Chapter 23:

Round 1, Match 8: Ayenne vs TheDUCK. TheDUCK:

Community Sudden Fiction Tournament Arc

Round 1, Match 8: Ayenne vs TheDUCK.

Prompt: Animal Kingdom

Participant: TheDUCK (

I was seated at the ground, my back against the trench wall. It was dark there, and there wasn’t much space. It was cold and umid and crowded and infested with rodents and... it was hell.

At the command post, a few hundred meters from here, the imperial German flag was raised, as tarnished as the men who ruled it, as the men who fought for it, as it’s enemies, and even more than that: as the world.

I had just received my military ration. It was, once again, not much, and barely attended to my needs at all.

Soon enough, the commander was shouting orders.

“We will assault the enemy position. If we manage to infiltrate it, we might manage a large-scale breakthrough through the enemy lines,” he said, but we had done this multiple times to no avail.

I turned to the soldier at my right, whose name I had already forgot, and didn’t care enough to remember, and asked without expecting any new or decent answer:

“Should we really be doing this?”

He didn’t reply, so I poked him at the shoulder to gain his attention. At that moment I realized it was a dead body, so I turned to the other side and asked the same question.

“Orders are orders” the man at my left replied immediately, without trying to think much about it.

Was he right? I didn’t know. Why did we have to obey orders anyway? There wasn’t anything more valuable to us to do than fight this war?

Obeying orders that didn’t make sense for us anymore, doing what our masters say just because these are their orders, without gaining anything from it. Isn’t this how animals act?

I felt the urge to ask the man if he thinks that the two of us are animals, but I figured out it would be better to not do this.

Well, it’s not like I really had any wish at this point, they all were taken from me by this war, so I think I might really be something akin to an animal right now.

I stood up a little bit, to look towards the trench we soon would be assaulted. There were a few soldiers whose helmets I could see, but they were undoubtedly only a small portion of the enemies. Between the trench I was in and the enemy one, there was a wasteland, full of decaying corpses and blood.

Nothing different from the normal.
At least at a first look.
Because I soon noticed something very odd in the middle of all of this.
It was a dog, a dog in the middle of this decadent sight.
He was skinny, and seemed to search for food in the dead bodies. He might be one of

those war dogs that carried messages and everything, but by the look of it, he probably was abandoned to death.

I wonder if he had any choice in this.
Did he want to serve here? Or was he ‘just obeying orders’?
Well, he’s not a proud member of any ‘grandiose nation’, and I don’t think dogs have

anything to gain with this war, so it’s probably the latter.
I stepped down, in fear of being shot, and looked at my ration.
I still hadn’t eaten it, although I was hungry. I opened it and found out that fortunately

today we had received a small portion of meat. At that moment, I made up my mind.

After what seemed like not more than two hours, the assault started. After an intense artillery barrage at the enemy, I, together with thousands of other soldiers, left the trench and started running through the wasteland.

I would normally try to be one of the last to start their charge but, today, it was different, so I ran with only around two layers of men in front of me, given that being in their position was an almost guaranteed death.

I didn’t fire a single shot as I ran, after all, I had left my rifle behind me, and instead carried the portion of meat from my ration with me.

As the people around me fought each other like animals, under the flags of their countries made up of violent, blind animals, who cannot think for themselves and find the beauty in life, I reached towards the dog, who luckily was still around the same place he was before.

I laid down and gave him the meat, which he ate in less than a minute, and took him by my arms.

I feared he would act violently against me, but he was too weak to do anything like this, so I started to run back to my trench.

I was tired, and sweat was running down my body. Shots which were blindly fired passed right through my side, and mud accumulated in my legs. But I didn’t stop.

This dog only wanted to live his life, a dog, who was more intelligent than animals like us, and who only wanted to live a nice life, and us, dirty and filthy humans, the true animals of this story, weren’t allowing him.

A pain suddenly spread through my body, and blood started to spill out. It seemed like I had been shot.

I fell to the ground and let go of the dog, who started to run by himself towards the same direction I was going.

Oh, you dog, please be free from all of this.
Forget about the terrible realm of the humans, and be happy in the animal kingdom. Please. 


Judge's Feedback

znf: Ending has a few phrasing issues I probably would've changed. Too much static narration but otherwise the story is fine. A bit skimping on really catering to the prompt though.

OscarHM: Very interesting interpretation of the prompt. The idea that war reduces people to less than human isn’t unique, but choosing world war 1 and specifically the German army as your setting is a very interesting choice given the prompt. A military kingdom designed for nothing but war could be seen as animalistic, a bit like an invasive species that will raise the land. I think it might’ve been interesting to set this on the eastern front so that it could’ve been kingdom vs kingdom. The dialogue and wording could use a bit of work, everything feels a tad too long. Not in a way that makes things unreadable but it just bogs things down a little bit and could be easily fixed with some rephrasing. Good job.

otkrlj: Liked the story. felt a bit dull at times with the narration, almost like reading a textbook. despite that, you had a good premise, and the story aspect was well made. Also, you do a good job filling in the reader on whats going on without shoving it into their face.

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