In every sport there is a victor. A champion. A winner. One must always win, and that is a fact. We play to win, nothing more, nothing less. There is however one sport that a victor does not exist. A champion is never made and there is no winners. There is a sport that only consists of loss, of fear and of dread. It is a sport that has been played throughout history. Has affected millions and millions of lives. A sport that makes grown men cry and women weep. A sport created by the powerful, yet played by the weak. There is one such sport...
I never was that interested in sport. It was something that simply didn’t fascinate me as much as it did to everyone else. I did play sport, I was actually the captain of my school football team, so I wasn’t useless at it, but I never had that blind obsession with it. I was much more interested in history and politics. These were things that mattered, things thats affected us more than a few people running around. But my enjoyment of politics drove me to make a decision. A decision that would somewhat change my view completely. A decision that reshaped my mind and ideas entirely. I joined the army.
My journey begins here. On the battlefield. No man’s land was a graveyard for the brave. It was a desert for the dead. A place in which the stench of evil, and death lurked and danced a horrific dance. The dried up sea of tears beneath our boots was ever present in our minds. No man’s land was the place for the deceased souls to sing a joyless song of eternal slaughter. I had been fighting there for quite a while yet still the very sight of the resting sands sent a shudder slithering down my spine. It wasn’t a pleasant place.
During my time serving my country, I met a man. A man by the name of Johnson. He was a few months younger than me, but he was so intelligent. He was so eloquent and expressive, his everyday words were poetry and his writing was enchanting. I asked him why he joined the army one day when we having a typical conversation in the rat infested trench. He gazed at me for a just a second, his azure eyes conspired to overwhelm the dull black of the mud that covered his face. His answer I have to admit at the time was rather inadequate. He simply replied...
”Do you know what I see when I look at a battle...?”
“No,” I simply replied
“I see a game of football...,”
And then he abruptly stood up, and left me there. I laughed with myself, little did I know how accurate his account was, and how it would change my life forever.
It was the evening of battle. The birds hid, and their songs mute, even they smelled the reek of the oncoming blood. The moon seemed solemn, and even the night sky appeared darker. My heart drumming the beat of fear, and sweat gathered above my brow. My rifle was my only company, and the thoughts of those who I love to drive me forward.
We were ready to go over the top. To march our final march. I glanced over to my squadron leader. He pierced my eyes and looked down, almost in mourning. He raised his hands and blew his whistle. The sound shocked me, and because of that I dropped my rifle. The roars of the blood hungry soldiers sent waves of twisted horrors rushing through my veins. The pure sound of anger. And survival. Was bone-chilling. My comrades jumped and ran over the top into no man’s land. I was left behind.
My rifle was consumed by the devouring mud, and by the time I regained it I turned around and climbed the first step and poked my head to see no man’s land. What I saw made me cringe and stutter. What I saw was no battle. What I saw was men, dribbling their life across the battlefield. I saw wingers sprinting across the deathly pitch of mud and blood. I heard bullets flirt with my ears, their whispers like spectators. Bombs were cheers of the onlooking deceased. A man goes down injured. Holding his leg, screaming to the only referee he knows, God. Men laying motionless. Sent off with red blood. Back to their creator. What I saw was no battle. It was a sport.
I heard a small whisper a few meters away from me. It was rather peculiar that I heard it over the crashing and screaming of humans. But this whisper was different. It was familiar, and distinct. I turned towards the sound. And through the teasing darkness came a face that I would never forget for as long as I live.
It was Johnson.
But it wasn’t truly him. His eyes were abnormally large, and sweat was cascading down his face. There was a crooked smile dragged along his obscure face. I happened to notice his hands were clenched in a tight first and they were shaking violently. He took a step towards me, his face becoming clearer, now his eyes were more prominent. But something was so very wrong. I saw something in his eye. A touch of insanity, a hint of lunacy. And then he rasped out sounds that I could just make out be...
“We play a game for life....a game of football....,” He coughed and blood splurted out of his mouth onto my boots.
“We die....we never win...only death and loss...,” he said as he wiped the blood from his chin.
He then turned around and began climbing the trench to no man’s land.
He turned to me the final time with a twisted face of horror and screamed...
And was shot instantly in his head.
I looked down at his permanent tangled smile.
I cried silently...then I whispered...
I raised my rifle and pointed it into my mouth and pulled the trigger.
The whistle for full-time blew.
© Copyright 2016 YousifAlawoad. All rights reserved.
Short Story / War and Military
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