The Theatre

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
A disconnected German soldier faces the horrors of war in Leningrad, Russia 1943. Feedback appreciated.

Submitted: December 16, 2013

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Submitted: December 16, 2013



The Theatre

The snow crunched under Bauer’s jackboots as he slowly stepped on the white blanket that had fallen through a break in the dome. Murky clouds above could be seen through the theatre’s gaping wound as frost gently wandered in, reminding Bauer of the frozen winter outside. He shuffled through the corridor that separated the two sections of ground floor seats, their velvet pillows crumpled from the presence of cold wind. The war had rendered Leningrad’s most extravagant opera theatre into little more than a home for rats and rubble.

Bauer could only imagine what the theatre was once like. The wealthy and rich of Russia gathering in their hundreds, elegantly crowding the seats pretending like they knew something about art. They would sit with their powdered wigs, flapping their fans just waiting for the opera to finish so they could return to their gossip. The conductor would throw open his arms, trying to offer them an insight to his passion for music, but the crowd could only show their appreciation by giving him the best of a dull clap, a few of them already half way through leaving.

Bauer continued his tread down the corridor steps towards the stage, keeping a few paces behind the last man in the squad. His loose fitting standard issue German helmet slid over his brow. Cursing under his breath he adjusted the helmet with one of his hands, letting the other one deal with cradling his cold-bitten kar98k rifle. As he lifted his helmet he realised he had not acknowledged the size of the theatre before. He gaped at the layers of golden balconies overlooking the auditorium, patterns and etchings decorating the stalls. They depicted celestial and godly beings fighting among each other like rapid dogs. He would not mind to see a show here, but it wouldn’t be for a long time as he noticed the thick concrete slabs burying the stage. Opera was always his nemesis. It’s long and tiresome love stories had made many hours of his childhood disappear. His mother and father had always been educated people, bringing him along to their favourite pastime. There was only one opera that escaped his cruel critiquing, Don Giovanni. Terrifying and beautiful at the same time, it was the opera that moved him. Mozart’s music flowing through his ea- Steamy liquid burst on his face. The shot that had ended his daydreaming echoed through the auditorium as the German soldier in front of him collapsed in a lifeless pile.

Bauer felt the soldier’s blood ooze down his cheek as his now four-man squad rushed into any sort of cover they could find. His instincts kicked in. He threw himself onto the snow blanketed carpet of an isle of seats. A second shot rang out. It clipped the seat in front of him, sending cushion feathers high into the freezing air. Fear grabbed hold of him. He fumbled with his rifle trying to wedge the frozen action open. In the corner of his eye he could see the soldier who had just been shot. The bullet had entered his neck leaving a fist sized exit wound on his upper back. The shot must have come from one of the higher balconies. The soldier’s inanimate face was full of fear. His eyes where opened wide with dismay as a slow drip of rich gore trickled from his mouth. His wind pipe must have been crushed on impact.

Cracks from the familiar German rifles and sub-machine guns began ringing in the void. The stonework of the stalls began exploding with plaster as the bullets nicked the pillars and decorations. A third shot from the Russian rifle. This time it was followed with a cry of pain. Bauer could hear the familiar voice of corporal Meier screaming in agony. He cringed at the sound. Bauer hit the action hard with his woollen gloved hand, breaking the ice in the chamber. Franticly and adrenaline filled he shoved the rifle between the gap of two velvet clad seats and peered through the iron sights. He saw from the destruction caused by German rifles that his fellow comrades had found the stall where the Russian sniper had been firing from. Bauer fired his rifle. His shoulder bounced back from the small explosion in his gun. He could not see the enemy, but he knew he was there.

The shot ricocheted off the golden arch above the stall viewing area. The sniper was keeping his head down beneath the parapet, but Meier’s screams still filled Bauer’s ears. The whole theatre had erupted with a noise that had never been heard in the domed structure. Bauer fired again, this time hitting the back wall of the viewing box. By this time he could see that two members of his squad had moved up while the sniper was pinned by suppressing fire. A grenade could be seen in his sergeant’s hand as Bauer pulled the bolt of his rifle back and up, releasing the spent cartridge. Bauer fired again at the now shattered stall, keeping the sniper pinned while his sergeant exposed himself. The rifle made a sharp click after he fired the last bullet. Bauer opened the action and released the empty clip from his rifle. Reaching into his bandolier, he grabbed a fresh clip of five rounds and slammed it home. Shutting the action, Bauer pulled the bolt forward and rammed his shoulder into the butt of his rifle.

At this instance, his sergeant tossed the grenade into the frost bitten air, roughly guiding it towards the opening of the snipers viewing box. It fell short. The German potato masher grenade fell half a metre from the balcony opening and bounced off the parapet wall. It exploded mid-air. To his horror, Bauer watched as his sergeant and squad mate received hot shrapnel from the air above. His gut clenched as he looked helplessly at his comrades squirm and scream as the shrapnel entered their fleshy bodies.

The Russian peaked out from his birds nest, craning his rifle over the parapet and into the void. Still shocked by the horrors unfolding before him, Bauer did not see the hidden sniper squeeze the trigger. Instead, he witnessed his sergeants head rip apart in a fury of pink and red matter. His whole body became weightless and crumpled to the floor like a child’s rag doll. Bleeding furiously, his squad mate attempted to gather what was left of the sergeant and drag him to safety. It was too late. The swift talent of the sniper rendered any reaction from Bauer or his squad mate useless. The sniper fired another shot with deadly precision into the chest of Bauer’s squad mate. Bauer froze. His squad mate fell lifelessly to the snow covered ground. Shocked with fear, Bauer tried to speak, tried to cry out, but he couldn’t. He sat there, his tongue twisted with horrific terror. He did not want to die, especially not for a country that had forced him into war. Bauer could see that Meier was now lying in a pool of his own rich blood. They were dead, all of them. Four soldiers now lay bleeding in the void of the auditorium as snow gently fell from the crack in the dome. He was alone, and the theatre was silent. 

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