Liberation

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Nicholas Chalk K Liberation Friday, 09 November 2001 Amongst the cheering and the clapping, two gunshots ring out, BANG, BANG! Instantly a deathly silence, and then a bone chilling scream and a heart-rending wail cut the quiet like a knife.

It was the day of the liberation of Paris, September 26 1944 and the population of the city had gathered in the streets outside the L'Hotel De Ville to celebrate the end of German occupation. At the front of the celebrations Pierre, a young policeman, tried to keep the crowd under control. He sensed that things could go very wrong if the crowd got over exuberant and he tried to work out how he was feeling and he got a sudden sense of wanting to kill. Kill some of those Nazi bastards! Those bastards, who had tortured his beloved and beautiful country. Shocked by the emotions that were coming to the surface, he told himself to get a grip and concentrate on the crowd.

All the same he still had an urge just to free all his inhibitions and go wild and celebrate. He consoled himself with the thought that, when he got back home, there would be a glass of wine and some bread, cheese and salami awaiting him. Most of all, his wife Michelle, to whom he had been married for five and a half years, and had known all his life, would be waiting to fall into his arms.

However, as all these idealistic thoughts were floating through his head, two gunshots rang out, BANG, BANG! Instantly a deathly silence, and then a bone chilling scream and a heart-rending wail cut the quiet like a knife. Pierre, like everyone else had dropped to the floor the instant the shots had been fired. Now the square had dissolved into chaos. Ten thousand people stacked on top of each other like tins in a supermarket. Pierre tried to establish what had happened, and to him, improbable though it sounds it seemed like there were snipers located in the south side of the square, maybe in the L'Hotel De Ville. At that instantanother shot rang out and the woman to the right of him jerked and Pierre felt a shower of blood spray the right side of his face. Not believing how close he had just come to death, he made a decision, to get the fuck up and run somewhere a damn sight safer than his current position. Struggling to roll the dead lady off his right arm, he got up and sprinted across the square. Another shot rang out and a bullet thudded into the ground behind him and he leaped behind a van as he made it to the edge of the square. One more run he told himself, NOW! He leaped from behind the van and he heard a bang and then half a second later a force hit him in the chest so hard that it knocked the wind out of him. Looking down, he saw a crimson stain spreading slowly over the lapel of his shirt. Putting his hand down he realised that the sticky red liquid was his own blood and then he felt an intense pain in his chest. He knew that he was dying, so he said his prayers and begged forgiveness from the Lord. The pain was fading now and everything was growing dim. His eyes closed and the last thing he heard was another shot and a piercing scream.

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