Chapter 3: Two's Better Than One
"Wow, 20 yards is a lot longer than I anticipated." Jerry panted as they shuffled across the duckboards.
"Yeah, absolute-WA!" Jeff tripped and fell into the mucky slop where a duckboard had once been.
"Oh! Yes, have you been trying to memorize the broken duckboard locations?"
"Jerry, remember? I told you I have a very bad memory!"
They both silently laughed. Maybe it was all the excitement and happiness coming to them. Ever since they had set off to the blind alley together, both of them had lightened up a little, perhaps of the fact that they were so determined to escape. Whatever the consequences were, somehow, they were going to go out there and prove their point. That war was not as pleasant as was made out. That was the serious part of the plan.
"Hey, Jeremy, look ahead."
Jeremy, who had been daydreaming and planning what to do once he had escaped, glanced up and noticed what Jeff, was talking about. Up ahead, just a good yard away from them, their General, General Thery, was humming gently to himself and was next to a lantern, which was glowing brightly. The communication line must've got the new stock of paraffin, which was on the waiting list for umpteen weeks. Not to mention how long the new duckboards would take to arrive...For a second, the two-man team were confused to what the General was cleaning, until the light happened to catch at an angle and reflect off the newly polished periscope. The periscope had to be polished using the small tin that they were given to use for two months, as polish was scarce, otherwise the periscope's joints would stop running smoothly, resulting in jarred movements, which could in turn attract Fritz's attention. Attracting their attention was terrible, as they liked blood, guts, gore, violence and the like with a vengeance. According to one of the other soldiers, Alfred, he had seen a Fritz general eat some meat, and the tiniest bit of blood dribbled out of the leg. It perfectly reflects their personality, however, at the time; Alfred had not slept or ate for days, so he could've been hallucinating and therefore seen the dribble of blood.
Using fast, silent movements, they ducked into the dug-out and crawled on. That was one good benefit of being in the trenches for a while. Your uniform got so filthy that it was like wearing soot. No one could see you in the dark, serving a useful purpose. Feeling their hearts flutter heavily in their chests, they slowly crawled right beside the General. Just after a few seconds, though, they were well out of his way. Cautiously, they kept quiet and said nothing for what seemed like years when Jerry whispered to Jeff:
"Hey, we got past. Only a few yards away from escape."
Jerry heard Jeff squeal quietly. This sort of thing Jeff absolutely adored. The feeling of freedom and companionship.
"So...s-s-so we'll b-bb-be fre-ee-e? Hooray!" He told Jeremy with delight.
Free with you, forever, Jeff thought joyfully.
"Ssshh, now." It was impossible to be angry or irritated at Jeff for being reckless when he was in seventh heaven. It was like watching a beautiful flower blossom and shine, without it knowing the horrors of the world. Jerry smiled modestly to himself.
Lucky him, thought Jerry, he hasn't seen the sorrows of the world.
Eventually, they both reached the blind alley, and in the deepest jet black of shadows, they looked side to side, and sneaked out, into the vulnerable front line. Just a few feet in front of them stood the General strapping and scolding a small group of soldiers from their sector. From what the General was yelling at them about, it seemed like they had done a dare that had went too far. The group consisted of four men; Horace, Charlie, Matthew and Alfred. All of them were weird, happy-go-lucky boys that were not seen to be the slightest bit affected by the constant threat of being stabbed by a blade or being accidentally left behind and bleed to your own death. It was funny how the small and different men were often the ones to survive. Jeff and Jerry remembered a very tough city guy named Tommy who had biceps like Popeye. As soon as people saw him across the road, they would go across the road in terror. He sadly got stabbed with a knife by some local criminal. Small, but mighty, as they say. As the General silently but spat at them as they were poison, they all shifted around in their sodden boots and looked towards the ground. The duo strained the ears to hear what the General was saying:
"...you, you pieces of scum, thinking you can uphold us like that. I have saved you from the consequences of attracting Fritz and you suffering a painful injury, and you are not the slightest bit grateful for me." The General liked to refer to himself and the enemies during his telling.
"Sir...I perfectly reassure you, sir...we are very grateful, sir-"Horace replied uncertainly.
"Silence! For one, don't interrupt me, and two, I like to be called 'General'. What are you doing, standing there like a bunch of deaf sheep? Come on, repeat after me, say 'General!'"
"...General." Every one of them repeated one after the other, and Matthew and Alfred at the same time, naturally.
"Oh come on! That was pathetic! Put your back into it, at least! Again!"
"General!" The four repeated, trying to sound enthusiastic, but failing terribly.
"Look, if we have to repeat this all night, I'll take you to the local town square where you will forced to write the sentence 'I must call my leader General and not sir' 50- no, 100 times like the bunch of young schoolchildren that you are if you don't stop playing up! Now, again, 'General!'
"General!" They all repeated with forced optimism, trying to evade their punishment.
"Still too sad-sounding! Looks like the 100 words in the local square for you, then. Meet me at the local square tomorrow at 9am, sharpish! If not, you will get extra sentry duty, do you hear me? Now, return to the battalion, and let us not tell anyone of this embarrassing punishment, now? Go on, off you go!"
Jerry and Jeff were flabbergasted. Usually a very grumpy old General whose Father had perished in the Navy, they had no idea that the General had a dark, yet silly sense of humour.
"...so, shall we go?" Jeff squeaked very quietly.
"Yeah, we better go."
Together, linking arms as though to not lose as each other as taught in the training camps, they crawled and wriggled like little caterpillar larvae through the tight blind alley. They were both thinking two completely separate things.
I know I've got to hand-deliver this letter, Jeremy thought, but what on earth am I going to do after this? I know that Blighty's is going to be a very long time, but how will I know which way to go? How will I cope? Will Jeff and I survive? I wonder where on earth we are going to even sleep tonight...Wow, all of this thought in just one and a half hours of escaping...
I really want to tell him, but my head will get lopped off, Jeff thought to himself, I wonder if he wants to escape to the country, just like me. Maybe we could be housemates, or maybe live near each other or something, so I can be always near him...Oh, Jeremy. Why is the world the way it is? Why can't it just be the two of us, drifting into our dream world, just embracing each other? *Sigh*...My life has never been fair. Life's never fair for me. I just can't accept it any longer. Maybe I should burn my diary entry of my feelings for him in a fire...I'm pretty certain he hasn't seen it, he's not one to look at other's privacy...and I'll just have to let my heart die and wither of withdrawal and sadness...
At the moment, Jerry hit into the end of the blind alley. Some loose dirt crumbled away and fell on Jerry's face, with some staying in his hair. Together, one after the other, Jeff, being the stronger one, clasped his hands together. Jerry put his foot onto the platform, and Jeff hoisted him up, resulting in Jerry laying down with his feet comically hanging over the edge. After, Jerry turned round, and using all his strength, he pulled Jeff up onto the dirt land which spread for miles. Lighting a tiny tea light, Jeff saw the dirtied, yet still handsome face of Jerry. Then he noticed some dark brown specks in Jerry's hair.
"Hey, Jerry , you've got something in your hair."
Jerry shook his hair and brushed his hair with his fingers. Several of the dirt specks fell out, but there was still one left.
"Hey wait, look, there's still one bit left. Just let me get it out for you."
Carefully, Jeff took out the last speck of dirt for Jerry. His hair was surprisingly soft, despite it being muddy and smelly.
If only I could twirl it or something, Jeff thought sadly to himself.
"Hey thanks. Now we better get off to the local town. Remember, keep low and just shuffle forward."
Afterwards, they shuffled forward, praying with all their hearts that no one would spot them. This time, however, Jeff left the way, since he insisted, and wanted to know what it is like to 'be in control." Jerry didn't really understand what was meant by those words, however like before; Jeff was an old closed book. The cover was completely different to the content. Over time, they passed the communication line, where they heard typewriters silently going, and typing condolences letters for the killed soldiers' families, then they passed the support line, where the soldiers there were being arranged, exchanging guns and weapons. They were also being sent off to fight in the front line to replace the soldiers and also giving their spare guns and weapons to the messenger, who would give them to the remaining front line soldiers. Much time later, though, they passed the reserve line. Here, the soldiers were the most representative of the 'poster soldiers', as we all called them. They were relaxed, playing cards; doing dares, such as whirling their boots in the air, and singing songs.
"Hey Jeff, guess what?"
"We're going to arrive at the local town, whatsitcalled...oh...Mursielle?"
"Oh yeah, that place. Yeah, but also, isn't it getting rather late? Where are we going to sleep?"
Those made Jerry think. Luckily, he really hadn't lost it when preparing to execute this plan; he knew he would need money, and therefore began to save his weekly pay made by the General.
"How about the old hotel right near the town square? That's a nice, homely place. Not fancy-pancy and a good price too. I'll ask for two beds."
"Agreed." Jeff replied, relying on Jeremy.
Well, just think, thought Jeff, I get to be with my hero, and two's better than one at least, Jeff thought happily.