Wilhelm lays dying in the trenches of Austria, a reluctant martyr to the lost cause of WWII's Nazi Germany. His last thoughts, written on a scrap of paper he keeps hidden away as a fateful reminder of what he has sacrificed…

Valley of the Shadow

I never wanted to go to war. Plain and simple, just like that.

I had plans, you know. A future, a life, one of joy through hard work and dedication to your country.

Your country. What does that even mean anymore? It's certainly not this place, where I was shipped off at a moment's notice through draft. This here is Austria, where I will die by the bullet through my stomach. Even now blood seeps through my shirt and drips onto the ground, staining the yellowed grass that is my last bed a scarlet shade of red.

No no, I have no country anymore.

The Germany I knew as a boy was much better than the war-torn land that it has become, full of children starving in the streets and cursed swastikas that came to symbolize power through death. Hail Hitler my darkened soul; he is a madman, that is what he is. He cared for nothing but power and uses the world as his throne.

And don't even get me started about the Jews.

I grew up next to a family of them, friendly people who did nothing to us but become our friends! So what if they had different beliefs? I played with their son every day after school when we were young. E was around my age, I think. I never knew what happened to them after the guard came to take them away, but I've seen the other camps they are placed in. For all I know and expect they are dead, as I will be soon….

This little piece of paper I have here, the one these final words are written on, it meant so much to me. It is a single newspaper clipping, one that until I started to write declared the horrible bombing of Berlin, our capital. Everything is destroyed; the state buildings, the factories, it even specifically mentions that the new apartment complex near the grand theatre was reduced to nothing but rumble, leaving no survivors.

My own family lived in those houses; my mother, my father and my younger sister. My lucky little sister; Inga escaped to America months ago when she had the chance.

Do you see what war has done to my life? Little food, constant fear and being sent off to fight a battle long- lost? I never wanted to be a soldier. I never even wanted to be a Nazi.

As I lay slowly dying in this abandoned trench in Austria, I look around in my final moments, seeing countless other bodies, some of my friends even, lying face down in the muck. They never wanted to die like this either, I think.

This place that is to be my grave, it reminds me of a verse my grandmother read to me once, before they closed the churches back home. It is like a shallow valley, musty and darkened with shadows, ridden with the stench of death. Not that I fear it; indeed, the world I am going to will be much better than the one I left behind.

My name is Wilhelm Schuster, and these are my last words. Good-bye, my friends. Good-bye…

Well, that was shorter than I'd wanted it to be, but hey, this is a dying man we're talking about! He's not going to spill out his life story while he has a bullet through the stomach! I hope this is at least a little realistic, I wrote this when I just finished playing 2 very long games of volleyball. Anyhow, Review!

-Miss Cheshire Cat