Line infantry uniform featuring the capote et pantalon Mle1914/15 greatcoat and pants cut from horizon blue wool, along with the standard webbing, pouches, M2 gas mask transit tin, haversack and of course the Mle1915 Adrian helmet. The accompanying Lebel rifle is fitted with a tromblon Vivien-Bessiere grenade launcher. The number of grenadiers per company kept increasing from the initial eight soldiers from 1916 to the end of the war, and were used as indirect fire infantry support either from the trenches or during an assault. The device was usually fired with the rifle resting on the ground at a 60 degrees angle, but could be fired from the shoulder in a pinch.
Light crept under Will’s eyelids, soft and grey, like winter light used to in his house in Wolf Trap. For a moment he believed he was back there, until he opened his eyes and realised why his bed had seemed to sway and swell under him. The bed was in the cabin of a boat.
A teakettle hung from a hook over a gas burner. Tin mugs hung next to it. Books, charts and canisters were trapped on a shelf behind a grimy length of elastic. Cheap plywood surfaces, decades old fittings: this boat had been someone’s project. His glance caught on a dog leash that was coiled on a hook. He took a breath and then another. He tasted brine and felt again the freezing thrust of water down his throat. Hannibal had been locked tight to him all the way down, twined around him. The impact had slapped the breath from his lungs. After that, there was nothing.
He thought for a moment and realised that nothing hurt very much. The wound on his cheek stung a little, and it had grown a neat row of stitches. He touched his shoulder and found the same. On the small shelf next to the bed was a syringe, several clear bottles of something, probably an opiate, and a bottle of codeine pills, half empty.
Steps thumped above him, and the bulkhead door creaked open. Hannibal came down the three narrow steps, one by one, slowly. A surge of relief raced through Will, a physical ache that filled his chest. “You’re alive,” he said.
“This isn’t Hell, or even Heaven, so you must be right,” said Hannibal.