This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Friday, 12 October 2012

Not Quiet On The Western Front

Towering walls reach up on either side. This is a deep trench, so deep the sky seems a just a thin strip. The walls are of crumbling earth, no longer adequately held up by the boards and baulks. The sky above is blue, and the walls are mud-brown, and the earth below me is mud yellow. Stinking yellow mud, mostly liquid, because moisture crawls constantly down the walls, never quite drains away, and seeps over the boards on the floor of the trench.

I'm alone in the trench, except for the skeletons which are everywhere, embedded in the walls and pressed into the trench floor, brownish white bones and rags and strips of cloth. I wander along the trench, aimlessly. I pass the shattered bodies and the recently dead, those who have not yet found the time to rot and swell. It is very hot, and everything stinks, but the mud most of all.

Some of the bodies have been eaten away by the rats. They are big and fearless and they are everywhere. I see one crawling out of a burst belly. The rats and the lice. I scratch at my crotch, and wince.

I remember how we were told the war was right and honourable and we were the bravest of the brave. Yes, I tell myself, there must be a point to all this, as I stumble over a corpse and hear  the machine guns sweeping across no man's land.

I heft the rifle on my shoulder and wonder when the next attack will come. 

Copyright B Purkayastha 2008


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