A Reporter’s Private Journal

I always hope that the world will prove the stereotypes wrong. When the setting calls for a dark and stormy night, I anticipate a soft sunset and a warm breeze, the tall grass dancing its mockery of every bad novel with slashing lightning and sloshing mud. The world’s an ornery place that doesn’t play by our rules, and I count on its contrariness to make life a little more pleasant sometimes.

Of course, this self-inflicted reverse-psychology doesn’t usually work. Turns out the world doesn’t give two figs for what I think or want. That’s why on the night when Sargent Faithful and his boys marched into Colonel Rupert’s camp it was raining fit to drown a pig. The wind lashed at the empty tents still weighted down by the gear of dead men, and though all trace of lock-stepped boot prints had been washed away, I shuddered as the howling wind seemed to bring them back to us again.

The colonel had sent his squad out three days ago on a reconnaissance mission into enemy territory. None had returned, but HQ had sent him another squad anyways. That, too, was stereotypical.

I’d heard about Faithful before, though I’d never met the man. Military life has a way of changing a person, and it’s not uncommon for a man to lose his way after a battle or two. It’s hard to believe in a god out here. But not the sargent–he was a man who always knew exactly where he was. It was uncanny, in fact, how present he was. I always expect the religious to fix their stare into the other world, always dreaming about how things will be different someday, or how it should be. Not Faithful though, he was always here. Always right here.

Corporal Collins
Bragovia Army Corps
Summer, 642 TE.

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