Contributor: Ryan Thomas

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The night sky was littered with specks of falling snow, making it impossible for Joey to see more than ten feet in front of him. He and Dirk sat alone in the cold muddy trench huddled next to each other for warmth. Winter had come early that year, delaying supplies, troops, and the rest of Germany.
“Look at us, D,” Joey started as he dropped his cigarette by his feet. “Just like old times. Just a couple of homos curled up on the couch together.”
Dirk chuckled, “If I was going to be like that with anyone, J, it sure as hell wouldn’t be you.”
Joey lifted his jacket to reveal his well-established beer belly, “Come on, this doesn’t get you going?”
“That is mighty impressive. What’s that, five hundred beers?”
Joey smiled, “All bought and paid for.”
“Yeah, by me mostly. Worthless bum.” The two laughed, but were interrupted by an explosive crack that rang out through the trees. The men scrambled to their feet, raising their rifles to their cheeks. More gunfire followed. Flashes of light lit up the forest like a thunderstorm in the direction of their base camp. Then in an instant, it was over. The two infantrymen stood at the ready while listening to faint foreign cries of retreat. Then, silence. Still the boys stood frozen, peering through the dense snow for any signs of life. Once again, they were the only two souls in the vast tundra.
Joey breathed a sigh of relief and let down his rifle. “Well, that’s one way to get your blood pumping. For a minute there, I forgot how fucking cold it is.” Dirk remained motionless, staring into the darkness.
“Would you relax?” Joey reached up and put a hand on Dirk’s gun. “It’s all over. Every day those jerks try to make an advance on our camp, fail miserably, and then sleep it off the rest of the night. We can take it easy for—” Two gun shots cut Joey off. One from Dirk, the other from an enemy soldier now lifeless in the snow. They waited, and then together the men climbed from the trench to check the body. It was a young man, no more than twenty years old. Crimson stained the frosted ground beneath him.
“Damn, D. Nice shot.” Joey kicked snow into the soldier’s empty face. “Worthless dog.”
“Don’t. Think of his family. I hate killing. If it weren’t for the draft I wouldn’t be here right now.”
“Well at least you’re good at it. I didn’t even see the bastard.”
“Yeah, well, when you’re a super soldier like myself, nothing gets past—” Once again, conversation was halted by the sound of gunfire. Dirk and Joey hit the ground. Joey reached for his side arm and fired all of his ammunition blindly in the direction of the noise. A second legionnaire cried in agony as he clutched his leg and collapsed to the ground.
Joey smiled. “See that, D? Who’s the super soldier now?” No response.
“Dirk? Dirk!” Joey crawled to Dirk and flipped him onto is back. The only movement from Dirk’s chest was the blood spilling from it.
“No, no, no. Don’t do this buddy. Come on. Breath.” Joey began CPR, holding the wound with one hand, and pounding on Dirk’s chest with the other. Miraculously, Dirk regained consciousness, gasping for air and coughing up blood. Joey ripped off his coat and wrapped the wound, all the while disregarding the moans of the fallen enemy soldier.
“I’m done, J.” Dirk said, spitting up blood.
“You’re not, D. Base camp isn’t far from here. I’ll get you to a medic.”
“There’s no time. Don’t let them have the pleasure of taking my life. Just do me a favor after. Put a bullet in his head.”
“What?” Joey asked. “But you said—”
“You were right, J. They are worthless dogs.”
“Diederik, you don’t mean that.”
“I do, Josef! Kill me before it’s too late!”
Joey stopped. Could this really be happening? It was so cold; it seemed for a moment that everything was frozen. The ground, the trees, even time was frozen. Flakes of snow were somehow suspended in midair, breath escaping Joey’s lips remained stationary, steam from Dirk’ warm blood, motionless.
Joey regained himself when he felt a pistol slide into his hand.
“Please and thank you,” Dirk said with a smile. His blue eyes widened, and without warning he coughed uncontrollably, spray-painting the snow red.
Joey brought himself to his feet and stood above Dirk.
“It’s been an honor serving with you, D.” With that he pointed the pistol, and fired.
Joey knelt down and took the bloody ID disk from around Dirk’s neck. Then, with Dirk’s gun at the ready, walked toward the injured soldier. A trail of blood led Joey from the spot the man was shot to where he had tried to crawl away. One of his pant legs was torn off and poorly fashioned into a bandage. He hadn’t gotten far before he passed out, and judging by the stale scent in the air it was due to loss of blood. Joey stood for a minute, aiming the gun at the heart of his comrade’s killer. He knew what he had to do. Ignoring the sound of his friend’s last wishes echoing in his mind, Joey fixed the bandage, hoisted the American over his shoulder, and carried him toward his camp.

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There are few passions in the world that are greater than the passion Ryan Thomas has for writing. He is currently studying creative writing at Full Sail University, and plans to use his degree to write for movies, TV shows, and video games.
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