The Field Encampment: Act I
The Fourth Miscellaneous Tale
A bone chilling late autumn wind blew across the brown square cobblestone paved shopping center. One could feel tiny bits of snow upon the wind that along with the graying sky overhead foretold of a possible early morning frost come first light. It was clear as a bell the season of autumn was about to pass away and in its place would be the season of winter.
A look of dismay crossed James face as he reached for the metal hilt of his sword. He had started the war as a private, but now he found himself a officer. The small golden knot of rank sewn onto his high collar shirt marked him as a lieutenant second class. Eight weeks since leaving home and now I'm in solo command of a platoon of men so under strength that it should be disbanded and melted in with the other companies. Thought the youth as he looked around him.
The sight that greeted his eyes was one of sheer misery. Men bitten by the chilling wind cuddled around small dying cooking fires in a forlorn hope to warm there frost bitten hands and feet. There faces where caked with mud and dried blood. There hair matted from sweat and there tin helmets. There eyes clouded with the fog of war and the feeling of hollowness that comes from one or two turns at the front.
I made it through Isabella woods. I'm damn sure going to make it through the next pissing shit hole they send us. Though James to himself as he lifted his hands to his mouth. His breath frosted in front of him. A bad sign. He shifted is Sapphire Pink eyes around him. This hole in the road village was bound to have some short of lodging, even a flee bitten inn would be better than spending a sleepless night in the cold.
"There a bath house several inns about a quarter of mile ahead." Cried a voice from behind him. There was a firm commanding tone to the voice. Like a voice use to giving commands.
James shifted his head around and blinked there sitting atop what appeared to be a half starving horse sat a older man. His hair was short and graying. He wore a harden look of long term solider. Quickly his sapphire pink eyes locked with his coal black eyes. Four golden knots of rank marked him as a Captain.
"I would suggest you take them there lieutenant. A bath and a change of uniform often do wonders to lift the men's spirits. A nice belly full of warm food does them wonders as well." He commented peering into James eyes. A sudden shockwave rolled down his spine. As his cheeks flushed a deep straight from the oven brick red. He hated being told what to do. He hated it with a burning passion.
"Yes sir," He said snapping his heels together and raising his arm in a saluting fashion. He took a deep breath. He held the breath for a few seconds before he bellowed out. "1st Platoon of A Company of the 22nd Kyoto Rifles. Fall into formation." He tried to pour a scene of commandership into his voice. He failed he was a medical student by education not a officer.
Several groups of men looked up and shook there heads. A few of the muttered a few complaints under there breath but still they obeyed and stood up. It took them a few minutes to gather into the half formed box shape like marching formation. One the formation was formed all eyes came to rest upon him.
"There a inn and a bath house about a quarter mile ahead. I'm positive this will be a excellent chance for us to find shelter and food and a nice warm bath. I'm not sure about you gentleman but I've sleeping on cold cobblestone seems kind of foolish when there a warm bed ahead." He said directing his platoon as a whole. Sometimes he would lock eyes with a select solider to drive home his point. He had learned this skill in public speaking.
Slowly foxy grins grew upon the men's face. The old officer was right, there promise of food and warmth did lift the men's spirits.
With that James spun upon his heel and with another quick intake of breath again held for a few second before he bellowed out his next command. "Platoon Present Arms." The sound of there rifles being lifted from the ground sent a signal that they where ready for the next command.
"Platoon, left shoulder arms." He bellowed out again. Once more the sound of rifles being lifted and placed in place told him the order had been complete. Another deep breath held for a few second and the final command was given. "Platoon forward march."
Soon the only sound to be heard was the sound of leather boots upon cobblestones. As they left the cobblestone paved shopping center and ventured into the unpaved streets they could not help but let there eyes wonder around them.
All around them the scares of war could clearly be seen. The once petite cottages that lined the street where now nothing more than piles of broken brick and shattered glass. Sharp pieces of broken wood shoot up from the ground at odd angles. Personal items such as silver wear, half melted pocket watches and blacken picture frames lay scatted about.
A chill ran down James back, this is why he was here, to keep this type of destruction away from his home, away from Oshima and away from the people he loved and cared about. This is madness, bloody fucking madness I tell you. The prime minister and those elected officials choose to go war with the Kaiser. And I'm sure the Kaiser and those beer drinking brathering eatingfools in the Reichstag choose to go to war with us. Where does the common man stand in all of this. He was forced to go. Force to defend his little homestead.
These bitter thoughts flooded James mind as he looked around him. There was nothing more he could do, the aims of there political leaders more often than not over looked the aims of the common man that lived within there bounds. But the more he saw of this war the more he could feel his sanity slipping through his hands.
Soon the air became perfumed with the smell of boiling rice mixed with strong herbs, Large puffs of white steam floated the large tin pots that sat upon low burning cooking fires. Cooks with arms as big as hams stood over the boiling pots.
"Only one serving you hear me," Cried the cook toward them. From where James was standing it seemed one eye was slightly bigger than the other. He face was dotted with a forest of brown whiskers and his white cooks apron was dotted with stains from varies food items. "One serving of meat, one of rice and one of veggies and only one bread. Brass don't want you boys growing fat at the front."
Pox on the bloody flee bitten brass. James wanted to cry out. But he thought better. The cooks had the right to withhold rations if they saw fit. And getting cheeky with one was a sure fire way to have ones rations And it had been ages since he had good meal something hot and not cold from a tin cane.
"Platoon dismissed for chow." He cried out. A true officer always placed the needs of his men before his own. And chow was the last thing on his mind now. Quickly he shoved his hands into his woolen tunics pocks and fished around. Each time his hand would run across the cool metal surface of a coin he would pick it up and mentally judge its value by its weight its surface. Just enough, just enough for one night at least one hour. Lord help that's all I need. One hour away from it. One hour away from this hellish nightmare I find myself living ever day. For one bloody hour I'll give my whole months pay.
"I was there, in the first wave.. I remember it like it was yesterday." He started to speak. He took another deep breath it seemed only deep breaths of the cool evening air could calm his pounding heart and his head of the dense fog that seem to be forming deep within his brain. "The 23rd was fighting for its life and we where ordered to support them, to take the pressure off of them no matter the cost. Those woodlands seem to ring with the sound of rifle fire and the scream of incoming shells."
He lifted his eyes to the setting sun. He could feel it again, the heat from the midday sun burning is skin. The large clouds of pale gray smoke that hung above the ground burned his eyes and his nose. Oh that sour smell clung to his clothing and his person for days.
"For sixteen days we played a deadly game of cat and mouse in those woods. For sixteen days I lived a nightmare for sixteen days I kept not only myself sane but those around me. Even though sometimes it felt like are word was falling apart. I guess why they made me a officer." He said shifting his eyes toward the golden knot of rank. God I miss you mother.
"Just before the battle, mother, I'm thinking most of you, while upon the field we're watching with the enemy in view." Came a voice from the darkness. The source of the voice could not been seen as it could have been one of the countless hundreds of men whom crowed like street folks around dying cooking fires. Those whom could not find shelter from brewing snowstorm above.
"Comrades brave are 'round me lying, filled with thoughts of home and god for well they know on the morrow, some will sleep beneath the sod." Another voiced joined in. And soon others took up the tone and one by one there voices blended together to form one of the largest chores James had ever laid eyes upon.
"Oh, I long to see you mother, and the loving ones at home, but I'll never leave our banner, Till in honor I can come. Tell the traitors all around you that their cruel words we know, in ever battle kill our soldiers by the help they give the foe.
Farewell, mother, you may never press me to your heart again, but, oh, you'll not forget me mother If I'm numbered with the slain." And with that the song ended. It seemed in its wake a hushed silent's came over each soul. For each of them had a mother or a loving family at home and each one of them wished he could be at home. Around a dinner table laden with warm food and surround with smiling faces of love ones.
A few more seconds passed before once more from the darkness came another voice. One could tell by the pitch and the tone of the voice it had to belong to a female. Unlike the first one this one spoke of the hardships faced by the folks on the home one and not at the front.
As the hunting melody worked its way through his tender heart there was one verse that stood out in his head as it was sung.
"At our fireside, sad and lonely, often will the bosom swell, at remembrance of the store. Of How are noble Willie sell; How he strove to bear out banner through the thickest of the fight and uphold are country's honor in the strength of manhood's night."
"Two points of view, on the solider in the field the other from the people at the home front whom support the solider. I wish I could be home now." Commented James before vanishing into the growing darkness.
Within the hour he found himself standing before what appeared to be a old abounded café. Soft cotton blankets hung in the broken window frames to guard from the both the cold and the to keep prying eyes away. Taking a deep breath James pulled away the clothe door that hung in the doorway.
Upon pulling away the cloth door and stepping into the wooden floor of the old café he was greeted with a rush of warm air. Moth eaten coach's and chairs sat where wooden chairs and tables might have sat. The air was perfumed with the smells of many types of lotions.
"Welcome solider." Came a women's voice from behind one of the cloth doors that hung in the doorway that might have connected this room to a long gone kitchen. "30,000 yen and I can take you on a ride of your life." She quickly added.
James felt his face flushed with color. Bloody hell what am I doing here. I'm standing in the mist of the women of a night me mum would give me worst than a spanking if she found me here.
"I would like to see if you can take costumers.. I have the money ma'am.." He said reaching into his pocket and pulling out a handful of coins. He placed the coins upon a near by table. He peered toward the cloth.
"I can take a costumer. But depending on what you want, if your seeking what I think you are seeking you have nothing to offer you.." Said the women pulling back the cloth and stepping into the room.
The women had flaming red hair that was tied back in a ponytail. She wore a white blouse that was tucked in a long flowing navy blue skirt. Half moon glass sat upon the ridge of her nose. Her coal back eyes peered toward him.
"I deal only in the art of spanking. I'm not like those women from across the river. If you are looking for a cheap thrill then you have come to the wrong place solider." She said locking eyes with his sapphire pink eyes. A small smile graced her lips.
"Then it seems I have come to the right place then.." Said James looking down. He felt his cheeks prickle a little a straight from the oven brick red spread from cheek to the other.
"Oh, well then, did you have a scene in mind." She said women trying not to laugh at his blushing. She had seen many men in her line of work. But none as handsome or as young as he. That's not all that set him a part from the others. His eyes where a pale pink and sparked like a sapphire jewel.
"I was thinking about one, a mother spanking her son.. The son would be wearing something of a night gown.." James muttered in a tone of voice barely above a whisper.
"Cute, but it seems mommy might have to bath her naughty little girl before the spanking takes place." She said reaching up and running a hand through his shoulder length coco brown hair Poor boys grown old before there time. Some might say I'm just taking there coins but to me I'm doing a service to the empire just one that requires a little vice.
End Act I