Stories From The Next Great War Pt1

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
Cpl. Anatoly Markovich, 24yrs old from Smolensk, Russia is awoken early by one of his squad mates, today is the day that the new orders are in.

He wakes up and gets ready, but before the new orders arrive, Anatoly picks up a pencil and a notebook. Flipping open the book, pages upon pages of hand written text pass by, until a page only half-covered with writing appears. He stops at this page and continues his journal.

Submitted: June 12, 2011

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Submitted: June 12, 2011



June 4th 2017. 5:00am. Local Time

I'm half asleep still. I know that I should be getting up, but I hadn't slept this well in some time. What was it? Four or five days now being unable to sleep more for more than 3 to 4 hours a night. I've gone through this before. Alot. Every so often I can't sleep well, the smallest sounds wake me. Maybe trying to sleep in combat zones has affected my sleep habits. I won't truly know until I'm out of the war.

I turn on my side and get a little more comfortable. 5 minutes more then I'll get up, although maybe I should get up now. If I don't then I'll get......

Ow.....jabbed in the ribs...I turn my head slighty and open one eye. Through fuzzy morning vision all that I can focus on are the white teeth smiling at me. I close my eye as a voice begins to speak cheerfully

"Morning soldier. Time to get up. Sarge left a few minutes ago to get our new orders. Up and at them, my friend."

The smiling man pats me on the leg a couple of times. "Come on. Let's get going."

I moan once, announcing my displeasure, only to hear a giggle. I stretch and yawn then push the blanket off me. I sit up and put my feet on the floor, it's cold even though it is early June. I hold my head in my hands and rub my eyes.

"Good your up." the cheery voice says. "I'll get the others up."

He pats me on the shoulder and, as I look up at him, he turns away and heads to the next bunk about to wake up someone else.

That would be Ilya. I don't understand that fellow sometimes. Always first awake even before Sarge, and I do mean always. He'd be up, dressed, breakfasted and bunk made, ususally before Sarge woke. Perpetually happy, smiling his bright white smile at every possible turn. We had a small firefight the other day and Ilya was similg the whole way through.

Cpl. Ilya Anosov. 21 yrs old. The squad cheerleader, as we call him. I've never seen him angry or upset. He is always in a good mood, and even in those more horrific moments that we have had together,. he has the ability to raise spirts. He has to be the most friendly person that anyone will ever meet. When we have been on leave it was always Ilya that managed to get us the girls. We would hit the local bars for some drinks. Ilya would go off to use the bathroom and come back with two or three girls.I don't know how he does it, but I'm not complaining.

Born to a farming couple in Volgograd, Ilya was a farm boy true and true. Short and blocky with a solid build. Blonde hair, shaved close to the head at ther moment. His combat fatigues changed his look a little, but he would be able to pull off the farm boy look easily. Coveralls, rubber boots, pichforks, etc. Ilya wouldn't look odd dressed that way. In a business suit however, that might be a funny sight. Yes, Ilya was a farm boy in the literal sense. He's told me of how he was born in one of the wheat fields where both his parents worked. Ilya's parents weren't poor, not at all. Ilya just decided to be Ilya and show up early, three weeks early to be exact.

I hope he doesn't read this. Ilya isn't the smartest fellow I know, but his lack of intelligence didn't hold him back at all. No, quite the opposite. With Ilya's good nature he never had problems meeting anybody or making friends. I would most definitely call him a good friend. Next leave we get, I may ask him to join me when I come home for a visit.

Ilya barely made it through schooling. Only just passing. When he was thirteen. It was decided, by his parents and some of Ilya's school teachers, that he should look at farming as a lifetime career. His scores on tests showed that he wouldn't be able to go on to further education. On summer break of that year Ilya began to take part time work at the farm with his parents. Every school break saw him working the fields. This wasn't to Ilya's liking. He wanted to do something else, but what. Nearthe end of his eleventh year at school, a man from the Russian Peoples Army came in to give a talk about the military. Travelling to exotic places, making more friends and a possibility of getting higher education. Of all the things that the military man said these were the things that interested him the most.

Ilya pondered joining The Russian Peoples Army for months before deciding that he will. He just had to break the news to his parents. On his seventeenth birthday was when he told his parents. Ilya's mother cried, nearly non-stop for four days. His father begged and pleaded Ilya to change his mind. Ilya couldn't sign up until he turned eighteen. The year went by painfully slow, for Ilya, and abhorringly fast, for his parents. In the days before Ily'a 18th birthday, Ilya's parent tried in vain to get him to reconsider his decision. Ilya stood firm and wouldn't change his mind.

The day came. Ilya woke before dawn, got up got dressed and went to pack what little he needed to take with him. Only to find that it had already been done for him. Ilya slips on his shoes and picks up his bag. Ilya goes to his parents room and knocks. He gets no answer so opens the door. The room is empty and the bed made. Did his parents go out and leave him alone here? Ilya was a bit confused. He always woke his parents up and now they were not here. He closes the door and scratches his head. Was there something that they needed to do today? Something he didn'y know about. Ilya shrugged and headed for the kitchen. He made himself a bowl of ceral and some toast. Ilya dug up a piece of paper and a pen and, while eating his breakfast wrote a letter to his parents. He stood up, folded the letter in half and left it on the kitchen table. Ilya took one last tour of the place he grew up before walking out the back door to grab his bicycle. It was 10km into town and the recruitment office. Ilya knewhow to drive, but it didn't seem right to him to take the family car. He was eighteen now and had to take care of himself. He locks the door perhaps for the last time.

He unlocks the chain that kept his bike secure and walks around the front of the house. He gets on the bike and turns back to look at his house one more time. Tears start to well up in his eyes and decides that he must go. Now. No more lookng back. He turns away from the house and begins to ride out of the driveway.

Ilya nearly crashes into one of the small trees near his driveway when the family car suddenly starts. Ilya quickly leaps off his bike drops his bag and runs quickly towards the car fists out. Someone is stealing the car. He sees a figure in the driver's seat of car looking in his direction. Ilya get to the car grabs the doorhandle and opens the car door. He is about to reach in and drag whoever it is out and start pummeling them when he realizes that it is his father. His father calmly shuts the car off and gets out. Ilya stands there face to face with his father and, suddenly, felt very small.

Ilya's father put his hands on both of Ilya's shoulders and looks directly at him and begins to speak "This day eighteen years ago was the happiest moment of my life. My boy was born. The things I looked forward too were many. Teaching him how to skate on the frozen river in winter. Showing just how to tie the perfect fishing lure. Showing him how to hunt. Playing catch. All the things that a father wants to do with his boy."

Ilya's father reaches back and rubs a tear from his eye. " When you were three you looked up at me once and said that you wanted to be exactly like me. When I heard those words come from your mouth it was another of the great joys about having a son."

Ilya begins to cry the emotions in him at this point are overwhelming.

Ilya's father grips his shoulders a little more tightly. " My son. You are the greatest joy in my have brought me many years of happiness. I stand here looking at you and have come to realize something."

" My son. The little Ilya. Is no longer the little Ilya. You have grown into a fine young man. I am proud of you and all your accomplishments. There is nothing that you have done to make me ashamed of you. I want to know one thing out of you. Is this truly your decision? "

Unable to speak with the tears rolling down his cheek Ilya looks at his father and nods. No other words are spoken for the next ten minutes. Ilya and his father just hug each other and cry.

Ilya's father regains his composure first. " Come back in the house. The recruitment office doesn't open for another couple of hours. I'll take you. I took you mother to your aunt's earlier this morning, she didn't want to be here when you left. She hasn't stopped crying for the last week. "

Ilya's father puts his arm lovingly around his son's shoulder and the two go back into the house. A couple of hours later Ilya and his father get into the car and drive into town. Only to find his mother, with his aunt, waiting outside the office. Both women started crying when they saw the car pull up and Ilya get out. His mother rushed to him and threw her arms around him. not wanting to let go. She said nothing but held on tightly, crying into Ilya's chest.

After several minutes of clutching his mother close to him. Ilya manages to push her back slightly. He held her at arms length. " I love you mom. Always and forever. I will write and call whenever I can. I promise. And you know that I have never broken any of my promises to you. I must go."

Ilya's mother nods And reluctantly lets go of her only child. Ilya's father comes over and puts his arms around his wife and hugs her close whispering to her. Ilya sees this, walks over and grabs the two of them. The small Anosov family embrace each other for a few more minutes. Ilya lets go, turns and walks to the door of the recruitment office. As he is recahing for the door handle he hears his mothers tear filled voice calling out to him

" I love you my baby. Remember your promise. I love you."

With out turning back Ilya nods " I will mom. I will."

Ilya enters the office and signs up for a required six year term in The Russian Peoples Army. Ilya never got to see his father again after that day. He had a heart attack and died while Ilya was still in basic training.

"Gaaaah. What the....Ilya. I told you not to do that. I hate it when you do that. I swear I'll leave something nasty in your boots." That would be Otto reacting to Ilya waking him up.Ilya chuckles " You would have to get up before me , and no one in this squad does."

Otto pulls the blanket over his head and moans " Give me five minutes. Those cookies Anatoly's mother sent aren't sitting well.'"

I snicker and look at Otto's form under the blankets " Those were for my birthday. Two weeks ago. You know how long it takes to get any mail from home. I warned you."

Ilya laughs as well " Your mother's cookies are terrible to begin with. Those rock hard sugar cookies she made for us, when you took me to meet your family. Yeah, those were awesome."

I just shake my head " True, but her pelmeni is the best anywhere. You had tons remember?"

Ilya responds cheerfully "How could I forget. I probably gained ten pounds from them alone.You wouldn't let me stuff some in my pockets."

Cpl Otto Tsyrinsky. 20 yrs old. Our resident cynic of the war and forward scout. Otto is 6'9" and lanky, strange for a man that tall to be a scout, but Otto was our scout. He had an uncanny ability to disappear from sight at any moment. He could conceal himself in an empty room, I swear, he's that good at not being seen. Drafted into the war and not happy about it. He voices that at any opportunity that he can. Whenever we discuss the way the war is going he always has the same response.' Remember. Most of you guys actually wanted to do this. I never did. So don't ask my opinion.' Otto was the son of a Moscow dentist. His family had a long history of practicing the dentistry field. Otto was to be no different. Once out of school he would transfer to a one of the better dentistry colleges that Moscow had. His father paid a fee to hold a seat for Otto, a few years prior when Otto confirmed to his father that he wanted to continue the family career. Shortly after he graduated and while waiting to start his college studies Otto was drafted. He hoped that because he was enrolled in college that they would not draft him. I didn't work out that way.

The letter came mid August. Neither he or his father could believe it. Drafted into the army. No dentist school for him now. The two sat together, on the front steps of Otto's fathers house, while Otto opened and read the letter aloud. The first half of the letter is a standard draft notification, but the second half is what caused Otto to take a second thought and perhaps not run and hide, which was his first initial idea. In the second half of his letter it was pointed out that Otto was soon to enter dentistry college. The Russian Peoples Army new a lot about those it drafted. They stated that when he joined, he would be given appropriate teaching in dentistry. For Free. Otto looked at his father and told him that this was a blessing in disguise. Free schooling. Otto's father could withdraw him from the college and get back his enrollment fee.

" Otto." His father began " This is not a blessing. The money doesn't matter to me. Just you and your well being. I promised your mother the night she died that I would take care of you. Being drafted into a war that is killing millions cannot be a blessing. Even if they give me all the riches in the world. It still wouldn't be a blessing."

Regardless of what Otto's father was saying Otto could see a good side from this letter. " Father. I know that. I just can't allow myself to have you pay all that money. I'd rather get it done for free. This seems like a good chance. Perhaps they will keep me out of any combat and let me be the base dentist. When schooling is complete, that is."

Otto's father is a smart man and understands his son's point, but still argues against it. No matter what, it won't do any good. Otto was drafted and had to go. It won't be too long before the soldiers come to pick him up. It wasn't long. Two days in fact. The soldiers that picked up Otto arrived mid-day, while his father was at work, and took him to basic training. The men left a sealed letter to Otto's father, not telling Otto what was in it. They probably didn't know anyway. Otto was taken away without being able to say goodbye to his father, but was able to call him in the evening. They talked a while and discussed what has happened. Otto asked about the letter and it's contents. His father told him that it was money. The exact amount that it cost his father to enroll him in college. As well as a letter. The letter stated that it would take twice the amount of time to instruct Otto. Instead of three years it would take six. Otto was allowed a few authorized leaves a year to attend classes.

Otto was taken aback when he heard what was written in that letter. Six years? He thought that they would start his schooling right away and it would only take three. Not chop it into little bits. Great, Otto was going to have to fight in the war. His father was right, this wasn't a blessing. After basic training, Otto was sent off to the Army College and started his dentistry training. After three weeks of school he was then transferred to our squad increasing our number to six, instead of five. Our squad had begun to make a name for itself. A lot of successful missions with little to no casualties. Otto was transferred to us for one specific reason. The Russian Peoples Army does not like to waste it's potential, and Otto was some of that potential. He was transferred to us because of our success rate and survival odds. The chances of Otto living to complete his training was high. There was nothing Otto could do about it now. Just sit back and play along. So here he is. He keeps mostly to himself and will talk about most general topics. Movies, books, sporting events, etc.but the times when we start discussing the war and the politics surrounding it he instantly shuts up and leaves the conversation. If you bring up dentistry, though, he won't shut up. Dental dams this, novocaine that, braces, fillings. Dentistry is truly his passion.

One time Ilya was hit in the cheek by some flying debris from a grenade blast. After the fight he marched straight to Ilya " Open up Ilya. Let me see if there is any damage."

Ilya looks at him and raises his eyebrows apprehensively and says to him " You are not going to put your baseball glove sized hands anywhere near my mouth. Forget it. I'll get it looked at back at base."

Otto grabs Ilya by the shoulders and doesn't let go. Otto is a surprisingly strong man. " Now or I will use anaesthetic and look while your out cold."

Ilya reluctantly opens his mouth and Otto pulls out a small flashlight from his pocket and shines it in Ilya's mouth "I don't see any damage. You're lucky I don't have my gloves. I won't put my hands in your mouth. Get it checked properly when we get back."

I didn't tell him when I have had a tooth ache. His hands look just too big.

" Alright. I'll give you your five minutes. No more though." Ilya says to the lump under the blanket that is Otto. and turns to head to another bunk and sees the man, that normally occupies it, getting out and coming to full attention. Ilya grabs his face with both hands, shake his head and sighs heavily through his fingers.

The man at attention starts to shout, causing the final sleeping member of our squad to jump in fright, " Cpl Anosov. Sir. Pvt Gorokhin awake and ready for orders. Sir." Ilya looks at me exasperated and rolls his eyes.

Yes, we have a brand new guy. Third day with us.

Ilya turns back to him and says " Ok, fine. Get dressed, make your bunk and eat. After you eat sit on your bunk until Sarge returns."

He salutes and shouts " Sir. Yes Sir." he hurries about the tasks given to him by Ilya. Ilya looks back at me.

I just shrug and say "New guys"

Pvt. Maxim Gorokhin. 18yrs old and right out of basic training. Three days now and hasn't seen any combat. Fresh faced, clean cut. Not a mark on him. That will change soon enough. It's sort of an initiation for us lowly enlisted men. You weren't really a soldier unti you got your first scar, you were just some guy with a gun. I got mine my first day in the war, when that bullet took off the top of my right ear. Ilya has shell casing burns around his neck, and Otto is missing two toes on his left foot. Sarge has more badges of honor and bravery, than anyone else in the squad. It also helped us tell each other apart. Most of the officers would not have any wounds signifying that they had seen actual combat and there was a general dislike, among the enlisted, for the men that went straight into officer training, bypassing any threat to their lives.

Those officers that did have combat scar were given much more respect. They have risen through the ranks and know what it is like to be on a battle ground full of death. Maxim will get his, or get killed before he does. None of us know anything about him except that he was drafted and is the son of a miner from Turukhansk. I'll get to know him better the longer we are together is the squad. I can't wait until the formality is pushed out of him. That usually takes one combat, sometimes two. He is still all 'sir this, and sir that.' Still waiting for someone to tell him to wipe up when he's done.

Ilya turns to the last figure who is sitting up and stretching. He tilts his head a bit and smiles lightly " I guess I won't have to give you a jab this morning. Good to see you awake Sergei."

Sergei waves his hand dismissively at Ilya " Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. I'm awake. You're lucky I like you, Ilya, or I would have got up and punched you for doing that. Got it."

Sergei points around the rest of the room, not quite at the rest of us, but we knew what he meant.

Pvt Sergei Yozhikov. 19 yrs old and, like Maxim, he was knew to the war. Unlike Maxim, Sergei came to us nearly two weeks ago. He hasn't got his mark yet either. Sergei was average in everything. Height and weight. Hair and eye color. Fashion sense. Intelligence. Everything. Sergei doesn't realize it but his only use in the army is to get killed, eventually. Sure he might kill a few before he dies, but it doesn't matter. He will be just a statistical number for them when the war is over. Well, actually, when I think about it, I guess that all of us will be as well. He was forced to enter the army. It was his sentence for murder. Join or be executed. You may have heard about the case.

A young girl was stomped to death in a Moscow nightclub, during a riot caused by the one that killed her, a few weeks ago. This is the guy that did it. He's told me the story of what happened that night. A couple of times. I won't tell you. It was disturbing. He seemed proud of it too. I don't think that he should be here, they should have executed him.

He's always angry and difficult to get along with, but he does seem to genuinely resent his predicament. Not for what he did, just the fact that he was here. Sure he had a troubled upbringing. Both parents were dead of cancer before he was six. Theirs deaths were hard on him and he resented life because of it. I don't think he realizes that, but I do and I'm not a psychiatrist. He was put into care homes and shuffled around a lot. Most of the homes he was in were full of degenerate youths from all around Russia. Sergei was impressionable and fell into the same mindset as some of the more difficult boys. Petty thefts and vandalism was what he started doing first. By the time he was in his early teens he was getting bored of the things he was doing. The thefts were still kind of fun, but spray painting and breaking things were getting dull, so he started to steal items of greater value and eventually would steal cars for fun and sometimes money. He would also bully smaller kids for whatever they had. Money, watches, the odd electronic device, or whatever he felt like taking.

He continued to do this for a while in his through his teens and again this started to bore him. He stopped stealing anything for a while, but his bullying became more frequent and violent, until they turned into true muggings. If someone resisted he wouldn't hesitate to start punching them repeatedly. He wouldn't stop until they either gave up or were knocked out at his feet. Then he would usually strip them of everything but their clothes. He started drinking underage with some of the older boys he would hang out with. These boys had their share of problems. Drugs, alcoholism, violence and Sergei was walking down the same path they were on. This, of course, all leads up to that incident in Moscow.

He gets caught trying to escape the riot in the club and is arrested with a few of his friends. The girl is found dead when all is brought under control. Sergei was identified as the one that started the riot by attacking her. A few other patrons that tried to come to her aid and were met in turn by Sergei's friends and in the ensuing fights caused a riot in the club. Eventually, Sergei escaped the club and was caught right outside the doors. During the early part of the investigation into the girls death Sergei was positively identified by no less than eight other patrons for the club as the one that killed the girl. Motive was simple enough. He was drunk and she rejected his advances. She threw a drink at him and he attacked her.

He was sentenced to be executed as soon as possible, but while he was waiting, The Russian Peoples Army came to him with an offer. They were doing this with all convicted murders on death row. Join the army or be executed tight then and there. Sergei chose the army. Not saying that I would have ever got into the same way of life as Sergei, I wasn't raised that way. Seeing what I have seen in this was, I may have chosen the execution. Of all these guys I can say that Ilya, Otto and Sarge are my friends and I have a chance to make another one in Maxim, providing we both live, but Sergei..... Sergei is....He... Bothers me. A lot...But I can't put my finger on it.

Am I a horrible human to want him to die sooner rather than later? Am I?

June 4th 2017. 5:27am. Local Time

Were all up and ready now, Sarge should be any moment to brief us about what is happening today. No sooner do I finish that thought when he strolls in. Maxim snaps to attention immediately and salutes. Ignoring Maxim, Sarge walks past him into the middle of the room and addresses us.

"Morning gents. Good to see you up and ready. Especially the new guys." Sarge scans the room and continues speaking " Ok, we have new orders that are classified."

Sarge looks at me, " So put the pencil down. We have discussed what you are allowed to put into that little book of your." I nod at him

Closing the pages for now.

June 4th 2017. 5:44am. Local Time

Wow. Interesting mission we have. We can pull it off with no losses. Sarge is that confident in us. He's gone to get the final requisition for the equipment we will need. I trust him. He helped me survive my first three weeks in the war. Ilya and Otto trust his judgment too. Sergei and Maxim have no choice but to trust Sarge. The haven't seen how his is with the men under his command.

Sgt Pyotr Ledovskoy. 37 yrs old. A military man for nearly twenty years. Like his father and grandfather and great grandfather and great great grandfather before him, Pyotr Ledovskoy was going to enlist in the army when he turned eighteen. His great great grandfather served as a foot soldier in the Russo-Turkish War. His great grandfather served in WW1. His grand father served in WW2. His father served in the Soviet - Afghan War against the Mujahideen. and Pyotr served in The Second Chechen War. He came from a long line of soldiers and fighting men. Each of the Ledovskoy men survived those wars, despite choosing to fight in some of the most dangerous battles during the last one hundred years.

Stone faced and seemingly emotionless most of the time, he seems like the kind of guy that wouldn't give you the time of day. He isn't. That is just his military upbringing. Not matter what you feel inside don't let it show in your face or be heard in your voice. Sure I've seen him mad or happy or upset, but most of the time Sarge keeps his stony face. He is well trained to keep his emotions hidden. Those that have known him for a while know different. I did come under his command in Seattle. When I first met him in Seattle he was a little more open with his men. After three weeks there we were transferred here. The two of us were ecstatic when we got the news. Sarge was the happiest. He finally got out of that place after eighteen months of fighting the enemy. Eighteen months in Seattle, can you imagine. Seattle. New Stalingrad. I only spent three weeks in Seattle. I got out and was allowed some leave, it gave me time to reflect a bit on grandpa. He was in WW2 and never spoke about it. After my experience in Seattle I can understand why.

Sarge in Seattle. Seattle was a.....To be there........ was... It...Sarge woke me one......they came over....the...........................................................Seatt....was

I'm shaking uncontrollably. I want to cry, I want to go home, I want my mother or my father to hold me and tell me everything is going to be alright. that those loud noises coming closer aren't going to hurt me. They will save me. Someone is shaking me trying to get my attention. I groggily turn my head in their direction everything is a blur and I can't focus my eyesight. I hear a voice fuzzy and distant. I can't make out what is being said. Wait, It's dad, he wants me to go with him. I nod in agreement and push myself to my feet. My legs wobble and can barely hold me up. Dad puts his arm around me and helps me away from the noises, but they continue to follow. Dad as strong as ever on his feet and me stumbling and bumbling along. I still can't see right just, fuzzy shapes. I feel useless. Dad drags me along and the noise begin do get quieter. He's doing it he's making them go away. The noise finally stop and Dad lowers me to the ground and begins to shake me again, saying my name, trying to bring me around. After a little bit It seems to have it's desired effect. My hearing improves a little and I can feel more of my arms and legs. My vision is clearing a little. I loll my head on my chest and begin to shake it trying to clear the fuzz

Sarge's voice starts up again.....wait.. Sarge's voice? I thought it was Dad. Where am I? I smell urine and feces. My vision clears and finds me looking at my crotch. I have wet myself. I also feel an uncomfortable lump in the back of my trousers. That explains that smell. I lift my head to see the relieved face of Sarge. Sarge? Where am I again? Oh. Right. Seattle........

I haven't picked up this journal in a couple of day. I don't have any recollection of writing that, even though it is in my handwriting. I vaguely remember that incident, too. I don't want to dwell on it. I'll just keep on making entries.

June 6th 2017. 4:17pm. Local Time

We got back setting up the second part of our orders about half an hour ago Things went well. Our objective was established and there was no meeting the enemy. On our way back we made an interesting discovery.

We were moving on foot making our way back, through an affluent neighborhood past many large mansions and properties. Each house contained, by my estimate, at least thirty rooms. The sat on large plots of land. Some were gated or full fenced. A few were surrounded by walls. One of these drew our attention. Or at least Otto's attention. He was about five yards away from us as we were moving along a tall concrete wall surrounding one of the properties. He was a great point man, always managed to lead us through the least difficult areas and still get us to our destination on schedule. I guess he has a way with directions too. I never really gave it any thought until now. Otto is at the end of the wall where it reaches the street, peering around the corner, we are following when he holds up his fist signaling us to stop.

We take an immediate crouching position and wait for Otto's next signal. A few cautious moments pass and Otto waves us forward to him. One by one, we silently slip towards him. He pulls his head back when we get there and whispers to the group. " Across the street and to the left. Concrete wall with a white picket fence painted on it. Gate with a floral pattern. Thought I saw someone try and close it. Movement at least." He says.

Otto looks at Sarge " Pyotr, care to look?"

Sarge slips past me and Otto to carefully look around the corner of the wall. after a few moments he brings his head back in. " I saw no sign of movement. Although, the gate was slowly swinging. I don't feel much breeze out today."

He pauses for a moment " We are going that way, so we may as well look. One by one, across the street, down the wall to the gate. No farther. Otto. You first. Go"

Otto nods and heads off across the street in a crouched run. Sarge sees him reach the wall turns to Ilya. Ilya just smiles and nods and takes off after Otto. Then Sergei goes.

Sarge turns to Maxim. "Maxim you....."

Maxim, who was only half listening, cuts Sarge off "Sir. Ready for orders. Sir."

Sarge holds up a hand at him and speaks slowly " Don't say anything just nod at the moment. You and I will cover the backs of the others. Understand?" Maxim nods nervously.

Sarge motions to me "Anatoly. You go next. Take the others in and check it out. Maxim and I will provide rear guard if needed. Go." I turn and begin my crouched run across the street and hear Sarge's whispering voice coming from behind me " and be careful"

I cross the street and meet up with the others. I inform them of Sarge's orders. Otto nods and starts to push the gate slowly open. It makes no sound and opens easily. Strange. A gate like this requires some maintenance, this one opened smoothly and soundlessly. Was there perhaps still someone in that house? All the houses in this area of town were supposed to be abandoned. Oh well we are about to find out. Otto slips in followed by the rest of us. Inside these walls is a large four story mansion. It sits on what was once a beautiful manicured property. Fir or pine trees dot the property. Their cones and needles littering all around. The lawn has grown to about three feet tall. A ten foot wide moat of flowers surrounds the house. Once home to beautiful exotic flowers tended with great care, it not longer had any of it's former glory. Plants that shouldn't be here naturally have withered and died. Vines, creepers and weeds have twined and twisted their way through strangling other weaker plants. It was a lot of random color throughout a green expanse of leaves. To our left there was a wide driveway that led up the north side of the flower moat. The large gate was closed. There was no carport.

I look at the others and speak "Sergei and I will check out the south side of the house. Otto. You and Ilya check out the north. We will meet at the back of the house."

Otto and Ilya nod and start making their way along the north face of the house. Sergei and I head and check the south side. It doesn't take either of our groups long to meet up. There are no ways into the house that we can see. Without making a lot of noise. All the windows are boarded up. Even the ones on the upper floors. The doors are boarded as well. This property is completely enclosed in that concrete wall. The only ways in and out are through the small gate or through the large vehicle gate.

Sergei says quietly "That little shed like thing we passed that's attached to the house. Maybe there is a way in to the house from there. Worth a closer look I think."

I don't like this guy but he is right. We only gave it a cursory look. I pat Ilya on the shoulder and the two of us head to the little shed on the back of the house.

Turns out Sergei was right. Inside this little shed like room was indeed another door into the house and it was open. Ilya waves the other two over. "We stay in pairs and systematically search the house, room by room. Finish a floor before moving on to the next. when we move to the next floor it will be the four of us." I say quietly " Ilya and Sergei, you two together. Go."

The two nod and head into the house. Otto and I follow. I'll save some boring descriptions. The house was actually empty of all effects. No furniture, paintings, tvs, dishes clothes knick-knacks. Nothing. Except in the second basement. Ilya found it. A false wall opening to a tiny corridor leading to a large safe. It was closed. It might be empty already, but we have standing orders. If anything worth noting is found we are obligated to report it.

The four of us make our way out of the house and back to the gate we came through. We reach it and exit. Sarge and Maxim are no where to be seen. We begin to look around at each other, a bit confused, when both he and Maxim walk out from the behind the wall across the street. Maxim is nodding slightly and Sarge has his arm around his shoulder. Sarge being Sarge. Comforting his men in times of the unknown. We meet up and relay the info on what we may have found. Sarge pulls out a map of the city, marks the location of the house and makes a note. He tucks away the map and tells us it's time to move on. We arrive back at base without anything else to report, except the safe. They immediately dispatch a larger contingent of men to retrieve the safe and bring it back here. We go through our de brief and are allowed to stand down for the rest of the day. I smell, I need a shower.

June 6th 2017. Local Time

Sarge just got word on the safe. They managed to bring it back to base and get it open. It was full of gold and silver bars. Estimated value $3,500,000 rubles. Good find for us, gives some recognition. I'm tired and want to go to sleep. We have the final part of our orders to prepare tomorrow. I'll write tomorrow night. if anything interesting happens.

June 8th 2017. 4:55am. Local Time

Time to move out. Our objective needs to be accomplished. Things are going to go boom today if all thing go smoothly. Talk to you soon.

I'm in massive pain. My left arm is severely injured and constantly throbbing. My head is pounding and my eye is swollen shut. I barely have any strength. I need to stop and rest. We were successful in our objective. Sarge and the others are all dead. I have no problem now recounting what happened today.

June 8th. 2017. Sometime around dusk, I don't know. My time piece is destroyed and bits of it a shoved in my wrist

We left this morning to wait in ambush of a column of tanks. Reports had twelve Abrams tanks, split into two groups of six and were closing in on a lightly defended position of the city. It was our job to stop them. In the days prior to today. We set out to create two ambush zones. We set one about 35 km away near what looked to be a courthouse. The second ambush point was back towards HQ, about 10kms, near a small clump of tall towers. If things went well we would hit the tank groups within twenty minutes of each other. We hurry out and wait at our first ambush point. The reports had no information of what time of day the tank column was coming through. We arrive at the first site without incident and wait. There was no signs that the tanks had been this way.

Two or so hours go by with no sighting when suddenly, Sergei grabs my arm when we here some rumbling in the distance. Sergei starts chattering quietly to himself holding his gun. The rumbling grows louder and louder. We got at least one location right. The tanks were coming through. Sergei and I crouch low and wait for the whole column to pass. Otto is position up front and will be the queue for our attack. He will detonate some strategically placed C4 charges and destroy the first tank through. It will tear up the road and create craters for the other tanks to navigate. This is also my queue to detonate my charge trying to block any retreat.

Sergei waits nervously, rocking slightly back and fourth, when it comes. A loud series of explosion about 80yrds to our north. I close my eyes and begin my countdown 5..4..3..I open my eyes in time to see Sergei cocking his rifle and climbing over the mound of rubble we were hiding behind. WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING?!?!! I spin quickly and push my detonator. I was in the middle of yelling out to Sergei when something strikes my head and left side knocking me out.

I awake a while later. I don't know how long I was out. Maxim is looking over me. He seems relieved that I'm alive. No one was more relieved about that than me. I hurt all over. My head. Arm. Legs. Back. Everything is sore but seems in working order.

"Cpl Markovich. I'm glad you are awake. Cpl Anosov has gone off to check our perimeter. Pvt. Yozhikov is dead. So is the Sarge. Cpl Tsyrinsky is missing." Sarge dead, Otto missing? I hated hearing those words from Maxim. Pyotr and Otto are my friends. When he mentioned Sergei I just couldn't care that he was dead. I ache all over but get into a crouching position. The back hurts the most now.

I look at Maxim through the only eye I can see out of. I took a good hit to the face and upper body. He has no expression on his face. he is covered in dirt and dried blood. The blood doesn't look like it came from him. "Tell me what happened."

"We ambushed the tanks, sir, and were successful. The first six are destroyed and their crew all dead. Except we lost three of our own. Cpl Anosov has gone off to to check our surroundings" Maxim speaks quietly. He has changed a little. He hasn't shouted sir at me. Not yet anyway. "He instructed me to watch over you until he returns."

I nod at him. We wait for a few minutes for Ilya to return and during that time the aches and pains subside a bit and I feel a bit better. Ilya scrambles to our safe point. He sees that I'm awake and smiles that cheerful smile of his. How can he be that way. Still smiling. Seeing your dead friends, nearly getting killed and still smiling. He nods and starts to speak

" Good to see you back in the real world. Maxim has informed you of our situation? Yes?" I nod at him and he continues "I have bad news for you then. You are in charge. I also saw what looks like a wounded American about half a block that way." His smile drops a bit. Ilya knows that I don't want any form of responsibility. I don't want to have the blood of my own comrades on my hands. " What do you want to do?"

I lower my head. Convenient how this wounded American was back back the way we came from. As is our second objective. So we may as well check him out while I decide whether or not to call off the rest of the mission. The remaining three of us gather what we have left and Ilya leads us to the wounded soldier. He was American alright. Maxim draws his gun quickly and points it directly at the American's head

Maxim looks at both myself and Ilya with tears welling up in his eyes, and starts speaking. "Sarge confided something to me about his time in Seattle. Something that these men forced him to do. It was his first real command. His squad of three was captured."

Maxim wipes a tear from his cheek with his free hand. "Sarge was forced to slowly kill both of his men or he would not live. They wanted to relay a message through him to our superiors. It's amazing what one will do to try and postpone their death. One of the men that he was forced to kill was named Pvt Maxim Gorokhin. Strange world isn't it when a man who commands of the lives of two men with the same name at different stages in his career. He told me he had a second chance to keep Maxim Gorokhin alive and wouldn't fail." Maxim looks back at the injured American and pulls the trigger.

Ilya and I look at each other. Maxim as changed in the matter of moments. He seemed a more natural soldier now. I may ask him about his mark, today isn't that day.

This day just keeps getting more interesting. From out of a nearby building a soldier walks out casually with, what looks like, a sniper rifle rest across his shoulder. Maxim begins to adjust his aim when the man turns his upper body sideways, but continues to walk forward. The three of us see the red and white Maple Leaf of the Canadian flag on his shoulder. What are the Canadians doing down this way? I thought they were concentrated more at the ports. Maxim lowers his weapon. and Ilya smile brightly walking forward with an outstretched hand.

Ilya then begins speaking to this man in his form of English. "Hello. Is good to see friendly. Most we meet just shoot us." I've got to refine that boy's English skills.

The Canadian looks us up and down as he starts speaking " Who is your commanding officer?"

Ilya nods in my direction " Is Anatoly."

The Canadian looks at me and begins speaking " I am Brigidier General James Garret. You may call me James. What is your group doing out here?" James asks " I wasn't aware of any Russian missions out this way until next week."

I salute him quickley and begin talking to him " I am Anatoly Markovich Snr. Cpl. of the 4th squad of the 8th Hammer Battalion. Russian Peoples Army. Snr. Cpl. by chance not choice. You may call me Anatoly, James."

Maxim starts mumbling to himself about the Sarge and tanks. I ask him to be quiet. I need to talk with Canadian.

"Our squad was under the command of Sergeant Pyotr Ledovskoy. Recently KIA.. We were sent out on an ambush to destroy some American tanks reported to be coming through the city." I introduce Ilya and Maxim.

The Canadian laughs and Ilya joins him even though he doesn't know why " Me and my partner were tasked on confirming the tanks."

As if on queue, his earpiece begins to emit a faint voice. Must be his partner. General Garret turns up his earpiece and we can hear the voice coming through it. It turns out that he has spotted the second column heading into the city. They seemed to be heading in into our second ambush point. I thank the General and turn the remnants of the squad around and we start a quick march towards home base. Via the second ambush point. I've decide to take us back to base, but if we happen to come across. The second half of the tank column then we will try and deal with it. Sarge would at least want us to.

I'm getting tired. And want to sleep. We did meet up with that second column. That fight took a little longer than the first and cost both Ilya and Maxim their lives. I am the only one left now. I'm going to stop for a bit I'm really tired. I need to rest. I'll write some about the second ambush later when I have the strength.

It has been three weeks and the war was through with him the injuries to his arm are healing. He won't have much use of it, but at least he still has it. He is now permanently blind in his left eye due to a ruptured eyeball from a massive blow to the face. He also walked with a slight limp on his left side. It wasn't a sprained ankle he got that day, but several hairline fractures. His badges of honor.

He grabs the handle of the staircase leading up to the third floor of an apartment building in Smolensk and begins to climb the steps. This building was older and didn't have an elevator. He didn't care. He was alive and safe. He reaches the third floor and turn right down the hallway. He walks to apartment 6 and raises a closed fist to knock on the door. He hesitates for a few moments, thinking to himself 'How will they react?' Only one way to find out. He knocks on the door three times.

A moment later the sound of the door being unlocked is heard and the door swings open. Standing there is a man in his early fifties, hair graying, glasses wrinkles around the eyes. He looked every bit his age. I'm still in uniform. He looks me up and down and I see a tear form in his eye. I say nothing, I don't need to and he knows that, but reach into my pocket and pull out a small black book bound with elastic. I look the older man in the eye. The emotion of this meeting is beginning to take over.

He reaches at me trembling. I hold the book out and press it into his hands. I grasps his hands tight for a few moments, before I let go. He musters enough strength to ask me my name.

I look at him, barely being able to hold the tears back myself and say quietly. "Otto sir. Otto Tsyrinsky. I was a member of your son's squad. And his friend "

I look at the book in his shaking hand. "Anatoly would have wanted you to have it. I'm afraid I cannot stay. I must go to Volgograd."

Anatoly's father steps back a few paces from the doorway and gingerly remover the elastic. He looks at me once more. I do my best to force a smile. I know he didn't buy it. He looks back at the book and opens its cover. I reach in and close the door to the apartment.

I lean on the wall across from Anatoly's parents apartment trying to calm myself. It takes me a few minutes relax and as I am just about to leave, from behind the door of apartment six, I hear crying. First one person then a second. I have to leave. The sound of parents crying over the loss of their child is the worst crying I have ever heard.

I will hear that crying at least two more times.

© Copyright 2019 Andrew Schmidt. All rights reserved.

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