I yawned as the central alarm clock rang. Oh god. How did the town councillors think of everything, including a central alarm clock? Sure, everyone waking up at the same time was a good way to organize things but surely there’s still a place in the world for something known as resting?
Or maybe not. At least that‘s what the town councillors think. Still, six in the morning was still a very early time to wake up every day. It was killing me. Gone were the days in the national park of opening your eyes at nine.
I saw that Isaac had already woken up. “What’s our duty for today, Isaac?” I asked.
“Aren’t we supposed to be reporting for command with Mayor Philip today?”
Oh right. I’d already forgotten all about yesterday. I was still only half-awake.
“Alright, let’s get going then.” Toby said. We all quickly changed into our clothes (we were only allocated time for showers every second day), met Sophie at her tent. Anne had not yet been released from hospital.
“So can you tell me why we’re going to see the mayor today again?” Sophie said with a yawn.
“Well, we were defending the walls yesterday, and Mayor Philip thought we were defending bravely or something, so he wants to assign us a mission that will involve striking back at the enemy.” I explained. We were passing through the last of the tents now.
“That doesn’t sound good.” Isaac muttered.
“Why would you want to risk your life for this?” Isaac asked.
It was a bewildering statement. “Why not?” I asked, dumbfounded.
Isaac shrugged, clearly not noticing my confusion. “A risk of life is a risk of life. Nothing’s worth my life.”
Toby sneered. “Not even for the liberty of the country? I feel sorry for you.”
“Why? You think it’s worth it?”
“Yeah, of course. What is there that’s worth more than fighting for what you believe in? You know, there’s a guy called Che Guevara. He said ‘I fight for what I believe in, with all the weapons at my disposal’. You should know that.”
Isaac smirked. “Of course I know Che. He was an Argentine revolutionary who believed in communism. He was executed on 9th October, 1967.” I rolled my eyes. No matter how embattled, Isaac was still Isaac. And what was an Isaac? A smartass, that’s what he was.
“Let’s not fight here.” Sophie said quickly. “Look, we’re already here at the city administration center.” She was right. We strolled through the gates and knocked at the door. We were quickly admitted in and in a few moments we were once again sitting in the councillor’s meeting room. The difference from the first time we had been in there was that only Mayor Philip was sitting there.
Mayor Philip glanced at the clock. “You’re here pretty early. Our first group that was at the walls yesterday to arrive, in fact.” he said.
“You are…”-Mayor Philip glanced at a list- “group 0681!”
“Yes, sir.” I replied.
“Great! You’re still new here, aren’t you?”
“Yes, sir.” I replied.
“You’d already been involved in major fighting, correct?”
“Yes, sir.” I replied.
“And you survived both, except that one of your group members were shot and injured?”
“Yes, sir.” I replied.
“Are you ready for your new mission?”
“Yes, sir.” I replied. This was getting old.
“Well, good. Since you people are still pretty…young, I’m not going to give you an incredible task quite yet.” Mayor Philip said.
“What are the tasks you’re going to give to the other groups?” Toby asked with a trace of nervousness in his voice.
“Oh, we can’t reveal that. Be assured that we aren’t gonna give you some daredevil task like assassinate the enemy general. We know we can’t do that. They have better troops, they have higher numbers, they have a fortified camp; they’re superior to us in every way. We’re going to be giving you groups small tasks that aren’t too dangerous. None of them will be very damaging in their own right, but as a whole they will help sap away the enemy’s energy.
“This is your task.” Mayor Philip stood up and pointed to a map hastily drawn on a whiteboard. “I’ve sent spies to infiltrate the enemy camp, and we found out that they’ve built a separate small wood building beside the river that keeps their food and water supplies. An army without supplies is nothing. Only a handful of troops guard it, and your task is to row your boat there, and throw a grenade into it. Hopefully that‘s not too big of an ask?”
I blinked. “What? I beg your pardon? Can you repeat what you just said?”
“Your task is to row a boat is to bomb the enemy supply building with a grenade.”
I blinked again, and I looked at Toby.
“Mayor…please reconsider.” Sophie started. “We…”
The mayor made a face that we knew signified a desperate plea. “Please.” he said. “I wish I wouldn’t have to send people as young and inexperienced as you people, but I‘ really down on people. Remember that I still need to have people guarding the walls, and doing other tasks.”
“What other tasks are there? Please tell us, mayor.”
“Fine. I’m sending one group out to try to burn down the enemy fortifications, a couple of groups to start digging a tunnel which we’ll use to get right to the enemy, just like they did to us, and they’re gonna be attacking the enemy head-on that way. Another one is going to try to ambush a contingent of soldiers that will be arriving here very soon.”
I looked at Toby again. Perhaps our own task wasn’t too bad after all.
“Yes, mayor, we accept this task.” I said, sighing. Mayor Philip nodded, and we walked away, silent. When we were outside the building, Isaac said, “So, is this worth risking our lives? Bombing enemy supplies?” I rolled my eyes again. Why does Isaac have to make everything become a problem?”
“If it helps with the general war effort, then yes.” Toby growled. As effect there was the sound of explosion from the direction of the river walls, and cries that emerged into the air. Living with death always surrounding me, perhaps I wouldn’t be too surprised if my turn came soon.
“We need to plan this thing.” Sophie said. “We can’t just go rowing like that. We’d be blasted down by the enemy guns.”
“I agree,” I replied, “and I think I know just the person whom we should ask for help from.”
* * * * *
“This doesn’t sound fun.” Anne commented. She was sitting upright on her white bed. The hospital room was filled with a dozen of other injured people and I would not want to spend a long time here. How did Anne eat and sleep here for a week already? The others moaned and groaned, for they were deeply injured. One of them, the one lying next to Anne, was missing a leg, and I learned from Anne that he had lost it when an enemy threw a grenade to the walls. It was astonishing how humans are so creatively brutal when it comes to warfare. Generals sit there all day devising the best ways to murder other humans. And it wasn’t just ‘other humans’ too; here, we’re talking about the same countrymen, people who would have stood shoulder to shoulder in unity before the revolution. These people were now trying to hack each other’s heads off. How times have changed.
“Of course this isn’t fun.” Toby grumbled. “I’m actually seriously doubting our survival.”
“You don’t sound too optimistic.”
“Has this bullet in your shoulder affected your brain as well? I don’t like these comments. ‘Fun’. ‘Optimistic’. Neither word applies here, Anne. Thank you.” Isaac lectured. Anne shot a look of promise of revenge.
I cut in. “So how do you think we should do this, Anne?”
Anne shrugged. “I’m not exactly sure. This doesn’t sound very good at all. It’s clear that you need to do it during the night, so that you won’t get gunned down if seen, but you also need to be perfectly silent. But when you throw in the grenade and blow the building down…obviously the soldiers are gonna shoot down lights or something to find who’s doing it?”
“So our problem is the getaway.” Isaac said. “We can’t row the boats that quickly.”
An idea came to me. “What if we take two separate boats? You and Sophie can be on that boat, while Toby and I can be on the other.We’ll throw the grenades, jump down the river and swim to the boat that’s still waiting. Then, we row back. This should be a bit safer since it’s harder to aim at someone who’s underwater.”
“But then we can’t defend ourselves at all underwater. And the boat is going to be left abandoned there.” Toby pointed out.
“There isn’t a lot of things we can do to defend ourselves on the boat too. And to hell with the boat.” I said.
“It sounds good.” Anne said finally. “Review your plans.”
“There isn’t much to it. Row two boats there. Get one of them to stop some distance away from the enemy. Row the other one to the enemy building. Throw a grenade at it, jump off the boat and swim for your life.”
“Well, we need some food and water, just in case. That can be on Sophie and Isaac’s ship. Toby and I should also have one pistol each. Since they might be dropped during our escape, we’ll ask for old ones. Sophie and Isaac should also have one each.”
“Let’s start packing then.”
* * * * *
I drank cool water as I sat on the little rowboat in the river. The sun was setting and the orange rays reflected in the water. It was a beautiful sight that would be photograph-worthy. Sadly I was not on a relaxation trip. I was on a mission to bomb an enemy building.
“Are you ready?” Toby asked as he hopped to the boat.
“Is everyone here?”
“Yeah. Isaac and Sophie’s here.”
“What took you guys so long?”
“Apparently the council weren’t really convinced we needed two boats.” Sophie said. “It took some time for us to persuade them to grant permission to use two boats.”
“Well, with only one it’s a bit like a suicide mission.” I said. “Supplies ready?”
“Alright. I presume everyone’s ready for this. Let’s go.” With that, Toby and I picked up the oars and we started rowing towards the enemy. The evening was slowly transitioning into a night as darkness started to engulf us once more.