Joined: 06 Dec 2007
|Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 9:21 pm Post subject: Fell In The Name Of War (Short Story)
Another short story find its way into the PALGN creativity forum
Am writing this for english, and just wondering what you guys think of it. Critism, comments, all is welcome. By the way, we have just finished reading the novel "All Quiet On The Western Front' and this narrative was meant to use that novel as a kind of inspiration.
Fell in the Name of War
A petal fell.
Choking back the tears, with a poppy flower in one hand and their friendâs hand in the other, Pierre and Herman drifted slowly over what remained of the World War I battle field. Pierreâs father fought in the Battle of Verdun for the French forces, Hermanâs father for the Germans.
The soft rain fell gently over the harsh, unforgiving landscape and the small shrubs and weeds swayed in the cool breeze, whispering to the heavens âThankyouâŠthankyou.â
Pierre and Herman first met in England, where they had moved from France and Germany respectively to in order to continue their studies. They were roommates, and after a friendship began to blossom, they taught each other bits and pieces from their native tounge. Neither man had been blessed with a joyous childhood. They had learnt to become independent from a young age, living alone with their mother. Pierre was sent to boarding school at the age of 6: Herman at 7. They were sent to equally austere boarding schools, where they learnt English and the value silence.
Pierre approached the memorial tombstone; Hermanâs back was turned, head hanging low. As Pierre dusted away the cobwebs that the rain couldnât reach, his friend turned around and opened his eyes.
A tear fell.
Still in the womb when their fathers were called to arms, the only present each child ever received from their father was the gift of life. Pierreâs mother would say that Jacque, his father, was a tall, strong, courageous man, and Pierre longed for nothing more than to stroke his cheek against the unkempt beard he saw his father had in all the photos. Hermanâs mother would say that Franz, his father, was kind, loving and noble man, and the thing Herman wanted more than anything in the world was to hug the slightly round stomach that he saw his father carried in all the photos.
Pierre left Herman for a few moments and wandered off into the distance, finally coming to a halt, then a salute, and then collapsed onto the ground in tears. The worst part for Herman was that he would never know, not exactly, where his father lay now, buried beneath the soil and grass. Admittedly, Pierre was very lucky to know where his father was. Had Jacque not progressed to âGĂ©nĂ©ral de brigadeâ, Pierre would still be beside Herman.
Pierre and Herman, whilst still studying in England, had deduced that their fathers had died at approximately the same time. They often wondered whether their fathers had caught even a glimpse of each other. It was possible, but the boys dismissed it as near impossible.
16th November, 1916. 637 Germans, 619 French soldiers died on the frontlines. It was a miserable day. Dark, dark rain clouds and rain drops the size of a babyâs fists. And mud! Mud was everywhere. GĂ©nĂ©ral Jacque was not having a good day. Two of his dearest friends had already died on him today, and he was certain that mud had reached the inside of his underpants and partly solidified. At least, he hoped it was mud.
Pierre returned to the memorial and stood side by side with Herman, Pierre on the left, Herman on the right. They joined hands once again, this time with their eyes shut tight. Herman dug his heel into the ground, his white joggers now a stained black. They were both still clutching their poppy in their other hand, letting it dangle but never drop. They began, in synchronised harmony, an Our Father.
16th November, 1916. Franz was not having a good day. Already, he had a bloody leg, had swallowed a mouthful of mud and had to go to the toilet so bad, that he went where he stood. Also, he was sure he had the early symptoms of pneumonia. But on the bright side, wellâŠthere was no bright side really. He had lost most of his friends last week to a stray grenade, but Klaus Breiner was still around. That man was the most annoying person on the face of the earth. Well, considering he was a foot soldier, not for much longer. Soon it would be Franzâs mother-in-law.
âOur Father, who art in heaven,â they began,â Hallowed, be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done as it is in heav- Herman, Herman? Are you okay? Your handâŠ?â
âI-Iâm awl wightâŠâ Herman stammered, âMy fawhead. Burning, sweahhy.â Then Herman collapsed. He had a heart attack.
Two flowers fell.
Pierre frantically called the emergency services. He cradled Hermanâs 47 year old head and stared at his aged, wrinkled face. He slowly edged his finger closer and closer to Hermanâs cheeks. CloserâŠcloserâŠcloser. Pierre lightly brushed Hermanâs cheek, not daring to even hope. Pierre turned away and let the tears come. He cried silently, but not sparingly. The tears plummeted to the ground, each carrying every sad thought that Pierre could possibly conceive, but the rain masked their intensity. He began muttering, continuing the Our Father, now with three intentions.
Simultaneously, their trigger fingers squeezed. âClickâ. The two men were roughly equidistant from each other. Honestly, neither of them ever had a chance. They didnât hate each other. They didnât like each other. They didnât know each other. If it wasnât them, it wouldâve been two other soldiers. War wasnât picky.
Pierre had just begun his 109th Our Father when he could he the screech of an ambulance getting louder and louder. He looked up, Hermanâs head still cradled in his arms. It was all over so quickly. Pierre was asked a few questions, he mumbled something back, and it was all so hazy. The rain had subsided once more to a gentle sprinkle. Pierre was helped into the back with Herman lying on a gurney. Once they arrived at the hospital, and not before he protested vehemently, Pierre was told to wait out side.
âWeâll do everything we can, sir. Itâs good that you called straight away, he has a fighting chance,â a medical orderly said reassuringly.
âNo, not a fighting chance,â muttered Pierre, his eyes watery âPlease, just a chance.â
An eternity later, the doctor emerged from the gray, uninviting room beaming.
âHeâs ready for visitors.â
âHerman, my dear friend. You had me worried.â Pierre could not pretend to hold back the happiness and joy even if heâd tried.
âHa-ha, donât worry, your not getting rid of me that easily,â Herman responded, his voice sounding dry but content.
Herman feebly sat up, perched on the side of his bed and the two embraced each other.
âThankyou,â Herman whispered âYou saved my life.â
âHey, I know you wouldâve done the same for me.â
Two separate bullets came roaring out of two separate barrels. Their paths nearly crossed, they were going in directly opposite directions. Yet they both had the same aim; Death. Just before Jacque went, he caught a glimpse of his target. He was a sort of chubby bloke, had a slightly round stomach. Just before Franz went, he caught a glimpse of his target. He could tell that underneath the helmet this guy had a bushy beard, rather unkempt. Then, for both of themâŠnothing. They had taken one for the team. No anger, no hate, no longing, just nothing. As they say, âAllâs fair in love and war.â Nobody even noticed when
Two soldiers fell.
"Where there's life, there's hope"