Erik's Coat

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: December 17, 2007

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Submitted: December 17, 2007

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“Boom!  Bang!” 

Shells and bullets sounded like a muffled drum pounding overhead as he was thrown from a shell blast into the side of his trench. “THE HOUSE,” he thought, “I need to get to the house.”  He struggled to move, but all he could do was lie on his side, listen to his countrymen screaming in defiance, and scream his own thoughts.  “THE HOUSE!  THE HOUSE GOD DAMMIT!”  Slowly the shock left his limbs, and he was finally able to move in a crawl, and then into a walk, and then into a jog, and finally into a run as bombs sprayed dirt on his white face.  “THE HOUSE!  I need to get to the house.  That ammunition doesn’t hand itself out.”

Helmut was an ammo boy.  Just a lad of 15, he had enlisted into the army in attempt to escape the lonely isolation he experienced at school.  He was a rather tall lanky fellow with freckles, and bleach-blonde hair that sometimes danced in front of his eyes.  It was a shame being only 15.  He only had one option in the army, ammo boy.  He would carry clips of bullets in his satchel that made him look like a midget, and supply them to the soldiers in the trenches.  He had joined the army at a rather inopportune time.  The enemy was gaining strength, and defeat seemed almost inevitable.  Helmut didn’t care.  He believed the hell he saw on the battlefield was better than the hell he experienced at home.

He was assigned to a rather quaint division, the 4th infantry division to be exact, led by Captain Wolfgang Fokker.  They were immediately deployed after basic training to defend a hilltop position, guarding the road to the capital city.  Excited for a new adventure, Helmut sucked up the hard work and monotony that came with digging trenches, foxholes, and stacking sandbags. 

The quaint division, about 450 strong, made a defensive barrier on the hillside, guarding their base, a small villa on the top of the hill.  They dug a small trench network leading from the house, and extending over a half of a mile down the hill. 

They were expected to encounter an enemy division of 1000 men.  They were expected to be outmanned and outgunned, but Helmut didn’t care.  He continued to labor, digging trench after trench, not yet knowing that that trench would be his only refuge from the fire and flames that would have surely engulfed him otherwise.  He found comfort in these trenches, like a turtle hiding in his own shell.  He dug these trenches.  It was his home.

“THE HOUSE, THE HOUSE.  FUCK!  WHERE IS THE HOUSE?”  Helmut began to laboriously work his way toward the base to restock his over-sized messenger satchel.  He cringed as he stepped around, and sometimes over bodies of fallen comrades.  Suddenly he froze.  Looking back at him, with a droll smile on his face, and with blood dripping down the side of his head, was Erik. 

Erik was one of the other ammo boys in the 4th division, and Helmut’s best friend.  They shared so many memories together, like when they were digging a trench, and stumbled upon some gold nuggets, and swore that they would buy a car after the war.  Or the time when their superior, Corporal Schmidt, caught them playing target practice with some rifles and a group of gophers, and Erik swore that the gophers were inveighing defiant swears. 

“How could he die?”  Helmut was dumbfounded.  “We found gold.  We were going to buy a car.”  Helmut’s vision became clouded, and he choked back tears.  His legs turned to rubber, and he collapsed beside his deceased friend.  He began to weep.  Of course, his sobs could have never been heard over the explosions and gunfire, but to Helmut, his cries were the only sounds he heard.  Guns were silent, soldiers screamed quietness, and the alarm siren was nowhere to be heard.

“Why are you crying bud?”  Erik’s high-pitched child-like accent penetrated the sound of Helmut’s blubbering.  “You’re in heaven now.”

“WHAT,” Helmut cried, “How could this be!?”

“You knelt beside my dead corpse, and a bullet struck you in the head.”

Helmut was dumbfounded.

“NAH,” Erik said, “I’m just kidding.  You’re not dead, but I am.”

“Erik, you’re dead.  I must be insane, or mentally retarded to understand you right now.”

“No worries, Helms.  You’re not crazy, I’m just a guardian angel now, and you look like someone who needs a lookout.”

“I’m going insane… I’m going insane… I’m going insane… I’m going insane…” Helmut began to ramble.

“No you’re not, now shut up.  I’m your guardian angel now, so I’ll be able to tell you when trouble is coming, and what to do once it comes.  There’s only one catch, Helms.  You have to wear my blood-stained coat in order to keep me with you.”

Helmut, beginning to believe in the phenomenon before him, removed his own coat, and donned Erik’s greenish-red coat.  It was still damp with blood.  Helmut thought he might throw up.

“Good,” Erik said I Helmut’s head, “now we need to get you back to the house, and get some more ammunition.  Take the left trench.  The right trench will be overrun by enemy soldiers in ten minutes.”

Helmut ran along the side of the left trench, leaving the right one alone.  He proceeded up the hill, and looked to his left a short time later, to see enemy soldiers charge and take control of the other trench not more than 200 yards below him down the hill.  The screams of his brothers in arms being murdered sickened him.  He ran as fast as he could, choking back tears again.  He wanted to go home.  He wanted his isolated and solitary school life back.  He didn’t want to be in the army anymore.

Finally, dead tired, Helmut reached the house.

“STOP,” Erik screamed.  Helmut froze.  An artillery shell slapped the ground 50 feet in front of him, spraying dirt on his face.  He wiped it off, breathed a sigh of relief, and scampered the remaining 100 yard to the house, collapsing at the door.

When Helmut woke up, possibly several hours later, he was not greeted by the rather placid Captain Fokker, but a new group of men, wearing new bluish uniforms, and carrying foreign weapons.  A new flag was hung up in the living room, one Helmut had never seen before.  He was so dazed he thought he had entered a horrible dream.

“It’s not a dream retard!”  Erik’s voice broke Helmut’s trance.  “The hill has been secured by the enemy, and they now plan to roll onto the capital.  As for you and the other high officers in the house, you are under house arrest until the enemy secures the capital.”

One of the mysterious alien men approached Helmut, “? ???????, ?? ????????????. ????? ???? ???”

“What?”  Helmut responded.

A translator showed up, “He wants to know if you’re hungry.”

“Oh.  Uhh..sure, I could use some food.  How about a k-ration?”

“?? ????? ????, ? ????? ?? ?????? ????,” the translator responded to the foreign fellow.

“???????. ? ?????, ???????? ??? ????? ??.” The soldier responded, and he strolled toward the cellar.

“He is getting some food for you,” the translator responded in a stern tone.  He looked rather old, nearly 50, and he had many wrinkles along his cheeks and forehead.  He had short brown hair, but it was covered up with a peculiar looking army hat.

So the days rolled by, and the officers and Helmut were treated remarkably well.  They got double rations, and they did nothing all day.  Helmut and Erik used this time off to their advantage, by making friends with some of the enemy soldiers in the house.  He became especially close with the translator.  He would frequently translate for him, and they played games of checkers and backgammon.  He asked Helmut why he always wore that blood-stained coat, the one that harbored Erik’s spirit.  Helmut always responded saying he was keeping warm.

1 week later, the radio got word the capital city had surrendered unconditionally, and the war was over.  Helmut had mixed reactions of this defeat.  He wanted to go home, but he did not want to abandon his friend Erik.  The next day, a truck pulled up, and the enemy translator instructed them to get into the truck.  All seemed at ease.

They all formed a line to pile into the military diesel truck, starting with Captain Fokker, and ending with  Helmut, still wearing his reddish green coat.  The line was halfway loaded, when Erik broke in saying, “STOP!  DON’T GET IN THE TRUCK!  I REPEAT!  DON’T GET IN THE TRUCK!”  Confused on what he was saying, but still very obedient, Helmut obeyed.  As he reached the end of the line, he looked at a half-tread, half-wheel armored car.

“Whoa.  What is that thing?”

“??, ??? ?? ???????????? ???????? ???????? ????????, ????????? ???”  The translator assisted.

“??? - ????????????? ???????? dumbass,”  the soldier responded, apparently knowing an insulting word in Helmut’s language.

“It is an armored half-track,” the translator said.

Helmut faced the translator, “Can I ride in it?”  Helmut, knowing the translator’s soft spot for kids, took easy advantage of him.

“Sure, why not?”

The convoy of the truck, and the half-track were about 1 hour on the road.  The half-track was quite cramped, and outdoors.  Helmut didn’t mind, though, for he had a warm coat (and a special friend) on his person.  There was a light powdery snow in the air, the first of the year.  The war was over, and Helmut was going home.  Nothing could spoil this day.

BOOOOOOOOOM!

Suddenly, not more than 100 feet in front of the half-track, the convoy truck exploded, sending a plume of flames, debris, and limbs into the air.  Helmut was taken aback, Erik beginning to buzz in his head, “There are some terrorists about to come over the next hill.  Grab that rifle.”  Helmut exited the half-track, blatantly ignoring the interpreter’s instructions, and pried a semi-automatic rifle from the severed arm of a soldier.  He instinctively checked the clip.  There were 5 rounds left.

Broken screams and orders dominated Helmut’s ears, coming from the terrorists, and the enemy soldiers, “nehmen Sie daß Sie Bumser”

“?????? ?????? ?? ????????, ????!”

“geben Sie ihnen Hölle!”

“???????????? ?????! ?????? ??? ?? ??? ????????!”

Helmut noticed that the translator was busy shooting at the terrorists who were hunkered behind a wall parallel to the road.  Eric counted 3 terrorists total.

“Grenzen Sie jene russischen bastard an! Töten Sie sie alle. Nehmen Sie keine Gefangenen!”

Helmut noticed 2 of the 3 terrorists creeping around towards an overturned car, attempting to flank the Enemy squad.  He thought of his parents at home, thinking of what they would want him to do.  He thought of his friend, the translator, and how he would look crumpled on the ground, blood dripping from his mouth and chest.  Helmut cringed with disgust, and awkwardly shouldered the long rifle.  He looked down the sight, trying desperately to line up the front sight, the rear sight, and one of the terrorists torsos along the same line.  He felt his finger slowly apply pressure to the pressure.  He heard the firing pin activate the mechanical process, sending his death projectile in motion.  The next thing he remembered was a blur.

He saw one of the terrorists double-over, and collapse to the ground onto a red pool.  Then an instant later, he felt a short quick breeze whizz past the side of his head.  “A bullet, oh shit!”  He tried to dash to the half-track for cover, but it was already too late.  He felt a sharp biting pain in his leg, then another one in his arm.  The rifle hit the ground like a pin drop.  He stumbled, winced in pain, and then collapsed like a heart attack victim.  The world began to fade and blacken in his eyes.  The ground became warm and wet beneath him.  In a last attempt to comfort himself, he removed his coat, Erik’s lifeblood, and placed it under his blood-shooting leg.

Helmut’s vision blacked out, but he heard everything. “??????? Helmut, ??! ??????? ???????? ???, ? ????????? ??? ?????,” He heard the translator scream. 

“OH- Scheiße! Gunther wird geschlagen! jemand erhalten ihm einige verfluchte Verbände,” a terrorist exclaimed.

“?'????. ? ????? ??????? ??? right now,”  He heard an Enemy soldier say rather calmly.

Finally, his consciousness began to fade, and the sound of bullets firing became a muffled drum, and people screaming became high mumbles…

Helmut slowly opened his eyes, his vision was blurred, but cleared up as soon as he was adjusted to the light.  He saw a clean room with white walls.  Sitting in a chair, he saw the worried face of the interpreter.  The interpreter looked up, and his expression suddenly morphed from worry, to sheer ecstasy.  However, he still appeared calm.  He broke a single sincere grin.  He uttered something to him.  Something he could understand

“???????? ??? ???? ????? ????? ??? ????? ?????” (glad to have you back, kid)

Helmut smiled.  For the first time since he was at basic training, he felt at peace.  Satisfied, he fell back asleep.


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