Posted in Flash Fiction

When Idleness Can Be The Death Of You

This week’s challenge from Trifecta was to write a piece between 33 – 333 words around this definition of ‘Idle’ – a) shiftless, lazy; b) having no evident lawful means of support.
I went for – shiftless, lazy – with this 310 word story.

g3cs4s1What War?

“What are you two idle sods up to now?”

“Nothing Sarge!” shouted Jimmy above the howling wind. “Just taking a breather to warm our hands.”

His exaggerated gesture of rubbing his hands together and blowing into them was lost on the Sergeant Major.

“Don’t get lippy with me Smith. Work harder and your hands will soon warm up. Now get a move on. I want that bloody trench dug before it gets dark.”

“Yes Sarge!” said Jimmy as the Sergeant Major moved further down the line dishing out abuse to all and sundry.

“Daft sod,” said Jimmy’s companion, “What’s he playing at getting us digging holes in this lousy weather? What we doing here Jimmy? I never signed up to dig bloody holes in some poxy field in France.”

“Couldn’t agree more Sammy,” replied Jimmy. “If you ask me it’s just some daft idea the top brass have dreamt up to keep us busy. All this talk of enemy troops is bullshit. We haven’t seen a soul in weeks.”

“Yeah, you watch, once we’ve dug these bloody trenches some baby-faced Major is going to come along and tell us to fill them all in again. I’m having a fag, what about you?”

“Good idea mate. I’ve also got a small drop of something in my flask that’ll help keep us warm.”

While the rest of the patrol continued to dig furiously, Jimmy and Sammy leaned on their spades, backs to the wind, enjoying what was to be their last cigarette.

The first shell landed 50 yards away. All around them men dived into the safety of their freshly dug trenches.

When the attack was over the bodies of Private Smith and Private Jenkins were found in a shallow grave. It was all they’d managed to dig and in the end had offered no protection to the flying pieces of shrapnel.

MikeJackson©2013

Click here – Trifecta: Week Sixty’ – to read some great takes on the prompt.

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Author:

Now that I'm retired I have more time to devote to writing my blog and creating short stories.

27 thoughts on “When Idleness Can Be The Death Of You

  1. Loved this story with a moral!Sometimes,one needs to listen & obey orders & not assume that one is the smartest of all.The way you told the tale was brilliant & a great title too:-)

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      1. Yes,I know-I am not much of an order taker either-too much of a free spirit inside me but but at the same time understand that sometimes there is no option:-)

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  2. There were several messages/morals to this story (including, if you like idleness, you’d best not enlist in the military.) Even though they brought it upon themselves, it was sad that they had to go that way.

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  3. I’d be idle if I realized I was digging my own grave. Good portrayal of the long hours of boredom between the skirmishes. Horrifying to consider, really. Nice piece.

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