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Posted on Feb 9, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

Interactive Combat Story: The Calm Before The Storm

By Brandon Neff


You decline the offer and thank Pvt. Luker for the visit as you rub your hands together to generate warmth. He shrugs his shoulders, places a reassuring hand on your helmet and trots off into the darkness. You lean your head against the barrel of your M1 Garand and let out a deep sigh.

Suddenly a low rumble vibrates the ground beneath you and you sit up, slightly disoriented by the bizarre sensation. A deep booming staccato sounds through the woods to the east, like a great beast galloping towards you. You peer into the darkness and the forest around you explodes in a hail of shrapnel and debris.

The nearby wails of “incoming!” pierce your heart and you duck down instinctively. The screams of the wounded and frightened come at you from all directions and you immediately realize that Pvt. Luker was in the open when the barrage hit. You mutter a quick prayer through chattering teeth, hoping that he found cover before the shells landed and grip your rifle for comfort.


The seconds feel like hours and with one last booming explosion, the woods are quiet. Sensing a break in the barrage, you hurl yourself out of your foxhole and sprint across the snow-covered ground towards Pvt. Luker’s trench.

A few yards short, you find his mangled body, broken and bloodied, face down in the snow. You roll him over and check for signs of life, choking back a sudden wave of nausea. As you feared, he is dead. You grab his collar and begin to drag him towards his trench, his boots trailing blood in the fresh snow.

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