Maybe in the beginning, a mere seven months ago, they were a bunch of kids playing at war with loaded guns. Now though they are experienced in murder and seeing their friends die. Of hating with all their hearts. Of feeling fear and hunger and cold beyond imagination.
They stand in a dangerous place. A place obliterated by 240mm artillery rounds and bomb dropped from the sky. It was once a town this place that now lays in rubble under their feet.
A place called St. Vith. A place with a railroad. A place deemed important.
It had a bakery and a playground and a little health clinic, paved roads and tulips grew here in the Spring. The last mayor was a man named Fritz. He was shot in the head in the village center. His death was a show of force. The German commander who shot him was crushed by a falling brick wall. His body is there still buried and rotting. He is a horrible smell that no soldier cares to investigate.
He is just one bad smell among many.
No doubt more will still die before peace is declared.
But the worst of the war is over.
And it only took the deaths of seventy-seven million people to get there.
But these four soldiers will live on. They survived the worst of it. They survived this, the worst thing humanity could throw against them in the twentieth century.
Now the only battle left is the docile fight against time.