Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Eyes! Eyes! Eyes! partIII

My first impulse was to take a shot at them, and the I realized that it would be suicide to do so. Old Heinie could snipe us if we tried to leave our hole and and if we fired a shot he would know where we were. Then I wondered if the eyes belonged to a German scout who had made himself a listening post under the debris. But no man could possibly have wormed down between those crossed steel rails, and I was certain that the eyes did not belong to any sane person and certainly any German soldier would have given up our position. All at once a Heinie machine gun opened up and bullets were cracking and snapping over us for five or ten minutes. Pete was sure that Fritz had discovered us and begged me to throw a Mills bomb into the hole when the eyes returned.
I talked to him and quieted him but he kept whimpering every once in a while and pushing against me so that I could feel him shaking. That place was enough to try anyones nerves, but he got my goat and I talked to him harshly until he stopped his whimpering. I had the safety of my rifle released all the time, and a couple of Mills bombs ready to throw. A bunch of aeroplanes droned over us but there was no other sound. The machine gun had stopped firing as abruptly as it had began. The sun got fair over head and the heat was suffocating. Flies had come in clouds and they were all over the dead Heinie, at his wound, in his ears, clustering in his hair, and around those staring, ever watching eyes. A large dark rat appeared and approached the corpse and sniffed at and nibbled at the bloody bandage, all the while it too kept me in sight, watching with dull unintelligent eyes of it's own. I had taken all I could and had to shift over to the other side of the pit.
Yet this was no relief. The eyes were there in the dark hole again! They appeared as if my glance had summoned them. For a full minute they stared into mine and I began to feel as if I were becoming mesmerized, then there was nothing but the void between the rails. I wondered if the sun was playing tricks with us, there was after all, heat waves dancing all over the wreckage. For a long time I watched the wreckage, but could only see the black gap.and was beginning to feel quite relieved, when once again the eyes appeared.
An hour went by. I had been looking at my watch every twenty minutes since morning. Sometimes the eyes were there sometimes they weren't. I was beginning to fear I would become as bad off as poor Pete. He wouldn't' take watch now, he just sat there huddled down in the hole making funny little noises like a hurt thing.
The sentry stayed on is plank and stared in his stolid way. He must have been tortured by the heat, but never moved but to regularly scratch himself. I ducked down beside Pete and tried to eat my ration of bread and cheese, but a feeling of nausea welled up inside again and I found I was quite unable and now unwilling to eat. Pete wouldn't even try he simply moaned and wanted to know how much longer we had to remain there. I stood up and those livid eyes beneath their rail seemed to jump up at me. It gave me such a queer sensation I immediately had to squat back down. When I rose up aain they were still there, and more malignant than ever. I Prodded Pete, "You get up and take a turn" I said as savagely as I could, "I'm tired of looking all the time."
Reluctantly he got up-looked toward the dead German-and ducked, white faced and trembling. I had to clap my hand over his mouth to keep him from crying out. "He's moved-he's moved" Pete gulped through my fingers.
The sweat on my skin turned cold. He was telling the truth. That Fritz had moved. He had shifted so that his hand had dropped down black and curled like a hen's foot, and his tunic collar was right under his chin as his head tipped forward. He seemed somehow NEARER to us now!
I tried to soothe myself, for I was getting mighty shaky. There was some explanation, surely. It was only three o'clock, five hours to go before we could reasonably expect a relief. I squatted down again. " Youve got to look over part of the time." I growled, "It's too hot for one man to keep his head up all the time, and if we don't watch the Heinies are likely to sneak over on top of us."
He muttered about something under his breath and then raised him self up. Then shot down again, gasping. He sobbed with fear and on his way down caught me about the knees. Panicked I grabbed a bomb and jumped up ready to face an onslaught from Fritz, or possibly worse as my imagination suggested it might be the dead corpse himself at our hole. But no it was just the filthy rad, its bloodshot eyes peering at me through the weeds not a foot away. I spat at the foul creature and squatted back down.
Pete clung to me now and wouldn't listen to anything I said. Resigned to the fact Pete would no longer be taking his turn , I looked up again after a while. I found my self drawn to look for the eyes beneath the rails, they had taken a sort of fascination over me. I squirmed around Pete and looked to the left at the dead man. One long look and I was almost as bad as Pete. I pulle him to his feet. "Look over there ," I said "I'm going to beat it before something else happens, That Heinie's moved again I swear!"
Pete stood and shuddered and licked his lips. "He moved, he moved, he moved" he whispered in an almost sing-song fashion, and then began to blab about eyes.
The German had moved again!. One leg, the unwounded one, as almost doubled now. Not a shot had been fired since noon and there had been NOTHING to move him. I began to feel faint, that all around us there were eyes, and eyes and eyes, staring, glaring, beady eyes, dull unmoving eyes, eyes without faces; eyes...eyes...eyes.
Then I began to yell, Pete caught at me like a wild man. Flies had swarmed all over the dead man's nose and as I watched I saw his dull staring eyes close! As Pete grabbed at me, I fought him back and jumped out of the pit. Without thought of the German sentry I jumped out of the hole. I hurdled a shell crater, hopped over old razor wire and slid into the trench were or section was- and was lucky not too get shot, with Pete right behind me.
or chaps had been half asleep when we cam tumbling into the trench and we startled them as they scrambled for their weapons. Pete was now shaking uncontrollably and was sent back to the transport lines with a couple of other chaps. Apparently he got worse with every step and was quite incapacitated by the time they reached their destination.

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