Monstrous, 1918


A low, metallic screaming reverberated across the battlefield.

The Germans had attempted to push forward using captured British tanks, and for a short time, they had succeeded. But after our troops recovered from their initial shock, and with a barrage of heavy artillery fire for support, the German assault was defeated and pushed back.

Bodies littered No-Man’s-Land, as did several of the now-defunct machines.

It was from one of those broken and battered tanks that the screaming came from, and the sound drew me to it.

The noise was disturbing and did not sit well with me. When I reached the tank, I discovered why.

Within the twisted metal were the remains of men.

They were stripped of clothes, and while three of the men had their lips stitched together with steel wire, a fourth man’s lips had torn free, and through his bloody gash of a mouth, he was screaming.

The men were not merely the operators of the machine, they were part of it, and they were still alive, writhing in the confines of their steel tomb.

Wires and pistons, gears and pulleys, all were embedded in the men. Blood seeped from around the wounds and from fresh injuries as well. Their eyes were hidden behind tinted goggles such as an aviator might wear, and I confess I was thankful for it.

The men turned their heads and focused upon me, and the one whose mouth was free in its own hideous way managed to gasp out, “Hilfe.”

“Yes,” I answered in German. “I will help you.”

The men went still, and I drew a Luger I had taken off a corpse earlier in the day.

I crawled to each man and whispered words of comfort as I placed the muzzle at the base of the skull and the back of the neck and then pulled the trigger.

My ears rang, and my head pounded as I left the tank, and for a short time, I contemplated crossing into the German lines to find where the tank had come from.

With a shake of my head, I put away my Luger and made a promise to visit Germany after the war.

I needed to meet whoever had adapted the tank, and that person needed to die.

#horror #fear #paranormal

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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