Military/War story about a 26 year old officer stranded in enemy territory.
Surrounded by tall rocky mountains, white fog, and harsh winds whistling and howling all around him, it was easy to feel alone in the world. Marcaeu (Marcel to most) Coltaire Valentin was a soldier; aware of himself and trained for situations like this. Yet under circumstances like these the benefits of that were not apparent.
I'm losing it, lost track of what day it is. I'm out of rations, water is scarce. I don't think I'm ever making it home... alive at least.
Giving up... giving in to the extreme conditions he was faced with was becoming an increasingly tempting choice.
If he let that happen there was no doubt what his fate would be. Marcel got to thinking about his preference in death. Freezing, starving, drowning, being shot in the head sounded nice but he'd likely be captured as a PoW if he was found here alone. That's what scared him most.
This isn't what I signed up for.
He plunged forward on the icy path. The gorge was turning out to be an endless seeming abyss.
It's a fucking black hole.
He wanted to shout out and swear but there was no extra energy to spare. His strength was dwindling as it was. Already he marched through the foreign land aimlessly.
He had a destination but hardly a clue how to get there.
My mission is compromised.
Failure wasn't an option. Getting back home will be hard enough for him as it is. Marcel didn't know who the lesser evil was between the dictator he worked for or the one he was fighting. Marcel felt dizzy, he knew he was fading and suddenly he was in another place.
"Baby stop it! You're mom's gonna come knocking... She's gonna hate me."
His head was pounding, his body numb. His purple lips stuck out of the thick scarf covering his neck and chin. Over that was his heavy fur lined military issue winter coat. The fur stuck out of the big insulated hood that stretched over his forehead until the goggles covering his eyes stopped it. Under he had tight thermals layered with a black long sleeved shirt. The inside was fleece lined and there were three buttons at the top. His gloves were thick lined with fur, leather and more material to compensate. His fingers were still cold but maybe this way they wont fall off. On bottom he wore cargo pants with what looked like as many pockets as could fit. The belt provided space to attach more but he might have to think about the weight of all the gear. Thermal long johns were under, and it was all tucked into his heavy steel toed fading black combat boots. Underneath his body still shook. He came back to reality.
What's going on with me. I need to focus!
He saw nothing on the horizon to give him hope. Ahead lied blankets of snow and foggy darkness. He wondered if he might see anything when- if- he gets through this rigid mountain pass.
I can't allow myself to be weak.
He kept going and never stopped until he was forced by the sun meeting the mountain. As it went down he'd be living in the shadow, and the later it got with no sun the colder it'd get. The winds pick up in the night so fast it could pick you up if you were out in a field during the frequent snow storms and blizzards. Worse were the animals adapted to living here.
They're always watching.
The largest bears or big cat like creatures. The bears were coated in heavy and thick white fur making it easy to blend in if you're not on guard. They could easily grow to be six times the size as Marcel. The saber cats were white, black and grey in a striped camo-like pattern. Their most unique quality that they have armor like plates over parts of their body. Ribs, legs, back, spine and forehead. Their weakness was through the belly as the safer option but if you're desperate the face or tail will stagger them. Your best bet is to avoid fighting or never coming across one at all. You can watch for their tracks and you can watch for the marks they make on their territory and the types of areas they like to take shelter. Unfortunately for Marcel the favorite shelters of the beasts that inhabited this land were the same as his.
No where is safe.
Marcel missed his gun; he lost it back at the base. He'd had to escape in a hurry and never had any real logical opportunity to grab it. Without it out here put him low on the food chain. With that being the case they had first bids on all the best spots and shelters. The main cave system was entirely inhibited by a large pride of the cats. Marcel had the privilege of learning that the hard way. He had his wits, a crossbow, a handful of arrows and a combat knife. The crossbow was useful for hunting younger bears but those cats were fierce no matter what the size.
They'd eat my stomach out in a heartbeat.
He wasn't sure if it was the snow or the fog, maybe his goggles but his vision was blurring. It might be a sign that it wasn't an equipment malfunction when his knees gave out. He caught himself with his arms and crawled towards the wall of the canyon. His fingers shook under the sheets of rock Marcel was using with other mountain and snow storm debris to make a small hut. When he was done he'd be enclosed in the rocks, parts of trees, sticks, leaves and snow. He'd be camouflaged and look like a part of the wall. He was losing conscientiousness before he was done yet he pushed on until the job was done. He passed out almost as soon as he sat back and shut his eyes. Probably too quickly.
"Marcaeu Coltaire Valentine! Hey what did I tell you? Leave the chickens alone! Wash up for dinner now."
His mother was 15 when she got pregnant with Marcel and 16 when she had him. She was short and skinny with dark, brown, wavy, shoulder-length hair and olive skin. To get to work in the house she'd tuck her button up into some loose jeans and secure it with a belt. She'd cut up her own clothes and ones Marcel grew out of and re-purpose it to make more. She hid their struggle gracefully. Marcel always appeared well dressed and when she left the house it was in her one of her few nice sundresses, gloves and a big hat. Sometimes she'd go out with the umbrella but he knew she didn't mind the rain.
They used to play in the rain and the mud back when they lived on the farm with his father. His father died on the way home from a business trip, there was a big storm and the ship he was on sank. His mom put everything into supporting the farm for about a year and a half before the economy dropped and it all became too much. They lived with her parents for a while, until she refused to let them arrange for her to remarry. Then they moved to the slums in the outer city. Marcel moved schools and his mother got a job at the bar.
"Baby you remember to walk straight home from school now, okay? Don't ever stop or talk to anybody. You're not gonna go after with your friends and you're really not going to get a ride from anyone anywhere. Do you understand me, Marcel?"
He deliriously shook his head. His eyes felt heavy and hard to open.
"Mom I'm coming back... okay?"
Marcel became painfully aware of his freezing skin. His whole body was numb and there were pins and needles all through out his fingertips and arms. His clothes were irritating and the skin felt raw. With violent haste and no consideration for the state of his hut camouflage he shed each glove one by one. Under his goggles and hood his head was actually sweaty. His feet were fallen asleep harder than he'd ever felt in his life. Moving them the slightest bit would cause him serious pain. His belt came off, his jacket, his boots and his pants. This is how he always liked to sleep. Just boxers and socks.
"Baby you hit snooze on the alarm! I set that for me, now how am I gonna get out of here on time?"
A bullet whizzed through his girlfriend's head, in effect making her fade into the air. Then he was back at the the base. He just woke up. The alarm was sounding, nobody was in the sleeping bay. Marcel had already been in thermal undergarments to survive the cold night in the base. He threw his shirt, pants and belt on, and laced his boots with the speed of a soldier who'd been drilled on it consistently for the past five years. Grabbing the thick winter coat and back pack next to it was already a habit. In less than 3 minutes Marcel was fully geared with the fatal exception of his gun. As he sprinted through the halls it was obvious to see the base had been in chaos.
How did I sleep through this?
Marcel stopped in his tracks as he heard a familiar voice. It was Henri Clovis the new recruit in a small puddle of his own blood. There had obviously been a struggle. The Bookshelf was pushed on Henri and the entire office was a mess of broken and stirred up office furniture and materials."Sir..? Do you know what's going on?" I was scared and I thought I'd come get a gun from the armory like every other idiot. Valentin, I already know I'm not gonna make it. Just..." Marcel doubted this kid was old enough to drink
Why do they station kids at a base like this?
"Remember my name, Valentin. Can you tell my parents..?" The boy looked ready to pass out. Marcel nodded but he wasn't about to leave him there. Henri seemed like he wanted to be put out of his misery but Marcel had personally survived worse.
He's gonna make it.