Duality At Dawn

The encounter had been unexpected. Two small pockets of men separated from their squadrons, apprehensive and edgy in isolation, wandering in the dense mist of an early dawn through a hostile landscape.

The firing had begun instantaneously. A flash of enemy colors and the echo of a foreign tongue triggering the parallel assault. When the smoke cleared, only two remained standing...opposite sides of the coin.

Weapons at the ready, the unnerved soldiers attempted to grasp what and why and how it had happened so quickly. They took stock of each other: one, a green-eyed blond; the other, a green-eyed redhead. In another time and place, they could have been friends, even brothers.

This would be no case of uncomplicated combat. It was relatively easy to cut a man down when you were not staring into his ashen face, made pale with terror; when you were unaware of his trembling hands; when he was nothing but a vague symbol and you couldn't be sure, as he fell, whether or not it had been your bullet that had snuffed out the spark of his life.

Shoulders were squared and backbones straightened while they weighed duty against compassion, obvious risk against dubious guarantee. A conscious decision was made as each dug deep to find the courage of his own personal conviction.

One rifle was raised, the other was lowered. A single shot broke the silence and two young men prayed that God would have mercy on their souls.

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