Francis Meyrick

Jeremy’s War: Prologue

Posted on March 1, 2008

(Jeremy’s War: “Prologue “. A cinematic ‘trailer’ introducing a novel, set in World War 1…)


The expression on his face was pure terror.
The black leather flying helmet and the flying goggles could not hide the mouth that grimaced in a strange manner. At times the lips moved as if in silent prayer, or futile introspective commentary on the evil that stalked him.
At other times his bottom jaw would hang slack, and then move as if wracked by tetanus. Compulsive spasms and uncontrolled chewing movements revealed some of the mind destroying fear that gripped his whole being. But more revealing than anything else was the way he hunched over the controls, peering through the tiny oil spattered windscreen, only to jerk his head around to fling a despairing look over his shoulder.
Behind him, a red Fokker monoplane weaved back and forwards, dancing in his slipstream, with ominous flashing sparks erupting from two places behind the propeller.
Still the game continued. The hunted; twisting, weaving, dodging, whipping his head around frantically after each wild manoeuvre, embryonic hope aborted ruthlessly each time.
The Hunter: cool and deadly, teeth bared in a snarling smile, the pleasure of a kill imminent arousing deep and primitive blood lust…

* * *

With terror in her eyes, she backed towards the bed.
Her left hand clung fiercely to the bath towel, knotted together above her breasts. In the shadowy half light, the figure that moved towards her, came on steadily and purposefully, determined without rushing.
Still she backed away, her blood red lips parting as if in silent supplication, but no sound came. The back of her legs contacted the mattress, and she sat down suddenly and unintentionally. What little light the fire threw, caused shadows to jump and play around the room.
It threw light on the back of the man who now stood over her, fully dressed, in the uniform of the Royal Flying Corps. His head inclined slightly towards her, and a hand reached down, gently, slowly, and removed her grip from the knot in the bath towel. Her face turned up towards him. She could only stare, powerless to resist what she dreaded most.
Slowly, he undid the knot, and the towel fell away, revealing her smooth soft breasts, her nipples hard and protruding.
Somehow, she found the power of speech. A soft, sighing, pleading question, answered only by the crackling of the firewood.
“Non… je ne veux pas… ”
There was a pause, and a forefinger lifted her chin, inclining her head up to him even more.
Her doe-like eyes stared wide, and then shut slowly.
Her hand came up to his, and, eyes still closed, she rested her face in his palm, kissing his wrist gently and passionately.
He moved his head slightly, and the light caught the unsmiling features of Lieutenant William McAllister, R.F.C.

* * *

He taxied up to the hangars, his terrified expression still showing. He cut the mixture, and the engine ran down. He leaned back, closing his eyes, his face covered in an oily grime. He remained like that for a minute, immobile. Then his eyelids wearily dragged themselves open again, and he stared at the sky. Around him, his aircraft showed the signs of astonishing devastation. Great rips had been torn in the fabric, one interplane strut hung smashed, and part of the wing center section was exposed to view.
With trembling hands, he slowly removed his flying helmet. He gazed in wonder at a tear that ran the whole side of it, and poked his fingers through in bewilderment. The same hand slowly traveled the distance up to his sweat soaked head, and came away with blood on his finger tips. He stared at the blood, his face ashen.

A voice cut in to his reverie.
“Are you all right, Sir? ”
Slowly, he focussed on the speaker. The question was repeated, urgently.
“Lieutenant McAllister, Sir, are you all right? ”
He looked at the helmet, and willed himself to throw it overboard. Then he climbed out stiffly. He stood beside the machine, taking in the devastation. The two mechanics stared at him.
He looked away, to the distant horizon, and made a huge effort.
“Never better! ”
He stepped out towards the distant buildings, but stumbled badly after two or three steps. Both mechanics moved quickly to support him, but before they reached him, he caught himself on the lower wingtip, and regained his balance. Then he strode on, without looking back.
The two mechanics, joined by a third, stared from the retreating figure to the aircraft and back again.
One of them slowly removed his cap, and scratched the back of his head…

* * *

He stood at the window, gazing out into the night, a bathrobe, too short and small for a man, wrapped tightly around him. The girl still sat in bed, only half under the eiderdown. Her naked breasts were large and full, and her black hair curled invitingly over her shoulders.
Her eyes were sad and caring.

He sounded bitter, and spoke as much to himself as her.
“They have a chateau, in the woods. ‘Group Headquarters’.
About forty miles from the nearest fighting. From there they issue the orders. In between the five course meals, the Beaujolais, the roast duck… ”
He almost spat out the words ‘roast’ and ‘duck’, individually and with acidity, contriving to make them sound almost obscene.
“…and the Creme de Menthe. The red wine is warmed to room temperature, the Champagne is chilled… whilst casually, in between courses, almost as an afterthought, thousands upon thousands of men are condemned to die in the mud… ”
He paused, and she made to go to him, and then thought better of it. She knew he needed to… offload what was in his heart. He continued more lightly, almost airily:
“They entertained me most lavishly. Told me I was a hero.
An ace. I, William McAllister, having shot down five little airplanes in flames, I was an ace… ”
He laughed dryly, but it was an unpleasant laugh.
“Go forth, brave airman, and shoot down some more Huns. Your King and Country salute you… ”
He paced across the room, as if debating within himself.
“Today… I nearly bought it. I should have died.
It was a miracle I got down alive… One bullet grazed my skull… And next time? Will I be so lucky again? Can that sort of luck last? And what is it all for? To perpetuate a myth, a deep and stinking hypocrisy… ”
He turned to face her. Something in his eyes made her flinch.
“I’m not going to die for that. It’s not worth dying for. No, I’m going to join the hypocrisy. I’m going to play the system. I’m going to stay alive. And let other people shoot down some Huns… I’m going to learn to smile the two faced smile. I’m going to learn to be charming to the fat generals at ‘Group Headquarters’. Wildly applaud every lunatic half-baked scheme they come up with. I’m going to learn to creep, and toady up to the great fat… bastards… ” He put a lot of emphasis on the last word, and clenched his fists.
He stopped at the window again, and peered out once more at the long, silent night.
“And then, eventually… I’ll get promoted. I’ll be able to sit behind a desk all day long. One day, I’ll go home. A war hero. Everybody will cheer me… ”
He sighed, and was silent for a long time.
“It’s hard for folk to cheer the dead… ”

She made a noise, and he turned. She stretched out an arm, and he went to her.


Last edited by Francis Meyrick on April 5, 2008, 12:17 pm

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One response to “Jeremy’s War: Prologue”

  1. I take it this is like an advertising trailer you see on television. A series of screen shots highlighting some of the action.
    That’s a little unusual for a novel, but I like the idea.
    It does give the reader a taste of your writing style, which is attractive. A little unconventional, but stirring.

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