The Soldiers

Plays: 22  | Likes: 3  | Shelves: 2  | Comments: 4

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Flash Fiction Fun

Featured Review on this writing by MikHoest

When two soldiers in the dying months of World War I take shelter in a rundown French farmhouse, they come across a boy named Olivier, eager to invite them to dinner...

Created: October 12,2020


The soldiers had come again. Olivier couldn’t tell what nation or army they belonged to. He couldn’t tell if they were English or French or German. They were covered in mud, one had dirty bandages around their left arm and head. His best friend Sabrina, from the farm next to theirs, had called them ghosts, but he didn’t believe that. Ghosts didn’t steal eggs from the chicken coop.

He’d been woken up by the sound of cracking wood, and a man swearing. Olivier had crawled out from under his wool blanket and crept to the window. In the garden below he saw a man had fallen into and broken the pig’s trough, while the man with bandages pointed and laughed. Whatever they were saying didn’t sound like French, but since English and German sounded so similar to his ears, he didn’t know if he should find a weapon or hide in the cellar like his mother had taught him.

The bandaged and laughing soldier gave his comrade a hand up. They were looking at the house now, pointing, debating. Many soldiers came this way. The other ones had snuck into his house without much debate. They stole food, and he didn’t have much to spare. The soldiers came up to the windows and peered inside.

Olivier’s heart raced. Were they German? He had an urge to invite them in for dinner. It had been so long since he’d had real food. Dinner is his home used to be a happy time. Now it terrified him. The icy silence around his dinner table, his mother and father’s hollow eyes staring at each other without exchanging a single word, was wearing him down like a bone being chewed by a dog. His stomach growled. All this thought of food gave him a courage he wasn’t used to.

He raced down the stairs. The smell in the house had gotten worse, but he had gotten better at ignoring it. He could hear the soldiers now, they were trying to force the front door. He walked quietly, keeping low in case they looked through the window again. He tried to make out their words. It certainly wasn’t French. He reached the wall, and through a crack could make out the sleeve of one of their uniforms. It didn’t look German. He grabbed the bar that secured the door shut and lifted it.

The two soldiers tumbled in, one falling on top of the other. It was so funny Olivier couldn’t help but start to laugh. The two soldiers reacted quickly, scrambling to their feet and pulling out their rifles. When they realized it was just a boy laughing, they lowered their arms and started asking questions.

Olivier could only shake his head. “I can’t understand you. Are you hungry? Would you like to have dinner with my family?” he asked.

“Ah, you only speak French,” the man who had fallen into the pig’s trough said. He had black hair and a week’s worth of stubble. His French accent was awful but understandable. “My name’s Simon, and this is John.”

John, who was balding even though he couldn’t have been older than twenty, nodded and looked around the house uneasily. Before the war this house had been beautiful and always full of light and warmth, now it was falling to pieces. Windows were broken, walls were cracked, and mildew had infiltrated every corner. Olivier knew that as soon as the war was over his parents would fix it up again.

“I’m hungry. Can we have dinner now?”

“One moment. What’s your name?”

“I’m called Olivier. Do you have any meat? Do you have chocolate?”

Simon sighed and looked back to the other soldier with a shrug.

“I haven’t had meat in a long, long time,” Olivier felt the heavy disappointment.

“We came here looking for food,” Simon gave a friendly chuckle.

“We have some canned pears, but I’m real sick of them. We grew pears, before the war. When the Germans came they stripped the trees bare, before they burned them,” Olivier turned towards the only door, which led to the kitchen. “Come, we can open a can and you can meet mother and father.”

The two soldiers exchanged a glance. Simon was whispering to John, translating what he had understood in his limited French. John walked to the kitchen door and was about to open it.

“No, no, the cans are here,” Olivier motioned to a small cellar door under the stairs. He opened it and in the dim light the soldiers could make out the shapes of cans.

Simon peered in at the cans, some which looked rusted and dented.

“The good ones are at the back,” Olivier grinned.

John said something, a concerned look on his face, but Simon just shrugged him off. He put his rifle down as he crouched to get into the cellar, grabbing the better-looking cans. He tried to focus on the promise of the sweet dessert, and not the smell of rotting meat that permeated in the house.

While Simon was busy with that, John opened the door to the kitchen. The horrid smell nearly knocked John back. He grabbed the cloth from his pocket, the same one he’d had to pee on and breathe through to survive more than one attack of chlorine gas. Now he welcomed the stinging smell. Something had been rotting in this kitchen for weeks.

“I’m glad you’ll join us for dinner.”

John didn’t understand the French, but he turned and saw the boy smiling up at him, Simon’s rifle in his hands. Simon, oblivious to the situation, was still digging through the cellar. Olivier raised the rifle and pointed it at John.

In the kitchen, sitting at the table, were two corpses. A man and a woman, no doubt the boy’s parents. They had been there longer than John could imagine, their flesh so rotten the bones were becoming visible. Their eyes were gone, and their sunken sockets stared into nothingness.

“I was hoping you’d be German. I hate them more, but meat is meat, and I’m so hungry.”

He pulled the trigger.


Submitted: July 28, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Guenevere Lee. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

Joe Stuart

I read what you said in the forum about comments, Guenever. I'm afraid you are right. A lot of good stories on Booksie never get any comments because most people like to read but are reluctant to offer an opinion on what they have read. So let me be one of the first to comment on this story. I'm sure you already know that you are a good writer. I found the story easy to read and free from distracting errors. The story is good too. I usually prefer humour to horror, but I did enjoy this one--and I am not all that easy to please.

Thu, July 30th, 2020 9:47pm

Author
Reply

I feel like there's a little dark humour here, lol

Thank you so much for taking a look! I love how people on Booksie are so kind and giving with their time. I came here just to post a story or two but ended up staying because I made so many great connections. Thanks again!

Fri, July 31st, 2020 6:36am

MikHoest

Good stuff! I love how the twist is hinted at, making the reader think Olivier's parents are just depressed from hunger and poverty. Same for the stench inside the house.

World War I seems like an ideal setting for grounded horror stories like this. It was such a grotesque and surreal chapter in history. Wouldn't surprise me if stuff like this actually happened.

Sun, August 23rd, 2020 6:01pm

Author
Reply

Wow, thanks so much!

Yeah, it was just such a dirty and brutal war. Even though it's not super important to the story, I instinctively knew WWI would fit the overall atmosphere better.

Mon, August 24th, 2020 7:37am

Celtic-Scribe63

A great little piece with a sting in the tail.
Your presentation was very good, as was the easy reading and the good characterisation,
An very enjoyable read, set against the perfect backdrop.

As Joe has pointed out, it is a pity about lack of comments per say!

I am currently trying to drum up interest in a mutual comment/review club within the Imaginarium House.

So if you fancy getting regular comments and participating , then come and join us. All are welcome.

Mon, August 24th, 2020 8:43am

Author
Reply

Hey thanks! And yeah, I will definitely check your house out :)

Mon, August 24th, 2020 7:37am

Sharief Hendricks

This was such an eerie and tense story Guenevere Lee, and your subtle hints just added to the tension, because as you read you get more and more uneasy, because it just does not feel right...and you know something is coming.

This was the first time I listened to a story via audio on Booksie and it was such a pleasurable experience because your voice was so pleasant and immersive that the imagery actually came to life...I could picture dirty smiley faced Olivier and the starving soldiers... well done !

I loved it!!!!

Mon, October 12th, 2020 11:18am

Author
Reply

Wow, thanks so much!

I'm trying to get an audio recording up for all my stories, so it's great to hear you enjoyed this one!

Tue, October 13th, 2020 10:58am

Other Content by Guenevere Lee

Short Story / Horror

Short Story / Horror

Short Story / Flash Fiction