Peace on Earth

Abe Schmidt stared out at the dead bodies not more than a dozen yards from where they squatted down, in mud that was more like a clayish muck. He loved his father but the truth was something that was hard not to recognize when you risked your life every minute of every day that you breathed in a breath of air. “Yeah, youse might be right Sammy, youse might jus’ be right.”

-4-

THE TRUCE

It is the province of kings to cause war, and of God to end it.

—Cardinal Pole, to Henry VIII. (Notes and Queries, 27 Jan., 1917.)

Wilhelm Laufenberg stared into space then hunkered down on a mat that was made up from two dry pairs of trousers, partially stuffed with straw. He was a lieutenant, after all, and should be allowed to get a little sleep, even in such a horrific time as the present. His eyes were so heavy that sometimes even blinking them caused him to drift off, into semi-sleep, even while he was standing upright, and even while he was walking. He laid his head against the thickest part of the straw-filled pants and immediately fell into a deep sleep. That’s when he had the dream, the dream that would alter his life, and with it the course of history—forever.

In the dream, the young Oberleutnant saw clearly a mustachioed soldier that he recognized immediately as the emperor of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and then another man appeared, George V, the King of England, and dressed in his full regalia. The two men were having tea together, even as young soldiers were crying out in front of them, dying slowly, bleeding to death from gunshot and stab wounds and some freezing to death. Laufenberg knew that the two rulers were cousins, having the same grandmother, Queen Victoria, of Great Britain, and saw clearly that they were both interested in nothing but power and what they could get for themselves, through the war. He saw Paul von Hindenburg, the commander of the German forces in the East, who would become Field Marshall, two-time president of Germany and make it possible for Adolph Hitler to rise to power, step into the picture and offer a toast to the two rulers, even as the soldiers’ cries grew louder. The Oberleutnant wanted to kill the three men but when he made a move towards them, a bright light blasted him awake and he stared into the sky, where he saw what he thought was an angel floating above his head. A voice bellowed forth that there would be peace on earth and he would be forevermore a peacemaker, who would reject all war, in its entirety. He blinked his eyes to see the angel better but it was gone, just that fast, and Wilhelm Helmut Laufenberg, twenty-four years old, and a structural engineer by trade, struggled to a standing position and scratched his head, wondering if what he had just seen was reality or just a part of his dream. Then, he stared straight ahead, at the bodies of his fallen comrades, as well as the enemies’ comrades’ bodies, withered and wilting, rotting and smelling to the high heavens and pondered which was the reality and which was the dream, knowing immediately which he wished was reality and which was not. He rubbed his eyes with the back of a frost-glazed glove and then tilted his head sideways, wondering if what he heard was yet another dream, for he heard the words clearly: “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht, alles Schläft einsam wacht hur das traute hochheilige Parr.” It was lyrical and it was beautiful; someone was singing Silent Night and the vision he had had of an angel immediately came to mind, for whoever was singing had a melodic, soprano voice that seemed to be that of an angel.

“Well Blimey, stone the crows,” Corporal Thomas Williams spat, cocking his head to one side, even as several other soldiers around him, repeated the gesture.





About me

This is me: home-writer, book-reader, dog-lover and occasional poet. I make this website to share my and my friends texts with You, dear Reader. Please: read carefully, don't be scary, upgrade your mood and be king and leave your comment. :)