No Alarms and No Surprises

Mickey was having a breather, squatting down with his pack leaning back against the mud wall of the compound. The rest of the section were working through some rooms further on, he would join them in a moment. Holding his rifle with his right index-finger on the trigger, always careful, laid it across his legs. He took off his helmet with his left hand and, releasing the rifle to lie across his lap, wiped the thick film of sweat off the inside edge of it. Flicking the liquid away into the dust he then stared upwards into the beautiful clear blue sky. The sun was intense as usual and the air dry as a bone. He guessed the temperature must be well above 40C degrees, possibly as high as 50C. Great things helmets, although he always felt they restricted your hearing. He rubbed his hand through his sweat drenched crop and listened, now unimpeded, as the section shot-up something in the main house.

In the middle of the compound a wind-blasted tree stood stark black, decorated with just a few bird droppings to brighten it up. It was left with just a few papery-looking leaves, clinging to it like lost prayers.

A small lizard with black and white stripes along its body sat on a pile of sandy debris a couple of yards away from him and they stared at each other, the lizard loving the heat and the soldier grudgingly putting up with it. Mickey wondered what the big issues were in the creature's world today.

Then the lizard shivered and turned its head to face a corner of the inner wall beyond which the remainder of Mickey's section was working. Its little feet twitched and in a blur of movement it scampered off its pile and disappeared.

A second later Dook darted around the same corner and slid down into the dirt to a sitting position, like a Premiership goal scorer, with his rifle held out in front of him. "So this is where you are, Porteus wondered where the fuck you had got to."

Mickey smiled; he would have to keep a closer eye on the local fauna.  "On another day Dook, in another land, we would pay good money to be sitting watching the wildlife in a place with weather like this."





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