© 2009, Patrick Hester. All Rights Reserved
Evermist: Chapter Three
Still shocked, Elias ran his hand over the stubble on his head. Looking to Narut he gave a small smile to see the other doing the same thing. He and Narut, it seemed, would be bunk mates for the duration of their stay at Fort Sudren. Both had been given haircuts and uniforms and now waited for their instructor along with a dozen other members of L Company, which had been split into 3 squads for training.
Narut was from Southport, eldest son of a fisherman who’d spent most of his life stepping in and out of boats. His skin was dark and his hair had been curly before they shaved it all off. He smiled easily in a way that put Elias at ease. He was the kind of person everyone liked immediately and Elias was glad to have him around, let alone as a fast friend.
“Right!” shouted a voice that boomed like thunder, causing all the young men to jump. “You lot! FORM UP!”
Everyone scrambled to form up two lines as a man wearing gray pants, suspenders and a white, button-up shirt with no collar stepped up and started glaring. Violently. There was a hint of blond in his short cropped hair and his long, thin face showed the lines of a man in at least his middle years.
“You are now a part of Pygon Regiment, L Company, 4th Squad. I am your Squad Leader – that makes me God. My name is Sergent Fesh. You will address me as Sergent, is that understood?”
Everyone replied “Yes Sergent!”
“Good! That is the first thing you have to learn! The second thing is how to run, run, run starting now!” he said as he pointed to a yellow line painted on the hard packed clay road. “Follow the yellow line! RUN!”
Elias turned with the others and started following the yellow line as it snaked through the barracks, Narut running alongside. Both began panting fairly quickly, taking in great gasps of air. Most of the others were no better.
* * *
Elias had lost the toss that morning, so he had to climb into the upper bunk in the room he shared with Narut. He’d wondered why anyone wouldn’t want the upper bunk, until he stood there staring at it, body weary and muscles sore and aching. There was barely enough room in the cramped space for both of them to move around in normally, and when they were stiff and sore from a day of training, it seemed that much more cramped and the climb into the top bunk felt a thousand feet high.
Neither spoke until they were lying down, and then it was mostly groans until Narut managed a complete sentence.
“..do you think it will always be like this?”
“I don’t know,” Elias replied, shading his eyes with his arm. “I hope not.”
“I think I hurt everywhere.”
“Fesh is evil.”
Elias snickered, causing his aches to flare up again. “He’s not evil,” he wheezed. “He has to make us strong, teach us to survive.”
“I’ll never make it…”
“You? You worked a fishing boat all your life! I’m the one who’ll never make it – I grew up with servants!”
“Nah, you complain but I think you’re the kind’ll be here teaching others someday. You’ll come back.”
Elias sighed. He’d forgotten all about Evermist for a bit. There was always the chance he’d get sent somewhere else, it did happen, just not as often. There wasn’t as much need for Militia anywhere else, hadn’t been a war in a thousand years. The only thing that needed guarding was Evermist, and they needed reinforcements every year.
“You’ll come back,” he said quietly, willing it to be true. He liked Narut, he really did. He wanted all of the men he’d met today to come back even though he knew far too many of them would die. There were no guarantees.
Yawning, he turned towards the wall and closed his eyes. He could already hear Narut snoring softly below and sleep came quickly.