Borne of Personal Strife
Published by Patrick Kain at Shakespir
Copyright 2017 Patrick Kain
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents (You Are Here)
Downed In a Storm
The rain fell hard. Lightning flashed, creating a spider’s web in the clouds. The thunder roared and the wind whipped at the long-leafed trees. The heat made the air feel more like steam, and the fog made it thick. Rain did little to water down the soup pot in which the lone man found himself caught. His uniform was drenched in sweat and raindrops. On his back was an old Lee-Enfield rifle, polka-dotted by water drops. A helmet guarded his head, and the strap around his chin was kept loose.
The man’s pace was slowed. The road was covered in an ankle-deep layer of muddy water, and the silt beneath his boots seemed to breathe deep every time he lifted them. His breathing heaved as he walked off from the road and up a shallow slope. Near the edge of the forest, he leant against the trunk of a large banyan tree.
After a moment, he sat down. The forest floor was damp, and small patches of grass and ferns dotted the leaf litter. The man pulled his rifle around, and aimed it at some unseen enemy that no one but him could spot. Thunder continued to roar, even as the rain began to ease. With one hand, he pulled off his shallow steel helmet. The rain felt cool against his balding scalp. He leaned against the trunk of the tree, the grainy bark cool against the back of his head.
His eyes felt heavier with every minute. The pattering of the rain eased his tension as he closed his eyes. Just forty winks, he thought, maybe then the rain will have stopped. Just before entering sleep, he muttered, “Just forty winks…”
The soldier did not dream. When he awoke, the sky had cleared. The gibbous moon cast a pale glow across the forest. The only sounds were those of the forest: crickets, frogs, and birds. He was just about to nod off again until he heard a sound that stood out from the rest: the rumble of an engine. As the sound got closer, he heard a splash. A puddle on the road, doubtless. The man stood up, and in the distance he could see a dark green mass coming up the road.
The object pulled up closer. He quickly pulled his helmet back over his head, and picked up his rifle. He ran towards the edge of the road, the bright red stripes of the Union Jack could be spotted on the side of the canvas cover of the vehicle’s back end. He called, “Oi,” and waved his rifle back and forth.
The vehicle stopped, and the driver, on the left side of the cab, leant out to see him. “You’re a sight, ain’t no mistake.”
“Got shot down over Bangkok. Been taking the back roads for the past two days.”
“Caught in the downpour, were you?”
“Yep, that I was.”
“Well, no sense keeping you out here this late at night.”
“Thank you, kindly.” He jogged around the vehicle and got into the passenger’s side. He closed the door, and the driver drove on. After a moment of silence, the soldier spoke again, “The Nips have really got the place locked down.”
“Aye, I’d figure,” the driver replied, “With how rough we’ve had it here.”
“You’d think we were fighting a war.”
“True, too true.”
“Boy, am I gonna get ripped a new one when I get back to base.”
“Your officer that much a hard-ass?”
“Worse, when he’s in a bad mood.”
“Well, you have to face the music sooner or later.”
“Sure wished it was later, mate.”
“I don’t blame you.” All around them, more men in uniform marched. Chain fences and flimsy towers rose into sight as the driver pulled past the guard post. He sighed. “Well, here ye are. Hope you don’t get it too bad in there.” He extended his hand.
The soldier took the driver’s hand and smiled. “Thanks a bunch, mate.”
“Think nothing of it.” The soldier opened the door and slid out. The door shut, and the man walked slowly towards the officer’s quarters. His pace was that of a pallbearer, carrying a coffin towards its final resting place. “Think nothing of it.”
The Paper Package
“My Darling Llewellyn,” he read, “I hope this finds you well. I know it is approaching Christmas, and I’m aware that your unit is being relieved, so when better to send this to you? I hope you’re pleasantly surprised by what I have sent you. I know you will be quite pleased by these. Signed, sincerely, and with love, mum.”
He put down the letter, and picked up the paper package from his bunk. He ran his finger up and down the side. He felt a cardboard box underneath.
A man began laughing. He looked around the tent and said, “Look here mates, Lew Baines got a package from mum. Ain’t we all jealous?”
The rest of the tent began cackling, until a bespectacled, bearded sergeant looked up from his book. He closed the book, sat up from his bunk and said, “Alright, you jokers, that’s enough of that. Leave the man be, for God’s sake.”
The men calmed down. Baines sighed. He looked at the sergeant and said, “Thanks, Sarge. ‘Bout time these hyenas got told what was what.”
“There’ll be no harassment in my unit.”
“That’s not gonna stop them.”
“I’ll put them in their place, soon.”
“So, what you thinking your mum sent?”
“Dunno. Can’t think of anything she’d send me that wouldn’t be searched.”
“She send it through Red Cross?”
“Yeah. And it kinda has the smell of,” He took a whiff, “Caster sugar?”
“May be some kind of pastry hiding in there.”
“Won’t know until tomorrow. ‘Tis Christmas Eve, y’know?”
“Aye, aye. Then you aught to be sure that’s kept under close guard.”
“Aye, aye.” He laid back on his bunk, and wrapped his arms around the package. “G’night, serge.”
“G’night, Baines. See you at Christmas.” He laid back onto his bunk, and opened his book back to the chapter he was reading.
After an hour or two of dreamless sleep, Baines opened his eyes. He looked around to find that all of his mates had fallen asleep. He looked down at the package in his arms, the wrapping may as well have been taunting him to open it. But he dared not. Two voices began fencing in his head.
“Who’s to know?” asked one. “You deserve to see what yer mum got you, after all you’ve been through.”
“No, no,” said the other. “Your mother would be disappointed if you gave in now. Be patient.”
“Patient, shmatient. You nearly got hit by flak, for Christ’s sake. You deserve to see what’s in there. C’mon then, no one’s lookin’.”
“No one but God, that is.”
“Bah! What’s he know? He almost let you die out there-“
“But he didn’t. Patience is a virtue-“
“So’s the will to act. Act now, get it over with!”
“You’re gonna regret it at some point.”
“You’re in the flippin’ army, you ain’t gonna regret opening a box.”
“That has nothin’ to do with it.”
“It has everythin’ to do.”
“’Cause you’re a bloody war hero, dammit, you deserve it.”
“Not that badly.”
“Alright,” Baines exclaimed, “That’s enough.” The others fell silent. “I’m not opening it. The two of you, just shut up about it. I’ll sleep, and open it first thing in the mornin’, how’s that?”
“Good,” Baines said.
He sighed, and closed his eyes. He yawned, and drifted off to sleep.
At first light, Baines opened his eyes. He looked around to see the rest of the men start to sit up from their bunks. The man who taunted him, a corporal, spoke up, “Alright, Baines, what’s in the box?”
Baines sat up and glared at him. “And just why should I show it to you?”
The man sighed. “Okay, okay… I’m sorry for mocking you. It was wrong.”
“That it was.” Baines unwrapped the paper, revealing a box covered in bright colors. He opened the top. “My mum’s miner cakes… She made a baker’s dozen of ‘em.” The little cakes were golden, full of raisins and coated in caster sugar. “Just as I remember.” He looked up to his unit. “So, who wants one?” The men got up from their bunks and gathered around to get their own taste of home.
Their True Colors
He wore a blood-red coat.
He walked on the concrete. Every footstep tapped. The cream-colored walls faded with mold and mildew, and the air reeked of it. Three wooden doors stood on either side of the hall. To his left, he heard five clicks from behind a door. In front of him was a shattered glass window. The city’s skyline could be seen as dark silhouettes with amber-colored patterns. In the sky, few stars could be seen, blocked by the city’s light pollution.
Aside from his coat, the man had dark trousers and black combat boots. His face was pale and contrasted with his five o’clock shadow. He also had a dark fedora, under which his wiry black hair was twisted and curled. His eyes, blue as ocean water, betrayed no emotion. His worn black gloves held on to the black grip of a Luger.
Behind him were the footsteps of another. He turned to look at his opponent. The older man was of a darker olive complexion, though his hair was fully white, straight and slicked, and his face was clean-shaven. His sad hazel eyes showed disappointment. He wore a green suit and bow tie, and his dress pants and fedora were light gray. His black gloves, brand new, held on to the silvery grip of a Colt.
The man in the blood-red coat turned and held up his hand, aiming the Luger at the old man in the green suit. The man in the green suit was slower, but the blood-red held firm, and so he allowed the old man a chance to aim his Colt. The constant ticking of an unseen clock was heard. Seconds passed. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick… Tock… Tick… Tock… BONG! BONG!
Both men fell to the floor. The man in the blood-red coat did not bleed. The man in the green suit had a stain over his heart. Neither one’s eyes betrayed emotion now.
One now wore a cloud-white robe.
The other wore a blood-red coat.
About the Author:
Patrick Kain is a university student and an aspiring novelist. While he mostly writes Science Fiction and Fantasy in his spare time, the stories presented in this ebook are among the more realistic of his works of fiction. He hopes that his work will one day be adapted into other mediums such as video games or movies, but at the moment is simply satisfied with putting his thoughts and ideas to paper. He appreciates feedback and critique of his literary work.
Connect With The Author:
Friend Me On Facebook:
Connect With Me On LinkedIn:
Contact Me On These Email Addresses:
Downed in a Storm and The Paper Package focus on the misadventures of World War II Royal Army corporal Llewellyn Baines. In Downed in a Storm, After being shot down over Japanese-Occupied Thailand, Baines finds himself wandering through the dense jungle in the middle of a heavy rainstorm. After being found by an army truck driver and driven back to camp, he finds himself reassigned to an infantry unit in The Paper Package. In The Paper Package, it is Christmas Eve, some months after being shot down and reassigned, and Baines has been sent a package. His sleep is troubled as he has an internal fight between his greedy and prideful devil and his patient and insistent angel, both sides arguing over whether or not to open the package he had received from home. Their True Colors is a flash fiction focusing on a confrontation between two mobsters, whose names are not given, but wearing colors and groomed differently to show something of a duality and polarity between them. Western-style, the two draw their pistols and shoot each other, and die by each other's hands, with a vague indication that one goes to heaven, and the other to hell.