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As soon as he stepped into the open field, he slung the minesweeper from his shoulder and pointed its nose to the ground.  It was old, worn and heavy, and old and rough, calloused and breaking, and old.  The metal between his hands was cold and chilled his fingers.  If he was not careful he could step on the very mines he was trying to find.  They would have to pick up the pieces of his body and to send the tags home where his wife would cry and hold his son and daughter close with nothing to show them of their father but a piece of metal engraved with "Ajeet Singh".

One sweep, than another.

This war had taught him to never trust open spaces.  Open spaces were where the mines were planted, where Prets lay in wait.  France was green and damp just like the uniform he wore.  It had been days since he was separated from his unit, and now the Allies were breathing on his neck, searching for POW’s, searching for the enemy of which he was one.  He wasn’t armed now.  After the retreat from the landings, he had lost his rifle, as much as he was willing to go to war, carrying such a weapon never felt right in his hands.

Another sweep, and nothing.

The metal disc ran through the grass like a terrified rodent.  His boots sunk into the Norman sod, the stalks of vegetation splitting around his feet.  He longed for the sand and mud of Lahore.  This mud was different, murky, soaking, rotting like a bad fruit; he longed for the hard cracked earth, the earth that smelled of sweet dust and the soft under-pelt of tanned animal hides.  

Remember, tranquility in peaceful, sweeping motions.  Peace.  Breathe.

Every crack of a twig was no bird but a Brit, every call of an animal was an American.  He did not fear the Americans, they might pity him, and they might simply strip him of his garments and send him home.  They might laugh at him and treat him like some lesser primate.  

Krodh, anger.  He had spent so long living in it, that he was sure it was far too late to give it up now.  There was Krodh everywhere now.  The whole world suffered from it.  Lost somewhere between Caen and Bayeux, he found himself willing to accept that this was not the time to repent for such sins.

The Gods didn't paint him brown to have him suffer.  Yet he suffered.  He suffered in cold and he suffered in rain and he suffered from being so far from home, but he suffered in silence.  He had one white man telling him to shoot at another white man, but he was more willing to take orders from a German rather than a Brit.  He hated them.  He hated them enough to raise his hand and volunteer to fight against them.  North Africa had been hot.  The POW holding areas had been hot, but France was cold, and he hated that as well.  

The beep struck him like the shot of a bullet, blood rushed, his eyes widened.  The small trickle of sweat slid down his neck from under his Dastar.  The mine rested in front of him.
He kneeled.  Careful.  Peace.  Breathe.

Peeling back the disturbed grass, he brushed away the dirt and soon enough he found the rim of the mine.  He carefully laid it open.

His left hand was the hand that did not shake, the right rocked like the legs of a new born calf and the longer he stayed away from home, the worse it grew.  It must be the cold, the wet, the fear of death, the thoughts of his lonesome wife and children.  If he could defuse this mine, he would be safe, he promised himself.  He would go back and kiss the forehead of his young daughter and embrace his son.  He would hold his wife at night again, cradling her body under the sheets of their bed.  His right hand would be the one to hold her, the left, steady and true, would lift off her clothes with gentle precision just like he had lifted the top of the mine.

Out comes that piece, out comes this piece.  Peace.  Breathe.

Finally he found it, the triggering mechanism, nestled in the chest of the mine like a beating heart.  He would stop it.  

He pulled up the wires to it and carefully cut them, the electrical arteries would bleed out and he would be safe.  One wire was snapped, then another.  Any wrong cut could explode the mine.  He was thankful to the Guru for his time on earth, should it end.  The new mines the new wave of Allies had brought with them were difficult.  Every wire was tangled worse than before, every wire looked closer to the one next to it, every explosive could still have been active for sometimes two triggers were rigged to it.  The sweat was clammy on his forehead as he clenched his ivory colored teeth together.

The final wire was wrapped between his fingers.  He could feel it, the power that the single rubber encased artery held within it was the power of the Gods.  It was the power of life and death, or living as a whole or living in pieces.  It was anger, it was greed, it was lust, pride, ego.  It was everything he had been taught was wrong and to give up.  It was everything that might stop him form being human and yet it was everything that made him human.

He pulled it free and waited for the fire.  When it did not come, he withdrew his hand.

Peace.  Breathe.
So this is my (very late posting) of my entry for :icondoughboycafe:'s Historical flash fiction contest.
BLURG  YUP, I tried to write a thing.  I tried to do some playing with language here to see what would happen.

Word Count: 959

doughboycafe.deviantart.com/jo… <-- Link to the journal.

Research places (I'm just throwing up a bunch of stuff since srsly like no one writes about this and it makes me super sad and everyone should learn about the foreign volunteers in the german army because its so freaking interesting, I can't even HISTORYYYYY)

www.feldgrau.com/azadhind.html

web.archive.org/web/2007042200…

news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/368…

www.freeindianlegion.info/pag_…

germanmilitariacollectibles.co…

www.german-helmets.com/INDIAN_…

mabrgordon.hubpages.com/hub/Wo…
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Daily Deviation

Given 2014-04-21
Strong voice defines this piece of historical fiction: Sweep by Geistlicher ( Featured by neurotype )
:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
I’m very happy for you!!! :iconloveloveplz: :tighthug:
Reply
:iconcelticwarriormoon:
CelticWarriorMoon Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Amazing! :clap:
Reply
:icongeistlicher:
Geistlicher Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you :]
Reply
:iconzjoriz:
zJoriz Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014
Beautiful writing! Impressive storytelling.
Reply
:icongeistlicher:
Geistlicher Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
merci :3!!
Reply
:iconriparii:
riparii Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014
Wow. You have a terrific, clean, elegant style.
Congratulations, this is an excellent DD selection.
Reply
:icongeistlicher:
Geistlicher Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you, I'm super excited to receive the DD
Reply
:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014   Writer
A reader feels as if they're this character, this man forced to fight when he was taught peace. Excellent. Congrats on the DD.
Reply
:icongeistlicher:
Geistlicher Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
-rolls around- thank youuu
Reply
:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014   Writer
You're welcome.
Reply
:icontomredlion:
TomRedlion Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Modern warfare is pure, distilled HELL. And this poor unfortunate soul has landed right in the middle of it.
Congrats on a well deserved DD.
Reply
:icongeistlicher:
Geistlicher Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Pretty much trying to get that "war is hell" theme is why I write.
Reply
:icontomredlion:
TomRedlion Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
You seem to have mastered the art.
Reply
:iconliliwrites:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Hi there! :wave:

This is a critique prize for the Historical Flash Fiction contest that doughboycafe recently held. :) 

My method is to do a quick review of parts I felt were strong as well as parts that need work in the piece, then to write a line-by-line analysis pointing out specific ways I would revise, and then to close with a review of the main areas that need work and links to resources for further learning. I hope this works well for you.

Please bear in mind that critiques are subjective. These are my opinions about your work. The final say is up to you, the author. Please use or discard this advice as you see fit. :) Disclaimer done! Let's dig in. 

Overview
:bulletblue: You have some pretty great similes in this. It made the whole thing very sensory, which is a huge bonus for a historical piece. 
:bulletblue: It was interesting to read something from an Axis POV. That's not something you find in WWII literature very often. Bravo for taking up the challenge! :) 
:bulletred: There are a few places where your sentences get a little garbled. I'll point those out in the line-by-line. 
:bulletred: Your use of "the Gods" and "Guru" felt awkward. As did mentioning North Africa and the soldier's skin color. I understand you were trying to give us a sense of who this character is, but it came too late in the story. I didn't care so much about where he had been or what color his skin was. I only cared about whether or not he was about to be blown sky high, so those details were an irritating distraction from an otherwise tense situation. You could move those details up to an earlier part of the story to help alleviate that distraction, but I'd personally dispense with them altogether. I don't think they really belong in a story that could have been experienced by any soldier. If you do want to keep that in the story, I recommend digging into how being a non-caucasian in the Axis alliance made him feel - especially in light of the Nazi obsession with white supremecy.
:bulletred: I think you tried to insert a lot of backstory into this at very odd times. It took me out of the action of the story. More about that in the line-by-line. 

Line-by-Line

As soon as he stepped into the open field, he slung the minesweeper from his shoulder and pointed its nose to the ground. [I'd rearrange that sentence so that the action comes before the setting, to make it feel more immediate. For example: He slung the minesweeper from his shoulder and pointed its nose to the ground as he stepped into the open field.] It was old, worn and heavy, and old and rough, calloused and breaking, and old.  The metal between his hands was cold and [We can gather it was cold metal since it chilled his fingers.] chilled his fingers.  If he was not careful he could step on the very mines he was trying to find.  They would have to pick up the pieces of his body and to send the tags home where his wife would cry and hold his son and daughter close with nothing to show them of their father but a piece of metal engraved with "Ajeet Singh". [This is a stylistic preference, but rather than using quotation marks, I would put those last words in italics.]

One sweep, than [then] another.

This war ["this" war? Had he been in other wars before hand? Might it work to simply say "War had taught him..."?] had taught him to never trust open spaces.  Open spaces were where the mines were planted, where Prets [I'm unfamiliar with what a Pret is, some clarification please.] lay in wait.  France was green and damp just like the uniform he wore. [Maybe use the other form of a simile here, to mix things up a bit: France was as green and damp as the uniform he wore.]  It had been days since he was separated from his unit, and now the Allies were breathing on his neck, searching for POW’s, searching for the enemy of which he was one [That just sounds awkward. Maybe something like: ...searching for the enemy, searching for him.]  He wasn’t armed now.  After the retreat from the landings, he had lost his rifle, as much as he was willing to go to war, carrying such a weapon never felt right in his hands. [Here is one of those garbled sentences. You have a case of comma overload. :) Here's how I would revise: He wasn't armed now, having lost his rifle in the retreat from the landings. It didn't upset him much. As willing as he'd been to go to war, a weapon never felt right in his hands. This gives us a little bit more emotional look into the character as well.]

Another sweep, and nothing.

The metal disc ran through the grass like a terrified rodent. [Excellent simile.]  His boots sunk into the Norman sod, the [and] stalks of vegetation splitting around his feet. [Try to avoid using too many -ing words. They tend to slow down the pace of your writing.]  He longed for the sand and mud of Lahore.  This mud was different, murky, soaking, rotting like a bad fruit; he longed for the hard cracked earth, the earth [Unecessary repetition.] that smelled of sweet dust and the soft under-pelt of tanned animal hides.  

Remember [Remember what?], tranquility in peaceful, sweeping motions.  Peace.  Breathe.

Every crack of a twig was no bird[,] but a Brit[;] every call of an animal was an American.  He did not fear the Americans, they might pity him, and they might simply strip him of his garments and send him home. They might laugh at him and treat him like some lesser primate. [Is this a reference to him being black? It made absolutely no sense on my first read-through. Also, what would a Brit do?]

Krodh, anger.  He had spent so long living in it, that he was sure it was far too late to give it up now.  There was Krodh everywhere now. [Redundant with the next, much more powerfully written sentence.]  The whole world suffered from it.  Lost somewhere between Caen and Bayeux, he found himself willing to accept that this was not the time to repent for such sins. [Why was he willing to accept that? Why was he thinking about it at all? And why did we jump from what the Allies might do if they found him to thinking about anger?]

The Gods didn't paint him brown to have him suffer.  Yet he suffered.  He suffered in cold and he suffered in rain and he suffered from being so far from home, but he suffered in silence.  He had one white man telling him to shoot at another white man, but he was more willing to take orders from a German rather than a Brit.  He hated them.  He hated them enough to raise his hand and volunteer to fight against them.  North Africa had been hot.  The POW holding areas had been hot, but France was cold, and he hated that as well.  [This is the paragraph that really pulled me completely out of the story. I already mentioned the problem I have with mentioning his skin color, but there's also the issue of not understanding what causes him to hate the British so intensely. Was he from a British colony that was mistreated? Was he mistreated in an Allied POV camp? We need some personal insight into your character to understand this.]

The beep struck him like the shot of a bullet[;] blood rushed, his eyes widened.  The [A] small trickle of sweat slid down his neck from under his Dastar.  The mine rested in front of him.

He kneeled.  Careful.  Peace.  Breathe.

Peeling back the disturbed grass, he brushed away the dirt and soon enough he found the rim of the mine.  He carefully laid it open. [This is a beautifully succint passage. Well done.]

His left hand was the hand that did not shake, the right rocked like the legs of a new born calf and the longer he stayed away from home, the worse it grew. It must be the cold, the wet, the fear of death, the thoughts of his lonesome wife and children.  If he could defuse this mine, he would be safe, he promised himself.  He would go back and kiss the forehead of his young daughter and embrace his son.  He would hold his wife at night again, cradling her body under the sheets of their bed.  His right hand would be the one to hold her, the left, steady and true, would lift off her clothes with gentle precision just like he had lifted the top of the mine. [Again, this information needs to be relayed much earlier in the story. Putting it here with that wording takes us away from the tense moment that he's just entered. I'd mention the shaking hand when he is using the minesweeper at the beginning of the story, then briefly mention the shaking being problematic to the process of disarming a mine here. But only briefly so that it only adds to the tension, rather than making the shaking hand the focal point of an entire paragraph.]  

Out comes that piece, out comes this piece.  Peace.  Breathe.

Finally he found it, the triggering mechanism, nestled in the chest of the mine like a beating heart.  He would stop it.  [Good! Excellent simile and punchy, determined narration.]

He pulled up the wires to it and carefully cut them, the electrical arteries would bleed out and he would be safe.  One wire was snapped, then another.  Any wrong cut could explode the mine.  He was thankful to the Guru for his time on earth, should it end.  The new mines the new [recent] wave of Allies had brought with them were difficult.  Every wire was tangled worse than before, every wire looked closer to the one next to it, every explosive could still have been active for sometimes two triggers were rigged to it. [Another awkward use of language. I'd revise to something like: ...some explosives were even rigged with two triggers.]  The sweat was clammy on his forehead as he clenched his ivory colored [Most everyone's teeth are ivory colored, so that was an unnecessary detail.] teeth together.

The final wire was wrapped between his fingers.  He could feel it, the power that the single rubber encased artery held within it was the power of the Gods.  It was the power of life and death, or living as a whole or living in pieces.  It was anger, it was greed, it was lust, pride, ego.  It was everything he had been taught was wrong and to give up.  It was everything that might stop him [from] being human and yet it was everything that made him human. [This is the first real insight into who this character really is. We need much more of this to make the story really relatable on a human level.]

He pulled it free and waited for the fire.  When it did not come, he withdrew his hand.

Peace.  Breathe. [Good close. The repetition of Peace. Breathe. is entirely effective throughout.]

Wrap Up
:bulletpurple: Work on organizing the information about your character in a way that lets the action of the story flow smoothly without pulling the reader away from what is happening. The action should always be more important than the back story in flash fiction.
:bulletpurple: Watch out for over-use of commas and run-on sentences. Also, you might try reading your piece aloud to yourself looking for awkward sounding language use and revise to something that sounds more natural.
:bulletpurple: We need more insight into the character's thoughts and feelings to make the story personal.

Some links to further reading: 

:pointr: Tips for Writing Flash Fiction by SRSmith 
:pointr: The Basics of Comma Usage by Inkfish7 
:pointr: Creating Voice by CrumpetsHarvey 

Good luck with your revisions, and submitting it to the publication. :) Let me know if there's anything you had questions about and I'll do my best to clarify. And congrats on placing in the contest!

:heart:
Lili
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:icongeistlicher:
Geistlicher Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
<3333 Thank you so much for this, especially the line by line, that helped/will help a bundle.
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:iconliliwrites:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
My pleasure. Congratulations on your DD! :D
Reply
:iconc-a-harland:
C-A-Harland Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2014  Student Writer
This was a great piece. There's a wonderful sense of building tension, and you've done a great job of making the character feel both alive and believable. 
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:icongeistlicher:
Geistlicher Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you :]
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