He lay still, his eyes just peering over the dirt where his chin rested, his gazed fixed of the ridge across the stretch of no man’s land before him.
Mist lay in the shallow dip between them, dark shapes breaking through here and there, broken, angular, jagged and every one an obstacle. But, there were gaps, it was possible to get through, he could see that much.
The weather was helping, the sun had barely shone in two weeks and the almost constant rain and cloud softened the landscape and the senses making it easier to be lost in the scenery, easier to move through it in the right direction too.
He still waited though. He’d lain there so long the sodden ground beneath him had warmed up to his own body temperature and he no longer knew if he was wet or dry, he was comfortable enough to wait longer, as long as it took.
His cheek rested against his woollen glove which in turn flattened the small map of the immediate area onto the dirt. He trusted maps, and this one had gotten him safely to where he now lay. A purple pen line marked where he lay with capital letters bearing the name Ridge #12.
He didn’t need to turn and see Hill #11 far behind him to know what it looked like and know what it meant to him, he’d been lucky to survive and to fall to his knees with relief when he’d reached that little summit almost a year ago.
A year to advance this far. A hard year, but never hopeless, never without a sense of purpose, never without times of joy and never faced alone. Was it a victory to be lying here, now? Isn’t every new day you’re allowed to face a victory of sorts?
An eye cast down at the map showed just how close the next ridge was, at a run he could be there by midnight. He shifted his eyes right to his watch whose face was purposely visible between glove and cuff. There was time. On a map now made so personal over the long march, there was something almost unnatural about the bland factory printing which gave his next objective its name: Ridge #13.
It was needing ticked off before he could see what was on the next sheet, Ridge #13 was right at the edge of the paper. “Here be monsters” he smiled quietly to himself, that’s what’s over that ridge.
He knew they were waiting for him, just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there. He could make it clean across the gap and onto the ridge before they showed themselves. What the hell he thought, it’s the unknown, but I’m going to get up and run for it. After all that’s gone before I’m as ready as I’m going to be. The question is, are they?
He flicked his eyes back to his watch as the hands silently wheeled thmselves and him forwards.
Midnight then. Not long now.