The Barn by. Fitz Smith Word Count: 1,514 Private Dwight Mulberry raced towards the barn as the bullets neared closer. Dirt sprayed up behind him as hot lead struck the ground. He could hear the Germans yelling. As he closed in on the barn his pace quickened, squeezing his body for every last bit of energy he could muster. Reaching the threshold, Dwight leapt inside and rolled on the ground. He was breathing hard and sweat ran down his face and blurred his vision. He could here the pinging noise of bullets hitting the ground inside the open barn. Dwight quickly got up began closing the large wooden door. Bullets riddled it, making odd “thunking” noises as it absorbed shot after shot. Wood began to splinter into Dwight’s face as the gunfire increased. He finally managed to close it, and he slid a large plank of wood in the handles to keep it shut. He had brief moment of relief that was interrupted by a stinging sensation on the back of shoulder. A bullet had penetrated the large door. “Sunuva…!” Dwight yelled. “Dang that hurts.” His lip quivered a bit. His shoulder felt like it was on fire, the pain seemed unbearable. Dwight reached back and touched the wound. A pain shot through his back, he winced and some tears escaped his eyes. “That stings something fierce,” he muttered to himself. Dwight moved away from the door and sat on a bale of hay. The barn looked as if it had been there for ages, and Dwight silently questioned its integrity to withstand an all out assault. It was large and old, and the summer heat made the place feel well over 100 degrees in temperature. The ceiling had holes at various spots that allowed for rays of sun to shine through, revealing floating dust and swaying cobwebs. Ladders lead up to the very top, where there was a single window that looked out on the wheat field outside. The wheat field, Dwight shuddered at the thought. The Thunderfist Battalion had previously responded to reports of German activity in Epa, a small farming town in Holland. It was only after the all clear that the devils sprung their trap. Dwight’s comrades fell under a blanket off bullets. Those left alive were either taken hostage or ran for the wheat fields. It was useless though. Lines of bullets mowed down soldier after soldier, until Dwight was the last man in his unit not captured or dead. Now he was trapped in an old dilapidated barn. He knew it wouldn’t be long before Germans crashed the place, and he’d be dead if he didn’t think fast. After concluding the ladders would support his weight, Dwight began to climb to the top of the barn. Once he was there he figured his luck had just turned. A dead German soldier lay sprawled out in front of the window, his sniper rifle still tucked to his shoulder. Dwight rolled the dead man off the top floor, and his body hit the ground like a sack of rocks. After cleaning blood from the rifle, Dwight put the scope up to his eyes. Perfect! He thought. The Germans were still a reasonable distance away. He took aim at the closest and pulled the trigger. Blood sprayed behind the soldier and he stumbled to the ground. When the soldier didn’t get up, Dwight set his aim on the next one and fired. The soldier fell backwards as if he had been clotheslined by an invisible wire. Dwight fixed his aim on the next German, but before he could fire he dropped the ground. The rest followed suit. Dang, thought Dwight. He quickly scanned the field, and shot at any slight movement. The hard breeze made it harder to pick out where his enemies were. Dwight caught a hint of grey against the yellow wheat and he fired. Pieces of rock flew up into the air as the bullet struck the rock. Before Dwight had time to aim again, a large explosion erupted in front of the barn door, blowing it open. Then a bullet hissed by his ear and struck the ceiling behind his head. Dwight ducked immediately. He crawled on his belly towards the ladder and made his way down. He had barely gotten a few rungs down before he spotted a grenade rolling into the barn. Dwight closed his eyes and held his breath. The grenade exploded, sending shrapnel throughout the barn, peppering the area with hot metal. When he opened the eyes, he could see the Germans filing in and screaming at him. Quickly he raced back up the ladder. Before he could get to the top a barn rat poked its head out of the rafters, spooking Dwight. He screamed, and jolted while holding the ladder. Suddenly it was standing on its two legs and slowly teetering. The Germans all stopped and watched in confusion. The ladder fell backwards. Dwight had enough sense to grab hold of a rafter as the ladder crashed to the ground. “HELP!” Screamed Dwight, tears streaming down his face. “Crud!” Yelled one of the boys. “Go get Dwight’s ma!” Yelled another. One of the boys ran out of the barn and back towards Dwight’s house. The rest of them grabbed the ladder to help, but it was broken. Dwight’s palms were sweaty and his breathing was short and labored. He looked around trying to find something he could grab. His grip slipped a bit and he screamed again. “Don’t let go Dwight!” His friend yelled. “You’re momma is coming don’t worry!” Yelled another. Dwight got a hold of the rafter and slowly pulled himself up. Once he was high enough, he swung his leg over it clung to the long piece of wood. As he did this, Dwight’s mother and older brother raced into the bar with one of the boys in tow, explaining what had happened. Dwight’s mother screamed and began to cry. She hurried the boys outside of the barn and his brother made his way to the tool bench. Dwight’s mother rushed back in. “What if the rafter breaks?” “It won’t break ma,” the brother said. “If it’s strong enough to hold the barn up, I think it can hold a 50-pound boy.” “I told them not the play their games up here,” she cried. “I knew this would happen!” “Hush ma.” “Oh Dale,” cried the mother. “Hurry!” “Dangit momma I am!” Yelled Dale. “Go get those boys.” Dale grabbed a long piece of rope. He tested the sturdiness as much as he could and then tied it into a noose. He looked up at Dwight. He could hear his little brother moaning and sniffling, adjusting his grip every time he slipped. Dale bit his bottom lip and swallowed his emotion. He knew if he was going to get his brother down he’d have to have ice in his veins. The boys’ mother came back with the boys and Dale motioned for them to follow him. “Three of you stay down here.” Dale said, as he and the other three climbed up the ladder. He tossed some rope down to the boys on the ground level. Then he swung and threw the rope up and over the rafter. “You boys down there grab that rope and hold tight!” “Dwight, you’re gonna have to get your foot on that loop and hold that rope,” Dale yelled. “We’ll lower you down.” “I can’t!” Dwight cried out. “Damnit, Dwight you’re gonna fall off if you don’t do as you’re told!” Dale shouted. “I can’t move Dale!” Dwight yelled back. “I’ll fall off if I do.” Dale breathed deeply and then looked back up at his brother. “C’mon Dwight, you can do this,” he yelled. “Just inch closer, nice and slow.” Dwight nodded and did as is brother told. The boys and his mother encouraged him along the way. The rope was within reach and Dwight grabbed it. On Dale’s instruction, the boys offered some slack, and Dwight slowly put his foot into the loop. They offered some more slack, but he wasn’t expecting it. The sudden drop surprised Dwight and caused him to wet himself. He began to cry. “Don’t worry about that Dwight!” Yelled Dale. “We won’t tell anyone.” Dwight nodded and slowly eased his body off the rafter and clung to the rope. Dale and the boys lowered the rope inch by inch until Dwight was safely on the ground. He ran to his weeping mother. “I’m sorry momma!” He cried into his mothers shoulder. “Don’t you ever play up here again!” She yelled at him. “You almost died today!” The hysterical mother held her son tighter. “You boys can go home,” Dale told them before joining his mother and brother in an embrace. The boys walked single file out of the barn. All were silent as they made their along the dirt path down the field and past the Mulberrys' house. They knew they wouldn’t be playing here for a long time. They also knew they wouldn’t be seeing Dwight for a long while, either. Just another casualty of War.