“Good morning sir. This is your early morning call.”
“Wha? Mmm, coffee.” Harry got an eye open and confirmed coffee and that the voice really was female. “Cynthia?” He quickly checked that the blanket was over him. “What are you doing
“We have a list of your shift times. The other corporal, Menzies, left it in the kitchen. See, I’ve remembered the ranks. We’ve been learning them.” Cynthia giggled. “Maybe not morning, it’s nine o’clock at night.”
“Twenty one hundred.”
“It said two thousand one hundred or twenty one point double zero. I didn’t fancy trying to say that but it’s nine o’clock on the kitchen clock.” Harry’s head slowly caught up, not helped by the bright chattering voice. “You should knock first. Just in case, er, we’re washing our boxers or whatever.”
“It can’t be worse than the last three days where we all managed with one of everything.” Her eyes widened. “Unless you lot are commandos? I’ve heard all about them.” Harry laughed. “No, I’m a pay clerk.”
“Well, the pen is mightier than the sword.” That twinkle was in her eye again.
“Only if there’s a line of blokes with swords or rifles to back up the man with a pen.” Harry glanced down the room and the other beds were empty. Bugger, he’d better get her out of here sharpish. If Sarge caught him with a woman in here? “You’d better get out of here before you get me into trouble.” Her eyes flashed again. “That’s supposed to be what I say.” Cynthia pouted. “In that case I’ll put your coffee here and leave. I’d been hoping to find out if what they say about soldiers is true.” Harry wasn’t falling for that lead‐in. Though it was tempting with those eyes because it had been a long time since he’d been close to a pretty lass. Well, one he’d dare be alone with and didn’t have a horde of fanatical relatives. “Scat. I’ll be down in half an hour.”
“Yes, Corporal Menzies said it would take you half an hour to get yourself fit to be seen.” She sniggered. “That must be why you’ve got those covers pulled up so high.” Then Cynthia twirled and left, but not before Harry saw the smile on her face. Harry sat up and picked up the coffee. Mmm, lovely. Though Cynthia had better be careful about wandering into this room since either of the others could have been showering or getting changed. Harry mused briefly on that smile. Then regretfully decided that since she was living in a room with three or four others, and so was he, he’d never find out just how interested Cynthia was. Though his early morning call had definitely put Harry in a good mood. Right up until just after midnight. “Move it, move it!” Soldiers stumbled out of rooms as the fire bell went off. They assumed this was a call‐out and not a fire since an officer had decided to use it as an emergency alarm. Though Cullen turned up to check, just in case there was a fire.
“The walking wounded are staying to mind the store so you’ve got to be a real soldier for a change. See if you remember how.” Harry ignored the lieutenant and found Menzies and the others who were now in their squads, then got into ranks. Harry had kept his shield but now it was strapped to his chest instead of to his pack. Menzies was scowling. “We’ve got a few more shields now, but no bloody batons or rubber bullets.”
“Is it another riot? Against bayonets? Are they bloody stupid?” Harry couldn’t believe it but sure enough they were soon marching to where two single decker buses were waiting. It was cramped inside but not for long since they hadn’t far to go. Then once again it was bayonets against civilians.
help with the aftermath, Vance tried writing though without any real structure. As an editor and beta readers explained the difference between words and books, he tried again. Now he tries to type as often as possible in spite of the assistance of his cats, since his legs no longer work well enough to allow anything more strenuous. An avid reader of sci‐fi, fantasy and adventure novels, his writing tends towards those genres.