Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: ZENITH (04/21/16)
TITLE: Over The Top
By Belinda Peoples
LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
ADD TO MY FAVORITES
“One minute to target. Be ready to disembark,” come whispers from men at the front of the boat.
The order heightens fear already gripping my body. It’s elevated now beyond limits I’ve ever experienced. Kit packed, canteen full, clammy hands wrapped around the cold steel of my rifle, but I’m far from ready.
It’s Sunday morning. I think longingly of home, far away in North Cornwall; before my adventure to Australia, before war turned my dreams upside down. Each Sunday I would wake to the delicious sizzling of salty bacon, sausages and eggs being fried for breakfast by mother.
Pop would be at the kitchen table in his favourite seat, reading the Sunday paper. Steam billowing from his tea, he’d look up to see me enter the kitchen, hair dishevelled from a good night’s sleep.
Smiling, he’d say “Morning William, fancy coming to church early with me this morning? I’m playing the organ while Mrs. Smith’s visiting her mother.”
“Sure Pop,” I’d reply and scoff my breakfast, much to mother’s disapproval.
I felt so grown up as we walked to church. Pop would give me a sneaky puff on his pipe and we’d chat about our crops. We’d lament the meagre price they’d fetch come harvest. Farming has always been a fickle business.
At the sandstone gates of the church yard, Pop always ended our talks with the same words. Flourishing his pipe through the morning air, he’d cry “Look at the birds, William. They do not sow or reap or store away, yet the Lord provides all they need. Never fret, son, about the unknown. What God gives us will always be enough.”
I shake myself back to reality, feeling more like a scared boy than the man of twenty I am. Looking to the heavens, the last stars fade from view as the morning light grows stronger. I pray silently that I’ll see them again this evening.
The landing point is visible now. Sergeant orders us to stand. Peering side to side of us, I’m surprised there aren’t more boats alongside ours. Murmurs amongst the men suggest only the 11th Battalion is here.
The terrain is not what I was expecting. The beach is much smaller than I thought it would be and the cliffs impossibly sheer. Panic rises even further, sweat covers my brow. Every muscle pains with tension as jagged rocks on the cliff face resemble soldiers of the Ottoman Army, ready to ambush.
In a daze I’m pushed off the boat, into shallow water. Deafened by the sounds of gunfire we all run madly for the cliffs to start the difficult climb to the plateau. The main ANZAC forces are depending on us to take the Gallipoli Peninsula so they can come ashore safely.
Obediently, I climb. Covered in scratches and bruises, losing my footing on loose stones numerous times, the ascent is slow and tedious. Every time I glance up, the summit of the cliff barely seems any closer, but I carry on, determined to reach it.
My mate, Cyril, jokes under his breath about feeling like a turkey trying to climb these rotten rocks in Turkey. I nearly laugh out loud, grateful for the attempt to lift the sombre mood, but lightheartedness is swallowed instantly by dread. We hear voices, only feet from us, speaking in a foreign tongue. We’ve reached the top of the cliff; the ridge of the plateau.
Cyril and I look searchingly at each other, trying to find the bravery we lack in ourselves.
“I dunno if I can do it,” he says, his voice cracking, “what if there are a hundred of them to the two of us? We’re goners!”
My father’s reassuring words come to me at the moment I need them most. They feel more real to me now than they ever were in the comfort of my family or home town. Peace descends, engulfing my fear, calming my spirit.
“I dunno if this is our last day, mate, but we’ve had it pretty good so far, right? If over this ridge is it, then we’ve gotta love the life we’ve had and not worry about what we’re missing out on. Whatever happens, God’s in it with us.”
“Over the top then,” Cyril says, gripping his rifle resolutely.
“Over the top. On the count of three.”
NOTE: A fictional account based on the involvement of William Hobbs, in WW1. A Private in the 11th Battalion of the A.I.F., William landed on a beach north of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, Sunday 25th April, 1915 and had to scale the cliffs above the beach to reach and overcome the Turkish troops. Sadly, this was William and Cyril’s last day. More information can be found at www.gallipoli.gov.au Scripture adapted from Matthew 6: 26-27 (NIV).
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.