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Storybook Corner – Baptism of Fire

February 2, 2014 24 comments

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!)

ogre-castle

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!



pvt-john-weakley-aickes

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.