Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Far Flung Adventures 6

Hemel brought the biplane down neatly and climbed wearily out of the cockpit. It had been his third bombing run of the morning.

He’d located the rebels on his dawn patrol and had returned to the Sultan’s airstrip to take on ordnance. He’d then retuned to their makeshift encampment in the foothills due east, to eliminate all resistance. Joystick between his knees, he’d leaned out to drop his bombs, by hand, upon scattering tribesmen below. Occasionally a musket ball would drone past his leather flying helmet, and once, more alarmingly, there’d been the whine of a rifle bullet, but in the main the men below had contented themselves for running, pointlessly, for their horses or camels, or diving under the momentary sanctuary of a few threadbare bushes.

Boileau, the ex-Legionnaire, met him outside the wooden shack serving as the station HQ and took his report. “Nothing left worth bombing,” said Hemel, without pausing.

The adjutant knew better than to press for details. Hemel’s temper was as legendary as his efficiency. Boileau simply wiped the mission off his blackboard and returned to his paperwork.

Hemel kicked open the door to his quarters and threw himself down on his truckle bed. He smelled of engine oil, and sweat. He wanted a beer, a field shower and perhaps a little Beethoven on his phonograph.

He was bored with the trackless wastes, the heat, and the flies. He was bored with bombing aborigines, but the pay was adequate and it meant he could keep flying. For Kaiser or Sultan, it made no difference to Hemel.

He grunted as he pulled off his flying boots, and let one foot fall heavily over the side of the bed to the floor. An adult scorpion stung him in the ankle. And he was dead by nightfall.


No One In Particular said...

Divine retribution, or arthropodial?

Chips with a sting in the tail said...

Random contrasted with wanton, I think.

Possibly something of the perennial in that, No One.