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The Terror of No Man's Land

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Manuscript found in an abandoned farmhouse.

By the time anyone finds this, most likely I will be long dead. I am a soldier who was drafted into the British army, although I was born in the city of Toronto, Ontario. It was in the year 1915. I received a draft letter inviting me to go oversees to fight for the glory of England. There I made some friends, both Englishmen and fellow Canadians like myself.

I will not bore the reader with the details regarding the dull and horrific conditions by which we lived within the trenches, since if you have found your way this far into no man’s land where I am writing you will already know. I will say that we spent several months crammed together in the trenches, waiting for orders. Once in a while the Germans would try to attack, and we would hold our own alright.

It was in one such ambush that one good friend of mine, poor young Private Gilman, had his first kill. He panicked and stabbed a young German boy right through the skull with his bayonet. He couldn’t go on after that, but our commanding officers refused to let him go, refusing to accept men suffering what the rest of us know as “shell-shock”. The poor guy could barely function. All he would do is squat down in the trench and cry.

We finally received the order to take the German post. We were told to fight as hard as we could, and that there was to be no retreat or surrender; every man would have to fight to the death or else be condemned to a firing squad as a deserter. I climbed out of the trench and into the dead, empty wasteland which belonged to no man. Our efforts were sadly in vain. One by one I saw my friends killed in horrible ways. Some were picked off by enemy fire, others accidentally tripped on mines.

The worst of all, however, was when I was with a young man who fell victim to a grenade, thrown by one of my comrades. Though I was able to take cover and avoid any lasting damage from the blast, the shock left me confused and disoriented. I had developed that dreaded shell-shock myself. How I survived the massacre in my dazed state I do not recall. All I remember is trying to hide and blindly wandering, with no idea where I was going.

At some point, I must have collapsed from exhaustion, as I remember waking up some time later, probably a day had passed, but I’m not sure. I had started to come to my senses, but I was lost in the dead realm of No Man’s Land. I remember finding the wreckage of old war machines, and occasionally here and there were the forgotten bodies of brave young men of all nationalities; English, French, German, Russian.

Fortunately, there was one other survivor, young Private Gilman, who I found semi-consciously mumbling to himself, hiding beneath an old wagon wheel. I helped him to his feet and together we continued to wander, hoping we were headed for our own lines. Instead, we found the remains of an old farmstead. The house was still fairly intact, and we decided to take refuge in there. That was when the true horrors started.

Gilman could not relax, he was constantly freaking out over sounds he heard in his mind. At first I did not believe him but did everything I could to calm him, but this was not simple shell-shock. The poor guy had finally gone mad, hearing noises from around. He talked of some otherworldly creature outside. He said it was coming.

That night, I remember hearing strange noises. I could hear creaking in the floorboards while neither of us were walking, and I always had that strange feeling that there was something watching. A few times I pulled out my rifle and looked around, just to reassure myself and Gilman that it was all in the mind. I began to think that I was going crazy as well, but I could still hear those noises.

When daybreak finally came, the noises came to an end, but Gilman was too frightened. He wouldn’t respond to anything I said, only telling me that there was something out there; something we didn’t understand, and it was going to get us. He finally took my rifle. I wrestled with him to get it back, but his grip was too strong, and then I saw him sit down, and shoot himself through the throat.

I found a shovel amidst the ruins, and buried the poor man outside. As far as any sane man should be able to tell I am alone, yet I still feel as though there is someone else here. I hear sounds at night; terrible, indescribable things. I have not eaten or slept since I arrived, and I can barely keep up the strength to write this journal, but I must.

I can hear footsteps now. They are coming for me. Something is coming. It’s coming for me. I will take my rifle and try to fight-

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