Marching Out

Opening eyes, Evans noticed something strange… He could see the light of a lantern seeping in. Rolling out of the bed, he looked for Zwev. It wouldn’t really take long, there were only two places she could be, a few meters to the right, or a few meters to the left. He decided to walk left.

Crouching down, he made his way over. He quickly glances at his watch and made out the time, still half an hour until Stand-To. He looked up from his watch and saw Zwev lying on the duckboards, with her rifle leaned up next to her, staring at the sky, “Zwev… Anna? Are you alright?”

She closed her eyes, “I just want to get out of here Jim.”

Evans nodded and squeezed past her. He then slid down next to her head and looked at her, “Only a few more hours and we get to leave. And Sergeant Campbell said we have at least a month off the line.”

The two sat there in silence until Sergeant Parker ran down the line waking everyone up for the Stand-To. Zwev and Evans stood up and aimed down the line. There was some weak harassing from the Vledscan side that was quickly countered with three mortar rounds. When the Stand-To was finally over, the platoon got to work rebuilding the trench. A few minutes before noon, Evans started to hear singing from down behind the line. The replacements were coming.

Lieutenant Simmons called out to the platoon, “Alright everyone, let’s get ready to move out, sounds like the 327th is almost here.”

Evans sheathed his shovel and grabbed his rifle and waited to move out. It had been a rough six days. He lined up behind the rest of the platoon, waiting for their replacements to come in. They were silent as they marched out past the replacements. When they finally exited the trench system, they passed by the camp where they had been before. The officer that had been momentarily put in charge of the battalion pulled them to a stop next to several large tents, “Alright, Kit bags are in tents by company. First Platoon in front, Third Platoon in back. You have twenty minutes to get your gear and get back out here. Leave the bags of the dead and wounded, those will be retrieved later. Dismissed.”

Evans moved with the platoon towards the tent marked with a large ‘F’. Zwev seemed a little happier now. Apparently Tiscornia had cheered her up a little while they were working on the trench. She still wasn’t talking though.

He grabbed his bag, hoisted it onto his back, and moved to Zwev. She gave him a slight smile as she grabbed her bag. The two moved their way to the exit of the tent and stood and moved to the muster spot. They waited for the rest of the battalion to muster.

When they had all arrived, the officer called them to attention and announced that the train should be arriving in ten minutes. After fifteen minutes, the officer put them at ease. Twenty minutes after that, the officer called them to attention again, “I guess the train is running behind, fall out and wait by the tracks.”

Evans shrugged and fell out of formation. The platoon moved to the slope near the tracks. Evans set his kit bag down, dropped his rifle, and laid down, with his head on the bag. Zwev popped down next to him. They stared at the sky for a few minutes when a towering figure loomed over them, silhouetted against the sky.

The figure bent down, and Tiscornia’s voice spoke out, “Hey, bagarìlli, what are you two doing for leave?”

Zwev spoke up, “Um, Leave Dom?”

“Yeah, four days leave as soon as we get behind the line. We’re being pulled back to Seahaven, so Chilly and I figured we’d get a group together and head down to the beach. I know a good one about half a days travel from Seahaven. Chilly, Giuliano, and Hunt are in so far.”

Evans sat up, “How much for transportation, sleeping, and food?”

“Not much, we’ll be setting up our own shelters on the beach. And we can just borrow a truck. I think Giuliano said that she knows how to drive,” Tiscornia twiddled a pen in his hand.

“I know how to drive,” Evans raised his hand a bit, as if he was still in school, “And I guess I can go.”

“Alright,” Tiscornia made a note on a pad of paper he produced from his pocket, “Giuliano can drive half, then you can.”

Zwev responded, “Yeah, sure I’ll go too. And can I talk to you about something later? It’s important.”

Tiscornia nodded and walked down the line. Zwev looked at Evans, “So, did you think about what I said?”

Evans nodded, “If you still want to, I’ll do it.”

Giving him a soft smile, Zwev nodded, “Thanks, maybe we can do it on leave.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes and watched artillery begin to fall on the Ethslin lines. The patter of artillery slowly rolled into a heavy barrage over the course of the next hour. Twardowski piped up, “Glad we’re not in that.”

The platoon stayed mostly silent until the train rolled in, three hours late.

“Alright, let’s move out,” The officer in charge started assigning platoon’s to different boxcars.

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