What isIt was so cold. What can I say about the way I felt, mentally and physically? This damn war had dragged on for so long. And yet, here we were fighting for something I couldn't even remember! But I was still cold. Cold and hungry. Hungry to the point of starvation. Men around me were dying and many more were sick or wounded. But it was alright because I knew that when it was all over, I had a home to go back to. Not like these people we were fighting. No. We destroyed their home long ago. It was almost sickening to me, but orders are orders. And in a way, I guess they deserved it. I don't know why, but whatever it was, it was enough to start a war. Oh well. That's war.
"Hey, Bas, get over here! We need you."
Hearing Dimmer's voice drew me out of my brief contemplation. I sat up on my cot and emerged from my tent still wearing my uniform. It was a worn grey tight fitting outfit, standard among the other officers. I had my ranking patch on my left shoulder and a single red stripe down my center chest to signify that I was of the 56th Legion. There were two holes where I had been shot previously in my right shoulder and a hole just below my rib cage. Since supplies and shipments were limited, they didn't bother replacing it. Other's uniforms were worse though; some were barely hanging together. Some even almost gone from one too many mortar explosions or grenade "accidents". I wont complain. At least mine still kept me warm.
Looking around, I couldn't see Dimmers anywhere. "Bas! Get over here now!". I saw the tent that the sound was coming from and walked up to it. I had to kick away a good foot of snow away from the tent opening. Inside was warm and i could stand straight inside of it. Captain Dimmers and Commander Conner were both leaned over a table with a map with checkpoint flags over it.
As soon as I peek in through the tent flap Conner exclaims with, "Well it's about time you show'd up Bas." She always scared me. Seriously, it was every time she looked at me, it was as if staring into my soul and testing it's medal.
"Sorry Commander, I had to find you."
Dimmers looked exasperated. "It's the only freaken strategy tent in the camp! How hard would it be Lieutenant?"
"Okay, look, we need you for something." Dimmers cut to the chase.
I looked at him, head half cocked, "Yes sir?"
There was a deep silence. The two head officers looked at each other, and it was almost as if they had a silent argument between themselves without saying a word. From the silence, the bead of a single sweat droplet trickled from my forehead and down my nose. The uneasiness in the air hanging like a shroud over me from the absence of speech. Finally, they both nodded and looked at me.
Conner was the first to break the silence. "There is.." She hesitated for a second. "a spy in the camp."
The words rolled off of her lips like poison from a snake. They floated down the air and sliced right into my mind. As what she said sunk in, I froze in my place.
Normally, those words would not have hit me as hard as they did. It was war; these things happen in war. But I knew every one of my soldiers personally. I knew them by full name, their history, their story, and even what drives them to fight. They were my friends and my comrades, my brothers and sisters in arms. How could any of them possible be a spy? How on earth could any of them betray their fellow comrades like that?
I felt light headed for a second and had to grab onto the table for support. Dimmers grabbed my arm trying to help me gain my balance.
"I understand how you feel Sebastian. Everyone here is like a friend, but you do realize that when we find them they will have to pay with their lives right?"
"How do you know there's a spy?"
"We've been watching someone sneaking out late at night in the direction of the enemy camp a few kilometers away. We also know that our last battle was a disaster because someone has been telling them where were going to be before we could even get there ourselves." She continued, "We want you to find out who it is since you are so close to the men."
I nodded slowly.
"Can you handle this Bas?"
I nodded again. Again without saying a word.
He dismissed me and I turned to leave. Just as i was leaving, Conner stopped me.
I turned to acknowledge her.
"Please keep this discrete. We don't want this getting out and alerting the spy."
"And I'm sorry Bas. I assure you whoever it is will pay dearly for this."
I didn't say a word. I just looked at her. Then, without a word, I turned and left the tent.
It was cold outside. Still. Snow had more than covered most of the tent entrances. Some of the men had even started putting their heaters by the tent openings just so they could be able to get in and out without having to dig a foot of snow each time. The snow was coming down hard. Not so much a blizzard. There was now wind. It was almost like someone had just shaken a snow globe and the snow flakes were just falling like leaves from an autumn tree. If you stood still for too long, you'd see the snow build up on your own body. Your eyes wanted to freeze shut and each yearning breath was like fire inside of me, stinging every inch of my throat as it flooded down into my lungs. My lips would freeze still and I could barely pronounce my words. The tips of my fingers were a pale blue. The kind of cold that we were all experiencing was a whole new kind of hell that you would never be able to imagine.
I looked around the camp at all the troops huddling around each other or performing their duties given to them. Some were carrying back firewood while others were simply standing frozen in the snow to patrol the camp. How could any of these men be a spy? They're just trying to survive out here, just want to get home like me, just want this war to end.
I heard a familiar voice call to me from behind, and I turned to see who it was. Of course, it was Grace. She came running over smiling and hugged me.
She was chuckling softly as she hugged me. "Don't you just love this snow?"
"What's to love? It's cold and miserable."
She gave a serious look to me that soon turned to sly grin. "I mean it, I love this snow. It reminds me of home." She took me by the hand, though I couldn't feel it, and she walked me to the outskirts of the camp and we sat down. "Listen closely to it. Can't you hear it whispering to you?"
We were both silent. I could hear a breeze hitting against the flakes as the sliced down through the air. The flakes would hit the ground and make a small 'tap' sound. Millions of these white creatures were racing down and tapping there melodic rhythm all at once. "Yes... I here it."
"It's mother earth. She's telling us that this, tiring war is finally almost over." She looked at me and smiled.
I couldn't help but smile back. "I long for home so much. This war is..." we were both silent again. "... it's forgotten cause."
She looked at me long and hard, letting my words sink in. "That is sad Sebastian. Because it's true."