Yellow Fields

It's 1918. World War One is coming up to four years; and seems like it will never end...

Private Colin Brood is a twenty-one year old army soldier who has somehow made it through the many brutal years alive. Yet when a horrible turn of events happens and Colin is left injured; his friend even worse, will he have the courage of a General to save his friend's life?

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3. Explosion

"I'm coming! Stay there!" my hoarse voice yelled desperately, despite knowing that nobody would be able to understand me properly, least alone the man who was depending on me: the private battered with the full force of the notorious Chlorine Gas. Everything had seemed to have gone eerily quiet. Only the mumbles of explosions could be heard in the distance as they collaborated. It was like a ghost town. Everything had...gone. There was no life. No birds. No wind. Was this heaven? Was I actually in heaven? Had the Chlorine Gas got to me just before I had freed my gasmask and had tauntingly replayed what would have been my freedom if I'd worked a little faster? No. I was just hallucinating. Nothing in the world could be that mean. But wait - I was in a war. The bloodiest war in history.

"Hang...on" my cries were becoming more and more limited, my steamy breath condensing on the plastic screen that was my protection from gases such as Chlorine. "I'm...coming..." there was no other option; I had to walk.

I set off, gently running my blistered and cooked hand along the crumbly trench wall, using it as a guide through all the remaining gas that lingered, awaiting its next victim. I followed each bend carefully, my breathing strained with each breath I drew - knowing I had caused serious damage to my lungs. Nevertheless, some unknown urge had seemed to take over my senses - even my brain - and I knew that nothing else mattered in the world. Not the war. Not my life. Not even arriving home safely and being engulfed in my mother's warm arms - my father laughing with joy and pride behind us. This man could be a father, a brother, a husband; he could be a son, a cousin, and uncle or grandfather. He could be alone - no family to return to like Alan. The range of such options drove me forwards and I knew, almost subconsciously, that as long as I persevered and found this man, this boy, and got him to safety, that was all that mattered.
My hand seared. "Ouch!" I cried, grabbing it and nursing it close to my chest. I had found something. I peered close to the wall, pressing my mask up to the foreign object I had caught my hand on. Then I saw it. A ladder! Part of the oak wood had shattered - probably a shell had landed close to it - yet I didn't dare look for it. Carefully I patted my foot on the ground, testing the waters, almost, then, when I realised that it could withstand my weight, I gently lifted my foot to find the first step.
"C'mon," I urged, frustrated as my foot fumbled heavily around in the air. Then, what appeared to be a miracle, I found it. 
"Aha!" I cried in a small victory. I ascended then, picking up yet another rhythm as I climbed to the very top. I was greeted with a slight embankment, on top of that surrounded in a tall structure of sand bags was the faint outline of a huge, heavy artillery canon sat alone amongst the ruins of the ground. The scenery of war. I was in such a daze at finding this that I didn't realise it was still firing until my ears allowed some muffled, muted noise to come through. It was then that I saw the vulnerable figure of a man sat at the chair... only he wasn't sat; he was being dragged. I started walking towards him, then picked up speed as the terrain levelled out.
As I got closer, I realised, with a fear unlike any I had experienced before here, that this was no normal man whom I had never met, or whom I had only spoken a few words of encouragement before we poured over the embankment and charged to many men's death at the Battle of the Somme, 1916. It was a man I regarded my brother. It was Alan.
"Alan!" I exclaimed - my lungs gave me the limited power that I needed and the frightened figure turned his head towards me.
"Colin! I'm stuck!"

Subconsciously, my step quickened - I sprinted the last few yards, causing my lungs to protested and respiration became more and more frantic, more and more and exasperated wheeze.
"Oh Colin, help me! My jacket's stuck in this blasted mechanism and bombs have been going off so close that my bleedin' leg is wedged under the trigger!" there was an essence of anger in his voice but it was overpowered by the terror he held.
By this time I had reached him, and, ignoring the burning and the screaming and the scolding of what seemed like every single part of my body - both internal and external - I gripped onto his arm, replied with a tone that came across as braver than I felt, "don't worry- I'll help you."

After saying those words, I didn't know what else to do. Alan looked at me, holding an expression of uttermost terror, but at the same time, of the highest trust and confidence he had in me. He had more confidence in me than I did myself. I hadn't planned ahead. I had only focused on reaching him - had no idea what step to take next. I stared at Alan: the colour had drained completely from his peachy skin and was now a pale, immortal white. A sudden wave of sadness overcame me, making everything inside me feel like it weighed a ton as I tried hard to fight away the tears of sympathy.
"I'll try to pull your leg out," I emphasised, sniffing a little and moving over to the huge trigger that had encaged Alan's leg in a bloody, crunching grasp. Then, grabbing the heavy metal mechanism,  I shuffled my legs, finding and maintaining a posture that would give me the optimum balance in preparation for freeing my friend.
I looked at Alan, "ready?"
He shuffled a little too, hunching himself up onto his elbows, digging them into the obliterated ground beneath him. "Ready".
I didn't even count to three like I used to before doing something willingly. It had always given me confidence to do so in situations I did not necessarily want to comply with. But not this day. This day, I was straight there - at three - encouraging my muscles that had become swollen with the excessive amount of running I had just done, to heave the blasted frame off of Alan's crushed leg... but nothing was happening. I tried again, the feeling of my pressured lungs returning. Still heaved, heaved until my lungs couldn't take the pressure anymore, and I had to stop to regain my lost breath.
"It's no use, I know." Alan said, looking at me as I sat on the floor, panting. "You might as well leave it - you'll only damage yourself. He had seemed to have adopted a slight hint of heroism when he spoke those words, but it only made me more determined to free him.
"No. I won't. I'm going to get you out of here." I heaved again. This time, the trigger shifted slightly - but not enough to prise Alan out.
"That's it!" he gasped, regaining some of his lost hope in an instant
I tried again; the veins in my head exploding. I winced - groaned in pain as I re-shuffled myself and crouched down. Then, I lifted myself up, ever so slowly, heaving the trigger upwards as I rose. I heard a cracking. A snapping. It was moving. It was moving! I was somehow managing to push the blasted thing off of Alan's leg!
BANG!
Instantaneously, I was violently thrown to the floor: my head smashing against a rock. My vision turned dark and fuzzy and I could tell by the cold air upon my face that the plastic of the mask had popped out with the impact. Frustrated beyond belief, and with fright surging through my veins, I threw the mask off of my face and onto the floor beside the rock.
"Alan!" I cried for what seemed like the hundredth time.
"Colin! Colin! Are you ok?" he called from in front of me.
"I'm fine - are you?"
"M-my neck... it's been pulled.. I th-ink."
I sighed. This couldn't get any worse. Gently, cautious not to do any further damage, I pushed myself up. I hobbled over to him, stumbling slightly on the stones scattered in an un-welcoming fashion. Without asking any more questions, I heaved at the trigger again. Around us, explosions had started going off again - malicious laughter.
"God - they never give up," Alan commented, wiping a large cut on his head that had began to bleed heavily.
I had no spare breath to answer, so I just continued. Alan understood. He always did.

I had been trying to free Alan's leg for a while now; the explosions venturing dangerously close to us. A few times I had been knocked momentarily, but it made me persevere. Slowly, ever-so-slowly, the trigger had started to shift off his leg - I could see that I was so close to freeing him. I set the pace, heaving more times in a row than was possibly capable. Heave. Heave. Heave. The old rhythm was picking up again. Heave. Heave. Hea- BANG! This time, a huge wave picked me up and flung me across the land. I felt my legs suddenly snap and go limp and even more excruciation overcame me. I opened my tired eyes, wondering why I felt weightless. Suddenly it occurred to me, my eyes opening wider than they had in that long, eventful hour... I was being forced through the air. I peered frantically for Alan, who was weightless alongside me, his one good leg simultaneously trying to gain some balance whilst above the land. I was flying. Like an eagle soaring over the trenches, peering down at all the astonished troops who were just stepping out from their shelters. I was flying! For the first time in almost four years I felt hope. Hope that perhaps if I kept on flying, I would land in my mother's kitchen: just in time for some lovely Brambly Apple Pie. She would engulf me in her arms, my father laughing with joy behind us. I would be in paradise again. Or, if not that, then I would continue to fly and land amongst the clouds: where people loved people and there was no such thing as arguments, fights: most certainly not war. Then I hit something hard. Something so rock-solid that my brain seemed to bleed; alike most of my organs and limbs today. The last thing I remember was gazing at my mangled and lifeless legs, too confused and overwhelmed with pain to care...

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