A Mid-Winter’s Tale

They shared the same first thought. If they survived they would seek out and cause severe harm to whosoever fired off that star-shell, even if the culprit was from their own respective side. It was probably only the shock of staring at the equally exposed and surprised enemy soldier which stilled they impulse to do anything more than breath out their own favoured swear word. Here they were experienced scouts and snipers surviving into the third year of the war, gawping and quivering like recruits. He wondered if this was it; he’d finally lost his edge, time to pay. She felt so damn tired she reckoned this was it. But the other one did not fire the shot. His shoulders slackened, his sniper rifle lowering; her knees eased as she crouched, placing her weapon on the frost hard snow. In response to her dulling eyes now shorn of the predatory gaze of their shared craft, he sighed in fatalistic relief and did likewise.

After nervous interlude of crouching, each at their own edge of the clearing in the scrub, She reached for the slim plastic flask strapped to her helmet and took a swift sip, she tossed it across to him.

‘Will keep you warm and awake,’ she said, although heavily accented he admitted she did speak his language well, reassured he took a swift mouthful, the liquid tasted of strong coffee but slipped down with the gathering warmth of a liqueur; feeling unsettled at the lack of an attack to respond to, for want of some response he was returning the social civility in her own lyrical tongue.

‘This is good. Were you issued or did you,’ the pause took the place of a smile ‘Appropriate?’

‘Nothing but the best for scouts,’ she replied the brief dullness in the eyes replaced with a flickering sardonic glint, he responded with a twitch of a smile and a brief snort.

The silence was growing awkward; comforting as it was, the stimulant could make you twitchy if you did not take some positive action in one way or another, and, anyway these days she was prone to twitches, having your cheek skimmed by a stray shot could have that effect.

He had to admit this situation was peculiar. There had been ceasefires. There had been truces to collect wounded. He’d never just sat down with a Khmuree before and he supposed judging by the shifts of puzzlement crossing her face she had not offered a Mitch a drink before as a matter of good manners. Mind you, this was still officially a neutral land and both armies were only here to protect the locals from the depredations of The Other, or so the story went. So with everyone under orders to be tip-toeing  oddness was bound to happen.   

‘Corporal Jagerin,’ her sudden introduction breaking the silence.

‘Banner Sergeant  Faigai,’ he replied, causing her to pull a face of mock respect and a quick universal salute of three fingers side on to her brow, making him realise they did have a sense of humour…not so ‘khmuree’ then.  In the lessening of tension he felt a general question was reasonable ‘Surveying the land and no more?’

‘Those are my orders. Your people are established but do not appear comfy, sentries keep pacing, officers are examining the land more times than they need to,’ she shrugged ‘I expect you found the same. You are returning yes?’

‘The most difficult part will be getting back to our own positions. Nervous soldiers are as dangerous as foes,’ 

‘I wish they would send veteran battalions to these places. People who can read a situation,’

They might well have simply ended the interlude with another exchange of acerbic comments on their own higher commanders and gone their separate ways, relieved at still being alive. Instead they both stiffened, dropped even lower, rifles to the fore.

‘Riders?’ they said to each other, in disbelief.

‘Not even trotting,’ Corporal Jagerin added.

To be continued…..



11 thoughts on “A Mid-Winter’s Tale

  1. Pingback: A Mid-Winter’s Tale…(Pt II) | Writing Despite Computers and Programmes

  2. Pingback: A Mid-Winter’s Tale… Pt III | Writing Despite Computers and Programmes

  3. Pingback: A Mid-Winter’s… Tale Pt IV | Writing Despite Computers and Programmes

  4. Pingback: A Mid-Winter’s Tale… Pt V | Writing Despite Computers and Programmes

  5. Pingback: A Mid-Winter’s Tale… Pt VI | Writing Despite Computers and Programmes

  6. Pingback: A Mid-Winter’s Tale… Pt VII | Writing Despite Computers and Programmes

  7. Pingback: A Mid-Winter’s Tale…Pt VIII | Writing Despite Computers and Programmes

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