‘You haven’t slept all night sir.’
He didn’t seem to be surprised at all. He looked towards him and smiled. He rarely smiled.
‘Phillip, a good shepherd should protect his flock, most especially when wide animals are close-by’
‘When wild animals are close-by?’ He echoed. ‘But we just arrived this hideout yesterday and no one is aware of where we are?’ His very visible Adam’s apple vibrated as he spoke. He was a tall and lanky man with a vivacious nature that took everyone by surprise.
‘No one SHOULD be aware of where we are’ he sharply corrected his boy, stressing the should as he gave him a firm stare under arched brows. ‘This is war, and there are no certainties.’ He paused for a second or two.’The only certainty here is that we are constantly in danger and our lives are not ours anymore.’ Captain Achor shut his eyes as if to concentrate on some definitely less important thing. Such deviations usually helped him regain full control of his intellects which was very key, very very key. He never allowed emotions set in, not even for a second.
“Once you lose control over your intellect, you lose your control over the battle and the battle in turn dictates your fate! You understand!” He often shouted out to his boys on the battle fields and they replied ‘Yes sir!’. He indeed lived up to it?
‘Hey Phillip, you can keep watch over the rest of the boys right?’ He asked looking straight into his eyes and it seemed as though years flew by before he got a reply, but it was only 3 seconds. Sgt Phillip always knew Captain Achor could be weird; he was just fine with the Captain doing his thing. Why did he have to involve him now? What was in for him? He wondered and wondered, but that was after he had immediately answered a ‘yes sir’ though, for Captain Achor wasn’t the kind of man you want to keep so long for an answer, most especially if he had to stare in the eyes to ask.
‘That’s fine. I’d have to go conduct a reconnaissance. I perceive the enemy is close’
‘Alone?’ His eyes widened. ‘That would be too dangerous sir.’
He smiled again. He had smiled twice in one conversation. That was rare. ‘My boy, danger is the only certainty we know for now. The earlier we get used to it, the better. Just watch over the rest of the boys. I’d be fine.’ He was already upstanding now.
He grabbed his pistol, ensured it was loaded, then clung to his rifle before dropping it. He wouldn’t need it’s burden for this mission. He needed all the swiftness he could have. His small torchlight would be much more needed and of course his jack-knife which remained permanently strapped to his left thigh. He was huge and ambidextrous and that gave him a huge advantage in one-on-one physical combat.
Off he went, swishing through leaves and shrubs stealthily, and gazing in all directions like a gliding snake. He had simplified his mission:
One – keep going until you see either a camp light or smoke.
Two – watch out for tall trees.
This explained why his head moved in every possible direction and his auricles strained for any sound that was useful to him. He heard crickets chirp and fireflies dazzle around. Mature frogs made it a little more difficult for him though. Sometimes he startled and held his hand to his chest as if to regain the beat his heart had just skipped as he noticed he had just fooled by a frog’s croak. Some croaks were so loud they sounded like the sudden start of motor engines. Thank goodness his boys weren’t around. The scare of a frog’s croak would be a major disappointment from their Captain of Steel. There was a creaking on a tall tree within close range, as though a man had adjusted his position to hide himself better.
Achor, the trees, the trees his heart reprimanded him. Was it only too late for him now? He noiselessly threw himself to the floor and rolled a little further from where he had landed, adjusted to a shooting position and directed his small battery torch towards the tree. It was his risk to take. He had to be sure if he had been spotted or not and it had to be fast. In the count of 1-2-3 under his nostrils he turned on the torchlight and held his breath as the rays flashed at the suspicious spot…
Follow on the next episode. Coming to your screen soon…