Ackerman hadn’t quit drinking since the raid on April 2nd, and the loss of Rast. Despite their bickering, Evan had known the two were close. He now saw the depth of their closeness, as Ackerman quietly sat in his corner of the mess, left alone by the others, swaying on his stool, threatening to tip over at any moment and come crashing to the ground. It was just as well that the rain had returned yesterday evening, and that the flights for April 3rd had been cancelled, for the man would surely crash and kill himself in his state. The rest of the pilots tried to keep their spirits up, but their singing and chatting was halfhearted. Earlier that morning, they’d buried the five men that had been killed. It wasn’t yet fully dark when everybody decided to turn in.
The persistent frost had thawed in the fields of France, but it was still freezing cold in the Bell tent that Ackerman and Evan had been temporarily rehoused in while their Nissen was rebuilt. The two coexisted in silence, with Evan lying on his cot again and listening to the rain. The sound was no longer pleasant - instead, it was surreal. The raid that had killed Rast seemed to be just a bad flicker of a dream in-between peaceful rain-filled days. In his head he still saw Rast’s crushed, twisted remains.
Evan rose heavily on the morning of the 4th, moving to wake Ackerman but thinking better of it. Instead, he took the small wooden mirror that hung off the tent centrepost, making his way to the water tap on the side of the ‘A’ flight office and quickly shaving, before making for the mess to have his breakfast. The mess was fairly populated, and he sat down beside Tidmarsh, asking one of the batmen to fetch him some food. “Ackerman not coming out today?” Tidmarsh asked, and Evan shook his head. “No, I thought it best to leave him alone”. Tidmarsh nodded, solemnly. “How’s the arm?” Evan asked him, and he flashed a faint smile. “Oh, good enough for flying, more’s the pity. I’d rather have caught a Blighty one, you know?”.
By the time they had finished their breakfast, the rain was back on. As the pilots lounged around, the door flew open with a bang and in strode Capt. Robinson. “This damned weather!” he cried, slamming the door shut once more before turning to face the pilots. “There’s to be no flying today” he announced. Some pilots groaned, others quietly hid their happiness. “But listen up! We’ll get these damned Huns back for what they did to us. From now on, we’ll be taking a forward action policy. If the Huns want trouble with us, they’ll get it!”.
Fire blazed in Robinson's eyes as he looked over his pilots.