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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/636960
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Action/Adventure · #636960
A Russian soldier finds that one of his comrades has stolen secret military documents.
Perched in an isolated spot with shrubbery
and concealment and cover, I peered along
the old, war-torn village as the sunny sky
became overcast and droplets of rain fell from
the dark clouds. I glimpsed through my
binoculars with cracked glass, looking for the
enemy, but they were nowhere to be found in
that run-down, desolate Russian countryside,
that lonely and abandoned ghost town. The
wind brushed up against the grass of a
nearby mir with not a sign of life, not even
through the vastness of the farms and the
village surrounding me, through which a
massive battle had raged earlier as German
troops were constantly advancing.

The year was 1941, the month: July. Hitler
had just broken the Treaty and invaded
Russia. His war machine was
unstoppable—he attacked every possible
location with a swift force that neither I or my
men could overcome no matter how hard we
fought. We had been waging war all day and
all night with only the sign of defeat. Our
despair was great, our cause
meaningless—so meaningless in that my
squad originally had the manpower of twelve,
but was now only down to three—Zakhary,
Yakov, and me, Anton. But despite my anguish
among the death surrounding me, my duty
was to the Bolshevik party; we would never
give ourselves to the enemy, and we would
never retreat, lest we be shot. Our pledge was
not to our lives, but to Mother Russia in all her
glory and that the Communist ideals move
forward despite the hard times facing us. The
Fascists would do nothing but persecute and
torture our people should they win this grand
conflict, one that would decide the fate of our
mighty union and the ideals surrounding it.
This is not to mention the cowardice in our
army—there are some sell out to the enemy
for the sake of living.

I turned to Zhakary and Yakov, who were
manning the machine gun in the foliage next
to me, while I looked across the horizon for
potential targets. We were rather low on
ammunition; the machine gun only had two
clips left, barely enough to last us another
engagement, and my rifle had run out quite
some time ago. Strapped on my back was a
German Mauser I picked up off a dead body,
and on my belt was a grenade—the only one
left. Our canteens had run out of water and we
had not eaten or slept for some days. My
throat was extremely dry from the austereness
of Russia’s country landscape, not to mention
the constant complaining of the other soldiers
for lack of hydration in their bodies;
nevertheless, we had to keep pushing forward
despite our morale, our situation, and the
overwhelming opposition the enemy had
against us.

“Pack up the machine gun, guys,” I shouted to
my comrades. “We’re moving forward.”

“Are you crazy?” Yakov retorted. “If the enemy
spots us, we’re dead!”

“But the enemy isn’t there. I haven’t heard a
single footstep since this morning!”

“But sir—”

“Do not question my authority, Comrade
Yakov! Stalin gave us the orders to fight, and
that’s what we’re doing!”

That moment was rather odd since Zhakary
was usually a coward by nature—not so much
one who runs away in the heat of battle, but
more so one who is reluctant to engage in
combat in the first place. For some reason he
wasn’t protesting my orders, contrary to usual
days, but merely sitting in silence.

“Zhakary!” He seemed to be awoken by my
orderly shout. “I said pack up! We’re
advancing!”

“Sir, we can’t!” Yakov interrupted. He was
being his usual self, griping at my orders and
tactical knowledge. The only reason I hadn’t
shot him is that we had been comrades for
some time, despite the militaristic tensions
between us, and I didn’t want simple bickering
to get in the way of a bond between soldiers.

Zhakary looked at Yakov. “C’mon, let’s just
move forward,” he said in a rather mellow
tone. But something wasn’t quite right about
his voice.

Yakov was obviously surprised that Zhakary
agreed with me for once. He groped and
licked his dry lips as if he were about to say
something. But he didn’t. Instead, he
proceeded to pack up the machine gun as
Zhakary threw the strap of ammunition over
his soldier. I reached to my belt and pulled out
a cloth, then spit on it and wiped off my dusty
binoculars. I pushed a bit too hard on the
already-cracked glass, however, and my
fingers broke through its fragile surface as I
felt a sharp piece cut my index.

Blood instantly soaked the rag as I flinched
and dropped the binoculars on the ground.
“Damn!” I shouted as I repetitively flicked my
finger in the air, trying to lessen the pain.

Yakov picked them up and looked through the
shattered lenses. “Damn,” he said. “There’s
no way we’re using these anymore.” He
dropped them and stepped on the broken
glass.

I wrapped the cloth tightly around my cut
finger, out of which blood was gushing
massively, then gave the orders to advance.

“Sir, I don’t think we should,” Yakov replied.
“That cut looks pretty bad. Maybe we should
rest.”

“It's not that bad,” I said. “I’ll be fine.”

Holding my rifle, we walked along the barren
dirt road to the edge of the village, where the
vastness of the mir could be seen ahead. It
was old, abandoned. There wasn’t a single
sign of life in that entire sinew that connected
the village to the nearest town.

Suddenly, I noticed a number of dots in the
distance; they were probably crows or some
other natural phenomena, but I couldn’t
imagine them being the enemy—why would
they strike this town; more importantly, why
would they strike this town now? My heart
jumped to my throat as I squinted my eyes for
a better look, but by then it was too late. I
heard the a cannon fire in the distance,
followed by the distinct sound of a shell
screaming through the air.

I found myself engulfed in an artillery barrage
as Zhakary and Yakov ran for cover. Holding
my helmet on my head, I grabbed my rifle and
followed them to a cannon hole.

“Open fire! Open fire!” I shouted in despair as
my mind shut down among the chaos around
me.

Without hesitation, Zhakary and Yakov began
shooting and the enemy returned fire in
accordance. I peered out the trench and saw
them rapidly advancing on us—they must
have had at least two tanks and fifteen infantry.
I could see the bright, yellow flashes of bullets
coming at us as the artillery continued to
pound the terrain, and I could hear the shouts
of Germans as they ran for cover behind their
precious Panzers.

Before I knew it, our ammunition clip went
empty and we only had one left. Zhakary
quickly attempted to reload it; however, as he
stood up, his backpack was shot and he was
instantly knocked over, though not hit that
badly. But something wasn’t right. Papers flew
all over the place from the backpack and
Yakov scurried to reload the machine gun
before they gained an advantage over us.
Curious, I picked up some of the manuscripts
and glanced through them. I couldn’t believe
my eyes.

“What the hell is this?” I shouted to Zhakary
as he lay dazed and confused, seemingly
paralyzed due to a stunning from the bullet. I
sorted through the papers some more—every
single one was neatly typewritten with
documentation and photographs of high
military leaders. And those extremely
noticeable, nicely engraved words stuck right
out at me: “TOP SECRET.”

In a rage of fury, I smacked Zhakary upside
the head with my pistol. Apparently he was a
traitor—or, better described, pure scum.

“What do you think you’re doing? Huh?” I
barked in his face as he cringed away from
me.

“I’m sorry, sir, but there’s no way we can beat
the Germans!” he shouted. “Please, just
consider joining me! If we surrender, they’ll
give us comfort, but if we return to HQ, we’ll be
treated like dogs!”

“Shoot him, Anton!” Yakov bellowed as he
fired the tremendously loud machine gun.

I put my cut finger on the trigger and slowly
pulled. But I hesitated. I just couldn’t kill a
comrade this instant, especially with the
overwhelming opposition against us. How
could we possibly survive with only two men
left? Zhakary closed his eyes tightly as he
prepared to die; he knew he wasn’t going to
make it any further—we would probably all die
in this battle anyway.

“Just shoot him!”

The enemy was closing in; I had no choice but
to kill him at the moment since I couldn't let
him give himself away. I pulled the trigger,
and—

Nothing. My cut finger hurt too much to pull it.
Before I had the chance to shoot with the other
hand, a tank rolled right in front of us and
parked itself next to Yakov. I grabbed Zhakary,
limp on the ground, and ran out of the way.

I could feel adrenaline pumping through my
system. Sweat engulfed my palms as I
clenched my Mauser rifle and droplets fell
down my face, over my eyelashes and down to
my neck. I was face-to-face with the enemy. I
dropped on the floor and crawled in front of the
tank with great swiftness. I quickly stood up,
pointed my rifle in the driver’s port and fired
twice with my uncut hand. He was instantly
killed, but the turret began turning towards me
and I could hear Germans approaching in the
surrounding buildings.

All my options were closed at this point. I
couldn’t let the enemy take hold of those
papers, and I certainly couldn’t let them
capture us since it was a high dishonor to
Stalin and Mother Russia. With that said, I
held my only grenade in my hand, walked over
to Zhakary and Yakov, and kissed it. I put my
finger on the pin and prepared to pull it. But I
didn't. I waited.

“We surrender!” I shouted to the German
soldiers.

They came out of the building and slowly
approached us; I put my hands on the back of
my head along with Yakov, and we hollered
again.

“We surrender!”

We were surrounded by thirty or so. They all
pointed their weapons at us, shouting
commands in German that we couldn't
understand. I wasn't listening; all that flashed
through my mind was my life, my country, and
my family—what would become of them?

Zhakary, drenched in blood with his hand on
his chest, slowly opened his deathly eyes and
came to the realization that we were
imminently surrendering to the Germans. I
thought he would holler to the enemy, telling
them that he wanted to join them as a traitor to
his own country. But he didn't. Instead, he
reached to the nearby machine gun and,
using his last ounce of energy, fired at the
unsuspecting German troops without a show
of mercy, instantly killing four as the rest
panicked.

They all held up their guns and began firing
back. Suddenly, I felt three bullets go into my
chest and I fell on my knees, then on my
stomach. I turned my head to the right and
found myself face-to-face with a German
carcass—it was then that I became short of
breath and suddenly felt a rush of thoughts as
everything became hazy. The chaotic state
around me—the gunshots, the ear-piercing
screams, the excess of blood—it all faded as
if it didn't matter.

Everything after that I can vaguely remember,
and through all the fighting and glory I had
accomplished to uphold the ideals of my
wonderful country, one thing remained for
certain: as I drew my last breath, I couldn’t
help but wonder where the glory was.
© Copyright 2003 Geoff Cain (bladelance at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/636960