In the Depth of Bella Woods
Interquel to 'A Brothers Love'
Corporal James Waterflower Bell stood there bayonet fixed rifle in hand peering toward the clouding sky. His face covered with sweat and his Olivia gray battle tunic stained with a mixture of blood and sand. His hands too where covered in a strange mixture of blue and gray mud.
All around him stood men some taller than him some shorter than him some the same height as him but each man wore the same uniform he did. One of the men turned to him, he was there officer you could tell by the small round dime size starts pinned upon his shoulder straps.
"Corporal," He said setting his out of place clean hands upon James shoulder. His voice was low and stern. He peered toward James with a look that will melt ice.
"Take your men down the center you of there line you hear me. I'll bring up the rest of the company. Where going to sweep those boys from there rifle pits and trench's straight like a broom sweeps dust. If all goes to play I'm going to make you a officer." He patted his shoulder and then moved to the next man.
James's sapphire pink eyes followed the officer. That son of a bitch, me a officer. Sure there the increase of pay and the prestige that comes with it but this army will soon be scattered to the wind once the Kaiser gives up the fight or burns Edo to the ground. I give the latter more support than I do the first.
"Okay men, steady your self's remember your all seasoned troops, this is the second time you have come under fire this is the second time you have faced death. Let ever man among you do his utmost for the homeland and for the empire." Cried the officer drawing his sword and raising it into the air. He held his breath and soon a battle cry came forth.
"2nd Section on me!" Cried James pushing himself forward. Looking forward was the key to this business looking toward the bright flash of rifle fire and the pillowing clouds of black smoke. Soon he found himself in the thin strip of land that connected the two sides the strip of land no side could lay claim to land only called no mans lands.
There was something hellish about this thin half of a mile strip of land. Broken trees and holes deep enough to cover a hole house dotted it. The bodies of both friend and foe lay scattered about pieces of cloth clung to small post in the ground.
A vast collection of personal trinkets dotted the land anything from boots to pieces of cooking kits could be found scatted among the moon like landscape. James could feel them in the ground and in the sky he could feel the souls of those how had been killed here clinging to a false hope.
And then came wild cries in both Russian and German. As men by hundred stood up and left there trench's and rifle pits and charged them there steel bayonets flashing in the late afternoon sun. Each man had a look of hate upon his each man wanted to spill Nippon blood and added one more name to growing list of names the war was still young and the youth still drunk on its sweet wine.
"Section Section! Form a battle line sixteen men wide. And keep the fire on them!" He cried moving to the side he poured a scene of commandership into his voice and to this the men hasten to do as they where told they where not work mules but men they should be treated as such.
And like a well trained and oiled machine the men stopped and stood there ground and quickly formed a single line. Each man peered toward the oncoming tide with a faces harden beyond there years.
"Hold boy," Said James raising his rifle to his shoulder and taking careful aim. He whispered a prayer under his breath and closed his eyes. The Quickest route home is the one that will take us to Berlin. He thought as he squeezed the trigger and felt the backlash of the rifle.
The men of the second section released a deadly volley toward the oncoming tide. There attackers fell forwards as the force of the bullets pierced there cloth tunics. The attacking men as if on command dropped to there knees and fired off round after round into the Nippon box like formations.
The air was soon thick with the cries of the wounded and screams of the dying. All around him James could hear it the sound of battle, a sound that chilled him to the bone and made him wish he never left Oshima's sandy shores. It made him wish for shelter of his childhood cottage and the loving embrace of his mother and warm smile of his father.
"Keep it up there breaking! There breaking!" He shouted above the crashing of shells and the thunder of cannons. What are we doing here anyway. This one victory will only inch us toward are final goal. This is a waste a bloody pox ridden waste. He thought lowering his rifle. It was something about it he did not want to kill anymore, all around men where rushing toward the fleeing enemy like rabbit dogs chasing a rabbit. But He just stood there and then out of the corner of his eye he spotted something that chilled him.
Through the tide of fleeing German soldier's came large rolling machines strange dreaded things. A unholy cross between motor-cars and cannons. Mobil cannons some called them others called them tanks or armor cars. The turret of one the things spun around and to a group of charging men dead in its sights was fixed.
And then a earth shattering boom filled the air causing the ground under him to shake, the force throw him down upon the ground. No more than a few seconds passed before the screams of freshly wounded men filled his ears.
"God! There tanks about! All units back to the trench!" Cried James standing up and reaching for his rifle he might only command the respect of a lowly non-commissioned officer but somewhere deep down in him there was a heart of a field marshal.
Are scouts said nothing about tanks being in the area, we can't even meet those beast in the field we only have rifles and courage.. Courage that's it. Bloody hell James old boy if your going to die today might as well take out a few of those beast with you. But how… that's the answer to the six million yen prize.
"There not a chance m'boy if we run we'll just be slain in are pits, come on stand m'boy stand your ground and die facing the die facing him. Make the Empire proud to have taken you ye mass's of poor men and gave you her daughters to marry and lands and trades to work." Came a voice from behind James.
And there he stood, the core commander himself dressed in full uniform complete with medals and orders, The perfect example of what a aged officer should look like. In his hand he held a high the wooden shaft of the colors of the company. And above his head flapping in the burning wind flew the ivy green and golden banner of Erin.
"Rally around the colors boys, the gates of heaven have been thrown open!" Cried James pointing toward the old man. His tone of voice was firm and to the shock of the fleeing men not a trace of fear could be felt it was like all fear had vanished.
"Remember boy's we are Irish! And when have the Irish ran with there tails between legs from a foe, come now boys let us show are adopted motherland how proud we are! And let us send a message to that fool the Prince of Wales." He cried once more rushing toward the oncoming mechanical beast.
With nimble limbs and sheer courage James climbed upon one of the mechanical beast, quickly fishing into his pocket he pulled out his pocket knife a tool that normal would be used to open cans of bully meat would not be used to pry open the hatch that lead to inner belly of this monasteries.
But the knife would not be needed as out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of a handle. Quickly with the often mad courage that takes hold of men in the heat of battle he threw open the hatch and in a split the blink of a eye he threw down a hand bomb.
Looks of terror overcame crew face and the last thing they saw was the closing of the hatch before all went blank and they where no longer of this word.
"Sorry chaps." Said James standing up from the ground. He had jumped off before the blast. He sniffed and looked over at his shoulder clouds of black smoke where boiling from the now lifeless thing. The same acts of courage where being repeated now. Men armed with only hand bombs and courage nibbled up and threw in to the bellies of the beast the tool that would stop them.
There was no clear victor today, both sides had once more failed to take there objective. The Germans held fast as so did the Sixth Nippon Field Army. Both sides still drew breath though it was a shallow breath. The hope for a early end to this civil war among European Nations was nothing more than a pipe dream.
With these thoughts filling very inch of his head as Corporal James Waterflower Bell slowly made his way toward his own trench. Both sides could break each other now if there was any fight left in them but the sad truth of the mater was this both sides could no longer muster the strength for a major break through.
"Corporal," Came a voice from behind him. The voice carried the firm tone of a officer.
Quickly James stopped in his tracks and spun around behind him and there standing beside a backdrop of sheer death and destruction stood the officer promised him a battle field commission if all went well a brief span of maybe a hour or two but it seemed like a lifetime.
"Sir," Said James quickly clicking his heels together and raising his hand in a salute, He peered toward him with hollow eyes. Eyes that spoke of the new unnamed horrors of this new type of warfare that was being fought all around them.
"You did well son, I'm going to put you in for a promotion and possible the Medaille of Courage. You've earned it. Maybe even a trip home, that would be nice right a little leave." Said the Officer in tone of voice that brought to James mind a business men making a informal business deal.
"Well the medal would make me mum proud sir, but I want to stay at the front. I enlisted to fight to Hun, to keep him away from my childhood home. I can't do that at home. After all my place is here with my team." He answered in a honest tone of voice.
"I wish they would allow me to raise men more freely from the ranks." And then he caught sight of a solid red patch forming upon James shoulder. He took a deep breath and shook his head.
"And Corporal, once you have reached the line, tell the solider on duty you have my expressed permission to visit the rear area. Get your ass to the nearest aid station and try to have a little fun while your there see if you can't find a pretty nurse to take with you to the square dance they will holding soon."
"Thank you sir.." Said James dropping the salute. Quickly he took a deep breath and started to pick his way once more over the bloodied piece of land now called a battlefield.
The sun was starting to set now over the countless toothpick like trees that seemed stand like mute witness's to the horrors of war and the senseless killing brought on by it. A soft breeze was starting to rise now from somewhere to the southwest. The wind made a low whistling sound as it blew through the trees one could feel the kiss of the dying fall upon it.
Soon James found himself once more in the hole in the ground that had been his home for three weeks. But a sudden wave of nail biting pain flooded over. Groaning like a man suffering from heavy labor he started to pick his way once the trench, sometimes stumbling over sleeping men or men gone from this earth.
"Bloody Hell, its only a shell wound, nothing big.."
A small wry smile formed upon his face though as these words left his mouth, yes a Medaille of Wounded. Or 'Medal of Wounded' a new type of order being awarded to soldiers and sailors. Already the picture of boyhood dreams of glory where starting to fill his head.
There he stood once more upon the brown interlocking cobblestones of Court House Square. All dressed up in his class A uniform with a good solid row of decorations pinned upon his left breast pocket. A sight that would make any mother or father flush with pride and honor.
It was these thoughts that allowed him to carry on till he came to a small road that linked the front line with the rear support area. A wooden pole driven into the ground acted like one of the street signs back home. A wooden board with half cared ink English letter informed the onlooker that it was about two miles to the nearest aid station.
Another board informed onlookers that they where entering the front line area and they should take care of falling shells and flying pieces of metal. A dark warning if ever there was one.
"I wish I could home now.. Home is where the human heart is suppose lye. Not among the bodies of the fallen. I wonder if there angles still in the word." Whispered James softy under his breath as he slowly shifted his eyes around him.
Several loud booms filled the air and soon bright balls of exploding light lit up the darkness. A chill ran down his spine, the shelling was about to start again and somewhere long this vast line of trench's and interlocking rifle pit's a charge was about to launched by the attacking German Armies.
"Pray we might that might and violet war this storm this great madness past quickly by." Whispered James as more and more balls of light fell and there might shockwaves traveled through the ground.
And with that he started down the road that would take him to the rear area. Along his way he passed old horse drawn wagons filled with the wounded or the dying. The faint light cast by the small lanterns that hung from the crooks of Sheppard's crook added a scenes of mysticism to it all.
It would be there faces that would haunted James for the rest of his life, each one of them as white as flour and twisted into some expression of horror that no mortal mind could command. There tunics stained red with there blood. And in later days James would swear the driver had black wings sprouting from his back and a darken hallo above his head. As if the driver was the angle of death himself.
Men see strange things at war .
It was a little after midnight when iron gray tine roofs of the countless small cabins came into view. Above the door of these cabins one would find a sign board declaring the use of the small shack. Some where small doctor officers others where post offices. Yet others where small business run by the army to keep moral up there was a Post Exchange a place where a solider could buy the small personal items that made army life livable and the main office where the staff worked.
Slowly he made his way through the narrow often maze like allay ways and roadways that had formed as more and more shacks had been built. Often times he followed the sound of music and drunken laughter that seemed spill from the cloth doors of the taverns and into the night air. Often he just walked hopping to catch a brief hint of a doctors office. Finally he found a door that hinted at one. The hint was a simple small red cross.
Slowly he pushed the door open now drunk with the nagging pain of his arm and the sore's of his feet from his walk from the front lines to here. And sight that greeted his tired eyes reminded him of home. A women around the age thirty five sat behind a wooden desk. Her salt and pepper hair was tied back in a neat bun and her dress was clean that showed signs of wear. A long white doctors coat completed her outfit along with her somewhat clean shoes.
"Pardon me miss," Whispered James from the shadow of the doorway. Slowly he stepped in and quickly closed the wooden door behind him. He shook his head and took a deep breath. Everything was so clean spotless one would say. Totally different from the muck and grim of the outside word. There was even a anime style health care poster upon the walls.
The women looked from her papers and blinked toward him. Slowly pushed the desk back and stood up.
"I take it you where wounded in that Big Push, but you don't looked wounded you can still walk. Why are you here solider." Said the women reaching into a drawer of the desk and quickly pulling out a small leather bag.
"I was ma'am.. I mean.. I was wounded trying to knock out a tank.. Nothing much a scrape maybe. But still ma'am my commanding officer ordered me to the rear. I guess.. I should have brought a note or something." Said James in a schoolboy tone of voice. One could not use the rough tone of voice used to order around men under fire to a nurse and much less one old enough to be your mother.
"Well have a seat, yes you should have brought a note, but I guess that would do no harm." Whispered the doctor under her voice as she removed the metal locket of her medical bag. A few minutes passed as she started to lay upon the table the needed items. A roll of bandages was pulled out first, followed by a small glass bottle of bluish medicine.
James took a deep breath to calm the storm ragging in his mind. The drunken foreman at the front would have been better than this place. Sure its clean and sure it's a women but god I hate doctors always have and bless the stars in heaven I once wanted to be doctor. Once in my long forgotten boyhood.
Yet with these thoughts ragging through his mind. He still summoned enough self control to sit down upon a near by chair. The chair was a wooden one and seemed to have once belonged to a old farm house that the government took over at the declaration of war. Such actions where command and to a point required to fund the massive war effort of the allied nations.
"You know you should really take better care of yourself," Said the Doctor walking over to him. Slowly she rolled up the sleeve of the mud stained tunic. She shook her head as the large gash appeared once the cloth cover was rolled back.
"I try miss, but you know the brass can't keep us supplied with the things we need. Are cannons sits silent and so does some men's rifles." Resounded James peering down for the first time at the gash that sent him to this accursed place.
"I know dear, I take it the fighting was hard," She said reaching for the glass bottle. Once the bottle was she quickly unscrewed the cork that and set it down upon the surface of a wooden desk. Slowly she shifted her eyes around the room searching for a rag of some kind.
"Lord.. It was bloody.." Said James turning his head around and peering into the doctors eyes. His breath quicken as he caught sight of them. Kindness and pain seemed to intertwine with a deep seated bitterness and upon the folds of her face he saw the clear deep marks war often leaves upon the human soul.
The doctor took a shallow breath and turned her eyes away from him. Quickly she picked up near by rag. Within a blink of a eye she had wrapped the rag around the neck of the bottle and tipped it slightly so the medicine held within would spill into the rag.
"Do you have any family at home young one? Any brothers or sisters? A mother or a father." She was finishing for a good solid conversation topic one that would hopefully steer his mind away from pain and the ill stinging effects the medicine would bring.
"I do." Said James closing his eyes and shifting around in his seat. "Though I can't t ell them about this you know. I mean sure there proud of me like any mother or father but.. There not ready for the real truth." Said James closing his eyes and shuttering as the faces of the tanks crew came to mind.
"I see.." The doctor was use to such conversations. She too was mother of a solider. A officer more like it and in James she saw much of her son. Quickly she placed the rag upon the wound and pressed down upon it.
James bit down upon his upper lip as the cloth came into contact with the wound. A sudden burning feeling swept over him like somebody had placed a hot piece of coal upon the it. The feeling reminded him of that time his aunt Isabella treated some wasp stings with witch-hazel.
"Christ mother.." Whispered James under his breath as he felt his knees become like jelly under him. He looked up at the women and gave her a cock a eye look. Pox pissing ants women that sung like a bitch.
The Doctor raised her eyebrow at the faint whisper. She had a habit something that had been carried over from her practice pre-war world. And that habit was applying her hand upon the ones placed within her care if they caused a stir or whispered any foul speech under her breath. The salty talk of soldier's stopped at the front door of her small clinic.
"Damn women! Are you going to kill me with your bloody herbs and potions. At least give me something to kill the pain a bottle of wine. Even the cheap stuff. That's what they would have given me at the front." Said James whispering harshly under his breath. The mild temperate boy was being pushed slowly over the edge as nagging pain started to wane.
"Your not at the front m'boy and I don't think you will use those words around your mother. And though you might be a solider you are still a young boy. And a young boy should not use such sailors talk around a women. Lest he wants to taste soap." Her tone was a mix between scolding and comforting. One had to be easy with these boys. They would young men thrown into a tospy word.
James forced himself not to roll his eyes at the starting lector. He was almost a man grown and in his brief time away from home he had seen more nightmarish visions of horror play out before his very eyes than any of the best horror writers of there day could have possible dreamt of.
The doctor took a deep breath and slowly lifted the rag from the wound. Quickly she reached for a roll of white medical bandages. Quickly she rolled them around the arm and the wound hopping this would keep out the bad air if such a thing did exist and would seal the wound.
"You know.. Pox on it.. Its not like were going to win this war anyways. The cream of are crop dashed upon the rocks of the Kaiser. Only a thin waving line is keeping him away from Edo and then what. Once Edo falls into there hands he turns right and attack the grain fields. And then its over.." Whispered James looking first to his wrapped arm and then toward the doctors eyes.
The doctor only nodded her head at his words as she started to place the tools and items once more into the black leather bag. It would hurt moral if the men could not freely express there thoughts. They where after all fighting to keep that right. Something there German fiends did not have.
"Damn it women.." Said James standing up and peering toward the heavens. Slowly tears started to form at the corner of his eyes. He balled up his fist and punched the air. Everything he had seen today was just so blurry and massive lump of confusion.
The doctor blinked and stepped back a little taken back by the sudden show of temper. It took her a few seconds to fully understand that this was the effects the war took upon the soul of the solider. She could feel it if you will in his actions and in his choice of words.
"I hear them, I hear them playing all day and night.. I enlisted to fight the hun, not hide in a dirt hole while shells explored over me and rained down death from above. And yet all we have done his hide in are holes only poking our heads up once the German and Russian troops come storming across the field armed with a rang of weapons. And what then." His temper was boiling now.
"That's enough!" Cried the doctor reaching out and taking hold of James hand. It was clear to her that only one thing would help the frantic boy out and that was the loving touch of a mother. For these soldiers where nothing more than little boys in army tunics. They should be exposed to these horrors. Yet there was only one real cure for tantrum and that was a good over the knee spanking.
"What in the word!" Came the cry from James lips as he felt the doctors hands come crashing down upon his. He looked up and peered into her eyes his Sapphire pink eyes where hard and glazed over. The look of a man how had peered into death harsh gaze could been as clear as gold coin amid a dozen copper ones.
The doctor felt a chill run down her spine. Never before had she seen eyes like that. So cold and so void of life. The often spoke of thousand yard stare men fresh from the front. Yet she could not let this phase her she needed to push on.
"I can understand your frustration but you are old enough to control your anger, and though I might be breaking a bakers dozen of army regulations I think I and I both know what happens to young men how let there anger get the best of them." She said puling him over to the armless chair that sat tucked way in a far corner of the room.
" Bloody fox pissing hell women!" Cried James as he felt himself being pulled toward the armless. Quickly he shook his head showing his displeasure at the quickly forming scene. Something was going to happen that he really did not want to happen.
"Okay you see this is the problem with you, your talk is so salty that it does shame to the sailors of are fleet. And to make matters worst you use such a salty tongue in front of a women old enough to your mother."
And quickly she sat down into the chair. Quickly with the trained hands of a seasoned mother and removed the belt buckle from his trousers and pulled them down exposing his gray boxers to the air of the room. A second or two followed before these two where removed and joined his pants now bundled up around the ankles of his knees.
James was totally stunned he could not whisper a word. For there he stood naked from the waist down in front of a strange women whom by look of her physical appearance could be old enough to be his mother. It was this fact along that weighed like a stone upon his mind.
"I trust you did not swear in front of your mother or father, And I also trust you did not swear in front of your instructs at school. And no matter how much your drill yelled no matter how many times you might have messed up a marching formation not once did a fifty word cross his lips." Scolded the doctor in a very tone of voice that brought to mind a mother scolding her son.
It was not the words that broke through the cold stone wall James had built around his heart but the tone of voice she used. For it reminded him of tone of voice his mother would use when he or his sister had broken a rule or had scored low on a test or had brought home a poor report card. And soon before he could catch himself tears where rolling down his eyes.
"Now over my lap.." Commanded the doctor giving James a stern look. Then her mind birthed a idea that was well a idea. She reached up and wrapped her figures around James wrist and pulled him over her lap much in the same fashion a mother would pull her son over her lap.
James allowed himself to be pulled over the women's for at this point the was to weak and drained to even lift a figure. He wanted rest and in the haze of his mind he saw not tired army doctor but his own loving mother and that was
Once James was over the doctors lap her hand quickly came into contact with her bottom. A loud cracking sound filled the space of the room as shockwaves of pain and burn where sent into his bottom by the doctors hand. The second one a little milder than the first one but it was the first part of a steady beat of smacks.
Each peppering smack fell like a hammer driver driving a railroad steak down into the steel plates that held the iron rails in place. And as each second passed the hammering blows became liken to the thunder bolts of a Roman God of thunder.
Slowly as the pain and sting washed over him, James could fell something glowing inside his chest. It was a strange feeling something cold and at the same time warm. The feeling one gets if they pour hot water into a steel cup full of chucks of ice. That strange half warm half cold feeling.
"You have be trusted with a position of leadership! And as a leader you are to act like one in all times." She said starting up her scolding. The two gray down pointed chevrons sewn upon the sleeve of his battle tunic was a clear reminder of this.
"A Non-commissioned officer at that." She cried brining down her hand once more upon his bottom. The sheer force of the slapping hand would have been enough to make any child reel and till as if caught in a sudden spring storm. But James was no child he was a solider and he bore the smacking hand as such.
Finally the women could not take it anymore. Fearing she might allow her anger to overshadow her first and main reason for pulling the youth over her lap in the first place she stopped her falling hand in mid fall.
James slowly shifted his eyes around him. It had every ounce of self control he could muster to keep from crying. Even though he wanted to he still could not bring himself too.
The women slowly lifted James from his lap and sat him feet first upon the floor. Then taking a deep breath she reached down and brought up his underwear followed by his trousers. She did all this in a very motherly
Way. And it was this jester that finally brought the tears to his eyes.
"Honey.." She said reaching up and brushing his cheeks softy.
"Please forgive.. But you remind me of my mother," Said James through the tears that flowed from his eyes. Quickly he turned his head. His heart was pounding now. Thousands of questions it seemed to be popping up in his head.
"Its okay.. Its fine honey.." The doctor said reaching her hand out to stroke his long coco brown locks of hair.
"I must go.." Said James quickly breaking away from her touch. Quickly as if running from something or somebody he left the small clinic. And without another word being spoken He vanished into the cold night air. With the coming of dawn James would once more be thrown in the wild game of combat.