The Greatness Within

A boy, Thomas A. Perez, goes through life living in his brother's shadow. As he is lost in his ways, he meets a wonderful girl, Nicole. Hope was something Thomas was very familiar with. However, love is quite the new concept for him to grasp.
Originally, I wrote this to make my teacher cry (which I did accomplish... she wasn't... the happiest I guess you could say), but now I'd eventually like to write this into my 1st novel and just really expand from what I have already. That way I can get better character development and a heavier impact at those 'sad times'. Hope you enjoy :) .... *Please be sure to check out all of the chapters*

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4. Chapter 3: The Bloody War

            Boot camp was done, and now I was officially called an American Soldier. Alex and I were put into the same division, and lived very close to each other. After all this time, my brother was still by my side. Perhaps the strangest coincidence I had in my division was, Trent was still in my life. We had no hard feelings toward each other. Often he asked me, “Did you have any regrets when you left our ‘team’?” I always answered, “No, it was the best choice of my life, and I owe it all to Nicole.” Though it may seem strange, it was only the truth. I did owe it all to Nicole. As I said, she would always be in my heart no matter how long she was away from me, and I would miss her gravely. I wrote notes to her very frequently. One thing I never told anyone but my commanding officer was this, “In case I was to die in battle, I already have a letter written out to my wife. If there is one thing you do for me, send it to my wife, if the time comes of course.” He just nodded and agreed to do so.

            Our first battle was a great success. Few casualties, great advance, and we won. What else could a soldier ask for? Well, I could think of at least one thing a soldier could ask for, no casualties. Especially for those who became wounded in that battle. They could’ve asked for a lot more. I had no time to think about this because after I had any free time, I wrote to my wife, Nicole. Of course this seemed always seemed sad to me, I had other things to think of. I could only think of how worried Nicole seemed when I was at battle. I once wrote to her,

            “My dearest Nicole,

            You may be worried for me every day, but if you are, don’t you remember my promise? There is nothing to be worried about. As I have said, ‘I will return for the absolute purpose to see you again.’ You have other things to worry about like those who never made that same promise that I made you.                                          

  ~Love, Thomas

            There wasn’t anything to really worry about anyways. I was smart in the battle, and Alex and Trent were behind my back. There wasn’t anything to worry about then, but what the generals didn’t tell us was that we were going to be going behind enemy lines in about a month. And I was right; Nicole had other things to worry about other than me. Exactly as I said, she should have been worrying about those who have not made the same promise that I made her.

            It was the month of December. Our mission was to free a U.S. general in a concentration camp in Sweden. “December in Sweden!?” I thought to myself. We couldn’t see a bloody thing in front of us for more than half the time, and lights weren’t an option. We wouldn’t even consider them because they would give our position away in the dark months of Sweden. We were finally in; this however, wasn’t the mission where we went behind enemy lines. It wasn’t until now that our general actually told us of that mission. We could see the lights of the concentration camp just outside of this small town. There was one more thing we needed to do. We needed information, and what would be a better place than the people who lived there? Just by random chance, we had a man in our division who spoke Swedish. His name was Mitch. So he asked if they knew anything about this camp.

            Mitch greeted then, “Hej, Vet du något om koncentrationsläger?”

            The Swedish girl looked at him oddly but then stated, ”Ah, ja, ja, ja, där borta. Det är inte en bra plats att vara. Det är farligt.”

            ”Ja, vi vet det. Hur farligt nu och finns det ett enkelt sätt inuti den? Eller inte?” Mitch inquired and then added, ”Nej, du pratar inte nu? Varför är det? Du tvingas inte berätta, rätt? Men vi är dina vänner.”

            The girl looked around to see if she was being watched by anyone. She said hastily,”Ni Är Dårar! Men om du måste veta, använda den östra siden. Det är allt jag kan säga till dig, ledsen men jag måste gå nu. Jag har varit här länge nog. Hejdå och godnatt.”

            Mitch kindly said,”Tack du. Vi uppskattar det jätte mycket. Så tack igen.”

            ”Varsegod. Nu jag verkligen har att gå nu.” She walked off rather quickly. I never knew what in the world was mentioned in that conversation that night, but Mitch did well. That’s all I can say. Sometimes you can only imagine what happens, so I just nodded my head and waved. Whether I knew what they were talking about or not, that didn’t matter. I was good at pretending. Now we were to move into the heart of the beast. Our leading commander put it this way, our mission is simple, but the same cannot be said for the fighting. He knew what we were getting ourselves into.

            When we breached the first line of defense, right then and there, things got bloody and complicated. It was the months of Sweden’s dark times. Literally, it was pitch black. Along with Sweden’s dark months also comes Sweden’s snowy months also. The conditions couldn’t be worse for battle, but we were given orders. Our orders were always followed no matter how disastrous it seemed to us. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were reports of friendly fire. Everyone was fighting without sense. We only knew that there was a general who was in some way important to winning this war. They only knew that there were intruders in their camp, and had to be ceased and ceased quickly. Alex, Trent, and I found a way though the defense of the Nazis. Ironically, they weren’t Nazis at all; we just called them that because of Germany’s history. They were good soldiers, but we didn’t have time to take prisoners. When you are about to shoot someone, it is a different feeling like no other. Right when you are about to pull the trigger, your throat becomes dry, and you think of that man’s life. What if he had a family? How sad would it be for them? They aren’t much different from me, but this feeling needs to be overcome in war, regardless of how alike they may be to you. I sometimes regret doing this and often think if it was right. We had our automatic guns at the time, so we just lit them up. I try not to think of it much. All I can say is that some memories will haunt you forever.

            We were finally in. All the images of hopeless people imprisoned and mistreated, they were all there. Our general had a grave look on his face. He was pale as soon… as soon as he looked in this room. They didn’t even bother to keep the U.S. general alive that night. His guts were spilled across the floor, and according to the prisoners nearby, they heard a bloody scream and right after that a gunshot. The German officer committed suicide after he ripped the general open. We liberated that little town in Sweden that night. If we were going to have one thing good happen tonight, it would be that.

            The Swedish girl we met that evening, she came up to us after that night. You could tell she wanted to tell us something because she was crying, put her arms around Mitch and cried, “Du räddade mina föräldrar, säg att de kan sova i min hus inatt. Du kan också.”

            Mitch turned around. He looked rather emotional and told us, “She said, ‘You saved my parents, we can sleep in her house tonight.’” We all kind of nodded, so Mitch turned back to the girl and commented, “Vi skulle vilja att. Vi skulle vilja att jätte mycket.” The girl seemed very happy that we agreed to spend the night there.

            We had to go the next morning, but if there is one thing I remember those days in Sweden it was the attempt the girl made. She was asking her parents that night about a lot of things, and the next morning it all made sense to me. When we left she ran to us and gave us each a ring she made from the local plants there. But then, she crackled out hard sounding English, “Tank yo for evrehting yo deed for ahs.” This meant a lot to me personally, and I couldn’t have asked for anything else from a poor Swedish girl. She reminded me of me only, her parents loved her.

            After we got back to our base of operations, I started to write to Nicole like never before. I also could only imagine how much worse it was going to get. The next time we would visit the battlefield would be the one battle. Our general made it sound like if we survived this battle we would survive the war. Alex and I usually talked about this upcoming battle. He said the general described it to him like the present D-Day Invasion. Alex could tell I was uneasy about this, so he said to me, “Why so grim? I’m always at your side, remember?” This could only comfort me so much, and he knew that too. I had a promise to keep, to be honest that was all the hope I had.

            It was time. The time of the battle that would determine the outcome of this war. We mounted on the paratrooper planes and went off. I don’t remember the way to the battle at all because I was too busy thinking about Nicole. I closed my eyes and saw my family, all waiting for my return.

            It was time for us to jump now. Alex jumped first and right before me. The tracers of the incoming fire filled the air. Apart from how scary this was, it was very beautiful. Now we were on the ground. It was quiet, damp, and unlike Sweden, it was light outside. I was fortunate to actually make it on the ground. As soon I jumped out, our plane just suddenly exploded in the air. No doubt it was the enemy fire coming in on the entire invasion. Now Alex and I waited and waited for the promised reinforcements. We heard the Germans yelling all around us, or so it seemed. We started heading back. It was decided that our reinforcements must have been positioned behind us. We ran through the thick brush. If a German saw us, we were going to make sure it wasn’t going to be an easy shot for them. At least we would have somewhat of a chance when we were running. This was it; we heard the voices of Americans now. The leading commander there yelled over to us to run toward them. So, we did. Just then, I heard a gunshot, but I expected that.

            We got the commanding officer and all of the sudden the commander screamed, “Are you alright soldier!?” I looked back and Alex was lying on the ground with his hand over the right side of his body. The gunshot I heard, it was shot at Alex.

            I ran up to Alex with tears running down my eyes. He faintly muttered, “I… I guess I can’t take care of my little brother now. Do something for me though. Don’t forget the promise you made to Nicole. Tell her I did all I could for you.” He started to cough up blood.

            I put my head down and replied depressed, “I shall miss you brother, and of course I will never forget.” I drew my attention back to him, but I was too late. He had already died. Just when things I thought couldn’t get worse, they did. We were forced to become prisoners of war for our land assault even further behind us, failed. Being prisoners to the Germans only meant three things for us. We would be sent to a concentration camp, be enslaved there, and die. There seemed to be no more hope for us now. We failed… I failed. I failed to keep my brother alive, and now he was gone forever. The trip to the concentration camp was long and hard. Those who could not walk for days on end without rest were put to death on the spot. Half of us didn’t even make it alive to the camp. Some of them did it on purpose because they have heard the gruesome stories that would happen there. It took us two days to walk to our own fate.

            At the camp, we were treated worse than what we thought. We were enslaved and beaten to death. Those who could not work would be taken inside a large building. You never saw them again if that happened, so we could only imagine what happened to them. After what they did to that commander in Sweden, it seemed very clear as to what happened to them. So I worked, I worked because I was afraid not to work. I had a promise to keep, and I wasn’t going to let this stand in my way. Trent and I started to plan an escape. It seemed impossible, but patience was the key. He and I both knew that if we waited long enough, we would have a risky but manageable escape. Every week, a new shipment would come in. If we waited, the shipment would eventually be late and arrive at night.

            That night came. It was the only chance we would be sent. Trent ran to the truck first, and when he was about thirty yards in-front of me, I started to run also. I started to catch up to him, but I am glad that I didn’t. We didn’t know that a sniper would be watching for these things. All of the sudden, a gunshot went off, then another one. After the second, Trent stumbled over. The sniper didn’t see me luckily. I don’t know why, maybe because he had run out of loaded ammunition. All I knew was that I was going to make it. I quickly slid under the truck and grasped onto it. I was on my own. I was heading home. I knew it would be a long time, but I could do it. I just needed to reach a ship or plane that would send me to America. This would be hard to do, since I was in deep into Germany. I needed to head hundreds of miles east and rely on the hospitality of Germans who weren’t involved in the war. What I didn’t know at the time was that a rescue team was sent just two weeks after my escape. And I know what that meant. The general had to send out death notification letters to the corresponding families, one of them would be to Nicole.

            “~Dear Mrs. Nicole,

            I extend my most profound condolence to the loss of your husband, Lieutenant Thomas A. Perez, 103rd division. Our three reconnaissance missions have found no positive evidence of his survival; therefore I must declare Thomas A. Perez KILLED IN ACTION. Most likely he fell to the fate of the German concentration camp. Many others have shared this fate.

            News of your husband’s death comes as a great shock to all who knew him, and his loss will be felt keenly in this organization. I sincerely hope the knowledge that Perez was an exemplary soldier and died while serving his country will comfort you in this time of great sorrow.

            Personally and for the officers and men of this command please accept our deepest sympathy.

                                                                                                   Sincerely yours,

                                                                                    General C. Patton

            Not only did Nicole receive that letter, but my general also remembered the letter I had already prepared. And so it said this, “

            ~My greatest love,

          Do not be alarmed by my death, but rather remember that I will always be in your heart. Though you may never see me again; I never promised that. I only promised that I would return, and now I have. I have returned because of the great love you had for me. I can only thank you enough for that. You were the only other one to have loved me with great compassion. I can never return such an act, but I have always tried to do so. When the wind is blowing on you in those sweet Summer days, it will just be my breath calling your name. Because I know, we will meet again, whether in this world or the next. I have never met anyone like you, and I never will. If you can do something for me, do this, live as if I were always by your side and never forget the things that you told me; treasure them forever. And as I told you before I left, you were always in my thoughts even in the toughest of times, because seeing your face gave me comfort no matter where I was. So now, if I am buried or not, it does not matter, because I have always been buried in your love.

                                                                                                                        Love, Thomas~”

            I headed east, and I was surprised, the hospitality of the Germans was much greater than I had suspected. Not all of them were evil; they were just forced to agree. This is something I could never forget. We killed innocent lives. I remember that night in Sweden and regret it. This was war for me, killing innocent lives for no clear, apparent reason whatsoever. I was glad now, because the war was over for me. I was going home for the first time in seven years. I wouldn’t make it until the ninth year, because of the long journey. I made it to France and boarded a ship to England. I took a plane to America from England because the war wasn’t over and France seemed a little close and dangerous to leave from there. I made it, I was finally in America. This was the first time I was “home” for a long time. Now I was going back to my true home.

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