I looked through the walls of the fort with binoculars. Toby sat beside me. “Anything?” he asked.
“Nothing. I haven’t been expecting that there would be anything, anyway.” I replied. It had been a month since we came to Greyville, and there was still no sign of an enemy approaching.
It was good that the Great Leader’s troops still did not surround the city. It had given the city council a lot of time to prepare. After a wall along the banks of the river was finished, it was also decided that two small stone forts were to be added, like three other ones that had already been built for the land walls. It was as if a medieval castle had popped up. The forts allowed sentries to be constantly on the lookout for the enemy, and a long metal chain was hooked from one side to the other so that no boat could pass. There was no need for a boat to pass.
On each fort three machine guns were placed. (Apparently the illegal weapons seller had a dozen more to spare). Toby and I were on sentry duty for the moment, and whenever we were called for it I desperately hoped that the soldiers would not come. Not only did I think I would be killed if enemy boats suddenly sailed down the river, I couldn’t contemplate aiming the machine guns at the enemy, let alone shooting hundreds of bullets at them. We had been trained for it, of course, but to kill soldiers whose face we have never even seen? It was crazy.
The bell rang, which was a signal that it was time for the sentries to change. Toby and I walked down the fort and back into the town.
We had also grown used to the cramped Greyville, mostly because we didn’t have too much time to think about things like that; we were always busy. For the past month, we spent time training; we had spent time learning how to row a boat (none of us knew how to), we had helped out with building the forts and we helped with building the outer wall. The outer wall was close to finished. What amazed me was how much stone was needed. I’d asked Anne once about it, and she pointed out to me that there were stone mountains right near Greyville.
“Let’s go back to camp.” Toby said. I agreed. “I wonder what the rest are doing?”
“I believe Isaac, Sophie and Anne are manning the outer walls.” Toby said. He opened his bag and pulled out two sandwiches, one of which he gave to me. It was filled with jam. I ate it quickly and I continued to walk with Toby back to camp, talking along the way.
It was then that I suddenly heard a bang.
We immediately turned around to face the direction the sound came from. From the distance, we could see a fume of dust coming up. An emergency siren went up through the entire city.
Toby and I looked at each other in mutual understanding of what this meant. The emergency siren was only sounded when there was an emergency, and with the sudden sound of a bomb, it could only mean one thing. The enemy was here.
“ASSUME YOUR POSITIONS. ASSUME YOUR POSITIONS. DO NOT PANICK. ASSUME YOUR POSITIONS. ASSUME YOUR POSITIONS.” The speaker repeated on and on. “Our positions are at the river forts.” I shouted to Toby over the voices of yelling people all over the town. Our group (which included Anne, Isaac and Sophie) were assigned to defend the river entrance. We needed to get there.
Toby and I ran back to the fort. The commander (who was actually a town councillor) was already there, shouting out orders. When he saw us, he yelled “they planned a damned three-pronged attack all at once! They’re coming through the rivers! Helicopters are landing!” Sure enough, a helicopter could be seen flying through the sky. “You there. Get to the fort and whatever you do, make sure the attackers don’t get through!” We rushed into the fort and found that the platform where the machine guns were situated were already filled with people. We decided to come down again and there we found the rest of our group.
“What are we going to do? The commander didn’t give any clear instructions!” Isaac shouted over to me. I looked at the enemy boats that were approaching. The commander came running once again and using a loudspeaker, he screamed, “Get on those boats and make sure the enemy can’t get on the shore!” We quickly went to our boat. It was nothing more than a wooden boat, but it was all we had and we jumped on and started rowing towards the enemy.
“What the hell are we doing?” exclaimed Isaac. “This is like suicide!”
Every boat had two shotguns already on them, and Toby grabbed one while Sophie grabbed another. Anne and I rowed. Ahead, I saw that our people were trying to board the enemy ships to attack, but without success.
“Wait,” Anne quickly said, “are we actually going to do this? Are we serious? I mean…what are we going to do when we get on that ship? Shoot the soldiers? Are we actually going to do that?”
“Go with the flow!” I shouted. I continued rowing, although Anne had stopped.
“This is ridiculous.” Sophie said. “No one’s commanding anything! It’s crazy!” It was true. Our boats were all around and people from both sides were shooting madly at each other. It was a successful defense, however. The bigger boats from the enemy navy could not get to dock.
Suddenly, however, something was threw out of one of the enemy ships onto the fort. Everyone looked at the object, paralyzed. It caught me what was thrown out. It was a grenade.
The grenade hit the stone fort and exploded. The earth seemed as if it rumbled and everyone on the boats quickly rowed back in fear. Was the defense collapsing? No, no, no…no!
Bullets continued to be shot, and suddenly a scream came from someone near me. I looked over my shoulder. It was Anne who screamed, and blood was flowing out from her shoulder.
I immediately understood what happened and rowed back towards shore.
* * * * *
“You can come back to see her tomorrow.” said the nurse. “She needs to rest.” We breathed in relief. We were lucky that the bullet wound had not been fatal, or otherwise Anne might had died right on the spot. We slowly walked out of the hospital, a building filled with injured people.
“Since we’re still standing here right now, it seems like the soldiers didn’t break in.” said Isaac.
“Probably not.” Toby said, chewing yet another sandwich. “If they are we’d still be fighting right here.”
“The thing that still unnerves me is killing people.” I said. Sophie groaned, and I quickly shut my mouth. I’d forgotten that Sophie had already done something she didn’t want mentioned again, ever.
“What do we do now?” asked Toby.
“ATTENTION: ALL GROUPS NOT ON AN ASSIGNED DUTY ARE TO MEET IN TOWN SQUARE. ALL GROUPS NOT ON AN ASSIGNED DUTY ARE TO MEET IN TOWN SQUARE.” boomed the speaker.
“That was a timely announcement, wasn’t it.” I muttered. “Well, let’s get going, then.” I was already exhausted just from the naval action, and I was glad that the hospital was very close to the town square. In the middle of the town square a small stage had been set up, and there Mayor Philip was standing. He had already started speaking, despite the fact that more than half the town’s people were still making their way towards it.
“Citizens!” he was saying. “The enemy has once again arrived to besiege us, to deprive us from our liberty and freedom, to spread their reign of terror to the only free city left in the country. They plan to crush us, to make us bow before their troops.
“We will stand against them. We have done that before; we will do so again. However, it will need the cooperation of all our people. The enemy have arrived in greater numbers than before. Instead of just one division of the enemy army being sent against us, three had been sent.” There were outraged cries of horror. Mayor Philip held his hand up to ask for the cries to stop, and when they did, he spoke again.
“They are planning to take us from all sides. Their navy is trying to gain their way into the city using the river. I thank our own naval forces for their bravery in blocking the enemy’s way.” There were claps and cheers.
“The enemy has tried to use sheer force to break through our land walls, and unlike other previous attempts they have brought tanks to bombard against our walls. Luckily our resident weapons expert has stock of anti-tank grenades.
“They have even sent helicopters to try to cause confusion inside the town by dropping bombs. These were beyond our ability to repulse, but I have ordered bomb evacuation rooms to quickly be dug at the best speed possible.
“As you can see, the enemy forces have tried to make a surprise attack on us and concentrated their efforts in both air, water and land; yet they have failed. United we stand, everyone. We shall repulse their efforts!” The mayor suddenly picked up a flag of the country, which I had not noticed lying around, and waved it with great effort. Everyone cheered. “Liberty and peace! Liberty and peace! Liberty and peace!” the crowd chanted.
Once the cheering died down, Mayor Philip said, “These are your instructions. Groups 1-200 are required to man the land walls every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and to help with the cultivation of food every Tuesday and Thursday. Groups 201-400 will man the land walls every Saturday, Sunday and Monday; they will help cultivate food every Wednesday and Friday. The rest will alternately man the land walls and river defenses based on what the speaker announces; they will not help with cultivating food, but instead might be sent on special missions.” I blinked. Our group ID was 681. Special missions? Does he think we’re James Bond or something?
“For today, I would like the groups above 401-500 to help with digging the evacuation rooms; groups 501-600 to man the river defenses and everyone above that to man the land walls.” Mayor Philip announced. “The meeting is dismissed. Please go to your assigned posts.”
There was another explosion that could be heard. Group 681 quickly jogged back to the post that had been assigned to us on the outer wall. We looked across the horizon and saw tanks facing right at us. Two of them sat broken near the wall, but many still stood. Soldiers stood, carrying banners that said “surrender.” I looked down the wall and noticed that there were moats that had been dug around the outer wall, which I had never seen before. There were bodies of dead soldiers from both the enemy side and our side alike floating in the water.
“This is not going to be easy.” I heard Isaac mumbling.