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Accelerated Evolution

Short Story


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So, since I said like two years ago I would post some writing, I guess I should eh? This is a short story I wrote a little while back, no title though. Cant think of one.

Water rained over us as our tiny metal craft was thrown into the air, and then dropped like a rock back into the raging sea. It would have probably been an exhilarating ride, had it been under other circumstances. Dressed in full battle outfit: helmets, supplies, sidearms, ammo, water, everything a Marine needs; with the exception of a warm home and a woman of course.

We grew closer to our destination, the small island of Iwo Jima. It was one of the last true Japanese strongholds in the Pacific. I could see the silhouette of the island looming in the distance. Our target. Despite the pure danger of this mission, the other men in my squad, my family away from home were in high...well, relatively high spirits. We all laughed half-heartedly at each other's attempts at jokes even if they were completely terrible. Even though we were all trying to laugh and joke, the truth is that we were all scared. No, not scared, terrified. All of us.

It doesn't matter if you've been doing this for all your life. It doesn't matter if you've done it countless times in the past (like all of us), you're terrified all the same. The enemy doesn't care who you are, or who you would become in the future, they would shoot you and take your life away without a second thought. That's not half of it though, the real scary part is that you would do the same. It doesn't matter if, as a civilian, you wouldn't hurt anything at all and were nicest person anyone would ever meet. A person changes in the heat of battle. When you have a Garand in your hands and your enemy is hell bent on killing you, all you can think about is killing him first. Savage. That's what you become in that position. I was one of those people, and I can remember the face of every man I've killed in battle.

Every man, not every enemy. They are still men, not just faceless beasts that most people make them out to be. Everyone of them has a family at home waiting for them to return, whether in victory or defeat. It's sickening to think that you take their sons, their husbands, their brothers, their boyfriends, their family away from them. Just like they were doing to us. But you do it just the same. You are no higher than them as they are no higher than you. You just do it. Not a thought at that instant except to survive.

We do this all the time. Kill or be killed. Though, we have the support of each other to comfort us. Our squad was a family. I had the back of Richy next to me, and he has mine, whether in the heat of battle, or at our base. Even in childhood, we would never be seen away from each other. Best friends. No matter what. Now we're in the same squad. Still together, Richy and me. And now we had the rest of our family with us. In the same little craft that raced onward towards the island.

“OK! We're nearing land! Saddle up ladies!” Sergeant Wilk called out, the leader of our squad. We would just call him Papa seeing as he was the figurative “father” of the group.

“Sir yes sir!” We all called out to him as one. I took a quick sip out of my canteen and clipped it to my belt again. I reached down and felt my Colt strapped to my leg, making sure it was secure. I then grabbed my Garand that had been leaning against my legs. I took a clip out of the ammo box that was next to me, slid it in and pulled back on the bolt. Eight shots ready to fly on command.

I slid my hand over the rifle, from stock to muzzle. I felt the nicks, scratches and dings, remembering how everyone of them was formed. Even though it was beat to hell, the gun never jammed on me, the trigger never froze. It, and my squad were the only reliable things in my life right now. Neither of them had ever let me down. “Corporal!” Wilk called out.

“Sir!” I answered.

“As soon as we make landfall, you and Richy break from the rest of the squad and take out those machine gun emplacements on the hill. Look through the binoculars, you'll see them.” He ordered. I took the binoculars from him and there they were. Two of them placed on the hill that was pretty much directly in front of our beach. I handed the binoculars back to him.

“Yes sir, they're gone.” I replied.

“Good. Now get ready.” And with that he moved away giving orders to the rest of the squad. I relayed the orders to Richy, who nodded. As if it was almost on cue with his nod, a huge explosion sounded in the distance. All our heads turned. A plume of smoke was rising from in the depths of the island. I heard a whistling sound and the boat next to ours exploded. A column of water rose into the sky throwing shards of metal everywhere. The force of the wave rocked our craft almost to the point of capsizing.

As we drew closer, I could see the machine gun emplacements and bunkers that I saw through the binoculars. I saw flames erupt out of the gun's muzzles. The .50 caliber fire ripped dotted lines around our craft, sometimes clipping the metal and throwing sparks everywhere. We were lucky. Other craft were ripped apart by the gun fire either killing everyone immediately, or destroying the boat and getting the survivors swimming in the water. I could already tell we were grossly outnumbered.

The craft rammed the beach and the heavy ramp fell, kicking sand up into the air. The whole squad charged out of the craft and immediately opened fire upon the bunkers. Me and Richy broke from the rest of the squad and ran up the beach head keeping to any cover we could find.

We came level with one of the emplacements and Richy grabbed a grenade from his belt and pulled the pin. He threw it through the window of the bunker and we hit the deck. A deafening explosion sounded sending concrete everywhere. “HAH!” we laughed and continued on. I glanced down at the beach head where the rest of our forces were.

I was immediately able to pick out our squad in the mess that it was. There wasn't just US forces on the beach anymore, no, there was Japanese infantry too. As we were running we came upon some Jap forces that were picking off US soldiers. I ran at them firing my Garand killing two of them. Richy next to me fired at them killing a few. I heard the empty clip in my rifle eject with the normal loud “ding” noise.

I dove behind a tree as I tried to reload, but one of the Japs saw me and followed. He pulled out his pistol and pointed it at my head. I froze, not knowing what to do, the clip half inserted into my rifle. I stood there staring at the Jap and he grinned. I remembered all the other men I had killed, thinking that they may have been his friends or family. A silent tear ran down my cheek.

He was just about the squeeze the trigger when out of nowhere Richy jumped at him, bashing him in the head with the butt of his rifle sending blood flying and killing him. I snapped out of it and finished reloading. We had a job to do.

We kept running and I saw another machine gun emplacement. There were two men in the pill box. Easy prey. We dropped to the ground and I raised my gun. Aligning the sights with the gunner's head I squeezed the trigger.

The other Japanese man in there looked around perplexed as he saw his partner collapse to the ground. He saw us and raised his rifle. I pulled the trigger again and he fell next to his partner. “Nice shooting man.” Richy said and clapped me on the shoulder. I pulled out my binoculars and scanned the hills looking for more emplacements, and I found none.

Richy and I got up and raced down the hill, taking enemy infantry from behind. We plowed our way back to our squad who was held up behind a shattered concrete wall. Assaulting an enemy from behind was easy. The element of surprise weighed heavily in our favor and it showed. Wilk grinned at us when we rejoined them. “Let's keep moving!” He yelled and we left the safety of the concrete wall. We charged up the beach firing at anything that didn't have an American flag on the shoulder. We reached the top of the hill and saw fighting. Nothing but fighting. Smoke from the gun fire was suffocating. Sherman tanks raced forward and added firepower to our side, taking out enemy guns and armor.

Anywhere you looked it would be like that, only with each passing second, the amount dead rose. The field was painted red with American, and Japanese blood alike. We ran forward into the battle to help our fellow Americans. Our forces were greatly outnumbered. The Japanese were desperate and throwing everything they had at us at once. It seemed impossible for us, but a desperate enemy is a stupid one. The shear numbers clogged their side of the field. No room for them to run. There wasn't even enough weapons for all of them! Many weren't even carrying a pistol. It was suicidal.

The American forces (including us) charged along, cleaning out the first Airfield. They never seemed to stop coming at us. Never quitting. I was amazing by how ferocious they were fighting. I could see Mt. Suribachi looming in the distance.

It took four days of hard fighting to finally getting to the base of the mountain. Our squad had managed not to loose a single man, though some of us were wounded, a quick call to the medic they were bandaged up and were ready to fight again. None of the wounded from our squad retreated. We made it to the base with another group of marines next to us and we began our grueling journey up the side of the beast, always expecting ambush, though there was none.

Now, though there was no ambush, that doesn't mean there wasn't any Japanese resistance. They still fought hard for the mountain. Our numbers dwindled, and my squad had its first deaths. Jimmy our sniper was the first. Shrapnel from a Japanese grenade caught him in the neck. Although we did all we could to stop the bleeding, it was all for naught. Then, periodically more of us died until it was only three of us left. Sergeant Wilk, Richy and myself. Now, even though it was only us three and that other squad of marines, we still fought on.

We were quickly running out of ammo and supplies. There was nowhere to refill out canteens and nobody to get more ammo from. As we neared the peak of Mt. Suribachi the Japanese forces dwindled even more. I knew they must have been hiding in the tunnels, as they knew our reinforcements were already making their way up the mountain. I saw a group of marines charge up to the peak with an American flag with them. I started to run up there to help them when a grenade was throw into the middle of us three. It went off launching me off my feet. I landed on the ground disoriented and looked around.

I saw the bodies of Richy and Sergeant Wilk laying on the ground. I crawled over to Richy and shook him. He didn't move. I did the same to Wilk, with the same results. Tears began to stream down my face and I looked at the group of Japanese that assaulted us. Burning rage sparked within me, and I run full speed up to them. I went berserk, uncontrollable. I hated them for taking my family away from me. I heard their shouts and their shots whizzed past me. One clipped me in the arm, but it was as if I couldn't feel it. I fired my Garand at them taking out a few when I knew it was over.

My body recoiled backwards, and I felt warm liquid run down my stomach. I dropped to my knees and my rifle slid out of my hands. I looked down at my body and saw two holes in the front of my uniform, still smoking from the heat of the bullets. Red splotches surrounded both and were spreading.

It was becoming hard to breathe and my eyes went in and out of focus. I pulled my Colt out of its holster and emptied the clip at the rest of the Japanese up there. I took out all of them. Even after there were no bullets left in the gun I kept pulling the trigger, until I finally collapsed to the ground. Staring up the mountainside I saw the flag being raised by five marines and some one from the Navy. I saw the flag waving there and remembered all the enemies I killed. Richy, Wilk, and all of the rest of my squad's faces flashed in front of my eyes. Uncontrollable tears streamed down my face as a warm red puddle spread under me.

My eyesight started to go black as I remembered our squad, now totally eradicated, remembered our lives and how we lost them. I remembered us and knew our sacrifice was not in vain. As I looked at our flag raised in victory on the summit of Mt. Suribachi I knew we would win. I smiled and took my final rattling breaths and knew, that we were victorious till the end.

meh

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I haven't had a chance to read though the piece yet, but there is one thing I'd want to say as a point of improvement. Take this line:

“OK! We're nearing land! Saddle up ladies!” Sergeant Wilk called out, the leader of our squad. We would just call him Papa seeing as he was the figurative “father” of the group.

And you have far too much telling. The fact that he is the leader of the squad is obvious by his rank and by the fact that he is giving orders. Telling the reader that he is the leader of the squad is insulting. Also, you don't want to tell the readers that the soldiers call the Sergeant "Papa", you want to show it though the dialogue. The readers will infer that the men under his command consider him in a fatherly role.

I'll read though the rest and get back to you.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Your descriptions of the atmosphere are great. The action is a bit lacking, though. Or, rather, it's not nearly as lurid and compelling as the atmosphere. You really lay it on thick when you're talking about how the soldiers are feeling, but once the action starts it's all just "then I killed three guys and ran on a bit." It also seems like you skip significant parts of the story, and, until the end, it seems very easy for the protagonist to succeed.

I agree with what GPS said; you need to show more than tell. Perhaps instead of saying "Then I killed three soldiers" you should say "Then I shot at three soldiers, might've hit one, etc" You see what the difference is? This guy has no way of knowing what the hell happens to a bullet once it leaves his gun. The situation is chaotic, out of control, and confusing. The narration reflects that except when there's shooting going on.

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