19th december, 1944
You are woken gently by the steward
'it is time sir"
You nod, yes, it is time.
Carefully, you swing yourself out of the hammock, feel the cold of the steel, feel the vibration beneath your feet. Your companions gather about you, and dressing is awkward, elbows, arms, backsides, the stink of sweat fills the mess.
The flight suit is tight.
You feel the sweat run freely now, the thick leather and wool is designed for the cold of flight, not the heat or humidity of these tropical climes.
Carefully you adjust the thousand stitch belt, the accesories, your lucky charm.
(So strange that one still carries a childhood toy ney?..........but one knows, just knows, that to lose it is catastrophic)
The que to the shrine is long, you bow, clap, the mind...........prays?
The mind is blank........and the mind is turmoil............
The planes are shadows in the discreet deck lighting, the men around them white ghosts.. The deck glistens, the wind is brisk, Zuikaku is racing on, great old girl that she is.
You gather around HIM
'We will not wait for the search results..........there are targets enough to the south. Piority targets..........carriers, tankers, transports..........you know what needs to be done. Good luck"
The climb into the big bomber is steep, you need the rope to haul yourself up onto the wing.
She is rumbling, vibrating, gasoline, dope, oil, grease, salt fills your senses.
Your fish glistens
You sit, and prepare for the flight.
Probably your last flight............but that is war yes?
It is time to do your duty.
dawn glimmers faintly on the horizon, a dark grey angry sea, a black sky, stars dying
Zuikaku heels gently, the steam streams down towards you
The light flashes, blink, blink, blink
You take your deep breath, grasp the throttle hard