awoke to the harsh wail of the sirensawoke to the harsh wail of the sirens

awoke to the harsh wail of the sirens. I rolled over and swallowed a vile mouthful of muddy liquid. Bombs echoed deafeningly through the cold morning dawn, battered shells zooming overhead. I struggled to my feet, coughing as I forced air through my corrupted lungs. I walked slowly to the front line, savouring what I suspected would be the last hour of my life. Stretcher-bearers flashed past, men roughly flung on blood-stained canvass lengths between them, broken bodies lying limp from the ravages of war. The thought that I may soon be joining them sent a sharp chill down my spine. I was nearing the secondary trench, when, through the melee, I realised it had taken a direct hit from a shell, the trench’s walls had virtually melted, its occupants were hardly distinguishable as their bodies, rather what was left of their bodies, lay bloodied and broken. A few were still alive, their groans puncturing the deathly silence like a knife. How they must have wished for a quick death rather than endure such cruel pain, as they waited for their bodies to give up the fight for life. Suddenly three single gunshots awoke me from my thoughts, the groans stopped and the once writhing bodies now lay still. We all turned to face the captain, his face set with a grim determination to hide the sadness beneath, and his gun still smoking.

“It was the humane thing to do.” he said. “I want you all across that glorified puddle now,” then catching our horrified expressions he said,” unless you want to wait here and suffer the same fate as these poor souls.”

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Almost all the men looked fit to vomit, but the sight of my comrades dying in such an ignoble way had filled me with a feverish desire I had yet to find in the war, it was a desire for revenge. Having seen the charred and broken bodies of my comrades made me hell bent on avenging such barbarism, so I prayed I had god’s will behind me in my vengeful quest. I made slow progress through the thick mud, often losing my footing, and, time and again swallowing mouthfuls of vile muddy water. Just as I was nearing the far side I slipped again into what seemed like a mass of quicksand, it reached all the way up to