The rain formed a curtain between private Fleming and the enemy line. Beyond it he could make out the dark shapes of the guns and men scrambling out of the trenches. They reminded him of a fire ant nest, the workers swaming out to protect the queen. As he advanced, men cried out in anger, fear, and pain.
Fleming found himself cowering behind fallen bodies more than he was firing.
His measly riflefelt no match for the machine guns, and he was saving the grenades. For what, Fleming couldn’t say, he just wanted to get closer and take out as many as possible in a single attack.
The battle reached a crescendo of blasts and screams while the temperature steadily dropped. Fleming huffed on his raw hands and then he heard a hiss. Then he lose consciousness.
He was floating then ,up and away from the blackened earth He prayed to God this was death, but God had a sense of humor.
Fleming came to at twilight, his body quivering under a thin layer of snow and mush. Shots echoed across the field now and then, but the great openness had transformed into a scene from Dante’s Inferno. He could not tell then, who was the victor, and Fleming supposed that victories are meaningless to the dead.
He began to creep towards his target again. Whether he would be greeted by a barrel of ale or gun, Fleming could not say. Both were better than freezing to death.