A spark of life suddenly animated Arnaud Harte’s moldering corpse.
His body had been thrown into a large hole with hundreds of other French soldiers after the Battle of France – also known as the Fall of France – against the Germans months before.
Now, he clawed at the dirt surrounding him with supernatural strength until he broke through to the surface.
His uniform was rotting off his decomposed corpse as he crawled out of the hole into the moonlight. Anna Marie, the love of his life, was in danger! He clearly remembered telling her, before going off to battle, that he’d always protect her…no matter what.
The German patrol was tracking Anna Marie and the other five members of the French Resistance in a forest near Paris. For two days they had eluded the Germans, but they were wearing down and several were wounded. Anna Marie was among those wounded.
The German pursuers had made camp and were setting up a perimeter when Arnaud shambled over to one of the sentries and grabbed him from behind! He never saw the thing that choked him to death. Fortunately, he didn’t feel it bite into his face!
Arnaud took his bayonet and went hunting for another sentry. As he approached another sentry the man suddenly turned around and saw him! He screamed in terror and fired a round at Arnaud, which passed through his body with no effect.
What the sentry saw was a vision from hell! It wore a ragged French uniform over it’s decaying flesh. It’s teeth were exposed in a death mask created by rigor mortis. The hallow eyes burned with hell fires. Patches of stringy hair hung from it’s partly bald head.
He meant to fire again but the thing had swiftly moved in and stabbed him in the throat with it’s bayonet. The soldier’s terrified eyes grew dull as Arnaud kept stabbing him. When he finished he went looking for another victim.
When the German camp awakened early the next morning, Hauptmann Reinhard was already barking at his men. Then he started getting the reports. Every sentry that night was dead! Not just dead, but dead and horribly mutilated!
A pall settled over the remaining soldiers. Each one felt a fear like nothing they’d ever experienced before. They had to hastily bury the bodies as Hauptmann Reinhard was eager to pursue the French Resistance fighters.
He didn’t know what to think about the men’s deaths. In all of his years in the military he’d never seen anything like it. They were all partly eaten! He couldn’t let the men know his concerns though. He had a job to do.
Later that day, shortly before the sun went down, the Germans caught up to the French fighters. In the ensuing firefight four Germans and three of the French fighters were killed. The two French survivors crawled away into the underbrush as night fell.
There were still twelve Germans left, counting Hauptmann Reinhard, when the firing stopped. It was a moonless night and the wind whispered through the trees. A wolf howled forlornly.
Anna Marie was bleeding from two wounds. One in her left arm and another in the chest. Joan Fournier, her fellow resistance fighter, was hit twice in the chest and was barely alive. They both lay hidden in a thicket of bushes. Anna Marie had a revolver with three shots left.
The German soldiers were dispirited. They couldn’t get their comrades deaths out of their minds. All of them were hardened infantry who saw several major campaigns. None of them had ever seen anything like it. Four sentries were stationed around their small perimeter.
The wolf stopped howling and the creatures of the forest were unnaturally quiet. Arnaud snuck up on a sentry and drove his bayonet through his throat! Then he sunk his teeth into the man’s face and ripped away flesh!
By the time Arnaud killed the other three sentries the sun was coming up. One of the first soldiers to awaken walked outside the perimeter to take a piss. When he saw the mangled body of his comrade he screamed uncontrollably. The rest of the camp came alive and men grabbed their rifles as they sprung up from their sleeping bags.
Hauptmann Reinhard had his Ruger out and ordered two of the men to investigate where the screams were coming from. Arnaud waited until the two new arrivals came upon their screaming comrade to attack!
He drove his bayonet into one man’s mouth and grabbed the other’s rifle from him. The other soldier went down like an ox when Arnaud shot him in the head!
It was time to end the chase once and for all.
Arnaud walked into the camp where the four surviving Germans were. He started shooting and they retuned fire. Their bullets however had no effect on Arnaud. Pieces of his decaying flesh flew off from the impact of the bullets.
The last German alive was Hauptmann Reinhard. When the smoke cleared he was lying on the ground but trying to get himself up. Arnaud walked over to him and gave his best death head grin. Then he brought the butt end of his rifle down on Reinhard’s skull!
When Arnaud found Anna Marie she was barely alive and unconscious. Next to her was her friend Joan, who had passed away during the night. He sat down next to her and held her hand as she took her last breath.
Somewhere in another world, they were alive and healthy again; and still very much in love.
As It Stands, a violent love story is off the beaten track.