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War Creative Writing - King, Honour, Human Dignity, Etcetera

In: English and Literature

Submitted By charlieeking
Words 537
Pages 3
King, Honour, Human Dignity, Etcetera

Weeping rain cascaded from the unforgiving, steely sky. We waited, khaki figures in a stinking, sepia trench. Every face expressionless, fear, regret, sorrow, all hidden behind stiff upper lips. King, honour, human dignity, we had been sold a lie.
“One minute!” called the captain, breaking the silence. I glanced nervously around. I could hear the hurried, heavy breathing of the other soldiers, grasping at every breath as if it would be their last.
“Fix bayonets!” I reached down wrenching the rigid blade from my worn leather belt. My frozen hands trembled violently as the weapon clicked into place. The sound of grating metal filled the trench.
“Oh my God, I can’t do it, my fingers won’t work!” the lilting Irish tones of Paddy sounded desperate. The captain, without changing expression, marched to Paddy’s side, the cloying mud swallowing his feet at every step. Bending over the rifle he secured it within a second. He marched away in disgust. “Thank you, sir,” stammered the now humiliated Paddy. We all looked away to spare his dignity.
I gazed down at my ruthless rifle with remorse and shame. How many fellow men would I kill today? What if I myself might die? The feeling was sickening. I swallowed my thoughts of murder and death, bitter like the vomit that stuck in my throat.
My exhausted eyes stared along the line of pale faces drained of life. Walt gazed up the ladder in resignation, Taffy’s eyes widened with fear, and Albert’s face showed disbelief. Meanwhile Reg wiped away the patriotic tear that had brimmed in his eye, and mingled with the mud and rain that stained his chalky, adolescent cheek.
I looked down eager to break the mood of foreboding and caught the glimmer of my wedding band, I clenched my hand into a quivering fist, raised the ring to my mouth and kissed it.
I turned my attention to the captain once more as he cleared his throat and stepped onto the ladder that would soon lead us to our fates. “Front rank about turn,” he commanded, I could hear the tremor in his voice, he was as terrified as the rest of us, he knew that death was no respecter of rank. He reached into his breast pocket and took the silver whistle in his sodden hand and placed it hesitantly between his lips. Time stood still.
I reached out a shaking hand and gripped a ladder’s wooden rung, the pain from a splinter punctured my senses, but this was only a foretaste of the agony that had to come. The creak of leather on wood cannoned down the trench as soldier after soldier clambered onto their ladders preparing to burst onto the bloody field of battle.
I heard a frantic whisper in my ear, “I’m scared, I’m not going, I don’t want to die, not yet,” It was my friend, my companion, my brother. “You’re not retreating Andrew, nobody’s retreating today!” I encouraged him, “Stay strong, stay with me brother, we can get through this."
The captain drew a rasping breath. The whistle blew. The men shouted. The time had come. With cries of aggression and terror, we went over the top.

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