I wrote this piece about the trench warfare in France 1914 – 1918, where men were slaughtered like sheep at every blast of a whistle on both sides.
As far as I am concerned, ALL war is a crime.
I am freezing cold, my uniform soaked through, the icy water chilling through the tthree layers of fabric. My rifle in my hands, a weighted encumbrance, but so nescessary, (the cough of a bullet a familiar sound), for my life depended on it. I am so afraid, petrified, as I lie in this flooded trench, my comrades around me, some present in life, some not. It is getting dark, the enemy on the run, but I can see the dead around me, sightless eyes with bluish sheen, limbs and heads separated from bodies, Dante himself could not envision the horror, the sheer terrifying sight of death in every possible grotesque pose or posture. This image, burns into my eyes, searing into every part of me, shame so intense that my children and their children would know of this barbarity. Artillery comes in from the east, a sheer wall of exploded earth and trees, rocks and splinters scything through the air, and I sink further into the trench, wretching from the blood and gore entering my mouth with the water, the putrid smell of rotten flesh, faces and urine assault my senses. The fear is indescribable, and as I hug my helmet down over my head, the shells exploding closer, closer, the ground buckles as if to remove us from the trench and deliver us screaming to the incoming warheads. Then Hell descends to earth as shells detonatte around me, covering me with mud and branches, peppering my body with parts of others, vaporized in a flash of high explosive infamy, only bits remaining, smoking in the crisp cold air. I lift my head and retch, gagging on the coppery taste of death in my mouth, spitting out vile death not my own. Then silence. As my ears begin to clear, the screams of the wounded in the night, banshees of the pain wracked, begin begging for relief into the arms of warm death, and the symphony of the wounded and dying begins. I have been to this theatre of war many times. I look up slowly from the trench, barely concealing my body, mud sucking with the movement, filled with unimaginable horrors. Slowly I wipe my eyes, and wish that I had not. A yellow fog creeps in after the barrage, a sighing puff of noise as the artillery delivers cannisters discharge suffocating, chocking death. I crawl deeper into the trench, reaching for my mud caked mask, pulling it over my face as yellow death rolls over the entrenchment. The screams of the dying wounded became giggles of fatality, seeking breath, but finding death with every scream inhaled. For an eternity it continues, silence punctuated with the rattling last breaths of mustard gas terminally inhaled, for them, death, peace and silence. Then the whistle. I see Golems rising from the mud, helmetted heads bowed, some sobbing, some searching for weapon or equipment or body parts, some stumbling in the dark, calling for muster. ” Platoon 3, Charlie Company, to me!” ” Platoon 1, Irish Rifles, to me! Move your fecking arses, move, move!” I clutch my rifle closely, I look around and see the extent of the loss. We were 2000, the number standing cannot be more than a hundred. We had arrived at the front yesterday from England. We muster, and push on. This is the story of the beginning of my war.
The Last Templar
From my 1st book, Pieces of my Mind Volume 1: A Mixed Genre Collection.
A chalice raised to my lips, red wine slipping over the brim, drops of ruby red like pearled blood, running down my chin, dripping onto my white tunic, adding a bright red stain next to the red cross emblazoned on my chest. The wine tart, sliding down my throat, a harsh, bitter unfermented grape, raw, it burns as it absolves my sins. On my knees, bread placed upon my tongue, dissolving like acidic flesh, I am cleansed with the certainty of duty, to the death, and to the glory of my order. The Royal Arches loom above my head, keystones bearing the weight of our history, the cathedral dark and damp, with sconces burning with an oily smoke, the vaulted ceiling as black as the burnt souls of the Damned from whom we cleaved from flesh. Rising, hands upon the blade guards of my broadsword, the pommel leather bound and cured by the blood of the Enemy, I rise to my feet, the cold damp of the rough hewn stone felt through the thin soles of my leather boots and seeping through the wrapped leggings into my cramped leg muscles. I stand, my armour clanging with the effort, chain mail clinking, then silence, my words of prayer whispered into the darkness of this holy place. I grasp the pommel of my sword, and with a mighty roar, throws flexed with muscle memory, swing it above my head, the shining steel whistling in the frigid air, the combination of raw steel and the hissing promise of death, sounding like whispering angels intent on their lethal purpose. As blade meets flesh, rending limb from torso, and heads roll from shoulders in a bloody spray of contrition, covering my tunic with the crimson stain of iniquity, of the ultimate sin. Howling with the power of the unholy possession, I cast off my helmet and visor, my hands guiding my blade as if possessed. Silence. I stand in the dark, the blood of my duty flowing at my feet, stones awash with the tide with the blood of my countrymen, of damnation I am certain. I stand here, the last of my kind, the blood of my faith pouring down my arms and sides, mixing with that of my brethren, mortal wounds drain me, as I sink to my knees, sword point embedded in the stone. As I fall, with the last of my strength, I lean my weight upon my glade, and with an echoing crack that could be heard in Heaven, my blade snaps in two. As my body strikes the stone, before darkness sets in for my eternal damnation, I rest easy in the knowledge that our legend will stand the test of time, and no more will our faith and duty be betrayed by Kings. As with my sword, I break the last bonds with treachery, my duty now only to atone for the blood that stains my palms, feet and tunic, so saturated, that the crimson cross is no more, invisible, deceived by the unholy alliance of greed and expediency. Death greets me with a gentle hand, and with my last breath, I surrender myself to Judgement. So mote it be.