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Chapter 22

The men had prayed for water, and in answer to their prayers, they got it. It began to rain. Not just a bit of drizzle, but full on torrential rain which bounced off the ground in big fat blobs. The kind of rain that got everywhere, no matter how sheltered you thought you were. Before long, they were soaked through to the skin and shivering. But they had managed to fill up their drinking bottles and collect water in any other object fit to hold water.

“Man, it’s like one extreme to another!” Nick exclaimed as he wrung his sopping wet socks out which had been squelching in his boots. His boots which must be letting in water from somewhere.

“I guess luck isn’t on our side” Howie shook his head.

“When has it been since we got here?” Alex huffed. For the millionth time, he wished he was hiding out in England with his lovely new wife. Or better still, back home in sunny Florida with Juliet. They’d talked about it a lot, and Alex knew she was going to love it…if he made it back alive that is. He could just imagine introducing Juliet to his family and friends back home. He knew they’d love her just as much as he did.

“At least we aren’t going to die from dehydration, we’ve got to be thankful for that” Brian shrugged. There was no use complaining over things which were beyond their control. They were safe from harm for the time being, and that was what counted.

That night, they didn’t sleep very well. It was hard to get comfortable when they were wet and cold. They didn’t dare try to light a fire for fear of being seen from a distance, and they would probably have a hard time trying to find any branches or twigs dry enough to light. Not even the tree foliage could provide sufficient shelter and so they just had to deal with it.

“I’m so cold” Nick shivered, his teeth chattering so much he could barely get the words out.

“We should huddle together for warmth” Kevin suggested and was met with strange looks from the others. “Believe me, it’ll help”

After a couple of hours of sound sleep, the men woke to clear blue skies and birds chirping. They sipped at the rain water they’d collected and eat some of the remaining food, which they were rationing into tiny portions.

“Let’s get going, I feel today is going to be a better day” Kevin said with confidence. By his calculation, they should reach Ramelle by nightfall if they were lucky, or by tomorrow if the going got tough. The thought of finally reaching others spurred him on.

“I wish I shared your optimism” Alex replied. He couldn’t help his pessimism; nothing about this place gave him hope.

“Always looking at the negative” Kevin shook his head. He couldn’t blame him; he often had his doubts, but needed to keep them hidden. A leader wasn’t a very good leader if he exuded fear and lacked confidence they would succeed.

They’d only been walking about an hour when Kevin warned everyone to stop. He’d heard branches cracking and movement in the trees. With hand and eye signals, he urged his men to get down, fearing that this was some kind of ambush. If he had to die here, he didn’t want it to be from a sniper’s bullet. He wanted to at least have the chance to defend himself and put up a fight for survival.

The men stayed down, their breathing getter faster as their hearts pumped wildly. And then Howie spotted out of the corner of his eye the cause of the noise. It was a deer. They gave a collective sigh of relief and got to their feet, the sudden movement making the deer scamper off back into the depths of the forest.

“Thank god for that” Alex exclaimed as his heart rate slowly went back to normal.

They all agreed.


“I’m not sure I can sit here doing nothing when there are injured and dying men needing assistance” Louise told Elena over a cup of tea.

“But you are doing something” Elena told her friend. “You work for the Red Cross, and don’t forget you’re pregnant! You do enough already. You should be taking it easy”

“I know, but I still feel so useless. I can’t help thinking of them, lying there injured and alone with no one to keep them company in hospital” she sighed. She was missing Daniel so much and wondered when he’d be home next. Would he be there to witness the birth of his child? Did he even know she was pregnant? She hadn’t heard from him in a while and couldn’t possibly know whether he’d received her letters. She placed her hand over her non-existent baby bump and rubbed gently. She would love their baby enough for the both of them until Daniel returned.

“If any of us should be doing something, it should be me!” Elena admitted. It had crossed her mind on more than one occasion that she should become a nurse and help where needed. But she was needed in the shop. Her parents depended on her and she didn’t want to let them down.

“I don’t think I could cope with the blood” Juliet pulled a face, not liking the idea one little bit. “But you’d make a wonderful nurse” she told her sister.

“Why don’t you do it?” Louise asked.

“I could manage the shop on my own…”

“Our parents would have a fit!” Elena stopped her sister from saying another word.

“It’s something to consider though” Louise told her friend.

Later that night, as Elena lay in bed reading over the single letter she’d received from Nick since he’d left, she seriously gave some thought to becoming a nurse. She wasn’t married like her sister or Louise, so could take up a nursing job easily.

But would she be able to do it?