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 by Frank Wu




Mazzini stared out at the crowd, carefully examining each of the four hundred soldiers crammed into the mess tent. He stood perfectly still, only his eyes moving. 

"What's he doing?" Paolo asked.

"Seeing if there's anyone here who outranks him," Aroldo whispered. 

Suddenly, Mazzini started sweeping back and forth across the front of the stage.  The soldiers continued to file in, taking their seats.  Of the Futurists, only Mazzini was moving.  The others lay still on a stage made from tables lashed together.  Behind Mazzini hung banners proclaiming: Sing of the Multi-Colored, Polyphonic Tides of Revolution!  Sing of the Vibrant Nightly Fervor of Arsenals! 

“He’s not what I expected my commanding officer to be like,” Paolo whispered.

Aroldo looked Paolo in the eyes.  He spoke in low tones only Paolo could hear.  “You have to understand that almost all the officers in this Army are insane.  How can you oversee the systematic destruction of whole battalions and not be?  But they’re all insane in different ways.  There’s no one quite like Mazzini.”

"Welcome to our Futurist evening!"  Mazzini opened his arms wide to the audience.  The men greeted Mazzini with polite applause befitting the lieutenant's rank.  Then Mazzini shouted: "I have heard that it is pointless to demonstrate a steam engine to a cow!  Let’s see if it’s also pointless to reveal the Future to my audience of imbeciles and slaves to pedantry!" 

The men murmured among themselves.  Why had he said that? Paolo wondered.  Some men laughed hopefully, thinking it a comedic skit.

"Slaves and imbeciles!" Mazzini repeated.

"The Colonel must not be here," Aroldo whispered.

Paolo said, "Wouldn't it be easier to explain Futurism without the shouting and insults?"

“When he goes into town,” Matteo said, “the girls find it terribly amusing.”

Paolo started to say, “But don’t you think---”

Gino said, without discernible sarcasm, "Actually, deep inside, he's really a quiet fellow." 

"Do you not know you are all enslaved by putrefied traditions?" Mazzini shouted at the audience.  "Why not throw off the yoke?  Tonight I will liberate you with art and music and philosophies which will break down the mysterious doors of the impossible!  Tell me!  What are the greatest works of art created by our countrymen?"

The Mona Lisa, one soldier said.  The birth of Venus, offered another.  Michelangelo's David, said a third.

"You all wear the same uniforms, you all march to the same drum.  But must you all think the same thoughts?  Why do you all suffer from terminal necrophilia?  Can you not think of any great Italian art created in the last century, the last decade, the last year?  What can a moldy, smelly four-hundred-year-old painting teach the modern man?  These traditional forms should be mocked and then forgotten!  Lifeless portraits of lifeless people!  Academic nudes standing coyly, half-robed!  Are these supposed to be exciting?  And still-lifes!  Especially still lifes!  To paint a motionless flower pot in static isolation is to deny the knowledge of the persistence of the image on the retina!  To deny the revelations of the X-Ray!" 

Ugo ripped aside a curtain to unveil a painting. 

Mazzini looked out onto the soulless soldiers, men who were daily and hourly told what to shovel, where to stand, what to scrub and polish and move and stack, and these men who were more like cows looked upon this monstrosity, this enigma, this utterly foreign thing, with complete and silent incomprehension.

"Behold!  I give you a canvas for modern times!  Behold the compenetrating planes of force, the crossfire of energy!"

From his position on the floor, Paolo craned his neck to look up at Mazzini's painting.

It was an abstract painting of a rifleman charging on horseback.  But much more than that!  The horse was a cascading tumult of brushstrokes from nostril to fetlock, the chest lost in a riot of hooves.  Not just four hooves, but dozens of hooves layered on top of each other, a confusion of V- and U-shapes trampling the earth and each other as if the horse had a hundred legs.  And the rifleman?  His face was horrid, Paolo thought.  He imagined a bric-a-brac bust of Napoleon, dashed against the floor.  The floor and the air itself were fragmented by the impact, the shards jumbled up, reassembled, and shattered again.  Then, as the horror of the face wore off, Paolo realized that the painting was doing another thing to him.  It was assaulting him, insulting him.  Not with an oafish, obvious depiction of a raised finger, but with color.  He realized in that instant that, in his whole life as a soldier, his eye had been dulled by monotonous earthtones: olive drab uniforms, beige tents, slushy grays splattered over guns melting into the mud.  But now!  In this painting he saw a pandemonium of colors, solar yellows, enormous greens, ridiculous blues!  Crisp red, purples, fuscias, bickering with each other, screaming at him, lashing out, each brushstroke a violent blow to the canvas, each demanding his utmost attention.  The colors were rude, disruptive, and yet exhilarating!  The colors made him feel alive, and at that moment he knew why he became a Futurist.  

"When we paint a form, we must render the whole of the surrounding atmosphere," Mazzini explained.  "Our faces penetrate the wind we breathe!  The wind penetrates our faces!  Is this not a dynamic gesture of beauty?" 

A man in the audience stood up, shouting, "It’s a more beautiful gesture... when you put down your brush than when you pick it up!”

"What do you know of beauty?  If you cannot see the superiority of our work, you, too are nothing but a vulgar, banal, besotted, mediocre ignoramus wallowing in pedantry!  Now..." Mazzini said and then paused a choreographed pause, and said, "What do the rest of you imbeciles think?"

Then, for the first time that evening, Mazzini shut his mouth. 

The enlisted men answered back with insults and curses.  And thrown spaghetti.

Mazzini laughed as the strands struck his shirt. 

“Pedantry!  Pedantry!  Feed me with your pedantry!”  Then he opened his mouth wide.  As the noodles struck his lips, he gobbled them up with glee.

“What does he mean by ‘pedantry’?” Paolo asked Carlo.

“I don’t know,” Carlo said. 

Carlo looked at Gino, who shrugged and said, “I think it means, like, when you hang someone around your neck like a jewel.”

One soldier let out a harsh, high-pitched whistle.

"You see these men lying here on the stage?" Mazzini pointed down at Paolo and the other Futurists. 

"These are the passeists!"  With that cue, Paolo, Aroldo and the others began wiggling around the stage.  "These are the gouty academic mealy worms who know everything about rules and meters and nothing about passion!  They kill and sterilize anything clever or witty or original.  And you, my friends, are no better than them!"  

"I know good art when I see it, and yours isn't it!" the whistling soldier shouted to general agreement.

"I suppose you think you know something about music, too!" Mazzini shouted back.

"I am a cultured man!" the soldier said.  "We differ in that way!"

Mazzini lifted Paolo off the stage, sat him on a stool, and handed him Nina’s guitar.

"What do you want me to do?" Paolo asked.

"Play that Bach piece again," Mazzini said to Paolo.

"I thought you hated it, sir," Paolo replied.

"I do," Mazzini said with a wink.  Turning back to the audience, Mazzini shouted, "Tell me what you think of this!"

Just as the men prepared to insult Mazzini again, the Lieutenant threw them off balance.  They fell silent as the playful chords of Bach's Bourrée wafted into the air from Paolo's fingertips. 

"Now that's good music!" the whistling soldier shouted.

“Good music?  Good music?”  Mazzini turned red and waved his arm violently for Paolo to stop playing.  "I will show you good music!" Mazzini shouted.  "I will show you good music!"  Turning to Aroldo and the others lying on the stage, he said, "Get up!  Get up!  All of you!  You must play for them your composition!"

“Lieutenant, are you sure you want---” Aroldo began to say.

“The noise organs!  The noise organs!” Mazzini demanded.  “Yes!  Yes!”

“If you insist, sir,” Aroldo said.

Aroldo and all the Futurists except for Mazzini and Paolo rushed about the stage, pulling tarps off noise organs of different sizes.  Paolo could see Aroldo nervously glancing back and forth between the organs and the restless audience. 

A thrown potato smacked against Carlo's temple, so the lieutenant turned to the audience and shouted, "Instead of vegetables, why don’t you toss out some fresh ideas?”

The soldier whistled again.

Mazzini said to him, "There is a crack in your head and the wind rushes through it."

The jokes won the Futurists a small reprieve from the shower of insults and spaghetti.  Mazzini, conductor's baton in hand, gave the signal to begin. 

Carlo, Gino and Matteo each stood behind a noise organ.  At Mazzini's signal they sounded them forth in unison:






Then, just as suddenly, the noise organs were silent in a general pause.  One beat later, the noise organs blared forth again in unison:






The stage again fell silent, except for a wheezing sound, as Aroldo turned the crank of a sibilator noise organ, slowly, haltingly.

Paolo found the wheezing unlistenable. 

Slowly the sound grew more rhythmic.

Then other instruments joined in: a rumbler, a thumper, a rustler.  The players changed the pitch and volume of each noise organ seemingly at random, like an orchestra tuning up.  The coordination demonstrated at the beginning of the piece was completely absent.  

"Declamato!" Mazzini shouted at Carlo. 

"Have mercy, please!" the whistling man shouted.  "What have we done to deserve such punishment?"

"Trionfante!" he shouted at Gino.  "Grandioso!" he shouted at Matteo, who crinkled his noise, as if wondering how to make rustling sound more grandiose.

Now the noise organs were all rising and falling in tone to the same lilting rhythm, accenting the same downbeats.

Ah, this is at least listenable, Paolo thought.

Then he realized that there was more to it than that.  Aroldo's composition was not a formless swirl of unorchestrated sounds.  Aroldo had chosen his noise organs to give a full sound, an ulalator replacing the violins, a rumbler providing the bass.  One portion of the composition was a lively dance, in 2/4 time.  Another was a stately dance with what appeared to be two reprises, in slow tempo and triple time.  As he analyzed the music, Paolo realized that motives were being repeated, and when the tempo changed again, Paolo made a remarkable realization.  Aroldo’s composition was progressing through the movements of the classical suite-- prelude, allemande, courante, saraband and, finally, gigue!  He was using traditional forms, but employing crashing sounds, grinding sounds, explosions.  Was this meant to be a commentary?  Or a mockery, translating traditional pomposity from cello and oboe to rumbler and crackler?

As Paolo contemplated this, a soldier yelled, "Let the boy play more Bach!"

"My three-year-old son knows more about music than you do!"

Paolo wanted to stand up and defend Aroldo’s music.  Perhaps he alone understood how clever it was.  Mazzini didn’t even recognize a well-known Bach piece, although he pretended to.  He probably also had no knowledge of the classical suite.

As Paolo was deciding if he would speak out, Mazzini came onto the stage.  Mazzini waved his arms for Aroldo and the others to stop playing.

"We have shown you tonight a new kind of painting!  Now we have shown you a modern music for a modern--"

"I'd rather live in the past!"

"--age!  No more will your ear we lulled into boredom with sound of the violin, but rallied with the sound of motor--"

"I'd rather live in the past!"

"--tractor!  Not stupefied by clarinets, but energized by the sound of the water-cooled machine gun!"

"I would rather be stupefied by that boy playing Bach than listen to your Futurist trash and your childish philosophizing!" the whistling soldier shouted.  "Beauty!  Hah!  Your stupid Cubist artwork!”

“We are not Cubists!” Mazzini shouted.  “You don’t even know the difference!”

Paolo asked Aroldo, “What’s a Cubist?”

Aroldo said, “I’ll tell you later,” as Mazzini shouted again, “We are not Cubists!  We are not fucking Cubists!”  As Mazzini shouted this, for the first time, he thought that Mazzini was truly angry, no longer pretending as part of the art.  “Picasso can go to hell!  We are Futurists, damn it, Futurists!” 

“Cubist?  Futurist?  What’s the difference?  It’s all ugly, rude and childish horseshit!"  He stood up on a table and turned his back to Mazzini.  Facing the audience, he shouted, “Look!  I’m a Cubist musician!” and then bent over and blew air in the Lieutenant’s direction.

With that, Mazzini flew into a rage. 

Paolo saw Mazzini's huge, knobby hands rushing toward him. 

Then Paolo realized Mazzini wasn't reaching for him.

He was reaching for the guitar, which he seized from Paolo's fumbling hands and held high over his own head.

"Not my guitar!" Paolo shouted.

Mazzini said to Paolo, "We must all make sacrifices in wartime!"  Turning to the audience, the lieutenant proclaimed, "This is the sound of centuries of musical history destroyed in a moment!"

Then he smashed Paolo’s guitar against the edge of the stage.  The wood splintered, strings snapped, shards of bracing spun into the air, and Carlo sounded an exploder: Pow!  Pow!  Pow!

Then Mazzini kicked the stool out from under Paolo, throwing him to the floor.  As Paolo pretended to try to wiggle away, Mazzini pretended to kick him. 

This part of the act touched off the riot.

A man, not knowing the brawl was preplanned, leapt onto the stage to protect Paolo and punched Mazzini in the jaw.  Mazzini shoved the man, who fell into the front row.  More fists were thrown, more men rushed to try to tackle Mazzini's substantial mass to the ground.  Aroldo signaled to Carlo, Gino, and Matteo to hurry the noise organs away.

"You see, we really don't appreciate your work!" the whistling soldier screamed as he tried to punch Mazzini's stomach, a very large target.

"I know you actually love it!" Mazzini said, slapping and spitting.  "You are just too embarrassed by your own inferiority to admit it!" 

Mazzini threw the man down with such force that Paolo feared his head would be smashed to bits. 

By this time, the brawl had spread throughout the entire tent.  The audience was a blur of kicking and thrashing.  Spaghetti was thrown liberally.

"Now don't you regret insulting us?" a man demanded from Mazzini.

In the middle of the melee, Aroldo came to Paolo with a terrified look and shouted, "He's coming!  He's coming!"

"Oh no!" Mazzini shouted.  "You should be proud to be the first insulted!  Tomorrow I insult other battalions, other divisions, until I have insulted the entire army!"

Paolo was gathering shattered pieces of the guitar as spaghetti flew over his head.  "Who's coming?"

"Colonel De Pisis!"

The Colonel had chosen that moment, at the height of the riot, to enter the tent.  He rode into the midst of the fighting on his horse, a great white steed twenty-one hands tall.  As the horse's hooves pounded the dirt floor of the tent and overturned a table, the Colonel held his revolver in the air and fired it three times, straight through the fabric roof of the tent.

The men jerked to attention, quickly wiping the blood from their faces and forming lines among the overturned tables.

When the men finished re-ordering themselves, the Colonel dismounted and started walking toward the troops. 

At the door to the tent stood several soldiers, each carrying a short-barreled rifle and wearing a wide black hat.  Each hat was decorated with an enormous plume, the bottom half of which was blue, the top half red. 

Paolo did not recognize the uniforms, so he mumbled, "Who's that?"

"Those are carabinieri," Matteo whispered.  "They shoot cowards and traitors.  Shhh!"

"Who?  C--?" Paolo said.


The Colonel was coming toward them.

"Don't let them scare you," Carlo said, under his breath.  "For such big men, they've got really small---"


The Colonel came near and shouted at Paolo, "What are you looking at, soldier?"

Paolo trembled at the man's rank and said in all seriousness, "I was, uh, admiring the professionalism of your, uh, calamari, sir."

Matteo winced. 

The Colonel said, "Hm," and carefully looked over Paolo's uniform.  The pocket of Paolo's shirt dangled only by a few threads.  The Colonel raised his hand, and Paolo braced to be slapped.  Then Colonel caught the pocket between two fingers and tore it off with a snap of the wrist. 

Then the Colonel continued down the line.

As soon as he was out of earshot, Carlo said, "Guns."

"Lieutenant Ugo Mazzini," the Colonel said solemnly.  "What have you done here?"

Mazzini stood absolutely stiffly, his eyes pointed forward, his chest thrust out, the model of military dignity.  "Sir, I have entertained the troops as you requested!" 

De Pisis placed his face next to Mazzini's cheek.  "And incited a riot in the process!" the Colonel said.  "You have single-handedly destroyed all discipline, all order.”

Although he knew he was supposed to only look forward, he stole glances to see if Mazzini would blink or flinch as the Colonel berated him.  He did not.  In fact, as the Colonel spoke, the tiniest of imperceptible grins seemed to appear on his face. 

“You have caused my men to fight among themselves, instead of against the enemy,” the Colonel said.  Then he smiled.  “Do you know what you have really done, Lieutenant?”

“I do not understand what you mean, sir.”

“I will tell you, Lieutenant Ugo Mazzini, what you have really done.  You have done all I had hoped for, and more.  Before tonight, these men were a listless and retched band of soldiers.  Their hearts had stopped pumping, their blood congealing in their veins.  They were ineffectual and demoralized automatons, incapable of fighting, incapable of doing anything but whine.  Tonight I have seen these men more energetic and excited than ever before!  Wonderful!  Now they are ready to fight!  And they are ready to win, because at dawn tomorrow we will attack the Austrians!"

Suddenly the guitar did not seem very important to Paolo anymore.

They would soon be making other sacrifices.


The time was three-thirty in the morning, and the whispered voices of Aroldo, Matteo, Carlo, and Paolo moved through the darkness of the trench.  The voices were accompanied by the smell of oil and the sounds of scraping and squeaking of 10.4-mm rifles being cleaned and loaded.

Occasionally a shell exploded, and Paolo flinched every time.

"Those are nothing, just for fun, like firecrackers," Aroldo said.  "The major bombardment will not begin for a little while yet.  We've amassed twelve hundred guns, six times what we had a few months ago."

"Are Futurist evenings usually like..." Paolo asked.  "Was last night typical?"

"It was pretty mild," Aroldo said.  "The audience isn’t usually so patient.  You got some sleep, didn't you?"

"A little," Paolo said.

"Good.  Mazzini had us up all night polishing pipes.  I think he views these battles as interruptions in our work.  But now we have to prepare to fight."

“I have a couple questions, though,” Paolo said.  “I mean, what...”  He lowered his voice, in case his question might embarass him.  “Well, what is the difference between a Cubist and a Futurist?” 

“Well, that’s a little hard to explain,” Aroldo said.  “A Cubist is, um...”

“A Cubist?” Carlo shouted.  “This is a Cubist!”  He sat up quickly on a sandbag, tensing his neck, his expression completely blank.  Elbows at his waist, his arms and legs were rigid and bent at precise right angles, as if he were made of steel posts and joints.  He snapped one arm straight out in front of him, as if he were mechanical, and then drew a stairstep in the air with his straight fingers.  Then he drew a stairstep going down, like a ziggurat placed squarely in front of him.  “Not much fun, huh?  Now, this is a Futurist.”

He sprang up, leaping into the air.  When he landed, his feet were apart, his chest bent, almost parallel to the ground, his hands formed into fists.  He looked as if he might run or kick or punch out in the next moment.  Then he leapt into the air again, and, upon landing, switched his feet to the other direction.  He lashed out with a hand, slicing through the air, back and forth, and then back and forth again.  “That’s Futurism,” he said, smiling proudly at all the soldiers staring in bewilderment at him.

“You are the weirdest person I know,” Mateo said, “much weirder than Mazzini.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for your attention,” Carlo said, waved, and sat down.

Aroldo shook his head and turned away.  Paolo glanced around, but no one was speaking. 

“That wasn’t terribly enlightening,” Paolo mumbled. 

For a long time, no one said anything. 

Paolo thought about where he was.  Some of the soldiers smiled quietly to themselves, amused by Carlo’s antics.  Somehow they just made Paolo sad.  He thought, if Giannina had done what Carlo had done, I would have laughed, mainly because it would have been so uncharacteristic of her.  He thought about how far away she was, and how he wished he were with her, and not lunatics like Carlo.  He thought of the Isonzo River, which ran parallel to the trenches, far behind their lines.  He thought of the plains ahead of him, and beyond them, the Austrian guns pointed at him.  He wished he could run away, away from the Austrian guns, towards the Isonzo.  He wished he could jump into the river, and let it sweep him away... toward home.  As the dawn approached, the sky filled with light, and Paolo saw his fellow soldiers more clearly, scurrying in the trenches, and he thought they looked like rats.  Trapped in a cage, or a maze.  Doomed. 


The Colonel rode up on his stallion to survey the troops.  It was the same horse he had ridden into the tent the night before, but Paolo had not had a good look at it.  Paolo imagined that it was descended from those massive beasts bred in the thirteenth century to gallop at full speed, with armored face and ironclad breast, heraldic imagery swirling about the hooves, bearing the man-at-arms nobly into battle.  This was a horse befitting an Italian Colonel!

Mazzini rode behind the Colonel on a small brown horse that did not hold Paolo's attention.

Without dismounting, Mazzini leaned down to say to Paolo, "I am truly, deeply sorry about what I did to your guitar.”  His voice was surprisingly sheepish.  “I didn’t know it was a gift from your girl.  I don’t know what got into me.  Sometimes I do these things."  Then Mazzini handed Paolo a wrapped package about twenty-five centimeters across.  "I’m sorry.  I hope this makes up for it." 

“Thank you, sir,” Paolo said.

Then, suddenly, explosively, Mazzini was shouting again: “Today you will become a hero!”

“I will?” Paolo said.

"Mazzini!" the Colonel called.  "Come here!"

"Remember that honesty and individuality are the gods that march before us!" Mazzini said and rode off. 

Paolo opened the package and was surprised to find a miniature noise organ in his hand.  "Why did he give this to me?" he asked.

"Strap it on your back," Aroldo said, turning to demonstrate the portable noise organ sitting atop his backpack.  "You see that cord dangling down from it?  Tie that around your ankle.  It will free your hands from cranking."

"Why...?" Paolo asked.

Matteo answered.  "Musical instruments have long been brought into battles.  Drums, bugles, and fifes...  Remember when ram's horn trumpets brought down the walls of..." 

Carlo shouted, imitating Mazzini’s inflections, "Today these modern instruments will sound forth the Futurist victory!"

Now all Paolo and the other Futurists had to do was wait.  Other than the noise organs, they had brought no artistic implements to entertain themselves.  They could have made a symphony, but instead they chose to wait.  And wait.  Wait for the shelling to begin.  Wait for the men in the forward trench to attack first.  Wait for their signal to charge.  Wait for 500 rounds a minute of Austrian bullets to lacerate the air around him. 

They waited.

And waited.

Paolo wanted to play his guitar, but of course he couldn’t.  He considered playing the miniature noise organ, but only for a moment.  It was no substitute.  Why had he let Mazzini take the guitar from his hands?  Why didn’t he hold onto it tighter?  It was in his hands one moment, safe and loved, and then the next moment, it was smashed to pieces.  Why?  And what had Mazzini done that?  He didn’t understand.

How was he going to explain this to Nina when he went home to her?

He thought of their last day together, before he enlisted.  They had gone for a long walk among the sun-scorched rocks in the hill overlooking their little fishing village.  The town seemed so small and vulnerable, sandwiched between the uninhabitable rocks and the inhospitable sea.  It clung to the land, as fragile as a paper wasp’s nest that might be dislodged by a strong wind or a round woman with a long broomstick.

The sky had never seemed so warm, so blue, so expansive.  Giannina’s hair sparkled like tinsel, splitting the sunlight into shards and planes.

“Isn’t this romantic?” he asked her.

She responded, “What do you think about getting married?”

He was so startled by the question that he nearly fell down the hill and tumbled into the sea.

With the patience of a mother speaking to an incompetent child, she asked him again.  “What do you think about marriage?”

He turned away from her, closing his eyes.  The sun was warm on his eyelids.  He wished he could pluck the words from the air and stuff them back into her mouth. 

Why would she want to marry me? he wondered.  I am a simple man, the son of a simple man.  A baker.  What honor could I bring to her? 

Paolo had long thought that a man did not marry just a woman, but he married into a family.  Nina’s father had been a Colonel in Somalia.  Her grandfather had distinguished himself in battles against the Prussians during the civil war.

How could he compete with that legacy?


He did not answer.

For a moment he toyed with the idea of asking her right there, on the rocks, to marry him. 

Then he thought: What if she said no?  Was her question just a prelude to telling him that she didn’t want him anymore?  That he wasn’t worthy?

Why would she choose him?

The other boys in town-- the pretty boys, the popular boys-- had already gone off to enlist.  When they returned with their ribbons and medals, how could he compete?

Paolo took Giannina by the hand and looked her straight in the eye and said, “I will marry you when I come back from the war.  You will be so proud of me, with medals on my chest and stars on my collar.”

When she started to cry, he said, “I’ll miss you, too.  We won’t be apart that long.  The war can’t last much longer.  The Germans and Austrians are nearly exhausted now.”

She said, “But what if you--”

“Don’t worry about that,” Paolo said.  “I don’t worry about it.  What I worry about is that the war will be over too quickly.  I won’t have a chance to win any decorations.”

As he lay in the trench, waiting for the shelling to begin, waiting for the signal to charge, he thought, Today, Nina, today I will make you proud.  You will be so proud when I come back to you. Yes, yes, yes, that’s what I’ll do.  That’s it.

Suddenly the memory of Nina seemed thousands of miles away, and he found himself screaming, thrusting his face into the mud at the bottom of the trench, ramming his fingertips into his ears, as the artillery barrage sounded, the Italian siege cannons blowing their enemies into tiny pieces, zang tum tuumb zang tum tuuumb, round after round, 100 pound shells, 16 pound shells, 200 pound shells, and the ground shook under him, and the stench of gunpowder burned the insides of his nostrils, and clods of dirt thrown up by explosions rained back down on him, and he screamed out Nina's name, and then suddenly it was quiet and he knew the attack would begin in moments.


PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4

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