching through the scope as the German general turned in the direction of the gun shot before his head snapped back with ferocious force, a dark red hole now fresh in his forehead.

‘Yes!’ cheered Brak, clapping his hands excitedly, laughing.

‘Got ya you bastard,’ ZZ chuckled as he flicked the bolt action chamber back to release the shell casing. It pinged on the wooden floor with a precious echo. ‘Now let’s get out of this place and go have a drink.’

Brak shot up to his feet and grabbed his cousin’s arm like a startled child, still holding the binoculars pressed up against his face. ‘Wait. Look at this guy outside the ammo dump entrance.’ He let out a guttural sound, confused. ‘The German captain… there.’

ZZ pointed his gun in the direction Brak was signalling to. ‘What the…? Is that a… bomb?’

***

Whatever the shot had been, the bullet had not been meant for him. Trigger wiped his forehead and kneeled down, the explosive growing heavy in his hands. Being undercover as a German officer was passable, but being a German officer planting a bomb at an ammo dump was not. Silently he prayed, hoping that he would remain unnoticed for a few more seconds.

‘Thank God,’ he muttered as he stood up, his leather boots creaking. He ran his hand on the Luger in his belt and steeled his breathing as he made his way back into the makeshift office, which had been someone’s living room some months beforehand. The ammunitions dump had been erected in the service yard of an old motor garage; chain link fencing cordoning off the areas between old homes and businesses.

Trigger walked through the office authoritatively, eyeing the underpaid secretaries as they sorted through papers, typed up document after document, and signed on numerous dotted lines. He would never understand the need for all these pieces of paper – he was a man who believed in actions speaking louder than words and red tape ever could.

He counted the explosive as bomb number four. There were just another two to go and it was up to his partner to sort that one out.

***

Blue Eagle stepped on his discarded cigarette and coughed hard. There was a certain chill in the air around the ammo dump; he could not be sure if it was the weather or his unease about the situation. He had one last explosive to plant before moving toward the extraction point to meet Trigger at the car. He was waiting for a patrol guard to head off before he made a move.

He didn’t have to wait long. The guard had strolled off with a puff of boredom.

Blue Eagle moved through the yard, dressed as a run-of-the-mill soldier, with a weight in his belt that seemed to be a pulsing mass of despair to him. He felt a bead of sweat trickle down his neck as he checked his surroundings.

It was clear.

He overcame the initial shaking of his hands and inserted the detonator into the top of the device, releasing a sharp sigh of relief. A small crate proved to be a sufficient form of covering the explosive from being spotted by any other patrolling guard. A quick glance around the yard and Blue Eagle was rapidly making his way through the door of one of the commandeered houses on the north side.

The next obstacle in the plan was the escape.

***

‘Blue? You’re driving us out of here.’ Trigger stood up in the open-top turret and barked his order like a true Nazi superior.

Blue Eagle furrowed his brow underneath his helmet and puffed through his nose. ‘Are you serious?’ he asked, sceptical. ‘Are we going to drive out in one of these things? How’re you gonna pass that one off to the checkpoint guards?’

Trigger peered around from up top and gave a slight shrug of his shoulders. ‘I’m sure they won’t argue with captain Trigger,’ he chuckled, licking his lips.

‘Let’s hope so,’ Blue Eagle remarked as he clambered inside the panzer wagon and slid into the driver’s seat. ‘Here, take this.’ He handed a grenade to Trigger.

‘Just in case?’

‘No one can escape Blue Eagle’s grenades, you know?’ He laughed.

Trigger smiled. ‘Come on let’s head through the checkpoint and get out of here.

The wagon roared up and started to roll forward, it’s plated hulk an impressive sight. The checkpoint was only a few hundred yards away but it seemed like an interminable wait as they both readied themselves for the worst.

‘Papers please,’ the guard asked at the gate as they pulled up.

Trigger fumbled in his jacket for his identity papers and then handed them to the soldier who had climbed up the side to grab them.

The guard stared at the slip of paper for a few moments before looking back at the yard. He angled his head to look up at Trigger. ‘Do you not know what has happened, sir?’ he asked hesitantly.

‘Of course I do,’ Trigger replied, bluffing it.

‘Why are you taking the panzer wagon out?’

‘It has recently been… repaired. We need to put it through its paces ready for the next phase.’ He hoped that was enough.

The guard mulled it over as he chatted with his partner, a chunky shouldered man with deep blue eyes. ‘You should be careful, sir. That sniper is still out there.’

Suddenly the air around them vibrated with a massive wave of energy as an explosion boomed up from the ammunitions yard, creating a fiery plume of smoke.

‘Go, Blue!’ Trigger bellowed above the din.

The wagon coughed back into life and the wheels skidded in the dirt. Trigger twisted the German hand grenade and dropped at the feet of the startled guards as they fell into a daze over what had happened.

The vehicle rocked slightly from the grenade as it sped away, the two guards falling to the ground in multiple, bloody pieces. Shouts could be heard above the second explosion as German soldiers and officers scrambled for some kind of order amidst the chaotic fires.

‘I told you so,’ Blue Eagle called up over the growling engine. ‘Nobody escapes a Blue Eagle grenade.’ He laughed heartily.

‘Just drive, will ya?’ Trigger grunted as he swivelled the turret around to cover their backs. ‘Shit.’ Another panzer wagon was fleeing from the explosions in the ammunitions dump. ‘I think they’ve sussed us out.’

‘You know they could just be trying to escape from the bombs we planted.’

The wagon suddenly jolted from side to side as a shell smacked off its hull.

Trigger angled the turret and returned fire. ‘You can take that as a no.’

***

‘Come on! Go, go, go,’ ZZ shouted as a hail of bullets ricocheted off a nearby wall.

Brak powered his legs, running as fast as he could; his breath stinted. They were not far from their extraction point but things looked dire as a squad of German soldiers pursued them relentlessly through the streets.

ZZ turned and fired a shot, catching one of the soldiers in the leg and sending him to the floor. He swore as he fumbled for a clip to reload. ‘Shit I’m out,’ he groaned, tossing the gun onto the floor as he whizzed by, his legs scaling the rubble of broken buildings.

‘Crap. We’ve got an armoured car on our tail,’ Brak said, looking behind. ‘We need to find another way out, ZZ.’

‘I’m thinking, I’m thinking. Give me a chance.’

‘The chance isn’t going to last long.’

The armoured car fired its turret.

Brak and ZZ heard a shower of screams from the pursuing soldiers, much to their surprise. The whir of the engine quickly gained on them.

‘Guys? Get in,’ came a voice from above.

The two cousins stopped in their tracks and looked up to see a man in a German captain’s uniform.

‘Is this some kind of trick?’ ZZ mused defensively.

‘I wouldn’t have just blown up a group of my own soldiers now, would I?’

Brak grabbed ZZ’s arm. ‘Just get the hell on. There should be enough room to sit on it.’

They both shrugged and climbed up the hull, each finding a spot to perch and hold on tight. The wagon roared into life again and sped off.

‘I’m Trigger and the driver is called Blue Eagle,’ Trigger said as he fired the turret.

‘I’m ZZ and this is Brak.’ He looked up at the back of Trigger’s head. ‘What the hell were you doing in there to piss them off like this?’

‘The explosions not enough of a hint for you?’ Blue Eagle asked sarcastically from within the shell of the vehicle.

Brak laughed and tapped the armour. ‘You alright in there, youth?’

‘Fine, thank you.’

‘Trig… try and aim for the wheels,’ ZZ suggested as he peered up over the turret.

Without hesitation Trigger aimed and fired a few rounds and nearly yelped with delight as the pursuing wagon toppled. ‘Fantastic. Nice one, ZZ, thanks.’

‘What were you two doing in Banbury? Was that gunshot earlier anything to do with you?’ asked Blue Eagle, his voice muffled through the armour.

‘We just took out the general in charge of this place,’ ZZ explained, a smug smile on his face.

‘No one told us of another op in this place,’ Trigger remarked blankly, a certain level of irritation in his face.

‘Likewise,’ said Brak. He put his hand into a pocket in his tunic and produced a brown paper bag, handing it over to ZZ. ‘Here’s your sunflower seeds. Get munching.’

ZZ took the bag eagerly. ‘Ta mate.’ He shovelled a handful of seeds into his mouth and began working on them.

Trigger turned in the turret space and leaned over to them both, satisfaction in his eyes. ‘Clear for the moment. We’re heading back to the Warwick base. You’re going to have to come with us.’

‘Fine by us,’ said ZZ through a mouthful of seeds. ‘When we get back I’ll give you a Masonator.’

‘A what?’ asked Trigger, his eyebrow rising.

‘It’s a drink,’ Brak pointed out.

Blue Eagle piped up as he turned the wagon round a fallen tree. ‘Is it made with a mace or something?’

Brak laughed again. ‘No it’s named after someone.’

‘Who?’

‘One of the most reliable men around.’ Brak smiled, adjusting his glasses.

ZZ pursed his lips before spitting our sunflower shells. ‘I’m not giving you a kiss again, Brak.’

**********

And there we have it. Hope you people enjoyed it :-)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,279 other followers