"Grab them! Take them all! Take the whole damn village!" The man shouts.
Ever since a child my German has been fluent, as well as my Russian and French. Now, the words this officer barks at his men has my heart racing.
My eyes dart across to my mama. She clutches baby Jimmy to her chest and he screams and wails.
I see it right then – I have to protect her at all costs. Mamas pretty for her age – the older men will go straight for her, even some of the younger ones. The baby – they'll kill him instantly.
"Mama, go find John, he'll help you – I'll try to distract them."
"No, no, Ashleigh! No!" She cries but when the men come at us with their guns, I push her forward.
She stumbles backwards. "Run! Look after Jimmy! Don't let them get him!"
She's torn for a moment, her eyes wild with fear and anguish – then she looks down at the baby she cradles, gives me one more longing glance – and flees.
I turn to find a gun in my face. I slap it out of his hands and he's obviously not expecting a fight – his grip is slack and the gun drops.
As I bend down to grab it, my leg swings up and my foot connects with his face.
I pump the gun once, twice – shoot two men as they rush at me. The third gets a punch. There's so many of them – I take a glance around to find them flooding the village, killing and looting – taking everything.
I can't see mama anywhere – which is good, right?
One man off in the distance levels his gun with my head – I raise mine and shoot him square in the eye before he can even cock the trigger.
A hand's on my shoulder but I whip round and connect the butt of the gun with his face. All around me is blood and screaming, so much – too much. The loud zipping of bullets through the air makes me want to throw up.
One hits me in the shoulder and the pain almost makes me double over, but I whirl around, smacking several in the face. I don't know what's going on anymore – I can't focus properly, all I know is I have to keep fighting, keep going until I can't go no more.
Arms suddenly pin me from behind and the butt of a gun is slammed into my face.
"Leave her alive! I want her!" A voice growls and a face is thrust into my eyesight.
I blink rapidly, blood pouring from my forehead and into my eyes. A hand grips my jaw and gives my head a rough shake.
"You'll learn your place little bitch!" He snarls, white teeth flashing.
He smacks me across the face – hard. The world shakes and although two people hold me upright, I struggle to stay upright and conscious.
I'm shoved to the side suddenly and I find myself standing beside a girl I once knew. She helped me in the fields gathering crops. She was sweet and shy. Now she stands bent at the knee, trembling and coated in blood.
She reaches a hand out to me, touches my arm. One of the many German soldiers yells at her and that hand drops limply to her side.
I want to comfort her too – but I can't, my eyes are on the mess before me. Our village was never huge – not since I've been here that is. But it's always been... homely and cosy. Now all that's destroyed.
Bodies lay strewn all over the ground, soldiers – a whole ton of them, stand around us, killing any and almost all men. I find my eyes drawn to one body in particular.
Duane – four years we've been friends, ever since I first came here – and now he lies on the ground, his pale face smothered with blood.
I stare into those blank eyes for a moment, feeling my stomach and hest heave with the effort of continuing to breathe. I close my eyes momentarily, trying to control the searing heat within me.
But the anger refuses to simmer down, continues to boil and burn. Especially when I open my eyes to see them dragging mama towards us, kicking and screaming.
Little Jimmy and John are nowhere to be seen.
"No!" I scream and launch myself forward.
A hand grips my arm instantly and I whirl around, hitting him hard in the face. I get a few steps forward before something hits me in the back of the head – hard.
I see sparks and drop to my hands and knees... but I keep going, crawling now, desperate to reach her.
She sits at the feet of a soldier, a crumpled mess, sobbing her heart out. I'm so close – so damn close.
But then something hits me again, this time harder and with a loud grunt to accompany it. I fall forward, land on my face and the world dims.
"Mama..." I croak weakly, my fingers clawing at the damp earth in a desperate attempt to reach her.
A man swears in German, low and guttural – such a disgusting sound. Then another pain, this time sharp and prominent – and then the darkness comes and I curse it, curse it for keeping me from mama.