Monday, September 27, 2010

Chapter I: The Trenches

Like I said in my last post, I'm tromping through London this week. The friends I'm with (Vi and Amalia) are fellow writers and filmmakers. We took a screenwriting course together at CalArts, and ever since, we've held eachother accountable to continue writing. So, on this vacation, I've made it a goal to write a short story every day, based on my experiences of the day. Today, we visited the Imperial War Museum. This story is based on the "in the trenches" exhibit, which simulated what life might have been like in the trenches of World War II.

Pender felt cold wetness seep into his britches and onto the back of his legs. The night air bit at his eyes and ears, but his sweat-stained scarf kept his nose and cheeks warm. He wasn't sure what was worse--the smell of the breath collected against his scarf (Pender couldn't remember the last time he brushed his teeth), or the stench of the urine and war that permeated the trench around him.

Pender was his nation's man, and their last hope, he reminded himself. This was no time to rest, the men were looking to him. Using one hand against the stack of munitions, he rose to his feet. His knees ached from crouching, it felt like the sting of cowardice infecting his joints.

The chill winter air was silent. Only moments ago, it was filled with the sounds of war, of rounds whizzing inches overhead. Miller had been hit. A shot to the left cheek. The red had spread across his cheek almost immediately, a stark violent contrast to the snow he writhed on top of.

is screams had long-since died away. He had gone home He was with his mother again. They would all be reunited with their loved ones soon enough.

Pender stood, but crouched, his head just under the battlements. He surveyed his weary warriors. Tully ("Bully Tully") was glowering up at the steel grey sky though the softly falling flakes of snow. Campbell was anxiously cracking his knuckles, though the sound was muffled by dyed-wool mittens. And Monroe...his trusted leftenant...whose eyes glistened with unfallen tears, looked up at Pender. It was a bitter glare, full of fear, anger, and accusation.

A shout broke the stillness. A shout from the enemy lines.

"Oi!" cried the voice, in broken english, "Oi! You 'ad enough yet?"

Pender locked eyes with Monroe. A desperate, uncomfortable moment passed. Blood-numbingly cold as it was, Pender has to whipe the sweat from his brow.

"I said: you! 'Ad! Enough?!"

Campbell shook his head and whispered with a voice thick with tears, "We ain't ever surrendered yet, mate. We can't give in now!"

"Yeah," Bully Tully replied--a little too loud, "Life ends eventually, might as well end it on yer feet!"

Pender looked to Monroe, "What do you say?"

At once, the resentment melted away and his old friend looked back at him, "They fight like girls anyway."

Pender smiled and thrust his hand into the wall of snow that formed the trench. He pulled out a wad of snow and used both hands to pack it hard. With his snowball complete, he looked to his men. Each had their arms full, cradling frosty ammunition. He smiled and cried, "Kill the girls!!"

"Kill the girls!" Monroe screamed.

"Kill the girls!!" joined Campbell and Bully Tully. And with that, the four eight year-olds ran out of their trench and charged across the fresh-fallen snow toward the girls' fort, hurling their snowballs into the crisp December air.

1 comment:

Ashley Boddy said...

Welcome to England...did you get a chance to have a look at Searles drawings from when he was a POW?