The air was rich with the scent of Summer flowers, bird song and laughter. Eleanor and Rémy watched from the picnic blanket as they were putting out the food as their two childrens splashed and played on the shore of the lake. Rémy was busy swatting away the insectsa attacked by the sweet sticky jams, plates piled high with sandwiches - every dozen or so containing a different filler. Chicken salad, turkey and stuffing, tuna mayonnaise with slices of cucumber, bowls full of ripe plump juicy berries and other fruits and nuts and then, there was the biggest plate. Right in the middle of the spread. A plate that would send the young'uns into a frenzy, this plate had nearly every cream cake and pastry you could think of. Vanilla slices, a mountain of doughnuts with jam doughnuts on the bottom then custard filled ones on top of them and at the top chocolate ring doughnuts. There were scones with rich fluffy whipped cream just waiting for someone to put a big dollop of jam on it and no tforgetting Rémy's favourite treat…
Eleanor cast her eye over to Rémy as she called the children to come and eat. She could see Rémy eyeing up the egg custard tarts.
“Don't you dare!” She snapped at him as he moved slowly to those tarts. “You'll spoil your appetite”.
“No I won't”. Rémy replied between muffled lips.
“You're worse than the kids”. Eleanor said, rolling her eyes. “Jennifer, William come on. Come grab some food before your father eats it all”. She called as she turned back to face Rémy who quickly shoved a whole sandwich in his mouth knowing that his beloved had witnessed the event. His cheeks puffed and his eyes turned pink and started to water, the strong scent of the Dijon mustard burnt his nasal passages as he couldn't help but cough.
“Have I told you” he coughed and sputtered “have I told you, how beautiful you look in that dress? The way the wind blows through your hair...and your eyes...magical”. He said with grandiose gestures. “It makes me want you right now, right here, rolling round on this blanket in the heat of passion”. He continued, his mouth full of food.
“Oh...how romantic! You really think so?” She replied twirling her dress flirtingly. “Oh I'm the luckiest woman in the world. To have a man as fine and as strong as you” Eleanor said swooning and started to walk closer to him. Her eyes fixed on his as she came ever closer, slowly swaying her hips in a seductive manner and gently laying her hand on his chest. She leaned in with her lips pursed. Rémy with a big goofy grin slapped across his face and his mouth still full of food closed his eyes and puckered waiting for her soft, warm lips to meet his. “Still it would sound even better when your gob isn't full of food” She barked and slapped his chest and she turned away, took a few steps forward and then stopped looking back over her shoulder with a smile.
As the sound from the shore ceased Rémy thought he heard something on the wind. He tried to focus on the sound blocking out the surrounding noise then without warning a scream so high pitched, so blood chilling it made him jump. Startled he looked for his two children and saw Jennifer frozen solid with her mouth open wide and a look of disbelief that morphed into a scowl, then smoothly formed into a bright smile. Turns out while Jennifer was distracted when her mother was calling them over, William, the youngest of the two, saw the perfect opportunity to create the biggest splash he could possibly make soaking his sister.
As Jennifer retaliated it was not long before chaos erupted on the shore anf water and laughter filled the air once again.
Rémy shooed away a wasp hovering round the slices of watermelon while beads of condensation slid down the cold glass inviting you to take a sip of the refreshing homemade lemonade as Eleanor called out to the children “Last time you two, come in and get some food”. Her voice barely breaking the sound of constant laughter and screams of joy. “Before your father eats it all” she muttered under her breath as she turned to see Rémy was already eating another sandwich.
Jennifer and William ran up still dripping from head to toe and giggling like two mischievous gnomes and embraced their mother's leg, her orange and white summer dress instantly soaked. “What's this?” She screamed in surprise “Oh you soggy little monsters!”
The both of the them had not stopped laughing all day and the way their mother played with them it was clear this was a close and very affectionate family. Rémy was in his early thirties with a few grey hairs in his beard starting to show while Eleanor was three years older than him and looked just as lovely as the day they met. Jennifer was six but was turning seven in the next four months and she excitedly counted down the days and constantly told her father how she wished she was seven already. Rémy would laugh and always reply with a gentle “Yes cub we know, but don't wish your life away”. She said the thing when she was five.
William recently turned four and idolised his older sister but like any younger sibling would never pass on the opportunity to annoy her despite the many times his parents would tell him off.
They lived in the North West in a place called The Rothin Highlands, it was a place abundant with wildlife, filled with rolling hills, great plains, several lakes and large lochs and a vast forest which stretched all the way to the East of the country which was known as Cernonus Forest or Cernonus Palace. Growing thick and untouched for centuries through five counties, all the way up to the coast where you would find one of the three largest cities in the North East; New Castle Port. Due to the rugged landscape there were not many large cities up in the North and the Further North you go the more mountains you see. The very top of the country is called The Crown of the Land; named so because from all the mountain peaks it looks like the points on a crown .
In the Winter the snow falls heavy and the wind chill cuts through you almost as if it freezes your bones, in the Spring the warm winds bring the migrating birds as the oak and the silver birch trees start to wake up from their long seasonal sleep, slowly turning green.
The meadows and the groves burst to life, an explosion of colour with the blooming of wild flowers.
To the West, sandy beaches that have been lapped for a millennia by the ice cold waters of The Aslandic Ocean. To the South, the marshy Midlands and the country's capital sitting in the South East right along one the busiest river systems in the world.
A chain of mountains going up the middle of the country known as Arthur's Spine, named after a legendary king of old.
Eleanor embraced the sopping pair and the giggling did not stop for a second as she bent down and whispered something to them and passed a look to Rémy who was still doing battle with a wasp who had seemed to call in for reinforcements. As he caught her eye and the way she and the kids were smiling he had an inkling of what was about to happen.
Suddenly the two let out a rallying cry of delight and they charged at their father like two rabbid animals, their eyes wide with a flash of white and their smiles even wider. Quickly Rémy jumped to hustled to his knees but already they were at the picnic blanket. A wild look blazed in their eyes as they knocked over a bowl of strawberries, the sandwiches were next, then the assorted nuts. It was a horrific scene; this once peaceful picnic was now more like a battlefield, the casualties strewn across the blanket of the fallen dead. The drinks did not stand a chance as the pair became the embodiment of destruction and Rémy watched in horror as if it was in slow motion as the stampede reached the plate of deserts. Thinking fast he sprung to his feet and in a daring rescue attempt he clutched his prize; the cakes were saved! Raising the plate high and shouting to the heavens like a warrior celebrating the spoils of war Jennifer and William pounced making his magnificent victory cry sound more like a goose call, bringing him back down to his knees.
Eleanor joined the three and Rémy was on his back with cold and wet children clambering all over him, but yet, still managing to hold the plate of treats aloft as if the very future depended on it, all of them laughing all the while.
With grace and elegance Eleanor straightened out the picnic blanket and once again laid out the food, within a matter of minutes the picnic was like new. “Right then” she said loud enough to be heard over the ruckus “who's hungry?”. The children immediately stopped climbing over their father and shouted “I am!” in unison.
Rémy sat up, his hair out of place, his clothes ruffled and had looked as if he got caught in a gale and yet, somehow the tower of cakes were more or less still standing. He gently placed the plate on the blanket, brushed his shoulder and comically sorted out his hair, patting it down then brushing it to one side, then the other, then with both hands brushing it backwards only then to shake his head undoing all of his hard work. The children thought this was hilarious so much that William mimicked every move and continued to laugh to himself.
By now it was mid afternoon and most of the food was gone, with full bellies the family lay on the blanket relaxing and chatting. Jennifer had her head on her father's stomach with Rémy telling the occasional bad (dad) joke, Eleanor and Jennifer would sigh and groan at the punch line while William would let out a little chuckle, it was not long before the kids went off to play in the nearby woods, just a few feet from the picnic grounds and Eleanor was now resting her head where Jennifer had it a moment ago, both staring into the blue sky listening to the sounds of the birds and the wind rustling the trees. The two of them loved those sounds especially the wind, of course the children could be heard. The two of them chatted and playfully pointed out shapes they could make out in the fluffy white clouds, Eleanor pointing out shapes of animals like horses, fish, dogs, rabbits and the occasional dragon or lion. While Rémy on the other hand was pointing out...more inappropriate shapes that would involve two people... let's just say involving the act of procreation.
"What…? How on earth do you see that?" Eleanor said in disgust.
"Just squint your eyes and tilt your head to the left" he replied with a smirk "and that one…"
"Behave! The kids will hear you, get your mind out of the gutter". She said and gave his leg a discouraging smack.
Before he could think of a clever retort Eleanor raised her head, her light blue eyes locked onto his and with a wolfish grin said "You can show me these clouds later tonight".
Rémy was shocked and taken back by her response but only for a moment and then burst into laughter followed by a playful growl. As they lay there laughing at their banter Eleanor decided to get up and go play with the kids while Rémy in a moment of bliss started to feel himself drift off, as his eyes grew heavy his body started to relax but his hearing intensified. He could hear the kids chase their mother, all three screaming and laughing in delight. He could hear the birds chirping away and he let out a sleepy chuckle to himself. It always amused him of how when most people think of a bird song you get the image of a little song bird perched high in the trees singing to it's heart's content, the vision of a beautiful thing making a beautiful noise and though it was pleasing to hear the truth is far more comical. For when a bird sings it is in fact warning others that this it's it's territory and the other reason is trying to attract a mate.
Rémy let out another chuckle as he pictured a delicate little blue tit shouting the equivalent of "This is my tree!" Or "Anyone fancy a shag?".
He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly as the leaves rustled on the breeze making them dance, the woods themselves creaked and groaned like they were continuing an ancient conversation and every now and then he would hear a branch break under the weight of something, it was quite far off and in his current tranquil state of mind Rémy thought it might have been a deer that populate the forest, he thought nothing of it until he heard another branch break and another and another. The frequency of the sound he figured it was clearly more than one. "Maybe a stag moving his harem". He thought to himself. Then there was a sound in the distance, muffled every now and then but sounding like drums echoing in the wind. The sound brought him back to the waking world, curious he sat up looking over the lake, scanning the horizon and waiting to meet this thunderous intruder.
The sound was much louder now, so loud that even Eleanor, Jennifer and William stopped their play and were forced to take notice. The drumming became more like thunderous booms and was so loud you could feel the vibrations through the ground and yet this noise maker still had not made an appearance, Then finally it showed itself, slowing rising from behind the foothills like a titan waking from aeons of slumber, it's engines roared as it drew closer.
Rémy was amazed to see a chinook helicopter this far north. As it approached from over the lake he glanced back to the woods where he saw his family standing just in the treeline, the kids were standing either side of their mother and she had her arms around both of them and were fixated on the now hovering mechanical giant by the shoreline. Jennifer shook her head from side to side in disbelief as if trying to wake herself up from a dream, William stood his mouth agape and his hands tightly pressed against his ears and then turned his head into his mother trying and hide away from the sound, occasionally peeking out from his her side.
Eleanor squeezed her children tighter as the colossal pirouetted in the sky showing the rear of the vehicle and a large loading ramp. The picnic site did not stand a chance, the blanket and the basket blew away and the remainder of the food and drinks scattered from the force of the downwards thrust from its huge twin props. As the hydraulics groaned the rear loading ramp slowly lowered revealing several men wearing tactical military gear and carrying some sort of firearm.
Sand was being blown into the air and with a metallic thud the loading ramp hit the ground, five soldiers were kneeling on one knee and five more standing behind them all with guns aiming at Rémy. Green lasers came piercing through the sandstorm and dust kicked up by the chinook. The family stood frozen in bewilderment still unsure what or why this was happening. Rémy finally coming to his senses turned and looked at his family, catching Eleanor's eyes, even with all the uncertainty, the anxiety and the fear that filled the air whenever he looked into her eyes, it was like they could capture all the light. He could lose himself, the world and its worries would melt away and he would drown in those two beautiful pools. Eleanor was his center, his lighthouse she had this ability to guide him even during his darkest hours. Their bond was so strong that together there was nothing they could do. All that was in a moment and that moment came crashing to an end with a flash of light and a deafening bang!
The armed men rushed down the loading ramp.
"GO, GO, GO!" Shouted an eleventh man in a loud gravel tone voice. The children screamed in fear as Eleanor, still holding tight to their hands ran into the woods.
"Get them!" He shouted. "Remember we take them alive!". Five soldiers broke away from the rest of the squad, Rémy did his best to try and intercept them but was already contending with the first five. Punching, kicking and trading blows, he dispatched one easily kicking with such force on the knee it broke, ripping the ligaments. The soldier dropped to the ground cradling his injury rolling side to side as his leg was in a perfect ninety-degree angle only bent in the opposite way a knee normally bends. The second soldier put up more of a fight dodging some of Rémy's attacks, as the two ducked, dodged and parried blows the soldier soon lost his patience and turned his weapon on Rémy, through his attackers headgear he saw his eyes narrowed as he was about to pull the trigger but in two swift moves Rémy disarmed him by knocking the weapon upwards closing the gap between them. He was able to make a strong jab at his opponent's throat snapping his trachea, the soldier stunned and gasping for breath dropped his weapon and grasping his throat, coughing and spluttering trying his hardest to breathe but in vain, he was already suffocating.
Rémy could still hear the screaming coming from the woods and his instinct was telling him to regroup with his family as soon as possible, but he could also hear the soldiers were having a tough time with Eleanor, Rémy was fighting hard but Eleanor was fighting for the safety of her children and would have the ferocity of an injured animal that is cornered. He was ready to engage his next combatant when suddenly once again the gravel voice was heard coming from the helicopter as the eleventh man was walking down the loading ramp.
It was clear he was the one in charge.
He must have been the biggest man Rémy had ever seen. He was tall as he was wide, standing at eight foot and dressed like the rest of the attackers, in black tactical military gear. His face was covered in some type of helmet. Most likely something with a gas mask which suggested these people are deployed for or even use chemical warfare and attached on top of his helmet were some type of goggles, most likely night vision and/or thermal goggles.
"Enough of this! Use the tranquilizer". He ordered his men, the remaining soldiers trained their weapons on Rémy. It felt as if time had slowed, the hairs on his body stood on end and could feel his heart beating slower as he centered himself, then he heard the clicks as they pulled the triggers. Quickly he acted, he jumped to the soldier who lay on the ground still fighting to breathe as if time righted itself. He picked up the soldier and held him up as several projectiles rushed their way towards them. The soldier let out small quiet groans and wheezes as one by one little thumps were heard hitting his body, the final bit of air escaped the soldiers lungs and with one last gurgle the body went limp.
An ear splitting scream was heard from Eleanor's direction, Rémy had to get to them. Distracted by worry he threw his human shield to his attackers and turned towards the woods, just as he was about to run to them something landed with a hollow thud and gently tapped his foot. He looked down to see a small metal cylindrical object and before he had time to react there was a flash of bright light and another deafening bang, the force of the explosion threw him sideways and quite far from his attackers.
Blind, deaf and struggling to his feet, Rémy was waiting for the beatings and whatever else they had in store for him, but it never came. His eyesight sight was slowly starting to return but found it painful to fully open his eyes. His hearing was slowly coming back too, he could make out the muffled sounds of shouting over the high pitched ringing in his ears.
As he stumbled to his feet, steadying himself on a large boulder that sat inches from where he landed. In all honesty it was amazing how he did not hit his head on it. Sheltering his eyes from the bright summer’s sun with his hand, his eyes still stinging as he squinted. He didn’t expect to have been thrown so far, the other three soldiers had regrouped with their comrades and had appeared to be securing three cages. To his relief he saw his family but to his horror they were each in a cage. Eleanor was reaching out, her arm stretching through the bars trying with every fiber of her being to reach Jennifer; Jennifer who was scared but for a six-year-old was putting on a brave face. William was the furthest away and was terrified, sat with his knees close to his chest and tears streaming down his face, their mother was constantly calling out to them. Trying her best to reassure her children.
One soldier walked up to Jennifer’s cage and peered in, Jennifer locked eyes with her captor as he crouched down. She did not blink, she didn’t even look away. Hidden from sight Rémy could not help but feel proud as his little girl fearlessly stared into the face of danger, the soldiers headgear reflected her wild look. With a deep muffled chuckle from behind his mask he slowly rose and casually walked over to William’s cage all the while maintaining eye contact with Jennifer, her eyes slowly following him. He stopped in front of William, who was still hugging his knees, his eyes were red from crying and his face stained by tears. The soldier turned to face the frightened little boy and stood still for a moment listening to the child sobbing, then without warning or even a cause he gave a sharp kick to the bars making poor William jump and scream in an awful surprise.
“Don’t you touch him!” Eleanor shouted in retaliation while trying to stretch her arm even further through the bars to comfort William, who was sobbing uncontrollably from the ordeal.
Jennifer did not react, she only followed the scum with her eyes as the soldier laughed and rejoined the rest of his unit who were standing around and talking amongst themselves.
Fighting his rage Rémy was still trying to find his feet, his ears still rang and his eyes stung from what he figured was a concussion grenade. He needed to rescue his family but if he rushed in now he would not stand a chance, as much as he hated it he would have to wait for the opportune moment.
They loaded their fallen onto the chinook, it’s huge twin props had not stopped whirling since the beginning of the attack. Rémy’s senses were slowly returning and he softly, slowly moved closer and closer staying out of sight.
The helicopter was still hovering in place where it deployed it’s hit squad, it bore no distinguishing marks, just black as the night. There was no sign of the commander but three of the soldiers walked up the loading ramp and entered the rear of the helicopter, its engines roaring like a chained beast while the other two stood outside, they did not seem to be on the lookout, it appeared they were more concerned talking to each other.
Not long after the other three reappeared with three mechanical trolleys, obviously to help load the cages. A cold chill ran up Rémy’s spine as he started to frantically figure out why they were attacked and why his family were put into cages but had no idea who sent them.
He was now feet away from his family and they felt his presence and turned to face him. Peeking over an ancient oak tree trunk that was felled by a storm several years back. It was good to be close to his kin and see the smiles on their relieved faces as he was filled with hope. William overcome with a mixture of emotions nearly blurted out an excited cry on seeing his father, Rémy quickly pressed his index finger against his lips to indicate to be quiet and understanding William went back to hugging his knees so as not to draw any unwanted attention.
Rémy looked at his daughter and instantly her fierce look vanished and was replaced with her sweet smile and a twinkle in the same green eyes as her father’s. His gaze quickly dotted between his children and scanning them for any injuries. Apart from a few cuts and scratches there was nothing major. Then he cast his eye towards Eleanor, her beautiful blue eyes almost stopping him from breathing.
Rémy’s thoughts flashed back to twelve years earlier. He was working his night shift behind the bar as usual at The Falstaff, a local pub and as always it was full of the hustle and bustle like any other. He got the job when he came back from his travels from across the Aslandic Ocean where he worked as an activity instructor for a company that specialized in outdoor pursuits for children. He loved every minute of it, he preferred to be out in all weathers close to nature rather than being stuck in some stuffy office.
The Landlord took an immediate liking to him and gave him the job there and then. Of course, with it being a place where alcohol flowed there was bound to be some trouble from time to time but Rémy was always quick to defuse the situation either by negotiation or by throwing the riff raff out. He worked there for a few months and got on well with the patrons, when one night two young women walked in from the local university looking for something different than their student union. That very first time he peered into those sapphire eyes he was hit by cupid’s arrow. As he served the two ladies they spent the evening talking and laughing and before they knew it, it was time for last orders. The Landlord was seeing the drunken patrons to the door with the odd gentle kick up the arse all the while them singing for another drink.
Rémy was finishing off the cleaning when he discovered a black leather coat under a table, it was the one Eleanor was wearing.
“ooh that’s nice, if someone has lost it can I have it?” he heard one of his co-workers say, her tone was arrogant, and her arms outstretched greedily waiting for him to hand over the coat.
“sorry, but it belongs to a friend” he replied, quickly putting her idea to rest. Though the question was, did she leave it by accident; a byproduct from the amount of alcohol he served them, or was it left on purpose, as a token that maidens would leave on the ground for their gentlemen suitors to pick up in times of chivalry?
For the rest of the cleaning he kept the coat close but noticed his co-worker constantly eyeing it up. “Well it’s not going to be safe here”, he thought to himself, “looks like I’m going to have to take it home with me”.
Arriving home, he walked through the lobby and into the dining room with the coat draped over his arm, the cold leather brushing his skin as he hung it on the back of a chair. As he tiredly arched his back and stretched his arms letting out a yawn and stinking of stale ale.
“righto, quick shower then I’m not waking up till noon” he said to himself.
Clean and smelling much better he settled down for the night thinking only of Eleanor, there was something about her, something he could not put his finger on but felt somewhat familiar. Was it love at first sight or was he drunk on love? Either way he lay there with the biggest smile on his face until he drifted off to sleep.
The next night he was back working behind the bar and pouring out drinks, waiting nervously, excitedly, watching the door wondering if she will come in at all. He continued his duties as normal but would almost jump to attention whenever the door would open. The three elderly gentlemen who always sat at the bar teased Rémy.
“Ah, puppy love” one would say.
“I was in love once” the other said
“Then his wife found out!” the third man shouted out, all of them let out a hearty laugh.
The three gentlemen knew Rémy ever since he started working at the pub and the four of them got on well. As the three of them laughed the door would open and Rémy stood up straight. It was not her, it was a couple of regulars who would come in every night, his heart sank a little but greeted the couple with a nod.
“At ease soldier”, the second man said with a smile and a subtle wave of his empty glass,
signaling for another pint.
The older regulars weren’t fussy from drinking from the same glass as their last drink. In fact, they preferred it rather than having a fresh glass they would just joke, “save the washing up”.
With a clink, Rémy placed the empty glass on the ale tap, its metal tip gently tapped the bottom of the cold glass and with his other hand he grasped the ale tap. As he pulled the wooden handle down the loud hiss was heard, then the sound of bubbles as the liquid rushed through the pipes. With three to four sturdy pulls the glass was full of the golden ale and passed it back to its thirsty owner.
“This is the best part” the gent proclaimed, “I love watching the little bubbles rise and the liquid fall in waves and then the crowning glory, the forming of the head, that delicious foam that sits on the top like icing on a cake”. Once the pint settled he took it to his lips and took a mighty swig. He drank a quarter of the pint before he put it down and let out a satisfying sigh, his grey bushy mustache covered in foam.
Taking payment and placing it in the till Rémy turned around to find the door open with Eleanor standing there, her dark brown reddish hair was down and a few strands were covering her face. As she brushed them aside, it revealed those bewitching blue eyes and Rémy went weak in the knees. He couldn’t help but smile as she came closer, her cheeks were a rosy pink pinched by the sharp winter wind. She was looking at the floor as she was approaching the bar, then when she reached the counter she shyly looked up with a cute smile while tucking some loose strands of hair behind her right ear. Their eyes met and he found it hard to look away as the dazzling blue eyes seemed to sparkle in the light.
They both stood there locked in the moment, smiling and staring at each other in an awkward silence abruptly brought back to reality by the sappiest love song to ever come over the speakers. The three elderly gents burst into laughter and Eleanor's cheeks flushed from the rosy pink to a full red and lowered her head in embarrassment, Rémy looked round to see his boss standing next to the speakers chuckling.
Seems Rémy’s potential love life was a joke for the whole pub, but he took it all in good fun with a smile on his face while shaking his head.
Eleanor raised her head and her beautiful smile suddenly turned into a look of worry.
“Right boys let us away and give the young love birds some space” said one of the elderly men nudging his drinking partners with his elbow and wiping the froth from his mustache.
Two of them bid farewell with a nod while the third raised his glass and the three of them got up and went over to a table by the bay window.
“Is everything alright?” He asked Eleanor, his green eyes wide with concern.
“It's a bit silly but I’ve lost my sister’s coat, it was old and she doesn’t wear it anymore. She wouldn’t even care that I lost it”. Eleanor said, her eyes filled with anxiety. “It’s silly I can hear her now”
“Elly, why are you so upset? I haven’t worn that ratty thing since college” she said
impersonating her sister’s voice.
Rémy let out a sympathetic laugh and a gentle smile and immediately Eleanor’s mood brightened.
“It’s a comfort thing, whenever I feel homesick. When I have that coat it doesn’t feel like I’m separated from my family by the Gaelic Sea “. She continued looking into his dark green eyes.
The couple paused and found themselves gazing into each other’s eyes, slowly edging closer till they could feel each other’s breath. Only to be interrupted by one of Rémy’s co-workers opening the chiller to grab a bottle of white wine and the door knocking into his leg. He coughed to clear his throat and Eleanor shook her head, both trying to compose themselves.
“It’s not like I’m home sick all the time”. She snapped back trying to recover any thought of her being weak.
Eleanor was born in The Warren, a riverport town in the North West part of The Rothin Highlands and moved away in the early nineties with her family to Pictland, a small island a few nautical miles to the West in the Gaelic Sea. Though it was a small country divided, it was a country in its own right.
Rémy easily understood how much this coat meant to her, not just by her confession but her body language, the way her eyes would light up with emotion. It did not even occur to him to even toy with the idea of teasing her and with a smile he put her worries to rest and asked,
“A black leather coat with a loose middle button? Don’t worry it’s safe” He said with a comforting smile.
Her face lit up, but before he could stop himself he heard the words rush past his lips as he said, “If you want it back, you’ll have to come back to my house”.
He stood still, with a nervous smile plastered on his face. “I can’t believe I just said that” he thought “nice one Rémy. Don’t come on too strong as a complete creep”. He felt flustered, he could feel his cheeks burn red with humiliation and beads of sweat starting to form on his forehead as he thought he had blown any possible chance with her.
“Oh really?” Eleanor replied with a raised eyebrow and smirking. “Does that line work on all the other girls, so what’s your plan? Lure me back to your house where you can have your way with me? Is this the part where I find out you’re some kind of psychopath?” She said.
Rémy was taken back by her comment. “No-no, not at all” he stammered, his heart quickened as he wiped the sweat from his brow. “I-I just thought your coat would be safer there” he replied meekly as his nerves were giving in. He could feel his armpits becoming clammy, “Great” he thought sarcastically, thinking of how Eleanor and the patrons would bebrepulsed seeing the sweat patches on his light blue shirt. He became a stuttering, quivering mess while trying to explain his motives were truly innocent.
Eleanor saw he was getting worse as he could not even form the simplest of sentences without getting tongue-tied. Her smirk grew into a smile as she gently placed her hand on top of his and gestured towards one of the drinks in the chiller. Rémy paused his rambling and turned to retrieve her drink, turning again to face Eleanor only to start confessing his good intentions while taking the bank note from her hand.
“alright you smooth talker, you had me at no-no” she said giggling. “I’ll be over here, come and find me when you’re on a break and you can tell me more of your good intentions” she said with a flirtatious wink. “You know your eyes are very…” she paused as if she was trying to look for the right word, “calming”.
“Yeah…so are yours” he replied in a whisper.
As he turned to his left to put the money in the till something caught his eye, as he looked up he saw that the Landlord had joined the three elderly gentlemen at their table and was standing with his hands on his hips and a broad smile on his face. The kind of look a proud father would give to his son. While the three gents each had their own expression. One was spluttering into his pint trying to hold back the laughter, one was scratching his head in puzzlement and the last was gobsmacked.
You see Rémy was a broad man, standing at six foot three inches with brown wavy hair and biceps that could squash watermelons. (Or so the Landlady kept saying). He stood his ground in many pub fights while making sure none of the other staff or patrons were in the fray and after throwing out the drunken trouble makers the regulars would always see him the next night surprisingly without a scratch or even a bruise. That’s why they were so astonished to see this mountain of muscle being reduced to a floundering heap.
From that night Eleanor and Rémy’s bond and affection grew with every passing day and some years later their children were born.
Looking at Eleanor through those cold steel bars he saw her beautiful flowery summer dress was ripped in some places and a large tare showing her strong thigh, clearly acquired from the struggle defending herself and the children. She brushed her long brownish red hair away from her cheek and revealed to Rémy’s shock a very nasty gash surrounded by a big purple bruise, his eyes flashed with anger and let out a low growl as he bared his teeth. Eleanor’s eyes widened, warning him to not to do anything rash, subtly drawing attention back to her cheek, the wound had already healed and the bruise was starting to fade. He got all the information he needed when the two of them shared a look.
Though the three caged family members were frightened and the kids were covered in scratches they were not majorly hurt, but the priority remained. He needed to get them out of those blasted cages.
Rémy’s senses had fully returned and was now fighting fit, all he needed now was a plan.
Crouching behind a tree just feet away from Eleanor he watched four soldiers standing in a circle facing each other and talking. He thought back to the beginning of the attack, the five that rushed down from the loading ramp and chased after Eleanor and the kids. He remembered fighting four and disabling two of them. He could not see the other four but guessed they must be in the helicopter with their behemoth of a commanding officer who he had not seen since he shouted his last order.
Stepping lightly Rémy gradually moved closer, his eyes locked on the four soldiers, staying low he crept round the back of the cages placing a reassuring hand on each of his loved ones as he passed, all the while keeping his eyes on his target. Like a predator stalking its prey. The black metal of the intruder’s weapons glinted in the mid-afternoon sun, as he crept closer their radios suddenly buzzed into life with the crackling sound of static followed by a voice.
“Bravo Team to Alpha Team. Checking in. Target’s dwelling is clear. Over”.
Rémy’s ear pricked and a grim look fell upon his face. Whoever they are, whoever sent them
knew exactly where to find him and his family. This unsettled him.
“Understood Bravo Team. Maintain position until target is acquired. Over”. Replied the low gravelly voice of the commander.
Rémy was a stone’s throw from the four soldiers idling in a circle and too involved in their tedious chatter and was astonished how they could hear each other over the noise being produced from the twin propellers kicking up and swirling the sand in the air.
One of the four soldiers constantly fidgeted with his weapon, as he took aim he gradually panned from left to right looking out over the lake.
Coincidently this was the one who took pleasure in making William cry as he tried to intimidate Jennifer. Either his ego was too big for his boots or he was just a sadistic prick. As the other three laughed at their trigger-happy comrade it was obvious he was the former. “His eagerness will be his undoing” Rémy thought to himself and a cold smile crept across his face as he toyed with the idea of killing him first or saving him till last.
They had no idea Rémy was just several feet away, it was now early evening and the sky started to turn a pastel pink with the setting sun.
“That chinook should surely be starting to run out of fuel by now” Rémy figured. “Still I can’t wait any longer”.
The glare from the sun reflecting on the helicopter made the perfect blind spot and without warning he rushed at his prey swiftly and effortlessly snapping the neck of a soldier and was already onto the second. He had the two soldiers by their throats and using the same human shield method as before, by the time the remaining three realised what was happening they raised their weapons and fired in a blind panic, more than a dozen thuds were heard as the projectiles hit the squirming meat shields as their comrades emptied their magazines into them. With a sigh and a moan, the two bodies went limp, the soldiers were trying to reload as fast as they could and with a click a fresh magazine was loaded and ready to go. Thinking fast Rémy threw one of his shields straight at the soldiers knocking them down to the ground, the other one was barely conscious from the effect of the tranquilizer rounds when Rémy suddenly had an idea.
Placing both hands on the soldier’s black flak jacket and with unworldly strength threw his remaining shield into the air and straight to the rear prop. With a loud bang and a spray of red mist the propeller groaned as if the giant beast was injured.
“That was certainly effective” he thought, smiling to himself.
Two soldiers picked themselves up but Rémy already had the third in his hands.
“No-No! Please…! No!”. The murmured cries were heard coming from under the tactical face mask, the same mask that belonged to that cocky soldier.
“Arggh…. No! Please let me go!” he shouted in a high-pitched voice.
Rémy saw his reflection staring back at him from the mask. The whimpering did not stop. So much for a highly trained killer. Rémy smirked. This guy was nothing more than a pathetic bully.
Rémy was not cruel by nature but he relished in hearing the crack in the voice of this dark imposing stormtrooper, he could smell the fear and it was intoxicating but was tinged by the slight hint of urine.
A cold steely grin crept across Rémy’s hardened face and gripping his collar he lifted the cretin into the air. The soldier gripped Rémy’s hands and kicked his legs frantically in the air while screaming at the top of his lungs. Suddenly a large figure appearing from the loading ramp holding a large gun caught Rémy’s eye.
“Rémy!” The commander called out. “Surrender or I will fire”. He said, his tone was cold and emotionless while aiming the rifle, its long sliver barrel pointed in William’s direction.
“And this is not loaded with tranquilizers”. He added, his tone with a hint of arrogance.
Rémy was taken back to hear his name being called out by some one he did not know but then shook it off remembering they knew where to find him and not forgetting there is another squad squating around their home. This angered him and when he glanced over to where the commander was aiming Rémy became infuriated. His eyes narrowed with a burning hatred and with a guttural growl he threw the soldier. He went hurtling through the air as he made the sound of a squealing pig and with another loud bang and a shower of red mist.
The commander braced himself as the helicopter shook, its engines churning and spewing out smoke.
An alarm echoed from within and the shine from a red light pulsed on and off.
“Finally”. Thought Rémy, giving him a feeling of relief. He did not make out what the commander said but he was clearly losing his temper as he swung his shoulder forward revealing an even bigger gun hanging from a sling. Smoke was billowing and the engines stuttered as the helicopter started to sway left to right, they now had to fight their own equipment as if a beast was trying to break its bonds.
The radio buzzed into life once more. “The bird is taking too much damage, anymore and we will be grounded!”. The pilot shouted over the airwaves. The urgency in his voice as he struggled keeping the helicopter steady.
“Load the others, three is better than nothing.” The commander said in a reserved tone.
“Now!” he shouted, losing his composure as the helicopter shook once again. As the pilot regained control the commander steadied himself, his huge gun pointing down and it’s revolver style chamber resting on his right leg, he raised his weapon and fired. He was a big man but even he stumbled with the heft and recoil of the weapon. Rémy rushed forward to the sound of hollow thumps as five metallic objects the size of an orange landed by his feet and quickly made a grab for the last of the four soldiers as the other five reappeared as they hurried out of the smoking chinook but before he could do anything several explosions came from the ground throwing him and the soldier up into the air. He saw his family get further away as he heard their cries and then with a sudden splash they both landed in the lake, its cold waters engulfed them as they sank to the murky bottom.
His lungs began to burn as they craved oxygen, but he could not move. He could hear his heart pounding in his ears, his eyes stung from the freezing water and as the last remaining air bubbles rippled from his mouth his world faded to black.
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