Creative writing task: “Manhunt” by Simon Armitage
I was on my third tour of duty in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The aim was to liberate the area from the Taliban but it was harder than we expected. It wasn’t like this fighting proper soldier, they would pop up anywhere and shoots at us plus the local people didn’t trust us so they wouldn’t help us at all. The Taliban are strong because the tactics they use are cowardly. They are also strong because the local people are so weak.
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The thin air heals a frigid tone in the night and a heavy breeze brought a sudden rush of coldness to my face. It was Christmas day and also was quite foggy outside and tonight we were being hunted. We were trying to have a quite Christmas. The army cook was going to make some dishes for us but not any special dishes we normally have on Christmas day like the Christmas ham, pork roast, Cornish hens etc. I was missing the crackers, Christmas hat, music and also was missing my families a lot. We were just trying to enjoy ourselves. However, every moment we had to rely on out instincts and just hope and pray that the enemy wouldn’t detect us.
This is how we spend our days. After having a bit of meal we had to go for training. The whole day we did endless training, marching, shooting practices, running, fitness test etc.Â I had to stay in a trench. The smell is unbearable, starting to make me feel ill. The trenches were the front line, the most dangerous places. The trenches were dug into the ground so that the infantry would have some protection from the enemy. Conditions in the trenches were horrendous.
The day after Christmas we were out on patrol in the local village. Villagers behaving very oddly, even the more friendly ones wouldn’t talk to us. As soon as they saw us they hurried into their houses. After spending the day in the village we went back to our trench.
After few hours as I looked up, I could feel and hear the roaring flames. The fire blaze and burned, creeping closer and closer to our trench. There was a cold malevolent air to it. The wind howling past us in every which way. I myself was confused for minutes. One minute the bullets were raining holy hell down on us in a never ending bombardment and the next nothing. No movement, no bullets, no people, no wind. It’s like they just vanished or they were never there, to begin with.
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A fog was rolling in, throwing us all into despair. We couldn’t fight if we couldn’t see. The fog was dense, so thick. And then suddenly, we were being mobbed, bullets pelting us, slaughtering us like sheep whilst we weren’t expecting it. Every time the bomb hits the ground, more fire is unleashed, spreading wildly. We should have known, but we didn’t and we paid for it dearly. Five of us already injured and two of us were already dead before we know what had happened. They were moaning and groaning. I could hear the screams of the dying men.I could tell that his life was slowly fading away.
The smell of blood hit me then, the adrenaline fading fast from my body and sudden pain in my chest. Suddenly the sounds of the guns going off and cannon fire stunning me briefly in its sudden intensity. My senses became hypersensitive. I could smell the blood, sweat and fear. I could feel the snow squelching beneath my feet, stopping me as I ran and all I could hear was the thump of my heartbeat, pounding deafeningly through my chest and head.
An aftermath of the attack people was shouting, screaming. There was no doubt that it was one of the most devasting and most brutal fights. After few minutes the helicopter whirring and coming down and lifted out on a stretcher and took the dead bodies and the one’s got injured and then flown away.
Life in the trenches was the worst life anyone could live and I am sure most people regretted being a soldier. Morale was good; after all, this is what we had been through all that training for. Some of the soldiers couldn’t wait to be allowed to fire off their weapon and shows the Taliban what we were made for. After the recovered I went home in real sense refers to a place of rest. The experience of war is something no soldier can escape.
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