Cpt. Alstair Kent tries to escape from his Soviet jailers.
| FEATURED in the ACTION/ADVENTURE NL DTD: 4 JULY 2018.
FEATURED in the AUTHORS NL DTD: 7 OCT 2020
The dusty gray military truck rambled down the dirt road. A tire hit a rut, but the vehicle didn’t stop. I sat on a bench in the truck bed, my eyes drifting past the canvas walls. It was twilight, that time of day when the sun and moon were on opposite horizons battling for control.
“Look at the floor!” my Soviet guard shouted.
My eyes cut from the outside woods and greenery, to the Soviet soldier who sat in front of the truck’s gate, his back to the gate. He held his rifle loosely and his pistol was holstered. The smug, confident soldier was the only thing between me and the truck’s gate. Freedom was a breath away.
I shivered. The sun sank past the horizon. Like an untamed animal, I flexed for the attack. I had to make my attempt at just the right moment, when the moon’s dim light took over from the sun’s orange and red shadows.
It was 1950 – five years after the war ended in Europe. Berlin, had been divided by the British, French, Americans, and Soviets.
After the war ended, the Soviets true desires came to light. They partitioned their territories from the world, but they couldn’t keep everyone out - especially in Berlin where a concrete wall was the only thing keeping the West out and the East in.
Oh, the Soviets tried to keep us out. They surrounded the city and wouldn’t let the British, French, and Americans in. They threw up barbed wires, created “no-man” lands, and established heavily fortified checkpoints. That didn’t stop us. The Americans spearheaded an airlift campaign, dropping needed items into those areas of the city occupied by the three remaining allies. It worked. The Soviets had to give us access to the city whether they liked it or not, and they didn’t like it. They put up checkpoints on every block and requested travel papers authorizing one to cross into their section of the city, which had to be signed by their military commandant.
Despite this, Berlin thrived. The Germans were resourceful. The western part of the city was booming in reconstruction projects.
I dared to look at my Soviet guard again. He wore a thin expression; his eyes began to droop. I’d have my chance soon.
My name was Alstair Kent, a British officer taken prisoner at Checkpoint Charlie when my travel papers were deemed inappropriate. They were taking me outside the city to Potsdam to rot away in their military jail. We skirted the Wansee woods, still untamed by modern inventions. The Wansee Lake was in the American sector and on the border of Potsdam. The lake was now to the right of the truck as we skirted the dirt road alongside the water. If I was going to escape, I had to do it now. The Americans were my last hope.
“Look at the floor, Captain.” The soldier’s halting English was firmer, icier, more demanding.
He cocked his head, as if not understanding. I bolted from my seat. He spun his rifle around, as if to head butt me. I dived for his feet, knocking him off balance. We collapsed on the floor of the truck bed, grunting and groaning. His rifle flew across the floor. Lunging for his holster, I grabbed his pistol. He caught my wrist. The whites of his eyes pierced the growing blackness of night.
I shoved the palm of my hand into his face, forcing him off me. Then I stood up and dived over the truck bed’s gate, landing face first into the gravel road. I tumbled over and over. My ribs felt as if they’d been pierced by a knife.
I stumbled to my feet, ignoring the pain to my face and chest, willing myself to run, spitting out mouthfuls of dirt. The truck screeched to a stop and I heard the Soviets scrambling to get off the truck.
Foot over foot, I ran as fast as I could, drawing in deep painful breaths. My destination was Wansee Lake and the American checkpoint. Boots scrambled behind me. Loud orders in Russian filled the air. I spied a wooden dock. It looked to be old and fragile, as if the dock had seen its best days ten years ago. On the opposite shore some 500 meters away, the American checkpoint was ablaze in the moonlight.
I pumped my arms, drawing in deep lungfuls of air. My boots struck the creaky planks as I made the decision to swim for it.
Bullets whizzed around me. The old wooden dock groaned under my weight. With one last desperate gulp of air, I dived off the dock, splashing into the water. More bullets zapped around me. Loud Soviet curses tore through the dusky night.
The lake caressed me as if I were familiar being in its boundaries. My arms grew tired. The Soviet's bullets were out of range, but I was determined not to fall prey to the lake’s now challenging vast width.
I had to push harder – push faster. My body moved like a lithe dolphin coursing through the water like an expert marksman. A soldier with binoculars stood on the shore.
“He’s going to make it!”
Arm over fatigued arm, my body moved in synchronized rhythm, drawing and exhaling air, focusing on the not so distant shore. I saw two men wade into the water. Finally exhausted, my limbs stopped. I gasped for breath.
“I’ve got him, Sergeant!”
Two arms grabbed me. Another pair of arms wrapped around my waist. My shaking legs touched the muddy ground. I looked up at the American soldier.
“He’s a British officer!”
The sergeant looked directly at me. “You’ll be okay now, Sir.”
I nodded my head. The men dragged me out of the water. The moon smiled down on us like a proud cat. I had escaped.
Word Count: 986.