An author's note is that this story is based on a story former Scarlet Knight Percival Graves tells the current Scarlet Knight Emma Earl in the final volume of the series--I think. It's about an incident that takes place at Christmas in World War II when Percival was in the British army. This story itself is largely based on the old Snoopy holiday album where Snoopy and the Red Baron share a Christmas together. So now you know...
Marching through knee-deep snow in the blistering cold in some godforsaken corner of France is not how I ever wanted to spend my Christmas. But we got our orders. We’re supposed to march these German bastards to base so they can ride out the rest of the war in a prison camp. At this point I envy them for that.
“Why’d we have to get stuck with this shit job?” I ask.
“Just lucky I guess,” Syd says.
Talking takes too much energy, so we plod on. It’s starting to get dark when Lucky calls out that he sees a house. Anyone else said that I’d think they were imagining it, but Lucky once spotted a German machine gun nest in the pitch dark.
It’s a few minutes before I can see Lucky is right; there is a farmhouse up ahead. The roof is mostly caved in, as is the porch, but the walls seem solid enough. Sarge dispatches Reg to make sure. “Why don’t you make one of the Jerries do it?” Reg says. “Let the damn roof fall in on them.”
“Get in there, you pillock,” Sarge growls.
Reg grumbles, but he does it. None of us ever go up against Sarge, not even the lieutenant when he was still with us. Sarge got a medal in the Great War for defending his trench from a German attack. Held it all by himself. A man like that you don’t challenge unless you want to end up in pieces.
We mill about and smoke some of our last fags while we wait for Reg. The house doesn’t fall in on him. I expected something bad happened when he came out waving his arms and shouting. “Sarge, you got to see this!”
“What is it, you damned fool?”
“You’ll see. Come on!” Reg prances about like a six-year-old who’s got to use the loo.
Syd and I are the last ones into the house. Even then we don’t get to see much as we have to watch the Jerries. We keep them in the living room, amongst a bunch of scorched and mildewed furniture. The Germans don’t do much; they’re just happy like the rest of us to get out of the snow and wind.
Lucky comes back to give us the word. “There’s food in here: canned ham, potatoes, and even peaches! A right proper feast it is.”
I lick my lips as he talks. For the last five months about all we’ve eaten is the canned shit the Yanks call “food.” The prospect of ham—even canned—sounds too good to be true.
The news gets better. Finn tears into the room, armed with a couple of glass bottles. “Look at this! There’s a whole cellar full of it.”
Wine! That’s even better than canned ham and peaches. It’s tempting to grab one of the bottles and guzzle it right then, but I know Sarge would knock me on my ass if I neglected the prisoners to get drunk.
“What’s all this ruckus about?” Sarge asks. Finn describes what he’s found. “Leave that down there.”
“Leave it. You and Lucky go out and check that barn. Make sure no one’s holed up in there.”
Finn and Lucky grumble, but again they obey. Sarge turns to me. “Percy, you and Syd get these Krauts into the dining room.”
I don’t know any German, but a jab to the back with my rifle and some pointing gets them to move in the right direction. Reg and the rest of the platoon are already in there. They’ve got the food laid out on the table. There’s ham, potatoes, peaches, preserves, and even some tinned biscuits. It’s not a lot, but compared to what we’ve had it’s a banquet.
Sarge addresses the Jerries in their native tongue. They sit down on the floor in a couple of rows. “Now, lads, get out some plates. Try to find some that aren’t cracked.” They manage to find enough plates, trays, and pot lids for the whole platoon. Sarge clears his throat. “You lot fail your math classes? Get out ten more plates.”
“Ten? But Sarge, we int going to share with the Jerries are we?” Reg asks.
“They got to eat like the rest of us.”
“Let them eat the canned shit,” Reg says and others murmur agreement, including me. This is the first real food we’ve had in months; why should we share it with the blokes who’ve tried to kill us?
“Now see here. I’m in charge of this outfit and I say we’re sharing with the prisoners.”
He glares at us, but this time Reg glares back. There’s a wild look in his eyes I haven’t seen before. “You’re wrong, Sarge. We shouldn’t have to share anything with these bastards. If you don’t see that, then maybe you shouldn’t be in charge of this outfit no more.”
Sarge has Reg doubled over before I even see his fist move. A second punch and Reg is out cold. Sarge looks around at the rest of us. “Anyone else want to argue about it?”
Lucky decides to press his luck. “I don’t mean no disrespect Sarge, but these are the enemy you’re talking about. Why we got to treat them so good?”
“You lot forget what today is? It’s Christmas Day, the day when our lord and savior Jesus Christ was born. He’d be damned ashamed to see this.” Sarge glares at us again. He gestures at Reg. “Any of you others think different, you’ve got to go through me first.”
No one else challenges him. We let the Germans have their share of the food. We even let them have some of the wine. Maybe it isn’t the biggest Christmas feast I’ve ever eaten, but it’s the best one I remember.
One random commenter will receive a free copy of We Are Now, which includes "Christmas Feast" and many more stories. Of my stories I can say a few others are in this same sappy vein while many others are far more madcap. They involve things like zombies, vampires, dragons, Transformers, gods, God, and Godzilla. If you don't win, you can buy the book from December House Publishing.
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