The balls of flame flew through the air, creating smoke trails across the bluish grey sky, blackening the earth upon impact. Men screamed as they flew through the air, torn apart and eviscerated by the balls of flame. The ones that are left huddled closer together among the lines, despite the angry voices yelling at them to spread out. All sense and thought are numbed by the growing throb of fear among the rainfall of death within the masses.
Peter was one of them, one of the new guys who had to take the front ranks and bear the punishment being dished out. He flinched with each assault of thunderous sound, cowering when another cannonball tears through flesh and bones not six files away from him. All the feelings of jubilation and triumph of marching into the town square in his shiny uniform and oiled musket was all gone, mud and excrement splattered all over him with dead men lying down in grotesque positions all around him.
One of the other recruits was screaming his heart out, clearly having lost himself to the fear of what’s going on and about to come. He was silenced with a hard tap to the head by sergeant Hanksworth and brought to the rear, soiled pants and all. Peter turned around back to the front, and only saw smoke and fog covering the ground in front of him. The sound of drums is slowly filling the air however, accompanied by the steady rumble of footsteps belonging to men who are coming to put a bullet in his heart.
The order to load came and Peter hurriedly tapped off his musket and held it ready. It was better to be doing something than to be standing still in this madness. He could see the figures of thousands of men marching up the hill through the smoke now. The emperor’s columns coming to meet the lines of freemen. The next order was shouted down the line and he brought the firearm up and braced it against his shoulder. He could see the grizzled men of the emperor now, proud moustaches framing the mouths with confident eyes looking towards him.
The officer swept his sabre down and the cannons erupted.
It was the enemy’s turn to get mauled by artillery fire, balls of fire and iron pounding into and directly through the columns, shredding the front ranks to bits of men and gore. But yet they still came on, step after step, closer to the lines. The sergeants bawled out the order to fire, and the musketfire rippled down along the line. Peter closed his eyes and pulled the trigger as well, his view being clouded by the sudden burst of smoke from his musket. He slammed the musket down by his feet and started to reload, hours and hours of blind practices in the barracks coming to use now in this place of blood and fire.
The columns quivered and shivered like a great beast, men falling right and left out of the great formations. The unstoppable force has ran up against an unmovable object, and now it will suffer.
Peter was emptying his fourth shot into the lines when the order came to fix bayonets. He plugged the sharp piece onto the mouth of his musket and held it up like a spear. All the fear was out of him now, just the blood pounding rage surging into the heart and throbbing away in his ears. The orders rang out and the officer and sergeants led the charge, sabre and pikes leading the way down the hill into the tangled mess of men that once been columns.
The clash of the two sides was louder than the screams of those who died in the clash. Peter ran down with the rest of his company, screaming the old war sounds of his people, the wordless sounds of rage and fear together. A man loomed up in him and Peter rammed his bayonet spike into the belly of the person, feeling the guts and muscle tensed and gripped his spike before he pulled it out. He did not see the blood that spurted out of the man’s mouth when his spike went in. He only saw a body falling down and he plunged on into the melee, being swept away by the passion of the war, a howling screaming madness.
a beautiful bloody madness.