Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wazzup Pilipinas Original Short Stories Series: Mirror

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Pvt. Brier is a representation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They both died in the middle of the war, and both were eager to stop the German advance in Europe, and both sustained injuries that attacked their legs.

Winston Churchill is presented here as Pvt/Sgt. Jackie Lake, who knew about the impending death and horror this war would bring, but the people wouldn't listen to him, just like in the first scene, where most of the members of Foxtrot didn't care, and they died, also reflecting the resignation or death that befell the members of the American and British Government, most notably PM Chamberlain, who led Britain through WW1.

Adolf Hitler here is Herr Richter, a man fueled and driven by intense beliefs. Sgt. Henderson represents Woodrow Wilson, who wants to pull out of the war, and does not want to risk more lives.

The bronze mirror in this story showed the traits of the characters, and the people they represent.

This story takes place at the Omaha Beach invasion at Normandy, France, otherwise known as D-Day, or operation Overlord. Modern English was used, except in parts were the English of that time were needed. There were many imageries and few metaphors to emphasize the truth about the war.

Please read on and enjoy our short story for the day.

June 6,1944 – 10:20 P.M.

Overhead, clouds of fire and the staccato flash of gunfire filled what would otherwise have been a calm, uneventful day, on the beaches of France.

In his hands, Private Charlie Brier looked through a mirror, and saw himself, eager for the field, yet worried. An ordinary,small, round piece of glass framed by polished bronze given to him by his father, a poor metal smith from Detroit. To him, it was a small Christmas gift before being sent to Europe along with most of the people he knew- friends, family, schoolmates, anyone and everyone old enough to fight, and some knew with a grim certainty, to die thousands of miles from home. The lucky ones who get out of this would probably settle into their normal lives, or at least as normal as it could be after the war.

Sitting in the plane with the rest of Foxtrot company, minutes before being thrown into this crucible of war, he realized something - he might not be one of the lucky ones.

He looked around the other men. Everyone wore a parachute, and most were bulky men, some British, mostly American, like him. Most clutching rosaries and praying, others just sitting waiting for it to happen, and some talking merrily, as if they had no idea what they were going to be thrown into.

“Nice day to die, isn't it?” Jackie, his longtime friend commented, grinning wildly.

Brier removed his gaze from the polished piece of bronze and focused it on Jackie.

“Same as any day I guess. But I'd really rather stay alive.”

“If you get caught into one of those camps, I'm sure you won't.”

Charlie shuddered. There was no shortage of rumor about the place, and what they do to you in their death camps if you're not part of their 'Master Race'. Or if they just didn't like you.

“We'll get through it. Just like always.” They fought together across Europe, Jackie without so much as a scratch. Charlie wasn't as lucky. He nearly lost his leg back in Pearl Harbor when his ship sank, and his arm in Italy when shards of metal came within inches of shredding his heart.

An awkward silence filled the air. Eager to shift the topic to something less morbid, Jackie found a new subject in the form of Charlie's mirror.

“Where did you get that?” He gestured to the polished bronze piece.

“This? It's a Christmas gift. From family.”

“Not from your gal?”

“Don't have one. Not looking for one either.”

“Bull. I wouldn't be surprised if you were married and just didn't tell me. Hell, they'd be the ones looking for you, with a face like that,” Jackie winked. He was married, but had to leave his family back in London to fight for his country.

Just then, a gust rocked the plane violently, shaking its occupants.

“Sure sucks down there. Am I right Sarge?” One of the men yelled to the leader of the group, a man named Sgt. Henderson.

“In a while, you'll be down there. And it's going to suck a lot more in a while, boys. Gear Up!”

The captain yelled something to Henderson, inaudible to Brier over the gunfire of other planes outside. The plane shook, and its occupants were thrown violently forward. The hatch opened, and the first thing they saw was an angry German luftwaffe pilot with a machine gun.

For most of Foxtrot company, it was also the last thing they saw as those nearest to the exit of the boat were riddled with lead, and denied the rest of their lives. The bullets kept coming, until the German himself was shot down by someone else. Brier and found themselves unscathed, but thouroghly frightened.

”Bugger it all!” Jackie yelled angrily, using the British equivalent of 'damn you', only worse.

The sergeant rallied whatever was left of Foxtrot. “Everyone out! Brier, Lake, out first! Go! Go!”

Jackie and Brier threw themselves out of the plane, just as it blew into a thousand pieces, littering the french countryside with burnt flesh and twisted metal. Luckily, Sgt. Henderson and the rest of them got out just in time.

They pulled their parachute cords, and it rushed out of the pack, and they glided over the landscape scarred by the war.

“See? Told you we'd make it out alive,” Jackie grinned wildly again. Too soon. Brier's body hung limp on its harness, his body filled with bullets from a German fighter passing by. “Oh God”, he murmured softly. “NO!”

Jackie carried Brier's body to a nearby river. “Sorry partner. So sorry.”

“S'alright. You couldn't have done anything.”

“I could have done something! Anything!”

“No, you couldn't have.”

It was true, but it didn't make Jackie feel any better. Nothing except finding that pilot who shot him and having a long session with hm would.

He handed Jackie the bronze mirror. Jackie nodded. He knew what he needs to do with it.

“The light....” he murmured, staring into the infinite reaches of space, and the stars that decorated it. Then he lie still.

Private Jackie Lake stood over the body of his friend, mirror in hand. “Anything.”

He looked at it and saw a tired, weary man. He almost didn't recognize himself.

June 7, 1944 - 1:36 P.M.

The next day, the rest of Foxtrot marched through the forests of France. Over the night, they took down a tank, and a good number of Germans and Italian Facists along the way. Jackie, the memory of last night still fresh in his mind, orchestrated most of it.

“Over there,” Henderson whispered to the other men. There was a man uniformed in black, the standard for the German Army. He signalled Tyler Reeds, the platoon's lead sniper to come forward. He flipped the iron sight of his rifle, waited for a clear shot, and pulled the trigger.

The shot echoed throughout the woods, sending animals scattering in all directions. The man fell forward.

“Lake, go check that one out.”

Jackie trudged through the forest, until he reached the body of the man they shot.

He searched the body, found a whistle, a few rounds, and an American-made handgun, and a dogtag. Then it hit him. Germans don't use dogtags.

He was one of theirs.

“It's a bloody trap!” He yelled to the rest of the company. Suddenly, the air was once again filled with bullets and the screams of those hit by them on both sides. He ducked to the ground, and crawled toward the rest of the men. A bullet smashed itself to the bark of the tree next to him.

The Germans came, and kept on coming. In a few minutes, they were outnumbered twenty to five. The sergeant saw this, and realized- they can't win this.

“Fall back!” He yelled. “Get out of here!”

Jackie trudged back to the group, and ran away from the sound of gunfire.

An hour later, they got out of the fusillade in the forest. Everyone and everything got out. They set up camp east of it, near the edge of the forest. A campfire, a few bedrolls, and wherever they're standing its a camp.

Then Jackie tried to fish the mirror out of his pocket, and found out it wasn't there.

“My mirror!” he screamed aghast.

The other men had no idea what it meant, and started laughing. Sgt. Henderson stayed stolid, knowing how much it meant to him.

“Where did you last see it?”

“Back at the hill, when I was searching the guy. We have to get it!”

“No. It's dark out there, and there might be some Nazis lying around.”

“Then I'm going on my own.”

“The hell you are. Get back here!”

He tried to grab him by the shoulders, but Jackie saw it coming. He turned and raised his sidearm. Henderson did the same.

In a matter of seconds, the others stood, some scrambling for their own. Tyler already had his pointed at him.

“I know how much you value the mirror. I know it's Charlie 's, but I won't risk the lives of my men for it. We'll try again in the morrning.”

It won't be there in the morning.

June 8, 1944

“Herr Richter! Look at this!” Arnd Bauer shouted to the leader of the Germans. They weren't able to take any Americans. That really upset Richter, who thought his plan was brillant and expected to kill at least a tank and some infantry.

"A mirror?!" He screamed at Arnd. " What the devil do you want me to do with a mirror?"


" If it has something to with our objective, then speak up. Otherwise, stay silent!"

Richter grabbed the little mirror and looked at it briefly, saw the ruthless man with the obsession for their cause, and hurled it across the river. The current carried it downstream, farther and farther, until it was out of sight.

"I want everyone in Saint Lo by morning. The Americans are near- and I want that town out of their filthy hands. Now march! I want out of this dammed place."

June 23,1944

Marie Larousse, a thirteen year girl old who fled to Poland when France fell, picked it up from the riverbank near her home. She was entranced by the ornate carvings on it, and took it home to polish it. Her mother, Christine Larousse, was in the fields, planting the crops for the next harvest. Her father never came back from the first war.

At the end of the day, after all the work in the fields outside their home, Marie ran to her mother to show what she found.

"Mother look!" She exclaimed with glee, holding the mirror in her hands.

"Where did you get that mirror? " she inquired as Marie hummed, polishing the mirror gently.

"From the river, mother. Near the lake."

Christine frowned. It could be anything from goods stolen by Nazi raiders to an officers mirror. She didn't have time to worry, she knew when she heard the rumble of tanks in the distance. Marie caught on her expression and knew what was going on.

"Get the satchels!" She yelled to Marie. They knew this day would come, they prepared for it ever since they left their homeland.

They ran to the city, away from the sound of approaching death.

"Hurry child! They are coming, and they are close!" Her mother urged as the roar of a tank filled the evening sky. They were fleeing the ruins of the fields they once called home. The Russians were closing onto the Germans, and her mother knew the result would be devastating to anyone left there.

"Almost there! " she wailed. They were only a few feet away from safety, a place where they could hide.

She heard an unintelligible scream behind her and she froze. They didn't make it.

Christine turned around slowly, and found herself facing a German soldier whose gun was directed at her. She sobbed, and turned Marie away from it,hoping she won't have to suffer as much as she will.

Then out of nowhere a flash and the bark of a gun came, and the German fell, a red flower blossoming in his fatigues.

A Russian soldier came out, gun smoking. Marie and Christine wasted no time in thanking him. Without speaking, Marie put the mirror in his open palm and smiled. And before he could react, they were gone.

Mikhail Romanovich muttered something in Russian, pocketed the mirror, and ran into the night to join his comrades. The battle was long and gruesome, but they held out.

July 6, 1944

"Almost there comrades!"Mikhail yelled. They were close to the rendezvous point that the Americans and their own country set for them. This was supposed to be a historical event, the day the two sides meegt and join forces to strike down Germany. A photographer was brought along, but the landscape, littered with debris and bodies was anything but picturesque. The sun beat down mercilessly on his men, its gaze seeming to melt the landscape around them.

A faint outline of men became visible in the distance. As they walked closer, it grew larger until they could see their faces, tired and weary, but hopeful.

A Britishman came forward.

"Sergeant Jackie Lake. British Army." He held his hand out to Mikhail, hand that were rough from months of combat in Europe.

"Mikhail Romanovich. Soviet Army," he responded accordingly. He took the hand offered to him and gave it a hard shake.

Photographs were taken. Pleasantries were exchanged. On impulse, Mikhail took out the mirror, and Jackie's eyes widened in surprise.

"No bloody way." He muttered, scrutinizing every detail of it. No doubt about it, it was the same one he lost. "Can I see the mirror?"

He gave it to him, and he held it carefully. "Where did you find this?"

" Ah. Little girl gave it to me back in Poland. Its is nice mirror,yes?"

He nodded. "It is the mirror my friend gave me. Could I have it?"

"It is a nice mirror,"Mikhail mused. "Let us flip coin. If it is heads, it is yours. If it tails, it is mine."

Jackie didn't have much of a choice, so he reluctantly agreed.

The coined flipped in the air for what seemed like an eternity. It spun on the side but ultimately landed as heads. He won.

" Well, I am a man of my word. But before I give you the mirror, can you tell me why you need it badly so?"

" I made a promise to him before he died."

"Ah." He smiled genuinely. " Honoring a fallen comrade. Why didn't you say so? Anyway, we're free to leave this war, yes? Where are you going?"

"I'm going to do just that."

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