Heavy raindrops began to fall on the barren landscape known as No Man’s Land

Heavy raindrops began to fall on the barren landscape known as No Man’s Land. The path ahead of us was blocked by human debris and shrapnel. My shins were soaked by puddles the size of rivers, hidden by the layer of mist that hovered above the wasteland. I glanced behind me to see my fellow soldiers, who looked mortified. James, a dark-haired skinny adolescent, who was the youngest in our Pals’ battalion, looked as sick as a dog. So scared you could see the tears through the mud on his ashen face. The conditions out here were so dreadful I wished I was still stuck in the trenches. Now that’s a first.
“James!” I shouted through the misty fog. He jumped, frightened, and raised his weapon. “Relax, we’ll be back at the home trench in no time'” I said.
“A-a-all right.” James stammered. “I hate this. I just want to go home.”
Although there was a slim chance of us returning anytime time soon, I told him this to calm his nerves.
We continued to walk through the smoke, although it was becoming increasingly difficult to track our location though the foggy surroundings. The smell of rotting flesh and burning human remnants hung in the air. Mud often became like quicksand under our feet, with streams of brown, ice-like water washing our legs now and again.
We had found a trench, and started checking for survivors, assuming it was an ally trench. I looked to my feet and spotted a brownish-grey tunic that looked frighteningly unfamiliar. As I lifted my head up, my torch glared over a sign. The sign read “Vorderseite Linie”. The writing was obviously German.
“Helfen sie mir!” A faint voice sounded from the mud.
“Did you hear that?” I said. I looked around to identify where the sound was coming from.
“Helfen sie mir!” the voice repeated.
“A survivor,” said James, scanning to find the body.
A flicker of lightning filled the ground with light. A dugout was revealed. I was expecting to see a line of angry Germans in the dugout but, to my relief, it was empty. The thunder rumbled once more. Lightning struck, looking like a bolt of electricity shooting through the sky. This time, a much brighter light shone across the muddy wasteland. To my surprise, a body was apparent, lying on the ground. As I approached it, I tried to make sense of its almost inaudible cries for help.
“Können Sie mir helfen? “muttered a voice.
“Did you hear that? We need to turn him towards us.” I said.
None of us could speak German, so we could not understand him. James and I walked over to the soldier. We turned over the body- and jumped back in shock. James began to turn green and throw up. The German soldier’s skin was melted to the bone. His eyelids were snapped shut and tears uncontrollably streamed from his eyes. He was praying. I had seen some disturbing things in my lifetime, but this was different. It made me nauseous looking at the helpless soldier. He was defenceless and dying. We couldn’t just walk away.
“We have to help him. We can’t just leave him here.”
“He is the enemy, a German! Why should we help him? “shouted James.
“Imagine if this was any of our own! Just help me carry him back to safety,” I reasoned.
“But he’s differ…”
We were interrupted by gunfire and shouts from afar. This man was clearly not all that was left of his battalion.
“Help me!” I commanded, as I put my gun down and attempted to lift the wounded soldier over my shoulder.
James scrambled through the mud towards me as we heard the footsteps loom closer, approaching, with only one intention. To kill us.
We began to move as fast as our legs would carry us. Trying to run through the muddy water with my drenched cotton clothes and a German on my back was like battling against the tide. My sense of orientation was lost as the fog restricted my vison through the misty battleground. The enemy soldiers were running at us and I could hear their chants approaching from behind. My heart was racing. My narrow shoulders could no longer carry the weight resting on them. My legs collapsed. The gunshots fired from behind me. I glanced back. Darkness consumed my vision.
If only I could have told we were trying to save their own comrade.

x

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