A splatter of gunfire broke me out of my reverie, causing disrupted birds to take a hasty flight to refuge at the deafening call of the homicidal weapon. Innocent recruits, inexperienced at the hands of a revolver, tumble with me out of our soiled, flea- ridden beds. I knew they weren’t ready; their skills not refined enough for the field. Yesterday, I had informed the general of my opinion of the inept, maladroit men, the additions to my troop. In my eyes they were not yet prepared to face the ruthless adversaries or harshness of battle, still a childish roundness to their face and a naïve gleam still evident in soon to be dull irises. Before long, the austere environment would strip them of their innocence, becoming the walking dead after witnessing scenes not meant for ones their age. Soon the bleak setting would affect their currently fervent demeanour, abandoning shells of who they once were, leaving matured men devoid of emotion.
The alarm however, interrupted their idle chatter. So far it seems the significance of shielding our loved ones against the threat of assault, discerning that all we cherish will be devastated if our rivals triumph. At the moment it seems as if they are having an arduous time imagining a world at the knees of another ruler, but if they fail to get their act together, they will have to adjust to that concept rapidly whether they agree or not.
As we trudged swiftly across the corrupted terrain, avoiding questionably profound mud patches, we unclipped our pistols from the battered case and that’s when it happened.
No warning except from the shrill whistle alerted us, before an explosion collided against our base, instantly wiping my companions out, me included. Screams of absolute horror and excruciating pain ripped through the atmosphere, the oncoming enemies forgotten in a heartbeat.
“Onto the cart, they are as good as dead!”
I was aware of a metallic odour stinging my nostrils, mixing appallingly with the mundane, scent of mud smeared across my features. As a result of my eyelids being closed, I was not conscious of anyone arriving until firm hands grasped my mangled arms roughly, before discarding my body brutally upon a cart. Once again, my eyelids were clenched shut so the appearing darkness did not alarm me like they would to anyone else who was cognisant. However, I forced myself to witness the trauma; so ignoring the pounding ache in my head the destruction was soon apparent.
They had dropped a bomb, leaving our camp chaotic and disorderly. That’s when I dropped a bombshell. It was a diversion meant to confuse our troops.
My voice hardly more piercing than hundreds of raucous men I took an agonizing breath and screamed.
“It’s a diversion! Get back to your station…!”
A man dressed in the enemies’ uniform clenched an insanitary hand over my mouth, preventing the message getting across, although I saw some responding to my cry. We had a brief scuffle but because I was wounded he effortlessly overpowered me. Desperate to not leave this world without putting up a fight, I caught sight of a piece of paper poking discreetly out of his pocket. Using a heavily bruised hand I yanked the document, flinging it into a puddle of grimy water. In sudden vehemence he wrenched out a gun and fired three shots. One for my shoulder, rendering my arm useless, one for my head and one for his, but why that final bullet I will never know the answer. The patter of approaching footfalls sped up the process of oblivion and gradually I went under with one final thought.
It was grim. Uprooted, sinewy dead patches of grass sprouted amongst the blood drenched mud and her panting breaths created misty smoke hardly distinguishable compared to the melancholy clouds. Ubiquitous fog had rolled in, giving the atmosphere a slight dream-like quality to it; hazy around the edges as if it was just a figment of her grieving imagination. Any sound emitted from the beaks of vulture like crows was almost incoherent against the mourning, hollow cry of the ghastly gale which chilled to the bone. How anyone could survive in these conditions, the woman would never know.
With sobs threatening to choke her, she fell to her knees, not concerned about staining her starched cloak; visiting the memorial battlefield was not as effortless as she had first assumed or anticipated. While inspecting the ground; contrasting greatly, not even able to merge with nearby countryside, were blood red blossoming buds of poppy flowers. Her namesake. An almost invisible smile touched her lips, once again finding hope – knowing that if a vibrant and delicate bud can subsist in its dreary surroundings with almost no encouragement, nothing can prevent her from continuing her life. Once again she grinned. “After all, its just about knowing black from white.” Knowing that although he left her, she was still his Poppy, and despite the sceptical circumstances their Poppy Love would also live on.