I'm still in my grave, wondering if my family has written me in the past few years. We never have been able to stop for mail in the past few months, and we never seemed to bother before this anyway. The new blood is still murmuring about what they saw. They agree that their corporal is a masterful killer, a man of pure skill with his gun and who has no fear on the battlefield. They had all followed protocol crouching in their graves, barrels barely peeking above the top but he, that is me, was standing there gun blazing. They speak of me as if I fired from the hip. I add it to the list of rurmors that circulates.
Word circulates down the line that we're now allowed to remove our masks. I slowly unclip one side letting it lop down a bit. I take in my first fresh breath in a week and cough. It feels weird to be affronted with so many smells at once. First is the stench of sweat that clings to everyone around me, and the stench of gun oil that permeates throughout the line. I smell food but no cook fire, its the beauty of technology, meals that require no cooking, nothing added either, just simply pull the tab and voila. I pull out my own dinner, I decide to go with a more efficient method of meals. The meal in a tube, a simple tube of nutrients with some random amalgamation of tastes. I feel like telling the rookies they should save the self-cooking meals for when we're in a more restful position but judging by the fact that they've already told us to begin digging our graves deeper that we might actually be here a while.
The tube is supposed to contain steak and potatoes. I'm not even sure if I like steak, I know I enjoy something that often looks like steak and is some sort of beef but I can't be sure if that's what steak really is anymore. The paste doesn't taste like much of anything actually. I ignore this, and begin to dig the beginnings of a trench, sucking away on the tube as I hold it easily in my mouth. My grave is four feet deep by the time my dinner is done, it was pretty quick to do, and there is a fair amount of dirt all about me forming a fine protective lair and lovely ramp out. Everyone has followed my lead, and we now begin to turn to each other digging to connect us in a formidable line.
As the moon hung high in the sky we were all sitting along the ramp, staring at the stars. It was fall and the nights were starting to get cold, I was coming to enjoy the sensation of wind on my face again. Then all of a sudden, there was a thump in the distance and a low whistle. My hand was up in a flash, fastening my mask down as I called out, "Seal up!" People began diving for their masks, they were already dead, it couldn't be helped if you were careless. I rolled down the ramp with a few others as the shell burst above us, thick fumes of an odd violet shade slowly descended upon us. While the worst of it wouldn't happen till that, I could already see people doing what they describe in boot as the funky chicken. I'm still not sure what a funky chicken is supposed to be, but I know here it means you're about to die. I'm glad that the thick purple fumes descend on us covering over the final stages of the death, it'll save the rookies the horror. It's one of the few comforts we have to offer.