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Advent of the Age of Reason

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It could almost be funny if you had a quite perverse sense of humor. Some stupid Archduke that no one particularly cared for goes to visit a country where he is hated. His equally stupid driver gets lost in the streets of Sarajevo and, as he is backing up the car, gives the equally incompetent murderer who previously missed throwing a bomb in the royal automobile, a chance to walk up and fatally shoot the royal bastard and his wife. This starts a domino effect that plunges the entire world into the bloodiest war it has ever seen. “The War to End All Wars” they say, yeah right! They also said this stupid war would be short. That was over two years ago...

Forgive me if I sound sarcastic, but it’s hard to be otherwise when you have been sitting in these fetid trenches for as long as I have and seen the sights that I have seen. It’s either learn to find humor in it all or become shell-shocked by the banality of it all. The the sights, the sounds, the smells will haunt me for the rest of my life.

That’s assuming Fritz dies before I do. But the Krauts are trying just as hard to kill me, as I am trying to them. And both of our Generals are throwing every new toy they can get their hands on at each other. And we dumb troops, along with yards on a map are the tally by which they measure who is winning…

This a new kind of war, brought on by the Age of Reason. From artillery dropping exploding shells that send the enemies limbs flying in all directions, to colorful gas that makes them choke horribly, they have it all. They have razor wire and machine guns to snare, cut, mutilate the human bodies by the dozen. Not to mention aeroplanes flying overhead and canons so big they can only move on railroad tracks.

Bodies pile up, a few dozen feet are gained or lost, and then the smell becomes unbearable. We declare a truce, gather the dead and wounded, ship them away, receive fresh troops and start all over again.

War is hell, but it does have its moments. Like when those glorious Mark 1s went up against the German cavalry. Tradition got trucidated by industrialism leaving tread-marks and bodies along the way.That of course, until they stalled and were taken out by enemy artillery and grenades. We gain a few leagues, entrench and start again. But grandiose moments like this are not what scares me. It’s the quiet, tedious moments in between battles that scare the crap out of me.

Like the time Tully pulled out this pack of smoke, and gave one to me and one to James. We lit up our smokes, we all smiled, for the first time in God knows how long. And then James’s head explodes, courtesy of a unfriendly Heinie sniper. His left eye, brain fragments and blood... lots of blood, showered over Tully. Tully didn't scream, didn't duck. He just got this this look in his eyes like if there was there something real interesting a thousand yards away. And then his head exploded too. And he fell on top of me, pushing me down and putting out my smoke.

Then there was that one night. The one that really scared the crap out of me! Fritz had run out of shells to throw at us, and the night became reasonably quiet. I, along with some trench mates, closed our eyes while Gordon kept watch. We all sank into exhausted sleep. I dreamed of butterflies  flying in a field of flowers. A gentle breeze blew as I could hear the waves of the ocean breaking on a golden shore.

That’s when I realized I was dreaming. The spell was broken and I woke up, remembering where I was. I looked to the side and saw Gordon, leaning over that new kid who got wounded real bad when we gained the few last yards. I called out to Gordon to ask if the kid was still alive, and Gordon turned around and looked at me. The first thing I noticed was the blood on his chin. I then noticed the fangs, definitely the fangs. The last thing were the eyes. Those eyes that glowed with darkness, as stupid as that may sound when you say it out loud.

I reached for my side pistol.

“You’re not going to shoot me, are you bub?” he says to me.

I’m silent. Pistol firmly held in my shaking hand.

“We've been through so much together. Plus the boy was dying anyway.” He pointed to no man’s land. “Lots of people are dying.”

He was right. Gordon and I had been together in the Somme Battles for over three months. During that time, we had fought together and seen too many casualties almost every day that went by.

“But how-?” was all I ever managed to get out. Things like this should not exist. Not in plain Age of Reason. But Gordon explained it all to me. Seems they have been around for a very long time. And they live for a very long time too. They were wise enough to ride the wave of blood from the Eastern Front, picking up new recruits along the way.

He told me they had long used wars to cover up their feeding habits. They had also managed to infiltrate the governments of various nations, to insure that wars would continue to not only happen, but escalate as well. This war was in part, their doing. And when it was over, they had another one all ready to be set in motion.

Then he looked at me, and said that since we were buddies, he was willing to bring me into the fold. To become like them. To feed off the insanity of the world. I had my reservations. But in an odd way, the more I thought about it, the more Gordon seemed to be the only one making any sense in the middle of all this madness. Plus I would also probably get to live forever.

I would had thought about it a bit longer, had not some damn Kraut Sniper blown Gordon’s head clean off with a high-powered bullet. Gordon’s headless body fell on the mud, taking the possibility of immortality away with it.

Yes, it’s the quiet nights that most scare me. It’s in those nights that I think about that one night and realize just how much what Gordon told me made sense.These are the nights that most scare me. They scare me because I know if that damn Kraut had not intervened, I would had taken Gordon up on his offer.

Written by Booboofinger
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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