Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Doing the Research

Once for a play I was doing I wanted to find out what it was like to be in an artillery barrage...without getting blown up that is.

I had been in simulated combat and spent endless hours on the rifle range and assault course in the Marines and the Alaska Defense Force. But it was not the same, not what I was looking for.
We had a fireworks show coming to town so I went to it and stood directly under it with my back against the wall of a building so the shock waves would hit my body full on. Out of that experience I got almost all I needed. Ringing ears, upset stomach, headache, singed sinus from the cordite (gun powder). I also went around after that and smelled several kinds of dirt both at the surface and beneath the surface, since a bombardment tends to put the dirt on the wrong side of the person. Add to that the smell of blood, vomit and feces and the sound of screaming men and we have an artillery barrage.

Later folks said the play, and short story, seemed too real they thought I was there but couldn't figure out how a then 35 year old Alaskan described World War 1 so accurately. Of course, I could barely hear their compliments...my ears are still ringing.

That show later became the short story "1917". The audio version is Episode 3 of my collection "In The Shadows". You can listen to the free download on my site, www.basilsands.com.
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