Fiction Writing Friday: In Retreat

Originally posted 2015-11-20 12:00:35.

“What are you doing over here Lieutenant Jimbo? You’re in charge of the retreat!”

“I know Sir but I need to tell you …”

“No time for telling me anything Jimbo. Have you seen him? He’s started the engine. It’s going to happen in the next few minutes. Anytime now, anytime.”

“I know Sir … I mean Major, that’s why…”

“Jimbo, what are you wearing?”

“Umm I … what … my uniform Major.”

“Is that standard attire now?”

“Well yes Major, for my rank.”

“It makes you look rather …umm….mouse like.”

“Well I am a mouse sir, I mean Major. We all are.”

“I know that but we don’t need to show them do we? That sort of information’s on a need to know basis. I don’t need to tell you what Farmer Bob over there thinks about mice. Look at him. Revving the engine now, sending us all a message. All he can think of is wheat and profit. He doesn’t care one jot for all the innocents that have made their home in the field.”

“Exactly Major, which is why I need to tell you…”

“We have to retreat Jimbo. You know the score. All of us out of the field, under the fence and across the river. Then we wait. Until the harvest’s over.”

“Yes Sir, I know Sir, and mostly everyone is but …”

“I feel sorry for him Jimbo. Every year the same. His wife shouts at him – did you hear her this morning – and then out he comes. He’s had his orders and it’s off to work. But where is she now? Back in bed probably.”

“Yes I know, seems a little unfair, but …”

“Unfair doesn’t cover it Jimbo. It’s a travesty that’s what it is. The female species, who’d have ’em? Unpredictable. Flighty. Domineering. You name it. But don’t tell the Missus I said that.”

“I won’t Major but …”

“Listen to me! Calling her Missus. Sergeant Topkins would have my guts for garters if she knew I’d done that. Never have a wife in the same regiment as you Jimbo. In fact never have a wife in the forces. It puts a real strain on the marriage. But listen to me Witteringon. What did you come to … oh look! He’s started. Wow look at him go. All that wheat. He’s got a good crop this year. But… what…. can I hear screaming?”

“Oh god Major, yes I hear it too.”

“Pass me your binoculars. I can see blood. Umm … everyone did get out didn’t they Jimbo?”

“Well that’s what I was trying to tell you Sir, it’s the choir you see…”

“The choir?”

“Yes, they took themselves off to practice for the Christmas concert but they’re not in their usual place and …”


“Well we couldn’t find them Sir. We couldn’t lead them away.”

“So the choir’s … gone?”

“Yes Major, I’m afraid it looks that way.”

“The wife really loved their concerts.”

“It’s a tragedy Sir. I’m so sorry. We just couldn’t find them.”

“I’ve never been one for the arts though Jimbo. I thought we needed an athletics club not a choir – mice need to run, it’s in their blood. But the wife wouldn’t have it of course.”

“No sir, right sir, well…”

“Yes you’re right, maybe now we can start one … although it maybe too soon for that sort of talk Jimbo. There needs to be a proper mourning period. Particularly for me.”

“For you Major?”

“Yes well I’ve lost my wife haven’t Jimbo. She’s in pieces out there. Lots of pieces probably, she wasn’t on the small side. You did know she was in the choir?”

“No Sir…Major ….I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.”

“Yes yes it’s sad stuff. Sad stuff indeed. And she looked so happy this morning when she left to meet them. I’d arranged a new rehearsal space for them. That spot right over there. Deep in the wheat. I thought it would be ideal.”

“You …you…. arranged for them to rehearse over there Sir? But that’s where the farmer always starts, every year the same.”

“We didn’t know it would be today though did we, well not until we heard his wife giving him what for this morning. And then we started the retreat.”

“But you knew they weren’t in their usual spot Sir. You knew they were there, where he starts and …oh Sir…”


“I came running and you wouldn’t let me speak, you…”

“Did you come running Jimbo? I don’t quite remember it that way. I think you were with the choir all along. You were trying to get to get them out, trying so hard, but it was too late, all too late. Don’t struggle Jimbo. I’ve got you firm and it won’t hurt … much. I’ll give you a full military funeral. I can do that for you at least. Oh Jimbo I’m so happy. Today has brought me my freedom and the promise of an athletics club at last. What a wonderful day and what a truly bountiful harvest.