War Crimes Part Seventeen – The Girl from the “Det”

Blown Periphery, Going Postal

This is fiction. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental. The events outlined have never to my knowledge occurred. Some of the locations are real.

Afarin Kahn was used as an interpreter by the patrol teams that operated from a tiny forward operating base (FOB) in the mountains that spanned the border. The base was a small cluster of tents, a prisoner holding cage, satellite dishes, guard towers and Hesco Bastions. It had an airstrip just long enough to operate C130s and a Chinook, two Black Hawks and an Apache were based there. The accommodation was luxurious compared with where she had come from. She had her own tent and ablutions. A proper bed with a mattress. The mess tent had armchairs and sofas and a TV showing the American Forces Network, God knows where they had come from. She had everything apart from their trust and companionship.
She would go out with them on the WIMIK as part of the support troop on patrols. She was always unarmed, always accompanied and she was only allowed to question women and not suspects who had been arrested. The questions they told her to ask were clumsily framed and showed a hopeless understanding of the people and culture of the area. She bore it for weeks and finally erupted with frustration during a morning’s O-group meeting.
Because of the small number at the base and the nature of their operations, everyone except those on essential duties attended the weekly main O-group in the Ops tent, round the “Bird Table.” Not everyone, however, was expected to have a speaking part. The command group would run through commander’s intent, scheme of manoeuvre, the latest Int briefing, weather for the aircrews, Logistics briefing and command and signal. The Colonel would finish with a pep-talk and then any questions from the main players. Just before the Colonel turned to leave, Afarin stuck up her hand.
“I’ve got a question, sir.”
The Battle Captain moved to behind the Colonel and made a chopping motion at his throat to signal to her to shut up. She ignored him and ploughed on.
“Why am I regarded as somebody who is here on sufferance? Why have I not been issued with a personal weapon of any kind? Are you worried I’ll shoot myself? Why do you only allow me to speak with local women with questions that have the most dumb-arsed framing so they can only be answered yes or no? Why am I referred to as ‘Genghis Kahnt,’ the ‘’PONTI Paki’ and my personal favourite, the ‘Gash with the ‘Tache.’ Why am I wasting my time and your time here, when I could be gainfully employed analysing data from RAPTOR Pods?”
The Colonel’s face was white and pinched. The grownups looked shocked and embarrassed, while some people were smirking. She thought the Battle Captain was going to spontaneously combust.
“Don’t worry. This Paki’s going to pack.”
She went outside and went into the MT compound, sat on the ground leaning against the wheel of a Land Rover and lit a cigarette. She was watching the Ops tent, waiting for the hammer to fall. One of the RAF Chinook pilots walked purposefully towards her after he came out of the Ops tent. His face was grim and as he reached her, he dragged her roughly to her feet and gave her a tight, warm hug.
“Very big balls, SAC Khan and an attitude the size of a planet. Good luck and I’ll help you if they get arsey. I don’t think they will.”
Nobody spoke to her until the next day and she had packed her kit and lay moodily on her bed, which she would miss. She heard someone moving outside her tent followed by:
“Knock, knock.”
“Come in. I’ve packed.”
The man who had been in charge of the party who collected her came into her tent. He was holding a Colt L119AW short rifle and a pistol in a holster.
“Are you going to shoot me?” she asked only half joking.
“No, I’m going to teach you how to shoot these. We’ve got all day and every time you get it wrong, I’ll kick your magnificent arse.”
They went to the makeshift firing range on the other side of the airstrip, which consisted of sand filled oil drums in front of a bund.
“We’ll be firing at 200 metres. Any further and you’ll be wasting your time. This is our weapon of choice,” he said holding up the short rifle, “The Colt Special Forces Infantry Weapon. 5.56mm calibre, same as the L85 that you’re used to. Single shot or fully automatic. Forget the single-aimed shot bollocks. You’re not gate guard at RAF Little Snoring now. You fire short bursts, three rounds max. Got that?”
She nodded with beautiful wide eyes.
“And stop looking at me like that, otherwise I won’t be responsible for my actions. Now. Loading your magazine. When you’re on the range do you count your shots?”
“No, I always lose count.”
“Me too. So this is how we know when to change magazines,” He held up a round with a red tip to the bullet, “This is a tracer round and it goes into the magazine first. Then three normal rounds. Then a second tracer round and then all the rest. Only put twenty-eight rounds in each magazine so you don’t knacker the spring. So you’re firing away in short controlled bursts and you see a tracer round go down. What does that tell you?”
“I’ve got four more rounds left.”
“You’ve got it. So when you see that first tracer round go down, you yell MAGAZINE and get ready to change. You make sure you can reach the pouch, make sure you can open it, but you don’t look down and take your eyes off the action. Got it?”
“Yes.”
“Why do you yell MAGAZINE?”
“So everyone knows I won’t be able to fire for a bit.”
He smiled. Underneath the beard he was a very handsome man.
They spent all day on the range. First Afarin learned the weapon handling drills and how to strip it down for daily cleaning. Then she zeroed the rifle with single aimed shots at a Figure 11 target at 50 metres, before moving back to 200 metres. He ran her through short bursts, fire with movement and firing whilst moving position. By the end of the first session she was sweating like an adulteress in Kabul and was covered with ingrained grime and dust.
“I’m hungry.”
He opened his day sack and produced an Halal ration pack. Afarin scowled at him, “So you bastards had these while I’ve been eating rancid, processed fucking cheese sandwiches.”
“We found them in stores,” At least he had the good grace to look embarrassed.
In the afternoon they moved onto the pistol, which was a Sig. He thought it would suit her because it was so small and easily concealed, but she was having a great deal trouble cocking it with sweaty, slippery hands.
“OK you weak and feeble Crabette. Let’s try the Glock.” He produced a chunky, plastic block of Lego that looked like it should have been attached to the bottom of a Johnny Seven Gun toy. She loved its non-slippery tactile grip and was a natural with the chunky but very light automatic pistol. Each magazine held seventeen rounds and she fired twenty of them, from cover and on the move.”
“Bloody hell, Ms Kahn, you’re a better shot than me,” he said as they sat sharing a coffee and watching the sun pour itself into the Kandahar Plains.
“What’s your name?” she asked, enjoying his company.
“Henry.”
“Well, Henry, you bunch of bastards could have been a bit kinder to me when I first got here. I never asked to come.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Sorry, for what it’s worth, Treacle.”
“So what happens now?” she asked lighting a cigarette.
“Those things will kill you. You come out with us, still in the support WIMIK, but we might have to ask you to speak with the bad guys. Do you mind doing that?”
“No.”
“You’ll still have someone keeping an eye on you and you may have to hide your ample charms a bit, but a chest rig over the Osprey should help to conceal your lady-bumps. I realise that it will be impossible to stop you walking and running like a girl. You need to cover your hair as well. I know it’s short but very nicely styled. I presume you don’t want to look like Medusa. Do you have a Shemagh?”
“Yes, I wear it round by neck to stop the Osprey chafing my neck.”
“Of course you do. Well wear it round your head. I’ll show you how to wrap and tie it tomorrow.”
It was almost dark by the time they walked back across the airstrip to the camp in a companionable silence. The sky was purple and the stars looked like a van Gogh painting of Arles.
“Do I put these guns in the armoury?”
“No, you keep those weapons with you at all times from now on. They are your responsibility now, so don’t leave them in one of the traps when you do numbers one or twos. They should be made safe whilst in the camp and in vehicles. I will be doing random checks and if I’ve found that you’ve made ready, I will do unspeakable things to you.”
“What about when I have a shower?”
“Put a poly bag over the working parts and hang them on the hooks above the shower head.”
“So that’s what they’re for. I thought it was a bloody silly place to hang a towel.”
As they came to part company, she sensed a sudden awkwardness come over him.
“Err, me and the boys are having a few beers and watching baseball on the AFN. I know you probably don’t drink, but you’re welcome to join us for a coke or something. It’s our way of saying sorry”
“I don’t drink,” she agreed, “But it’s nothing to do with any religious sensitivities. You see, when I was fifteen I got blind drunk on cider to piss my mum off. I thought I was going to die. I don’t ever want to feel like that again. Thanks, I’ll be glad to join you,” she reached out and briefly squeezed his hand, “And thank you for teaching me how to fire these gu… Weapons.”
There were a few, a very few other women on the base, a chef, a Krypto Analyst, two signallers and an RAF Battlespace Manager. Their company was much in demand in the mess tent. There was a proper bar but no spirits and tins and bottles. They did have wine. Henry made room for her when he spotted Afarin push open the door flap tentatively. He beckoned her over and made a few introductions. The driver was a Brummie called Wayne. He nodded shyly and apologetically. The WIMIK gunner was Trooper called Jarvis, a happy-go-lucky chappie from Sarf Landan. He seemed particularly smitten with Afarin after her performance at the O-group yesterday.
“Loved it. ‘The Gash with the ‘Tache.’ I thought the Colonel was waiting for the ground to swallow him,” he chuckled.
“I’ll tell you what wouldn’t be a bad idea,” Henry muttered in her ear, looking at the bar, “Going over and apologising to the Colonel. Clear the air. And don’t call him sir, address him as Colonel.”
“But he’s only a lieutenant colonel, same as a wing commander.”
Henry chortled, “Err, not quite. Go on, big balls.”
Reluctantly she went over and stood next to the most senior officer on the FOB, “Excuse me, Colonel.”
He looked round and scowled at her.
“I apologise for speaking out in a manner that you would class as inappropriate in an O-group.”
He chose to ignore the semantics, realising this was half an apology. He smiled ruefully, “Well Ms Kahn, I realise that the Royal Air Force may do things slightly differently, but I wouldn’t do it again at a bird table, if I were you.”
“Oh I wouldn’t, Colonel. Unless it were an operational imperative.”
He huffed in amusement, “Well, having delighted me with your presence, I think your friends who put you up to this are waiting to hang on your every word.”
When Afarin got back, Henry was taking ten dollars off the RSM.
“You put a bloody bet on me not apologising to him?”
“No, on you’re not getting thrown off the base.”
“You lot really are bastards,” she said trying not to sweep drinks off the table with her slung SFIW. She had only just realised she was the only woman carrying a weapon.
“Why am I the only girlie lugging bloody gu… Weapons around with me?”
“Because you’re the only girlie who’s going off base with the blades and we want carrying and being confident with a weapon to be second nature to you.”
Suddenly Afarin felt humbled. They actually trusted her.
“I bet your Mum and Dad would be shocked if they could see you now.”
“To be honest, Henry. They wouldn’t give a toss. I’m dead as far as they’re concerned.”
He felt a lump in his throat, “Why? Because you’re here?”
“No. They haven’t known where I am for over a year. They didn’t want me to take the Queen’s shilling. It’s not the done thing in my community, apparently.”
He felt a desperate sense of sorrow for a young woman and gave her a manly, non-sexual hug. Her rifle clouted his shin.
“Well fuck ‘em!” Was the only constructive thing he could think to say.

*

She was lying in a small depression behind the cover of a bush and clump of rocks. About fifty metres behind her the four Land Rover WIMIKs were drawn up nose to tail in a battle line, well-spaced, half the crews operating the vehicles’ support weapons, the other half providing a protective skirmishing screen ahead and behind the vehicles. They were occupying a frontage of about five hundred metres, Wayne their driver occupied a position about fifty metres to her right. She could only see him when he moved, but she suspected that he was keeping an eye on her.
In the clear, blue sky, the circular vapour trails of the B52s wound like the Olympic symbols as the bombers circled, waiting to be called in to drop their JDAMs. She could feel the visceral thuds of the 8,000lb munitions as they pulverised the cave complexes of Tora Bora in the Spin Ghar mountain range. She also felt the heavy, slow thuds through her torso of the WIMIKs’ .50 Cals firing over her head and watched with awed fascination the bobbing, jinking fiery trail of the TOW missiles, heading towards the Taliban trench and sangar system.
They were providing fire support to a unit of US Navy SEALs who were clearing the outer trenches before moving into the main cave complex. Afarin shook her head with bemused wonder. This little girl from Derby is in the middle of a battle in her ancestral homeland. Bloody hell! She turned round and looked at her Land Rover. Henry and Jarvis were stripped to the waist, operating the support weapons.
Henry was singing tunelessly as he sent the rounds down from the 50 cal, Ooooohhhhhh that’s the way a-huh, a-huh, I like it, a-huh, a-huh…

Henry saw her looking at him.
“Face your bloody front and scan your arc!” he yelled at her. Afarin turned back and smiled to herself. She had decided that she liked Henry very much. From about three hundred metres ahead of them she heard the fast rattle of automatic rifle fire and the thuds of grenades as the SEALs started to roll up the trench system, clearing it metre by metre. Their weapons of choice seemed to be war dogs, grenades and fighting through with automatic fire. The WIMIKs ceased fire and the remaining crew members dismounted to provide all-round cover. The JDAMS continued to pound the caves, two kilometres away. The skirmishes in the trenches took about two hours until billows of purple smoke denoted that the first line of enemy defence had been cleared.
A group of figures appeared out of the smoke, moving steadily towards the WIMIKs. As they came closer they were revealed as multiple of SEALs leading a hooded prisoner, who had his hands tie-wrapped behind his back. The British officer went out to meet them.
“Can you guys process this joker for onward move to Bagram? He decided he didn’t want to go to paradise and meet his seventy-two virgins today,” the SEAL swung round and punched the prisoner in the side of the head. He fell over in the dirt, “We think this piece of shit is a Saudi mercenary.”
Watching from a few metres away, Afarin was shocked at the way the American Special Forces treated the prisoner. In her headscarf and dark goggles she was indistinguishable and looked like the others. She turned away in disgust and found Henry standing just behind her. He had put on his smock and Osprey.
“You have to remember, these guys have just gone eyeball to eyeball with some of the fiercest fighters the world has produced,” he said to her in a low voice, “This fighter is lucky that he’s still alive, particularly if he isn’t an Afghan. Walk a mile in their boots”
The British agreed to take the prisoner back to the FOB and decided to use Afarin’s WIMIK. She was grateful because it meant she would be sleeping in her comfy bed tonight, rather than in a depression in a sleeping bag. She was briefed to make note of anything the prisoner said on the way back, but he just lay on the floor, hooded and tied and never made a sound. Back at the FOB, the intelligence officer was waiting in the tent inside the POW holding pen. The British weren’t exactly gentle with him either. They sat on the vehicle. Listening to the intelligence officer (colloquially known as green slime), yelling at the prisoner in appalling Arabic.
“He sounds like the Arabic version of Officer Crabtree from ‘Ello ‘Ello,” Afarin remarked to the Captain who had been leading her patrol, “Why don’t you let me have a go?”
The Captain looked at her doubtfully.
“Go on, Boss. Just yelling at him won’t cut it.” Henry said in support.
“OK, I’ll ask.”
“But it’s just me alone with him in there. I understand how their mind works, so we’ll do it my way. It’s my way or nothing. That’s the deal.”
“So what’s the plan, Stan?” asked the Captain.
They walked away from the POW holding pen and she explained to him.
“If this guy is a Saudi, he will almost certainly be a Wahabbist. They are so ultra conservative that women disgust them and are regarded as unclean. If a fighter is killed by a woman, they believe that he will be disbarred from paradise. The seventy-two virgins thing is a load of crap and is a mistranslation. But he has to believe that I will kill him. That’s why I need to fire one round.
He waited until the Intelligence Officer came out of the tent, seething with frustration and had a word with him. They both looked at Afarin doubtfully, but he reluctantly agreed.
“All right, but the guard stays in there.”
“No,” She was adamant, “Just him and me.”
In the end they reluctantly agreed. She gave her rifle to Jarvis and took off everything apart from her boots, trousers and t-shirt. She wasn’t wearing underwear because it was pointless in the field. The scarf had gone, so had the dark glasses. She un-holstered her Glock.
“Bloody hell, where did they come from?” Jarvis said, unable to take his eyes off her breasts.
“Let’s go, sir,” she said to the Intelligence Officer. Her heart was pounding.
Inside the tent there was a table and two chairs. The prisoner was sitting on one chair, still hooded, head bowed. The guard stood behind him, rifle at the ready.
“Will you please take off his hood and then both of you leave. Do not come back in until I have done what you requested.”
They did and she sat down at the opposite side of the table. She was holding the Glock. The prisoner refused to look at her while she scrutinised him. He was definitely a member of the Saud, she could tell by his ratty features.
“They have told me to kill you,” she said to him in Arabic.
He sneered without even looking at her. She cocked the pistol.
“They know what is written in the Holy Koran, that if a man is slain by a woman, he shall never enter, the Gardens and vineyards and meet his young, full-breasted maidens of equal age, with a cup of wine.”
She leaned forward to accentuate the fact she was a woman.
“So I want you to look at me before I kill you.”
“You are nothing but a vassal of the Kufar, whore!”
She pointed the Glock at his head and pulled the trigger. The round ruffled his long hair and deafened his left ear. The 9mm bullet went out of the tent and harmlessly across the airfield. The guard came back in with a tearing hurry.
“Get out!” she screamed at him, “Until I have killed him.” She was guessing the prisoner could speak English. She was right.
The prisoner wailed and fell on the floor, moaning and shaking. Afarin stood up and pressed the pistol hard into his head.
“No. I want to talk to the man, not you, not you…”
She left the tent and looked at the Intelligence Officer, “I think our Saudi Arabian friend wants a chat now, sir.”
Henry was looking at her with a strange expression, “Jesus, Treacle. You forgot to tell us you’re a fucking psychopath.”
She was shaking with emotion and Henry took the Glock out of her trembling hand and unloaded it, fired off the action, put the ejected round back in the magazine and then back in the weapon. He tucked it in the holster on her thigh, then put his arm round her shoulders.
“You will never cease to amaze me Ms Kahn.”
“Do you know what the worst thing is? I could so very easily have killed him.

*

Four months after she arrived at the FOB, the Blades were rotated with a fresh mobility troop unit. By now she was part of the fixtures and fittings and nobody questioned her right to be there, but she badly missed Henry, Jarvis and Wayne, her Oppos. Before he left, Henry gave her a couple of phone numbers.
“When you get back to Blighty, give me a call. We can catch up.”
Despite not really having anything to go home for, Afarin wondered when her tour would be up, but if anything she was getting busier and was loaned on a several occasions to American and Australian SF units. The Americans were very polite, but reticent towards her. The Australians were outrageously friendly and desperate to “initiate” her into their unit. She had a pretty good idea what form the “initiation” would take. As well as starting to miss the cool, wet UK, Afarin noticed that the Taliban were getting better as their tactics evolved. They were using more IEDs and instead of shooting and scooting, they were setting up sophisticated ambushes.
She was in the back of a Land Rover FFR with two Diggers and a couple of war dogs that were as friendly, but only just slightly more slobbery than their handlers. They were on the main Jalalabad to Kabul road, designated as Route VIOLET but known as “Route Violent,” because of the numbers of burned-out military vehicles and oil tankers that littered the side of the road. Two Land Rovers FFRs and two versions of the Australian WIMIKs were well spaced, the gunners on top cover with the .50 Cals. She couldn’t see much out of the back of the FFR, but she certainly heard and felt the deep boom of the IED that rocked the vehicle. She followed the Digger who was tumbling out of the back of the FFR while the top cover waited for the inevitable ambush. She went prone on the road and cocked her Colt SFIW, waiting to follow the lead of the rest. She made a very fast tactical appraisal of situation. She had been in the third vehicle. The second Land Rover WIMIK,or at least half of it was burning in a crater in the road. The first vehicle, a FFR was three hundred metres away. The radioman of the command FFR was sending a contact and METHANE report.
“Afi, mate, check the casualties. Come on luv, move your arse!”
It seemed futile to point out that she wasn’t a medic, so she got up and dashed, zig-zagging towards the wrecked WIMIK. The rounds started spattering off the road and cracking overhead. Nothing, absolutely nothing in the world could have prepared her for the scene of carnage that was waiting for the little girl from Derby. The front axle and engine block was ten metres from the crater. There were two men near the back of the wreck. One was unconscious, the other compos mentis and returning fire. The driver had taken the brunt of the explosion from the conduit under the road. There was nothing describable left of him and she blanked the image from her subconscious. The vehicle commander had lost his right arm and leg and was staring up at the sky, muttering, “fuck, fuck, fuck.”
Afarin tried to remember her Common Core Skills Aid Memoire and the casualty triage algorithm. She shook the man who was returning fire.
“OK?” she yelled,
“Deaf,” he shouted, sending the rounds down.
She moved to the unconscious man. HRABC. Hazzard – pretty bloody obvious, as a round clanged off the roll bar next to her head. Response – no to shouting. She pinched his earlobe and heard a low moan. Airway – She checked for at least ten seconds, he was breathing. Circulation – fast but regular but he was bleeding from his ears. No point in checking pupils because she couldn’t have done anything anyway, so she rolled him into the recovery position.
The driver’s remains made her retch, so she dragged the commander by his webbing slowly into cover. Now what the fuck do I do? She found his morphine autojet round his neck and jammed it into his good thigh. His leg stump was spurting and she tried to tie her shemagh around his thigh. So Afarin did the only thing she could do, while the gun battle raged around her. She cuddled the Digger and talked to him softly. He stared up into her eyes, shivering with the pain and morphine. They were the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen. Like his wife’s only darker and flecked with violet. He smiled at her and died four minutes later. They were the longest four minutes in Afarin Kahn’s life.
Time telescoped until a Pedro Black Hawk with two Apaches riding shotgun blasted the Taliban back under their stones. The Pedro retrieved the casualties along with Afarin. She was checked over in the US MTF in Kabul and was ascertained as suffering from mild combat stress. The Americans flew her back to the British FOB that night. She was tortured with the thought that had she gone to assist the vehicle commander first, he might have survived.
The following day she begged to borrow the Ops Officer’s sat phone and called one of the numbers Henry had given her. She told him everything that had happened and couldn’t stop herself from sobbing.
“Henry, I’ve had enough. I can’t take it anymore. I go out on nearly every patrol and I’m terrified that I’ll fuck something up and get someone killed. Everyone says I’m indispensable, but surely someone else must be able to speak Pashto?”
“Leave it with me.”
Twenty-four hours later she was on a USAF C17 out of Kandahar to Ramstein. She was met at the US Air Base by a charming lady USAF Captain and an MT vehicle to take her to Frankfurt Airport. Her flight had been booked to Heathrow, where a Q Car from Hereford was waiting for her. She was back at RAF Marham less than forty-eight hours after she had made the phone call. The British Special Forces do tend to look after their own when there is no Civil Service involvement. Afarin had been in almost constant front-line action for seven-and-a-half months.

*

Two days after Afarin had returned to RAF Marham, an Army Staff Sergeant pitched up at the main gate and booked himself onto the camp.
“Purpose for visit, Staff, or do you have a sponsor?”
“I’ve come to collect SAC Afarin Kahn, who’s won a two-week holiday. Do you happen to know where she’s accommodated?”
“Sorry no, but the two female accommodation blocks are located behind the Med Centre. I can’t give you the combination, but ring the door and someone will answer and get her for you.”
He didn’t need to ring the doorbell of any block. As he drove down the main drag he saw a young woman jogging on the grass at the side of the road. The arse was instantly recognisable. He followed her, parked up and chased after her.
“Hello, Treacle. Going my way?”
She turned round in shock, “Oh Henry,” she cried, ran up and hugged him.
“You are on post operational tour leave, correct?”
“Yes.”
“Can you do brickwork pointing or plastering?”
“Err, I dunno.”
“Do you want to find out?”
She smiled shyly, “Oh yes.”
“Ten minutes. Pack light.”
That night they had dinner in the Lions of Bledlow pub on the Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire border. Henry explained his project to her.
“It’s an old barn that I managed get for just over eighty grand. The hardest bit was getting the plans through the planning department, but they gave the go-ahead after I made a few changes to the design. I’ve got a mate who’s a builder and the roof has just gone on, so it’s weather tight. The external brickwork needs pointing and there’s a dry stone wall that needs rebuilding. That’s where you come in.
“I’ve got a good sized caravan in the grounds where I’m living, with hot and cold water and power, so you won’t have to crap in a bucket.”
She drove his car back from the pub because he had a few drinks with his dinner. In the fading light he showed her round the barn. Immediately she could see its potential.
“It will be lovely when it’s finished, Henry and the view is beautiful.” He was like a dog with two tails as he showed her into the caravan.
“Here we go, all mod cons.”
“Henry, where do I sleep?”
“Well this sofa can double as a bed. Or you can sleep with me.”
She looked at him and felt her cheeks burning.
“Henry, I’m not very good at this because… Well I’m just not.”
He cuddled her as they sipped coffee, “No worries, Treacle. We’ve got two weeks.”
Later, the owls screeching and hooting frightened her, so she padded to the other end of the caravan and slipped in next to him. He was still awake and hugged her close.
“Ahh, listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”
And they did.
She slipped out of the bed at dawn and looked through the window at the rising sun on the Chiltern Hills. The beech trees were beginning to turn and the slopes were dusted with yellow and orange. She was crying with happiness…

But the drumbeat strains of the night remain
In the rhythm of the new-born day
You know sometime he’s bound to leave you
But for now you’re going to stay
In the year of the cat

Apologies to Al Stewart
 
© Blown Periphery 2018