We began the march that night not expecting all of us to make it to dawn. After countless false alarms we came up on the staging area and stayed out of sight. The beachfront was flat to the horizon and sandy, if it hadn’t been for the threat to life it would have been a fine place to holiday. What a waste. The open beach spread two or three hundred yards inland where it met sand dunes which themselves grew in height for another hundred yards until they met grassland. And that greenery stretched on for as far as the eye could see. There was no cover on the beach beyond the rocky cove where we lay in wait. The dunes offered little or no protection and the grasslands where too far inland not to be occupied.
“L2, get eyes high and low, I want to know everything that moves within line of sight.”
“Longshot, you’re on security.”
“Everyone else fan out on me. I want all eyes watching for any traffic on and offshore and all movement. We need a route past this area by nightfall. Half and half sleeping shifts in one hour. Go.”
With everyone charged to a specific duty I got comfortable next to Tony. He had, as usual, taken up an excellent vantage point. It was at the peak of the rocks the coves were shorn from. And it gave an unobstructed view of the beach, the dunes and the grasslands. We lay there as the sun rose and I watched the water while he watched the land. As I watched the patrol boat sail south again along the shore and past us, Tony tapped me on the arm.
Turning around I saw what he was looking at. The patrol truck we’d been watching pass us each day was driving up onto the grasslands from behind a large dune. We had found the base of action for the land patrol team. The boat was able to cover a lot more area than the truck so it stood to reason trucks would be stationed at intervals on land where as the boat would be based at one secured location. Tony confirmed there were three men in the truck and he watched them move south as I watched the boat disappear from sight in the same direction.
Two hours later the boat returned and an hour later it passed back south again. This told me we were getting close to the patrol boat’s base of operations; its return-pass cycle had shortened since the first night marching up the coast. So far though, we appeared to have gone unnoticed. Come midday, when everything would come to a halt, we were all hiding in our various rocky patches of shade when the birdcall went out.
“What is it?” I whispered up to Tony.
His hand came out and snapped shut into a first and we all froze. A long moment later he opened his fist and waved me up. With a deftness of climbing I have never before or since enjoyed command of, I scaled the jagged hill in a flash and joined Longshot as he burned two holes through his binoculars with his eyes. Looking down his line of sight I could see a foot patrol with my naked eyes. Four men a hundred and fifty yards inland, armed with submachine guns slung low. They walked in a casual column, not paying much attention to their surroundings; a sure sign of inexperience and boredom.
“More of Serik’s clowns, Sir.”
“They haven’t a clue, do they?”
“None whatsoever, Sir.”
“Watch them, and find me a location where we can take them. Did you see where they came from?”
“Just over where the truck came from, Sir. They must have a tent or a hut down there around that dune. Probably still got four to eight more men down there to cover the patrols and man the truck by night.”
“Good thinking, Tony.”
“Sir, there’s likely more men stationed around here, but this being the southern-most tip of the staging area they’re likely further north. What say you to taking this base and infiltrating north?”
“I’ll think on it, Longshot.”
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey