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By Ben Spencer
Oriel High

As soon as I saw it, every little and unique thing that makes us human…had drifted away.

I remember seeing it all for the first time…and maybe for the last. The army camps swarmed this bleak landscape. Lieutenants and sergeants surrounded these areas like bats to a dark cave. You look left, you see these useless titles bickering over nonsense. All of their tactics and strategies were obsolete to reality. You look right, and you see all of these young and brave soldiers preparing for what seemed like their deaths.

You then enter the hallowed grounds. The place where hope dies. The trenches. The thick gloopy mud halted progress no matter what. Like an unstoppable train. Blood soaked the tips of the distorted wire, like it was raining in blood. I couldn’t handle it! I wanted to leave immediately, but once you’re in, there’s no way out.

The sergeant then screamed, ‘Lads, over the trenches! Give ‘em everything you’ve got!’ Oh no. The words I never hoped to hear. Soon, everyone was climbing up the ladder. They thought that by going up, they would earn their ticket to paradise. A place where the war was over and peace was everywhere to be seen. And maybe they were right. But at the moment, I was the only one who seemed to know the truth. The path to paradise begins in Hell.

I poked my filthy, dirt-covered forehead above the ladder to see something that will make even the bravest men cower in fear. It was a sea of bodies. Blood became the tides; soaked in both friend and foe. Men were being cut down like flies. Like fish in the barrel. The stench of death was everywhere. Gunfire could be heard left, right and centre. Nowhere was safe. All of this completely distracted me from what was happening. And then…it did.

A successive bullet struck me down in the sternum. I saw the blood scatter everywhere; from when it hit the ground to it flying out of my chest. I screamed in intense agony. So loud, it can be heard for miles, even over the horrifying sound of gunfire. Then suddenly, I heard nothing. The bullets and grenade froze mid-flight. The only thing that dared to move was the dull pale sky. ‘Is this it?’ I thought contemptibly but quickly. ‘Is this how I die.

I had so much I wanted to do with my life. I could picture a better life. A life away from this, but it was too late. Then I heard something. Something…peaceful. I heard the chirping of a fluttering white dove above me. It moved gracefully. Slowly. Happily. It represented what my life could’ve been. Then I couldn’t move my head. I couldn’t feel anything. Everything was gone. Humanity was gone.