Thursday, 27 January 2011

Friday Flash: The Lookout

The sun flecks through the trees, as we sprawl flat on the floor and our camouflage blends with the foliage. My platoon and I have been commanded to defend our base from attack. From my position, hidden from view in the trees at the top of the hill, I can see enemy boats approaching along the river, unaware that we are watching their every move.

“What’s the latest, Sergeant Robert?” Private Maxwell asks.
“Shhh,” I command. A knot of tension twists in my gut.

Glancing back at Maxwell I can see the fear in his face. I whisper, my voice barely audible so that he has to partially lip-read, “They’re surrounding us on all sides. We’re out-numbered by a huge amount.”

“Shit,” Maxwell replies.
“Shhh,” I say again, more urgently this time.

We have a certain vantage point being on top of this hill. The only trouble is the numbers. We are few, they are many, and our chances are looking bleak.

My gaze flicks from the river to the woodland at the bottom of the hill. How many hundreds of enemy soldiers are hidden within that maze of shelter and leaves? It’s impossible to tell, but with every rustle and movement I imagine thousands of fierce faces, waiting for their command.

A rustle in the trees above startles me momentarily.
“Maxwell?” I say, not taking my eyes from the woods.
“It’s a bird, don’t worry,” he replies. I sigh in relief.

I have to avoid making any sudden movements in case their lookout is watching us too. I remain statuesque as a giant spider crawls across my forearm, and the smell of rotting leaves and fertile soil fills my nostrils. I try to work out whether the sound I can hear is the wind gently stirring the trees above us, or the river flowing along its channel.

I hear my stomach growl. This is not the time or place to be thinking of food.
“What can you see?” Corporal Brian whispers.
“I can’t make out numbers, but they’re out there, I can feel it,” I tell him.

Sweat prickles my forehead as the sun beats down through the leaves and heats up our hiding place. The decision has to be made; to stay in our defensive positions or to come out of relative safety and attack.

I look at my watch. It’s 13:14. One minute left until it’s time to rotate and for Maxwell to take the position of lookout.

We can’t see the Captain from where we are. But we await the command which we know will come soon.
Suddenly we hear the voice of authority, loud and clear:

“Come along, boys, the picnic is ready.”

12 comments:

  1. Lordy Rebecca, you had me completely hooked. "Attack?" I'm thinking. "Bad idea if so thoroughly outnumbered." Waiting for the shoe to drop. Then ... you're funny, you are.

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  2. OMG so not what I expected, talk about barking up the wrong tree, got to hand it to you girl, your talent is spilling on through these stories!

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  3. So a platoon walks into a picnic...

    Very amusing ending, Rebecca.

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  4. Ooh that naughty Maxwell used a rude word!

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  5. Yup, that one fooled me too! Great stuff :) I really do think kid can be that immersed in their games, and shame on us for losing that ability...

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  6. Shame on the adult for interrupting their war games, but then again, an army (even a very young one) marches on its stomach. :-D

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  7. Great set up and pay off. Love children's imagination and the games they play. We so need to have that imaginative play as adults.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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  8. Rebecca, this may be my favorite of yours. You set us up good, I was so tense wondering when they would be attacked from above, and then - Bam! Not at all what I expected. Fantastic tension and twist!

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  9. Oh, that was nicely done. Great tension builder and then the ending changing everything.

    Very well done.

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  10. Cute. You did a great job of building the tension, and the payoff was priceless.

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  11. Builds tenstion nicely and then surprise ending with humor.

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  12. You had me going until the end. Then I just smiled. What a pleasant and interesting surprise. You really built the suspense throughout. Great job.

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