Books Magazine

Keep The Hill

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
The end of the world does not mean the end of all things. I pretty sure you have all experienced an “end of my world” event. When something happens that changes everything and the world you once lived in now looks very different.This short story is a test piece I wrote a fair few years ago now. I wanted to write about the end of worlds, how one life can stop and other come into existence only for the life to also change.I tried to get that into a very short war story where the war itself could also be considered to be the lead up to the end of the world.Please feel free to leave comments and criticisms. I do hope you enjoy it.Keep the Hill
“No Simon!”

It was too late. Simon took that extra step and with a loud deafening bang, was transformed into body parts and red mist. I've been watching these fields for months, seen many people and animals come off second best to the mines. Some manage to pull back quickly enough so that only their legs gets removed in the blast, but these are the unlucky ones. The inevitable end comes to them as well, only it takes a few days. I've watched these fields for so long, I know there's no path through, yet the madness takes hold of some and they reckon they can make it.

Simon had just got that madness; the constant shelling and the knowledge that we were trapped took its toll on his sanity and, like so many before him, thought he knew the route out.

Silence followed the explosion. This was their tactic, throw shells and bullets at us for hours then give us a ten minute break before starting it all over again. This was our life now. A small troop of sixty men who, through the mines and the occasional direct hits, had been reduced to just seven; sorry with Simon that makes us six.

And why were we here? Why did they send a bunch of teenagers out with guns and bombs to dig trenches and shoot at an enemy who was out of sight? It's because some general in some office back home decided that this line was not to be crossed, that this hill behind us, that we couldn't even reach because of our own mines, had to be kept safe.

It was one of our mines that had scattered Simon to the winds. They lay under the earth behind us. The enemy mines are buried to our forward line while a mixture of the two sides devises blocked our flanks.

Now only six of us were left, the final resistance for the sake of the hill. We would have called for reinforcements but our radio was knocked out within the first few days. The powers that be don't seem to care, otherwise they would have sent more troops when they realized we couldn't be contacted, or maybe they thought we had lost the fight and just decided that more troops would just be wasteful.

The distant sounds of heavy artillery started again followed seconds later by the explosions of the shells making contact with the ground; here we go again.

I sometimes think of what life would have been like if we weren't at war. I was sixteen when I was drafted. I didn't mind, seemed like a laugh and I was doing my bit to help rid the world of this evil, protect my family and get the chance to be a hero instead of the layabout I was bound to become. I'm nineteen now, I was eighteen when I was deployed to these trenches six months ago. The lads tried their best to celebrate my birthday, we’d been reduced to thirty by then so it wasn't a bad bash.

In a twisted way I felt as if all the mushroomed flames of the falling shells were some kind of fireworks display. It helped for a moment, but the next day we all felt the same crash of reality. Back to shooting at nothing and watching others die wondering when it would be your turn.

Sometimes I forget who were fighting, and why? Christ there's only six of us left. This is madness, I've got to get out, get out, gotta get out!

Hang on I've got to get a grip, that's what happen to Simon, he counted how many were left then made a run for it. Though in a way I think he is better off now. Six privates against an army, yeah he's better off. I wonder who'll be next?

Steve has always been the strongest of us. When the captain bought it he was the one who took charge. We had three sergeants and six corporals but it was Steve who seemed to have his wits about him. I think he'll end up here on his own and when the war machine comes in to take their prize he'll be here yelling abuse at them.

Ian on the other hand amazes me that he's still alive. From day one he was always throwing out negative comments. I thought he'd be the first one killed, by our troops. Now he sits silent most of the time only screaming out the word "why" every so often in the midst of the shelling.

Dave always has a joke to tell, usually bad ones but I'll give him credit, when it comes to trying to keep the spirits up he does his best. I don't know how he manages to keep such a positive note on things. He knows as well as the rest of us that we are going to die here yet he still carries on smiling and joking.

Chris keeps himself to himself. He'll join in with the conversations but doesn't give anything away. He says the less we know about him the less we can say if captured. Though being captured is a hopeful thought. I think he loves this, like he was born for it. He's the only one that still fires the bombs off.

Sammy I think will be the next to try and run, he has that look in his eye that says he'd rather die trying to get out of here than die just sitting on his arse. I give him two days before he goes for it.

Then there's me, a layabout teenager turned into a man by the army. Sold on the idea of freedom and righteousness and now I sit watching the fields and listening to the bombs. This is my lot and this is where it will end, I kissed the book, took the shilling and packed my bag for my place in history. I only hope that something will be learned from this and in the future others won't have to endure this lonely life of getting used to death.

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