February 25, 1865 [Three miles west of Petersburg, Virginia]
Will had been cold so many times in the last three years he lost count, but nothing like this. The wetness, the slime of the hole, trenches as Captain Taylor called them, was unbearable. He had accepted the foul odor of the other men as normal, but how could you get used to blinding cold? A panic said get out?.If this was trench warfare as Captain Taylor said he would just as soon take his chances in the open. You either live or die in no man’s land, no more dying little by little.
Fifteen more minutes of duty and he would try to sleep. Although his fatigue was overwhelming it had a benefit. He was losing the deep dread that had plagued his whole being the whole day. He stuffed three rags inside his shirt to try and help keep out the cold. It was not only the cold but apprehension of a mortar shell caving in the trench was on his mind constantly. Three days ago the company took a blast in which two men died under the debris, while nine somehow dug their way out. And where was the Sentry relief?
Will crept over the lip of the trench and tried to bury himself deep in a wet crevice, but the tangled foliage all around disoriented him.
Suddenly, he heard loud voices and the camp came alive. Was it the sentry relief at last? No, the sentries knew better than to make so much noise. He dove back into the trench and huddled silently, waiting . . . waiting for a rocket to penetrate without warning and explode all around.
Damn it all, Will yelled silently. I can't take this. Why? Why was I born a vaginal mite?
Opening: Bernard St. James.....Continuation: Pacatrue