image of ww1 soldiers

Image by Grégory ROOSE from Pixabay

Today is one of my milestone goals, I’ve completed 70k+ words for my work in progress, The Brittle Sea. On my self-imposed writing marathon I now have to complete over 1,000 words a day for the next 29 days to reach my target of 100,000 words. I may just about do it if I can up my game just a little, as I’m currently on an average of 681 words a day. But even so, with my current average I’ll manage a total of nearly 90,000 words. That will do nicely.

Currently I’m writing about my male protagonist’s fall into dark days. This is the prequel to a backdrop of the stage being set for even darker days for humanity, the onset of World War 1. See what you think from this taster:-


Verdun 1916
The November rain in 1916 was so bad, the mud turned to rivers of brown slime that brought with it the stench of death, where rotting corpses from previous engagements were resurrected by the slow flowing brown sludge. When darkness fell then the freezing conditions made the mud underfoot as hard as steel, or so the German troops felt, as they stood in their trenches trying to keep warm and at the same trying not to make a sound. If anyone could have managed to view the trenches from on high they would see a pall of steam rising up but quickly evaporating, even in such cold conditions.

The cracking of ice under his footsteps made Captain Peter Asparov wince as he walked past his men in the early hours of the morning. He just hoped the enemy, in their own trenches less than 500 metres away, could not hear him as he walked past his men, silently clapping them on the back and offering whispered words of encouragement. His entourage of NCOs mouthed words of encouragement where needed and knuckles were wrapped with sticks where harsher encouragement was required.

It was almost 01:20 and the High Command in their wisdom, decided that a push in this sector, in the early hours, would be a good idea. Madness, all is madness. Here I am freezing my nuts off carrying out insane orders for a crazy German at high command.

But Asparov still walked slowly down the long trench, his duty to his men overcoming any misgivings he may have had. He watched the dark twinkling of his men’s frightened eyes, fear shone out from those ghostly faces and this, mixed with the stench of rotting flesh, gave an unworldly feel to the whole scenario. All soldiers on both sides felt this fear, could almost taste it, before they went over the top. However, Peter decided long ago that he was not a soldier, he was a scholar, a student of history. He knew this area in France, this pile of mud, shit and dead bodies had seen death many times since the days of Attila the Hun. The remains of soldiers from many centuries ago lay in what was left of this farmland, soldiers whose countries he had never heard of and whose mothers would never see their sons return home.


Extracted from The Brittle Sea – You can read free chapters by clicking here.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019

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