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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 17, 2013    Reads: 43    Comments: 17    Likes: 9   

After their late breakfast, Craig takes his leave of the group and heads home for one final check of his "to do" list, after which he settles down to watch TV for a while. The pictures mould together as he stares at the screen letting his mind wander.

Dinner time rolls around and he throws a curry in the microwave and waits for it, once again allowing his mind to stray, he rubs his eyes and curses. Wishing his mother would support his decision. He'll need it for the training he is facing.

The Commando training in itself is a killer and that is only 1 week out of the entire potential Royal Marine training course.

The microwave pings and he pulls the plastic tray out.

"Fuck..."he yells, the steam burning him as he peels the plastic film back.

Somehow he manages to run his fingers under the tap whilst stirring the food and placing it back in the microwave.

A few minutes sees him grabbing a few slices of bread and slamming the microwave door a little too hard. He sits down and checks through his DVR recordings before selecting a film - Crank 2 - to watch. The over the top, aggressive humour is exactly what he needs for distraction as he laughs and almost spits out his food as Jason Statham juices himself with jump cables and a car battery.

Finishing eating, he washes the plate and puts it away before sitting down to watch the rest of the film.

"... Tinky winky, dipsy, La la... po... Teletubbies, teletubbies say "hello" ... "eh-oooo."Craig's head shoots up in disbelief as the loud ringtone echoes through the room.

"Bastard..." he mutters as he lifts the mobile off charge.


"Hi, how are you?"

Craig is puzzled, he doesn't know the number but the voice triggers something in his mind. He can't quite place the voice but knows it, his instinctive response is a wave of hostility, with no idea why.

"Craig, are you there?"

He sighs, "I'm here; who are you?"

"Nice one Craig, you wonder why I dumped you when y' can't even recognise my voice?" Ouch, he thinks.

His eyes narrow and voice grows cold as his brain registers who the mystery caller is... "To be fair, I actually thought you dumped me 'cause you were fuckin' every man and his dog behind my back..." an icy fury rips through him.

What the fuck does she want after six months of silence?

"Craig," she sighs. "I'm not calling to argue."

He laughs, no warmth to it and he hears her suck in a breath. "Good point. Why th' fuck 're ye callin' me? More importantly, how? I changed my number to avoid hearing from you again, fuckin' heartless slut," he grimaces at his use of the word he hates but after what she's done, his anger reasons and his filter disengages in his brain again.

"Craig, please. I hear you're joining the Marines and wanted to call to make sure..."

"To make sure am goin'? To make sure it's no' 'cause o' you? To make sure I fuck off and die? Well you're in luck, yes I am goin' but it's not down to you," he hopes she can't hear the hurt or the lie through his anger.

He hears her sob on the other end of the line and it stirs some sympathy for her deep down, don't you dare feel sorry for her, she hurt you, his anger surges back but he stops himself saying anymore.

"I'm sorry," he can hear the crocodile tears. "I wanted to make sure you are happy and going to be ok... I shouldn't have called," she hangs up the call and Craig slumps down into his seat, suddenly exhausted as the anger drains away.

He berates himself for letting her see his hurt, his pain, his bitterness. Hating himself all the more for lashing out; it was unworthy of him.

Something stops him calling to apologise - pride? Residual anger? He doesn't know and eventually lets it go.

He unpauses the film and continues to watch as "Chev Chelios" kicks, punches and bangs his way across the US in search of his heart. The mindless humour relaxes him and he realises just how tired he is as the end credits roll up the screen.

He powers down the TV and DVR switching them off at the sockets and then wanders round the house to ensure everything else is switched off before stripping down to his boxers and throwing himself onto his double bed. Within five minutes he is out like a light.


His alarm cuts through another horror filled dream of his brother and Craig springs out of bed, eager to get himself ready and say goodbye to his old life.

A quick shower wakes him up some more and after drying off, he grabs the last banana from the fruit bowl in the kitchen and quickly demolishes it. He dresses quickly in the loose clothes he set out for today and finishes just in time for the doorbell ringing.

"All set?" Joe grins as Craig opens the door.

"Aye, jus' need to grab my gear and I can say bye to this place for a while."

There's a momentary glimpse of sadness on Joe's face but it is gone almost as quickly as it appeared. He understands, more than anyone, why his friend needs to do this, it doesn't mean he has to like it. Joe shuffles from foot to foot as Craig grabs the things he is taking and gives the house one last once-over, making sure windows are closed and the circuit breaker and gas pilot are both off.

"You remember I need you to come drain off the water tank after I'm away?"

Joe rolls his eyes. "Yes, mother. I remember."

"Was it you who changed my ringtone to the fuckin' teletubbies?"

Joe just laughs hysterically and steps back as Craig locks the door. They walk to the car chatting and smiling. The rear passenger door swings open and Craig sees Sarah sliding across the seats as he throw his bag in the boot. He climbs in the opened door and flashes a shy smile at Sarah, who smiles brightly back at him.

"Hi girls, what brings you along?"

Liz just points at Sarah, who responds by sticking her tongue out. "Grassbag."

Joe climbs into the driver's side and they set off for the 30 mile journey to Edinburgh. He had originally planned to go by train but Joe wouldn't stand for that and insisted on driving him.

"Actually," Sarah pipes up. "It was Joe's idea, he's worried he'll get all teary eyed and stand on the platform wavin' his hankie as the train pulls away."

"Missy, anymore of your cheek and I'll leave ye in Broxburn, and a pretty girl like you won't last long around those inbred arseholes."

"If they're inbred then surely that means they won't want her since she's not related," Liz throws at him.

He shrugs and looks at Craig in the rear view mirror. "They've still got to eat, and they love fine dining," they all laugh as he makes the "fffffff fffffff fffff" Hannibal Lecter sound through his teeth.

It takes about an hour to reach Waverley Station and find parking. They all climb out of Joe's car and make their way to the platform. Arriving just as Craig's train pulls up and begins to take on passengers.

"That's me, thanks for making my last weekend of freedom so... memorable," Craig smiles.

"I'll miss you mate." Joe says and Craig spots the tears welling up in his friend's eyes.

"Sniff, sniff, I love you Craigy, please stay and we can get married. I'll be a great wife..." Liz rips into Joe mercilessly, causing everyone except Joe to laugh.

Sarah steps forward and gives Craig a warm hug, he can sense the concern and care within her transmitting through the brief embrace. She slips a folded letter into his hand. "Later," she whispers. He nods and places it in his jacket pocket.

"It was a pleasure meetin' you darlin'. Come back to us in one piece." Liz says softly as she gives him a quick peck on the cheek.

Craig looks at Joe who seems unsure of what to say or do. Closing the distance as his vision blurs and his eyes mist up, Craig pulls him into a man hug - arses out - and pats him on the back.

"I'll be back on leave in a few months, it'll be like I was never away, we can go get wrecked and decrease Scotland's traffic cone population again," Craig whispers and then steps back.

Turning abruptly, his shoulders slump slightly as he hops on the train and waves as the doors close. The train jerks and slowly pulls away as Joe, Sarah and Liz wave him off. Craig sighs when they gradually drift out of sight, with a slight pang of regret, he turns into the carriage proper, locates a seat and looks to his future as the train takes him hurtling towards the unknown.


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