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“How long you been here, Abbott?” “What is it now, April? ‘17? Ah, think this is my 30th month. Yeah, sounds right. Got in my first foxhole in October ‘14,” Abbott was now inspecting his dirtied, chipped Lee-Enfield. “I’ve only been ‘ere three weeks. Hopefully, I’ll make it to the end,” Jacobson smiled. “Here comes the Major,” Abbott hopped down from the fire step. “Gather round, men! Gather round!” the Major called up and down the lines. “Men, we’ll be going over the top tomorrow. Our men have been perfecting new artillery tactics far down the line, and they’ve come up with something they call a creeping barrage. Supposed to keep those MG’s off us while we cross the fields, and keep Fritz in his trench, too. Anyhow, write your letters home, get right with God. We go over the top in the morning.” It began to rain. “You ever been over the top, Abbott?” Jacobson gnawed on the remains of a biscuit. “Let me see that,” Abbott grabbed the rock-solid biscuit and beat it with the butt of his rifle, cracking it. He handed it back to Jacobson. “Only twice. It’s not too common, ‘specially when we’re deadlocked like this. “Why not?” Jacobson bit hard into the biscuit. “Those god-awful machine guns they’ve got wreak havoc on our advances. When I first got in, we were sending older groups over the top every week but didn’t take too long ‘fore command realized the cost of it all,” Abbott stared blankly into the dark clouds passing over the trench. “What was it like?” Jacobson asked. “What? Going over the top?” “Yeah. Scary, was it?” “‘Course it was. You and everyone you know climb over the top, crawl through the barbed wire, charge across an open field littered with corpses of men you used to know. All this while gettin’ shot at? I’d pass if I could,” Abbott was still focused on the clouds. It began to storm. A young man, no older than 18, sprinted down the trenches yelling as loud as he could. “Into yer dugouts! Shells coming down the line! Shells coming down the line! Shells coming down the line!” the boy kept sprinting, and his voice trailed away, only to be followed by the all-too-familiar sounds of 105mm shells crashing into the earth. Abbott and Jacobson sprinted for the nearest dugout along with the rest of the trench. Every shell slammed into the dirt, sending dozens of pounds of dust, shrapnel, and explosives in all directions. “Wait for me! Wait! I’m coming!” shouted a faint voice down the line. Jacobson leaned out of the dugout to see another young man hurdling over boxes and debris, desperately running for the dugout.

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