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In The Jungle

1945. Jones, Charles, Ray, Frank, and Ish are on a troop carrier heading for a hostile Japanese island. The sea is turbulent, with huge waves threatening to capsize the carrier. The group talks to pass the time. The commanding officers say they are going to storm the island without any supporting fire.

As they get close to shore, they begin to hear mortar shells hitting the water around them. Their sergeant tells them to get ready to storm the beach. As the troop carrier reaches land, the sound and the chaos of the moment overwhelm them, and they scatter. They hear the shells, so loud that the sound seems to shatter their bones. They see the sights: the remains of soldiers, whose corpses are too gruesome to describe here; they smell gunpowder and corpses.

The captain shouts orders, but they are ripped away in panic. The troops run into trees and finally get under control. They dig trenches and get their supplies in order. Ish says, “what do you think we are going to do next?" Frank replies, “how am I supposed to know?” Both of them are still shaken from what they saw, heard, and smelled. Some men scream at their commanding officer and ask what they are going to do now. The sergeant, barely older than the rest of them, quietly says “I don't know." over and over again. They spend a sleepless night in the trenches, serenaded by artillery.

On the second morning, they are bleary-eyed and disagreeable. They have a major attack planned. When the time comes they charge through the battlefield, through the smoke and explosions, through the gaps in the barbed wire and the holes. As Frank runs his precious shoes, which his father bought him, get stained as he trips and runs through puddles with a darkish red tinge. Frank hears his commanding officer shout “Move Move Move!” and he sees bodies face down on the floor with no burial, just dripping blood into pools around their lifeless corpses. They capture the trench system, but they lose track of each other along the way. When they manage to find each other they see that Ish is not with them. “Where could he have gone?” questions Charles. “ Has anyone seen him?” asks Frank. They each try to think about where he could be. They search the battlefield, but they eventually have to cope with the fact that Ish is dead.

Frank cries, “we should go out and bury him!”

Charles replies, “we'll be massacred out there."

Jones thinks that Ish might have been hit by artillery.

They hold a funeral, but without his body, they just bury his rations. “He was a nice guy. I guess I can't really say anything more. May his soul rest in peace.” one of the other soldiers says. Frank's shoes, which he usually takes so much pride in, are spattered with blood and dirt.

Having lost one of their friends, the group grieves and has another night of barely any sleep. On the next day, the troops decide to move through the jungle to capture a Japanese bunker. The jungle is thick and they all have to be extremely quiet to not be noticed. They start, cognizant of the tiniest twig under their boots, fearing it might awaken artillery. Once while resting, Frank tries to talk to Jones, but Jones tells him to shut up. They move like this for half a day until they get to a river crossing. They go through, but suddenly the all-consuming panic of war sets in.

“They are on us!" the commander screams. They have walked into an ambush. Japanese soldiers surround them, and people die left and right. In the commotion, Charles is shot by a sniper, unbeknownst to the rest of the group. The other surviving members of the group manage to break through the circle and dash into the jungle.

Now alone, weary, and low on rations, Frank, Ray, and Jones lay on the ground for the night and do not go to sleep for a minute. Frank thinks about Ish. He asks “Do you think we can have a good funeral once we get home?”' Ray replies “maybe we could also get a burial for Charles.” The next day they get up and start looking for something, anything, that will help them.

They find something unexpected: a Japanese scout. Since they are in close quarters, they have no room for guns and use knives. They win but before dying the Japanese scout stabs Frank in the chest. They use gauze to patch him up, but he is still weak. Later that day the ground seems to shuffle under their feet. Frank exclaims, “Run!” He knows it is a spike trap, and he and Ray manage to get out. But Jones is not as lucky. He falls into the trap and dies instantly.

Frank and Ray set up a crude camp and talked about their homes. “I used to live in West Virginia.” Frank says.

“So did I," Ray says. “Did you play baseball?” “Yeah.” Frank starts talking, reflecting on his friendship with Ish. “We met in 3rd grade in elementary school. I remember when the war started we both decided to lie about our age and join."

After saying this, Frank breaks down and starts crying. “Why Ray? Why?!” he exclaims tearfully.

“I don't know.” Ray says, on the verge of tears. They both start sobbing, drifting off to sleep with tears in their eyes. The next day they decide to cross no-man's land to look for more jungle. They decide to run across it at noon. When the hour comes they start to sprint across the field. Frank is slower and struggles to keep up with Ray.

Then, all of a sudden, an explosion. Ray steps on a mine, blowing up and saving Frank. Frank runs across the rest of the field with tears in his eyes and his life flashing before his eyes. He makes it to the other side of the forest only to collapse and cry like a broken-hearted child. He's known Ray for his entire life. He realizes that he is not getting out alive and decides to lay down and die. He is weak from his wound and he is so weary, so weary. He figures he will just take a little nap and then get back on the troop carrier, back to West Virginia, back to home. He imagines his family's happy faces when he comes back. The last thing he sees is his boot he had so much pride in, ripped up and torn apart. The thought causes him only momentary discomfort before he slides off to sleep because he is so, so tired, and weary, and he'll wake at his house, and he's so excited.