Hubris, 1917


Some things are best left alone.

We were detached from our battalion and raced to the rear of the lines, where we were loaded onto a train that paused only to switch engines. Not once were we allowed to disembark and stretch our legs. Not until we reached the end of the line, which happened to be a small city that looked as though it had been lifted from the front and dropped back several hundred miles.

As far as I knew, though, there hadn’t been any fighting this far back.

We were hurried off the train, issued ammunition for our weapons, and told that we would be hunting a monstrosity. A beast so terrible that few men believed it could even exist.

The men in my unit were hard. Foresters and lumberjacks, stevedores and longshoremen. They had seen a great many things in their lives, and after three years of war, there was little they believed could surprise them.

This town did.

The war had not come to this place, but the French army had attempted to build a weapon here. Or, rather, to awaken a weapon.

They had drawn the creature out of its slumber, and it had not been pleased.

We were told the monster was in the center of the city, sitting in a park and waiting to destroy all who came too close. We were given light machine guns, a few pieces of field artillery, and told to destroy the beast.

There was a good deal of chuckling among my comrades until we came upon the park and found a male giant sitting there. Beside him was a massive pile of bloodied and torn uniforms, all that remained of dozens of French soldiers.

My comrades came to a stop and then fanned out as the giant took notice of us. He sneered, coughed, and then swore in ancient Gaelic. The giant complained of his wounds, which were many, and of the wretched men who had awakened him.

Clearing my throat, I asked in Gaelic if he was going to eat anyone else.

He replied in the negative. He only wanted to go back to bed.

I told my Captain what the giant said, and we were told to lower our weapons.

The ground shook beneath our feet as the giant got to his, and buildings shivered as he left the park.

Sometimes, it’s better not to fight at all.

Published by

Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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