Lest We Forget. Three pieces of flash fiction for Remembrance Day. Each is about the First World War, the war that should have ended all wars. They are each exactly one hundred words long. ‘Outstanding Courage’ is based on a true story.
Lying in Wait
Yesterday I lay in wait.
My comrades and I were ready to ambush the enemy. Patiently, we longed for, yet dreaded, the call to advance.
With eye contact, we spoke to each other without words.
We encouraged, with smiles and winks.
We silently promised to carry news to the loved ones of those who didn’t survive the day.
The signal was given and we hurled ourselves at the enemy.
Now, frightened and exhausted, only yards from the safety of the ditch where I hid yesterday, I’m alone and wounded.
My end is near and I lie in wait.
Dying Like a Man
‘I’m not afraid,’ the boy whispers through teeth that chatter louder than his words. Eyes wide and nostrils flared, he grips the rifle tightly. The blood supply to his dirt-encrusted fingernails is stopped, turning them white.
There’s no point telling him not to worry.
Our trench is bathed in blood and the stench of decay is in our nostrils.
Death is near.
What matters now, is not when, but how our lives end. That’s all we have left. The determination to be brave.
How tragic, the boy who didn’t live long enough to become a man, will die a man.
Armed with a revolver, the officer climbs over the parapet and marches, as if on parade, across the ravages of No Man’s Land.
Friendly eyes follow his progress, wide in disbelief, whilst enemy eyes line him up in their rifle sights.
He’s aware of the danger but bravely strides towards the injured infantryman hanging wounded and broken on the barbed wire.
Such an easy target.
But as the officer disentangles the soldier and carries him to safety on his shoulder, cheering is heard from the enemy lines.
And there, amidst the slaughter, enemies forget their differences and salute outstanding courage.