278 comments

Sad Fiction

TW: war, violence, PTSD

 

“Run, Percy! They’re coming!” The sound of gunshots infects the air, poisoning my ears. I can feel the gas seep in through the barracks, setting my lungs aflame. There is no mercy, no prisoners. Only pain and death. Tossing my rifle over my shoulder with a grunt, I make for the next camp. You didn’t need to be in the crossfire to know what was going on outside. The Nazis had come, and they would kill us all. 

 

Running across the dense camp, pushing through screaming sergeants and fellow privates, I shove a gas mask on. The pain in my lungs eases, like a blaze slowly dying without oxygen.

 

“Percival, what are you feeling?” A voice echoes through the painful shouts and screams, blood everywhere. “Percival, what are you feeling?”

 

A pile of bodies, at least ten feet tall, stands before me in the mist. I choke on my bile, scrambling to get to the next camp. Where’s our artillery? Squadron 62 falls helplessly, no one there to save us. 

 

The dirt stains my worn Armed Forces pajamas, seeping in and blackening my heaving chest. I crawl through the manhole, sinking deep down. Big breath in, big breath out. The blood on my right arm spills from my cuff.

 

In, out. In, out… In… out. I look west, the screams still stamped on my ears. 

 

“I can’t do this.” I was thrown from the putrid smoke of war and death into the cool air of Ms. Braun’s office. My eyes wandered around, looking for the all-too-familiar swastika. The Nazis were here, I knew it. They were probably hiding in the vents, waiting for her to leave so they could slit my exposed throat. My eyes were like a malfunctioning robot in the movies, flitting around aimlessly and digging themselves deep into my skull.

 

“Calm down, Percival. You let the thoughts take control again.” A soothing arm was placed on my quivering arm, and I shivered as she tried to calm me down. My leather watch shook with the convulsions, slowly coming to a halt as my legs ceased to quake. Jamie. I needed to get back to Jamie, I’d left him behind. He was still in there, fighting the enemy! I needed to get him out. Jamie…

***

 

The cold air whipped my hair back and forth. I leaned on my worn cane, let it tether me to the solid wood of my porch. I was here, not there. No, Percy, it's 1985. We’re here now, we made it. No, they’re not coming for us… their uniforms blazing through the unbreakable night, the blood and gas seeping through every crack…

 

The piles of bodies lined up in the deadly mists of the night sky. No one was safe, no one would escape. I hid in the manhole, the sounds of my brethren’s deaths echoing above me as I cried myself to sleep night after night. There was no way out… no escape from the pain.

 

No, no no no no no. That’s not right. It’s 1985. No, we’re not going to die. We made it! There’s no escape. No freedom from the Nazis… no way to get out… No! My aged hands crinkle over the watch on my wrist, keeping me in the present. Its leather had soothed me for years, kept me sane as I leaned on my hollow cane. The children in the street, they didn’t know what they were joking about with their War games and their Cops and Robbers. They didn’t know life or death. The children… the children were free. They were ignorant, and stupid, and free. Lucky bastards.

 

My street was kind and welcoming to the normal mind, one not plagued with genocide and mass murder. They were happy here, living their days out in the company of their friends and kin. Where were my friends and kin? I fought hard for their freedom. Where was my reward? Every day I search for one, just one good fruit that the war bore. Every day I return to my nightmares empty handed. 

 

Fruit… the wrinkled pears they gave us to slave away in the field. The meager energy we were given to do our duty. Piles of them, exploding in the air as the gunshots rang out. Hushed voices echoing battle orders across the camp as we shot for our lives. Husky german voices screaming “für das Mutterland” as they criss crossed through the corpses and wounded soldiers. Breathe in, breathe out. In, out. The shaky breathing of an invalid in the medical tent, the screams as they amputated the swollen, pus-filled limbs. In, out. You’re here now. 

 

I forced myself back to the real world, a world to me even less real than that of my memories. I rubbed the worn grooves of my leather watch as it jittered with the shaking of the bones in my wrist. The sun creeps behind the shadow of the Earth, hiding away and leaving me in detestable darkness. It was time to prepare. 

 

Locks on the doors? Check.

 

Rifles stocked and loaded? Check.

 

Handguns? Check.

 

Valuables stored? Check and check. 

 

It was time for a night of writhing in fear, the phantasms of corpses haunting my neurons as I struggle to fall asleep. It was time for war.

***

 

“Have you made any improvements in the exercises I’ve recommended, Percival?” Ms. Braun asked. Her hollow yet soothing voice is like honey to my edgy nerves. 

 

“Well, I still can’t bring myself face to face with a German.” It felt shameful to say it aloud, my unconscious fears. Why was it shameful? I have every right to be afraid… don’t I? 

 

A cold night settles over the battleground. I shut my eyes prudently, a knife in my pocket and a gun under the pillow. The hard ground badgers my worn spine, crooks it out of shape. Still, its all I got. 

 

Just as I’m about to drift off into a 6-hour freak show, a footstep sounds outside the tent. I arouse myself from near-sleep mode, cocking my gun in anticipation.

 

The green flap of the ugly tent flies open and I see Jamie. His warm brown face and his soft eyes ease my frail heart. 

 

“Were you gonna pull a gun on me, Perce?” He settles in, sitting down on my supply bin and taking off his shoe to massage the aching sores I know he has. I push myself up to a sitting position and let my elbows ache. 

 

“You can never be too careful.” I groan out. 

 

“Here, got us some bread.” He passes the brick-hard block of wheat into my hands and I tear at it. No matter how disgusting, food is food. We laugh together as I bash it against a rock and it still doesn’t break.

 

“Percival. Please try your best to remain in the moment.” I settled myself. Even though it was a happy memory, it unnerved me. The edges of my mind felt fuzzy with age and weariness.

 

“You must understand that there are many German people in the world. I bet you’ll find tons of part-Germans in the street out there. Heck, my great-grandfather was German!” Ms. Braun seemed to be trying to ease my nerves but she just made it worse.

 

"Your... your great-grandfather... he-" My throat constricted as the walls closed in around me. She recognized my terror far too late and as she tried to calm down in vain I ran from the cold, white room.

 

The wind tugged at my hair as I biked against it, fleeing to the safety of my home. There was no hope, no escape. They were everywhere. The enemy was everywhere.

February 06, 2021 15:09

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278 comments

Zilla Babbitt
17:07 Feb 06, 2021

Lots of stories touch on PTSD but the involvement of an "antagonist" who's close to the mc is a new twist. I enjoyed this, Luke. Very well done. Do tell me when you post one that has a picture in it! :)

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. .
18:09 Feb 06, 2021

Thanks so much, Zilla!! Very high praise ;) and of course I will!!!

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Radhika Diksha
02:51 Feb 11, 2021

I want this to be shortlisted. It is really good. You described the soldier's mental health very well. War really does affect everybody and even you get saved from death, it's not going to be easy. You showed the character's fear for war and germans really well. How the war has deeply affected his confidence and mental state. How his fight was not only for Nazis but his fight is for his fear. Great work and keep writing.

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12:49 Feb 11, 2021

Awwww thank you!!!! This is so kind!!!!! I assume that you're Radhika but I'm too lazy to check the bio XD

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Radhika Diksha
13:57 Feb 11, 2021

Yeah, you are right. How did you think that was me?

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13:58 Feb 11, 2021

You have a very distinct manner of speaking.

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Radhika Diksha
13:59 Feb 11, 2021

Really? Like what?

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14:01 Feb 11, 2021

For example, you don't use any contractions, you use only periods, and you sometimes forget connecters like though and use for instead of of. This is just some stuff I notice when I've been friends with someone for a while. :D

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Dorsa S.
14:43 Feb 08, 2021

excuse me - make this a novel. nOW! "Your... your great-grandfather... he-" My throat constricted as the walls closed in around me. She recognized my terror far too late and as she tried to calm down in vain I ran from the cold, white room." this is the best line. the tension, the suspense; i'm hooked. you really ran the extra miles for this prompt. i need to take some notes! :)

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. .
14:59 Feb 08, 2021

Thanks you so muchhhhhhh Dorsa!!!! Nah, I'm not making it a novel!!! Who do you think I am, a person with infinite free time?? XDXDXD

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Dorsa S.
15:01 Feb 08, 2021

you have undeniably great writing - it should be smooth sailing! ;D

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15:02 Feb 08, 2021

XXXXDDDDDD I knowwwwwww but it would take a while... besides, its not long enough to make a novel. Maybe a novella... at the moment I'm still puzzling over an idea I had for the Great American Novel...

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Dorsa S.
15:05 Feb 08, 2021

what are you waiting for? make an outline, write out characters, everything! if you got an idea, don't let it soak in your head. put it out, and head from there. :) i know it's probably not the best advice due to my lack of knowledge in writing novels/novellas, but still! try it out!

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15:07 Feb 08, 2021

Well, I need to develop it more in my head first. Wanna hear it?? You'll see I don't have much to go on.

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. .
15:36 Apr 06, 2021

Percival Worthington is his full name. Love y'all.

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Nainika Gupta
15:40 Apr 06, 2021

...you didn'tttttt

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Nainika Gupta
15:40 Apr 06, 2021

AHAH YOU DID

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. .
18:23 Apr 06, 2021

XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

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Nora Ouardi
01:37 Feb 18, 2021

Lol when I first started this story, I thought it would be Percy Jackson related for some reason- that was dumb. Nevertheless, this book is extraordinary, you describe mental health in such an amazing way, which honestly leaves me speechless. This is a winner in my book!

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. .
01:48 Feb 18, 2021

Ha peeps have said that!! Thanks so much!!!

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Sapphire ~♚
18:08 Feb 08, 2021

About the book-knowledge-battle thing.....

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. .
18:12 Feb 08, 2021

...WHAT...

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Sapphire ~♚
18:16 Feb 08, 2021

*cough cough*

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. .
18:17 Feb 08, 2021

What???

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Sapphire ~♚
18:19 Feb 08, 2021

Before I jump into things, I wanna know how exactly you're gonna battle someone about book knowledge XD

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. .
18:20 Feb 08, 2021

Easy!! Book trivia.

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Pippin Took
20:46 Mar 15, 2021

Wowwww. Luke, we meet again. XD I like this story a lot. It reminds me about my great grandfather, Grandpa Baker, who I never met, but who my dad said had PTSD from WW2. It's a great story! I really do like it.

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. .
20:48 Mar 15, 2021

XP Yerp we do, Peregrin!!! Awwwwww thank you!!! Oh no, that's terrible...

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Pippin Took
20:49 Mar 15, 2021

Unfortunately, most of the grandpa aged men in my family have PTSD. Well, all. That darned Vietnam draft.

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. .
20:50 Mar 15, 2021

Ah, well...

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Whitney Jones
14:21 Feb 26, 2021

This was one *beep* of a story. OMG, it was so interesting. I understood this one. It was so deep and so gooooooood. Well done, Luke. Well done.

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14:22 Feb 26, 2021

Thankoooooooooooo so glad that the PTSD was easier to understand than the coma!

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Whitney Jones
17:24 Feb 26, 2021

Yea. LOL.

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. .
17:24 Feb 26, 2021

XD

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. .
17:02 Feb 26, 2021

New story, would love for your feedback!!!

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Whitney Jones
17:32 Feb 26, 2021

I read it and I left my feedback.

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. .
17:33 Feb 26, 2021

Thankoo!!! You seem supes nice, Whitney!!!

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Siobhan Mulalley
22:02 Feb 16, 2021

Such a powerful story. You can really feel the emotion, and the confusion of then and now. PTSD is something that has been so overlooked before and this really brings home, not only the reality of war but the impact it has on the survivors. I can’t think of what else to say to be fair. Great story.

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. .
22:05 Feb 16, 2021

Thank you so much!!! Yeah, I really just ran with this idea. That means a lot!!!

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Endellion .
17:05 Feb 16, 2021

I have a terrible, wonderful feeling you're going to win. Loved, loved, loved the story.

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. .
17:14 Feb 16, 2021

XD Thanks

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Mango Chutney
07:18 Feb 15, 2021

Wow .. amazing writing style.. loved this one 👍

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. .
13:47 Feb 15, 2021

Thank you!!!

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Susan Hoff
00:47 Feb 14, 2021

Wow. This was such a unique way to look at that fear that stayed with them forever. It’s so important to remember stories like this!

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. .
00:53 Feb 14, 2021

Thank you!!!

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Jexica Marcell
17:43 Feb 11, 2021

This was great, I loved the name Percival! The nickname Percy reminded me of Percy Jackson, which was like my fav books of all time. I can't believe how good this story is!!! I dint even have ti believe. I just know. Love, Cass

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. .
17:57 Feb 11, 2021

Thanks so much, Cass!!!

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Jexica Marcell
17:59 Feb 11, 2021

Of course!!!!!!! I mean, I love you stories because they are so interesting!!!! Cant get enough!!!

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. .
18:01 Feb 11, 2021

THANKS YOU!!!!

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Jexica Marcell
18:07 Feb 11, 2021

Yeah! Could you read my new story, "Don't Get Your Damn Hopes Up. Ever. ?" sorry about the title, I was mad when I was writing this lol.

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ᴄᴏᴘʏ & ᴘᴀsᴛᴇ: ᴘᴜᴛ ғ♡ʙᴜᴀʀʏ 𝟷𝟺 ɪɴ ʏᴏᴜʀ ʙɪᴏ ᴛᴏ ᴜᴘᴠᴏᴛᴇ ᴀs ᴍᴀɴʏ ᴘᴇᴏᴘʟᴇ ᴀs ᴘᴏssɪʙʟᴇ ᴏɴ ᴠᴀʟᴇɴᴛɪɴᴇ's ᴅᴀʏ. ʏᴏᴜ ᴅᴏɴ'ᴛ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴛᴏ ʙᴜᴛ ɪ'ᴍ ɢᴏɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ! ᴘᴜᴛ ᴛʜɪs ɪɴ ᴏᴛʜᴇʀ sᴛᴏʀɪᴇs ᴄᴏᴍᴍᴇɴᴛs, ᴡʜɪʟᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴀᴛ ɪᴛ ᴜᴘᴠᴏᴛᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴘᴇʀsᴏɴ ᴀ ʙɪᴛ! ♡

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Megan Stone
23:17 Feb 08, 2021

I LOVE UR PROFILE PICCCCCC <3<3<3

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. .
00:00 Feb 09, 2021

Thank you so much!!!!

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00:00 Feb 09, 2021

Thank you so much!!!!

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Cookie Carla🍪
19:44 Feb 08, 2021

Hi!! I really liked your story and the emotional balance of it. You took me on an emotional rollercoaster and that's really hard to do so thank you for this experience. Also, I'm sending my love and positive vibes in Bill's way. Can you read my story "Noah Adir" and leave feedback? I'm trying to perfect my writing on racial problems :)

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. .
19:45 Feb 08, 2021

Thanks you so much, JaTerra!!! Awwww me too!!! Of course I will!!

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Cookie Carla🍪
19:47 Feb 08, 2021

Tank you tank you tank you!!!!

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. .
19:47 Feb 08, 2021

Np Np Np!!

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15:34 Feb 08, 2021

Love it. The emojis are either the titanic or a shipwreck.

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15:35 Feb 08, 2021

Thanks! Nah, they're a classic book.

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12:52 Feb 09, 2021

ooh

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12:52 Feb 09, 2021

ooh

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12:53 Feb 09, 2021

Yerp

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14:06 Feb 09, 2021

derp

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14:06 Feb 09, 2021

Merp

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15:30 Feb 08, 2021

Very interesting and unique! I'm glad you took an interesting twist on this story; The number of historical fiction stories I've read about wars this week... it's scary. However, you wrote a truly original story! Amazing job

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. .
15:31 Feb 08, 2021

Thanks you so much!!!!! I know, I've read so many with some stuff that I critiqued on so I was like WHY NOT MAKE MY OWN????

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15:35 Feb 08, 2021

I'm scared to make one, but I'm writing a short story series (you know, while writing another short story series, a long story series, a government essay, ten millions songs and working on a musical) based on a few songs about the roaring 20s, and I REALLY want to make historical fiction but it's giving me APUSh ptsd for reasons that are for darker than you'd expect from an apush class. That class was the first time I failed 5 tests in a row... dark times

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15:36 Feb 08, 2021

XD That sucks...

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15:38 Feb 08, 2021

Better than ap lang though....

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. .
15:39 Feb 08, 2021

Yeahhhhhhhhh

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Sunny 🌼 🖤
14:20 Feb 08, 2021

Oh I know this one! 3000 Leaugues Under the Sea?!

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. .
14:21 Feb 08, 2021

Wrong number but yeah!!! Its 20000!!!

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Sunny 🌼 🖤
14:21 Feb 08, 2021

Oh ok! I knew it was some kind of number-

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. .
14:22 Feb 08, 2021

XD that's totally fine!!

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B. W.
07:55 Feb 08, 2021

how are you doing?

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. .
12:28 Feb 08, 2021

Great!

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B. W.
17:29 Feb 08, 2021

So what do you think of the prompts?

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. .
17:31 Feb 08, 2021

I'm pretty excited about the one I made a story for and for the one with the sit-in... I have a realllllly good idea for that one...

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B. W.
20:08 Feb 08, 2021

Oh, well I know it'll be great ^^

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. .
20:08 Feb 08, 2021

Thanks you!!

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