Bunkers and Traps
By Sam Seal
(Based on the characters of the series 'Space: Above and Beyond', created by Morgan and Wong.)
Life aboard the
Not-So-Good Ship 'Chigditz' was finally settling into
some sort of routine. The Wild Cards were roused from
their sleep by Hawkes' CD Player at precisely 5.30am each
day, in plenty of time to shower and dress before
breakfast at 6 o' clock.
A breakfast which
very much depended upon who's turn it was to cook. It had
been agreed very early on in the proceedings that each
Nation should take turns to do the cooking, as it was
intended to foster a sense of Unity in the face of the
It didn't work, of
Xenophobia was not easily overcome - even amongst
themselves. For a start no-one liked salty porridge - not
even the Scots. And the English thought the idea of
eating English muffins that early in the day to be
utterly bizarre, insisting on a full fry-up with a side
order of buttered toast to accompany their ubiquitous
gallons on strong Breakfast Tea - with Kedgeree and Earl
Grey (or a facsimile there-of) for the Officers.
Croissants were out of the question, making the French
even more anti-social than ever. Plus, there was never
enough ham for the Germans or museli for the Swiss -and,
by their very nature, endangered species were hard to
come by in order to satisfy the yen of the Japanese.
After having to
explain at considerable length that Grits were NOT the
same as gravel - despite all appearances to the contrary
- it was the Americans who finally solved the problem -
by making Pancakes for every-one. (And even then the
Canadians claimed Moral Superiority and bagged all the
prodded his pancake dejectedly. He was missing PG (his
pet wood-louse, who had gone AWOL aboard the Saratoga and
was currently listed as 'Missing - Assumed Swept'), and
sadly fished his dog-tags out from under his vest for the
umpteenth time that morning to regard PG's erstwhile home
- an empty matchbox fixed to the chain with a bent
"Put it awaaaay,
West!" the others chorused, wolfing down their food
Nathen! Drive on!" Vansen added as she tried to
wring the last drop of ketchup out of the sachet and onto
her final pancake. True, it was an unusual combination,
but it still managed to be a big improvement on Wang's
Marmite and Pickled Onion with Chocolate Sauce.
After a couple
more minutes the Wild Cards were joined by Cooper Hawkes
and Colonel McQueen, who had, curiously on McQueen's
insistence, volunteered for Night Watch in the British
Quarter at the site of the make-shift 18 Hole Golf
Course. Hawkes was diligently wiping some suspiciously
green-looking gunk off the blade of his K-bar, whilst the
Colonel did the same with the blunt end of the 5 Iron he
had just 'happened' to take with him the night before...
teach them to always replace divots," McQueen
muttered darkly. "Cooper - remind me to warn the
Brits against using the Traps on the Seventh Hole for a
while." Helping himself to a couple of Damphousse's
fresh-made pancakes and a mug of coffee, he added
"One Chip Shot in the wrong place and..." He
left the rest to their fertile imaginations.
Wang pulled a suitably disgusted face. The Colonel smiled
wandered over to join the party, wiping her hands on her
apron before taking it off and tossing it across to
"I cook, you
wash-up, right? We did have a deal!"
don't see why we have to do all the dirty work
around here," the Captain snarled as she donned the
apron and stalked off toward the canteen sink. As and act
of dubious kindness McQueen sent Wang and West after her,
with orders to 'man' the tea-towels.
down next to Hawkes to eat her own pancakes. "Did I
hear you say you wanted to talk to the Brits,
sir?" she asked incredulously, between bites.
"I mean, is that wise?"
that or a couple of dozen irate Golfers knocking down our
doors in an hours time and walking Chig Spooge
across the room and noticed the British Prisoners CO, one
General Ffortescue-Smythe, striding purposefully toward
their corner table, with a small, bandy-legged Private in
late," he hissed. "In-coming!"
McQueen stood to
greet the General, noticing as he did so that Damphousse
and her breakfast had apparently done a PG and
disappeared into the woodwork, pancakes et al pertaining
to her presence.
curious, and the Colonel had no opportunity to shoo him
off before the General descended upon them.
McQueen!" the General greeted, waving his
ever-present baton around in vague circular motions back
toward the table. They both sat facing each other,
flanked by their respective subordinates. "A
word," he said.
said the General slowly. "Golf Course!"
McQueen sighed. It
was going to be one of those conversations.
"Actually, sir, that's two words," he pointed
out, " - but very good words, if I may say so,"
he added swiftly.
snickered. Ffortescue-Smythe scowled at the sound, but
protocol meant he had to introduce McQueen to the Private
who's name, against all the odds, really was Tommy
Atkins. McQueen introduced Hawkes in return.
was I?" the General asked distractedly.
sir!" both Hawkes and Atkins promptly prompted like
a Greek Chorus.
bunkahs, sah!" Atkins added, lest the General take
the reminder to be a Signal Of Intent. Ffortescue-Smythe
looked enlightened and subsequently determined to have
Well, Colonel, the thing is - I was playing a quick round
yesterday, and I found myself well and truly bunkered on
the Tenth." McQueen winced, knowing what was coming,
but unwilling to interrupt. "So there I was up to my
ankles in freshly raked sand when I suddenly found myself
instead, up to my elbows in decomposing Chigs! Six of
'em, if you please. What do you think of that?"
He waved the baton agitatedly, adding "Damn near put
me off me stroke, so it did!"
"Well, sir - I did warn you against using the
Traps on the Tenth," he said cautiously.
The General was
having none of that, however. "Traps? TRAPS?
I'm talking about the damn Bunkers, man, not the bloody
Now it was
McQueen's turn to look bewildered. "So am I,
paused. "You are?" he asked suspiciously.
"Then what's all this talk about Traps. Traps
are..." Words failed him.
sah!" the Private piped up. "You know, Sahs, as
in Wartah Closet, kaarzi, aaht 'ouse, privy - "
err... ladies powder room." said Hawkes, dredging
his memory. (It didn't take long.)
I get the idea - CFB."
McQueen felt weak.
Life had never been like this with the Angry
Angels - but then he'd never liked them much, to
be frank. Where-as the 58th? That idea was even
derailed that particular train of thought before McQueen
had a chance to follow it further, however, but gave him
a whole new one to worry about.
Glad we've cleared the air - eh?" He stood to leave.
"Best get back to the dear old Lady, I suppose. She
about ready to give birth when I left..."
Ffortescue-Smythe headed resolutely off toward the
British Quarter - leaving McQueen idly wondering where
the hell they had managed to find a couple of old Quonset
Huts in the middle of deep space. Not to mention the
remained, however. After a quick peek around the
door-frame to make doubly sure the General had gone for
good, he swiftly whipped a half-smoked dog-end out from
behind his right ear and lit it with an aged Lucifer,
dragging the head along the sole of his boot to ignite
it. He began to puff away at it with an illicit delight.
bitch, Mate," he explained to the Colonel as the
atmosphere around the table rapidly became unspeakable.
"She's in Pup."
mystified Cooper Hawkes was regarding this new,
singularly repulsive Military phenomenon with
eye-watering fascination as he sat down and started
sipping his own, now-tepid, coffee.
Seeing the young
Lieutenant's interest, Atkins proffered the smouldering
stump of tobacco. "You can 'ave me butt, if you
like!" he offered cheerily.
choked on his drink.
Private turned to McQueen worriedly. "Wha' did I
say, Guv?" he begged of McQueen.
ask," came the weary response as the Colonel
proceeded to pound Hawkes on the back - some might say a
little harder than necessary. "And if you call me
Guv again, or Matey - or Squire," he added
ominously, "I guarantee I will personally strangle
you. Is that understood?"
aah, squah - ahh... Sah!" Atkins replied, hastily
stubbing the offending cigarette out on the floor and
preparing to leave. But then "Oh yes, sah, jus' one
more fing before I sling me 'ook."
him with justifiable caution. "Yes?"
Oh, yes, here we
go... McQueen thought wearily. "As in...?"
"As in 'Ave
you got any, sah? Any bin bags, sticky tape or mushy
- err - ah - Squw - uh - Sah! Only - " and Aktins
approached the Colonel and dropped his voice
conspiratorially, "It's them Frenchies, Sah,"
he whispered. "They got a Plan."
Against his will
McQueen found his professional interest piqued. "Go
it's like this. You know back in the old days we used to
try to escape from places like this by dressin' up as
Johnny Fritz and quietly strollin' aaht?"
The Colonel nodded
patiently. "I know what you mean."
Atkins drew even
closer. It was like being accosted by a very small
bonfire. "Well, them Frenchies are planning to pull
the same stunt wiv the Chigs - only playing dead, as it
were - by taping 'emselves up tight in them black
He stopped as the
Colonel's head dropped forward to hit the table with a
"...Just don't bother explaining the mushy peas, Private. Alright?" McQueen muttered faintly. "I don't want to know..."