P.T.S.D.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
Russo-Finnish War. A Metaphor.

Submitted: January 02, 2008

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Submitted: January 02, 2008

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P.T.S.D.


You have had the same dream every winter for sixty years. Every time it snows you remember.

*

You have lain here since three A.M. Silent, still, completely covered with new-fallen snow. You are a white lump pretending to be a snow-covered log. Your white suit completes the mask of invisibility. It took you four hours to crawl this distance, to come right round to the bunker’s rear. Your rifle lies under you, wrapped in white cloth to make it blend in, and to keep the mechanism from freezing. Now you wait - you wait for Ivan and the morning light. You are tense, focused, and wide-awake.

The Russian bunker, a mini-fortress of logs and stone - three firing slits, a crude chimney - a low hillock infecting your Finnish soil. It has a weakness. You and your comrades are here to kill it. Kill it before the lumbering tanks make their morning round. Kill it and put fear in the Ivans’ hearts. Kill it, and weaken their resolve.

The rear door opens just a crack, light pours out. Snow slides from the sodded roof. A head pokes out and searches the white-cloaked winter gloom. Then he trods out a pace or three into the deepened snow with a bucket full of Ivan’s nightsoil. He throws the contents across the snow, polluting putrid slurry, quickly frozen. You ignore it. You tense every fibre of your being.

The Ivan turns to re-enter the bunker, you rise and rush. toss a grenade, shoot the Ivan, and roll to one side. A blast rips the morning. A cheer goes up from other comrades hidden in the snow like you. One of them tosses a second grenade through a firing slit. When the smoke has cleared you enter cautiously. Guano-man lies dead in the doorway, his stinking night-soil bucket still in his hand. The smells of cordite and the wet sweaty stench of men reach out to as you enter the fetid bunker.

Two soldiers at the machinegun are both shredded. Off in a corner, behind a table, sits a wounded Ivan, holding his steaming, grey intestines in his hands. Shock holds back his pain and horror for the moment. His wide-open eyes are fixed on a place beyond your sight, as his lifeblood slowly drains away. He is young, and looks like you: grey eyes, blond hair cut short against the lice, square face. You say a prayer for his soul, and then shoot him in the heart. Not out of malice, out of pity. Either way he was already dead. No medics here on the edge of nowhere. His eyes still open wide.

You search the young Ivan, pull out his ID, a pack of letters, and the picture of a girl. His name is Petr Kruppa, a Volga German, sent to fight for Stalin’s ego. He is 17, two years younger than yourself. You will write to the girl when the Winter War is over, and send the bundle of letters back. Your comrades frisk the bodies, loot the bunker of all that is useful, set fire to it and retire to the Finnish lines. The smoking ruin will be their tombstone, for the Ivans will not rebuild it. And when the Russian tanks come rumbling on their morning rounds, your squad will have already skied off to prepare to take another bunker somewhere else along the Russo-Finnish Front.

And the Winter War will continue to continue, while Stalin spends the lives of Russia’s children to extend the boarders of his paranoid ambition; and Hitler counters with Finns as proxy.

And all the years of peace since you turned twenty-five have not dulled the dream, or closed that young Ivan’s eyes.


- End -


James Gagiikwe 2008

Note: P.T.S.D. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


© Copyright 2017 James Gagiikwe. All rights reserved.

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