Duty bound

Duty bound

Status: In Progress

Genre: Thrillers

Houses:

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Thrillers

Houses:

Summary

They said the war would be over by Christmas, that was two years ago. Follow the stories of five characters as they desperately fight for every breath in humanities darkest hour. Only the strongest will survive as they battle their way through mood, blood, and cold hard steel. The trenches are unforgiving. The emeny more-so. Falter, and it could cost you everything. In a war where a single life is isignificant. Where brother kills brother, friend kills friend. There is no room for kindness. The only hope to survive mankinds bloodiest hour is through the ruthlessness and determination of those poor souls forced to battle as pawns while the so called generals cower inside their concrete bunkers.
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Summary

They said the war would be over by Christmas, that was two years ago. Follow the stories of five characters as they desperately fight for every breath in humanities darkest hour. Only the strongest will survive as they battle their way through mood, blood, and cold hard steel. The trenches are unforgiving. The emeny more-so. Falter, and it could cost you everything. In a war where a single life is isignificant. Where brother kills brother, friend kills friend. There is no room for kindness. The only hope to survive mankinds bloodiest hour is through the ruthlessness and determination of those poor souls forced to battle as pawns while the so called generals cower inside their concrete bunkers.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Chapter 1 - Tom

Author Chapter Note

Hey everyone, this is my first propper attempt at writing and so far I'm loving it. I hope you guys do to. If you do, let me know what you like. If you don't, let me know what you hate, any feedback is really helful to me in making this as good as it can be. Any suggestions, advice, pointing out of mistakes or anything like that would go a really long way. Anyway stop reading this and scroll down, and don't forget to comment

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: May 16, 2017

Reads: 89

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: May 16, 2017

A A A

A A A

 

 

Chapter 1

Tom

 

The air was still and unmoving in the valley, a thick cloud sitting heavily at the bottom. From the trench, Tom could see about seventy-five meters of clear air before it was suddenly met by a solid wall of fog. It’s front was a sheer white wall tinted yellow in places phosphorus.

The steel of the grip felt cold and heavy in his hands, the Vickers gun stood proudly on its tripod, its silent muzzle aiming blindly into the white abyss. His loader, Will, sat slumped in the corner of the alcove. His borrowed rifle, a scratched and battered Lee Enfield, stood propped against the wall of the trench. As he sat, he slowly and methodically filled an ammunition belt, it lay limply across his lap as he steadily filled it with bullets. The gentle tinkle of brass slipping into their cases was the only sound in the quiet of the trench.

Tom was in an alcove off the main trench, he stood on a raised platform of raw wood, probably requisitioned from some poor farmers shed. The walls that encased him were dug in a thick clay, covered in wooden supports, Hazel rods woven in-between, their grey colour only added to the pale, cold atmosphere that permeated the air.

He stood, only four feet below the surface of the trench, yet the walls were six feet high. Two foot of sandbags filled with the same grey clay of the trench. It continued up, rising to form a small alcove with three walls. More of the same wood had been used for the roof, clay piled on top to make a crude shelter.

On the front wall of the shelter was a hole, almost a foot tall and half as wide, through it, Tom had an almost unobstructed view of what was once a field, its surface pockmarked by shell craters.

The remains of a derelict stone house sat half hidden by the fog, its wall exerting ghostly white tendrils that seemed to be pulling the ruins in deeper. A few blackened stumps where trees had once stood were the only things left standing. What grass could be seen had been torn from the earth and lay, dead and brown, strewn around.

Nothing lay out there, no battles had been fought, except between artilleries. Occasionally a trench wall might collapse, or stray shrapnel could come raining, but no one was ever hurt.

One time, a lucky German shell had landed right in the centre of the trench, Tom had been about five meters away, but the crisscross pattern of the trench had stopped the blast, no one even knew about it until the bombardment had stopped.

Tom looked down at his watch, wiping the accumulated mud off its face, five in the morning. He reached down for his webbing, knocking his holster off, it fell with a heavy thud as it bounced off the wooden floor.

He opened one of the pouches, taking out his water bottle, he unscrewed the lid, raising it to his mouth and sipping sparingly, knowing his brother, Joe, would have already drunk most of his own and would expect Tom to share. Bending over, he put the bottle back, closing the pouch but leaving the pistol and holster where it had fallen.

Standing up, he sighed heavily, the sudden break in the silence waking several others from their daydreams.

He looked up, the sun was beginning to crest the hills in the distance. The oncoming light illuminating the fog, the water droplets magnifying the light making it harder to see in the early morning gloom

They had been at attention since twelve at night, ever since a scouting party had reported massing German troops only two hundred meters from their trench.

The OC, Second Lieutenant Darrins, had called for a stand-to, ordering his Serjeant to take another patrol out to gather information, picking ten people at random.

Tom had arrived at the trench an hour after the rest of his crew, having received orders to set up a machine gun post.

He was told when he got there that the patrol had left, and that five of the eight-man team for his Vickers had been sent, leaving him, his brother, and his loader, Will. After that, things had only gotten worse, Darrins had told him personally that the coolant system; needed to fire the gun, had been damaged in transport, and had been replaced by several buckets of muddy water.

Tom had been furious, threatening to report Darrins, but it didn’t matter, the officer was new to the frontline, having come straight from Sandhurst. And it was his Serjeant who had chosen the patrol.

After the stand-to was issued, everyone had loaded their rifles and fitted their bayonets. As far as he could see, thick clusters of khaki-clad soldiers sat huddled in their greatcoats, their breath clouded in the air as they sat on the fire step.

A sentry perched on the step, he peered through a battered steel periscope-like a stalk hunting for food. The narrow scope turning slowly from side to side as he strained to see through the fog.

Tom looked behind him, Joe, his brother, had pulled a lucky card from Darrins’s cap and was fast asleep in an enclosed bunk.

Built like a small metal box, the bunk had one open side, concealed with an old blanket for a curtain, luxury accommodation some called it. The roof had been covered with a foot of clay, the mud-soaked curtain blended in making it hard to see.

Like everyone else, Joe could never sleep, their mother had sent a pair of woollen earmuffs for him for his birthday last week. Tom had tried them, they were amazing, something in them blocked out almost all sound.

Toms’ attention was drawn from Joe by a distant rattling, the sound of movement in the wire. It drifted across the fields, quiet at first, then getting louder, and more worryingly, closer.

Toms’ head snapped back, his hands tightening on the Vickers. Will stood up slowly, the half full belt lying discarded on the ground. He opened one of the metal boxes that were stacked, lining the alcove. Understanding, Tom released a clip and opened the top of the Vickers, the smell of gun oil drifted up to meet him as Will slipped the end of a fresh belt into the mechanism.

Will looked up momentarily, his eyes locked on Tom’s, he looked back, seeing absolute fear in his eyes.

By now, what little conversation there had been between the other soldiers had stopped completely.

The rattling sound was growing closer. Soldiers, struggled to their feet, bayonets beginning to stick out of brakes in the sandbags.

Tom lined up the sights while Will prepared the buckets of muddy water, lining them up next to the alcove

The rattling was getting closer now, almost to the edge of the fog, Tom looked back at Joe one last time before setting his sights roughly on where the sound was.

About five seconds later, it finally broke through the fog. Tom had to blink several times before he believed what he was seeing. A dirt covered sheep emerged slowly, small dots of blood stained its wool where it had caught on the wire.

A soldier, somewhere further down the trench stood up fully to see properly, he started laughing hysterically before looking at the officer and shouting

“A sheep, you’ve had us up all bloody night for a damn shee…” He never finished his sentence

Suddenly a sudden and quick whizzing sound penetrated the silence, a shot had fired, in the quiet, it sounded like a crack of lightening, a bullet the size of a hazelnut It smashed the soldier's neck, severing his spine and leaving a hole the size of a shilling.

The smile was still on his face as the force slammed his body backwards into the wall of the trench, his limp body slid slowly to the bottom and lay slumped in a pile, motionless, like a rag doll.

But no one saw him after the bullet got him because, at that moment, the shrill scream of a whistle blasted somewhere in the fog drawing the attention of everyone moments before one, then five, then a hundred grey clad figures smashed through the fog and came sprinting for the trench.

Tom stood motionless for what felt like an eternity, everything seemed to slow down, even sound.

Then rifles both in and out of the trench began firing and he was shook violently from his shock, his concentration now turning fully to the situation.

All emotion fled his mind as his fingers clamped around the triggers. The Vickers began firing, adding a new, solid rhythm to the thunderstorm of bullets.

It fired continuously, mowing down what seemed like hundreds of soldiers, before long, the air was filled with the sharp stink of phosphorus and a fine pink mist.

But no matter how much they fired, the soldiers kept coming, hundreds soon turned to thousands as more and more charged through.

Soon, they began getting close enough to switch to bayonets. Some managing to jump down, plunging sharp steel into the chests of soldiers.

It wasn’t long before Tom’s section of trench was the last standing, his gun cutting down the enemy and forming a crude, semi-circle of bodies, their blood turning the soil a deep crimson.

Soon, Tom was the only soldier firing, the others having turned their attention to both sides of the trench where the walkway turned. Germans, who had taken most other sections, were now advancing on Toms’. They came through the trench network, newly formed British blockades barely slowing them.

As he was firing, a soldier broke off from the blockade to the left and began pouring water over the gun, the muzzle almost cherry red now and at risk of fusing with the chamber.

The lines of Germans began to thin as more and more fell prey to the gun, the rhythmic ‘Thud thud thud’ sound almost hypnotic.

Then the gun jammed, a loud metallic ‘ping’ the last sound that came from it as it went silent. It was a few seconds before Tom realised what had happened, his body still moving back and forth to compensate for recoil.

To Toms’ left and right, the blockades were crumbling, the majority of defenders now lay dead in the mud. But it didn’t matter, as the soldiers got closer to his flanks, the soldiers he’d been firing at in front were almost to the trench. He could see them in greater detail now, their faces twisted into a grim snarl.

Will had just left the alcove and was raising his rifle when a bullet pierced his shoulder. He managed to stay standing as his borrowed rifle went flying from his hands. A German jumped down, pushing Will to the ground, plunging a bayonet into his chest.

The blade slipped easily between his ribs and pierced his heart. Will died almost instantly. The Germans bayonet was stuck, as he tried to tear it out, Tom pulled a pistol from its holster on the floor and shot the man three times in the chest.

“You bastard!” Tom screamed.

From behind Tom, a shot rebounded around the trench, seemingly louder than the hailstorm of bullets being fired. Tom spun on his heels, coming face to face with a soldier, the one who had been cooling the gun with water. A blade had sprouted from his chest, they both looked down at it, surprise on his face.

Tom looked into his eyes as he fell, dropping the pistol trying to catch him, but he wasn’t quick enough as the body fell from the knife and landed, limp at Tom’s feet.

Looking up, Tom saw a soldier, clad in grey woollen clothes, his hands were clean, his face shaved, barely any mud on him, he raised his rifle, aiming at Tom’s chest

Tom thought about shooting him, but his pistol was on the floor, he wouldn’t’ve made it. But soon the trench was filled with them. He was surrounded, he looked around and saw close to twenty muzzles.

“Morning ladies…” He said, beyond fear.

A man stepped out of the crowd, he was tall and dressed differently. His wide, thick-set jaw made him look strong, his height giving him a natural authority over the others. He was an Officer, freshly washed and shaven, he’d probably walked over behind the others Tom thought with disgust.

“I am Captain Koch, you are my prisoner now. Walk Tommie, schnell” He said calmly, his voice barely a whisper, raising his arm and pointing up, out of the trench and back towards the direction he’d come from.

Tom considered running, but it would be suicide. Instead, he turned and followed the hand, it was covered in calluses and scars. Finding a ladder and climbing, he went over the top.

A rifle slammed into his back, forcing him forwards. As he stumbled across the torn ground, thick, muddy goo began clinging to his boots, making it hard to walk. He desperately needed to stop, needed to get the mud off.

Whenever he showed any sign of slowing, he got a rifle to the back. They were halted only fifty meters from the fog, the ground there was saturated with blood, and bodies lied scattered around.

He looked around, seeing that two of the German soldiers were holding his machine gun, the barrel still smoked a little, he felt a pang of guilt, his orders had been to destroy it before it could be captured, if he ever made it back he could face dire consequences.

A few minutes later, when the last shots had been fired. Groups of grey soldiers slowly emerged from the trench, some were clustered around captured, blood-stained khaki soldiers, barely recognisable.

As they neared, Tom remembered Joe for the first time, worry gnawed at him as the groups got closer. He saw that amongst them was Second Lieutenant Darrins, his face dirtied by mud and blood, his cap and rank slide missing. A few others he barely knew followed behind, all in similar conditions, but not Joe.

The German officer walked over to Darrins, stopping short about two meters. Both men were similarly built, both about the same height, both had the same wide spaced shoulders. They could’ve been brothers for all the soldiers new. Except for the eyes.

Darrins’ eyes were deep brown, warm and inviting confidence, but the Germans were a pale blue, icy almost, they seemed to see through people, peering into their souls. The two icy portals gave his sculpted face a stern look.

Both officers squared up to the other, their eyes fighting a silent battle. Soldiers from both sides were silent, staring in awe as the silent battle raged. The silence seemed to fill the world before finally, Koch spoke.

“Guten morgen Lieutenant, I see that I outrank

you. Thank you for your trench, even if its condition is somewhat, Scheisse?” Koch said, staring menacingly at Darrin

“Either way” He continued

“We shan’t be needing it. You are lucky, we

have been ordered to retreat, for now,” He finished, he stood close to Darrin, their eyes were locked.

“You take our trench, kill my men, and then

leave?” Darrin replied quietly, a new fire in his eyes, his jaw tight.

“Wasteful I know, but what Ludendorff wants, Ludendorff gets, it is the same with your Haig no? Anyway, this is not the time for pleasantries, after you” He said, his hand outstretched towards the fog.

The other German soldiers joined Tom’s group, they herded the khaki-clad soldiers into a small cluster. Tom was practically pressed up against Darrin.

“Sir, have you seen my brother? He was on the Vickers team, his names Joe. Short, chestnut hair like me?” He stammered, almost pleading.

“Sorry son, but I don’t know who that is,” He said, turning to look forwards.

Tom began to panic, his stomach churning he couldn’t help but shout out.

“Joe!” He yelled repeatedly

Tom kept calling out until a soldier shoved the butt of his rifle into his stomach, knocking the wind out of him and making his knees go weak, Darrin caught him before he could fall.

”Ruhig!” The soldier screamed into his face

“Gehen, schnell!” He said, shoving Tom forwards.

He walked on, weak in the knees, they passed the sheep, its white fur stained red with blood. He carried on, stumbling once over a body, its face caved in by a bullet, probably by his own Vickers which now sat cooling, two hundred meters away. But he felt no guilt, only worry and loss.

He looked up once again, the sun now fully above the hills, the white of the fog in front almost blinding as he walked onwards, into the abyss.

 


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