by CG Brik
Oh why, oh why am I alone so far away? Oh, my soul might die so far away. So I crawl and die, so I sing missing music. So my, so soul, so missing, so far away—
– so the American GI’s thoughts went. Nonsense? Maybe. But such is panic. Too far passed the turn in the fox hole to see the light of the entrance, his torch fell as he stumbled on a trou de loup, a booby trap, covered by a thin layer of grass, and a panji stick went through his palm. It could be a mine that’d be triggered once he tried to pull his mutilated hand off the barbed shaft. He heard something shuffling further down the tunnel.
Could be our guy. Or could be one of ours. Then he’s a fool. That’s enough. Or another point who drew short straw. Doesn’t change anything. Please don’t let it happen again.
Couldn’t be the enemy. The enemy would be waiting at the other end, pick off the leftover crew, wounded from the traps, disoriented from the light. That’d be the way. Then again, he might not. This shuffling might be him.
Have to risk a match. Trou de loup. Toodle-loo limbs. That pain.
He was a foxhole diver. Most soldiers didn’t survive more than two dives. Their psyche couldn’t handle more than five. He’d done fifteen. He was twenty-two. If he wasn’t in hell, this would be considered a miracle. Here, you’re a corpse plunger. With ‘success’ like that, he’d been forgiven several incidents of friendly fire.
First match burst quicker than a blink, left a red firefly. Dirt, blackness and cold metal gun. Feels like breathing through a sweaty sock. The tunnel continues turning. Couldn’t see the torch. Second match. A glimpse of wires. Or roots? Have to get closer to see. Or set it off. Seeing only memories, hearing only breath now, in the dark.
I miss Molly and the grass we smoked and the flowers in her hair I miss Coke in the back of a Chevy with Friday night lights and sticking up my thumb on a lonesome desert road just to find myself on a leather seat with a beautiful stranger, why oh why I got to be buried alive. Now. Now I’m a blood worm sweating fear ejaculating metal death teeth at farm children. Digested along guerra viscera.
More shuffling, closer now.
Last match. Twenty minutes earlier, the platoon had been ambushed, and they scattered, ran in the direction of the attack. One got hit by a shrapnel mine. Investigating closer, there were severed heads, defiled with other extremities. Be cool, it’s a tactic, it’s just a tactic, they get what gets us psychologically, it’s strategy, be cool. This helped very little. But maybe it was true, clearing away the pieces of their comrade and some sticks, they noticed a tunnel opening. Territorial infiltration. A maw of infestation. Work your magic they said, and he entered. See anything move, shoot.
CG Brik is writing in San Antonio, TX.
Our Reader said:
The stream of consciousness captures the increasing sense of fear and danger.