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The Beginnings end

A sharp, blistery pain erupted in my chest and ended in the middle of my back. The excruciating pain of blood gushing from my chest, feeding the hungry grass beneath my feet, made me gasp. While I collapsed, the world went dim and I started to recollect my past, the past that got me to this war.

I was fifteen, a couple weeks from being sixteen, and the first newspapers had reached the corner. Excitedly I paid the town crier all 5 cents for the daily paper; I planned to bring it to my parents before they left for work at the bank in exactly half an hour or so. But that changed when my friend Jeff came bounding around the corner also dressed in his school uniform.
He ran up to me exclaiming, “Peter, Peter have you seen the news?”

Shaking my head I plainly stated, “No.”

“Hey, this is no joking matter. Have you even looked at the front page? We are at war.”

With shock I slowly unfolded the paper. In bold print right in the center of the page was the Headline: “War!” Startled, I took a step back. I was barely able to stagger out the words, “Wh- Whaa- What’s happened?”

“Do you know how to read? We have gone to war with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy and if you could just read this faster I wouldn’t have to explain this to you. Now I have this plan, if you would listen to me instead of just staring flabbergasted at the front page. OK, now this is the plan we are to enlist ourselves into the military. As far as we know it will last for only two weeks and we will still come home for Christmas.”

“How will we accomplish this, it’s against the law for us to enlist, we are only 15.”

“Yes, yes I know this, with our beards we do look eighteen.”

“That’s true, but what about our parents? It’s not like we can just leave them in the blue.”
By this time, the newspaper I was holding was long forgotten and the wind was starting to scatter it across the sidewalk. He was starting to beg using only his facial attributes that no one could resist. It made me regret when he would finally lose his innocence in the world. I gave in, and with a sigh replied, “Fine then we’ll join, but as soon as we get into the war we send our parents letters ok?”
“Fine,” he excitedly exclaimed as he dragged me to the nearest enlistment office. Our imposing six feet of height looked to our imaginations as if it had scared the officer into believing that we were eighteen. As soon as we signed the papers saying that we were to be a part of the army our eyes shone with adventure.


A pressure at my chest brought me back to reality. Looking up I saw his blue eyes, hardened and tired now from the constant fighting. They no longer looked adventurous, no longer boyish; no longer with that light of younger days. He now looked perfectly eighteen, maybe even older. His voice echoed through my ear drums and shattered my skull as he shrieked, “Come on stay with me don’t leave me here!”
Those were his last words. The soft spluttering of a German Mauser, with a scope attachment, resounded as a small bullet hit the side of his head two centimeters from the tip of his ear and exited the other side throwing open his face. I saw the blood splatter, his eyes grow dim, and what I imagined to be his devilish smile as he met deaths clutches. What I remember most of that moment was his brains spill out plopping right next to my face covering it with blood and leaving the taste of the pink flesh fresh on my lips. He collapsed over me covering my vision and making the pain worse and mixing his blood with mine. I sensed the gathering crows in the sky excited for more blood. I smelled the burnt gunpowder and grime of the miserable life of the trenches before I blacked out.

My mind dragged me to a time two weeks after entering boot camp and three after we had enlisted in the army. We were in the country side some where I didn’t bother to keep track, but it was somewhere in France. Our squad had just learned how to deal with new weapons and methods of war and now were being shipped out to keep the Huns out of France. We were to relieve a force dying quickly in the trenches and to secure the position.

To keep matters secure, we were not disclosed with the exact location. Only our officers knew and they were the ones leading us there. By now I missed my family, but I knew it was already too late. We never really sent those letters that we promised to send to our parents to tell them where we were, but we were too busy to have remembered.

Slipping back to reality for another second I realized I could faintly move. In a slow crawl, I made my way over blood guts and bodies covering the five meters there were back to the trench. Slowly I moved my arm, which was weak from lack of blood the last few feet to the edge of the trench. A strong arm pulled me back in roughly forcing me to black out.

I jerked back to my first glimpse of trench warfare. It was horrible work the first two days of digging the trenches. Days filled with fear of enemy artillery and bullets as we slowly dug with small spades and sometimes even our hands. The crisp shot of Mauser rifles rang out in the darkness, reminding our entire force of the danger of not finishing our trenches soon. Several soldiers whose names I didn’t yet know died around me while working on digging through the now frozen earth.
It seemed to take ages for me and my company to finally finish our trenches and await our advance. Those days were filled with misery. Two entire companies were wiped out by the enemy’s mustard gas. Our hands strayed ever close to our gas masks since that incident.
It was two weeks before I saw Jeff again. That day we were assigned to the same machine gun nest, which was watching the enemy defenses for any movement that would indicate a charge. Nothing really happened on our shifts other then the glint of sniper scopes in the distance. He told me that week, five days from Christmas, “trust me Peter; our parents will see us in five days. We have naught to worry about right now; we’re holding off the German’s main advance. Even now, our allies are in Germany and in two days we’ll get word that the war is over.”
I trusted him, though I probably shouldn’t have. In two days the Brass told us to gear up for a surprise attack against the enemy. We were low on supplies and ammunition. Those nights were always filled with gun fire. The Brass’ first mistake was thinking the enemy was also low on munitions and supplies. The night before the attack, all of our lights were cut, as if we used them anyway. Rifles slung over our shoulders, Jeff and I were ready to charge at the enemy together.
We had three clips of ammo and 60 pounds of gear strapped to our backs. Whether it was a smart decision or an incredulously stupid one, Jeff and I decided to leave our cooking supplies in the rat, water and waste infested trench. This lightened our load by about 20 pounds a relief for kids like us. At 20 minutes to dawn, we crawled over the rise of the trench. We got to the other side of the barbed wire before the enemy machine gun nests and snipers suddenly went off. At that sound our forces became chaotic in a mass panic those running for the enemy camp were mauled down by a wall of angry bullets.
No longer with a commanded we tried to flee to the trench but most were cut down only feet from there safe sanctuary. That was when the pain shot through my chest. I was two meters from our trench, and a dropped gun was kicked. It shot and a bullet slammed straight into my chest the pain was so unbearable I almost passed out immediately. I wish I would have. Then I wouldn’t have watched him die.
I came to on Christmas day. Worried and gaunt soldiers were trying to muster some happiness during the cease fire. A field medic rushed to my side. Raising my head gently he told me, “Don’t move, you could kill yourself if you move any more. Take these, it’ll ease the pain.”
“Where’s Jeff he was there when I was shot I want to see him.”
“Son I don’t know any other way to tell you but he’s dead. In order to take the bullet out of your wound we had to clean his brain off of you.”
At those words I was brought to tears. I tried to move; to do anything that would cause myself pain. It was my fault he had died. The pain of just moving was enough to bring me to unconsciousness. My mind didn’t want me to be comforted it just brought me to memories of Jeff, to the past this time to our days of childhood (The innocence of those days was profound).
We were in school one day, playing war with the other kids. Jeff and I were the protagonists of this battle, as we always were. We would never admit it, but we rigged the shortest stick competition. That day was different though we decided that while preparing to charge our enemy’s, we would pull a prank on the school teacher. Instead of finishing our game of war we snuck off and gathered a few dozen frogs from the pond near the school. We put them in our pockets and hands and slipped them into the teacher’s desk. Of course for doing something so treacherous we were. That was the worst pain either of us had felt before the war.
Then right before I woke from the daze of unconsciousness, faces flashed before my eyes, some names I knew, some I didn’t. The one that saddened me the most was Jeff’s. His bloodied face and accusing eyes burned holes through my very being. Every face I saw seemed to be blaming me for their deaths. One was a German who looked no older than me. I had shot before he could even raise his rifle towards my position. Then the face of an ally as my Berthier rifle was slung at my side, a gaseous substance came from nowhere. A comrade working to take the muck from the bottom of the trench, died because I failed to warn him to put on his gas mask.
Tears streaming from my closed eyes, I heard strange sounds leading me to believe anything. One thought that flowed from my mind was that I was captured by the Huns. This thought had scared me to the point of opening my eyes. What I found came as a surprise to me; I was in a white room with one window. Various medical instruments were lying around. Outside in the hall, I heard a heated conversation between three people speaking French. My mind whirled could that really be my parents. I tried to speak, to say anything, but no words could escape my dry mouth. Cursing silently, I yielded to cough just once. This racked my chest in pain, almost making me black out again. One of the nurses to yelled out the door, “Doctor, Doctor I need you to come in here quick.”
The other nurse came rushing to my side. Gently lifting my head, she told me to try to drink some water. All I could do was watch as the water slowly drizzled down my throat, tickling the dry tissue as it went down. I don’t remember everything that I was told that day but the most significant fact was that I was lucky I had even lived. I sat there, soaking in all the information I was learning. Hundreds of French soldiers killed. When I heard the door slowly open, revealing the relieved expressions of my parents. They were glad to see me although my dad still looked a little mad about me even running off to war. It seemed that family friends had found out about Jeff’s death and told my parents of this fact. This made them fearful for my life.
Over these long years after the war my wounds took a long time to heal, both physical and mental wounds, but they were mostly mental wounds. I would like to say that I fully got over the war and my friends death, unfortunately I have to say that I did not and perhaps I never will.



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Alienspawn07 said...
Nov. 27, 2013 at 5:14 pm
Sweetness Donald! That was the bomb!!! Errr, bullet?
 
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