The First Victim

It was nearly day-break; the fighting would soon begin again. Henry sat back against the muddy barracks and reached for his pack of cigarettes. He clumsily pulled one from the packet and produced a shrivelled box of matches, he struck the match five times before it sparked into life and he brought the flame to the end of the cigarette in his mouth, it started to burn as Henry sucked the sweet smoke into his mouth and it began to dance in his throat. This was his only form of escape - apart from the few cold hours of broken sleep he sometimes manage to grab and the extremely infrequent letters from home. His heart ached and went numb every time he thought of his family back home, however he was glad that they were safe and his two brothers were far too young to be sent out here. He drew in another breath of smoke and watched, as its fingers curled and reached upwards dissolving into the morning air.

Henry paused for a moment, his eyes fixed in one spot in a perplexed stare. He sat thoughtfully, watching the smoke playing and dancing in the air as he remembered all that he had suffered. His heart was hit with a dull ache and a large lump began to lodge itself in his throat. His eyes began to sting he wouldn't let tears fall though, he was being stupid. It was obviously just the smoke making his eyes water! But such suffering, such terrible suffering he had endured; such hardship he had unwillingly been forced into. Slowly, the memories of the past engulfed his mind and staggered to six days ago...

The thunder of gunfire rang in Henry's ears as he crouched among the rocks and filth beneath his feet. His eyes darted around in a blind panic as he watched his fellow soldiers running thoughtlessly around as if in a drunken stupor. The enemy was coming and fear began to bubble in the pit of his stomach. His fellow soldiers were impetuous and inexperienced, resembling startled rabbits rather than fighting men.
Then, without warning, a blurred figure shot past Henry like a bullet fired from a gun, blundering up the side of the trench. All that was heard was a deafening crack and the body of Benjamin, another one of Henry's close comrades, crumpled on a heap on the floor. He screeched and writhed, blood seeping from a puncture in his chest. As Henry rushed to his side, Benni began to splutter like an old man and blood gurgled in his throat before trickling out onto his lips. Henry desperately clawed at his crimson soaked clothes but it was all in vain. Time's bony hand had finally caught up with Benni and cruelly snatched his short life away. Suddenly all fell silent. His eyes and mouth were empty tunnels, lifeless and hollow. Henry gently shut his friends’ eyes and closed his lips in the attempt to give him the look of serenity on his face.

Henry saw a great many die after that tragic incident but he could not quite recall any death that affected him quite so much and he probably never will until the day he dies.

The End

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