You may vote by “liking” my facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/BlindoggBooks and putting a “like” under the link to this story OR by placing a comment below. Please vote only once, duplicate votes will not be counted. Thank you! ©RJ Kennett 2013 – Used with permission
God help us, here we go again.
Sitting in a trench, caked in mud. How many times have we been here? This damn war just won’t end. I watch as a worm makes its way across the toe of my worn out boot. My stomach grumbles. I wonder what that worm would taste like, but dismiss the notion of just slurping it up out of the mud. I still have standards.
We haven’t eaten in days, but that’s probably for the best. The stink of death wafting over the battlefield is enough to take a man’s appetite anyway. It clogs a man’s nostrils as if it were a thing alive, looking to strangle him. Days of charges and countercharges have left dead and wounded from both sides strewn over the field.
Rufus is coughing and sniffling again. I want to strangle him just to shut him up, but I guess it’s not really his fault. Besides, it makes him a mark for the Yanks instead of me.
The Lieutenant is rousting us again. The arrogant prick. He knows we’ve lost what… half our men? Two thirds? I’ve lost count, and still he’s going to attack. Trying to make a name for himself. He’ll make worm food of us all.
I check back with my squirmy little friend. The critter may just get the last laugh.
The Lieutenant answers to higher ups, just like I answer to him. He probably hates them, too. But I’ve never seen them, so the Lieutenant is the focus of my hate. I hope it travels up the chain of command to the source, to whatever imbecile decided we should attack while undermanned.
Poking my nose up, I look over the battlefield. It’s morning, so the fog hasn’t lifted yet. And it’s thick, like a wall of dirty cotton. I can’t even make out the tree line on the other side of the field, but I know it’s there. How many Yanks are hiding there, I wonder?
It isn’t that I’m scared of dying. Been dying for pretty much my whole God forsaken existence. Dying’s easy. I just don’t want to die empty. Empty stomach, empty heart, empty soul. I’d like my death to mean something, and there’s no meaning in this. Not in this war, not in this trench, and sure as hell not in this idiotic charge.
Rufus is standing on my left as we load our weapons, fix our bayonets and steel ourselves for the charge. He lets off a whopper of a sneeze. I take a step to the right. He’s marked himself for sure now. At least the Yanks will kill him before me.
Well, that’s it then. The bugler is sounding the charge. Stupid to announce it to the Yanks. In this thick fog we could belly crawl right up to them and they’d be none the wiser until it was all over. Now we’ll be running into a volley of lead with fog as our protection.
We head out into the field of misery. Rufus is yelling his stupid head off, trying to scare the Yanks, as if his sneezing weren’t enough. I stay quiet.
I can see a line of flashes through the fog, and Rufus’ head explodes. I knew it would. Then I hear the crackle of the volley that took him. How weird is that? Actually, I think he’s a lucky bastard. He died quick and never saw it coming. I can just make out a couple other boys charging alongside me, whooping and hollering like the Devil’s own. Through the fog, I can make out the tree line now, and join in the battle cry. The Yanks won’t have time to reload before we get there.
I see a lad trying, though. I stop running long enough to draw a good bead on him, and drop him like a sack of potatoes.
I hurdle a low fence, stepping on the twitching corpse of the soldier I just killed. That’s for Rufus, you bastard.
Then I see the kid. Can’t be more than fifteen. Won’t live to see sixteen. The terror in his eyes as I roar up on him almost makes me feel pity. I ram my bayonet into his gut, then rip it out, taking a bunch of his guts with it. The kid’s going to die screaming. I’d bash his head in to save him the pain, but I’ve already located my next target.
He’s a big, stocky fellow with a bushy beard, gripping his rifle by the barrel and swinging it like a club, yelling like a man possessed. I don’t think he sees me, and try to slip inside his guard to bayonet him. Big mistake. I see sparks as the stock of his rifle connects with my temple. I crash into him, though, and we tussle.
He rolls on top of me and pulls a knife. I try to fend him off, but damn he’s strong. I feel the blade slip in between my ribs and pop a lung, and maybe some other stuff. He rips it out harshly, laughing like a maniac and moves on.
Bastard. Finish the job for once.
The pain is unbelievable. I look at my bloodied hands and feel the intense, burning agony in my chest. My vision dims, and the cacophony of battle dwindles to a dull roar. A warmth washes over me and the pain eases. It’s not so bad; dying. Darkness envelops me.
Am I dead? I can’t feel my body. I’m drifting in nothingness. Then I see it; a pinpoint of light, somewhere in the black mists that surround me. It grows bigger, coming nearer. I remember the faces of those I’ve killed. That poor kid I disemboweled and left to die alone and in pain. The light gets closer. I’ve done nothing with my life. Nothing good, anyway. It’s been a waste. Sorry, Momma. I wish I could’ve made you proud. The light gets bigger still. Is this God? The light zooms in at me, encompassing me, burning me! I SCREAM AS ALL IS LIGHT-
God help us, here we go again.
Sitting in a trench, caked in mud. How many times have we been here? This damn war just won’t end. I watch as a worm makes its way across the toe of my worn out boot…