Story Competition 2008, winner's story - Aaron Austin Locke
An unforgettable Dream
by Aaron Austin Locke
I had finished revising for school. I put down my pencil on top of the book I was reading from and climbed into bed. I turned out the light. There was a test next day on WW1: I wasn't ready for it.
That night I'll remember even on my death bed, for I had the dream that ended my dreams.
Even now, as I look back, I can't quite understand it. It changed my life. This is the story of how my dreams, would never be dreams again.
As soon as I shut my eyes I heard a ringing sound, in the pitch black, damp air. It was so cold. A lighting flash lit up the ringing air and I heard the sound of explosions. I felt cold and alone.
Then, I was not alone anymore! I heard my older brother, he was screaming at me,
"C'mon, sergeant. Don't give in!"
A gas bomb landed with a hefty whack, and a cloud of gas came flooding out of its dark, monstrous shell. As it did, without thinking, and not daring to open my eyes I jumped into an old bomb crater. It still had bits of the sharp, shards of metal still scattered in the black pit. My brother ran over to me. I was so scared; I didn't know what was going on. I felt weak, dizzy, tired and nauseous. I dared myself to open my tired, lazy eyes. It felt like an eternity. My eyelids were drooping, and that's when I noticed. I was holding a machine gun, a viscous weapon that viciously murdered soldiers. I had read about them in the book I was revising before I woke in this death filled nightmare! That's where I was! I was holding a weapon that changed war for life, and my life forever.
Before I knew it I was up, running. I didn't want to kill, but I couldn't help it. I wasn't in control of my actions. I ran straight into the teeth of enemy fire. I was so scared, so tired, so sick! I decided to take the coward's way out and started running back. I knew I would be shot, be called a coward and a traitor. I didn't care. I just didn't want to die. I leapt into our trench and looked up to find a crow hovering above me, like it was just waiting for me to drop dead. Then I looked over, and on the German side saw a murder of crows. That's when I realized we were out-numbered, the crows symbolized our battle.
Now I was scared for my brother, so I called, "retreat!" He had called me Sergeant, so I knew they would listen because sergeants were pen-ultimate from top. And sure enough, they all fell back. My brother jumped up next to me and asked, "What's the plan?" I hadn't a clue. I was sick; I was tired, I had no idea what was going on, I was up to my waist in mud and cigarette butts. My brother seemed to sense that I was in distress so he just whispered," you have a rest, I'll command."
"Attack!!!!!" he shouted.
I just wanted to die. How could I rest? There were 100s of people trying to kill each other. I was so scared I didn't know what to do.
Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw a man in pain. He was staggering, spluttering for air, he was trying to walk. Then, he just collapsed and screamed like no other. With out thinking I jumped to my feet and ran to him, wildly firing my gun everywhere. When I got there, I realized it was a German. I didn't care, he was hurt, and that was all there was to it. I disarmed him, took him up on my shoulders and ran as fast as I could to our trench. On the way, I heard a bullet right up against my ear, so I ducked. I saw another injured man and I said in a soft way, ‘I'll be back for you'. I ran across the mud and over to a trench. I placed him down and said, half whispered, half shouted, ‘I'll be back, hold on' then I realised the guns had stopped, and everyone was cheering me on and, my brother started to do the same. But as he did, a heart wrenching action took place .One of the Germans got up from the trench and started firing. A bullet hit my brother, then a second and a third and finally a fourth. We were under attack. My brother fell to the floor in agony.
I dropped the man I was carrying to go to my brother. It was my brother, I had to help now. I picked him up gently and staggered over the line to the trench where I would be able to look after him. All around were the suffering men. "Well done sergeant!" whispered my major. "When we get back to England, I'll see to it that you are rewarded VC." At these words I felt happy. But inside the happiness there were tears, a great sadness. Then I remembered my brother was fading in my arms. I knew that time was short. He had taken four bullets, one in his right knee, his knee-cap was shattered, one to his belly, one his left shoulder and one to his left foot. He was bleeding to death and there wasn't enough time to get help. All I could do was stay with him till the end
In that moment I hated my self, I wish I could help him. Looking back, I think if I had helped and tried to save him, it wouldn't have happened. I wish I could turn back time.
As I lay down my brother in the muddy, water filled trench I whispered into his ear, a lie, a piercing lie that still haunts me to this day; I said ‘Everything's going to be alright. And as I said this spiteful lie a German bomb laded about a metre away, I was scared, alone and had my dying brother in my arms. Then the piercing ringing started again in my ears and all of a sudden I became so very tired.
My eyelids started to droop. I felt the warm, and the softness of a pillow. It felt as if I were flying, flying high in the sky. Then a shrieking scream. A scream that pulled me back to earth. It was my brother. I leapt out of bed. Not even realising what I was doing. It felt as if I was still flying, until I hit the sharp, hard ground. I ran into his room, still half a sleep, and still half flying thinking about the dream. Then, the part that changed my life forever!
As I entered room, I saw a crow fluttering and moving its little head on the window sill. The same crow in my dream. That's when I dared myself to look at my brother I braced my self for the worst.
I looked down at him. He was still, and he looked so cold. I was praying now, I was still scared, and alone. I started to cry. I pulled back the sheets to see blood splattered on his clothes, and blood trickling down from his mouth. I cried aloud at that moment in time. That moment when the world seemed to stop, and crumble away beneath my feet. Then came the tears.
My brothers soul, lost forever in the land of dreams.