He sat there motionless, knowing he was soon to be sent out to either take someones life or lose his own. He had always dreaded being sent out as a sniper, ever since he’d reached the frontline and his shooting skills had been noticed by the officers. Now that time had come and it was time for him to crawl into ‘No-Man’s Land’ and towards the enemy trenches. He looked up along the horizon and saw the Sun glowing red. He moaned to himself remembering the old shepherds saying his father had taught him back on the family farm, ‘red sky at night shepherds delight, red sky in the morning sailors warning.
He had always imagined his first day as a sniper to be like this, wet and miserable. He considered just finding a shell hole and curling up in it, but quickly dismissed that idea. He knew what he had to do and whom he had to do it for, he was fighting for his parent’s freedom. He continued crawling until he could hear the sound of German voices hanging in the air. He stopped dead and listened, by the end of the day many of these men could be dead, it was a gruesome thought and he quickly shook it out of his head. He had a purpose and he was determined to fulfil it.
He was going to be strong and do his bit for King and country. That was when he spotted the perfect place to lie in wait of any unsuspecting Germans. He set himself up so he was comfortable, for the day would be long and any great movement on his behalf could spell the end for him. The Sun had risen slower than he had ever imagined, he knew it was going to be a long day. He hated waiting and he had seen no signs of life for 2 whole hours, his mind began drifting and the fatigue cut in. He had had little rest since he arrived on the frontline, but now was not the time for him to sleep.
He struggled to hold his eyes open but the urge to just have one long blink, one long fatal blink, was getting stronger. He fought the urge as it began to take over his body; he would not let it beat him. He shook himself inside and pulled himself back together, he was going to make it through the day. He had been wide-awake for the past few hours, as the enemy was sounding as though it was preparing for something. This is it, he thought, they’re making a move. He waited for the shelling of the allied trenches to begin, but nothing happened, there was just silence.
His mind was racing, trying to find a sensible reason for why the enemy was creating so much noise. It must be an attack, he thought, but still nothing was happening. That was when it happened, a German soldier poked his head above the trenches. Bang! He had fired on sight, as he had been commanded, and the German soldier fell helplessly back into the trench. It was his first kill of the war and it had been nothing like what he had imagined it to be like, before joining up. He was sad and guilty, for he knew that the man he had just shot was not dissimilar to him.
He even probably believed he was fighting for his parents as well, but now he had killed that family’s son. He struggled with this fact but he could not get it out of his head, he was a murderer, a killer. He knew what he had just done was for the freedom of France and it’s allies, but was right? Had he done the right thing? He didn’t know the answer to this question and doubted he ever would in his lifetime. The Sun was slowly setting and he was preparing to leave his spot for the first time in 12 hours. He was still thinking about the German soldier he had shot.
He remembered the way He had looked into his eyes and when that terrified look was passed between them. It was him or me, he kept reminding himself, not that it mattered anymore, nothing could change the way he felt about killing a fellow human. He was no coward, but he never wanted to have to kill anyone again, but there was no chance of that happening as war was war and there was no backing out now. He started this and he was going to end this, he was going to fight, not for himself and his sake but for his friends and family who’s freedom depended on it.
He reached his own trench after crawling back across ‘No Man’s Land’ painfully slowly. He had been greeted with a warm welcome and a flood of questions by the commanding officer. He now knew what it meant to kill someone and understood why his friends, who had already been ‘Over The Top’ or out as a sniper, were so solitary and quiet. The feeling of despair when he had been alone when he needed comforting was something new to him, as his parents and friends had always been there for him and that was why he was going to continue to fight. He would fight for them.