[Short Story] The Eastern Front


December 23rd, 1930
Commander's Cabin
Military Camp, Angel's Creek

The winter was harsh especially around this time of the year, to my worst misery it was our greatest disadvantage. With our troops scattered, without supplies, and low on ammunition, our little rebellion was destined to doom and it was coming, very soon the day it will stop to exist will come, and our great nation will again fall under the claws of the devilish empire

No, it can't be. We cannot afford that, did our efforts, our pain and all our sacrifices lead to nothing? Were we, after all, a band of fools, on a childish errand to challenge the empire? I cannot stand this I cannot let my nation fall, but what can I do? I drew the blinds as I released a puff of smoke and trashed my cigarette.

"Commander." Lieutenant saluted as he came in the wooden cabin "Should I bring you some blankets sir? It is getting cold here."

"No Lieutenant, it won't do any good after all I am used to these harsh winters. Anyways, how is the progress?" 

"Not good. The rations are low and so are the ammunition at this rate we won't last long"

"I see. Arrange a meeting with the officers, tomorrow at 10am. Dismissed."

We cannot give up there is too much at stake, I thought but stressing about the inevitable won't do any more good to my failing health so I decided to rest, as I lay on the bed unconsciousness took over me and I was lost in the eternal darkness.

***

I was on the ground with my single load rifle against the continuous enemy fire, I could hear the sergeant shouting orders, shells exploding and somehow my seventeen-year-old fragile skinny self bearing the weight of the back-pack charged forward and in a flash, a shock ran up my spine my brain froze and with my consciousness fading away I fell to the ground. The next thing I remember was waking in a hospital camp, I was shot, thankfully on the thigh but the shock rendered me unconscious.

"Seriously lad? You can't take a bullet on your leg let alone fighting those german bastards" The English surgeon remarked but nor I had the energy nor the wit to reply so I voted to simply concentrate on my lunch, it was not that bad, the taste I mean given the war and near-starvation conditions it tasted like nectar to me.

It was towards the end of the first world war before the entry of America, Germans and the Central Powers were dominating the war and every bit of resources that could be utilized was called upon. Ours was a small republic in the Mediterranean but when approached by the Allies we pledged three thousand soldiers and rations enough to sustain three months. Respecting the call of the senator the youth including me enlisted in the army. My battalion was sent to assist the British on the eastern front fighting the germans.

"Wake up! Joshua." It was Daniels, better known as Dany "Still asleep? Fast, on your heels, the mails have arrived"
Suddenly he plunged towards my collar, "Wake up commander!" My vision turned foggy and I was lost in the darkness once again, to emerge to the light. I was in my cabin and two sergeants and lieutenants stood by my bed. Saluting me lieutenant began,

"Sir we are under attack. We must fall back."

Still hazy and blurred I was brought my senses by the word under attack. I stood, "What are the updates"

"A flank of half a  thousand imperial soldiers have camped three miles north and plans to surround the settlement. Sir, all the arrangements have been made, we must fall back to the Church Gate"

We were in a hurry, We had three military jeeps and a truck, with around only a hundred soldiers in the camp we cannot fend the attack thus it was most sensible to retreat saving both lives and rations but we did lose a strategic outpost. With winter at the full rage, the intelligence and spies weren't of much help as the snow-covered the country transport and communications were near to impossible and the empire had much more resources than us. Lost in the thoughts the journey continued.


***


December 24th, 1930
Town Hall
Church Gate

After a hard journey, we reached the town of the Church Gate. It was a medieval town with a church dedicated to the first disciples of Jesus Christ and Archangel Saint Micheal being the patron of the town it was a sacred pilgrimage site for the citizens and our only hope because if we lose Church Gate we lose everything. This is our last gamble.
During the first world war, the empire sided with the central powers despite their defeat, the empire emerged victoriously while our soldiers were busy supporting the allies we lost our country and our freedom. The enlisted soldiers were arrested on the charge of conspiracy against the supreme emperor and were tagged, traitors. While I fled arrest, Dany wasn't so lucky, on a cold winter morning he was hanged before this very Church Gate Town Hall. The last thing he told me before his arrest, "It is all upon us now Joshua. To free our lands, our people, they have suffered a lot and any more of it would be an injustice. I'm not giving up on them and neither should you."

The Allies did not come to our help, our nation was too small and unimportant to them to trigger another conflict. The hefty tax was levied on our people, peasants were robbed of their crops, children of their food, women were kidnapped and forced into prostitution

"Sir, the mayor has called a meeting and you're expected"

"I'll be there in a minute. By the way Sargent where are the rest of our soldiers?"


"They have been transported to the military camp in the angel's falls"

"Angel's falls? On whose orders?"

"The Lieutenant sir."

Soldiers transported? But that wasn't planned and it could result in a disadvantage, with them gone Church Gate was bare to the imperial army and the mayor what does he want from me? I entered the hall with lieutenant and mayor on the far end and a few soldiers standing behind them. 

"I was informed that you wanted to see me, is there something I can help you with Mr Mayor?"

"Of course, Commander. After all, you are very valuable. SOLDIERS ARREST HIM"

"LEUITANENT! YOU TRAITOR"

"Empire has a heavy price on your head, sir. Now with you gone, I shall be the head of the imperial government for this part of the country. You have been such a pain in the arse with your pointless errand of independence, Joshua. Now die."

***

December 25th, 1930
Town Hall
Church Gate

My hands were tied at my back and I was escorted by two imperial guards to the gallows built before the town hall. I stood on the deck glaring at the five spectators including the lieutenant. A curfew was announced over the town, a few townsfolk who tried to reach the scene were shot dead. As the black cloth-covered my face, 'Mother, save my country' I uttered to myself and within a few seconds, I found myself stressed on my neck, my vision blurred, head aching and then all darkness. I was at peace and bliss then I was struck by an intense ray of light, too bright to look I walked towards it slowly, it burst into a grand party with people of all Nobel sorts with wine glasses. At the centre was the emperor, I reached for my gun drew it out and shot him in the chest three times he fell to the ground and the whole scene faded into darkness once again. With another surge of light, the darkness was replaced by the country carnival with happy faces everywhere, townfolks dancing and singing.

"Joshua" I turned, it was daniels, he said with a smile "You did great."

"Am I dead Dany?"

"You are and you're not. Depends on what you call 'I' "

"I am sorry I failed you. I wasn't able to kill the emperor and free our people"

"Didn't you just kill him? The war is over Joshua"

"No. That was in my head. That can't be real. And what about this? Is this real?"

And he just smiled at me.
***

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