Wednesday January 6th, 2010

The exercise:

I've made a bit of a dent into the gap between where I want to be and where I am on AFC today, might get some more done tonight. We shall see.

AFC Word Count: 5,783
AFC Word Target: 6,000

Anyway, your prompt for today: in the trenches.


I rest my back against the mud of the embankment and stare up at the darkening sky. The mess of saturated dirt and blood soaks through the back of my uniform in seconds but I'm too exhausted to care, too wore down to move. Bullets pierce the air above us like deadly shooting stars. They're so close. I want to reach up and catch one...

"Sarge?" I slowly turn my head to look at the soldier to my right. I think I've seen him before. "Are you feeling okay?"

"Of course," I reply with a shaky laugh. "I'm in the middle of a field of dead earth and dead men and I'm being shot at twenty-four hours a day. How could I possibly be better?"

He falls silent and his eyes shift to study the ground at his feet. His boots are caked in dried mud and other things I don't care to think about and I take the opportunity to study his face. He's young, too young to be out here with us old men. He should go home. No. He should never have come.

Maybe I should have stayed home too.

A shell lands close enough behind us to jolt us forward and shower us with bits of earth. The scent of burning metal and grass reaches my nostrils and I smile in shock. How is there still grass left to burn? How can anything be left alive out there, between us and them?

I scramble up to the edge, ignoring the boy's shouts to stay down. I hope there is still some green left after that blast. I need to see something besides brown and grey and red and black.

But as my eyes peer over the top of the trench I see only brown mud and the grey of cascading bullets. Then my luck runs out at last and I briefly see red before everything fades to black.


Greg said...

Writing AFC is that hard that it gave you In the trenches as inspiration? You must be finding it tougher than I realised! Let's hope there's no snipers out there waiting to take you out before AFC gets finished!

As for in the trenches, it's evocative and thought-provoking. The line in the middle, "Maybe I should have stayed home too" suggests that the narrator had a choice about this war, and that they recognize this, which makes their death at the end all the more startling. I quite like that you've not taken the easy (well, easy-ish) option of portraying the characters as being shell-shocked too; it provides a kind of vitality to the story.
If I've any complaints at all, I think it's that I'd have preferred it to be a little longer, to know more about the trench and have a chance to connect with the narrator before he dies likes that!

Mine, today, because I'm short of time (sorry) is one I prepared earlier! Hopefully you'll like it anyway: Trench Cookery

Marc said...

Nah, the prompt had nothing to do with AFC. I just felt an urge to get all world war-y.

I know what you mean about it easily being longer, but I do try to keep my posts here relatively short. I feel bad when they get overly long :)

And I quite enjoyed your pre-prepared cooking story! It reheated nicely :)