No Alarms and No Surprises

His eyes narrowed and darkened. "No problem, I'd fucking gut 'im."

#

As Mickey ran, there was the sound of boots scuffing and thudding hurriedly into the dust and a dull metallic clink as an errant piece of metal inevitably – no matter how carefully bound - found some other metal to clank against.

They were clearing a mud brick compound, everything dull brown and dusty. Like dozens of other villages and compounds they had been through many times before. Sometimes they came under fire, sometimes they didn't. In this case they received some small arms fire and a rocket propelled grenade or two from a few hundred yards away as they passed; nothing out of the ordinary and not particularly accurate. This compound was about one hundred metres square with most of the buildings up one end away from the main gate. A few huts and lean-tos were dotted about the rest of it.

Porteus, affecting a stern look and a clenched-fisted salute based on fictional film and TV references, was now being followed around like a puppy by Savage, a nervous young sergeant who was the official replacement for the sorely missed Muldoon. Savage, skipping along behind Porteus and seeking to ingratiate, had rather irritatingly taken to aping this salute. It was Dook who first coined the phrase 'Porteus and Savage out fisting together' to describe the phenomenon, but before long the whole company was in on the joke. Having such a sergeant didn't bode well for their future well being.

Dook was convinced that if Mickey's and Porteus's schools had been reversed, Mickey would have been the officer and Porteus would have been the squaddie: "A very dangerous accident of birth," as he put it.

Porteus had told them an RPG attack had come from this area and so they were making their way through it, first grenades into each room and then firing past each other into the dark interiors. Muldoon used to call it ratting, and he had often wished aloud he had his little Jack Russell with him.





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