Away from Berlin

Broken Promise

Ander thought he was ready for war, the thrill and the excitement, the rush of the fight. Never was he more wrong. He witnessed carnage, the ground underneath him shuddered with every explosion, his ears rang from the constant pounding of artillery shells.

He had finished the Officers Academy and was finally sent to the front. Though it was nothing like he had imagined.

Death.

The paper in his hand was crunched tightly in his fist as he watched horrified. He was far from the action, but he could still pierce the thick smog. Blood splattered onto the mud-covered battlefield as bullets ripped through uniforms and skin. The overwhelming stench of urine and feces rocked him. He vomited. Disaster. The enemy continued their advance, heedless of the bodies dropping around them.

The land was scarred with craters and wires that ran for miles. Dark clouds thundered in the distance. It looked like they would repel another attempt. Death stained the land, blackened with ash and littered with bodies. A whistle rang out, twice and the call for retreat was echoed along miles of ground. Finally, he thought.

He noticed the paper ball in his hand. His heart lurched as he quickly opened it, flattening the creases. His eyes grew misty as they skimmed over the letter. He was to be transferred to the Fifth Company. Searching out Section 14, a prominent flag of an eagle stood out amidst the smog. He raced down the trenches, passing by men whooping, his long stick of a grenade dangled on his belt. The rain started to set in.

His thoughts turned to his brother as he turned a corner dashing past a startled aide. His damp clothes clung to his frame as his legs burned furiously.

"Don't go, Andi," Ari said, his voice muffled as his head was pressed tightly against Ander's leg.

Ander pried the little hands wrapped around his leg, as the sobbing continued. "I'll be back in a year. I promise."

"You'll change," Air whispered burying his face deeper. "Like he did." He glanced towards their father staring at the wall, his glazed eyes hiding the horrors he witnessed.

"It's just shell shock. Besides, I'll be far away from the actual fighting," his voice quivered, a hint of bitterness seeping through. Before his emotions could best him, he stormed towards the waiting carriage.

Another whistle sounded in the distance where the smog was thickest, waking Ander from his reverie. A high piercing shriek that was barely audible, muffled by the rain, other whistles rang out and the men in the trenches scrambled into position.

Ander squinted as the whistles died, trying to pierce the black smoke with his eyes, the rain wasn't helping much, and he gave up. Turning around, everyone in the trench had frozen in place, staring out into the darkness. A soft rumbling ensued.

His brow furrowed as he strained to listen. The sounds seemed to be growing closer, though he couldn't be sure. Suddenly out of the smoke, metal boxes emerged.

After a moment of surprise, the trench burst into activity. Explosions shook the ground around him as the metal beasts lumbered closer, roaring with cannon fire.

He tore his eyes away and began sprinting. The dampness clung to him as he stumbled along, he struggled to keep his hands from shaking. His heels clapped against the wet mud as he weaved between the wounded, their faces a blur. Drenched and breathing heavily, he dashed through another tunnel erupting out the other side. The pounding began. Glancing over a stack of boxes, the machines were engulfed in smoke and a flurry of hope welled within him only to be crushed as they rolled through unfazed. Bullets, glowing white as they sped through the darkness bounced off ,the beasts, harmlessly. Can nothing kill them! he thought angrily.

He looked around him, a group had amassed around him watching as the screams began. Shaking, he watched as the first reached the trench crushing people as it collapsed, the others following closely, most managed to make it across the gap. Around him, the world seemingly had gone silent. The whispers began. He had enough.

Pulling his luger from out of his pocket, he leaped over the top to the dismay of others. He had hoped to never have used it. An unfamiliar feeling greeted him, a sudden warmness filled him. Blood rushed to his ears as he darted towards the closest thing. The massive box-like machine stopped in its tracks, stupefied as the small figure approached it, the large barrel jutting out fixed on him. Smoke burst out. His breath caught in his throat.

He was flung forwards as his vision was obscured, landing heavily in front of the beast. Blood seeped through his trouser. A ringing filled his ears as he staggered back to his feet gasping, the luger in his hand lost. He growled, gripped the grenade in his pocket, a long piece of metal with a ring on the top. Releasing the switch, he chucked it into one of the slits. A muffled yell cut off by an explosion. Heat washed over him as he was blinded by the raging fire.

"They can be killed!" yelled someone, a chorus of cheers as it was echoed around the trenches.

He sunk to his knees; his head slumped forwards.

Forgive me Ari.