My latest short story! Read here, or download! Free for distribution.
This is a short story about the breakout of war in Southeast Asia.
Download Here: OPERATION KAKI BLUE.PDF
Four hours and thirty minutes: that was how long it would be until she had been married a full day to Singapore navy Lieutenant Nengyi Yew, Myolie thought. She had worn a traditional wedding gown, sleeveless with an open back; while he had worn his formal white naval uniform with brass buttons, black epaulets with two gold stripes—one thick, one thin—denoting his rank. After exchanging vows, they had walked down the aisle of their local church in the Serangoon neighborhood, hand in hand, beneath an archway of sabres borne by Nengyi’s comrades from the RSS Tenacious. The organ had boomed Handel’s Messiah as they had departed, celebrating their union through lead pipes.
For nearly an hour her focus had been on the ship where the very same men who had saluted the newlyweds with swords were afloat aboard their ship in the Singapore Strait, but some movement just beyond the Singaporean navy frigate caught her attention. It was impossible to be certain, but it seemed like a very long and straight man with rounded limbs was hanging from a cable beneath a helicopter, being dropped into the warm waters of the Singapore Strait as if he was either being tortured to confess a crime or for the mere pleasure of hanging from the whirlybird and taking an occasional dip. “It’s a sonobuoy,” Myolie heard a man who looked to be in his mid to late-thirties next to her explain to a little boy at his side. “They are looking for submarines.”
He must be a sailor’s brother, maybe the boy’s uncle, up there like her to watch the parade at sea. They were amongst hundreds of people crowding together elbow knocking elbow, fifty-one floors above the ground, atop Singapore’s most distinctive building: the Marina Bay Sands, or MBS as every local referred to it. The complex looked as if three separate skyscrapers had been built beside one another and then an ocean liner dropped upon them, missing only a few propellers and a rudder from the building’s flat-sided west. The observation deck had the feel of a cruise ship deck, with wood-plank floors, a pointed front, and swimming pool. Indeed, if the building was an icon of Singapore, the infinity pool that seemed to sit and spill precariously above the city was a symbol of the city’s luxury.
A firm breeze carrying a cooler, salty air comfortably wrapped around Myolie, bringing her more relief than what she might have felt six kilometers north in her native Serangoon district. Her bangs flopped into her face, somewhat concealing the curious look she cast towards the man and the boy.
Placing the binoculars back before her eyes, she was able to see more clearly that it was a long, metallic tube like a helium tank that dipped in and out of the water. Myolie lowered the binoculars after just half a minute, as lifting and holding the lenses repeatedly for over an hour was like a bicep workout that she never did.
With her full field of vision returned, Myolie was awestruck by the largest naval fleet that had been assembled around Singapore in decades. It was not even a quarter of the number of commercial ships that normally sat in the Singapore Strait, but the uniform majesty of the subdued gray paint, the naval guns sticking outwards from the ships’ front, and the knowledge of the fleet’s combined firepower gave it a beauty that the tons of consumer products packed into containers and the thousands of barrels of oil that the tankers could pump out did not have.
Once more she counted with her fingers, seeing if she would have the same result: thirty-two. Thirty-two naval vessels from around the world united in common cause. There were ships of war from Indonesia, Sweden, Norway, Australia, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Glowering over all of the ships like a whale floating above a school of dolphins was an American supercarrier. The news had widely reported the presence of the USS Roosevelt as the star of the show, dazzling observers with the regular launching and landing of its eighty-five aircraft.
The view, even had the fleet not been present, was breathtaking and one for which Myolie berated herself for never having seen before, characterizing the MBS observation deck as a tourist trap—and an expensive one where one drink cost triple the regular price down below. In the cloudy distance to the south loomed Indonesia and the Gardens by the Bay just below with their steel mushroom trees and two greenhouse domes that seemed like gargantuan alien ships. Between the two lay the wide Singapore Strait from which her husband would depart for uncertain adventures.
Husband. It was a word that she would need some time to get used to, having called Nengyi her boyfriend and then fiancé for so many years. She looked at her watch; in about four hours fifteen minutes they would have been married for a full day. She ran her left hand through her crispy, black hair with gold highlights running through it. Its texture reminded her that the gel and spray that she had applied to hold her hair in place beneath the veil was still there; sticky, smelly, but genuine. Wedding hair that she had not washed since the most beautiful moment of her life.
Myolie’s reminiscence about the small, hurried wedding was interrupted by a deafening thunder above. Four fighter jets, F-15SG’ s of the Singaporean Air Force, buzzed overhead just a few hundred meters above the MBS though more than 500 meters above the ground. They continued southwards, flying over the fleet and disappearing into small dots, almost invisible against the cloudy sky, within seconds.
“They are flying a combat air patrol, or CAP,” the man next to her explained to the boy. “Looking for enemy fighters.” Myolie leaned over and asked the man who he was and how he knew so much.
“I did my national service in the navy aboard a patrol ship, but my brother, Damien here’s papa, is aboard the RSS Intrepid.”
“My fiancé, I mean husband, is a weapons officer aboard the frigate RSS Tenacious. Captain Heng gave me a ticket to the MBS observation deck as a wedding present so I could have the best view of his departure. But do you think there may be war?” For a moment Myolie wondered if the man was looking over her thin, wiry body that was a head shorter than his with wishful lust. Knowing that he had been in the navy, she had no illusions about what he thought of women left alone while their husbands were at sea.
The man chuckled and shook his head. “No, it’s just countries rattling swords and flexing their muscles. There is too much at stake for everyone for war.”
Reassured, Myolie returned her attention to the sea. Bringing her binoculars back up to her eyes, she focused on a ship with smooth edges and contours with a white 71 painted on its fore: the RSS Tenacious where her husband was doing his duty. The vessel floated several kilometers in front of the Roosevelt, almost at the head of the fleet. Perhaps he had a few minutes to speak, or had least sent a text message, Myolie hoped. When she checked her phone, however, she saw that there was no network service. Frustrated, she jammed the phone back into her handbag.