That day the wait for the fall of darkness was excruciating, but everyone was overjoyed for Junior. If one man gets a promotion, especially a rare battlefield promotion, it’s a moment for all to savour. This one fact changed that last day waiting on the roof of the hospital into a celebratory moment. We all knew that night we’d be risking everything to get north by way of the water, but we were able to laugh for a short while and bask in L2’s happiness. It was a shame we couldn’t toast him with champagne and whiskey, but I don’t think he minded. I don’t think he even noticed. As we ate our evening meal of tinned fruit I addressed my men together.
“Gentlemen, and Second Lieutenant,” I began. “Tonight we venture into the unknown. I know we’ve been venturing from unknown to unknown for weeks now, but tonight it’s all or nothing. If we’re discovered or get separated the rendezvous point is the ridge five miles south west of here. We’ll be covering L2, Murphy, Toddy and Al as they roll back from sabotaging the airport refuelling truck right up to the last minute, then rendezvousing with Longshot, Big Brin, Kegs and Glynn as they come up Syr Darya on our chariots. This will require exact unity of action and nerves, Gentlemen, so I want every one of you to keep a clear head. Once L2 and Murphy blow the fuel truck Longshot & Co. will nab the boats and start up to the rendezvous point, then we’ll all converge on the boats together, bail on and get the bloody hell out of here. It won’t be long before we run into someone but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Right now, I need you all to keep your cool; and when the moment comes, run like the hounds of fucking hell are chasing you!! Any questions?”
“Soldiers, zero hour is O two hundred.”
“SIR. YES, SIR!”
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey