Thursday, August 23, 2012

Two Captains

~My oldest brother wrote this story about our 4 kids shortly after Evey was born. He's a soldier, an amazing father, a genius writer, and he also just happens to be my hero! This story will change your life, guaranteed.

Note: I’m not saying it happened this way. But it could have. But someone had to volunteer. Someone had to say, “We’ll look after them and protect them.”

Two Captains

The Captain sat exhausted on the steps staring at the empty city. She was tired. There was no arguing the point. Hunched over, her elbows resting on her knees she cradled her head in her hands. She didn’t want to stare at the vacant streets but she couldn’t help it. The emptiness was reminder of the toll the war had taken across the land.
It had been the bitterest of fights. It was not a war of invaders or foreigners but war of friend versus friend and brother against sister. Families had been rent and torn apart in a violent disagreement. It had been a civil war. The Captain herself had fought again and again against friends and loved ones.
The casualties had been a staggering 30 percent. To even say it, let alone think it caused despair to scream across the echoes of her mind. This was not the only empty city. With 30 percent casualties there were many such scattered across the land. The war had ravaged the land voiding it of life. But they had been victorious.
The victory had only just come the day before. In that final last battle the enemy had finally been forced out of the land forever. But in that victory friends and family members that were the enemy had been banished forever. The victory had assured that they could never return to this land again.
She wanted to savor the victory. She wanted to enjoy the knowledge that they had won. But she could only feel saddened by the loss of her family and friends, knowing that she had done her part to cause them to be cast out forever.
She had been stoic throughout the war. She had lead again and again inspiring her soldiers to fight on. Many times when her soldiers were almost overwhelmed she had rallied them and lead them forward. She was the first in every fight and the last to leave the battle. It was the only way she knew how to lead.
And is usual in war, surviving one battle does not gain you rest. If you are victorious you are asked to take the lead again. There were losses. But she was mostly the victor and with every victory came tougher and more painful missions. But she accepted them without complaint and took her company to the front to fight. And because they loved her, her soldiers never once failed to follow her where she lead.
But now she was alone. With no one watching she let her grief and exhaustion, overcome her. Head down, tears streaming from her eyes the Captain wept in both joy and pain. She did not wail or scream, that was not her style. She gently sobbed and let the tears roll down her cheeks. The tears dripped from her face and formed soft puddles on the steps where she sat.
She heard a shuffling of feet and a polite cough. Quickly she wiped the tears from her face and turned to look. Seeing the figure standing a few yards away she smiled. The figure advanced a few steps and paused.
With a mocking formality the figure spoke and saluted.
“Captain, this humble soldier requests permission to enter your presence.”
The Captain tried to be serious but she couldn’t help it. The figure always caused her to smile. The man was dressed as her and wore her same rank. She patted a space next to her, indicating he should sit next to her.
He moved over and sat next to her. As soon as he sat, the woman punched her companion.
“I swear if you talk to me like that again, you will pay I promise, Captain.”
“You can’t do anything to me.” He protested.
“Oh yeah, why not?”
“Because I out rank you.” He stated puffing out his chest in fake pride.
“You do not.”
“I do to.”
“Do not.”
And the old argument silly argument started. It was a running joke between the two captains. Who had been promoted first? Who had been made captain first? During the chaos and confusion it had been hard to keep track of such things. But honestly between them it did not matter, because they were the best of friends.
The two captains had been forced first, by circumstances to fight together and then later by choice. When one volunteered for a mission the other quickly followed. After so much time fighting together they were as close as brother and sister. Finally the man relented.
“OK, you win, you out rank me.”
The man reclined on the steps taking in the view that his fellow officer had been staring at earlier.
“Really, I win?” The woman asked as glancing at him.
“No, but I’m too tired to keep messing with you.” The Captain said with a smile.
“You’re a brat.”
“Yep, I know.” The newly arrived captain took in the empty streets of the city. “Quite the view isn’t it.”
“Yes, it is. I hope it was worth it.”
“It was, don’t worry. It was.”
The female captain sighed, “if you say so.”
Her companion put a gentle arm around her. “It was, I promise.”
“I know. It’s just so hard sometimes.”
“Believe me I know. But I’m more scared about the next part.”
She looks over at her friend. “You’re nervous about the move?”
He didn’t look back at her as he replied. “Wouldn’t you? It’s what started this whole mess.”
“But that’s not our fault.”
“I know. But I’m still scared.”
The move had been announced. And it had started the war. They had been told they would have to leave their paradise of a land. It was a plan they had all agreed to, but at the last moment there had been a rebellion and the civil war had started. Now that the war was over the move would still have to go forward.
Even as they sat their speaking the first ones had already left as part of the great move. It would take some time for everyone to leave. But they would all go. It was all part of the plan, the great plan that they had fought so hard for.
“I’m scared, especially for us.”
“I know, after all this to be so helpless during the move.”
The woman stood and stretched out a hand to pull her companion to his feet.
“Come on, I have an idea.”
“Where are we going?”
“We’re going to ask for help, this move is going to suck. And I want help.”
The Captain took off at a brisk pace and her friend fell in at her side. They walked away from the empty city back towards where their respective companies were camped. As they got closer they heard loud music blaring from the camp. It was loud joyful sound. It was music of victory. It was the music born from a soul that loved life.
As they got close the female Captain whispered to her friend. “Follow my lead.”
The loud boisterous music was coming from one soldier. He was playing his instrument loudly entertaining the soldiers of both companies. The soldiers of both companies were laughing at him and encouraging him to play more and more. He was a natural entertainer. He knew it and the crowd of his fellow soldiers loved him for it.
The two captains had approached. But they stood waiting out of sight of both the entertainer and the crowd. Everyone was so engrossed in the show that they didn’t notice the two officers standing to the side with stern faces watching his raucous play.
A female voice called out from the crowd. “I wanna’ hear the one about the captains.”
“Do you?” He answered.
The crowd answered as a whole shouting for the song. The entertainer changed the tune, instrument in hand he broke into a song that made light of the captains. What made matters worse was as he sang he took on an accent that imitated the voice and mannerisms of both the captains perfectly.
It wasn’t a mean spirited tune, just a comedic lark. The entertainer was singing a duet imitating both of the officers. The officers at this moment choose to emerge from where they had been observing and stalked toward the entertainer. The crowd that had been laughing and clapping suddenly went silent. Realizing that something was wrong the young soldier spun around to see what had caused an end to his performance.
Ever the entertainer and figuring he was busted, the young soldier raised his instrument over his head and addressed the crowd.
“Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all week. Go tell your friends.”
In spite of the gravity, the crowd jumped to their feet cheering for their fellow soldier.
The male captain moved forward and wrapped his arm around the shoulders of the soldier and started to lead the soldier away.
Pretending the soldier was in trouble he commented, “Come on. You’ve done it this time.”
The soldier hung his head slightly.
“Aw, wow. It was just a song.”
“I don’t care come on.”
The female captain stopped them.
“Wait a second. He didn’t get this crowd together by himself. We both know that.”
The female captain stalked back towards the rapidly dissipating group of soldiers. She called the group to attention. Then arm raised, she pointed to a pretty female soldier that was trying to edge to the back of the crowd.
“No, you don’t. Get over here. I know you were in on it with him. You’re busted too.”
During the war the two soldiers had been a constant source of trouble. The instance there was a break in the fighting the two soldiers would be off concocting some scheme or plan to have fun. They were goofs and misfits. They were rarely serious. In simplest terms they both had spirits that loved to laugh.
But in the fight they were different. In the fight they were the first to follow their captains. In the fight all their joking and sarcasm was somehow put aside. And even though they were young soldiers they were loyal to their captains and followed them faithfully.
The singer, instrument in his hand, glared at his female friend.
“I told you we would get busted.”
“Be quiet, you’ve wanted to play that song ever since you wrote it last week.”
“You helped write it too. But did we really need that big of a crowd?”
“What are you talking about, you can’t help yourself. You loved it.”
“But you had to tell everyone.”
“It was too good of song. I had to tell everyone.”
“You think so?”
“Of course.”
As was common with the two soldiers they had been so engrossed with each other. They had forgotten that they were arguing in front of their officers.
“Will you two be quiet?” The male captain halted the two soldier’s discussion.
“Yes, sir,” The two responded in unison.
The female captain addressed the soldiers. “This is serious. We need your help. We have a favor to ask you?”
The female soldier looked at her captain, “A favor from us?”
“Yep. The move is coming.”
Both soldier’s faces became even more serious at that announcement.
The entertainer spoke quietly for the pair. “We know.”
“Do you know what we’ll face during the move?”
“Yes. They will be waiting for us.”
“The war here is over. But the enemy will be waiting for us in the next land.” The male captain spoke softly. “All of the captains will not be able to lead in the next land. We’ve had our turn. We will have to be hidden. Do you know that means?”
The organizer of the crowd whispered a question, “It’s true then? You’ll be defenseless? They’re really sending you out like that?”
They had heard the rumors. All the captains during the war were to be scattered and hidden. They would not lead. They would be crippled and handicapped. Their bodies would be disfigured and their minds would be slowed. It would seem a curse, but in reality it was just a guise. The enemy would seek and find many. But all the captains would be safely hidden during the move.
The female captain tried to hide her nervousness but as she spoke her voice caught.
“Yes, it’s true. We will be protected from the enemy, but we will be helpless to everything else.”
The female soldier stepped forward and breaking tradition, hugged both the captains.
“We’ll take care of you. I promise.” Turning, she looked at the young male soldier. “Won’t we?”
“Yeah, of course, but were doing it together.”
The male captain had tears in his eyes. “Are you sure? You won’t hate us? It is going to be tough? We won’t be ourselves.”
The young man instrument in his hand met the eyes of both of his captains.
“Don’t worry; it’s our turn now to take care of you, just like you looked after us during the war.”

The End

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