Colors

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Ashen sky dulled the landscape to shades of gray, other than the red splatters of gore from man. Stray stone columns stood isolated, wall and roofing blown to dust, teetering with every following blast. Protruding the muddied ground, slick of rain and blood, charred limbless trees simmered with undying flames. A shallow gulley, blackened water stained with war, divided the land in two. North of the stream a dike, now outfitted with wooden supports and floorboards, shielded men of raining shells.

The shrieking whistle brought his attention to the present, the first wave of men departed. A row of men stepped forward before the ladders taking their place. Courageous shouts of charging men faded, wails and screams of the dismembered replaced them. Gripping the pole tightly, he knew his duty, for it was the most important.

“Equip Bayonets!” A voice thundered, followed by hundreds of clicks of complying soldiers. The whistle rang out once again, in the distance officers blew theirs in echo. Men climbed the shoddy ladders, plunging into hell to join their comrades. The pole tugged in his hand, wind had picked up, catching the flag adorned at its tip. Red, white, and blue flapped in the northern breeze. He stepped forward, placing a hand on the ladder. Men of the third wave took their places, awaiting orders. The soldiers stood with terror filled eyes, weeping sorrow, hysterical smiles, and stoic faces. All patient, waiting for the same order, to charge unto death. The man reached into his collar, taking out the sole golden sparkle of the desolation he stood in. Bringing the cross to his mouth, he entrusted his life to it.

“Equip Bayonets!” His grip tightened on the pole. Beside him, a fumbling hand shaking with fear dropped a bayonet. The whistle pierced the air, blocking out the constant drumming of impacting artillery. He pulled the sleeve of the trembling soldier, dragging him towards the ladder. The soldier complied with the order, climbing the ladder, leaving the bayonet behind. Grabbing the top rung of the ladder, he hoisted himself out of the dike, looking forth upon hundreds of men struggling through the bog. The man forced a scream out of his lungs, shaking out the fear of his legs and marched forward, holding his pole high. Soldiers slipped and slid across the terrain, steep craters formed from repeated bombardment trapped some, drowning them in the muddy slosh. Too near to landing shells, the lucky were mangled beyond recognition instantly. The unlucky lay howling, pieces missing and disfigured. First the soldiers had to reach the gulley, men lay in the murky waters, soaked and shivering. The man dove into its frigid shallows, clutching the pole to his chest, careful to not let the mud stain its fabric.

His duty was here, looking down the gulley, it appeared that all flags had made it to the waters. Cycling several rapid breaths through his lungs, he stood up, letting out a cry with all his strength. The surrounding men followed, resuming the charge. He tilted the pole forwards; it would lead the men. The air whistled around him, bullets streaked past, several lodging themselves into surrounding soldiers. The opposing trench neared, there would be their goal. The constant screams of unwavering men fraught with terror blot out the crack of incoming fire. Amidst the heads peering from the entrenchment, one stood beneath the flag of similar colors, but adorned with a cross. There was his mission, for only one could stand still waving. The men reached the encampment, standing over the enemy they released their single shot, before diving in to pierce them with bayonets. The man brought the bottom of his pole into the flag bearer’s head. His enemy fell backwards and he followed, repeating the blows. The defeated mans blood spilled out, absorbing into the fabric of the fallen flag which come to lay rest over his face. Thirteen stars on the blood-stained banner darkened, the white of the flag vanished as the bearer’s life pooled out from his head. The man raised the victorious flag high into the air, some cheered, many bowed their heads low still surrounded by the carnage of their actions. Beside him stood a soldier lacking a bayonet, he offered the pole to him looking at the soldier’s eyes. Eyes sunken and reddened, yet unable to cry. The soldier took the flag, slinging his weapon around the shoulder. The man returned to the disgraced flag on the ground, kneeling down before it. Removing it from its mount, he began folding. The flag now simplified to a neat triangle, placing it onto the bearer’s chest, he took the lifeless arms and placed them holding the flag.

“What are you doing?” The bayonet-less soldier asked.

The man looked up towards the thirty-three stars waving overhead. “Enemy or not, the flag a man dies for deserves the respect as such.”


Submitted: May 14, 2021

© Copyright 2021 WorthyPercy. All rights reserved.

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