Two Weeks at St. Julien
Double cigarette rations today. Saunders was disciplined for giving meat scraps to a stray dog. We’ve had no rain in two days.
It came again last night. Sergeant Murphy saw a black shadow hanging around the stones fifty yards to the west. He fired a few rounds and it seemed to withdraw, but returned two hours later. Someone heard a knocking and a patrol was sent to check on the sentries, but it was too late. Inver was disembowled and poor Johnny couldn’t be found anywhere. I think it made off with him.
Slept fitfully. Dreams are worse than the trenches. I am being chased by the shadow thing. I am startled awake. Is that a knocking? I grab my rifle and peer outside but there’s nothing there. Something has to be done.
I heard the voice again, while I was saying my prayers last night. I thought it was my imagination at first, but someone was whispering to me from the cracks in the dry earth floor of the dugout. Telling me of the one who hears everything, who is always with us. Telling me of a glorious kingdom coming, once the sleepers have awakened. Telling me that the earth hungers. It is hungry, so hungry.
And it taught me things. It said that it all forms a pattern! The roots of the dying trees, the cracks of the earth, the meter of the whispers. All things work together for the good of those called according to his purpose. He is gnawing, so hungry. Find your place in the pattern, it said, and taste that which he devours. Some day it will all be gone, all part of the coming kingdom.
Do you think this is God protecting me, Mary? Is that why I have been spared the fate of so many others. My head hurts from the sound of shelling and trying to understand it all. Pray for me and make sure the children are eating well.
J. Camden Forsythe