Caspian Hope – Written By Stephen Fahey. Part 64

Without a word I turned and started to walk towards the loiterers, unclipping the strap on the thirty-eight tucked under my shirt. It was the darker side of dusk by this point so I knew they wouldn’t see the truck or Tony and Grubber, with some luck they would only spot us on foot at the last twenty yards or so. Walking along I couldn’t help think of Anna. She always loved the beach. Any chance we got she’d make a beeline for the water and paddle till the sun went down. I loved to watch her play with the waves in her bare feet. She was always so elegant and demure, so when she played like a child she would radiate life. There on the shore of the Caspian, my men beside me and with murder in our hearts, thoughts of her flooded my mind.

As we neared the men around the fire the dunes to our right flattened out, revealing a large encampment. There had to be at least twenty trucks and fifty ten-man tents lit by dozens of small fires. Despite their security being shit, no tower and no patrol, my heart sank. By the grace of all the gods we hadn’t been spotted, so I whispered to the others.

“It’s all or nothing, Gents. Crush them and sit down by the fire as if you belong. Remember, knives to the throat so they can’t scream. I’ll distract. Pounce together.”

At forty odd yards I walked down to the water and started mumbling to myself, putting on a staggered gaunt. The first of the loiterers put his head up and elbowed the man next to him. Then they all turned and looked toward me. Just as they started to stand up and were calling out and laughing at me my men struck. Bacon jest fell out of the sky on top of one of them. If his blade didn’t kill his man then the force he landed on him with did. Tyk and Baldy got to within a yard or two others before their prey noticed them. And as they turned around the two youths each took a knife through the neck. L2 had trouble though. He’d had to run around Tyk and Baldy to get to his man and in those vital seconds his intended target had managed to get to his feet and turn to face him.

In a feat of physical prowess seldom ever seen from L2, a reserved man, by nature, he ran full tilt at his opponent and tackled him with a shoulder to the gut. He was stronger then than he had ever been in his life as he flattened on contact a man a full foot taller than himself. As they both fell to the sand with a thump L2 dug the butt of his knife into the ground under the man’s head and impaled his skull from behind. It happened so fast I didn’t realise about the knife in the head until L2 sat down where the man had been sitting and rolled the body over to retrieve his knife.

As L2 and the others sat down I had walked the rest of the way from the water’s edge to the fire. They all sat and lay beside their kills like they were having a picnic. It was some sight, and right behind them at about two hundred yards a camp full of men bustled in the early night, going about their business oblivious to our presence.

“Fucking HELL that was some tackle, L2,” congratulated Tyk.

“Just had to be done,” he answered, bashful.

“I didn’t think you had it in you, Christ you nearly tore him in half you old boot you!” added Baldy. “And that was right grizzly how you stuck him.”

“You did yourselves proud, Gentlemen,” I interrupted.

“Sir.”

There were men walking from fire to fire in the background. It looked as though the camp had been there for a little more than a week but it was obvious they were Serik’s reserves – there were too few men for it to be his main force. Each of us gathered our breath and prepared to move back to the truck, sitting two of the bodies up around the fire with their backs to the camp.

“Ready, Gents?”

“Sir.”

“Ok, on me. Nice and casual. Like you’re going for a piss.”

I took one more look inland and watched a solitary ragtag make his way past a gap between tents then I stood and walked away in faux calmness – my heart pounding in my chest. The whole time we walked back I wanted to look back to be sure we were safe but I couldn’t. I daren’t. Once we got fifty yards from the fire I started to jog, followed by the others. Tony and Grubber stood as we passed them and followed just behind us. Bailing into the truck I saw Sid had one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the keys, ready to start her up.

“GO,” I ordered.

And up she started, like a bag of rusty hammers, the Thornycrofts were never famed for their elegance or style, but they were damn reliable.

“Keep the revs low till we’re past them, Sid.”

“Yes, Sir.”

We came alongside the camp.

“Easy.”

We moved right into plane sight.

“Easy.”

The gap in the dunes felt like a mile, not the fifty or so yards it actually was.

“Nearly.”

Twenty yards to go.

“Almost.”

Ten.

“Wait for it.”

“Sir.”

“Wait for it.”

“Sir.”

I let us roll along in first for another thirty yards before I had Sid climb the gears. He worked nice and steady from first to second and from second to third.

“Easy does it.”

Those last few yards as Sid brought her up to speed were gruelling. I could feel the eyes of the entire camp on us and the barrels of their rifles pointed at our heads but after what felt like forever we were trundling along again, bouncing down the beach with adrenaline thickening our blood.

Jesus, Sir. That was a close one.”

“We’d never have got away with that if these boys were real soldiers. They were just the reserves. Anyone else we come up against now will be the real deal. Especially Serik’s guard, if he’s this far west.”

“What do think his deal is, Sir, this Serik fairy?”

“Could be anything. Personal glory, greed, a warped national patriotism or religious insanity, or maybe he’s just a madman who has too much power. He’s likely a veteran of some other war, maybe even an officer in the same military he’s overrunning. It doesn’t matter – whatever his reasons, he’s got this country by the throat.”

“I would love to shut him down for good!”

“You and me both, Sid. You and me both.”

We drove on for another four miles before we made it to the first of the private jetties that the locals used to poach and smuggle with. Little more than planks and sticks poking out of the water, the bare wooden frames were naked of boats. Whoever had been moored up here before we arrived had long since got out of dodge. There were still ropes attached to the poles that the frames were built around, someone had just jumped into their boats and cut the moorings.

“Keep going. There’ll be more.”

“Sir.”

“It’s not gonna get bright for another few hours. And we’ll hit Atyrau before daybreak, so keep your eyes peeled, Sid.

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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