My latest short story work. A story in the "Normal" universe based on the invasion of mainland Europe during the occupation.
Tales of the Ranch - Phoenix Rising teaser
“Incoming!” screamed my Platoon Leader immediately after the first mortar shell landed. They were smaller caliber than what we had before, sixty mil or so, but dangerous nonetheless. I immediately hit the ground and covered in the larger crater serving as my defensive fighting position, waiting for the current barrage to stop so I could continue trying to find overhead cover. But we also knew the mortars were typically followed by a ground attack. We needed to stick our heads up long enough to check our assigned sectors before jerking them back in at another explosion. I checked on my battle buddy assigned to the same foxhole before looking out. Nobody was approaching in our sector for the moment and I was content to pull my head back in after a shower of dirt hit my helmet.
“Anything?” my new battle buddy asked.
“No,” I said, still getting to know him after my original partner was killed during the landing on the beach. Not really during the landing as he hadn’t even made it to shore. We huddled down together as the explosions continued, both of us silently thanking the stars it wasn’t anything bigger than the annoying mortar rounds.
“You think we’re going to hold?” he asked, a little scared.
“I think we should be able to,” I said, trying to be brave, but the fear showing out in my voice despite my efforts to the contrary.
We both prepared for the expected assault as the mortar fire died down once again. But it never materialized and was just more harassment. However, we both knew it was a matter of time before the IU massed enough infantry, armor, artillery, aircraft or various combinations thereof and struck us once again. It had happened before, it certainly will happen again before we get done here I thought as I continued peering forward into the growing light of the beach at Normandy. The clouds were breaking up a bit, but the winds still swept though the lines with the same ferocity they had since right after we landed. I tightened my grip on my rifle as I saw a figure moving through the woods towards our position. My new buddy, Private Matthias Blain from Missouri was heard doing the same thing. However, as the figure appeared, I saw it was one of our listening posts coming back in from the front of the lines. He made his way towards our position before being stopped and admitted.
“What’s going on out there?” I asked, hungry for information.
“Lots of troops, like at least a battalion worth! Coming this way! I’ve got to get to the command post!” he exclaimed after drinking down half a canteen of water.
“Where’s Smitty?” I asked.
“Dead, got caught by an artillery round,” he said and scampered off towards the rear where our command post was.
“We can hold?” asked my buddy.
“Absolutely,” I said.
“What’s your name again?” he asked after a moment.
“Sergeant Donald McIntyre, from Georgia,” I replied. I knew he was making small talk because he was nervous and I tried to remain calm. But I was nervous as well and it probably showed. We were a day and a half into the invasion of mainland Europe in the largest amphibious operation since the last time Americans had come across the beach in Normandy. However, this time, things weren’t going so well for us. We had our backs to the wall, literally, and were holding on for dear life. Rescue wasn’t coming anytime soon as the planning was out the window four hours after the landings started, but we held on. We were cornered animals fighting for our very survival on these beachheads and knew there were only two ways out. Fight and possibly live or cower in a hole and certainly die…
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Tales of the Ranch - Phoenix Rising (Story 3 of the "Normal" Saga) 2015-02-03