Captain Kirkham was shivering and thinking about his Sweet Rita again. He’d lost sensation in his leg and had a hole in his shoulder trickling blood.
All around him laid his comrades and his enemies in the muddied snow. If not for the darker boots, he would not have told them apart. He pulled himself up and surveyed the damage.
A thought occurred to him. A treasonous thought, a cowardly thought. Why continue? This wasn’t his war, this wasn’t his land. Sod them all. Captain sat up straighter. He reached for his dog tags and stopped when he heard groaning to his right.
Stealing a rifle from the corpse next to him, Captain limped closer. An enemy soldier lay there writhing, his hands firmly attached to his abdomen. Blood escaped between his interlaced fingers. The man saw Captain Kirkam and began to reach for a weapon. Kirkham could see his intestines.
He pointed at the man’s stomach and to his own eyes. The soldier set down his weapon and shook his head. Captain Kirkham made the sign of the cross and put him out of his misery.
There was no satisfaction in killing his fellow man, but in giving the man an honorable death, he found peace for a few minutes.
It was nightfall when Captain Kirkham reached the enemy trenches, and there he found Fleming passed out. Sleep sounded like a sweet respite now. He would lay down and ask the private where the men were, but for now he settled against the shaking form and closed his eyes.