Home > Fiction > Storybook Corner – Baptism of Fire

Storybook Corner – Baptism of Fire

This is a little story written for Adam Ickes‘ “Storybook Corner” – a 300-500 word monthly photo prompt. (Quick post-publish update – apparently this is my 200th post. Yay!)


No, that isn’t the photo – the photo is below. Be warned – my story is rather melancholy and dark and not in a funny way, but the photo is of a grave stone, after all.

You can read other submissions this month by clicking the little blue froggy. The prompt is open for a couple of weeks yet, so there’s still time to join in!


John sat on a pile of rocks, his shocked eyes staring at the carnage below. He felt numb, his brain unable to process the events of the last few hours. He reached into his jacket and fished out his pipes, his comfort, and put them to his lips. A mournful air sounded over the blood-drenched field.

It was to have been glorious! He had volunteered and presented himself at the local training camp along with Jed, his childhood friend. They had grown up together, always done everything together. It had seemed natural that they should embark upon this great adventure together.

They had been given a uniform, a sword, a musket and a hot meal. Then the training had begun. Musket first, then draw your sword. Defend yourself and the person on your right. Parry, thrust, one step forward, parry, thrust, one step forward. Hold the line. It all seemed so easy!

It hadn’t been that way at all. The moment battle was joined, everything had fallen apart. The air filled with acrid musket smoke, so thick he couldn’t see. Screams and the clashing of swords filled his head so that he couldn’t think. He tried to parry, thrust, step forward. He tried to hold the line, but all was chaos. He tried to defend the person on his right, but there was no-one there. Had they become separated, or was he dead? John didn’t know.

Though only a few minutes, it felt to John as if this carnage had lasted days. Shock at the terrible reality of battle replaced all coherent thought. He stumbled around as men screamed and fell. His sword, still unused, hung limply in his hand as he staggered left and right.

A figure appeared out of the smoke. Numbly John slashed his sword top to bottom as he’d been taught, feeling it cut through flesh. The smoke cleared for a moment, long enough for him to see Jed’s eyes open wide in shock as John’s sword sliced him open.

“I… couldn’t see, I… didn’t know,… I’m sorry, oh, Jed,” gasped John as Jed fell. John fell with him, cradling his friend’s head, sobbing.

John had awoken hours later, in a daze. The smoke had cleared, Everything was quiet. And now he sat numbly on a pile of rocks, playing his pipes.

He was only dimly aware of the approach of others. Friend or foe? He no longer cared. The song was cut short and the pipes tumbled down the rocks onto the blood-soaked grass as a sword sliced into his back and exited his chest.

His final thought as darkness fell – please don’t leave me here. Mark my grave. Remember me.

  1. NotAPunkRocker
    February 2, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Wow to the images in this one. Good job.

    Congratulations on 200 posts!


    • February 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Thanks, and thanks!
      It took a little while to come up with a story for this photo.


  2. February 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    This was definitely worth the wait. This is a great story! Excellent work.

    Also, congrats on 200 posts.


    • February 2, 2014 at 8:20 pm

      I actually wrote it in my head a while ago but your generous deadline kept pushing it back. I got it typed in the end, though, and I’m looking forward to the next one. (With everything else going on in the blogosphere and outside it’s great to have a story prompt where I don’t feel rushed.)
      Thanks for hosting it 🙂


      • February 2, 2014 at 8:31 pm

        That’s why I made it monthly. There are so many weekly ones that I didn’t want to drive people insane with another weekly one. I have better ways of driving them insane. 🙂


  3. Lyn
    February 2, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    That was wonderful…even though it made me cry.


    • February 3, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      It was quite an emotional one to write.


  4. February 2, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    It gave me chills. Mark my grave. And so they did.


    • February 3, 2014 at 4:20 pm

      At least he wasn’t an unknown soldier in an unmarked grave.


  5. February 3, 2014 at 3:20 am

    This was AWESOME my dralifriend!
    Your imagery is superb, there was a fantastic arc of emotion which mirrored the action perfectly. You’re an excellent writer; your words unfold so naturally.
    Here’s to your next 200 posts! 😀


    • February 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Thank you so much, that is high praise!
      Not exactly my usual sort of thing (I usually like to think “heh heh” at the end) but the photo looked like it deserved something a bit more sombre.
      Thanks again 🙂


  6. gentlestitches
    February 3, 2014 at 6:11 am

    Very moving. In a way quite beautiful because it contains truth.


    • February 3, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      I can imagine this happening quite frequently – soldiers being fooled into thinking it will be glorious, that everything will go to plan…


  7. February 4, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Great story, your story book corner’s not quite like the one we had when I was at school. Ours was all cute & fluffy, yours is just a bit scarey lol. Gratz on your 200 posts 🙂


    • February 4, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Yes, “Storybook Corner” does sound like a kids’ TV show in which “mummy cat’s kittens are hiding somewhere and she can’t find them” or some such Jackanory-type thing. More fluff, less guts 🙂


  8. February 5, 2014 at 1:31 am

    What a sad story.

    Very vivid imagery.


    • February 5, 2014 at 7:36 am

      The photo looked like it deserved a sad story.
      Thanks for reading!


  9. March 2, 2015 at 12:39 am

    Wow, that was really good.


  10. March 4, 2015 at 5:37 am

    You’re right! This is a great story – one of the best of yours I’ve read. Probably not an unusual thought to have as one dies far from home. Very emotional tale.


    • March 4, 2015 at 7:52 am

      Thanks! A little different to my usual stories, but I was quite proud of it.


  1. March 28, 2014 at 7:42 pm
  2. March 1, 2015 at 7:43 am

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