Hide and Seek

The battlefield located North-west of Singapore grew fiercer, like a brewing thunderstorm. Rain fell heavily onto the soldiers' backs as men collapsed one after another. A thick blanket of smoke hung over the entire area, as if symbolising the significance of the war.

The place was splattered with blood. The sounds of gunshots were loud enough to cure deafness. Newly-recruited Australian soldier Joshua Cruz was initially mortified at the brutality of the way, but soon got over it. He looked at his best friend, Jared Chase, and nodded at him. Together, they hopped off the tank and charged towards the battlefield, firing shots at the enemy troop.

Josh could sense the burning intensity of the war as he dodged to avoid a bullet, which zoomed past him and hit the man behind him. He turned and saw that it had hit a Japanese soldier. He felt a sudden rush of adrenaline; taking advantage of that, he fired his machine gun maniacally at the Japanese troops, enjoying his little victory.

"Josh, help!"

Jared's sudden cry for help startled Josh, sending shivers down his back. He whipped his head around sharply, looking at the direction where the cry had come from. In the whirl of flying bullets and screams of agony, Josh finally spotted Jared. Jared was limping painfully towards him with a look of pure torture on his once relaxed face.

Josh felt a stab of fear piercing through him as he rushed towards Jared, ignoring the commander's frantic orders to stay put. A million thoughts tumbled into his mind, until he was about ready to throw up.

"Jared, you're bleeding!" he exclaimed, as Jared stumbled and fell into Josh's arms. Jared's green trousers were drenched with blood. A tiny trickle of red ran from his temples and down his face. He gasped for breath as Josh carried him to and abandoned and secluded shophouse that was located a few kilometres away from the raging war.

"Gosh, Jared, who did this to you?" Josh yelled, his voice thick with suppressed tears. A sudden black vortex of paranoia swept over him; without waiting for a reply, he leaped up and locked all the doors of the shophouse. He could not take the risk of being discovered by the Japanese soldiers.

He hurried back to his dying friend. With shaky hands he pulled off Jared's pants. Finding the spot where the continuos flow of blood originated from, Josh tore off a part of his own shirt and pressed it against Jared's wound, trying to stop the flow of his blood.

He felt Jared's tired touch on his arm. He looked at Jared, and Jared whispered, his voice heavy with fatigue, "Don't...bother, Josh. No use."

"No. No!" Josh shouted angrily as tears brimmed in his eyes. "No, Jared! You're not going to die!"

Suddenly he froze. He listened hard, and heard the distinct voice of the Japanese army commander. Josh felt a wave of panic sweeping over him, making him dizzy with fear.

The Japanese soldiers were approaching at an alarming speed. One look at Jared's blood-stained face and Josh knew that he was aware of it. Jared spoke softly, struggling to make his words heard, "Josh. Leave."

"No, I'm not leaving you alone here!" Josh exploded. His eyes darted all over the room, looking for a place to hide.

The door suddenly burst open. Josh jumped and his heart seemed to stop beating. The Japanese commander stepped forward and stared at Josh and the dying Jared.

That moment seemed to drag on forever. Josh stood rooted to the spot, not daring to breathe. Time seemed to stand still and the other Japanese soldiers ceased to exist as Josh waited fearfully for the commander's next move.

Seeing that they were unarmed, the commander flicked his hand and stood to one side. One of the soldiers stepped forward, and pointed his rifle at Josh.

A soft moan escaped Jared's lips. The soldier saw him, and, with an evil smile, shifted his rifle to Jared and fired.

Josh watched helplessly as the Japanese soldier killed his life-long best friend. A sense of numbness filled him, threatening to engulf him; but that feeling was soon replaced by anger.

With an outraged cry, he hurled himself at the soldier. "You killed my best friend!" he screamed hysterically, tackling the other man to the ground. He drew back his fist, and when he was ready to hit the soldier, a gunshot rang out.

He saw the smirk on the soldier's face and heard the mocking laughter from the rest of the Japanese troop before the bullet took his life.