tagRomanceP40 Bedouin Dreams

P40 Bedouin Dreams

byMSTarot©

This story was written to be the birthday gift of a friend and fellow writer, AMoveableBeast. He asked his friends to challenge themselves. Well, this is my best attempt to do that. I do hope you enjoy this story. Happy birthday, Beast.

*****

"Come on, girl. Come on. No, no, no. Oh, damn it all!"

Fighting the dead stick, I kept trying to get the damn engine to restart despite knowing it was a lost cause. I had been on fumes and prayers for the last fifteen minutes and the fumes had run out. And while I was praying as hard as ever, the nose of this battered Kittyhawk was growing heavier and heavier.

"Come on. Crank. Just once more old girl give me a little more." With a shake of my head, I tried one last time then gave it up and took the heavy stick in both hands. With nothing but momentum on my side this flying brick was headed to the ground and it was taking me with it.

Right into the middle of the Great Western Desert of Egypt.

I considered jumping but I dismissed that thought as quickly. I was already too low for my chute to fully deploy. My chances were better riding the plane down, and trying to keep its nose up till the last second. Of course by the time I was making that decision my chances were running out as fast. The weight of that big damn American made Allison engine was dragging the nose down towards that giant sandbox I would soon be skimming my wheels over. Fighting the powerless controls, I was all but standing on the flaps to slow the plane and not stall it at the same time. I kept an eye over the slow rotating prop, looking for anything softer than the sand covered rock I was rapidly closing on.

Not that I had much choice, I had enough air speed to maybe make one simple correction and then I would be landing with all the finesse of a collapsing windmill.

"Oh well, never crashed a plane before. Always something new in the RAF," I muttered through clenched teeth as I felt my wheels touching the jagged rocks.

For a half-second I saw the ends of the propeller blades curl up as they touched the rocks! Then it was flying past me and there was nothing but noise, pain, and a terrible darkness.

And heat.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

I knew hours had gone by. There were stars overhead, brilliant seas of millions of lights that sparkled through the glass canopy over my head.

"I'm alive?"

Not accepting that fact, I sat still for a few minutes more till I had to come to the conclusion I was in fact still breathing. I was also in pain, from too many places for this to be any afterlife other than Hell, and I was a not sure a single night in Malta with a prostitute was enough to get me sent there. With unsteady hands, I reached for the canopy crank and slid the glass back from above me. For as far as I could see there was nothing but moonlit desert. Sand and rock. Endless miles of sand and rock.

Nope, I was in Hell after all. "Oh, I'm so buggered."

Climbing out I stumbled, and would have fallen had the wings not been sitting flat on the desert floor. When I stepped off onto the rocks and took a good look at the plane I wanted to spit, but didn't have the moisture in my mouth from it. The propeller, curled up like a kid's pinwheel, was sitting half buried in the sand maybe twenty feet away. I shook my head at all the ragged metal hanging below the cowling.

"Humpty Dumpty, I think you're completely broken. Ya dumb fucking egg ya." Massaging my knee, I limped over to where a larger rock was and had a seat. Leaning my head back, I looked at that river of stars going from one side of the sky to the other and began to laugh. Laughter that threatened to turn to tears. Leaning my head between my knees I gripped my aching temples. "Oh, Dennis, my lad. You really did her up right proper this time, didn't ya?"

Reaching into my pocket, I took out a tin hip flash I bought off a yank for a pack of fags. Twisting the top, I took a sip of the strong rum as I slid my arse off the rock and sat my bum in the sand. Leaning back against the rock, I could still feel the daytime heat baking its way out of this bit of desert. Patting my vest pocket, I took out the small metal tube and dumped a couple of the white pills into my hand. Officer's rules and medical quackery aside, I knew that taking "Bennies" with rum was probably not the best idea but it was all I had on hand.

"And what's the worst that can happen? I kick off?" I began to laugh again at that. I kept laughing till the pills kicked in; I kept laughing till my cheeks were wet.

Oh, how I laughed. I laughed like a baby.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

~Heat~

So simple a word. Four little letters, but they don't give this blistering, brain-cooking force enough justice. But then no better words were needed to explain the full power of the sun applied to this spot of hell.

~Heat~

"OH, dear God. Please," I begged, but what I begged for I had no idea. Thoughts had long given way to the simple animalistic desire to not be in the sun. My parachute draped over the plane was giving me a hint of shade but it was still hotter than any summer of my life within that shade. Death maybe? A quick one. Not to be slowly cooked to death under this merciless sun. Could that be what I was begging for?

For mercy?

There was no mercy here, not in this place, not for me. I gave the radio at my feet a kick. Useless thing! I had tried so hard. For hours I tried. Lifting those damn-all heavy batteries out of the plane. Dragging this worthless collection of wires and tubes out as well, then hooking everything up with shaking hands. I had taken too many of my pep pills trying to get this done and now it wasn't even going to work. And I was shaking like a leaf in March wind, unable to even pass out and sleep in this oven.

~Heat~

"Mercy, please Lord."

** ** ** ** *** ** **

I awoke to a sinking sun on the horizon. Blinking, I removed my hands from the stick and looked around me. Why? What? I climbed my way out the cockpit and hung from the side of the glass canopy looking back into the vacated pilot seat. I wished I could have laughed, as I figured out what had happen. I had gone out of my head and tried to fly the plane out of here. Yeah, I wished I could laugh...

But there was no laughter left in me.

"Tomorrow I will die here," I thought. That I had made it through this one day was testament to the healthy life I've always lead. But nothing, nothing short of a bathtub of water was going to save me for one more day, and I didn't even have a few drops.

Looking out at that dark sky meeting that even darker land, I wanted to weep at the beautiful cool feeling of the night as it settled around me. I knew that soon the air would feel cold to me. Dreadfully cold. I shook my head, no tears coming, no moisture left in my cooked flesh for them to be dragged from.

Taking a few small items I might need, but likely would not, I headed off towards the rising moon. That burnt-orange orb was huge as it cleared the edge of the sky. If I had to choose the spot where my bones would lay forever, next to this miserable, misbegotten plane was not where I would have them. I would have them rest on the Mountains of Moon. If I walked fast enough, I might get to it before it rose too high into the sky.

So off into the desert night I walked, chasing the moon.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

When I was a child my mother would spend the mornings baking bread. It would come from the oven so very, very hot. Loaves of toasted golden heaven, that I had to sit and watch get cold because she would always tell me I would burn my hand. I wanted a piece of it when it was steaming, the butter would have melted in moments, and then soak it into a rich deliciousness. It would have been perfect that way but she always made me wait.

No longer! No longer will I wait for the bread to cool. I'll show mother! I'll get the bread hot. I'll climb into the oven and eat it before she takes it out.

It will be perfect.

The oven is so hot, but the bread will be so good.

"Mother? Mother, no! I want the bread hot mother. Please. Mother please I want it hot ... MOTHER, HOT! PLEASE MOTHER ... SO HOT!"

** ** ** ** ** ** **

Goats?

My great uncle had goats on his farm down near Southampton. The smell of them was forever driven into my memories from summers spent there. Those befouled smelly Billy goats. Sickening beasts, smelling of musky urine from them pissing on their own beards, I hated them as a child. Oh, how heavy that smell would be when the summers turned hot.

I turned my face from that foul smell then screamed as I was struck hard in my ribs by horns! Again and again I flinched from those hard impacts as the goat butted me over and over.

I tried to call out to my ... I tried to call out ... I tried to call ... I tried ...

** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

There was a wet cloth on my lips. A few drops of water dripping into the back of my throat. I wanted to drink the Nile River dry and I received tiny drops. But oh, those few drops were a blessing I would have wept for, if I had the tears to weep. I was so thirsty.

"How can I be thirsty if I'm dead?" I thought. "If I'm thirsty I must be alive, yes?"

I opened my eyes to find that I was in fact in Heaven. I must be, for an angel was looking down on me. Her eyes were dark, her face was dark but aglow in the soft light of an oil lamp. Her clothes were...dark. Looking around her all I could see were colors. Reds, blues, brilliant shades of yellow, green and gold. So varied the colors everywhere but she, this divine being was ... dark?

A fallen angel?

More moisture at my lips. I sucked at the cloth she held to my mouth, trying to pull even a single drop more from it for my parched throat.

Then the angel was singing! A simple song, repeating often, with not a word I understood, but a sweet song none the less, and from her lips it was an aria deserving of highest praise. I wanted to do that but I could not speak.

Too tired to speak.

** ** ** ** ** ** **

I awoke to a shoe nudging my side. Not gently.

Looking up startled, from the blanket on the carpeted floor where I lay, I saw two things. I was under a tent, and I was being kicked by a fierce looking man, so ancient his skin looked like leather. He spoke to me then, but I did not understand him. The words flowed out of him in tones both singsong and guttural, a mish-mash that hit my ears like birdsong and a dying dog's final whimpers.

"Do you speak English? British?" I finally managed to ask, the sound of my voice terrible even to my ears.

He grinned at me, a smile all but devoid of teeth, and shook his head. Laughing he moved to a nearby cushioned pad and sat down. I saw then that I was in fact surrounded by several men. All of them had the same look as the first, if far less aged and weathered. I tried to sit up, but had not the strength. As weak as a babe, I lay there on their floor while these men, desert tribesmen I guessed, spoke. Not to me, I was not spoken to again, but about me I was sure.

I smelled something that was not goat or man then. A dark, half-burnt smell. I watched a fully covered woman appear and place a steaming pot on the floor before the old man. He nodded and she vanished as quickly as she had appeared, leaving behind her nothing but a soft smell of ... of ... I could not place the scent.

Unable to move, I watched out of necessity, as the leathery man lifted the pot and poured himself a small cupful. He then grinned his toothless smile and passed it to the man to his right, with a small bow. The pot soon vanished from my sight but I'm sure it was making the circle of desert men.

Coffee? Then I smelled tobacco. Then food!

Around me a half-dozen voices spoke that same singsong, guttural language. Some laughed, some shouted, some spoke quickly, some slow. Only the old man sat silent. He watched me. He watched and sipped from his small cup. Filling it again when the porcelain pot returned back to him. He watched and sipped, and listened and sipped.

Then he spoke and all others went silent.

His words were delivered in a tone that, even not knowing what he was saying, I knew. It was a tone that any commander would give a testicle to be able to pull off. Pure authority. The Prime Minister spoke that way. The King. The Yank's President ... well, a few of them. And here he was, this old goat herder in a dusty tent in the middle of Hell's loo, and he had it. In spades.

What he said caused a hush. Then a rustle of cloth, and I was being held to the floor, turned over onto my belly by hard hands. Panting in the dust, I moaned when my head was yanked back by my forehead. My eyes were wide as I looked at that ancient weathered face, and felt something far sharper than a razor at my neck. I felt the edge cut skin!

He calmly sipped his coffee. When his eyes lifted to meet the gaze of the men that held me I knew I was dead.

A noise outside caught his attention then. A distant sound I noticed then as well, a heavy unmuffled engine, tank tracks? Then more motor sounds joined the first, a convoy of trucks? With a tank?

Coming closer.

The men around me scattered and I was dropped into the dust, forgotten. Outside I could hear camels groaning, goats bleating, young and old desert people calling out to one another and that heavy rumble of the tank tread and those motors growling, getting steadily closer. Too weak to stand, I crawled to a wooden chest and pulled myself up onto it enough to see.

"A Hanomags? Oh, dear fucking Christ, what fucking next?"

Watching the German halftrack plowing a dust trail across the hard-pack desert, with a small column of Mercedes-Benz L3000 trucks hard on its treads, I held my hand to the bloody cut at my throat. Part of me was glad to see Fritz. I was alive because of them showing up, but my chances were not greater with them than with these desert rats. The desert men were simply going to kill me, and I felt I was already on borrowed hours, but the Germans? I think I would rather my throat had been cut or that I had died in the desert than to be in their hands.

Not that it looked like I was going to have much choice which, that old desert man would turn me over to them as soon as those trucks stop.

Having no desire to see this silly, predictable play go on, I turned around and slid back to the floor, my back against the wooden trunk. My hand fell to my hip trying to find my rum flask and in shock I looked down. I still have my Enfield pistol! Pulling it from the canvas, RAF blue blancoed, web belt's holster, I opened it to see that it was still loaded.

"What are these sand rats using for brains? I could have ... I could have ..." I swallowed remembering where I had been minutes before. "I could have done nothing, but lie here in my own blood, gasping for a breath I would never get."

Even now, I was too tired to hold the gun. I let it lay in my lap as I sat listening to the vehicles stop, and shouted orders in German. More shouts.

Then a few screams. Children first, then women. Looking over my shoulder I saw men being rounded up. Their head scarves were being pulled off, they were shoved towards the waiting trucks while women and children ran after fathers and brothers, crying. I snarled seeing one little boy hit in the face with a rifle butt. I looked away. Nothing I could do, right? One man, with no more than six shots and a handful of loose rounds?

There was a single voice then. That voice of authority I knew too well. The old man. I heard him trying to use incredibly guttural Italian, then a word or two in English. Then he spoke even a few in German. But they were not words he knew the meaning of. Stupid, out of context, or meaningless words to try and speak with, but he was trying none-the-less to talk to the Fritz commander. Trying to stop what was happening.

At a nod from the Commander a rifle was pointed at him and the old man dropped.

Sliding back to the floor, I sat there unsure of what I felt. That old fool was no friend of mine. Hell, he had been ready to watch his men slit my throat like a spring hog. But even knowing that, seeing him shot down like he was nothing, burned me. I moved my hand to the still weeping cut at my neck and when I did my hand brushed the little bottle in my pocket.

My "Bennies...?" I pulled out the little metal bottle.

"Oh, Dennis, what are you thinking?" I asked myself when I poured five of them into my palm. I chewed the bitter pills to mush and crawled my way to the abandoned pot and washed them down with the still warm coffee. "Damn! That's five kinds of shite!"

I muttered every obscenity I could remember, in three languages, as I tried to keep down the thick sludge these desert men were drinking. Shivering, I wanted to retch horribly but fought that urge and tried to hold onto the tent post till I crawled to my knees. Then to my feet.

Gun fire.

I staggered to the open side of the tent and looked out at the shambles of the desert camp. The Fritzs were shooting the camels. For the sport of it, it seemed. I could see that the Axis soldiers had loaded all the men, at gun point, into the backs of the trucks and were now themselves climbing back into the half-track Hanomags.

My gaze went to the crumpled pool of cloth that was the old man. I saw, by her dark clothes, the girl that had tended me was on her knees next to him. Holding his hand, crying. Even as I watched, she turned it loose and rose to her feet. In her hand was a knife she had taken from the desert man's belt.

She ran at the German commander's back, screeching a cry in her own language!

That scream, and the soldier next to him calling out, alerted him so he turned in plenty of time. He gave an amused chuckle, grinned, and with ease blocked her. But then he had a wild cat on his hands. She clawed at him, kicked, bit, screamed. He fought her off all the while laughing.

Other women of the camp moved forward as well, but other older women stopped them. Held them in tight arms, or made them take over holding crying children. A woman, nearly as ancient as the old man, moved with halting steps to his side and dropped to her knees next to that crumpled huddle of cloth and boney body. She looked behind her, said something to the others in her language, and took back up his hand.

The Commander had laughingly ordered the girl caught, and with a sneer from a bloody lip he snatched her veil from her face. He spit blood in her face, and then he laughed. Taking a handkerchief from his pocket, he dabbed at the split lip and nodded to the men holding her.

The desert girl's screams changed tone from rage to humiliated fear as they began to pull at her clothes, tearing at them. Laughing at her struggles, they pushed her towards the rocky, sand-covered ground. From the nearby trucks the lorry drivers walked over to watch the fun. When they had her stripped to their satisfaction, one moved forward only to be moved to the side by the Commander's hand on his arm. The German officer took off his field hat, handed it to the man he had displaced with a smile, and went to work removing his black leather belt and holster.

His troops laughed and cheered him on.

So intent were they on looking at what was going on that not a one saw me, a walking dead man trying to die all over again, leave the tent. Not a one saw me walk, shaking like a leaf from the drugs, into the back ranks of them. And none but one, saw me take the potato masher grenade from the belt of a Fritz too busy watching to noticed someone bump him.

That one was the German Commander.

And he had a bloody round hole in the middle of his forehead before he could say anything!

Simply pointing and pulling the trigger, I emptied my Enfield in mere moments. Then I grabbed up a fallen Maschinenpistole 40 Burp gun, off a man I had shot in the back before he even knew I was there. I hit the ground in front of the half-track and shot at anything standing up around me! When the MP40 clicked empty, I grabbed the potato masher I had dropped next to me. Arming the head, unscrewing the cap at the base, I pulled the cord and tossed it uncaring where it landed over my shoulder.

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byMSTarot© 13 comments/ 13005 views/ 22 favorites

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