I hit the ground just like they taught us and immediately go to work separating from the parachute. Echoes of machine gun fire and distant explosions rattle my nerves.

I hope to God they dropped us in the right place. Scanning my surroundings, nothing looks familiar.


Waist-high grass provides me with enough cover as long as I remain crouched. I wish I hadn’t lost my equipment satchel during the jump; all I have is my combat knife.

Although it is dark, I see a tree line not too far from my location and bolt for it. Running, while trying to remain as low as I can, I fully expect machine gun fire to open up on me but thankfully it doesn’t.

As soon as I’m in the cover of the tree line, I get down on one knee and try to get my bearings as well as my breath.

Through thick branches on the other side, I see lights.

Edging closer, I see that it is a small German outpost. A small descending trench system leads into a wider dugout with a camouflage canopy over top. Voices are murmuring to one another and I think there are at least two German soldiers in there. I bet I could…

“What are you doing here?” a man asks in German.

I slowly turn my head and make out the distinctive black uniform of an SS officer.

Without hesitating, I pull out my knife and leap onto him, my blade finding its mark in his throat. Blood comes gurgling out from the wound as I cover his mouth with my other hand; he quickly dies.

I hide his body in some bushes along the tree line and begin searching him, removing his Luger P08 pistol. Feeling a little more confident clutching the firearm, I creep toward the outpost.

I slip into the mouth of the trench and slide behind a couple of stacked wooden crates, so close to the enemy that I hear them talking. There are at least two of them.

“When did you see him last?” an SS officer asks.

“Maybe an hour ago,” a woman’s voice replies.

“What was he wearing?” the officer asks.

I raise the Luger, taking aim.

A young soldier suddenly steps in front of me.

“Grandpa’s right here!”

I fire twice into his chest.

“No!” the woman screams.

The SS officer slams into me, taking us both to the ground. He knocks the gun from my hand and forces me onto my stomach, handcuffing me.

“Hang on, Jeffery!” the woman yells. “Hang on!”

The outpost dissolves and suddenly we’re in my kitchen. The woman is my daughter, Trish, and the SS officer with his knee in my back, a police officer.

Trish looks over at me with anger, fear and sadness screaming from her eyes. Another police officer rushes into the kitchen.

“I found Officer Gardiner,” he says. “His throat slashed and hidden in the trees along the property line.”

To my right is my World War Two combat knife, the blade streaked with blood, lying next to Officer Gardiner’s sidearm.

I look back at the young soldier that I just shot.

It’s my grandson Jeffery.

He’s lying on his back, his chest soaked in crimson.

Oh Jesus, I shot my grandson!

Trish is now talking to a third police officer in the living room, crying heavily but coherent enough to speak.

“He hasn’t been the same since he developed Alzheimer’s. It’s been causing all of his war memories to resurface, causing bad flashbacks. We thought we had hidden all of his weapons but we must’ve missed… oh my God… Jeffery!”

~ Jon Olson

© Copyright 2014 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved.

22 thoughts on “Paratrooper

  1. What a nasty, tragic twist to your tale PARATROOPER, Jon! With a disease such as Alzheimer’s, it very well could transform into something all too real – lets hope it never does. But as far as your story goes, I think you did a great job with the combat backdrop; I didn’t see the ending coming at all, and it made for an enjoyable surprise! Keep it rolling, Jon, great job!! 🙂


  2. Thanks a lot, Joe! It’s kind of personal as it’s partly inspired by my grandfather who served in WW2. He was part of Operation: Market Garden and went in with the British First Airborne to take the bridge at Arnhem (if anyone’s seen the movie A Bridge Too Far, he was in the group led by Anthony Hopkin’s character) and was taken prisoner. He developed Alzheimer’s late in life and as a result, all of his war memories resurfaced with a vengeance. My mom and grandmother had to hide all of his guns and knives because he would have flashbacks believing that the Nazis were after him. So I took that, twisted it around and wrote this piece. I’m glad you enjoyed it!!


  3. Great story, Jon! I love how you combine the real life horror of Alzheimer’s with the mind altering experiences of war. Alone, they are enough horror. Combine them and we have a toxic mix. Your moment of transformation, the point at which the young soldier steps in front of the old man and takes two slugs to the chest is very dramatic. Bravo!



    1. Thanks a lot Blaze! I really appreciate it! And I agree, both Alzheimer’s and the experiences of war are enough horror on their own. Unfortunately there never seem to be enough resources to help those that suffer from either one.


  4. A short, sharp tale of real life horror! The snappy writing style really complements the drama of the war illusion in the first half. There are few things as horrifying as the thought of forgetting who you are…


  5. hi Jon , you have told a tragic and complex story in a straightforward but gripping way, without any sentimentality. I found it very moving and believable and I enjoyed it very much. thankyou.


  6. I bet there are some Vets that spend their lives fearing that they could have a waking nightmare such as you portrayed. I worked with Vets in a PTSD unit; there was so much that held them in a silent bondage.
    Well written and believable short story.


  7. Jon, sorry it took me so long to reply to this story. It was a a great read! War is such a traumatizing thing, and people that haven’t experienced it would find it hard to appreciate the horror of this very plausible story. Both of my grandfathers served in WWII, one of them commanded US troops through some awful times (including the Battle of the Bulge). This particular grandfather, shortly before he died, talked about the buzzbombs and other painful memories with such vivid detail and such a raw look in his eyes that you couldn’t help but feel like you were there.
    This story carried the same feeling. Well done sir.


  8. What a great, tight read, Jon! The horror of this story, beyond the obvious ending, is the reality that many live through episodes of confusion between reality and PTSD. You did a wonderful job of conveying the grit of the tale as well as the tragedy and pain suffered by all. Excellent, Jon! A really well written, well considered, and delicately handled piece. Be proud – be damned proud! 😉


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