Please note: Justin’s great-great-grandparents are my grandparents Carl and Elisabeth Kegler. Inspired by an account of my uncle’s (Günther Kegler) near death experience on the battle field in WW1, he wrote this highly creative piece and gave me his kind permission to publish it as a guest post in the Klopp Family Blog.
Kindred Time Travel Narrative
A deafening explosion burst nearby, sending a fountain of soil all around me. I fell to the floor, knocking the air out of my lungs. As I rolled over and gasped for air, another shell exploded near the trenches not too far away from me. Paralysed for a second, my mind started whirring through the countless questions that arose from my situation: Where am I? How did I get here? Am I going to die?
Yet, I had nowhere near enough time to think as a round of bullets caused me to dive into a trench. Spitting out dirt, I looked up through the smoky air to see a face looking down at me.
“Who are you?”
A young man in his early 20s wearing a military uniform peered down at me. I coughed, preparing to answer him, when I realised that I had just understood what seemed to be perfect German.
“What- what year is it?” I managed to sputter out, the words finding themselves without me having to attempt to translate.
“1917- what’s going on?” the German man shouted, confused. I would have answered him, but my mind was going through a thousand thoughts at once. I felt myself falling to the floor, but before I hit the ground, I was gone.
Gasping for air, I shot up to find myself half-asleep at my kitchen table, head buried in an old family tree. I picked myself up cautiously, half-expecting to find myself back on the Western front. I blinked once or twice, taking a moment to assess my situation. My experience felt surreal, but too lifelike to be a dream. Rubbing my eyes, I was still feeling remnants of the smoke and dirt that filled the air of the battlefield. World War I… Germany… Slowly things began to click into place. I turned towards the record of my family’s history and began to flip through the pages of information feverishly, looking for a clue as to where I had just been. Pouring through the text, I skimmed for any clue related to what I had just witnessed. Finally, something caught my eye.