Corporal Steelbeck turned away from the foreign jungle sounds and looked at the three men who shared the fire with him. They were all far away from home and not sure what to make of this strange land. He nudged a log further into the fire with the toe of his leather boot. The wood here was too damp and didn’t burn well. It just hissed and cracked a lot, with random pops. The fires were dim too. Not just because of the constant rains, but as if the light was afraid to intrude into the jungle.
Sergeant Wellborne set down her tin cup. The hot tea that was inside made it too hot to handle. She twisted her hair into a bun and tucked it under her hat. The moisture here made her long red hair into a giant ball of frizz. Some days she braided it, others she just didn’t care. Steelbeck sat back and closed his eyes in a moment of relaxation. He was cut short by the sound of light buzzing followed by the sting of another mosquito bite. WHAP!
The sergeant glanced over at him. “I will never be used to these damn insects. Always flying around biting. This is definitely the most god-forsaken place I have ever been in my life.” She settled into the canvas camp chair and smoothed out her khaki colored uniform. “Corporal, have you ever been anyplace this miserable?”
“No ma’am. I was stationed on the northern tip of Akhotep once. On the west side, where it is flat and hot. A lot of my platoon mates passed out from the heat. It was a miserable time, but I think this is worse. Too damp here, and too many oddities up in those trees. Strange noises coming out of them at all times of day. Not natural, I say.”
“I thought it was all hot and flat.”
“The west is worst. At least from what I saw. None of it was good,” the corporeal said as he shrugged into his coffee.
Sergeant Wellborne could see the mourning cross the face of her second-in-command. He lost his wife and daughter while on that campaign and it was weighing on the boys heart. He looked away from her new assistant’s pain and adjusted the pins on the front of his uniform. The Queens Cross kept leaning to the left. It was such a small amount that she doubted that anyone else would notice. She had never been good at cheering people up or getting them through their problems. He seemed like a nice kid and she wanted to cheer him up, but there was not much to be done in this place. She was broken out of her thoughts by the corporal.
“Do you know what the details are with this? It seems like an odd thing to be waging a war over. This is a small village. I can’t image it could be very important, strategically. Especially considering how much resistance there has been around this area.”
The sergeant furrowed her brows. She glanced back and forth before she leaned in. “Can you keep a secret?”
“Yes ma’am,” the young man said as he tried to lean closer and still look casual. He failed horribly.
“Swear on her majesties throne, that this can never be uttered again, under any circumstances.”
The corporals mouth dropped realizing the severity of this conversation. “Yes, of course,” he said regaining his composure.