Alex apologised profusely for talking to a senior officer in such an inappropriate manner. How he hadn’t noticed the difference in uniform was beyond him. But then again, noticing a man’s uniform was not top of his list of priorities at the moment; staying alive was.
“Don’t worry about it and let’s drop all the formality whilst we’re here, it’s Kevin or Richardson” he advised the men, looking them over with his piercing green eyes.
Alex nodded and decided he liked this captain already. He was a no nonsense kind of man, a strong leader and someone who wasn’t going to bullshit them; just what they needed right now. A confident leader instilled confidence in his men.
“So what’s going on Kevin?” Nick asked the older man, hoping that he had an idea of what they were supposed to do to get out of the sticky situation they’d found themselves in. “It’s obvious we can’t move from here without being shot to a million pieces”
“There’s a team of men who are at this very moment, scaling the walls to take out the German lookout and any soldiers around there. Once their snipers are out of the picture, the rest shouldn’t be too difficult to take down. When the area is secure, we move out” Kevin announced confidently. He saw no reason for failure as the men were highly trained for combat and keen to seek revenge for what had just played out on the beach.
“So we just have to sit tight then? Wait for a signal or something?” asked Howie, not feeling much confidence that they would succeed. The sights he’d witnessed not long ago would forever haunt him. How could so many men be killed in such short a time? It didn’t give the former elementary school teacher much hope.
“That’s right” Kevin replied, giving Howie a reassuring look. He had no intention of dying today or another other day in this war.
“Where’s Brian? I’ve not seen him since we left the boat” Nick suddenly realised and looked around, fear and panic washing over him as he thought of his friend getting caught up in the gun fire. He felt sick as he looked at the sea of blood and the mutilated bodies scattered on the sand.
“Oh god, please don’t let him die here” begged Alex, biting his lip in worry. He felt guilty for not having noticed Brian missing sooner. Then he thought of Brian’s family back home and felt even worse. He didn’t know them, but he felt as if he did after hearing his friend talk about them so often.
“I’ll stand up and see if I can see him” announced Howie, although he didn’t hold out much hope of seeing him again, it was carnage on the beach.
“Be careful” Kevin warned, not wanting to lose one of his newly acquired men. He’d already lost so many today.
Howie stood slowly and scanned the beach for signs of Brian, hoping and praying that he was still alive.
“Any sign of him?” asked Nick hopefully.
“No…not yet” Howie replied and turned his attention back to the beach for one last look.
He was just about to duck back down and give up when he saw him, crawling along the beach, not far from where they were hiding. His uniform was covered with blood, but he seemed able to move with ease. Howie figured the blood might belong to someone else.
“Brian” he called, trying not to raise his voice too much for fear of being heard. “Over here”
Brian looked up and around, not knowing where the voice was coming from. Howie called out his name again and then Brian saw his friend and scurried as fast as he could towards him, completely undetected by the enemy.
“Thank god, I thought you guys had been killed” said Brian as he slumped down behind the rock breathlessly. He was safe for now and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Brian?” said Kevin in wonder.
“Kevin! What are you doing here?” Brian asked, completely shocked to see a familiar face from home.
“You know each other?” Nick asked, looking from one to the other.
“We’re cousins” they said together.
“Small world!” AJ exclaimed.
“Kev, what the hell are you doing here?” Brian asked again. He knew his cousin had joined up; in fact he’d joined up a long time before Brian had, but didn’t expect to find him here.
“I moved up the ranks and now here I am…a Captain…your new captain actually” Kevin replied with a smirk for his younger cousin.
“Well, I for one am glad you are with us” Brian said and gave him a hug. When they’d been kids, Brian always knew that nothing bad would ever happen to him as long as Kevin was around. He hoped now that they were older that it still applied.
The five men sat huddled up in their hiding place, listening to Kevin’s stories while they waited for either the all clear…or to be faced with the enemy.
It had started off as a normal Saturday morning in the Armitage house, nothing out of the ordinary. Elena was working in the shop and was rushed off her feet as they had had a new delivery which had been eagerly awaited. In fact it was so busy that she didn’t notice the telegram boy ride past on his bike…a sight which would usually not go unnoticed as it was a sight that everyone dreaded. And so she carried on serving her customers as usual.
About an hour later, the door of the shop opened and in walked a sombre looking Edward; Jeremy’s younger brother. Elena immediately knew that something was wrong, Edward was such a happy young man usually.
“Edward, what’s wrong? What’s happened? Are your parents alright?” she asked and then her heart sank as she thought the worst “Is it Jeremy?”
Edward couldn’t contain the tears anymore “We had a telegram…” he sobbed “his plane…was shot down……..he’s dead Elena”
“Oh my god, no…” Elena said bringing her hands to her face in horror. “No, he can’t be dead”
“It’s true” Edward sobbed and Elena immediately flung her arms around the boy and they stood there crying together. Edward was only fifteen and adored his older brother, they were such a close family, and god only knows how his parents were taking the news. Probably the same way her parents had taken the news of William’s death. How were you supposed to react to the death of a child?
They stood there comforting each other in their grief, oblivious to anyone around them. One of the customers had realised what must’ve happened and ushered everyone out of the shop and turned the ‘open’ sign to ‘closed’. There was no way the Armitage family would be able to run the shop today.
“What’s going on?” asked Mrs Armitage coming downstairs. The shop had become eerily quiet, the sound of chatty customers had ceased and she wanted to know why.
“Mother…..it’s Jeremy” Elena said, looking up at her with red rimmed, teary eyes. She didn’t need to say another word, Mrs Armitage knew. She also began to cry silent tears, Jeremy had been like part of the family, was going to become family on his next leave, and now he was gone, it just wasn’t fair.
“Go on Edward, you’d better get home to your parents, please give them my sincere condolences” Mrs Armitage said, walking him over to the door. She watched him walk home and then closed the door and locked it.
She turned to look at her eldest daughter who was stood there with tears streaming down her face “Oh Elena…come here” she said and they flung their arms around each other, crying until they were all cried out.