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Outskirts of Brie-Comte-Robert, Seine-et-Marne Department, Île-de-France, France, 1 December, 14:16 +1 GMT
A glittering white blanket of pristine snow covered the ruins of the town. Max sat a top a massive snow pile. He starred at the broken barrel of an tank gun for the longest of time. The tube, bent at an odd angle at the base, protruded skyward. That chunk of discarded metal represented the hell that consumed Brie-Comte-Robert for the last months.
The endless rain of ash, fire and steel.
The howling of thousands of men charging forward to their doom.
The fear that boiled inside the hearts of men as thick white fog rolled over their positions.
The peace that came when a soldier succumbed to the last needle full of heroin.
The war contorted time in unimaginable ways e. Long endless stretches of boredom, longer moments of near panic, short adrenaline burst of excitement mixed with fitful hours of sleep. As dangerous as the enemy was, with its constant assaults, week long artillery barrages, and dragons that swept down from ash laden skies, it was the weariness, the fatigue of being on the field, one second removed from instant death that tore deep into a man psyche.
For the first time he understood certain words, like Petersburg, Marne and Stalingrad. These were more than names of places or battles, but spaces where the souls of men where chewed up and spit right down to Hell. He now understood the madness of the Commune. He sympathized with the soldiers who fled to Dunkirk.
He wished he had never known any of it.
But he did.
Now the battle was over. The great offensive had turned the tide. Allied armies swept across liberating all in their path. Which meant that the war would go on. Max decided that we would catch up with it later, but not today.