Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: 1916

  1. #1
    Still warlusting... Member Warluster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

    Default 1916

    A old veteran is standing in one of the fields of Flanders, on a cold misty morning with his brown coat wrapped firmly around him. He is watching the rolling hills, obscured by thick fog, when his daughter appears beside him. He looks at her and smiles sadly. It was November 11th, 1995. She was quite old herself by looked younger then she was. She smiled warmly at the old veteran.
    “Hey, Dad.” She said quietly, as if not to disturb the peaceful tones around them. The air was cold and heavy and there was no life. He breathed in deeply.
    “You know, it hasn't changed one little bit, these fields.” he chuckled slightly, “I reckon right here I spent two years of my life.”
    “I've never heard you talk about it.” she told him suddenly, staring at him with wide eyes. She hated to see her Dad look so painfully quiet but she knew something was different. She felt it too. The thick air almost carried the memories of eighty years ago. He moved forward slowly, in a old man's walk.
    “I've never wanted to talk about it. How...” he didn't explain himself, but looked hopelessly at her, before continuing with a glimmer in his eyes, “I tried for eighty years to live the life I should've, darling. It hasn't worked, and it'll be over soon. It won't work any longer, suppressing those memories.” he said in a quavering voice, and she hugged the old man tightly.
    “Don't speak like that, Dad.” she begged quietly, eyes closed to the world. He withdrew from her grip, before tracing his previous steps over the moist green turf. He stopped, as the fog lightened and the green hills revealed themselves as foggy, moist rises. He took a breath, steadying himself like so many times before. In the thick fog he heard the whistles blowing. He heard the shells falling. He heard the cries of the shellshocked. Looking down, a old, rusted bullet stuck from the ground, alive after eighty years, and he wondered whether he fired that bullet.
    “Do you remember it, Dad?” asked his daughter, and his heart jumped as he was reminded of her presence. He nodded sagely.
    “We all do, darling.”
    I was sitting there, in that mud for days. Me and my friend, Jack, were on duty covering the front trenches, and the rest of the slackers were asleep nearby. Mostly made beds in the walls of the trench, no wonder. We were so sleepy then that I fell asleep on watch! The Huns could've given us a right old scare any moment weren't it for Jack. Apparently it was the worst winter we'd faced in a hundred years, so claim the colonel. He had expected us to better, since we had failed a recent attack. I hoped he was joshing, but at that moment I didn't give a damn about much but sleep.

    But you see, that attack had been only the day yesterday. It'd been raining all days and so he sent in the Ox and Bucks just to soften up the Boche. We waited and waited, but they never came back. Standing on the parapets all night, just watching. We could hardly see a hundred yards ahead of us, the rain was so thick and black in the sky. Watching for the phantom soldiers. The search was called of the next morning, and they never returned.

    Jack was looking over the parapet during the midnight hour, and I was wedged into the side of the trench, a small hole roughly dug out from the mud. The others were sleeping like daisies, but Jack was watching, exhausted. A cry suddenly rose from the night, a howl from the wounded. It cawed and moaned for long hours, sloshing in the mud, a wounded beast. This one young cry, howling through the night. Sitting in that trench, rain pouringg down, pattering against our two steel helmet, and he suddenly sat up, face scrunched up patience at a end.
    “I'm going to get the bastard.” he said in his Northern England voice. Over he vaulted, to the observation of ten of us. We stood at attention as he moved into the mist, swallowed up as our aim followed him steady, rifles raised. The cries stopped, and he never came back. The mist remained, swirling about teasingly, sucking up the ground. I watched the mist, as it crawled along in evil delight, inching towards me, whispering to claim me too. It swallowed up Jack, and hell, it swallowed them all.

    I swallowed my heart and went over the top, alone in my misery as hands tried to pull me back. But I charged forward into the grey mist, and pushing aside it all I found was deep craters, long dead men scattered about like a abandoned play. They all cried, from the ground, hands reaching up towards the sky. They begged for forgiveness, but I tried to find Jack. The barbed wire flashed before me and light appeared; a Very light spluttered into the sky, piercing into the fog so it was all illuminated, like some sort of West End stage production. It was like a spotlight blasted onto me, all the eyes watching on both sides, stunned at the paused figure in No Man's Land, both sides disbelieving anyone would attempt so. I felt my mistake displayed foolishly, and dived into a deep crater as the bullets swung overhead, brushing away dirt, bringers of death.

    It was a night like no other. Cold, miserable. The rain pelted harder and flares soared into the sky at a steady rate, every fifteen minutes. The Tommies and Huns tried all night, the Huns firing over my crater, the Tommies calling my name, till the morning they accepted, like all the others. I waited, staring into the hollow eyes of the barely dressed skeleton opposite me. With gas seeping from the muddy water at the bottom, on the morning I emerged on my belly, crawling past the thousands of dead bodies, blinking in the morning light and raising my head above the mire of constant rain, before collapsing into the friendly trench. Welcome hands patted me, water splashed me. They dragged me up and berated me. The walls protected us from the booming crash of Hun shells into the muddy ground, but in the end, Jack wasn't there.


    The old man twisted the old rusted bullet between his old, wrinkled fingers. He was watching it with a tortured and morbid expression, feeling the sharp tip of steel in his hands. His eyebrows were furrowed deeply; but if one could see his heart at that moment, they would see it bleeding.
    “You've never spoken about the war.” she said softly, behind him. The mist was still swirling around them. He looked up at the sky.
    “Of course not.” he said harshly, before turning to face her in apology, “The darkness; you could never imagine it. We had winters where men were eaten alive by the mud. I saw things... men killed by the most random chance of nature... but the worse,” his eyes turned on her, large, frightened, still stumbling around in that paralysing mist and darkness, “The worse was that feeling you get...” She watched her father retreat into the cocoon he had forged in that deep Piccardie crater ninety years ago. She stared into the hollow eyes of living death, as her father had every day. She approached gingerly, as if a wounded animal, but he merely pulled away, encased in the protection his friend had forged.


    We never went looking for him. They sent me behind the lines for a week before pulling me back in. I was with a lovely French family. I was entranced by the perfection of the family. They laughed, they teased. They ate together every night with a wonderful meal. I noticed the absense of the father so obviously, but never commented on the black and white photo perched on the dressing table.

    I found myself, volunteering every night, standing at the parapets for Jack to return. From winter to summer, from Somme to Passchendale, from year to year. I watched as they passed around me.

    The next summer they decided a advance was in need. The Colonel promptly announced that we were to assault Hindenburg's line that January. They pulled in the Berkshire regiment to reinforce us, as were down by 500 from a raid nights before. I met young Henry that Christmas, a young fellow from Leeds who enlisted in the Berks as they drew them from everywhere. He was spritely and alive; he gabbled on about his five siblings and how they'd be making their prays and thanking heaven and King Edward for everything that had happened. He spoke constantly about his horrible school master who had terrorized his class before they had boldly joined up together. He brought in a breath of air; a breath of life into the dying minds of our battalion. All the young ones did, barely above fifteen.

    We trained all January for the big advance. In Henry I found a portion of Jack tucked away, my missing friend returned from the misty fields. I loved the moments the Berks would take a break and visit us, and me and Henry would try and talk until they were sent back to the Sugarloaf.

    That February I wacthed from the parapet as the Berks were killed. Horrified, all 564 of us, Enfield's raised against the cruel German barrage, through our iron sights, as the bullets tore apart every single young man from Berkshire. Only one returned, Captain Church, and he had his legs blown off. He crawled in overnight, and was dead the next morning.

    They told us to go forward at 2300 that warm summers night. We advanced in the most absolute solid formation one could ever expect of a group of kids from Buckingham, but the machine guns never decided if we were worthy enough. They killed those from Buckingham to Birmingham nonetheless.

    I returned to day and night of tortured pain; how could I repay the mind the sacrifice it had given. It had claimed my friend of constant need, and snatched the young too. Who was one to question war? Who was one to decide? We were all pawns in the lord's game, and I was none to decide. My finger blown off, my mind gone, where would I turn to, once it had all slipped away? Nothing or nowhere there, but the mist, the mist which my friend Jack, the mist the young Henry, claimed no matter what they're age; as innocent as those who fired it; dead nonetheless.


    The old man fell to one knee, tears streaming down his face.
    “And I watch those fields every day, and I call for Jack. I watch every night, as Henry is snatched away.” he cried quietly, grasping the bullet tightly. His daughter rushed forward, panicked at his angst, tears streaming down her face. Someone else had appeared, helping hand on shoulder, but in the end, the old man felt as alone the day his friend died. What could bring him from the abyss? What could steel his heart? What could possibly help his mind, against the dangerous mines of memories past.
    “I met the very best of this earth, I believe.” he said suddenly, “All the men I met, I was awed by their courage. I was stunned by their bravery. It inspired me. But every year that was taken away as I realised they all died.” he said morbidly, holding his daughters hand loosely and bullet tightly as he sat on the wet ground.
    “Two days of misery can last a year. Three years of hell have lasted a lifetime.”


    By June that year the Hun had been beaten off the Marne, and pushed back towards Germany in a rapid advance. Aside from the years of being trapped in a hell of shell, bullet and screaming mind, we were now marching through the night, the politics pushing, hoping it might end. We were all fed up, the war was at a end, but we kept marching, faithful to the end.

    At November the Ox and Bucks were marching through the battlefields of years before. I took lead scout and with five other Bucks we marched through barbed wires, millions of craters and bodies, abdanoned artillery, empty trenches... the ground was torn to piesces, as if some sort of inscription on a Greek take of Hades.

    They halted us behind a light wood. Behind its few trees were sheltering a battalion of the Boche, and we were determined to be rid of them. Four years of hatred, as memories of Jack rolled back, and I screaming in rage as the whistles blew, sprinting for those woods.

    And in the cover of their dark shade, we kill every one. Sitting around, eating their final meals, they looked in shock as the screaming demons of Buckinghamshire emerged from our hell. And with rifles raised, bayonets ready, I pushed forward the cold steel of England, every thrust, every spear, a death made for Jack. And by the end, with mutilated bodies lying around us, holes in their chests, I sat and cried as the bodies burnt, as I felt no better for what I'd done.

    And every night, I sit and watch, waiting for Jack to return. Every night I see the young, cut up as Henry fell too. And every night, I watch as the bayonets slice forward, and never do they bring the help, I so eagerly sought.


    The old man suddenly stood, a new emotion splayed across his face. His daughter stood, not speaking, shocked at these sudden memories. He clutched the bullet, threw his hand back., and tossed it into the fields. He turned to her, smile weakly on face, and found his family there.
    “In the end, I realise now. That was then and this is now, and I've done what I can. All the memories of those years past, could kill me more then bullets did Henry. But one things kept me on this earth, and thats all you. Family's kept us here.” And with eyes wrinkled and offered a hug, as his grandkids ran forward, and in complete bliss, he smiled to the sky.
    The mist was lifting from the hills of France.

    This is obviously based on the Western Front, but it has no real battle its set in. Just remember; if you changed the language and names, this story could just as easily been written from a German perspective, or French, or American, or any other nation. It has the same effect, no matter where you're from. All criticism is welcome and encouraged. There are some inconsistencies concerning dates and years.
    Last edited by Warluster; 04-05-2010 at 01:00.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Senior Member naut's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Default Re: 1916

    Hey Warluster, I haven't had time to read it fully yet, due to RL, one thing I noticed in the first couple paragraphs is that you sometimes mix up your verb tenses. Try to stick with one, it helps the flow of the story to keep one tense --- it seems the present tense is most fitting. If I may, what inspired you to write a "in memory of the war" style piece.


    Some piously affirm: "The truth is such and such. I know! I see!"
    And hold that everything depends upon having the “right” religion.
    But when one really knows, one has no need of religion. - Mahavyuha Sutra

    Freedom necessarily involves risk. - Alan Watts

  3. #3
    Still warlusting... Member Warluster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

    Default Re: 1916

    Hey, Thanks for replying, and the interest. I was getting a bit worried when there were no comments I honestly never noticed how I swap around the tense but I'll fix that a bit later. As of now I'm busy brainstorming a new one!

    As for the inspiration I am constantly studying and researching both World Wars, and read a story or article which inspires my love of history and writing. I have done some older pieces on both World Wars but found them lacking; usually 'over-the-top' sort of stuff. So this was a new approach which, mainly, attempts to get the true message across. I hope it did as for ANZAC day it got featured on the local radio so that was nice.

    Did you get a chance to read the rest? I'm curious to see your verdict.


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO