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

Nainika Gupta
01:17 Feb 08, 2021

HEY omg I needed to give ya feedback!! I loved that you FINALLY wrote a war story, really was emotionally fuelled and simply powerful!! Amazing job!! I would say, though, that (like you told me) to add someone with the different perspective to show the full depth of the emotional layer percival had to deal with!! ALSO 20,000 leagues under the seaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa !! -N

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12:28 Feb 08, 2021

Thanks nika!!!! And yes, you got it ☺️

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Nainika Gupta
13:16 Feb 08, 2021

XXXXXXXDDDDDDDDDDD :)

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13:17 Feb 08, 2021

DID YOU SEE BILL????

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Nainika Gupta
13:18 Feb 08, 2021

I DIDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

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13:19 Feb 08, 2021

I FEEEEEL SO BADDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

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00:45 Feb 08, 2021

my guess to your username emoji puzzle: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Hey, I tried 🤷🏻‍♀️

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00:45 Feb 08, 2021

YOU GOT IT!!!!

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00:47 Feb 08, 2021

Yay!

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Radhika Diksha
11:08 Feb 07, 2021

A new story is out would love your feedback.

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13:26 Feb 07, 2021

I’ll check it out soon!!!

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Claire Lindsey
00:47 Feb 07, 2021

Loved this take on the prompt. The flashbacks especially are so vivid and intense and propel the story forward nicely. The tone and narrator’s paranoia reminds me a bit of Catch-22. Well done!

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13:28 Feb 07, 2021

Ooh a comparison to Catch-22... interesting!! Thanks so much!!

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Claire Lindsey
14:07 Feb 11, 2021

Okay had some extra time this morning. Mostly I just found some little edits where moving things around a bit might help clarify and polish. My only big suggestion is to go through and see where you can replace a couple of ellipses. They feel more in place here but they’d be more impactful if you used them a bit more sparingly. Also, I like that the flashbacks are in present tense while the present of the story is written in past tense. It kinda gives us an idea of what feels most real to Percy. Double check your flashbacks to make the ver...

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14:09 Feb 11, 2021

Thanks youuuuuu!!!!!

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23:38 Feb 06, 2021

...no words absolutely no words how are you so talentedddddddd(look at that I thought of some words!!!!) This was very realistic and well done. I really have no idea how to describe it anymore, it's just amazing!!! Nice job Luke!!!

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00:27 Feb 07, 2021

Thank youuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!

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21:36 Feb 06, 2021

This was beautiful. Simply, beautiful. Loved it

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22:12 Feb 06, 2021

Thanks!!

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17:17 Feb 06, 2021

me: *sees the name Percy in Luke's story* also me: *clicks on the story* I'm pretty sure you can guess why 😂 Okay, that aside, this story's amazing. I loved that you switched back and forth between the past and the present. This story is very original and the plot great. I can feel all of Percival's emotion and fear. You didn't bore me at all (I usually get bored with historical fiction if it's about something I don't know a lot about and I don't know much about the World Wars), which is always a plus. I loved it. Great job!

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18:09 Feb 06, 2021

XD PJO??? Thank you so muchhhhhhh!!!!!

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18:12 Feb 06, 2021

Yeah it was PJO 🤣🤣🤣 Your welcome!!!!

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18:16 Feb 06, 2021

XD

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18:21 Feb 06, 2021

XD

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15:10 Feb 06, 2021

I realized that I was giving such meaningful critiques to OTHER peeps' war stories, so why not write my own?? Enjoyyyyyyyy!!!

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Maya -
20:59 Feb 07, 2021

Can you help me with something? Do you think a war counts as a historical movement? It does, right? Sorry, I'm dumb right now. XD

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21:00 Feb 07, 2021

Yerp it does!!!

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Maya -
21:04 Feb 07, 2021

Okey thanks XDD

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21:05 Feb 07, 2021

No prob!!!!

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20:23 Feb 07, 2021

hi luke! i love this, the descriptions and emotions were REALLY good (as always) the ending was a cliffhanger for me, I want moreeeeeee ahhhhhh D; also, I posted a new story! ~ Amethyst/Cheshire cat (for now)

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20:28 Feb 07, 2021

Thanks you soooo much!!!!! You too sweeet, ame!!!!

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20:30 Feb 07, 2021

np! awW thankssssss

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20:30 Feb 07, 2021

:DDDDDDDDD

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Kate Reynolds
17:59 Feb 07, 2021

New storyyyyy

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Sunny 🌼 🖤
13:49 Feb 07, 2021

Wow! I absolutely LOVE the way you handled your protagonist's PTSD and also made the story feel like it was never TRULY in the present. It felt like past and present were being jumbled together. I think that really helped portray your main character's trauma by writing the story like that.

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13:52 Feb 07, 2021

Thank you so much!!!! So kindddddd

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Help me my mind has imploded from your awesomeness I love the PTSD

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13:27 Feb 07, 2021

XDDDDD lol thank youuuuuu

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:D Lit you could write a book and be rich at age 12-18 XDD

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16:23 Feb 07, 2021

XDXDXD

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ALSO WAT HAPPENED TO BILLLLLLLLLLL WAT IS HIS SECOND ACCOUNTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

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16:31 Feb 07, 2021

I DUNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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Danny -
00:49 Feb 07, 2021

Ohmigosh, this caught me off-guard...... you wrote it so well, like! aasfdfkaklsdjfsaslkjfasldk, it's creative, and it's ...I dont even know how to explain it! You described the situation from Percival's perspective so well, usually what you would be looking for in stories like these...... you delivered the whole thing in the best possible way, greaaaaaaaaaat job! :D

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13:28 Feb 07, 2021

Thank you so much Danny!!!!!

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Danny -
23:06 Feb 07, 2021

Of course :DD

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Kate Reynolds
19:00 Feb 06, 2021

Omggg this is honestly such a realistic story! Even though the Nazis were defeated the memories will always be with the soldiers... This was absolutely amazing!!!!!!!!! The imagery was wonderful, and the fear was written so well! Great job!!!

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19:07 Feb 06, 2021

Thanks youuuuuuu!!! Yeah, I agree!!!

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Kate Reynolds
19:12 Feb 06, 2021

Nppppppp!!! Yeahhhh

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Maya -
16:44 Feb 06, 2021

A deep and introspective story! The descriptions during the flashbacks were very gripping and you showed his thoughts and fears of the war perfectly. It was creative to set the story after the war to show the damage it did to him, it made the story really unique. I really enjoyed reading this story, it very well-written and the plot was original. Amazing job, you're an awesome writer, Luke! :DDD

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17:01 Feb 06, 2021

Thanks you!!!!

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Maya -
17:22 Feb 06, 2021

Of course!

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