The men jerked to the floor, all social barriers destroyed by the capricious nature of death. Privates and Generals alike squirmed in the filth, their searching hands smothering soft pink flesh, fearing the deathly burrow of a bullet.
Jack flopped, limp like a fish. His face buried itself into the dirt and broke the dry crust his chin tunnelling into the sticky layer below, gaping like an open wound. He heard the ration party strike the floor their contents spilling out into the mud. He heard a rasping moan escape Evans’ lips, his shoulder thumping the fire step awkwardly. He heard the cries of men and the guffaw of a crow, mocking the senseless carnage. And then silence. The dominoes had fallen.
Jack wrapped his hands around his head, nuzzling his face into the mud as a baby would a bosom seeking the protection of thick underground earthy walls and for a moment he forgot about the war, he forgot about Evans and Shaw and Weir and instead he was sat at home with Margaret, chair pulled up by Johns bed, drinking in his sons face running his hands through his wispy hair. The promise he had made Margaret echoed in his mind, her mature features thick with concern glazed over him, "I am going t' surivive this bloody war, I'm gonna go home and look after my wife and we're gonna grow old together and on sundays we'll visit Johns grave and..." He remembered the misplaced Sandbags.
Gingergly he raised his head, others were stirring around him. Weirs broken body lay sprawled in the filth, his arms splaying at odd angles, dirt swimming into his open mouth, infecting every pore. "Sir!" Jack hissed, "Its ok, the boche missed." No reply. "Sir!" No reply. Now on his feet, Jack edged his way towards Weir, commando style in the dirt, his eyes flashing nervously towards the missing sandbags. "Weir!" mud splattered his face, his elbows working with vigour. Blood pumped from the exit wound in the back of Weirs' head, saturating his neck and...
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