Who's for the game, the biggest that's played?
Familiar words echoed through bone-weary ears, the phrase they live their new, enervating life by. Smothering propaganda posters and filling heads, the words had deceived them, made them believe the war would be plain sailing, a fun adventure. Swamped with untruths, the soldiers had left their families adding more threads to the web of lies entangling their lives.
"We'll be back before Christmas," they had cried "see you soon."
Although the words tumbling from mirthful lips were lies, they had truly believed them; that may have been the mistake that cost them their short lives
Shivering like leaves caught in a storm, the men, no, boys -most were barely older than children- stood all aquiver in a river of sludge, trudging pensively towards the start line. With hummingbird hearts and mouths as dry as burnt-out ashes, anticipation seized their minds. Dampening their spirits, icy cold bullets pelted them from drab, dismal cotton balls scudding across the sky.
An unintelligible shout filled trembling ears. One thought filled screaming minds: 'Go!'
And then they were running, as if playing tag on the playground with childhood friends. Racing across the twisting terrain, rain sliced across grim expressions and numbed their legs to match their petrified minds. There was no rhyme or reason to their pace just adrenaline filled strides powering them through the terror. But the chaos was punctuated by deafening bangs sounding the alarm: the other team had joined the game.
Stomach- stirring shrieks joined the already hideous cacophony of noise (made up of the thundering clouds combined with the inhuman screams of terror) as molten silver zinged towards them. Men fell like the petals on an Autumn kissed flower eliciting cries of surprise and horror from the newest recruits. The more experienced soldiers continue with dead eyes, engulfed in a bone cold rage. Hurdling over the corpses as easy as lying to a stranger, they press onwards, their only hope, the possibility they might avenge their fallen comrades. These are the ones who have learnt the rules of the twisted game they dare to call life: if luck is not on your side, you get tagged.
As the deadly hail proceeded to pound down upon them, the soldiers began to fire with more urgency because they were close now, so close. They could practically smell release from their current hell. So they rained the same hellfire back down upon the ones who had caused them so much pain and suffering, all the while gifting others with the same agony.
Drowning in relief, they reached their goal, they scored a small point in the colossal game of war. Ignoring the screaming of their bullets, the soldiers continued their death rampage, except this time they were inducing the pain, this time they were spreading fear like a virus.
But then it was over. A reluctant silence crept up on them as they collapsed exhausted from running and killing. They were safe. At least until the words would come back, haunting their dreams until they sent them back into hell. The fear-inducing phrase 'who's for the game, the biggest that's played?'