Grapes and Seeds

The Janissary Section
5 September 1683

3 minutes read

Now, in the boredom and fatigue, it was just piss, powder and the sweat of tens of thousands of them ducking and hunching around the shallow trenches, removing what seemed to be half of Austria out of the tunnels that burrowed beneath the walls, ravelins and bastions. All this earth they replaced with more gunpowder than the world had ever seen – in order to take it all down.

That was all they did. Dig, dig, dig, armed only with a spade, most of the time killing nothing except dirt.

They should have taken the city already, this everyone knew, and it was openly talked about. “We should all have had our way with the place and everyone in it, and planted the Prophet’s standard on that damn high church tower or blown it up by now,” Murad thought, as he trudged back to his tent. He would take a nice Austrian woman he imagined – light hair, freckles and a thin frame. Eventually, she might even like him, or at least get used to him. Or maybe he would just have a slave… he wasn’t sure how it would work. It was a difficult decision for him.

Either way, they would live in the city and their slaves would work the vineyards. “Grapes and wine,” he thought. “We can get away with this out here – we’re far enough away from Constantinople probably, and that bore of a Sultan.” The Vizier was teetotal but it should work out differently, he reckoned. “We’re going to have our own damn thing out here.” Yet, even after months and months, those dickheads were still up there, shooting at them. How much powder they still had or how many blondes were in there still was anyone’s guess, and it all was starting to acutely piss him off.

Murad stepped over another Janissary slumped against the wheel of a broken wagon, one knee up to his chest and his white, flapped cap in his lap. He was eating grapes. He had grapes? The fucker had grapes! He gripped the hilt of his yataghan and made ready to kill this man, his brother in arms, for just one measly grape. There, under that blistering sun, in that sweltering wool uniform, for one fucking grape he would kill his brother and comrade.

It was probably worth it.

Murad calmed down after a long second and winced. "Pfff.” He stared at the bastard grape-eater like something between a scolding mother and a potential rapist. The grape just didn’t belong there, it belonged back in Constantinople – and it belonged to Murad.

Murad stood tall, staunch and upright, and glowered incredulously at the eater, puffing his chest out and sucking in his gut. Realising this, he quickly took the stained hat off and tucked it under his arm, curtly and formally. “Fuck you,” he said, almost as if saluting the grape-eater, who returned a bored look and spat the seeds towards Murad’s left foot.

"These fucking hats. These goddamn fucking hats,” he muttered. He couldn’t stand them. The flowing wide tail in the back was supposed to hark back to something or other regarding some guy he never heard of two hundred years ago, but more than anything it was just a pain in the ass. Being white, of course it looked like shit once it was covered in gunpowder, blood and mud. He tried his best to keep it clean – pride and that – he supposed there wasn’t much point in it. Rather like a lot of things lately.

But Murad still stood, straight-backed and steadfast in front of the grape-eater, shifting from one foot to the other like he had to take a piss.


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