Chapter Six - Cold Love
The snow crunched under our boots as we made our way along the road. The wind blowing gently making the snow flakes dance through the sky down to the ground. Our heavy jackets making it more difficult to move yet I'm sure we all preferred that to the cold which would no doubt consume us if we were left open to it. We walked quietly till we reached a fork in the road. Tillman held up his hand signaling us to stop.
"We are to meet with N Section at 23:30 in a small farmstead just up from here" He whispered quietly while checking his watch. "It is 23:00 now. So we will have to wait it out till a recon is sent to let us know all is clear"
"We'll fucking freeze out here before then!" one soldier snaps.
I looked at Tillman who was shooting him a glare that would turn the snow to ice. The soldier quieten down immediately.
We all sat huddled close, shivering for five to ten minutes which felt like forever. The cold making it difficult to breath an painful to move. By now I thought I would have some immunity to the cold.
But it still attacked my body to no end. Tillman sat staring at his watch like an eagle as 23:30 came an went. By now it was 23:50 an still no sign of the recon. We huddled as close as possible feeling as if the weather was more of an enemy than the army.
They wouldn't even need to fire a single round as we would be found laying here frozen to death. By now it was 00:30 an we had given up hope.
"Lets head back, no point in us dying out here" Tillman says with a chatter of his teeth. We all slowly an painfully rise to our feet, bones cracking as we stand. Just as we turn to walk away the sound of a stick breaking rings out behind us. We all turn sharply cocking our guns preparing to fire, the cold shackles instantly broken by a racing heart beating with panic an adrenalin.
"Don't shoot Don't Shoot!" a voice in the dark says sharply. "I'm from N section, follow me"
We huddled around barrel fires inside a small closed barn defrosting our bodies. Dangerous having fire alight as it could give away our position.
But the warmth it gave was greatly welcome by all. The barn had the making of a small armory an comfy hostel at that. Men, women an children quietly sleep on piles of hay on one side. The light from the fire gently
illuminating the side sections of the barn. Men at tables on the other side of the room playing cards an talking an joking without a care in the world while others sit loading, repairing an readying guns.
A small rack of assorted arms sits behind the table. Rifles, Pistols, Knives, Grenades an ammo clips an belts. It is easy to tell they have been preparing for this attack sometime now. The sight of the guns makes me feel a bit uneasy, even though I carry my rifle with me. I can't help but feel all they represent is death. I look away an back into the warmth of the barrel fire.
"Tillman, sorry you had to wait so long. We were observing you for sometime, we had to be sure it was your squad" the soldier says.
"Your sorry.." Tillman says before pausing, searching for a name.
The soldier sits looking at him an realizes. "Marcus"
"Well, Marcus. I'm so glad your sorry!" Tillman replies with sharp sarcasm. "While you sat an observed we almost froze to fucking death"
"We had to be sure!" Marcus hits back with with a touch of anger.
"No, no. I understand. I apologize. the cold has a way of attacking the mind" Tillman says relaxing back into his chair.
A young woman no older than me walks over an places two glasses of whiskey down on the table. Both Tillman an Marcus nod in thanks as they pick up the glasses an down the whiskey in one go. I watch the girl as she walks away an something in my mind tells me I have seen her before. But I have no recollection of when or where or if I have at all. The question from Tillman rolls over an over in my mind; "Ever been brainwashed?" It plays over an over again. The sound of a gun magazine sliding into place snaps me back to reality.
I walk over to the table where Marcus an Tillman are sitting an pull up a chair next to them. They both sit looking at me almost like I'm an unwelcome guest. But before long they seem to warm to the company.
"So, your Willow huh? Have heard a bit about you" Marcus says. His face gritty an dirty with heavy stubble.
I look at Tillman, he smiles at me an looks away.
"So, when do we make our move?" I ask directly.
"Soon, soon" Marcus replies. "For now I think we should all get some rest" An with that he stands an walks away from the table.
I look around an spot a nice section of hay in the far corner. Looks like a comfy enough bed. I stand an make my way over, but not before being grabbed by the arm. I turn around to see who it is.
"Maybe we could bunk up" Sergei says, the smell of whiskey on his breath. I push him away roughly but he grabs me again, leaning in close to my ear whispering
"I hope they don't expect to get to far"
I push him away again an walk over to the hay bed an lay down holding my rifle tight. I lay listening to the wind outside blowing angrily in the trees. The sounds of loose rocks an debris throwing themselves against the barn walls. The light from the fire creating shadows on the roof. I notice one shadow seems to be approaching. I lift my head an look up to see Tillman standing at the bottom of the hay bed. His eyes glistening.
"There is nowhere else to sleep. Do you mind if I join you?" He says with an sense of unease in his voice. My heart begins to flutter rapidly. So fast I feel I'll have a heart attack.
I swallow hard an nod to say it is ok.
He lays down next to me an we lay in silence for what seems like eternity. But has only been a few minutes. I roll over onto my side an look at him, he turns an looks at me directly. Somehow our hands meet between us an he slowly leans in an gently kisses my lips. I feel my heart almost stop.
I lay looking at him trying to find something to say. An then I ask without thinking "So we make our push soon?"
He lay looking at my face like he was searching for something.
He gives a small smile as he leans into me again. "Soon, but not tonight"