It was the mud in his throat that revived him. His body convulsing to push the choking matter back out. He sat up and felt a pain like nothing he had known before shoot through his head and balance seemed an impossible as he managed to open his eyes long enough to see the whole world spin over and over, he closed his eyes again and sank back into the mud.
“Dieter, Dieter!” a voice in the abyss of pain, calling out his name, “Dieter, get up!”
Dieter opened his heavy eyes again, the pain worsening as he did and tried to locate the source of the voice. A firm hand gripped his fore arm and pulled him upright. Dieter felt a warm liquid run down the length of his face from his ear, blood.
“Dieter, come on will you, the English and their Mark IV’s are over the rise, they will be here in less than an hour we have to fall back!”
“Claus.....is that you?”
“Of course it’s me you idiot, who else would be fool enough to come back for you.”
“My old friend, what would I do without you?”
“Die” Claus rolled Dieters head to try and get him to focus, Dieter sounded very groggy and his eyes were bloodshot, “Look at me damn you, a grenade went off above the trench wall, it nearly blew your head off.”
“No wonder I have a head ache.” Dieter grinner and his eyes rolled back as if he’d had too much to drink,
“No damn you, don’t pass out on me now, we’re getting out of here, I’m sick of this trench and this war.”
Claus pulled Dieter to his feet and put an arm round help,
“You know, you could help a little” Claus told Dieter who was barely trying to stand,
“You try head butting a grenade and tell me how good you walk after, okay?”
The walls of the trench enclosed them on both sides. It had rained across the Weston front for three months constantly and everything was covered in mud, the weapons, rations and the soldiers.
As Claus tried to drag his friend through the muck, Dieters feet kept tripping over the bodies of their dead comrades, the war was lost, so many were dying every day from the English and French attacks, they drew ever nearer along with their Mark IV tanks. Germany was pulling back and admitting defeat, the only question now was whether those still in the trenches could retreat in time, until their country actually surrendered they were all dead men walking.
As they stumbled through the long thin passages and tunnels, Dieter began to regain his balance and focus, “I think I’ll be fine alone now.”
“About time, you weren’t getting any lighter, Dieter.”
“Where are we supposed to go? The whole damn trench was surrounded, there is nowhere to go.”
“The Kommodore has called all surviving troops back to base he has a plan to escape.”
“You think they have built tunnels?”
“We cannot tunnel across the entire Weston front perhaps home has a plan for victory after all?”
“But we have no chance to win now, we have no allies left and the English become more powerful every day.”
“Wait...” Dieter stopped them both and pointed down the long dark passage, whispering, “There, is someone down there, in the shadows?”
It’s probably just a lost kid, he should stop panicking about being lost and start thanking god he’s alive.”
“No.....I don’t think it’s a German?” Dieter continued.
The two men stared into the darkness ahead, there was something moving in the dark, and Claus has to agree with Dieter, the uniform did not look German.
“Oh my god, Dieter, he’s French” Clauses shaking voice echoed in the deep trench.
“Be quiet Claus, he’ll here you and we have no idea how many there are.” Dieter sounded scared to death.
Together, the two men stood in the dark wet, their feet slowly sinking into the mud under the weight of their equipment, had the enemy taken the trench already?
In the distance they could still here the sound of gun fire and shells from the Mark IV tanks attacking, mines going off and grenades exploding, but if the battle was still being waged along the miles of trench land, how did this Frenchmen manage to breach them?
Had the entire southern half of the trench been overrun? If that were the case then the base bunker had already been taken and there truly was no hope left.
“We have to surprise him, quietly” Claus told Dieter, pulling his bayonet from its sheave on his leg, “Wait here, Dieter, I will come back for you.”
Dieter watched as his friend silently crept through the tunnel a head, keeping to the shadows and moving very carefully, the Frenchmen had not yet noticed him and kept back turned.
Dieter moved towards the tunnel slowly, the fact the Frenchmen had just stayed stationary at the end of the tunnel had sparked his interest, why was the man just standing there?
As Claus suddenly stopped, Dieter backed into the wall, trying to stay still and hidden as the Frenchmen turned, Dieters mouth fell open and he nearly gasped, the Frenchmen’s stomach was drenched in blood and his face was badly burnt on the left, the eye actually missing from the disfigured socket.
The French solider just stared down the tunnel, not at anything in particular, just staring, his mouth was hanging open and thick beads of saliva trickled down his chin. He took a few steps into the tunnel and then Dieter saw his good eye, if you could call the colourless black void good.
Suddenly explosions shook the night and the sky above them burnt brilliant orange from the fires on the battle field, the Frenchmen turned and stared up at the night sky, rain smashing down on his face, Dieter and Claus could only watch as the Frenchmen screamed like an animal at the fire lights.
Finding his courage, and not wanting to miss his chance, Claus rushed forwards, drew the blade of the bayonet across the French soldier’s throat and pulled him backwards into the tunnel. Dieter expected to see the solider fall backwards to Claus’s feet, but instead, the Frenchmen jerked back hard and actually through Claus off.
The solider turned to face Claus, his throat gushing red ooze and all colour disappearing from his face, yet he hadn’t even seemed to notice the mortal wound. He just grinned down at Claus, mouth still drooling, body convulsing from blood loss and covered in his own blood, the French soldier just grinned horribly.
Dieter edged along the wall towards the opening to the tunnel, he watched as the Frenchmen drew his own blade and wielded it madly in front of his face, groaning and gurgling noises at it like he was talking to it. Dieter needed to act soon before Claus was killed, but he was terrified, he had never seen anything like this Frenchmen before, how could he still continue to live after such wounds?
Claus tried to push himself up on his hands, but the Frenchmen just allowed himself to fall on top of Claus, smashing his head into the bridge of Claus’s nose, crushing it. The soldier lifted his head again, grinning still and salivating over Claus’s blood covered face, he raised his blade and drove it down hard towards the Germans open mouth.