Landing Twice

Zhihui Zou

Since the beginning of times, beach landings had never been fair toward the offensive side. Everyone who knew a little bit about tactics would know that, but no one was worrying about that in the headquarters. All twenty-four generals focused on the near but also out-of-reach French soil—the beaches of Normandy, to be exact.
“Sir, the Germans have reinforced Omaha Beach overnight, almost doubling the machine guns and mines,” a messenger shouted as he rushed in from the cold rain outside.
The generals who stood around the battle map wearing leather jackets and warm woolen boots, a few even held a fat cigar in their mouths, looked at the twenty-year-old with a soaked army jacket and shoes that could easily give him a trench foot.
“Then send more men to Omaha,” one general said.
“Two machine guns could very possibly take out a landing boat…” an adjutant murmured as he scribbled something on a scratch paper. “We need at least five hundred more men to equalize those machine guns.”
“Then send a thousand more, just to be safe. We have enough,” another general holding three golden stars on his shoulder said with a shrug. Between his index and middle fingers, he held a fat cigar.

I know the rumor of one landing boat equaling two machine guns is fake, probably an “officer’s pet” made it up. I know it because I just watched as one machine gun turned a boat filled with people that I had played soccer with yesterday afternoon into a file of lifeless bodies in less than ten seconds. I have no idea how many machine guns the Jerries have or how thick their forts’ walls are or how long our air support is going to come. The only thing I know is that my boots are wet, the sea is making my head dizzy, and I want to throw up.
A boat filled with fifty young soldiers won’t be a place where you can hear singings and cheerings and people talking dirty jokes. Here, in my landing boat, there are only fifty lifeless zombies holding their rifles with white hands. The officer is yelling something, something about securing a some yards by some yards field so our tanks could land, but everyone is too busy with seasicking to listen. Eating a full meal with steaks, sausages, mashed potatoes before hitching an hour-long ride in high tides can turn even the strongest man into a noodle.
I can see the beach before us now, and the concrete forts and barbed wires. I can see the barrels of the cannons peeking out of the forts. I think if they want, they can shoot down God himself with them.


Zhihui Zou is a high school student living in Southern California. He has published a sports novel, and his work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Short Fiction Break, Heavy Feather Review, and Melbourne Culture Corner. During weekends, he likes to play tennis with his friends.