The fucking snails were always getting squashed beneath our field boots, making a tiny mess that reminded me of the fragility of my own corporeal being. It didn’t take long for the instruments of modern warfare to turn a human body into just such a repulsive emulsion. Would I be reduced to an escargot’s viscous glob? One of the riflemen in my platoon, a big muscular farm boy from South Dakota, had seen, strewn on the Tarawa beachhead, a string of guts twelve feet long belonging to the marine who, only seconds before the mortar blast, had been his best buddy. Nearly all the combat vets had endured such grisly traumas. During the previous year’s landing on Saipan, my new platoon sergeant, a onetime trapeze artist from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, had survived (with only a cut lip and a lingering deafness) the explosion of a Jap knee-mortar shell that had vaporized the two other occupants of his foxhole. Would I avoid the worst, like these guys, or would I, when I finally stumbled ashore on the Japanese mainland, be immolated in one foul form or another, consumed by fire or rent apart by steel or crushed like a snail?
William Styron - "Rat Beach"