Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta soldier. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta soldier. Mostrar todas las entradas

sábado, 27 de agosto de 2016

Ravaged coastline

   As he climbed the staircase towards the top, the storm outside raged even stronger than before. The lighthouse’s walls seemed to shake at the sound of thunder. When he reached the top, he realized the machine that operated the lighthouse was still working despite of their best effort. Fast as he could, he grabbed something from his backpack and stuck it against the control panel that was lit with a variety of colors.

 Outside, the storm seemed to be getting worse every second. The waves were hitting the coast hard, as if nature was intentionally trying to bring the lighthouse down. But working with erosion would take too long so that’s why Miller volunteered to go to the top of the lighthouse and plant a bomb to destroy it from inside it. On the ocean, there was a sound louder than the one of the thunder: two ships seemed to be attacking positions in the ground and they did it all thanks to the help of the lighthouse.

 Once the bomb was planted, Miller ran out of the building, into the storm. From a certain distance, he saw how the lighthouse collapsed into itself. The sound of the explosion wasn’t really that strong because of all the scandal the storm was causing but what mattered was that the mission had been accomplished. Miller ran down the hill towards the beach, were the forces of his country were supposed to be. He didn’t find them there and he was afraid something bad had happened.

 Fortunately, he found their camp still set up where it had been that morning. Only a few tents remain though, because of the storm. The soldiers there said the attack from the ocean had been way too strong and that, even with the lighthouse out of their way, the enemy had known where to attack and how. So most of the army had moved south and, apparently, so did the battle.

 Miller had an obligation with his people, to defend his land until his death but he was very tired from running from one place to the other so he decided to have some rest with those wounded soldiers and wait for good news from all the battalions fighting the enemy. There was no food there, which was a shame, but one of the soldiers had a small flask with a very strong alcohol. Although forbidden, it helped Miller be aware until he fell asleep just before sunrise.

 He only slept a few hours. The storm had finally stopped or almost stopped as it was still raining after all.  He decided to grab one of the transports that hadn’t been destroyed and follow the army down the path. The vehicle had four wheels but seemed like one of those cars you use at the beach or somewhere where war is not an issue. It had no doors, no real protection but it had to be enough.

 As he travelled south, Miller was not very happy about what he saw. Because he saw nothing. There weren’t any bodies on the beach, or coming form the sea. He tried to get to high ground but there was nothing to see on the ocean. No big ship destroyed or trying to attack anyone or anything. The ocean was deprived of any life forms, at least on the surface. And the beaches were the same. Even tracks of other vehicles were difficult to find. Miller would only find the occasional boot print every so often.

 The first day following his army was a waste. Miller only stopped driving at night, when he stumbled upon a former fisherman’s village that had been abandoned by its inhabitants. The most likely scenario was that they had left the town because of the impending attacks of the enemy on the coast. Those people that had lived of the ocean for so long, now had to move to the far away from it, leaving everything they had known and loved behind. It must have been very hard for them.

 Miller left his vehicle next to a house that had clearly been attacked but was still standing after it all. He walked around as clouds in the night sky moved and revealed the full moon. The white light from it helped Miller look for anything he could use such as a small tank of gasoline and some bullets for his handgun. There were also nets and fishing rods but he left them there, as he wouldn’t have time to do anything with them.

 He slept inside the abandoned house that night. Nature or man had removed part of the roof, so the light of the moon illuminated his room. It was filled with sand and smelled a lot like fish. However, he slept in an actual bed that he tried to clean up the best he could. It was very strange to feel such a soft matters and the sheets really smelled like fabric softener, after such a long time of having been abandoned there.

The next day, he charged the gasoline tank of his vehicle and moved on with his search. It was until the afternoon, several kilometers from the fisherman’s village, where finally found the bodies of some soldiers. Unfortunately, they were not only dead but they seemed to have been scorched alive. Their bones were practically pieces of coal, forming strange angles by the ocean.

 It looks as if they were two soldiers or maybe they weren’t even soldiers. It was difficult to tell as the clothes had burned too. Something bad had happened there anyway and even if it didn’t have anything to do with the fighting, it was worth taking note. Maybe the people were going crazier than anyone had anticipated.

 A huge explosion was then heard just beyond some sand dunes. Miller left the vehicle behind and run up the dunes in order to see what had happened. A column of smoke could be seen easily as his feet sunk into the sand, trying to run as fast as he could in a place were running was not very practical. When he got to the tip of the dunes, he saw something horrible. It was the army, his army. They were all dead. Their bodies covered the stretch of sand between the beach and the tree line. There didn’t seem to be a single spot without a dead body.

 The smoke was coming out of some sort of gun near the center of the agglomeration of bodies. It was artillery and was pointed towards the ocean. Miller tried to look for anything there to indicate what had killed all of those men and women but there was nothing. The weapon had maybe overloaded and that’s why it had exploded. It meant that Miller had missed his peers for a very short time, maybe even only hours.

 It was awful to see all of those familiar faces rotting under the soft rain and the pale sunlight that filtered through the very thick clouds. He didn’t know what to do with them. Leaving them there would not be according to their code but burning each corpse would take him forever. And then, there was the gun. He decided to walk among the bodies, towards the weapon, in order to check if any information could be saved from its intelligent software.

 He tried not to step on any hands or legs but it was very difficult. He tried to look forward instead of downwards. For a moment, tears began pouring out of his eyes. It was just too much for him. After all, he was just a young guy that no many months ago had ben trying to turn his life around after been a thief for all of his life. He had tried to learn a trade and be good at it and then the war happened and now he was stepping on bodies.

 When he reached the artillery post, he sat on the chair of the gun and clicked some letters. The machine was still working. The shooting capabilities were out of order but he could check what they were firing at moments ago. An image appeared on the small screen and he had to get closer to see it fully. When his eyes focused, he thought he was looking at the worn image or maybe he had done something wrong.


 But the image was not the wrong one. Understanding the danger he was in, he ran stepping on every body towards the dunes and reaching his vehicle fast. He had to leave for the inland, where the inhabited cities were, in order to tell them what he had seen. They wouldn’t believe him but he had to tell them that a monster was out there. Maybe it was the enemies, or maybe not, but it seemed to have come straight from hell. As he drove, he checked his mirrors every few seconds, afraid of the ocean.

jueves, 19 de mayo de 2016

Perpetuum

   It had been discovered in a field, only some months ago, by a farmer named Enrico who had been plowing the ground in order to expand his carrot crop. He had been doing it manually instead than with a machine because he was testing the new piece of land he had bought. It was something of a lucky decision. If he had used any big machinery, he would have destroyed hundreds or maybe thousands of years of history.

 Enrico cleaned the shield with care, only using his hands. The state of the piece was amazing: drawings could still be seen on it, as well as some marking done by the edge. The farmer called the museum in Florence and they came to pick up the piece in a matter of hours. They also decided to ask Enrico if they could check his land for more objects and he agreed. He wasn’t going to use all the new land just yet, so the archaeologists could do whatever they wanted where he had found the shield.

 The object was put in a Styrofoam casing and transported to the city, to Florence, where experts would check its state and would determine where it came from, what it was exactly and when it had been used. Every single test available was going to be done to the shield because that’s what they did with every single piece that they recuperated. They would also clean it thoroughly, and put it somewhere in the vast collection of the Museum of Archaeology of Florence.

 The testing began at the same time a small team of people arrived at Enrico’s land. It lasted for several days, time in which many other objects were discovered in the dirt: there was a chest protection with the leather strap still attached to it, a golden ring made of gold and a dagger with an amethyst in the middle. They were very well conserved and the people that had unearthed them were really glad they hadn’t been affected by centuries of rain and earthquakes and all other natural phenomenon that affected the region.

 In the museum, they determined that the objects came from the times of the Roman Empire. By past data, they knew there was no city where the objects were found, so it had to be a camping site or a battleground of sorts. The objects appeared to be related somehow: the chest protector and the shield were used commonly by soldiers or even gladiators. The dagger also fit in there nicely. But the ring was the one thing that seemed out of place.

 No gold mines had ever existed in the region. And even if it had been made in another territory, only rich men and women were able to have such nice things. But not a soldier and that’s what the rest of the objects were suggesting the owner was: a simple soldier, maybe battling an enemy or just camping by a forest. The excavation of the site was ongoing.

 After restoration, every single one of the four objects looked as it had just been made. It was amazing. Some thought the dirt of the place they had found them all in was very special and capable of changing without deteriorating any type of material. The leather, for example, was moldy and about to break in some parts. But it was cleaned with care and then it looked almost new. The museum was expecting to find more objects in the area before organizing a special exhibition for the pieces.

 Almost six months after Enrico had found the shield, a group of college students that helped in the excavations, found another dagger and two skulls. The rest of the skeletons were discovered in the following days. It was amazing for every single person involved because the place was telling a story and it was telling it slowly, with mystery and even a little bit of drama.

 The skeletons were not complete but most of the bones had been recovered. They were reconstructed in separate tables in the museum and the bones were cleaned carefully in order to do a full testing of every single one of them. They also cleaned the second dagger found, this one missing the jewel that should have been right in the middle. It was impossible to know if it had been an amethyst or not. Maybe that was a small secret that the ground would choose not to disclose.

 When the skeletons were finally reorganized and tested, it had been determined that both bodies had been man, probably in their late thirties. One of them was missing at least three teeth. The other one had week bone structure in one of his arms. Both, however, had evidence of having being stabbed in the chest, probably causing their deaths. The entry of the daggers had been so violent, they had almost sawed some of the rib bones.

 What was strange was the fact that the daggers had been extracted after the first and, probably, only blow. Maybe they had been fighting alone, away from the main conflict and they had just realized they were exactly the same strength, they realized they weren’t going to be able to overcome the other one so they decided to go for the daggers and each had stabbed the other in the same way. Maybe it was a way of dying honorably… It seemed odd anyway.

 The skeletons were also introduced in the plan for an exhibition and the city of Florence had decided to go ahead and organized, even if the amount of objects was not as abundant as it would have been desirable. They trusted new discoveries to be made in the time they would take to organize everything. And they did right.

 Just before the excavation site turned one year old, a young archeologist name Camilla discovered the remains of two sets of sandals, as well as a leather pouch filled with coins. Inside the pouch, which was not as well conserved as the rest of the objects, was also a key that had a very small inscription in Latin.

 The first person to see the key, besides the young woman, was an expert in the museum that was very well versed in the language of Ancient Rome. And he was very amazed to realize what the key said: VOBIS IN PERPETUUM, which means “yours forever”. The key and the coins were, as predicted, of the same time that the bones and the rest of the objects. The story had turned much more interesting. What did that key open and why the inscription?

 The excavation went on for another six months but nothing else was discovered in there. It was as if those two men had been alone, very far from any other group of people, maybe sharing the money they had in order to go somewhere else. Many experts investigated old maps and discoveries made all over Tuscany and realized there was an ancient road that passed near the site and served merchant that wanted to take their good from the coast and back. So maybe the two men had been looking for a way to go there, to the coast.

 Others thought they were actually going to Florence, or Florentia as the romans called it. Some even dared to say that the two men had no intention of moving anywhere. Maybe they didn’t even know what their next step was. Anyway, none of that gave light about what the inscription in the key meant and why they had stabbed each other to death, presumably.

 The museum exhibition took place almost two full years after the first remains had been found. The excavation site was closed but the farmer never used it, deciding to excavate himself from time to time, as a hobby. The exhibition was complemented with other objects of the time, in order to illustrate the era and the way people lived. But at the center of it all, there was a big class casing with the skeletons lying there and even animated versions of how the two men would have looked like.


 The key was put in a casing above the bodies. The small object appeared to float over them and the inscription was written all over the walls and the exhibition asked every visitor to give their interpretation of the words. Maybe they would see something the experts had not seen. Maybe new fresh minds would be necessary to resolve a mystery of one thousand years. Or maybe, just maybe, some things deserved to be kept secret forever.

miércoles, 16 de marzo de 2016

Homeland

   When Muriel was in the shower, she suddenly remembered how being in a combat zone felt. The water reminded her of the many times they had been under heavy fire and how they had narrowly escaped death. Well, how she had narrowly escaped death because there were others who had gave their lives for the cause that they were defending, a cause that Muriel had trouble understanding now that she was home.

 She had arrived just a couple of days ago, being received by her parents and her boyfriend, although she hadn’t seen much of him. Muriel couldn’t explain it but, she had missed John so much in the filed and now that she had seen him again, she couldn’t even make herself hug him or kiss him or say anything sweet to him. She felt as if her heart had dried out in the desert, consumed by everything she had seen, day after day. She hadn’t even hugged her parents and they had tried and she knew they had felt it too, that awkwardness, like a barrier that now existed between them.

 Trying to scare all the negative feelings and memories away, Muriel decided to shampoo her hair and enjoy the nice odors of her parents’ home. Where she came from, she didn’t really have the chance to wash her hair very often. Actually, she had showered a few times the last month and it was always a minute, two at the most beneath the coldest water a country that’s hot as hell can have. But, even so, she had to confess that made her feel alive.

 The smell of chamomile that the shampoo had reminded her of a time that seemed very far in her past now. She had been picking up flowers with her sister near a house her father had rented in some mountains, not very far from the city where she was now. That time seemed like a dream. Because it was almost false, unlike the burned bodies and mutilated corpses she had seen in the last year. Her mind immediately went to the destroyed cities she had seen; the destroyed cities she had helped become a battling ground. Because, the more she thought about it, the more she realized her presence there was also a problem.

 For many people, she was the enemy and even locals, just people that tried to survive, ran away from her when she tried to come near them. It didn’t help that she was the only woman in an assault team and that the rest of her teammates could be considered brutes. They were man built like a mountain, guys that she had managed to control during training. Some were nice enough, she could even talk to them about what she liked and didn’t like in life, about her boyfriend, her parents, her dream to someday become a veterinarian. But other were just beasts that had to be controlled at all times. And some other times, they were released.

 She rinsed all of the shampoo from her head and then just enjoyed the warm water falling on her black, gliding down her breasts and belly and legs. Muriel instinctively touched her breasts, as if she didn’t know that they were still there. She really touched them and got a bit aroused but her goal was not that but to really feel something, whatever it was. She had been numb for so long that she started touching more and more and then put one of her hands over her vagina and… And she stopped.

 Like a pinch to the stomach, memories came running into her brain, once again. One of those beasts, one of those animals she had been to war with, had tried to rape her on the first week. Luckily, Muriel was a good cadet, a good soldier in general and was able to turn his brute force against him. She threatened him with telling everyone and he laughed at her, touching his penis over his pants. She ran away before he could say or do anything else. That image stuck in her head, even though she had been trying hard to eliminate of her mind.

 She grabbed the soap and decided to clean herself properly, every single centimeter of her body. She even sat down in the shower floor in order to feel she was under a waterfall or something like that. She had always done that, fro, the time she was a child, and her mother always told her that was a waste of water and that people in other countries would have loved to have that water to drink and cook and live. And then she would argue with her and loose.

 Now, Muriel had seen the world and the truth was that she didn’t really cared if a family or a boy or a girl had no water to drink because of her. She simply didn’t believe that it made any difference. For her, she had discovered, the world was full of shit. The world was evil and awful and people didn’t really ended up in the bright side of things. People had bad endings, every single day. People died or they were killed, and there were orphans and fear conquered all of their hearts and that was just how things were.

 What Muriel had done in that country, her killing and her helping, was not useful. She didn’t make any difference by doing those things and she was ready to tell any idiot than helping with such stupid things didn’t help anyone. Being kind one moment and awful the next didn’t make you even or something. It made you human and humans are made to make each other miserable, make each other suffer and, slowly but surely, make competition go away because that’s how the world goes.

 Then, she stood up from the floor and closed the shower. The lack of water noise made her tremble but she inhaled deeply and stepped out.

 She took a yellow towel her mother had left her and dried herself with it over the small mat on the floor that was shaped like a hamburger. She liked that mat, ever since she had seen it once, one of those few times she had been able to chat with her mother over Skype. For some reason, she had shown her the hamburger mat and told her it smelled nice and that she wanted the house more fun with it. It was such a silly thing but that stupid mat was a symbol of the home Muriel wanted to go back to. Her goal was to go back home and see that mat in person and now that wish had become true.

 Walking slowly, she got out of the bathroom and walked to the closet in the next room. She had somehow done that automatically, because of a force of habit that came from years of doing so, but her true attire of the day was on the bed. Her father had gone to a special store were they specialized in pressing and cleaning uniforms. And hers now looked brand new, with every single detail in the right place. She removed the plastic and just left it there, on the bed.

 That green, that shade of color on the uniform, had always symbolized so much to her. And now, she was trying to remember what it was that she had felt the first time she had seen it. And she did remembered but, again, she couldn’t feel it. She knew that the uniform had made her and her family happy and proud. She was one of the few people she knew that had decided to join the army. The reasons were many; include the benefits in education and even health but also because Muriel had been a patriot for a long time.

 When she was just a little girl, she was the one that made her father built a small metal thing to put over the front door of the house in order to put the flag there every time there was a holiday. With time, she just left the flag there because she liked to see it move with the wind. She liked the colors and the shape and how it made her feel. Muriel liked to learn more and more about her country and her community and was really admired by many parents and teachers, not so much by her fellow students.

 But now, all of that had left her. Her patriotism had been left for dead in a horrible battlefield filled with charred cars and corpses, were the only noise was the crying of a baby somewhere. Her flag was a rag with which she had cleaned all of the blood from her hands, as well as the blood dripping from her weapons.


 Muriel put on the uniform and didn’t even look at herself at the mirror after putting it on. She just went downstairs where her parents waited for her in the car, to take her to the ceremony where she would be qualified, by all her brothers ands sisters in arms, as a “hero”.

domingo, 10 de mayo de 2015

The bracelet

   It was a fisherman in the Svalbard archipelago that found it, after at least fifty years of being lost. He was coming back from one of his journeys into the ocean and crossed by one of the many rocks that formed the archipelago. This was close to the main island. As he sailed back to his home, he saw one of this rocks filled with seagulls that had made their nests on the highest parts of the rocks. The fisherman never really looked at the rocks, he was very used to them, but this time something caught his attention. It was something that sparkled with the last rays of the sun. It was almost night but you could easily see how bright the thing sparkled.

 He sailed right for it, curious to see what was it. Seagulls, and birds in general, were known to love shiny things and he thought that maybe it was a piece of glass or something equally ordinary but as he closed in he looked up and used a pair of binoculars that his son had gave him as a present to spot birds flying over large banks of fish. He pointed them at the nest and almost fell to the water when realizing that what sparkled wasn’t a piece of glass or tin can. It was a bracelet. It consisted of a thin central ring, made probably of silver, and many charms went through the ring. Some were made of gold; some others had jewels of many colors.

 Desperate to see it closer, the fisherman tried to reach the nest but it was too high. He couldn’t just take it with his hand and the rock was slippery do to the water and the waste made by the birds. He realized he needed to climb the wall or get the nest down somehow. He then tried to climb the wall, but slipped easily, almost falling in the wrong way. He did fell to the water and had to return to the boat all wet. He then realized a storm was forming so he had do make fast decisions. He decided to leave and return early the next day, weather permitting, as the birds wouldn’t let the piece be lost. Many of them were already at the rock and circling the boat, as keeping an eye on him. So he turned on the engine and decided to come back another time, thinking the treasure would be there the next day.

 Little did he know that the bracelet was not only a small piece of wealth, it was actually a piece of history that time itself had forgotten long ago. The piece, or at least the central ring and one of the charms, had being created by a tribe now nonexistent of South America.  They had made it especially for their lord, a local chieftain that many in the world would know through the legend of Eldorado. Yes, that man was the original owner of the piece, which was specially created for him thinking that he needed the bracelet to be kind of his gift to the gods one he had entered communion with them. The shape of the bracelet, which locked with the small head of a snake, was made to be an offer to the gods and sign of power.

 But that small piece of jewelry only survived some years before being taken away in one of the many trips done by the Spaniards, which had arrived recently to the region. They took many of their riches and simply put them in crates and other types of containers and took them to the coast. There, some guy just checked every object and determined if it was worth something and if they should give it to the royal family or if they should keep it for themselves.

 A man called Carlos Díaz saw the bracelet, which had already been put on the boat sailing to Spain. He had been just a petty thief in the past but now he worked with the army and for the queen. But once he saw the small piece of jewelry, he decided he had to have it. He took it without telling anyone and put it on his wrist to make sure he didn’t loose it. Carlos was so enthralled with it; he decided to add something so he put a hollow piece of gold in it. But that wasn’t good enough as, days after departing the coast, a fleet of English pirates assaulted the ship and stole the cargo before blowing the boat to the sky with their canons. The pirate that killed Carlos saw the bracelet in his wrist and decided to steal it.

 When trading it back in Britain, he found a buyer. It was a merchant, a man that loved trinkets and silly things to make himself a nice collection. The man was an Italian called Domenico Girondelli and he was about to take a couple of his cousins to a trip to the far east, to get spices and other things there. Domenico also added a charm to the bracelet: a small coin with a hole through it. They had to go through all of Europe and then cross the Bosphorus disguised as Turks. But the Turks saw through their ruse and attempted to kill them. Just one of the men survived, and this was because he was a better runner and because he was saved by a group of women. He disguised himself as one and grabbed the bracelet from Domenico’s belongings.

 Seeing he had nothing back in Italy or in the Ottoman Empire, he decided to leave the place and keep the charade of being a woman until he got to China. In the route, many men fell in love with him. To be fair, he had girly features and didn’t even grow a beard or a mustache. He was a skinny man and could pass for a woman very easily. Hard to reach and very shy, men loved that about him and also that only piece of jewelry that made her so special. Men in Samarkand and all over the desert gave him charms for his bracelets, adorned with many beautiful jewels and stones.

 When he finally arrived into China, he realized he wasn’t a man anymore. He felt so sorry for himself, realizing he felt like a woman know, that he drowned himself on a lake by the imperial palace of Beijing. The police of the realm picked up his body after several days and took the bracelet to the Emperor who gave it to his wife. She was so caught up by it that she added two more charms: a jade ring and a small gold chain that rattled when she walked with the bracelet on. The piece found a home in the palace for many years, being passed on by the Empress to other women through generations until the Japanese invaded China. By then, the imperials had already disappeared but the bracelet was still kept in one of the many palaces, part of a collection worth millions. The Japanese didn’t take many things but one man that accompanied them in their task had an eye for all things of some worth.

 His name was Carl Unger. He had been send to Japan by the new government in Germany and had wanted to be in China as they invaded the place. After all, his country knew how important Japan was for a future strategy in the region and he had accepted the post of consultant with the Japanese government. He would travel with the army, wherever they would go, and see what use he could make of cities, people and the objects he saw on his way. It was him who found the small chest where the bracelet was being kept and took it as a prize. No one said anything but everyone saw him taking the bounty to his chambers, a whole room he had taken for himself in one of the palaces.

 There, Carl would look at the piece for hours. He found it fascinating because he realized it wasn’t a local piece. The snake and the charms… Everything was so different and unique. But precisely that was the beautiful thing about the piece, that it was a sum of many parts and that it seemed to reflect a beauty he would never see again. Some days later, he was summoned back to Tokyo, so he took everything with him. There, he lived alone and spent his days between work and his treasure. He was becoming obsessed, almost to a clearly sick level with the pieces.

 That lasted for years until the people at the embassy revealed to him that war had started. Central command in Berlin was giving him the option of staying in Japan or going back to Germany to help with the war effort. He decided to go back, in order to visit his mother and to give her the bracelet. He realized it was the best thing to do. So he packed what he had and headed for Berlin. The city was glorious, as he had never seen it before, and the army was making progress all over. He visited his mother and gave the bracelet.

 He would never see the piece again. Carl died after being sent to fight in northern France. His mother, a good soul, had given the bracelet to his housekeeper in order for her to sell it and escape the country. The woman was a Jew and, as she escaped, she added a new charm: a ring. But she wasn’t successful in her attempt to leave Germany and was captured by Nazis. The woman was sent to a concentration camp where the bracelet was lost in the sewers for many years.

 It was found by an American soldier who took it as a token to give to his girlfriend, who was waiting for him to go back home. He travelled to France with the army and there he boarded a boat to the United States. He added a small rock he had found in the camp, piercing through it with a torch a fellow soldier had lent him. But the war was not over and a German submarine fired on the boat, killing everyone on board. The bodies floated on the water as well as their belonging and it was a seagull who found the bracelet floating softly just below the water. The bird grabbed it and fled the site with it. And that’s how the bracelet got to Svalbard.


 The storm poured many gallons of rain on the rock but the nest stood still and the next morning the fisherman came for the bracelet. He had a large rod that he used to grab the nest and the bracelet for his wife, who had always wanted a nice piece of jewelry. She added her wedding ring as a charm and held it close until her death. But as we all know, that wouldn’t be the end of story.