Jeremy’s War: Chapter 17 “Unreality “

Posted on March 23, 2008

Ch.17

UNREALITY

 

The day it happened, it couldn’t have occurred at a more unreal time.
He was returning home alone from a late evening patrol which had been more or less uneventful. He had checked his guns, which had promptly jammed. Pointing in some disgust at the stupid things, he had waved at Owen, and given a thumbs down. Owen had waved him home, and carried on with Patterson and O’Gormen.
Initially, it had been a novelty being on his own.
But…
It was so cold, so soul destroyingly cold; he felt sick and quietly terrified. That was nothing really unusual, but without company… it was somehow worse.
His eyes hurt from the freezing temperature and the blast of viciously cold air as he peered over the side, or craned around to look over his shoulder.
Search the sky.
Nothing.
Search the sky again.
Nothing.

Hunch down behind the windscreen to escape as much of the icy blast as possible.
Slight -imagined – relief.

Ten seconds would go by. Twenty. Sometimes nearly a whole minute.
Then the Fear would return.
The mindless terror at the thought of the unseen pursuer stalking him, swinging around onto his tail, grinning behind oil spattered goggles, fingers tightening on the trigger.
Gone would be the small comfort he had enjoyed being hunched down behind the windscreen. Replaced in an instant by the realization that he was giving up, surrendering his life to some unknown assailant, who would pinch out his tiny living flame without a thought of pity.
He would rally himself, and the restless searching would start all over again.
Seek…
Nothing.
Seek again…
Nothing.
Find the seeker…
Nothing.
Before he finds you…

He wished he were home. Home. Home to warmth, food, beer, companions. Home, having survived, against all the odds, yet another day at the front. Home.
Which home? Sainte-Breuve-sur-Pont? Or his Family home?

He would write a letter tonight. About time he wrote to Emmy. From the heart. Sober. Without seeking refuge in wine first. Yes, he would write, and tell her how he felt. That he was in love with her. That he wanted her to wait for him. He would write to Emmy. Little, faithful, reliable Emmy.

At that precise moment, the engine quit.
No warning, no misfire, nothing abnormal. Everything just a whole lot quieter and the propeller slowing, slowing…
…stopping.
Dead.

He stared at it stupidly, his brain frozen.
A quick look over the side showed him over a heavily wooded area, with early night time ground mist snaking ominous tendrils around what few open spaces there appeared to be. With a shock he observed that the terrain was remarkably hilly to boot. Adrenaline now reactivated his exhausted brain, and his eyes rapidly scanned the cockpit for clues.
Fuel? Mixture? Mags?
What the hell?
He calculated again his flying time since take off. No, there was no mistake there. With full tanks he should have had another fifty minutes.
What the…?
He heard the voice clearly above the swish of the slipstream. It came back to him as from a stranger.
A pathetic, purposeless wail.

“For Chrissake! I could have been HOME in ten minutes! ”
Furiously, he pounded the cockpit coaming.
“I’m COLD, and I’m HUNGRY, and I’m TIRED! ”
The altimeter no longer indicated a constant altitude.
“Why NOW?? ”

It was pathetic, and he knew it.
Childish.
As if to reinforce his depression, some desultory archie started to burst around him. The enemy gunners were probing for him.
He tried to marshal his thoughts, behave coolly, logically; but renewed frustration boiled over inside him. He screamed at the aircraft, aiming his remark in the general direction of where he knew the engine to be located.
“You want to end up as SCRAP, do you?? ”
The continuing silence was getting on his nerves.
A sob rose in his throat.
Frantically peering down in the gloom, he searched desperately for a landing site. It looked hopeless.
Miles and miles of trees, with steep hills and valleys.
“Oh God, oh God, oh God! ”
He had now lost two thousand feet, and he now also realized he had been turning in an aimless semi circle. This observation further infuriated him. Another tirade rent the air, aimed not so much at the aircraft this time, but at his own foolhardiness.
“The lines! You’ve got to cross the lines you imbecile! ”
Peering around frantically, he could see it was getting darker rather more quickly now. The snow covered ground doubtless hid all manner of obstacles, and combined with the long shadows to give a wholly surreal appearance to the landscape.
Some archie burst uncomfortably close, and he knew he was becoming a better and better target the lower he descended. He started flying a zig zag course, but although this doubtless made him less of a sitting duck, it also had the effect of increasing his rate of descent.
Fear made his stomach lurch, and he searched the landscape ever more desperately.
Nothing.
There was nowhere any sane pilot would ordinarily even dream of attempting a landing. He looked for signs of a farmhouse, but saw nothing remotely suggesting of any human presence. This doubled his worries, for he realized only too well that even if he survived the impending crash, he might well still freeze to death alone and unprotected in remote and barren country on a freezing night. For the first week of March it was bitterly cold.
More and more archie seemed to be finding him now, and one particularly close burst seemed to ping metal particles off the tail somewhere. He seemed to feel a slight kick through the stick, but dismissed it from his mind. He simply had to find a landing site. Twisting and turning to confuse the enemy gunners, he peered frantically first over one side of the cockpit, and then the other.
Still no site.
All thoughts of enemy aircraft had been superseded by more pressing matters, and it was therefore with a lurch of terror that he turned suddenly, and found himself staring at another aircraft, flying alongside him, the pilot looking across.
He was so surprised that he spent two full seconds staring in incomprehension at his foe, before his gaze caught sight of the roundels, and recognized the silhouette.
Another SE5! Not from his squadron.
He pointed at his dead propeller, which was now windmilling slowly. The other pilot nodded vigorously. With not a moment to waste, Jeremy resumed his study of the ground. The altimeter was now dropping below three thousand feet.
There was nowhere…
unless…
he could just make that small snow covered clearing.

On a slight slope, it looked about his best chance, despite some fallen trees, and one jagged stump that looked as if it had been struck by lightning. He aimed for it, mentally trying to remember the drill for forced landings without power.
Wind? Which direction was the wind?

Fool! It’s calm, as well you know. Look at that mist!

Fuel. He had to switch it off.
Mags. Off..
Harness. Tight.
He heaved on the straps with all his might. The uncomfortable memory of the crash of Fisher’s pupil at Hendon came back to haunt him.
Was the instrument panel going to spread his face just as much as it had that pilot’s? He glanced apprehensively at the panel, which had suddenly taken on a rock hard angular appearance.
The altimeter was dipping below two thousand feet now.

But he looked a lot lower suddenly…
He stared at his intended landing site, and then at the surrounding hills.
His frown deepened.
Now that he was a lot lower, he could see that what had at first sight appeared to be modest hillocks, were in fact quite steep small mountains.
He winced at some craggy snow covered faces, and tried to work out his sudden height loss.
The altimeter!

You FOOL! You never reset the altimeter! Sainte-Breuve-sur-pont is much lower than here! You’re up in the mountains! The altimeter is overreading!

With panic now well and truly set in, he fluffed the approach to his selected site. Fearing he would undershoot and crash into the trees, he racked the machine around in a steep turn, hoping against hope to be able to locate another convenient field. Instead he found himself staring in open mouthed horror at what appeared to be a vertical cliff face. The sheer dreamlike quality of his experience made him start to shout all over again, at the aircraft, at himself, at Fate…
For pity’s SAKE…!

For a moment he was going to yank back on the stick, and try desperately to glide over the top of the hill ahead.
But the top was already hidden behind a dirty gray smear…

NOOO!! How the hell do you know how HIGH that beggar is?!

Another frantic turn took him away from the granite rocks that reached up for him, but in doing so he lost more precious height and energy. The machine shuddered on the edge of a stall…

IDIOT! Now what are you trying to do? Spin into the ground?

Beyond terror now, he pushed forward on the stick, and leveled the wings. A sea of pine trees stretched out before him. There was no way of avoiding them. But at least… Kershaw’s face floated into his mind…

If you’re going to crash, pick your spot. Take her in level, straight, and slow. Above all, don’t spin.
Make a decision, and go for it.

The words echoed through his mind.

Make a decision, and go for it.

Fifty feet. Gently, he pitched the nose up a little to slow down as much as he dared. The speed bled off, and for a brief instant in time, the aircraft descended no further. The trade of speed against height was one-sided however, and a gentle shaking of the aircraft warned him of the onset of a stall. If he maintained the stick position, the airspeed would continue to decrease, until the aircraft stalled, and fell out of the sky. Or even worse, it might drop a wing as well, and spin in.

Make a decision, and go for it…

He aimed at a tiny pocket handkerchief of frosty ground he could see.
Twenty feet.
Two trees, ten feet apart, seemed to float up towards the aircraft…
Ten feet.
He braced himself, teeth clenched, left hand pushing against the instrument panel, right hand clutching the stick as if to squeeze a little more life into the doomed aircraft…
The aircraft bucked slightly, lurched, and the noise of snapping branches reached him. The two trees he was aiming between were now beginning to tower above him.
He could suddenly see details very clearly.
Branches, twigs, snow, tree roots.
Even the light from the sky suddenly seemed brighter, more radiant than he had remembered it a few moments before.

Make a decision, and…

There came an ear splitting rending noise, one stupendously loud ‘crack!’, then, quite astonishingly, the sky disappeared, and he rolled over upside down, slowly, almost (such a crazy sensation) gracefully, whilst all around him a noise like a simultaneous salvo from dozens of rifles continued to batter his senses.
He had time to wonder ( “how weird this is… “) when it was going to start hurting, and then a sudden sledgehammer cracked him like an explosion full in the face.
As his senses slipped away into darkness, he wondered with a last childish bewilderment ( “this is a bit much… “) who the person was who had so sneakily crept up on him with a sledgehammer.
And why.
His mind groped feebly for an answer, (it was important to concentrate), before reluctantly giving up the hopeless task…

Above it all, a lone SE5 circled for a few minutes, and then, seeing no movement or sign of life, did a low pass, and headed west.
Soon, silence reigned again in the small clearing.
Only the sound of petrol dripping from a ruptured tank onto the frozen ground remained to alert any chance passerby to the changed circumstances of one Flight Lt. Jeremy Armstrong, R.F.C.

* * *

Genevieve had quickly discovered that the foggy days were the best to catch the airmen at the ‘Cafe Normandie’. They would inevitably give her a rousing cheer as she rode past, and she regularly noticed new faces. They were always very drunk, and very jolly.
They arrived and departed in a remarkably battered old truck, and sometimes they would move on to other places.
Genevieve was used to receiving many invitations, but always declined. Still, as time went by, every time when the rowdy truck load disappeared from earshot, and she was left with the old folk, she began increasingly to reconsider.
Boredom bit deeper as the season continued, and the company of the patron’s shy daughter was scant consolation. She might have gone if Angelique had agreed to accompany her. But of that there was not the slightest chance.
It was therefore interesting when the usual truck load of airmen turned up one day with several young girls in tow.
The invitation was repeated, and Genevieve accepted on condition that they pick her up from home. This would give her a chance to ride Pecadillo home, wash, and change into something more chic. A cheer went up at this, and they readily agreed to pick her up at 8 p.m.
The intention was to travel to a nearby major town, and visit a night club.
Genevieve thought of her encounter with Charles Nungesser, and remembered the gay and elegant Parisian clubs she had been to. She assumed they would be going to something similar, full of charming men and cheerful dancers.

She thought long about what she would wear, and finally decided on her favorite yellow dress. It hugged her shoulders tightly, yet flowed easily and elegantly from the hips. On top she wore a floral silk shawl.
She twirled round in front of the mirror, and laughed aloud. She had to admit to herself she was looking forward immensely to the night.
Happy memories of Paris flooded back…

* * *

The sound cracked like a whip, and echoed up the street.
She had smacked his face as hard as she possibly could.
Furiously, she stomped away from him, up the street, and around the corner.
Alan swayed unsteadily, and started to stagger after her.
“Hey! Genevieve! ”
She didn’t hear him, and if she had, she would have ignored him.
She couldn’t remember ever being so angry.
Alan tried to run, but stumbled drunkenly, and ended up falling headlong. He hurt himself, and sat up, moaning softly, holding his knee. After a few minutes of maudlin self pity, he staggered back inside.
“Bloody bitch! ”
He grumbled angrily, pushed the door open, and headed back with difficulty through the tightly packed crowd to their table.
Genevieve meanwhile was still fuming, reflecting on a thoroughly unpleasant and seedy evening.

It had been a disaster from the word go.
The truck that had come to collect her had been late. This meant that her father had been worrying. To top it all, when it did arrive, with a crash of gears, and loud backfiring, the sound of drunken singing had heralded its arrival.
It had been touch and go that she would have changed her mind. Only Brendan, stepping down lightly, saluting her father grandly, and offering her his arm, had prevented that.
She had entered the back, and been offered a seat, which had felt sticky to her touch. It had been too late by then, and they had set off, rocking back and forth.
She had worried about her dress.
There were four girls and six airmen. As well as Alan, Brendan and Ray, who Genevieve knew, she recognized two of the girls. They were excessively painted, very giggly in a silly sort of way, and reeked of brandy and cheap perfum.
The truck had dropped them off in the city center, where they had visited two cafes, everybody getting progressively more and more drunk.
Genevieve, less and less enamored with her companions, was getting fed up fighting off lecherous airmen with rampant paws.
After the two cafes – why were Englishmen so incapable of coping with drink? – the decision was taken to proceed to the nightclub, which Genevieve assumed was somewhere nearby.
In fact it was a brisk walk, or, as in this case, a lengthy stagger. They passed into a less salubrious area, and the odd women standing around in groups, exchanging crudities with the passing menfolk, disgusted Genevieve. It was obvious that they were passing into a brothel belt.

The nightclub had been, nonetheless, a shock.
A band played loudly and discordantly, the air was solid with smoke, and the place was packed like a sardine can.
Everywhere bottles and glasses were stacked in disarray, and bodies lay across tables in stupor; women with too much paint and strident voices competed with childlike drunken men to see who could shout or laugh the loudest, talk the most, drink the most, and tell the bawdiest jokes.
Genevieve had put up with it for several hours, wishing fervently it would be time to go home. At some time past two o’clock in the morning, she could stand it no longer, and she asked one of the girls pointedly what time they would be going. The slurred answer, to the effect that ‘last time we left at dawn’, accompanied by a lot of silly giggling, had finally snapped her temper. She was NOT staying there for another five hours. Her expensive dress was stained with beer and wine, and had been trodden on many times. Somebody had been sick in a corner, which had raised loud cheers, much clinking of glasses, and a vile smell. The smoke made her feel sick. Furiously, she announced she was going out for a breath of fresh air. Alan said he would accompany her, and made a funny face behind her back, more in longing than in expectation.
More cheering.

Outside, his crude attempt to chat her up, followed by an even cruder attempt to embrace and kiss her, had been the last straw.
Smack!
That was it! She would spend the night in a hotel, and make her own way back in the morning.
Imbeciles!
The whole lot of them…

* * *

After ten minutes, Genevieve reluctantly had to admit to herself that she was utterly lost. She had been trying to head back to the city center, where she had seen several hotels. The whole excursion had been a terrible mistake. Longingly, she remembered her friends in Paris. Some of the colossal anger had at least now burned itself down, if not out. She started thinking practically. She needed directions. She headed towards two men who were talking, but changed her mind when they turned to look at her, grinning drunkenly. She didn’t like their leering, and crossed over quickly to the other side of the road. A certain fear was now beginning to register. She reconsidered her departure from the drunken mob, and half wished she had not acted so hastily.
Still, she would be all right when she got to the hotel, she told herself.
She passed another group of drunkards, one of whom slurred, “Hey, lovely! “, raised his finger, and started to come after her. His friends, drunk but not stupid, restrained him, knowing full well their mate had mistaken the elegant apparition as a prostitute.
She was now walking very fast, almost running. How had she ever managed to end up in this position? She kept looking over her shoulder, and, in doing so, nearly ran slap into a solitary soldier leaning against a wall.
It was only when he lit his cigarette, and the end glowed brightly, with smoke billowing up, that she suddenly stopped, instinctively raising her hand to her mouth.
Her frightened eyes caught the light from the street lamp. Then she recognized the uniform. A British soldier.
Thank goodness…
She smiled nervously, and asked for directions to the city center.
“Where do you want to be in the town? “, the voice purred back.
“Any hotel actually “, she answered innocently.
“I see “.
Her savior thought about it.
“Well, take that alley there on the left “.
He pointed down the road to an unlit side street.
“After thirty yards you will see a sign on the left marked ‘Hotel Bellevue’. It is not very expensive… ” Genevieve thanked him profusely, and flashed him a dazzling smile, all white teeth and full red lips.
“Would you like me to accompany you? “, the voice purred again.
Genevieve thought only of the salvation of a hotel door a short walk away. Having had enough of men for one night, she politely declined, and almost skipped up the road.
The eyes followed her, and studied her figure. As she turned the corner, he dropped the cigarette, stomped it out, and cast a furtive look up and down the street. Observing nobody near, he stooped low, and darted towards the corner around which she had disappeared…

* * *

Alan almost fell back, but managed to stagger on to where the party was sitting. It was one of the girls, the giggly one, who first asked.
“Where is Genevieve? ”
Alan only grumbled, too preoccupied with his aches and pains. The question was repeated, this time from Brendan.
Alan wondered if he was going to be sick. He tried hard to stop his stomach muscles from moving on their own initiative. He had drunk too much. He could do with some food…
A hand grabbed him by the throat, and a face loomed close to his. The face was angry. He wished the face would go away.
“WHERE’S GENEVIEVE? ”
He knew he was going to be sick now. If only they’d stop the room going round…
He vomited across the table, and the girls screamed. He could hear that quite clearly, even above the raucous music.
Somebody slapped him hard, but he couldn’t care less.
Stuff you lot.
I’m going to sleep…

He was snoring even before Brendan and Ray had darted out the door.

* * *

Thirty yards on the left…
‘Hotel Bellevue’, he had said.
Gosh, it’s awfully dark…

She was walking down a narrow cobblestone alley way, with what looked like warehouses on each side. There were several doors in the shadows, but no lights to guide her.
Odd…
You would have thought they would have a light of some sort.
Where on earth…

The figure swept out of the shadows so suddenly, so quietly, that it took her breath away.
A hand clasped hard over her mouth.
She found her arms were pinned, and that she was being half carried, half dragged further down the alley.
Utter astonishment robbed her of all strength.
They rounded a dark corner, and the sound of a boot kicking a door open reached her. Then they were inside a low building, that smelled oddly of horses and hay.
The world revolved spectacularly, and she found herself lying flat on her back on a bed of straw, a heavy weight pressing down on her.
The hand was still clasped firmly over her mouth. Terrified, she gazed up wide eyed into a hard face, that seemed to sneer down.
A smell of alcohol swept down, and the sound of heavy breathing. With his free hand, her attacker was grabbing at her clothing.
She struggled frantically.
He was strong, and held her pinned. He succeeded in undoing her jacket. There was a ripping sound, and her blouse tore off her left shoulder, revealing her bare flesh. She struggled with the strength of the terrified now, and tried to scream.
But the weight of the hand on her mouth snuffed out the screams, and all that emanated were helpless muffled sobs.
He laughed.
A cruel laugh.
He was enjoying himself.
The free hand redoubled its efforts, and ripped the remainder of her blouse away from her breasts. Still she struggled frantically, sheer terror driving her on.
It was no use. Her bra followed her blouse off, and then the hand was groping her bare breasts.
Again that horrible laugh. Her brain was reeling now, and her efforts were weakening off. Still she struggled, but shock was setting in, and a terrible realization that she was about to be raped.
The horrible laugh sounded triumphant, and the animal on top prepared to fulfill his desire. Utter lust had long since removed any trace of compassion from his heart, and, now he sensed his victim’s struggles dying away, he resolved to take his time. Ripping and tearing at her beautiful clothes, he soon had her largely naked. She was barely struggling now, gazing at him only with big, terrified, shocked eyes.
He debated entering her roughly there and then, while she was dry, but decided against it. He was so excited, he would probably come straight away.
No, I’ll play with this one first…

Still clasping her mouth, he continued ripping and tearing, until she was completely naked. This gave him a savage pleasure. He leaned down, until his mouth was close to her ear, and whispered delightedly:
“You are naked, mademoiselle. Not a stitch left! How does it feel, eh? ”
She stared back, numb with terror.
Slowly he fumbled for his jacket. He produced a tie, and gagged her firmly. She barely struggled at all. Next he tied her hands behind her back, and stood her up roughly against the wall. Slowly and steadily, he stroked and fondled each part of her body, starting with her face and neck.
Spending a lot of time on her nipples and breasts, he worked his way down to her navel. Her stomach muscles recoiled at his touch, which gratified him.
She was shivering uncontrollably now, whimpering miserably, but he couldn’t care less. He laughed again, horribly. He reached her pubic hair, and, savoring only his primitive power over a defenseless young woman, he lowered his trousers, sniggering loudly. Roughly, he reached his left arm around her waist, holding her tightly. His right hand closed on her pubic hair, and prepared to guide his throbbing penis in…
He felt gloriously powerful, pitiless, and utterly devoid of any instinct of mercy.
You, little lady, I am going to take, slowly and delectably.
For free…

He would pump her full of sperm, and she would groan and wriggle in vain. He could spend as long as he liked, as opposed to thirty minutes worth of expensive, timed passion. This one was class.
Maybe a virgin.
Marvelous. He had her in his power.
All his to enjoy.

He nibbled her nipple, and laughed out loud.


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3 responses to Jeremy’s War: Chapter 17 “Unreality “

  1. Excellent story!

    I admire how you begin the first chapter and then ending up raping a woman…WOW!!
    Excellent scenarios, although I was not sure if the end was in your imaginative dreams or it was a real happening. You have extremely creative mind.

    Interesting and well written.

    Thank you,
    Zuzanna

  2. Zuzanna,
    I hesitated long and hard before I wrote this chapter in this manner.
    I have had some acquaintances and friends who have been the victim of sexual assault. What struck me there was the depth and the extent of the psychological damage and hurt. In the subsequent chapters after the rape, well, those were based on a true event. It was hard to write a "fluffy" rape, and "beat about the bushes", and THEN convincingly write about the prolonged emotional and psychological trauma. If that makes sense.
    To seriously deal with the one, I felt I had to seriously deal with the other. The brute who raped this young woman in my story, well, I have come across many like that. Many years ago I ended up in a vicious prolonged fist fight with a would-be rapist, who I eventually overpowered. I shall never -ever- forget the expression of the woman who ran to me, a total stranger, for help. She was unable to speak. The terror in her eyes however, spoke volumes.

    So, yes, a lot of this is based on real events and real people.
    The crime of rape is too often seen as a physical assault. However, the deeper hurt, the deeper cruelty, lies on the emotional level.
    Where a child is involved, (see: "Jessica is not coming to play today")
    I find myself lost for words. Jessica Lunsford was a real child, a real innocent. Sometimes, as a man, I am ashamed to be one. I find it hard to be proud of the human race, of which, I readily admit, I am a member. Such a hell we create for one another…

  3. Francis

    I understand you perfectly on the subject in this Chapter.
    It is a horrible crime for a man to get that low and go for a raping a child or a woman. When I was young I had a case also because a man follow me to the school and tried to do this unlawful act but I managed to escape.There was a Court case …Etc…I am glad you writing about that so the society will be bore aware that this is very wrong!!Thank you for sharing this heartfelt story.
    It is well written Novel and very profound in nature. The better yet it is based on a true story which has more values.

    You are a great man with such a great heart and wisdom on life.

    PS: Not all man like that, some man perhaps ill minded, so do not feel ashamed being a man.

    Warm Regards,
    Zuzanna

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