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Writing Downfall: A fictional WWII story from 2 viewpoints (3500 words)

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I wrote this one up in a few sections at a time.  It was the first story I have completed in the past 7 years so my writing skills are rough as you will see.  The basic plot is that one perspective is based off of an American NG member who finds himself on the front line of a new war.  The second perspective is from a German paratrooper who drops into America behind enemy lines.  


I had more planned for this story but I am struggling with setting up the characters properly, something which I really hope to improve upon if I continue or start any other stories.  I like the premise of this one but I'm not sure how I can make the characters any better because right now they are very generic and unknown.  I know there are issues with this one but any feedback is appreciated since it would be nice to get a rough idea of were I'm at before I continue with this or start on something new. 


Anyways, without further adue, here it is:




“Everybody up!  Now!  This is not a drill!”  What was going on?  4:30 in the morning?  Something really big must be happening if the sergeant wanted us up at this hour.  “Listen up!  The 554th infantry regiment has reported some hostile warships off the coast by section 42 of the Atlantic wall.  You all know what this means.”  “You sure sergeant?”  Somebody in the back of the barracks spoke up.  “They said the same thing last July and nothing happened.  Probably just some U-boats trying to give the citizens a fright.”  “I don’t care what you think!”  The Sargent barked back.  “I have my orders and you have yours!  We can get down to the wall in 20 minutes and we can find out what the issue is.  I want everybody in this room on the trucks and ready to go in 5 minutes!”  “Yes sir!” 


I quickly slipped on my tattered “uniform” which was no more than a worn out coat with my division insignia patched to it. It was always best to get to the rifle rack first.  I quickly scanned over the dates stamped into the top of the barrels of the M1903 Springfield rifles.  1943, 1944, 1938, 1935 … there we go, 1917!  I quickly looked it over for damage but it looked good.  It was always a relief when I found an old rifle in good shape since I had heard stories of soldiers who lost half their jaw from firing one of the hastily made Springfields from 1944 or 45.


Within 4 minutes everybody was loaded up on the half wooden M44 troop transporter.  It was a primitive vehicle which was little more than a long pickup truck with a wooden back covered with a cloth sheet.  Our column was escorted by a half track equipped with a few .50 calibre machine gun for shooting down aircraft just in case some German planes tried to attack.  The ride up to the Atlantic wall was never fun.  The road was just some gravel laid down a one way road which went through a forest.  The truck shook so violently that it was impossible to hear anything, the only way to communicate was with hand gestures.


At about the fifteen minute mark of the trip to the wall something caught my eye.  Flashes coming from the wall.  Big flashes.  Some of them were so bright that they lit up most of the sky for almost a whole second.  “Oh well.”  I thought to myself.  “Probably just an oil tanker that got hit off the coast again.  Nothing to worry about.”  However, the flashed continued without any sign of stopping or slowing down.  This really started to worry me now.  Was a whole convoy of oil tankers hit by a U-boat pack?  It seemed unlikely that the US Navy would let the German’s do that kind of damage. 


Suddenly, there was a massive explosion just ahead of the convoy.  “PANZER!”  Somebody yelled.  Our truck slammed on its breaks but slid into the back of the now flaming halftrack.  “Everybody out now!”  WHAM!  Before I could move the transport behind us slammed into the back of our transport and reduced the last 2 seats to splinters.  Without thinking, I pulled the bayonet of my rifle and slashed open the side of the cloth covering.  I rolled out of the hole as fast as I could.  A split second later machine gun fire coming from the other side of the road tore through the flimsy wooden side of the transport.  In a moment of panic I dropped my bayonet and left my rifle on the road as I sprinted into the dark forest.


It had all happened so fast.  No time to think over the situation or what to do about it.  I just ran.  That’s all I could do.  Run.  I could still see the trees and the sky light up every once and a while from the flashes coming from the wall.  The ground sometimes grumbled when some of the bigger flashes when off and lit up the sky.  I never even considered looking back or trying to head for the wall.  I just needed to get as far away as possible, that’s all the mattered.  I felt exhausted but I just kept on going even though I felt like I might collapse at any moment.  “Not today!”  I told myself.  “I may die someday but not today!”


After what seemed like hours, I found an end to the dark forest which lead into an empty wheat field.  The sun was starting to come up now and I noticed a farm house off to the side of the field.  There was no automobile in the driveway or a power line leading to the house for that matter.  The place must have been abandoned after the crash of ‘29.  I ran up to the front door which was knocked down and entered the house.  The furniture was torn up and rotten, windows were smashed and glass littered the floor.  Definitely abandoned. I headed down to the dark basement and sat in one of the corners away from the light.  I would be safe down here for now.  


I tried to think of what to do next.  I had just abandoned my unit and everybody I had trained with over the past three weeks might be dead.  Panzers out here?  How could that even be possible?  How did could Germans get past our fleet?  Somebody in high command must of really messed up if they let a whole invasion fleet through!  It could have just been a test too though.  Maybe some U-boats dropped off some troops as a scouting mission.  After thinking about the situation for another few hours, I heard the sound of heavy trucks off in the distance.  It slowly got louder and louder. 


I ran upstairs and looked out of one of the smashed windows.  I could see a column of troop transports heading up the road.  M44s!  One of them was had its side badly damaged and shot up with bullet holes.  I recognized the licence number on the side of one of the trucks.  They were from my unit!  The trucks passed by the house and turned off to another side road.  However, one of the trucks kept on going for a while further.  I had not realized that just a few hundred yards ahead there was an airfield.  On the field were a bunch of wrecked aircraft and a burnt out radar station.   The place looked completely abandoned and I could not see any operational aircraft or vehicles on the field.  The truck stopped by one of the buildings and a bunch of troops jumped out the back if it.  They were all carrying rifles and quickly spread out to search the buildings. 


I understood what happened to the men who deserted from the National Guard.  They were usually lined up in front of a firing squad and shot as traitors.  However, I could not stand the thought of running away like I coward.  Maybe if I handed myself in they would let it slide.  I started to walk towards the field with my hands behind my head.  “Patterson!”  Somebody had noticed me walking over.  “What on earth are you doing?  I thought you were a dead man!”  I walked closer and explained to him what had happened.  “You deserted in middle of combat eh?  Well, lucky for you the Sargent was with the rest of the column which went to the hospital.  I’ll just tell him that you were with us the whole time.  If somebody says they saw you run for it then just tell them that they were mistaken.  For the love of god though, NEVER do that again!”  “Thanks Wilson.  I never thought I would see you guys again.”  I replied back.  “Don’t let your guard down kid.  Things are about to get a whole lot worse.”


Wilson walked me to one of the buildings.  “What’s the situation?”  He called out.  “The power lines are gone.  Communications are all dead.” Somebody called out from the building.  “Damn.  We will just have to pray that Sarge gets us some support.”  “Support for what?”  I snapped back.  “The Sarge said that in the case of an invasion, our primary objective is to deny the enemy a beach head.  Our secondary is to deny them access to any airfields, so that’s what we are going to do.”  I suddenly felt light headed.  “Take this kid, you’re going to need it.”  Wilson handed me a Springfield rifle.  “How the hell are 22 of us supposed to hold down an entire airfield?  This is nuts!  They have tanks for crying out loud!”  “Shut up kid!  Moral is already low, we don’t need defeatists in our ranks as well.  All they have are some light tanks.  We took out the one that ambushed us in one shot with a Bazooka, there is nothing to worry about.”  Wilson snapped back.


We all took up defensive positions across the airfield.  Me, Wilson and Private Frank occupied the top level of the control tower.  The sun was just coming up and heavy gunfire continued off in the distance.  Suddenly we heard the whine of an aircraft in the distance which was coming over from the east.  “Incoming!  Everybody take cover!”  The aircraft appeared to be smoking and flying lower and lower as it approached.  Somebody yelled out “Hold your fire!  It’s a friendly!”  When the plane came closer, I recognised the aircraft.  It was a Spitfire MK V, the standard fighter for the USAAF.  The plane skidded to a halt on the far side of the airfield and we ran over to put the fire out.  The pilot jumped out and blasted the engine with a fire extinguisher.  “Wonderful!  Lets see if he knows anything about the situation.”  Wilson said to himself as he walked over to the aircraft.  “Private Wilson, Nation Guard” Wilson introduced himself.  “How many of you are here?” The pilot snapped back.  “22.”  “Well shoot!  22 men assigned to defend an airfield?  Where has everybody else gone?  If we give up another airfield then we might lose air superiority!”  “I understand the situation but I was hoping you could shed some light on the situation.”  “Bad.  Now get me a rifle because we are not giving up this position until every one of us is dead!  Understand?”


Everybody got back into position and we just waited.  Wilson, who just came back after a discussion with the pilot came upstairs and sat down.  “Did you get anything out of him?” Frank asked.  “Yea, he sure wasn’t kidding when he said the situation was bad.  There were 57 aircraft stationed here this morning.  Now look at this place, it’s like a ghost town.  He says that he’s the only one who made it back in one piece.  He told me that the Germans have jets over the east.  They tried to engage the jets but it was a slaughter.” 


Suddenly we heard a branch snapping coming from the woods.  Wilson put his finger over his mouth and gestured towards the woods.  I set my rifle up on a table with a clear view out the window and set the sights to 200m.  A shadow emerged from the woods but I could make out the curved sides of the helmet as well as the camouflage design.  German!  He was carrying a short rifle with a scope and a long magazine at the bottom.  I held my breath and waited for Wilson to give the order to fire.  The soldier off in the distance waved his arm over and soon a group of about 8 more shadows emerged from the woods.   One of them stayed behind and the others started to quickly walk in the direction of the airfield.  “Wait for them to get closer.” Wilson whispered “I don’t think they notice us yet and they think the place is deserted.”


CRACK!  I heard a rifle shot come from far behind me.  “Open fire!”  I fired at one of the soldiers off in the distance and one of them threw his arms up in the air before collapsing onto the floor.  I was not sure if it was my shot that hit him or somebody else’s but it was the first time I had shot at a live human being.  All of the soldiers split up and hit the ground.  I pulled the bolt back on my rifle as fast as I could and lined up for another shot.  Crack!  I gave little thought to aiming as my hands were shaking far too much.  I just tried to fire my rifle as fast as I could.  One of the soldiers in the field must have noticed the flash from my rifle and fired wildly at the window.  Bullets zoomed past me and hit the window frame as well as the ceiling.  I ducked down as dust from the ceiling fell down around me. 


The rifle fire continued outside but the automatic fire from the field died down quickly.  I kept my head down until the fire stopped, I did not want to risk being shot at again.  When the fire stopped I heard Wilson yell out “Keep your eyes peeled!  Frank, go out to the field and get those weapons.  We are going to need all the guns we can get our hands on and I can guarantee that those rifles are better than anything we have.”  The airfield was dead quiet after the shootout, nobody talked or moved.  The only thing that could be heard was the occasional bird song and Frank trudging through the grass.  We had been told that any injuries or casualties must be reported to the highest officer at once so having nobody talk back was probably a good thing.




Viewpoint 2:


            “2 minutes to the drop point!  Commence preparation procedures at once!”  I got up out of my thin metal seat and the rest of the squad fallowed suit.  An airmen waited at all 4 doors on the 4 engine aircraft with their fingers clenched on the release for the doors.  It was early in the morning and the sun had not even risen yet.  I gave my parachute a quick check and made sure all my equipment was secured properly.  I learnt from my other 2 drops that it was always a good idea to hold on to something so that the flak bursts would not knock me over.  However, this time there was no flak and I had not noticed any enemy aircraft.  “30 seconds!”  Everybody moved closer to the doors on the aircraft, I was the third person behind the door on the back left of the aircraft. 


“10 seconds!  Prepare doors!”  The men on the doors pulled the lever up and yanked the metal doors open.  A red light appeared over the door.  “5 seconds!  4.  3.  2.  1.  Commence drop!”  The light turned to green and a buzzer sounded.  All at once, soldiers started to jump out from the doors.  Within seconds I was out of the aircraft and plummeting down from the dark sky.  It was hard to see what was going on down below but the country side was dark.  I did not notice any sign ground fire or civilian lights.  The tension during the initial fall was almost unbearable.  At any second I could be hit by ground fire or I could land on enemy troops.  There would be nothing I could do to save myself if any of these situations occurred and that is what bothered me the most. 


At a few thousand meters I pulled my chute which caught the wind and caused a rapid decline in speed.  Once my speed stabilized I undid the strap which was holding my rifle around my waist and got it ready.  I took the safety off and scanned the ground for any signs of movement.  However, I dropped into a dense forest and it appeared as if nobody noticed me.  I landed in a small oak tree which snagged the parachute.  I pulled out my knife and slashed the straps off.  Luckily I was only a few meters off the forest floor so I was unharmed when I hit the ground which was always a major relief.


I quickly looked around the surrounding area for movement or signs of light but noticed nothing.  I readied my rifle and checked my compass then began to head north.  My objective was to secure a small civilian airfield which was being used for the military.  I continued on through the forest for what felt like half an hour.  Eventually I heard a sound coming from behind one of the trees.  I readied my rifle and carefully moved closer.  Suddenly I heard somebody yell out towards me in German and then in English “Identify yourself at once!”  I called back “Private Wilhelm Hansen, 7th Fallscrimjager.”  “Approach at once!”  I lowered my rifle and walked over to the voice.  I stepped into a small clearing and noticed 5 other paratroopers standing next to a tree.  “Excellent!”  One of them shouted out.  “Now that we have Wilhelm with us we shall be unstoppable!” 


“What is the situation?”  I asked.  “Did you see the drop conditions?  We caught them off guard!  No flack, no fighters and no reports of enemies on the ground so far.  I have not seen such an easy invasion since Denmark!”  “I understand the landing conditions were good but we must capture that airfield.”  I replied back.  “Do you have any idea were other troops may have landed?  The 10 of us don’t have a hope of doing much right now.”  “I say we head on over to that airfield and see if anybody’s home.  If we manage to get that field then we will all be given Iron Crosses!”  The other paratroopers seemed enthusiastic about the idea so I said nothing in protest.  Besides, if we noticed any enemy troops we could just turn back and look for other troops if things looked bad.


The 10 of us set off through the dark forest.  We just used the compass for navigation but after about 20 minutes we noticed a propeller driven fighter flying at low altitude heading in the direction of the airfield.  “Well at least we know we are going in the right direction now.”  One of the soldiers commented.  After our group continued on for another few minutes, we discovered the edge of the forest.  “Hans!  Go and check out that field up ahead, it could be the clearing for the airfield after all.”  One of the soldier instructed.  Hans moved to the edge of the forest and scanned the area with a pair of binoculars. 


Hans soon moved back towards us and said the airfield was just up ahead and that nobody was home!  It seems too good to be true, just like most of the events of today.  “Then what are we waiting for.”  The same soldier asked enthusiastically.  “Let’s go a get our crosses men!”  “Hold on a minute.”  I spoke out.  “It could be a trap for all we know.”  “All right then Wilhelm.  Why don’t you hang back and provide covering fire if things go bad all right?” 

I let the nine paratroopers head out into the field.  Hans went out first and called the others out after him.  I lay still on the ground and scanned the building for any signs of movement.  I looked over at the radar station and watched as an American soldier scampered behind the mangled equipment on the roof.  I focused all my attention on the radar station in case he popped out again, I did not bother to look anywhere else on base in fear that the soldier might try to fire at my fellow paratroopers. 


Suddenly, I heard a rifle shot coming from the hanger and right after somebody screamed a command in English and the perimeter lit up with rifle fire from almost every direction.  I looked over at the radar station and took aim but the riflemen stopped firing after a few seconds.  I held my self back from firing since I did not want to give away my location.  I looked over at the field and just glanced at the bodies of my fellow paratroopers strewn across the empty field.  It was too late to do anything now.


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