Blinding White and Crimson Red

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story of two soldiers, a foxhole, and something quite alien.

Submitted: May 29, 2010

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Submitted: May 29, 2010

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Blinding White and Crimson Red

Written by Anthony Garcia


Jack and Steve sat in the foxhole together. It was a cold morning, with their breath freezing in air. All around them was snow, for miles and miles. The forest was covered in it, fresh from last night. Snowstorms were dropping all over the area making visibility low, and air reinforcements out of the question.

The date was December 20th, 1944. A few days prior the Germans had begun their Ardennenoffensive, or as the papers called it, the Battle of the Bulge. No one knew what was going on - if this was just a local counter attack or if it was a major offensive - but so far the fighting had been fierce. Jack and Steve were positioned a quarter of a mile behind the front lines to protect the rear and take care of any Germans that might slip through. Their sector had been quiet all day though, the first time that had happened so far.

“I heard Eisenhower is going to send in reinforcements, especially with all the paratroopers,” Steve said. On the 17th a large number of paratroopers had been dropped into the woods, no one really knew how many. It had been a major danger since then - no one knew when a Fallschirmjäger was going to jump out of the woods and shoot them. They’d been harassing Allied troops and vehicles all over the vicinity.

“God I hope so,” said Jack as he clutched his coffee cup and tried to shore up their little fire inside the foxhole. Fires were forbidden, but it was snowing and for the moment still daylight; it would never been seen, although did need to be extinguished soon with the onset of dusk. Every now and then the wind knocked snow off the trees onto them or the fire. “This is absolutely miserable.”

Both Jack and Steve were enlisted men, so they were happy to do their part in the Second Great War, but they weren’t happy here. Sitting in a frozen foxhole with the possibility of being shot at any moment by a paratrooper hiding under cover of brush and snow was not their idea of a good time. They could barely even see during the day; the sunlight glinting off of the snow required them to wear Army issued sunglasses.

The radio in their foxhole starting making static noises. They both looked at it, expecting a voice to come over. They both thought it was from the next foxhole over, they liked to talk a lot. Jack raised an eyebrow after there was no voice. Steve moved a little closer and suddenly looked up at Jack and whispered, “I hear something. It’s muffled, barely there. I wonder if we’re intercepting a German transmission!” He reached for the notepad inside his coat that he kept specifically for this purpose. He could write down the words phonetically and a translator at their field HQ would figure it out.

Steve held his pencil at the ready incase he heard anything else. He waited, but nothing. The static dissipated and he said “Oh well, maybe it was just some sort of glitch that we got the signal. Let’s radio the boys in the next hole over and make sure it wasn’t them.”

“Good idea,” said Jack, who then reached for the radio.

At that moment a yell was heard. “Shit - down!” Steve said. They both dove down inside the foxhole and listened sharp, holding their Thompson submachine guns close. They both looked in the direction of the foxhole to the north, where the yell was heard. As they stared through the falling snow into nothingness a sharp cracking noise echoed through the whiteout. Steve brought his gun to his shoulder. “What the fuck was that?”

“I don’t know, it sounded like a branch breaking,” said Jack, quite visibly alarmed. They hadn’t heard a single sound all day and they both knew from combat experience that unexplained sounds and yelling were probably indicative of an enemy in the vicinity. “It’s probably those Nazi paratroopers.”

“We have to let them get close before we fire, make sure how many there are.” As Steve said this he kicked out the fire.

A noise from the left to the east turned their attention in that direction. This noise sounded like footsteps coming through the forest. “They’ve got us surrounded!” said Jack quietly.

“Be calm man, let him walk by to the rest of them so we can get them all together before we shoot,” said Steve. He had been around longer than Jack as he had already served a tour in the Pacific before coming here at D-Day. Jack had enlisted only for the European theatre.

Out of the trees, dressed in a white camouflage suit a Fallschirmjäger paratrooper emerged. He carried the typical FG 42 rifle in his hands, ready to do battle. He walked slowly and with a purpose. Steve kept his gun trained on him in case they were spotted. He kept walking toward the area where they had heard the odd noises earlier. “Hans, bist du hier? Wir haben kein Zeit!” the paratrooper said, calling for his friend. “Hans!” He continued through the trees and out of Jack and Steve’s line of site.

Jack whispered, “That must have been his friend Hans that we heard over there. I wonder why our guys didn’t fire a shot.”

Steve shook his head and said, “I don’t know, it’s odd.”

They waited for a moment, but didn’t have to wait long. A loud shriek was heard through the woods, followed by a staccato burst from the paratrooper’s FG 42. Shortly after they heard the rifle fire, a loud wet thump was heard and then a groan from the dying Fallschirmjäger. A tree near the top of the forest – the base was where the next foxhole was – quivered and snow fell off the top. Something had impacted the bottom of it.

Steve and Jack both raised their weapons; both kept the silence. The only noise now was their slow and tempered breathing, creating a frost in the air. They sat there and waited for a minute before Jack finally spoke. “Maybe we should radio the other foxhole.”

“Good idea.” Steve picked up the radio, “FH 17 to FH 16, over?” He repeated this a few times then set down the radio after he was only met by static.

“They’re probably dead. That was the first scream we heard, remember?” Steve kept his gun up and eyes forward while he spoke. “Something killed those men and didn’t use a gun. That was a loud thump, sounded like he hit a tree. What the devil could do that?”

“Wasn’t our guys, we would have just shot them.” Jack’s breathing started going faster at this point. The terrain was quiet and almost serene except for the events that had just taken place. The wind was blowing softly, causing the snow to shuffle in the trees.

Steve looked at his watch; it was past shift change time. “Our relief should have been here by now. I’m going to try radioing base.”
Steve picked up the radio again and pressed the talk button. “FH 17 to base, over.” He waited for a moment and was met by static again. “FH 17 to…”

Through the woods another scream was heard, followed immediately by the sounds of rifle fire. The screams were in English. “Shit that’s our guys Steve, let’s go!” Jack shoved a couple clips for his Thompson into his pocket and began to grab hold of the top of the foxhole to climb out.

“Alright, stay low. Let me go first.” Jack happily obliged to Steve. Steve slowly pulled himself up and over the top of the foxhole, and while still proned out on the ground, reached back and helped Jack out, as quietly as he could.

The sun was beginning to set now, and light was low. The wind was kicking up a little more rapidly now – blowing hard enough that Jack put his Army issue scarf over his face. The wind continually knocked snow out of the trees down on top of him as they began to slowly crawl toward the trees where the paratrooper had gone in, and the direction of the screams.

Since the rifle shots, they hadn’t heard another noise. Now as they got closer the silence was nearly deafening as they struggled to hear anything that might help them discern what had happened.

As they passed the first tree and reached the one that had quivered earlier, they saw what had become of the Fallschirmjäger. Near the base of the tree was his body, crumpled and smashed. In the middle of his torso his white camouflage was ripped open in a large horizontal gash and stained with his blood – shining like a crimson beacon through the snow at dusk. He had been thrown head first into the tree; his helmet was crumpled, lying at his side. His head had suffered significant injury as well; the top half was smashed in nearly flat.

“My god,” said Jack. He stared at the paratrooper in his eviscerated state, imagining himself there instead of the German. He had seen dead bodies before, but always shot. He always found solace in the fact that if he were shot he figured it would be a quick death; he had never seen anything so destructive.

“Yeah, reminds me of the American prisoners that the Japs took on Iwo Jima. We found them in more than one piece though. Keep moving man,” Steve said as he retrieved a grenade from the paratrooper’s body, then rejoined Jack and moved him along.

The two men moved slowly through the next set of trees toward the next foxhole. They crouched over in the waning light, holding their Thompsons high and at the ready. The wind was blowing louder now, but for a moment it stopped and silence hung loudly in the air. It was the kind of silence that was so sudden it caused their ears to ring. Cutting through the cold night was a sound both obvious and ominous. It sounded like an animal crashing through the branches behind them.

“Shit, someone’s behind us Steve!” Jack was whispering loudly as he held his gun up. “I heard it! I heard it! Over there!” Jack changed his position as he saw the outline of something moving through the brush. It was tall, like a man.

“Keep moving to the foxhole, back to back!” Steve and Jack moved to cover each other with their fields of fire and continued moving towards the foxhole. The wind picked back up, causing snow to fall off the trees onto them again. “God damn snow,” said Steve under his breath.

Jack’s breathing was stuttered, his blood pressure was high and his heart was beating rapidly. He began to sweat, and he knew from experience that it would freeze onto his skin shortly. He wiped his brow and with his eyes searched the surrounding forest for whatever he had seen before.

They reached the foxhole – FH 16 – a few minutes later. “Ok we’re here, you in first, I’ll cover you,” said Steve. Jack set his Thompson down on the edge and leapt over the side.

As he jumped in his foot hit something and he slid. “Whoa, there’s something in…” Jack looked down and peered through the fading light. There was something under the snow in the bottom of the foxhole. He kicked it. Out from under the snow came a hand, the hand of the dead men in the bottom of the foxhole. He looked now to see the whole foxhole around the inside was covered in blood. “Oh my god Steve! Steve! They’re dead!”

Steve looked in, “Oh shit. This isn’t good. Stay there for a second and cover me, I’m going to check out where the second set of screams came from, it was right over here by these trees to the north.”

“Don’t you think I should come with you?” Jack was trembling as he spoke.

“No, just wait for a second and cover me. Holler if you see anything, it’ll be safer this way – I’ll be right back.” As Steve finished his sentence he moved quickly across the short open snow filled ground and ducked behind a tree.

Jack was left alone in the foxhole. He looked around, trying to see in every direction at once. It was getting quite dark now, with only a slight sliver of daylight left. The wind had calmed down some but was still present – only slightly obscuring his hearing. He heard a crack in the branches in the direction from which he had come and turned his attention – and the barrel of his gun – in that direction. “Come on you son of a bitch, I’m waiting.”

More snow fell out of the trees on top of him, more than normal this time. He brushed it off of him and looked up as though to curse the wind gods for covering him in it. As he looked up he stared as though captivated. He felt his mouth drop open as he comprehended what he saw. He was so shocked he couldn’t even bring his gun to bear.

In the thick branches of the Ardennes forest, about 20 feet above him, was the thing that he had seen before. He struggled to make it out. It was humanoid in form, but held onto the trees like a gorilla. The light that was left shone off of its skin as though it had scales of some sort. And perhaps what terrified Jack the most was the glint of what appeared to be horns coming off of it’s head.

Jack caught a hold of himself and moved his gun up to bear on the trees above him. Just as he did so the creature moved off in the direction that Steve had gone. “Steve! It’s coming!” Jack yelled into the darkness. “Shit, shit, shit!” He jumped up and out of the foxhole, “Steve!” He yelled again.

Steve appeared on his side of the trees and Jack breathed a sigh of relief. “Get over here Steve!”

Steve shouted back, “Did you see something? I can’t find our guys!” He looked tired from running. As he looked toward Jack, and Jack started to yell again that the beast was behind him, a large hand with three clawed fingers reached out from behind Steve.

“Steve!” Jack began to shout. The clawed, scaled and decidedly reptilian hand moved cleanly over Steve’s abdomen. As it did so a thin spurt of blood could be seen and he dropped to his knees. The hand of the creature disappeared into the darkness behind him. Jack ran to Steve just as he collapsed over on himself and the ground ran red with blood. Steve just made a gurgling noise and as he fell over three puncture wounds were visible through his back high up so as to hit vital organs.

Jack just stared at his fallen companion and stepped back toward the foxhole. He brought his gun up to bear. In the near darkness ahead of him he saw the full outline of the creature began to emerge. It was tall, about seven feet. Horns came out of his head and to sharp points much like a bull. It had a snout as though it were a reptile and scales like one too. The hands were three fingered with huge claws about ten inches long. From the end of it’s claws dripped Steve’s blood. Its fangs gleamed as it bared them to Jack. 

Jack was about to fire when he heard noises to his left and right. He looked quickly to either side and discovered the outlines of more of the beasts. He knew he would die. He knew it wouldn’t be quick and painless like a bullet. He didn’t care. That creature had taken his friend, and many more of his comrades in arms. Even if I die, I’m taking this son of a bitch with me, he thought to himself.

He shouldered his Thompson, and aimed at the creature ahead of him. The creature sent a shriek through the silence at Jack. It bared it’s fangs and threw it’s head up toward the sky as it made it’s war cry. He could see in his peripheral vision the creatures to the sides of him do a similar motion and follow with shrieks of their own. He saw them all began to move towards him and he knew his time on this earth was over.

He took a bead on the one in front of him as it began to charge at him and he firmly squeezed the trigger of his Thompson. He felt the gun buck as the first .45 caliber bullet left the chamber. By the time the first had impacted it’s target a second was fired also striking the creature in front of him. It began to ooze a green colored blood out of the wounds and gave off another shriek.

He saw the ones to his sides get closer so he turned his gun on the one to his right just as it closed to within two yards. He pulled the trigger again; the gun bucked with three shots. The casings fell through the air and landed in the snow – the heat from the shot causing them to melt and sink nearly immediately. Followed by the casings was a red spattering of Jack’s blood, exiting his body as the creatures tore through him with their large and powerful claws – roaring and shrieking as they did so. 

After the violence was finished the creatures picked up their dead and stole into the night. The wind continued to blow, and the snow continued to fall – eventually covering the dead and cooling bodies of the Fallschirmjäger, the Americans in the foxhole and those from the relief squad, and Jack and Steve.


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