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Shadow of a Life

Novel By: M K Brown
War and military

Craig joins the Royal Marines hoping to find a challenge for the first time in his life. He finds more than he bargains for. He falls in love with a woman he has never met, he tackles the stress of his first deployment and then, when he finally sees things settle down; he has to cope with an invasion of the United States. The enemy advance catches everyone by surprise and when the UK sends forces to assist their long time ally, Craig must choose between rescuing the love of his life from the grasp of a brutal enemy, or doing his duty and standing by his friends. View table of contents...


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Submitted:Jul 6, 2013    Reads: 54    Comments: 21    Likes: 10   

Craig sits, cross-legged, on the floor. Looking around he sighs, it's Friday and he has finished everything he can think of. He has packed his clothes, tidied the place up and now feels lost.

Still two days to kill; he sets off on Sunday, the train to Edinburgh, then to England and a third to the Royal Marine training camp. He scratches his head, trying to wrack his brain for any ideas to pass the time. Without realising it his mobile appears in his hand and he absent mindedly hits call on Joe's number.

"Hello," answers his friend's perpetually confused voice.

"Hey Joe, busy today?"

"Naa, man. You done all ma paintin'."

Craig snorts a laugh. "You get ma wee gift?"

"Aye, wanker. Was I really that wasted?" Joe asks.

Craig just laughs, loudly.

"... Very funny. What's up?"

"Well am done packing and all I've got left in my fridge is stuff for tomorrow night's dinner. So, fancy a farewell pub crawl?"

"The magic words, my old son..." Joe intones excitedly.

"Ha, I would've thought "I'm paying" would be the magic words."

"You fuckin' legend! Yer on. When?"

"Now is as good a time as any."

"Well I'll be ready by the time you get here, so let's get crackin'," said Joe.

"On my way. Better be ready to go when I arrive 'cause am tellin' you, if I hear the words "just got to..." I swear am gonna remove your left ball." Craig replied, darkly.

"Awww but that's my favourite one," whines Joe.

Craig laughs as he hangs up. Standing up, he feels a little less lost and almost kicks himself for giving in so easily to boredom; something always happens on Joe's nights out. He walks through the house, grabbing his wallet, keys, jacket and clutching his phone.

A quick call to the taxi company and he steps into the bathroom, styles his hair; which involves a dollop of gel rubbed in with his hands, the hair flattened down with his palm for that messy look and then flicked up at the front.

A quick spray of B.O. basher and he sprays on some "Hugo Boss Aqua"; behind the ears, on the neck, wrists and elbows. Memories of his brother haunt him as he remembers the routine his brother taught him for wearing aftershave.

"... It radiates better and you don't kill anyone by overusing it."

The peep of the taxi's horn interrupts him before the memory of his brother can upset him. A quick rinse with mouthwash and he's done. Walking out the door he locks it with a deft twist of his wrist and he pockets the keys as he walks down the path to jump in the taxi.


Twenty minutes later the taxi arrives at Joe's.

"That'll be £7.50 mate."

Craig hands him a tenner. "... Did they tell you this is a two stopper?"

The driver looks annoyed as he calls the office, "Jean, is this a two stopper?"

Craig hears the voice from the other end, but can't make out the words.

"... Did you not think tellin' me was a good idea?" the driver's irritated sigh is met by more chattering on the other end as Craig takes a sudden interest in the door handle.

The driver hangs up and grunts. "Ok mate, sorry about that, the idiots never bother to tell us anything. On you go, I'll wait for you."

"Cheers," Craig climbs out of the taxi, goes to his friend's front door and walks straight in.

"Joe, you ready?" he yells.

"Aye, jus' got to..."

"Fuck sake, Joe have you packed your knives away yet 'cause am comin' to collect that ball."

Rapid steps, a stumble, some more quick steps and Joe appears, grinning sheepishly.

"Ye should really let me finish. I was saying I just need to zip ma fly up."

Raising an eyebrow, Craig turns away and walks back out the front door making his way to the taxi as Joe clumsily locks his door. Dropping the keys and cursing the entire time. After two minutes longer than it should've taken, he clambers in beside Craig.

"Lloyd's bar, please my good man," Joe blurts out.

The ride takes all of 5 minutes and after paying and tipping the driver, Craig climbs out, Joe following quickly behind.

The driver leans out and shouts: "... good luck, mate. You'll love the Marines."

Craig smiles his thanks and waves as the taxi pulls off.

"Ok, dickhead," he says, turning to Joe. "... No arrests tonight, got it?"

Joe's expression is a comical mix of angelic innocence and being offended; as if he is thoroughly shocked that such a thing needs to be said.

"... You know what am talkin' 'bout you moron, so, if the girl has a boyfriend, she's off limits. No arguments on this."

Joe grins.

Rolling his eyes, Craig turns and walks into the pub via the side entrance.


Three pints in and Joe starts ordering random, gut rotting shots. Craig slows his drinking, knowing that Joe never will and someone needs to remember where home is.

"...Craigy," Joe yells - despite being only a few feet away - as he returns to the table "... This is Sharon," he points to one of the girls currently holding him up.

"... It's Sarah," she interjects.

"That's what I said, Sharon why you got to be awk... awkw... Difficult?" slurs Joe.

She rolls her eyes - clearly she knows Joe.

"Craigy, Craigy, this is Melanie," he points to the brunette on the other side.

She raises an eyebrow. "It's Liz, actually."

Craig laughs and leans forward to shake the hands of both women as they deposit his friend on the seat opposite. Sarah slides across next to Craig who politely move along to make room on the bench.

The brunette, Liz, looks mildly put out by having to sit next to the heap of clothing, alcohol and inherent stupidity that is Joe and she makes it known as she sits with bad grace and smacks him on the head.

"... So, becoming a soldier are ye?" asks Sarah.

Craig furrows his brow and turns to her. "Has that fuck-head forgotten which force am joining? Again?" he shakes his head and smiles.

She giggles, "He said you're joining the Royal Scots."

"Piss head, they don't exist anymore," he throws at Joe who seems to be trying to lick Liz's arse via her throat, judging by the intense snogging and slurping going on across from him.

He turns back to Sarah - beautiful eyes, pretty face and clearly takes care of herself judging by her curvy but toned figure - shame I'm not interested - he thinks as he quickly assesses her.

"... Like what ye see?"

He smiles and nods politely. "I'm joinin' the Marines."

Sarah's eyes widen. "So you're going Commando?"

Craig can't help but laugh, a laugh full of the joys of life and Sarah's eyes light up in response. He can tell she's instantly attracted to him but since his engagement ended he hasn't dared drag anyone into his train-wreck of a life. Not even for a one nighter.

"... fancy taking this party on to a club?" Joe says as he surfaces from his adventure in Liz's gullet to grab some fresh air.

Sarah and Craig both shrug and Liz hauls Joe up and holds him up as they all finish their drinks and head out to the taxi rank; not trusting Joe to walk under his steam down to Club Jupiter, ten minutes walk away.

The taxi gets them there within minutes and Craig gets the driver to drop them off round the corner to avoid the bouncers at the club's doors spotting Joe falling out of the taxi.

True to form, as soon as the door opens Joe introduces himself to the pavement; face first. Craig laughs, thank Christ it has been dry recently, he thinks as he watches Liz struggle to get Joe up after his brief struggle with gravity.

Sarah steps out gracefully and brushes the creases out of her figure-hugging blue dress.

He turns away from the all-too-tempting vision of her and walks over to stand in front of Joe.

"Ok, bawbag..."

"Craigy, how the fuck are ye?" Joe's eyes are glazing over and a string of drool is currently finding its way down his chin.

"Quiet, moron! You're goin' t' need all your best actin' to get you past security, otherwise, it's an early night for you," he winks at Liz and Sarah. "... me and the girls will leave ye t' go hame on yer own."

Joe stiffens and his gaze clears as soon as the threat registers with him. He wipes the drool from his chin and walks off in the direction of the doors, Liz struggling to keep up.

The foursome approach the two bouncers, "... Evenin' gents," Joe says with a happy grin and he's through and past them in a few steps.

Craig smiles and nods in greeting to the doormen and then makes it through the doors in time to grab Joe as the alcohol very nearly turns him into an invertibrate again.

He leans in close, "Remember tosser; there's two more bouncers on the inner doors so if you collapse in the queue for the cloakroom then you're on yer own for the ride home."

Once again Joe's bones return and he is standing bolt upright as they reach the front of the line and hand in their jackets.

Joe flashes another smile at the next two doormen as the group passes them and receives a smile in return.

Multiple rounds of drinks follow and even Craig begins to lose track of events. He remembers dancing with Sarah, he even recalls Joe swinging for a bouncer who had stopped him falling and that, was the end of the night out. The party headed for Joe's in a taxi at the back end of 3am.


Craig wakes up and looks around, it takes him a few minutes to recognise Joe's spare room. He rolls off the bed and realises he is only in his boxers.

Fuck, have I been licking bleach off a toilet floor? he asks himself as he gets the familiar but disgusting morning-after case of furry mouth. Heading straight for the bathroom he uses one of the unopened toothbrushes Joe keeps for guests and spends ten minutes fighting to scrub the taste out of his mouth.

Next he checks the other rooms and there is no sign of Joe or either of the girls. Yawning indulgently, he descends the stairs and stops dead, confusion written clear across his face.

"...we got taxis everywhere so how, in Jebus' name, did we end up with four fuckin' traffic cones?" he wonders aloud.

Perplexed still, he slips by the plastic road markers and into the hall leading to the livingroom. Opening the livingroom door he finds both girls, cuddled on the couch with a blanket over them.

He then looks for Joe in the kitchen, no sign. He hears snoring and opens the small toilet door in the hall and spots Joe; who seems to have been handcuffed with his hands wrapped around the bowl and in the gap between the cistern and waste pipe. Craig chuckles to see it seems to have worked as the bowl itself is full of acrid smelling vomit and Joe's head is suspended mere inches above it.

"... You'd be a genius if you weren't such a fucktard," he says as he helpfully leans forward and hits the flush button.

The water cascades down, soaking Joe and wakening him up, much to hos friend's continued amusement. Joe turns round.

"... Awww fuck, what happened?"

"You're cuffed to the bog again."


Craig finds the handcuff keys hanging in the kitchen and returns quickly. "Here, catch!"

Joe tries to lift his hands to get the keys. "Prick, very funny," he snorts.

Craig laughs and leans in to unlock the nearest cuff then places the key in the freed hand.

"You missed an amazing girl on girl show last night," he says teasingly, flicking his head in the direction of the girls on the couch.

Joe's expression is crestfallen as he processes the information. He gulps and looks as if he is about to cry when Craig sniggers.

"... You really are gullible."

Walking into the kitchen Craig washes his hands thoroughly and starts making breakfast for the four of them. The smell of frying bacon wakes the girls who come looking for Joe and Craig.

He uses all the breakfast foods he can find and piles plates with fruit, bacon, rolls, eggs, sausages, black and white pudding, potato scones, hash brown and more. Then they all sit down to eat breakfast as the girls join in teasing Joe about the night before.


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