There is no explicit sex in this 'snapshot' in time. I realize this is not my usual fare, but while reading the Iliad, I kept getting images of a potential story. Good or bad, this is the result. All I hope is that those of you who take the time to read, find something to enjoy. I wish to thank everyone who helped contribute to and edit this story, per their wishes, they remain anonymous. This story is totally fictitious; any resemblance the characters might have to persons living or deceased is purely coincidental. No part of this story may be published at any other site without the express permission of the author. © Sept. 15, 2009.
'Yargos thought, "Early morning is the perfect time of day," as he stretched contentedly. With his sleeping wife curled up at his side, he lay watching a bright beam of sunlight pouring through their bedroom window.
Every now and then a speck of dust or a piece of lint would slowly filter down through the rays. With no knowledge or understanding of warming air currents, Yargos was mystified when one of the particles would suddenly change course or float back up.
And for a brief moment he felt a touch of fear and sat up, thinking, "The gods are at play again." But quickly realized he was out of their reach, safely back home in Greece, far away from the evils of the war on Troy.
With a sigh of relief, Yargos lay back down and listened. He could hear his two sons playing outside, and the sound of their laughter warmed his heart.
For the first time in a long time, Yargos could finally feel the horrors of war giving way to the comforts of home. Seeping into his soul, they were once more becoming the realities of his life.
As every nerve in his body began to unwind, Yargos smiled, "Life is good." But then he frowned. Somewhere in the distance, he could hear a familiar voice calling his name.
Visibly irritated, Yargos wondered, "What's going on? What's he doing here?"
Then the peaceful tranquility began slipping away and in his mind, he questioned, "Why can't they just leave me alone."'
Suddenly the dream ended as Yargos was rousted awake and looked up into the face of his commander.
Still half asleep, Yargos desperately clung to the lingering emotions. But try as he may, their effects were already fading as he sat up, then vanished entirely with the harsh, but sobering command, "Dress for battle."
The predawn air was freezing, causing Yargos to shiver with the thought of how the hard leather and cold metal would feel against his skin. After donning his gear, he noticed the hairs on his arms were standing from chill bumps.
But having fought in enough battles over the years to know that the 'God of War' would search out and prey on any weakness, Yargos shook off all negative thoughts. Then he grabbed his shield and fell in with the other warriors as they began the march to the battlefield.
When the Greeks reached their destination in the early morning darkness, they immediately took their assigned positions. And in the process, made so much noise Yargos could barely make out the familiar sounds coming from across the open field.
But what he heard was enough to let him know, 'The Trojans are also preparing for battle.' And he sadly thought, 'Nothing ever changes.'
Then with a deep sigh, Yargos stepped forward and took his place in line. After jamming the bottom edge of his shield in the soft dirt, he dropped to one knee and slipped his arm through the support loops while drawing his sword with the other.
Crouched behind their shields, they now waited, anxiously longing for first light ... but dreading the arrival. Because with it would come the only weapon they could not see or defend against ... enemy arrows, silent killers that struck without warning.
That fear brought back memories, and he realized, 'That's why I helped cut down the trees years ago, before the first battle. No sense providing aid and comfort to the archers, they love anything with height.'
And having fought in all the battles since, Yargos didn't need to see the field to know how barren it had become. He had been there every step of the way and watched as even the undergrowth was slowly trampled or hacked away by warriors whose only concern was staying alive.
Other than a rare patch of grass, Yargos knew nothing remained but dust ... lots of dust, along with signs of death.
When the war first started, he was able to recognize certain spots where close friends or heroic comrades had fallen, and their blood had darkened the ground. But now, after so much time and so many battles, the old stains had either faded or washed away ... only to be replaced by new, so numerous they blended together into one giant blotch.
Worse yet, Yargos knew, 'Both sides are still strong. This war will last a while longer.' But for him it had already lasted far too long as he realized, 'Many more will die ... and the soil will become even darker before it's over.'
That thought had made him yearn for home, which in turn once more triggered his memory of the beginning, when homesickness had been his biggest enemy. But eventually, like everything else, even that yielded to the boredom of the war's daily grind.
'How depressing, ' Yargos thought, realizing, 'it's to the point that the horrors of battle have become a refreshing relief.'
But for now, his attention was focused on the task of staying alive as he crouched behind his shield in a tiny space, wedged between others.
Yargos knew from the warmth of his shield that the sun had finally broken the horizon. The metal wall they helped form was already absorbing more and more of the early morning rays.
Glancing down, Yargos could see that the arm strapped to his shield was beginning to turn red. But in spite of the rapidly rising heat, he continued to keep his outside knee braced into the sandy soil, maintaining his defensive stance.
Yargos knew the position was designed for maximum protection while providing the strongest support. If any of the shields were forced backward, they would be braced by the leg and shoulder of their bearer.
But for now, strain from the weight of his helmet was rapidly becoming Yargos' most pressing problem. To ease the pressure on his neck, he rested his chin on his upright knee.
As sweat began to drip from the nose guard of Yargos' helmet, he noticed the drops were forming a dark spot in the dirt by his foot. He couldn't help thinking, 'Damn! This is worse than being in an oven, ' but at the same time, kept those thoughts to himself.
Like the others, Yargos knew any verbal sound in the lines before 'the call to battle' would be met by instant death, swiftly delivered by those standing behind them. Besides, no warrior would tolerate complaining. That was reserved for women, kids, kings, and old people.
The wall of shields was doing a good job as it repelled wave after wave of enemy arrows that had commenced arriving with first light. But like always, several of those arrows were finding small openings between the shields. Yargos had learned long ago not to lift his head. Over the years he'd seen too many young soldiers sprawled on the ground with a feathered shaft protruding from one of their visor slots.
It was always the same; curiosity would get the better of them and they couldn't resist a peek at the battlefield. A few paid the ultimate price. The more fortunate now wore an eye patch as they crouched in line waiting for the order to advance.
Experience told him, 'It will come soon.' Commanders on both sides waited patiently, anticipating a lull in the arrows bouncing harmlessly off the intricate designs of the interlaced shields forming their protective barrier.
Trying to keep his mind off his escalating discomfort, Yargos thought of home and pictured his two sons. 'They're old enough now to be in military training. The oldest will probably be joining us soon.' With that he felt great pride ... but also, a deep sadness.
Yargos frowned at the sudden mental image of kings and warlords. 'Damn them, ' he thought to himself, 'it's their war and they could care less. Coddled by servants, they sleep in elaborate tents and guzzle wine nightly while being pleasured by their slave girls with song and dance.'
But it was the repugnant odor of death that bothered Yargos the most as he realized, 'If I live for an eternity, I'll never get used to the smell. It rises from the very ground itself, from the blood stained soil, constantly filling my nostrils ... and the heat only makes it worse.'
Suddenly he caught sight of something buzzing the soldier who was now in front of him, but would soon be on his right when the battle started.
Yargos could see that it was a bee, and curiously watched as it landed on the back of the soldier's helmet. The warrior visibly relaxed, evidently thinking it had flown away. Suddenly the bee crawled off onto the soldier's neck and immediately dropped its barbed stinger into the thin strip of bare flesh.
'Well trained ... and smart, ' Yargos thought as the warrior flinched, then stiffened, but never changed position. He continued to hold his shield with one arm, and his sword drawn and ready with the other.
The bee kept struggling until it finally pulled loose and left its stinger sac still pulsing in the tender flesh. Yargos couldn't help thinking, 'better you than me.' But both warriors knew that after the cry sounded, it would quickly fall out and the pain would soon be forgotten in the heat of battle.
.... There is more of this story ...