Being Inspired, maybe - 28
A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like. For instance:
And, then, the words:
"You have got the guards set up on the back wall," I asked Jackerby, the officer in charge of the rearguards.
"Can you see them?" he said in a tone that dripped sarcasm.
I didn't like Jackerby, he seemed far too sure of himself and his men, and so far, we hadn't had to rely on them.
But that time was coming, and sooner than any of us wanted to believe.
"Then no one else will either. Trust me, no one will be coming over the back wall. I'll be in the command post, and it has a clear view of anything coming."
"Excellent," I said, trying to sound more confident that I felt.
Jackerby was Johannson's man. He had recruited him, in circumstances that seemed a little too coincidental for my liking. Johannson was too easy going for me, and although he had not made a mistake, yet, I felt sure one was going to happen on my watch.
I think that's why I'd been sent to keep an eye on operations.
There'd already been one attempt at an incursion, and we'd been saved by a dog, one I found on the roadside, injured by the same roadside bomb that had nearly killed me as well, and brought him with me. The thought of doing so, at the time, had been on the end of a single idea, a dog could not betray me, men and women could.
And the fact its name was Jack seemed to me to be rather poetic, if not somewhat ironic in the circumstances.
There was a coded communication in my pocket, one I'd received earlier in the afternoon, uncoded from the signal room. My special code. A warning of a second incursion.
Jack and I were in the guard tower at the south-western corner of the castle. It overlooked the valley and gave a clear view of anyone or anything coming from that quadrant.
Of course, if it came by air, you'd expect to hear it.
I didn't, but Jack did. He suddenly stood and made a small moaning noise, as if he knew quiet communication was needed. The stiffness in his body told me it was danger.
I heard it, before I saw it, a glider, and following the swooping sound, the land of men on the gravel walkways just down from the tower. A precision flight and precision landing of a dozen storm troopers.
And Jackerby's guards were nowhere to be seen.
I calculated the odds. Twenty to one. I wasn't going to add Jack to the team, because he could never understand what was going on.
I was finding it hard myself. Someone I had trusted with my life, for a very long time, was not the person I thought they were.
That was the basis of the message I'd received. I hadn't believed it. Not at first. But it had one other piece of information as proof, one when I thought about, made sense of everything that had been happening.
The word coincidence had become overused in the last week.
Jack had found the passage when he and I had been doing some reconnaissance of the old castle. I thought it odd that no one knew of any secret passages when all of these old places usually did. The lord of the manor would want to be able to move about secretly, visiting mistresses, escaping from enemies, or just sneaking about checking up on staff and family
We'd found one that ran from the guard tower to the grand hall. A lot of cobwebs, a musty odor, and signs it hadn't been used for a long time, it was perfect for my soon to be unannounced arrival.
The passage ended at a large wooden cabinet which had a compartment that opened out into the hall. From within, it was possible to hear conversations and see a veiled view of any activity.
Johansson and my commander, Wallace. He was not supposed to be here, he'd been the one who sent me the warning, about another of the command officers, Nicholson.
I could see Wallace was angry. "I thought I told you I wanted this mess sorted out before I got here."
Just then Jackerby came in and looked flustered. "He's gone."
"What the hell do you mean, he's gone. Gone where, for God's sake. There's nowhere to go."
Who's gone, I wondered.
Jack was nudging my leg. What was he trying to tell me?
"He was in the south tower with that mangy dog of his, where he usually hangs out."
Me. They were referring to me.
"Then he can't be far. Find him and bring him, to me. Pity that bomb didn't kill him and we wouldn't be in this situation."
So, there was a traitor. It just wasn't who I thought it would be.
I kneeled down, "Well, Jack," I whispered. "It looks like we are both in serious trouble. What's say we get out of here?"
A lick on the side of my face told me all I needed to know.
© Charles Heath 2018