November 14.

To My Darling,

I miss you more and more with each passing hour. Today was freezing – I remember waking up to see that the buckets of water just outside our camp had completely frozen over. As I put on my boots, I remembered how warm it was to be in your arms, sitting on our hammock all those summers ago. It’s funny how fast the world changes; a single year had turned this beautiful forest into a wasteland, pot-marked with craters and corpses, scarred from those spent shells now scattered for miles and miles.

Just want to let you know that no matter what happens in this war, I will come back to you. Bullets are merely a nuisance to me, wasting precious time that I could have spent next to you. I’d catch a thousand of them just to see that beautiful smile of yours again, every morning for the rest of eternity.

Eternity.

That’s what it feels like here. Every day is merely a blur to me – daylight comes and we advance the troops, daylight goes and we count the bodies. How I long to spend the winter back home, with Adam and Johannes, and – most of all – you. Every night, kept dreaming of us sitting together at the quayside café, sipping warm coffee as we endlessly giggle at the stories we’d share. I promise, my dearest, that day will come.

In a few hours we’ll be moving the camp back south for what I hope will be last month of the war. Pray for me, love, as I pray for you. Pray that we will see each other once more.

Yours truly,

J.


December 3.

Dearest,

I realize how long it has been since we last held each other. The winter has taken its toll on my figure; I looked in a mirror this morning and saw a unrecognizable face staring back at me. (Don’t worry, I’m still as handsome as ever) Don’t let that worry you though, I’m still the same person you met on the train all those years ago. I’m still me.

You’ll be glad to hear that our troops are well and healthy despite the harsh blizzard that descended upon us last week. Less can be said about the enemy, who I hear are struggling to get their ranks back in order. Fighting has all but ceased – weather is our main enemy now, regardless of which side you’re on.

Something happened last night, something which I can only describe as ‘otherworldly’.

Charles and I were gathering the last of the rations from the second camp when we were caught by surprise by a strange noise: it was some sort of screech, as if two pieces of hot metal were scraped together. The noise began from the south of the river, and seemed to bounce from horizon to horizon, zooming overhead like missiles that sped faster than lightning. Not a moment after the chilling sound began, the night sky was blanketed in a blue and lavender glow which blotted out the stars.

I swear to God, the sky began to tear and fracture, like how one would rip open an envelope. Cracks raced from the south to the north like fireworks, leaving trails of white sparks behind. Then, as abrupt as it began, the light show disappeared – leaving only hot sparks that began to fall into the river just across our camp.

Charles grabbed my arm and started running back to camp 1.

It was chaos, even Sgt. himself was panicking (as you know, he rarely gives away anything on that pale face of his; to the point where I believe he truly is incapable of expression), thinking we were under attack from some unseen army.

Even this morning, as we finish our last patrol of the border, no answers have come up as to what surreal phenomenon had really happened. All my comrades are in fear, but strangely, I am more intrigued than afraid.

As I stared at the sparks raining down onto the river, couldn’t help but recall that evening we spent by the lake on New Year’s. Am beginning to believe that there is more to this world than just winning wars.

I promise, darling, that we will be in each other’s arms soon. Know that in spite of what happens in the oceans between us, our love will never cease.

Your loving man,

J.


December 31.

To My Love,

It pains me to say that the future seems bleak for the battalion. Nearly half of our men have perished in last week’s ambush, and we are on our last legs defending the border.

Do not let your hopes wither just yet; I am still in one piece and will definitely make it home before winter ends. I’ll be damned if we don’t win this war, especially when we have God’s weather on our side.

Still, it is a pain to watch allies and friends drop around me like oak leaves at the end of autumn. Charles (bless the old chap) is probably the last decent person I have alongside me, for all the others are either dead or have been rotated with soldiers from the west camps. (Snooty Sgt. is still here though, and as much as I despise him, it’s nice to have a few familiar faces in such dire times.)

Caught a spy today, though he certainly doesn’t look like one. The fellow speaks perfect English, and could definitely pass off as one of our troops if it weren’t for the unlisted uniform or advanced survaillence gear he was carrying. If it wasn’t such a dire time, one would say he was one of those nutjobs looking for aliens in the woods. But we can never be too cautious during war.

Sgt. and I interrogated him; insisted that he was working for us, not against us. Unfortunately for him, records show no traces of his ID anywhere, and I began to doubt his credentials. As I handcuffed the man, I noticed a faint tattoo below his wrist; it was some sort of a circle containing a line separating its two halves. After Sgt. left the room, the stranger looked me in the eye and pleaded for me to listen. He said I had to help him, that this was our last chance to win the war. Sorry to say, mate, but our troops back home already have victory in their hands.

He looked frightened. I can’t say for sure, but his eyes gave away a certain urgency I had seen before in those refugees awaiting deportation. As of now, Sgt. is still thinking about what we should with the spy, though he’ll probably end up with our seniors back south.

Still deciding whether my batch will be excused by the following week. I will write soon when the choice is made – fingers crossed that I will be with you in no time at all. Tell Johannes that his dear uncle has a treat awaiting him (few trinkets I picked up along my travels).

Darling, I want you to always remember this; I fight not just for this country, but for you. I want to build a better world for us and our nephews, fulfill that dream you told me so many years ago. My heart has always been, and forever will be, with you.

Yours unconditionally,

J.


January 8.

[A faded drawing of a submarine marked #2679 rests below the writing. Next to it is a symbol resembling a ∅]

To My Darling, My Dearest,

I don’t have much time to write. Rest assured, by the time you read this, I will be on the train heading home.

I cannot tell you all that has transpired in the past week, but you’ll hear the whole yarn when I arrive home. Below this letter is a plan I drew from memory, which will come in handy in a few days.

I apologize for the urgency, but I have many errands to attend to.

For every single day leading up to this one, I can’t help but believe I have fallen in love with you again. We will be together again, and I believe that is enough reason to live in such bleak times.

Yours,

J.