Counter Barrage

They must have been running the wrong way, because Evans ran way more than fifty meters and hadn’t gotten to the sap. And then the Vledscan artillery opened up on No-Man’s Land. Instinct kicked in. Protect the Officer. Evans pulled Captain Ricci down into a shell hole and tried to cover her body as much as possible. The explosions started to blend together into a constant roar. The only other noise he could hear was the occasional shriek of shrapnel flying overhead.

Evans wanted to run. Almost every fiber of his being was telling him to get up and run as fast as he could to the lines. But luckily, in the back of his mind, he knew that it would mean death.

Captain Ricci didn’t have that knowledge. Fear overcame her. Death falling from the sky and the claustrophobia from Evans attempting to cover her was too much. She rolled and elbowed Evans to get him off her. She dragged herself to her feet and started to run. She had to get–

Something tugged at her foot and she fell face first into the mud.

It was no longer a question of covering Captain Ricci. Evans was just trying to keep her in cover. He was gripping her ankle tightly with both hands and trying to get deeper into the shell hole.

He slipped lower and lower until he was half submerged in the water that flooded the shellhole. For some reason all Evans could think of was the time he tried to grow mold in a bucket in his room. It was probably the dumbest idea he had ever had. His dad yelled at him for the better part of an hour. His sister still jokes about it in her letters. Evans started to laugh. If Dad could see him now. Waist deep in water that’s been standing for God know’s how long, wearing clothes that he’s been in for over a week.

With a thud, a shell landed next to Evans. A dud. Evans laughed harder. Maybe he was immortal. Captain Ricci had stopped struggling and calmed down. He pulled her down so she could help him toss the shell out of the hole. Carefully. Anna would be very angry if he died.

The barrage kept going for a while. Longer than usual. By the time it had lessened enough for the two of them to leave the shell hole without it being certain death, a new day was dawning. Which meant the two would have to stay in this hole until night came. No talking louder than a whisper, no food, no clean water, and no sleep.

Sliding over, Captain Ricci whispered into his ear, “Thanks for… Not letting me die.”

Whispering back, Evans said, “Hey, we ain’t back yet. We’ll probably die before get back.”

“But at least my death won’t be embarrassing Sergeant.”


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