The sky was streaked with the trails of artillery shells and rockets. Howitzers, mortars, and other big guns were steadily thumping on either side. Lying on the ground and locked in the embrace of death were hundreds of men and women who had met their end from the artillery and other less desirable ways.
Guns and other weapons were being dropped and lost by both sides so much it seemed like no two troops had the same weapon in their hand. As Easterners died, weaponless Allies took up the dead men's arms, and vice versa. That's how one American corporal sitting in a shallow hole ended up with an unfamiliar Lithuanian AS gun.
"What the hell does this say?" the corporal asked the PFC sitting next to him, pointing at the unfamiliar writing on the AS gun.
The PFC gave an answer that sounded like, "Muh."
"Ah, it doesn't matter. I just wish I had some Executioners."
As if out of nowhere a man came running towards their erstwhile foxhole yelling, "Shit!" at the top of his lungs. He was helmetless, and his wild red hair was flying in the wind. He had probably lost it while running, because only a hundred yards behind him were Easterners chasing him and firing. He was firing occasionally back with shells from a single-shot pistol.
He leapt into their already cramped semi-trench and began shooting immediately with the S-pistol he was holding in his hand. It was an officer's weapon, and this man looked clearly like a private by the stripe on his overcoat. The corporal and the PFC immediately began shooting with their own weapons, the corporal unconcerned about reading the Lithuanian any more.
"How did you get that pistol? Did you take it from a dead officer?"
"No," the man puffed out, "I lost my helmet back there, I've got to go get it!"
The private jumped up to rush back to where he had lost his helmet. Unfortunately that area was crawling with Easterners wearing the flag of Latvia prominently on their uniforms. The corporal grabbed the private and pulled him back.
"Don't! There are Latvians all over! Your helmet's probably ruined anyway!"
A string of Eastern shells churned up the mud where the private had just tried to dive to retrieve his helmet.
"You saved my life," he whispered incredulously.
"Just return the favor and keep shooting, pal!"
The private got off a few more shots with the S-pistol (which were only ornamental anyway) before running out of shells. He grabbed an AS gun from a Ukrainian that had collapsed a few feet in front of his nose and kept shooting.
There was friendly fire from some nearby Allied foxholes. The enemy infantry was not having much luck, but their artillery was still pumping the area full of shells. A lethal rain of flak was falling. It reminded the private bizarrely of a light snowfall, aside from the dying part.
"They must have the devil on their side! No matter how much they fall back those damned guns never stop firing!" the corporal yelled.
"Typical Eastern strategy," the private said matter-of-factly.
"Well thank you for that, general," the corporal said sarcastically, giving a sharp mock salute, "But I don't give a shit about their tactics. I just wish the bastard in command here would do something instead of making us sit and get shot up."
The private gave the corporal a strange look.
"I'm sure the general's doing the best he can," the private said.
"Well, his best must not be all that good, huh? Let him go back and fight the Mexicans. Easterners are a lot tougher slugs to take down."
A chunk of metal suddenly rolled into the foxhole. When it didn't explode the private picked it up and examined it.
"This is my helmet!" he exclaimed happily, "What are the odds of that?"
"A billion to one."
The private put it on backwards by accident. It was dented, but could still function. He turned it around so that the front was facing forward. There was a single light green star painted on the helmet. The corporal and the PFC both gasped.
"Yeah. I got caught behind their lines accidentally. I didn't have a real weapon so I had to use my S-pistol to escape back here. I'd better be heading back to command."
The corporal's eyes were as big as baseballs.
"Sir, I'm sorry..."
"Thanks for saving my life," King cut him off, then whispering, "And don't talk shit about your officers."
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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