I shut my eyes as I swiped a blob of blood off of my forehead. The maddening roar of the German machine-guns was robbing me of my sanity as I sat there in the blood-soaked mud behind the truck, watching Viktor as he glanced about the battlefield. I could almost hear the voices of those dead men calling out to me, tempting me to gawk at their mangled remains and take it all in. To understand that this is fate, destiny, that this is all that men will be left with. Brutality, madness, blood-thirst.
I returned to my senses, allowing my ears to be immersed in the gruesome and horrifying death cries of men being torn apart, the pleading of men mangled by bullets begging to be saved, the chaotic screaming of men as they struggled to inspire the horrified soldiers around them. Viktor slapped himself against the truck, groaning as he resigned himself to mental exhaustion.
"Sasha, you hunted wolves before this?" He asked as calmly as a man indulging in story-telling with an old friend.
"Yes," I panted as I slumped back against the truck, ignoring the disturbing wetness beneath me. "Started when I was fourteen, learned from my father."
"Your father, was he a good man?" The green of his eyes were sharpened with curiosity.
I nodded. "A bitter mouth, sour as the vodka he drank. But a good man! What about you? Was your father a good man?"
A deafening burst raked my ears, flinching, I shielded my face as dirt rained down on us. Viktor dug some dirt out of his ear before speaking.
"Very good. He was poor, but kind, like that man, ah," He shook his hand as fumbled for his words.
"The one who died in Jerusalem or something!"
"The hell is that?" I raised a brow as I lowered my head.
"It's ah," The ping! of a bullet on the hood of the truck sent us both downward.
Viktor paused as we recovered. "It's the home country of the Jews, or something, I'm not quite sure!"
"You have a better idea of it than I do." I shook my head as I leaned back against the truck.
"Whatever, let's try and get some weapons before..." I didn't need to ask why he stopped speaking.
"Heads down! Keep your fucking heads down!" Someone screamed, echoing and being echoed by other men as he waved us all down.
I slammed myself against the truck as hard as I could, flattening myself against the life-saving metal as I dug my palms into my ears, refusing to let up on them as I struggled to block out the horrifying whistling that hailed the power of artillery. Even as I drove my palms into my ears, my eardrums were raked with the overwhelming bursts of artillery shells being detonated. Over and over again, without relent the artillery raked at my ears as it overpowered the dying screams of German men and the horrified wails of Russian soldiers, each blast forcing the earth to tremble in terror at its horrifying might.
My ears rang with a deafening wail, throbbing and pulsing as though they were overheated machine-gun barrels that had finally begun to cool down. I uncovered my ears, allowing them to rest as it occurred to me that the machine-guns had finally ceased their unrelenting slaughter.
"Move...!" I partially heard before my ears pulsed with steaming pain.
A Commissar was walking up the bank of the river, waving us forward as he held a sub-machine gun in one hand. "Move forward! Now... time! Re-take... cred lands!"
I watched, dumbstruck as men began to shakily rise to their feet, glancing about in horrified anticipation of the German machine-guns. One by one, they began to walk, and some jogged forward, most un-armed, some armed. I glanced at Viktor.
"Now is a good time, let's find a weapon, Sasha." Viktor nodded at me as he began to walk forward.
I nodded and followed. I scanned the ground as we walked, hoping that among the war-torn and mangled corpses, there would be rifles, but the few rifles I saw were already in the hands of other men or on their way to their hands.
I dropped my weight, instinctively ducking my head to dodge gunfire when I realized that it was just the Commissar screaming. Viktor and I turned around, as well as a few others who'd been startled by the raging Commissar.
"What the fuck are you doing?" He screamed as he firmly wielded his sub-machine gun at a young soldier, a boy who was probably only seventeen.
"I, I came back to get a rifle, sir!" He timidly answered as the Commissar menacingly bore down on him.
I could hear it in the boy's quivering voice, he was silently begging for mercy as he cautiously stepped back. I watched, unable to comprehend the snarling Commissar's fury.
"You came back to get a rifle when your mother land demands to be rescued?"
"N-no! I..." He'd just raised his hands when the first gunshot rang out.
Bullet after bullet tore through the boy's chest as the Commissar mercilessly cut him down, scowling as he spit at the boy's body as a pool of blood collected underneath and around him. I shook my head, horrified the brutality of the Commissar.
"Any man who takes even one, step, back! Is a traitor! No matter the reason!" He screamed as he stepped on the boy's corpse.
I shook my head, my face hardening with rage. "I hope the Germans put a bullet through his skull."
"Don't speak like that Sasha," Viktor whispered as we turned around. "It makes you reckless."
"And he's a murderer!" I growled at Viktor. "The boy just wanted a rifle to defend himself!"
"I know, but, there's nothing we can do but fight."
I shook my head, struggling to find words. "I hope that the man who started this war dies slowly and painfully burns in hell."
Viktor stooped down, scooping something up. He handed a Tokarev pistol upward to me as he dug through the corpse's pockets. I took it from him and fumbled with it for a bit, it was heavy enough, so it must have been loaded. I slide the magazine to make sure and then slide it back in until it locks into place.
"I've only found this magazine, but, it should be good enough. For now, at least." He says as he looks up at me, holding the lone magazine out to me.
I take it and slip it into my left breast pocket as he stands, and we resume our walk up the bank, into smoldering, crumbling buildings torn apart and ravaged by the artillery. My trigger finger twitches as I see myself putting a bullet through the Commissar's skull. my blood boiling with hatred as I played it over and over in my mind.
I want this war to end. Now.
(A/N: In the previous chapter I missed Sasha's name by a mile and had Viktor call him Dmitri, and other than that, I apologize for the year long gap in this update, it was one error after another and I just got too pissed.)