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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

TheExecuter

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The Last Mission​

Prologue​
1961​

A man sat quietly rocking in a plain oak chair. The fading afternoon light illuminated his full and dark head of hair which showed only the beginning traces of grey. In all other respects, however, he appeared old, though his face could not readily be seen. His shoulders slumped with a sagging weight of despondency. The back-and-forth movement of the chair seemed to originate in some ethereal region having no connection whatever to his limbs. Indeed, both arms and legs appeared to hang lifeless from the rest of his frame and, had they been so inclined, did not look as though they would contain even the modicum of strength necessary to give the wooden pendulum upon which he sat the rhythmic movement it now somehow exhibited. He wore the aspect of one altogether dead to life, both the life around him and; if there chanced to be any left, that within him as well. The only sign that he in fact was alive, besides the slow creaking motion of the oak runners over the boards of the floor, was a slight movement of the fingers that lay in his lap, though what they held could not immediately be seen.

Around him, the Bavarian mountainside was idyllic, peaceful, and still. It was just the consoling balm his soul needed after the tragedy. The snow that yet covered parts of the ground, the bells tinkling their random carols from the fields across the valley, and the occasional glimpses far to the south of the towering peaks of purest white – all these added their own soothings to his spirit and reminded him of friends from long ago, even as those who cared for him watched the healing of his wound and leg. Even if he did walk again, however, what did it matter, he thought. What would anything ever mean again…without her to share it with?

Life had been so good, so full of joy. He had never imagined it was possible to know such happiness. Then, cruelly had the evil hand of fate snatched it all away. So it seemed in his more disconsolate moments, though deep inside he tried to convince himself otherwise. He did not believe in fate any more than she had, but during these days of darkness it was very difficult not to slip back into old patterns of thought. He knew what she would say, that all things turned out good in the end. That this catastrophe could ever be called good he would never accept. That it might work for good he occasionally allowed himself to contemplate, though such was an idea equally strenuous to lay hold of. Yet he knew that is exactly what she would say. For the sake of her memory he would do his best to hang on to that truth.

Her memory – it was all he had left. The sound of her voice in his ear…the peculiar sound of her laughter…images of her face, her smile, and her legs…

Her memory…and these few recordings of Handel she had given him. What a treasure they had been to share. Now these too seemed lifeless and old, the once bright coverings now scratched and faded. He could no more keep himself from the bittersweet nostalgia than he could bring her back. Though the sounds seared his heart with hot iron, it was the memory...of her.

He raised one record from his lap, and leaning over the side table, placed it on the turntable. Slowly, he started the mechanism and sank back into the chair.

…Pop…snap…pop…hiss

Behold,
I tell you a mystery
We shall not all sleep,
But we shall all be changed
In a moment
In a twinkling of an eye
At the last trumpet


He had listened a hundred times before this and would a hundred times again. For in the music were many secrets, and his was the only heart that knew them. He placed the cover back in his lap, a lonely tear now falling from his eye and, continuing to rock, he let the memory of her guide his mind back many years to the day he discovered his first love.

The trumpet shall sound!
And the dead shall be raised…
And the dead shall be raised incorruptible.

The trumpet shall sound!
And the dead shall be raised…
Be raised incorruptible.
Be raised incorruptible.

And we shall be changed…and we shall be changed.
 

HannibalBarca

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Interesting start, looking forward to more.
 

unmerged(58579)

The Grand God of Fried Eggs
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Great writin - more please, I want to know the joys and pains of this man from the beginnin....
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Me too...
 

unmerged(28944)

Would-be King of Dragons
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Now that was one finely crafted intro. I'm more than intrigued, I'm enthralled. I need to know more.
 

unmerged(62343)

Spectre of Battle
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That was a very deep intro. Hinting at tragedy, yet not giving in and letting it all come out. Great writing. Now, to figure out what it is all about. ;)
 

TheExecuter

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Part 1​

I
August, 1936​

“For the trumpet shall sound!”

Ian Clarke started, and looked up at the pulpit. He tried not to move too violently in a vain attempt to disguise his alarm at being awoken in the middle of the sermon.

“…and the dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed. What a promise! Imagine the scene…you’re going about everyday life, putting the children to bed…and suddenly a clarion call from the heavens announces the return of Christ! All that you have been hoping for will be about to come to pass! Heaven, the incorruptible body, the blessed presence of your Savior and Lord…”

Ian looked around the small church, trying to gauge the impact of the priest’s words on the parishioners. As far as he could tell, most of the congregation was engaged in either sleep or “deep meditation.”

“…When He comes, the saying ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’ will come to pass! Our victory, coming through our Lord will be assured. The sting of death (sin) and the strength of death (the law) will not be found! We will no longer need fear in His presence; all of that former relationship will have passed away…”

The rest of the congregation was engaged in various clandestine social activities. Children were doodling on the hymnals, while young women gazed longingly at various young men who were in turn distracted by the women, or the sunshine filled world outside the open windows. Only a few, and generally the older, members were paying any serious attention to the preaching.

“Therefore, we must be steadfast and un-moveable. We must not allow subversive doctrine to take hold of us. The Marxist ideals now being touted by ‘modern man’ in Russia, and now recently Spain, will avail them little in the day when the trumpet sounds and Christ returns…”

Ian let out a small sigh and sank back into the pew. I wonder why he always has to equate socialists with the heathen, he thought. There are plenty of capitalists worthy of being lumped together with the unrighteous… Looking out a window, he took stock of the sunshine, and the slight movement betraying the force of the wind in the oaks outside. Should be a good day for flying…

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order…”

…and he was again lost to his dreams.
 

TheExecuter

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Feedback

Thanks everyone (rcduggan, Foxbat, HannibalBarca, Simon-1979, linque, simonmark, Kurt_Steiner, Chesterton, chefportnen, Draco Rexus, grayghost, Dr. Gonzo, and Guangzi) for your kind words regarding the start of the story! This is my first attempt at a love story and I deeply appreciate the words of praise. I shall try to make the story live up to its apparent quality opening...!

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I will most likely update on a weekly basis (unless suddenly inspired). So...as you can see, this week's update is now up. Enjoy!
 

unmerged(62343)

Spectre of Battle
Nov 4, 2006
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Oh, I can remember days, like that in church, waiting for the sermon to end, and daydreaming about what I would do when it was done. Very well done. Anyone who has ever been to church will be able to identify with that seen.
 

unmerged(60719)

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Sep 9, 2006
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Interesting update with the alternations between Ian's thoughts and the priest's sermon. Unless I'm mistaken, Ian Clarke seems to be a British pilot. And war is evidently just over the horizon.

edit- actuality nevermind about the war, I just noticed the date is 36 not 39. Still, it's interesting that the begining month is August rather than January.
 

stnylan

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Great starting posts. The congregation scene was very well structured.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Ian Clark... pilot... last mission...

Spitfire... no... I see a Lanc taking off...

Thou shall reap the whirwilnd, my friend... :D