June 30, 2009

After "Birdsong"

Levi walked Stephen towards the opening of the tunnels as the other men went back to recover the body of Jack Firebrace.
At the opening, Levi threw Stephen’s fatigued body to the ground. A twisted smile drew across his face, and he looked Stephen deep into the eyes. The sun overcame Stephen’s sight; his pupils were unaccustomed to such vibrant light. He did not see Levi pull out the Maser.
His sidearm was of superior make than either the British Webley or the American Colt. They had a pneumatic strut designed to dampen recoil, and beautiful burled walnut stocks. Only the German officers received such elegant weapons. The enlisted men were only issued rusty, unreliable relics dating back to the Franco-Prussian War. Levi was lucky enough to have the officer’s pistol. In the sun, he could make out the fine lettering where the silversmith in Dresden had inscribed the words Gott mit uns on the slide of the gun.
All Stephen was able to see was the silhouette of the German officer, and the gleam of the sun reflecting off the brass of his shoulders. He did not see the raised Maser, or Levi’s fingers slowly squeezing the trigger, emptying the magazine in his own emaciated corpse. The last embers of twilight burned against the backdrop of the western front, and Stephen Wraysford’s sight went white.