First InkingBy jazzdog
As the mantel clock struck noon, he turned back to the page. Placing pen to paper he scratched the nib across the surface, copying the date from the slip of paper he had found in the file. Addison scribed the name:
Emmett Earl Pike
He scanned the papers on the desk for the second name, when his body violently seized, as if he’d been given deadly neurotoxin. His stomach caught in his throat squelching any scream over a deafening jet-like roar. Ice cold air froze him to numbness, the world a vast kaleidoscope of color and pattern, his mind exploded into billions of particles, until he lurched from the chair face first into the muck.
God, the stink of rotting flesh. Throat dry, goddamn smoke. What is that foul stench? Thunderous detonations like the footfalls of mighty giants slam into the ground, shaking the earth. Rats scurry, but nowhere to hide. A whistle blows in the cool, moist dawn air. I’m…in a trench? Men, their drab uniforms stained with mud and blood, rock anxiously, morning light reflecting off mounted bayonets.
What the fuck? Where in God’s living hell am I?
Sarge shouts, “Over the top!”
I don’t want to move, but I’m not in control. Up and over the mud wall of a trench, the weight of a pack straining my back, the rifle heavy in my hands. A man to my left flies backward as if jerked by a cable, his cry muffled by explosions, his chest ripped open, organs spilling into the muck. I, we, plod forward through mud. A rhythmic takka-takka-takka, tat, tat, tat in the distance and more explosions vibrating through my feet.
Sarge yells again, “Stay together. Look sharp.”
A war? But how? A slap on my shoulder. I look to my right to see a kid my age with blue eyes and a dirty face shadowed beneath a WW I doughboy helmet.
“Emmett, this is it! We’ll show these Huns!”
I hear words tumble from my mouth. “Yeah, Jake. Don’t get your arse shot off.”
A scowl crosses his face like I’ve never seen from my friend before. “Not to worry, Addison. You won’t be here for long.”
Bayonet in hand, Jake slices a deep gash across his palm. He steps into me. “Time to say goodbye, Addison.” His bloodied hand races toward my face.
What the hell—
A fiery white blast, like a blow of Thor’s massive hammer, slams me to the ground. My insides hurt, my head throbs. I try to get back up, but, oh god, my legs. Gone. God. Jake? I see his blue eyed face, the remaining half looks startled, his shoulder and arm and part of his torso ripped off. The mud smells of death. Falling back I see blue sky with large billowing white clouds floating like great ships at sea. So peaceful, so calm, so…
My body’s an empty shell. Matter flows into me—each corpuscle and vein, tendon and bone, organ and muscle. Am I dying? Or coming back to life? Like the wax of a spent candle, I am fallen to a puddle of life.
Addison gasped, acidic vomit rising in his throat. Flailing, he fell backward, his chair crashing to the floor. He clawed at the carpet, in a blind panic, slamming into a wall. A caustic taste of death and cordite lingered in his mouth. He reached for bloodied stumps, but found legs, the agonizing pain gone, but still a memory. He pulled himself up, his back to the wall. Clammy and cold, his green ink-stained hands shook, each shallow breath struggling to keep up with his racing heart.