Categories short story

Alana Finds something shocking: Secrets in a military camp

Alana was immersed in a velvet whirling pool. She swirled around as she felt the first waves of relief wash over her slender body. The sweet warmth of the calm clear water washed over her body wrapped in a thin swimming costume. The warmth of relief and joy began to well up in her tight stomach. It was a sublime experience that was like flying in the clouds. It felt beautiful and serene for a moment. However her mind was jumbled with thoughts she had so far unsuccessfully pushed out of her mind.

Today she had agreed to swim with Steve with whom they had been together for only a year now. She would have soaked in milk given the choice because she needed it. She could have swum in honey or wine if it could only make her feel fresh again. She did not feel clean enough these days, and thanks to the camp she had attended recently. Life had taught her a lesson to never take anything for granted. A life of luxury given to you on a silver plate was not something to push aside but a gift you learn to cherish. It was a gift to thank the gods and your ancestors for because they brought you up into such fine lines of providence. She wanted Steve to quickly want to have a baby again. She prayed for it. She wanted him to rush her into the hospital when her water was bursting. He would then do what was expected of him. Take the bride price home for their marriage to take place.

She still couldn’t believe her life could have been taken away from her last month in one snap. Steve was her life and she couldn’t deny it any more. If only this water could turn into wine…she wished for a splinting moment.
She came up in the water and looked around to see if Steve was coming to join her. He was nowhere in sight. She felt frantic though not scared. She badly needed his company. He had to be somewhere inside the house looking for something. She dived back into the water with arms outstretched and legs hitting the water behind her.

The chanting sounds of recruits singing their war songs in the sun flashed into her mind. She was there once again in the hot sun burning her bare face till her eyes squint. The sun made her scrawl her face into a weird expression.
A huge wave of bodies moved along with her. She felt sweaty and exhausted with the bad stench of human odor threatening her nostrils. Her feet too felt sour and almost bare like she was walking on the stones with bare feet, yet she was wearing new snickers. She moved along like an ocean current clashing with sea stones and stopping abruptly only to be shocked into movement again. This was because her energy was draining out faster than the rush hour. She felt like a rock that could not move any more. A harsh tone from one of the leaders brought her back to the dense reality.
“You, move! Move! Move fast!”
He commanded with a menacing stick that was raised in her direction. It made her clamp her feet together in a run that too seemed to be seeping the life and last breath out of her. Her mouth felt as dry as a desert land. She was washed out and left brittle like a withering leaf. She was lucky to be a human or she would have withered. She thought wondrously.
Alana dived back into the water in a flash and tried to float on it as the torturous thoughts in her mind lingered away slowly. It was impossible to float for her. Only Jesus could a thousand years ago but she could pretend she was lying on the surface with her feet dangling and stretched in front of her. Jesus walked on water but she couldn’t.
Alana felt the weight of memories tumbling back into her mind.
“Sit down!”
The commander in charge of her group yelled in a clear eloquent accent. He amazingly directed that command at Alana whose mind was distracted by the dirt around her that never ceased to repulse like the dawn of day every other morning and evening ever since she had arrived here. The commander’s voice astonished her out of the anxiety threatening to consume her very senses. She was being told to sit on the ground she had instinctively rejected because of its dirt and filth. She felt sick already. She did not know how she was going to escape from this camp.
“If you don’t do what you are told here, you will regret it forever! It will be like milking a snake! You don’t tamper with the bees because they will sting!” He yelled for every recruit to hear.
“This is the first lesson for all of you!” He said again in a voice that cautioned all her earlier instincts.
She felt more like a prisoner than a recruit to a course she had undertaken voluntarily. She already had a plan which she hoped to sell to Commander Ahmed.

He looked at Alana with a deep penetrative gaze while giving further instructions she could barely hear. She stared back at him and smiled almost triumphantly. She knew that he needed a good student for this course.
Alana loved the sweet velvet feel of the water that held her in the pool and she shrank from the disturbing memories of Commander Ahmed. Those memories tormented her like ghosts of the dead who refuse to be buried. Her heart felt better here in the sweet water of love. She had bathed and scrubbed the dirt from her body every night. It had amazed her how a simple bath had turned her filthy body back into a clear smooth human flesh again. Her body had felt like an animals’ for a long time. It had seemed like a miracle when she had bathed on those camp nights. She swam around in circles feeling the gentle waves of the currents blown by the wind lightly like soft kisses and whispers on her body. Water had become the sweet messenger from God to deliver her from all the dirt of the day. It was the angels’ touch that had soothed and comforted her hurt pride and emotions.
Commander Ahmed had begged for her to stay because he had developed feelings of attraction for her. In the camp he had been like a god no one could resist. However she had run away and felt guilty for the betrayal. His hands had searched for her body, but it had been fleeting and unfulfilled.
She slowed the movements of her hands in the water and turned her hands around imagining an eagle in the air. She flapped her arms in the same manner a little more sensually and slowly as she closed her eyes and the cold flash of memories dazed her into another world once more.
Hard black boots trampled the hard beaten tarmac roads in a sweat. They belonged to the recruits who left a trail of dust every time their feet left the ground for a micro second. She was amazed to see the recruits appear suddenly.
“Everyone lie down!” The harsh command that could have split any wood came from the arrogant commander who watched all his trainees with the keenness of an angry guard dog swagging its tongue in the early morning sun. The ground they were told to lie on was covered with wet brown mud. She watched as he made one of them stand before him. There was a pool of stagnant water in front of them. She had passed that filthy water before. It was filled with mud, frogs and maggots! She felt a burning sensation in her chest which went down to her stomach. Tomorrow or later that evening, she could be doing the same. She felt her body convulse into anxious tremors of fear as she watched what the commander did to his recruits.
“We are going to learn how to swim! Yes? He yelled like the captain of tormentors.
“Yes sir!” The whole group answered in a chorus.
“Okay, you will each jump into the water and swim across. Are we clear?” He said with a menace that tore the air like a lightning bolt.
“Yes sir!”
“If any of you do otherwise, I will surely give you a double punishment. Are we clear?”
“Yes sir!” They yelled. No one would dare to cross him. Alana feared for her life. She felt she would soon die of nausea. The look of that water could have drowned a pig! She couldn’t believe a human would survive in such water for even a micro second.
Each recruit splattered and spat through the filthy water while the commander whipped a few slow ones with his magic stick that he always carried.
The sound of a roaring truck struck through the tense air at the pond and surprised everyone. They all looked on curiously. Alana shuddered to think what was next. The air was tense and every bone cracked in agony. It was the fire brigade, she guessed. One man stood on top of the truck with a long enormous pipe that gushed out torrents of icy cold water. The man who was standing on top struck the recruits with a furious gush of the water as the truck moved closer to get a better hit of the dirty bodies of recruits. It was a bath they all deserved after the swim through mud, frogs and maggots.
The shocked groans of recruits in pain reached her ears as they winced at the cold rush of running water on their bodies. They were deep groans of forbearance only a fellow recruit understood.
Alana had talked to Commander Ahmed. She was going to get her pass after all. She would leave immediately because she couldn’t see herself surviving through this course. She knew she would refuse if asked to do any of those so called exercises.
She calmed her running emotions for a moment as she drifted through the swimming pool. She had ended cold sleepless nights at the camp too.
She finally got a glimpse of Steve coming in.
“Where have you been?”
“I was looking for the wine.”
“Won’t you swim with me?
“I will, of course my dear.” He removed his shirt and jumped into the water with a splash. Alana watched the ripples form around his chest and felt awed by his athletic physique. She loved everything about Steve. He swam next to her and put his arms around her in an embrace.
“I didn’t know you loved swimming this much.”
“I do!”
“Heh heh. He laughed.
“Do you want to race to the other side?” He asked.
“Okay!” She swum as fast as she could and was surprised at the energy she still had. She arrived at the end with Steve still at her side.
“I won!” she yelled.
“No, we won!”
“A tie?”
“We reached at the same time.”
“Okay.” She said with a smile.
She had come back to Steve immediately she had got the chance to leave the camp. She had missed him a lot. She now understood how important his friendship was to her. She calmly remembered how unlucky it had felt to be so far away.
The sky that danced so merrily before her now had been in that place the only beautiful thing she ever saw. It was always a silver blanket floating in the air. The air was always washed clean by the puffing wind that never silenced the whistling leaves and branches in the trees. The sky had been like a fume of heavy smoke that had just escaped into the air. You could feel your hand touching it because it hovered so close to the ground.
The day she had stayed sick in bed, it had rained down on recruits mercilessly. The palms of heaven had parted in torrents of rain that abused and mocked the camp. No one dared to move until told to do so. No one mentioned it was raining or gave recognition to its effects. Commander Ahmed found her inside the dormitory on her bed. She was shocked. He had somehow known he would find her there. No one was supposed to be in the dormitory at that time.
“Are you still determined to go away?”
“Sir I am not feeling well.”
“Call me Ahmed.” She shook her head.
“Come on. I know you are a beautiful girl. You need to go back and live a better life!”
“I have got an asthma attack!” she said.
Ahmed shook his head in amazement.
“I wouldn’t let you die on the field, besides I know that you want to run back to your boyfriend.”
“Why would you say that?”
“It’s obvious you don’t care about useless soldiers like us.”
“It’s not true.” She said boldly
“It’s true.” He insisted
“Please, please, please.” She wanted him not to feel so jealous about her boy friend.
He silently drew closer to her. She could see desire in his eyes. He touched her briefly. She was sitting while he leaned closer into her.
“Then stay.” He pleaded.
“I am sick.”
“Stay, I know you can. I will give you anything you want. I know, the drinking water, the milk tea.”
“It’s impossible. I would not let you go through all that for me.”
“I can let you sleep all you want. I will buy you food from a hotel in town!”
“Thank you very much, but I am scared. I am really scared. I have to see the doctor. I promise to come back.”
“When will that be?”
“After check up, I will immediately come back.”
“Alright.” He touched her face briefly and lightly before turning around to leave.

Alana shrieked out of her thoughts at the shrill sound of her ringing phone. Anxiety shot through her body as she realized Ahmed could be calling her right now.
“Your phone!” Steve said from behind her.
“Let it ring.”
“Why? It could be important.”
Steve swam next to her and said; “You have become like the princess who turned into a river.”
It made Alana begin to laugh.
“I won’t get out then, I want to become a river!”
“You are so funny.” He said.
“You are funnier.
“Why won’t you pick up your call?”
“I fear it could be the commander at the camp.”
“You won’t talk to him? You know they can’t force you into anything you don’t want to do.”
“I am still worried” Steve didn’t know about Ahmed’s secret feelings for her. She knew she had to deal with it but it would be better to simply ignore him. All that mattered was she had left it all behind. Steve promised to protect her. No one could force her into doing something she didn’t want to do.
“Let me go get us a ball while the water princess stays here.”
“Okay, honey!” She watched with relief as Steve climb out of the pool while she forced herself to stay calm. She climbed out and grabbed her phone to see who was calling.
It was Ahmed! She had been right. She threw the phone back like it would bite. She immediately went back to the pool before Steve could find her. One day he would stop calling. She wanted him to give it all up. She could not trust men like Ahmed and besides Steve was the love of her life. His insistence on her would definitely drive her crazy. She was now a fly caught in a web which should have been easy to disentangle from because it had seemed like such a tiny mesh. She seemed stuck in that tormenting place.
She found Ahmed an icy cold person. She did not know how a human being could live the life he lived. These were the men who fought for their country after all. She did not want to blame him for everything because he was devoted to that life which was the same in other countries for the military and police.

She swirled around in the water as it heaved and sighed at every stroke of her arms through it. She felt excitement going through her body. She wondered if she had done the right thing not to tell Steve about it. She did not know how he would react. She feared above all, a platonic confrontation between both men. She couldn’t stand to have such delicate emotions get out of hand.
She heard Steve bounce the ball on the white floor and turned around curiously. He had a ball and the wine. He seemed happy with himself, she observed. That was a good sign because she was ready for him
“What do you have in mind Steve?”
“Tell me.” She heaved.
“First of all, grab this!” He plunged the ball into Alana’s direction. She almost grabbed it, but missed it narrowly. She held the ball in her hands and realized it was a light ball.
“You bought this for the swimming pool?” she said curiously.
“Yes, it was a great idea. Don’t you think?”
“Of course.” She tossed the ball lightly as Steve rushed back inside the house again. This time he came back quickly with two glasses for the wine.
“You will love this.” He said happily.
“The wine?” she asked
“Of course my dear.”
“You know I love wine ,Steve.”
“Do you want a glass now or will you drink later perhaps? He said with a teasing wink.
“Later.” She said.
Steve nodded his head and plunged back into the water. He swam closer to her so that they were a few inches from each other. Alana could smell beer on his breath. She raised her brows in amazement.
“Have you been drinking?”
“I took a sip, I think.”
She was not surprised by Steve’s behavior. He got a hold of the ball and tossed it to the far end.
“The first to get it wins!” He said happily. They both swam hard to get the ball. Alana’s speed wasn’t fast enough because Steve had somehow reached the ball before she could.
“Oh! You won! She said breathlessly.
“Yes.” He said triumphantly. Alana was still laughing at Steve’s triumph when the sound of her ringing phone cut through their cheers with a shrill she could compare to a rushing waterfall. The sound of her phone rang too many alarm bells into her mind. She feared Ahmed’s insistence that she return to him. So she did not know if she had done the right thing with him anymore.
“Should I answer for you the phone? Whoever it is will have to listen to me.”
“I will get it.”
She almost jumped out of her skin at Steve’s offer. She waved through the water with her arms and legs slowly till she reached the small ladders that got her out of the water to the white floor. She looked at the caller ID and wished the name would disappear. It was Ahmed.
“Are you avoiding me?” It was the first thing Ahmed said to her. She felt the muscles in her stomach tighten. She needed Ahmed to get the hard cold truth even if it hurt.
“I am not coming back.” she stated in a blunt tone that shocked Ahmed.
“How could you? You have got no remorse or love for your country.”
“That’s not true. I have got a serious asthma which can’t let me do anything like that.” She lied.
“I am really sorry then. We were all waiting for you to return but you obviously lied to me.”
“I didn’t lie. What should I do?”
“Will you ever come back to me?”
“No my boy friend is taking care of me.”
“Alright then, don’t say too much. I wish I knew who he is because he is a really lucky man.” Alana fell silent at Ahmed’s words.
“Goodbye.” It seemed like an inevitable sad ending for Ahmed. She turned around and saw steve coming towards her.
“Who was that?”
“A military official.”
“A military official? What did he want?” she shook her head in disbelief and said;
“They are asking for my return to the camp.”
“You should never go back there.”
“I know!”
“But what does he want from you?”
“I told them I was so sick, I got a doctor’s recommendation to rest.”
Steve held a glass of wine for her, which she immediately took with relief.
“Come on, relax.” He said. She was afraid her anxiety was visible to Steve. She shook her head in agreement as the first sips of wine left electrifying waves of warmth into her whole body. She wanted to simply melt back into the water as she felt hot so quickly under the mid morning sun that bathed both of them. Her emotions couldn’t stand it. She quicky put her glass down to Steve’s surprise and plunged into the swimming pool with a splash. The cold water welcomed her back merrily because felt an instant wave of relief wash over her entire body. It left her drenched and immersed in utter relief like a fish.
“Hey!” she heard Steve’s voice and came up into the water laughing.
“I thought we were still drinking.” She laughed more and swam around in circles till Steve plunged in next to her. She was glad Steve was around when confronted with Ahmed.


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