The Ghost of no Do-Overs

A dying soldier is visited by a ghostly apparition after being shot in the trenches during World War 1.

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1. Ext. Night, on a battlefield somewhere in France during World War I

A young soldier lies dying in a trench from a gunshot wound to his stomach. It's after the battle and the battlefield has grown silent. The soldier is alone, everyone else having died or fled to safer grounds.

Somewhere in the distance, the faint sound of a single violin is heard playing, growing almost unnoticeably louder. It's difficult to tell exactly  where the music is coming from, and it somehow seems to just be hanging in the air.

A figure shows up, sitting on the remains of the low palisades running around the outside of the trench, seemingly having appeared out of the blue air. He is dressed as a civilian, but all in black. Behind him the grey, murky waste of no-man’s-land forms a bleak backdrop. 

Soldier : "Hey you, there! I've been hit. Can you get a medic or something? I've been hurt really badly (pause). I think... I think I might die."

The figure remains still and silent throughout. The soldier seems confused by his inattention. 

Soldier : "Hallo?"

No response. 

Soldier : "Hallo? Can you hear me?"

The man lights up a cigarette. The tip glows red in the darkness. 

Man : "Hey, I almost didn't see you down there. Are you alright kid?"

Soldier : "Hey? Yeah no, not really. I don't think so. I think I've been shot."

Man : "And in the stomach by the looks of it. (the man leans over to get a better look). I'll be honest with you: I think you might be right. It doesn't look good at all."

Soldier : "Is it... is it bad?"

Man : (a little louder) "Yes! Yes it looks absolutely terrible!" 

The man takes another drag from the cigarette. The soldier looks horrified. 

Soldier : "Do you think there might be... there might be a chance..."

Man : (cuts him off mid sentence) "A chance that you might make it? No kid, not a chance. Have you ever seen road kill? You are worse of than road kill."

Soldier : "Oh no!"

Man : "Oh yes! Do you hear those violins?"

The soldier nods, and looks attentive, like he's just noticed the sound.

Man : "That's the sound of the world's smallest violins playing. Reserved especially for you."

The soldier looks confused. 

Soldier : "Why?!"

Man : "Because you are about to die."

Soldier : "But that means... what about my parents? What about my little sister? What about Mari? What will happen to them? Will they be able to take care of themselves? I mean when I am gone? (to himself) I don't think they will ever be able to get over the loss."

Man : "You should have thought about that before you got yourself enlisted in the army, kid."

Soldier : "But that's not fair! I didn't even enlist. I was drafted. It was involuntary."

Man : "But there is always a way to get out if you're willing to make the effort. If you had really wanted to - but you didn't. You kid, you're here because deep, deep down, somewhere where even you don't know it, you really wanted to be here. You wanted to kill some bad guys, to save your country, and look big and strong and brave, so Mari would be impressed and your parents proud, and your friends would treat you like a hero."

Soldier : "No, no, no. That's not true..." (Short silence. He's sobbing now). "Who are you anyway? How can you say that? What gives you the right?"

Man : (white teeth flashes into a smile) "You know it to be true."

Short silence. 

Soldier : "Just tell me who you are."

Man : "Me?" (Looks thoughtfully up into the sky) "I think I might be no one (he takes another drag from his cigarette). I think I might already be dead."

Soldier : "Does that mean that I am dead too?"

Man : "No kid, not yet. But soon, very soon now."

The soldier twist involuntarily in agony from the wound in his stomach. A sticky patch of blood is seeping though his uniform, growing bigger by the minute. 

Soldier : "So are you supposed to be some sort of ghost of Christmas pasts? Are you my chance to do it all over again, my chance to make right of all my wrongs?"

Man (smiles) "No. There are no do-overs. No chances of redemption, no second tries. You had one life, one chance, and you blew it. (the man looks around on the craters strewn all over the battlefield, and back at the piece of shrapnel lodged in the soldiers abdomen). Quite literally."

Soldier : (tries to interject) "But...".

Man : "No, there are no 'buts'. Whatever chances and opportunities you had, you squandered them. You made the choices, you did the actions, you dug your own grave, and in not so long now you are going to lie dead in it. Just as you've deserved."

Soldier : (angry) "So you're just some sort of worthless ghost who hangs around only to tell people when they are going to die? What's the use in that?"

Man (stands up) : "No kid, you've got it all wrong again. I was here to tell you not to waste your life."

The man jumps down from the palisade, and vanishes seamlessly into the gun fog lingering over no-man's-land. 

The violin music disappears as well  as quickly as it has started. It is replaced by faint shouts from the friendly side of the battlefield, calling out for survivors.

The soldier contords again in pain, this time worse than before. His face goes white and he closes his eyes.

Medic : (out of the picture) "Over here! I've found one."

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