First published back in April of 2012 within the omnibus ‘The Vetala Cycle: A Collected Edition’ (2012), G.R. Yeates’ short story ‘The End Of War’ was later published as a standalone release in September of 2012 and formed the concluding instalment into the author’s incredible Vetala Cycle mythos.

DLS Synopsis:
In the sun scorched farmers land known as Flanders fields, a body claws its way out of the crumbling soil and into the bright daylight above the dried out mire.  Unknowing as to why he had awoken and risen from the soil beneath his feet, Private Reginald Wilson begins to walk across the farmers fields, passed what had once been the Black Woods but which are now no more – unclear where to go or the purpose for his resurrection.

And then from out of the burning haze that is cast by the sun, a young university student emerges pushing a bicycle with a split tyre.  The girl offers the tired solider a drink of water and introduces herself as Misia Godebski.  And with that simple token of kindness, the two set off on foot together for the nearby town of Passchendaele.  A town that would have once taken weeks of pain, misery and death for Reginald and his companions to reach.  And now, after all this time, he will finally get to reach Passchendaele.  And he is sure that the ghosts of Smithy and Brookes are with him on this final trek.

But the Private was not alone in clawing out of the dried-out soil that had once, many years ago, been mile upon mile of trenches.  In the gentle breeze of the evening wind the baying of the wolves can be heard.  Where there are dreams, there are also nightmares.  And some horrors are meant only for the eyes of the dead...

DLS Review:
Following on with the dark mythos of his Vetala Cycle, Yeates returns to the character of Private Reginald Wilson from his debut release ‘The Eyes Of The Dead’ (2011), taking the storyline into what appears to be the modern-day.  The Battle of Passchendaele, and indeed the whole of the First World War, is now long over.  However, Yeates works hard to keep the memories of the bitter atrocities from the war alive and soul-crushingly vivid, as this disorientated and confused solider from the past is brought out of the earth and into the modern-day world around him.

Yeates’ poetic use of word is as mesmerising as ever in these first few pages.  The resurrected soldier’s re-birth from out of the soil at Flanders Field is absolutely bursting with confusion, whilst simultaneously bringing back haunting memories of the horrifying events that took place within ‘The Eyes Of The Dead’ (2011).

However, upon meeting with the young student girl, the storyline is jarred into a strange new timeframe that feels completely at odds with the preceding stories of the Vetala Cycle.  And this is undoubtedly exactly what Yeates wanted.  A second bout of disorientation hits the reader square in the face once again.  And as the reader readjusts, so the short storyline inches closer to the soldier’s personal goal of finally reaching Passchendaele.

And here, instead of finishing the tale with a sudden torrent of horror and bloodshed, Yeates opts for a much more subtle and touching finale.  The ending is obviously one that is born from a deep respect for the real-life heroes from WWI.  And it comes to fruition in these last few pages, with a warm blanket of utter admiration to the men and women who fought in these wars.

All in all the short is a beautiful final signoff for the Vetala Cycle.  It’s not drenched in darkness and gut-churning horror like Yeates’ other offerings in the mythos.  But instead it’s more human and more personal in its finality.  And for that, it does the mythos proud.

The short runs for a total of 12 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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