Excerpt for November by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Published by Il’ya Milyukov at Smashwords

Copyright 2018 Il’ya Milyukov

People’s Unity Day

I inhaled deeply once more, decided that I had, finally, taken my breath and raised my head above the block cautiously. The road was like the same: the same asphalt, the same concrete fence, the same parapet on the sidewalk. My heart was still pounding, my ears were dinning not much less, and I breathed the air in my chest one more time. The smells were some summer ones – of gas, of kerosene, of rot, of dampness, and the smoke smell was the strongest. I turned my head to the left and looked at the twelve-storey roof. Rather, there was no roof properly with a few upper floors already – apparently, a high-explosive one hit right this exact place, and instead of the roof with the floors a heap of bricks, shining with the numerous black holes, was now cresting the top part of at one time roomy multi-entrance building. That’s just some astronomer’s dream. A thick column of a black smoke was directed from the former roof of a former twelve-storey up straight, and nothing was swaying it. I turned back and have heard the convoy at once.

It was making so much noise, that it was heard, probably, with a kilometer distance. Caterpillars chunking on the asphalt and engines blare were merging into an incredible, terrifying uproar. I squeezed my launcher stronger and looked the guys over. Vova, who was sitting on my right, seized his RPG too and, as it seemed, he was staring straight before one. It was seen with the naked eye, that he’s cold, tired and jittering generally speaking. On my left there was a big uncle about forty, I hadn’t memorized whose name yet, although I heard it in passing all the time for the last few days. That one, apparently, wasn’t jittering at all on the contrary, even despite that he was looking at Vova and me carefully.

The convoy stopped, judging by the changed noising sound, apparently, the head vehicle reached our barricade. Well, I’m not hurrying anywhere; I can wait a little still. Although my legs are beginning to freeze slightly already. Okay, let’s try to see the others, while our enemy has a smoko or what he has. I turned my neck over to the left with might and main, but the uncle obstructed all the free space with his immense figure, so I saw only a grey block surface and his jacket, no matter how hard I was trying and turning my head hither and thither. Okay, we’ll think that they’re fine. Here the caterpillars began chunking again, and I again felt a familiar horrid chill inside all my body. At that my jaws began trending to the one to another rhythmic rapping with this clang closing.

I don’t know how much time I had sat in that state. Most likely, not so much, till I felt that somebody is clapping my shoulder. That came out that was the recent neighbor-uncle. Split second later I recalled where I am. Everything happened very fast further – I turned the sight, turned myself, sat up, saw the tank, found its tower in the sight, coped the thrill in my dripping wet palms, pulled the trigger and shrank of the pat near my right ear. A moment later there was one more shot close to my left one.

Recollecting, I got that I’m lying on the ground face up.

There they are, they’re running there! – somebody shouted. ­­

They were shooting incessantly on my right, left and back. Something was pouring down right to my face from above. I tried to turn to my right side swiftly, but I couldn’t even move my legs. I looked at it – and I began shaking more: Vova was lying without move, head down. I began to push him off me and turned him face to me. It was fully covered in blood and with something else, and it wasn’t face at all, but some detestable, ugly brown hole. And it was flowing from it. I turned back and felt the strongest sick, a moment later I puked. My hands became smeared with something sticky. My right arm fumbled the rifle on the ground, and I leaned against the block with my back.

Are you well? – asked the standing man. And, without waiting a response: – I thought, they laid both of you.

He reloaded his rifle and again leaned on the garbage, which was lying on the block. Holding my rifle in my right hand, I pushed off the ground with the left one, but I sat back at once. The uproar was just extreme; it was such, that I wished to lie on the ground prone and not to stand up. I put my rifle on our sangar by its barrel and slowly, very slowly, raised my head.

The tank was in the same position and it was burning. Generally, there was no tank as such: the tower was on its fore hatches down, the left caterpillar slipped down to the asphalt, and the corpus tilted ahead and, it seemed, it was melting. A few bodies lied faces down along it already, and my neighbors, as I understood, directed their fire exactly there. I began aiming too. The soldiers, who were shooting at us, weren’t still visible, but that didn’t stop the guys from spewing the burning tank with the bursts. Suddenly three or four flashes appeared behind the wreck. Yep, occurred to me.

Keep working, don’t be distracted! – uttered my right neighbor confidently.

I began aiming at the tank stern, but I still couldn’t see anyone. All of a sudden a figure emerged in my sight. I began pulling the trigger, the rifle was being thrown up, but the figure was staying put. I didn’t understand anything, but kept shooting. One of my magazines became empty. I began to pull it from the rifle, but couldn’t keep my balance and fell down. The recent uncle flopped near me. Someone else ran up from the back. One of the arrived joyfully cussed out in that way, that they’re all we need here.

No problem, we’ll solve it now, – moderated him another one. I recognized the voice – that was our group commander.

Suddenly a terrifying rumble sounded behind us, it was tenfold stronger than the previous one. I squinted at the twelve-storey for a second – it was like in place. I still understood nothing. But, apparently, only I, because those ones, who were near me, as if on cue, leaned out of our cover and began jubilantly, strongly clamouring: they began crying and whistling so, as if they suddenly and ill-timedly found themselves at a soccer game. I raised my head above the block carefully too. The tank was in situ, there only wasn’t a fragment in the wall, which was behind it. The remaining concrete slabs were smoking at the breach edges. And on the right side, near the stern of a lively burning carcass, as far as the eye could see, same badly distinctive mass was appearing.

Well, cheer to my colleagues! – a loud voice sounded somewhere from above.

A group of three tall square-built men was overpassing the ruins on the stairway.

Hi, hi, – answered Alexander Sergeyevich, our commander.

How have you done? – asked a loud voice owner, that, who was going in front of them, slightly quieter.

Here we go – we have done, it comes out.

Two’re gone, one’s injured, – said Alexander Sergeyevich.

He, isn’t? – the loud-voiced man turned to me.

Not, not him. Other one. Theyre there, with Zinchenko. A quite young one. And the gones too. Andrey, are you all right? – Alexander Sergeyevich also looked at me.

Yeah, I’m fine, – said I, though my I had, in fact, a terrible headache.

Major Ivanov. Andrey Ivanovich, – he stretched his hand to me. I shook it. My hand was as wadded.

Polozkov Andrey, said I.

Fine. Come on, men, we gotta get out.

Through the tinnitus a familiar jet engine sound was heard. That starts again, thought I.

Damn hell! What’s with the injured? – cried Ivanov. And, without waiting a response: – Go to the cover!

Everyone, who were nearby, darted off. I was running after the man, who was ahead, trying not to step to the dirt by my feet, though it was quite difficult. We’ve just approached the twelve-storey building, and suddenly something loudly thundered nearby, that I nearly tumbled into a huge puddle.

Go faster! – commanded somebody again.

My breath began to break yet. The attack planes were already close; my ears were popped of the howling. It again began chomping near me, for the umpteenth time today, but even louder and more repugnant. Something shot out right to my feet, I couldn’t keep my legs and got a spill on the ground, having painfully hit to the rifle by my chin. The plane was howling intolerable. I began looking at the earth clods, trying to fight the circles in front of my eyes, and all of a sudden I’ve recalled that I’m very hungry. Really, I haven’t eaten since today morning yet.

Consensus And Reconciliation Day

And do you know, what he answered me on that? I give you three guesses!.. I tell you – they’re some kind of insane, those punks. I don’t understand it, – Ivanov spat on the basement dirt floor loathingly.

And what did he answer? – asked Fedorchuk.

I told you – guess! Two guesses!

You told “three” yet!

I looked at the major, and then at the lieutenant. It’s clear that Kolya is pretending. This’s a no-brainer here, what that “punk” said to Andrey Ivanovich. I’ve already heard that, probably, million times yet.

Ivanov also looked at me and uttered:

Is here, Andryukha, something, what you don’t understand?

Generally, I don’t understand a lot of things, – answered I.

Such as?

Well, that was always interesting for me, why people aren’t much interested in the things, in which, it seems, they should be interested.

Ho! – solemnly pronounced major.

For example, these stupid blood tests, – resumed I. – When I donate my blood for a test, I faint almost every time. And a lot of people have this, I was purposely wondering. But that doctors, at least, whom I knew, were interested in that – I’ve never seen that. Thats strange yet.

I looked at Ivanov victoriously. He raised his forefinger and repeated:

Ho! That’s just like that dumbass! In fact he must be an adult yet, but really I don’t know who he is, some elementary school pupil. By the way, he’s really your coeval.

Yeah? – indefinably asked I, touching my bandage. – And what’s his name?

Well, something common, Alexeev-Nikolaev… I’ll recall now, just wait.

Here major fastly changed his countenance, and all of us speedily jumped, as if on cue.

Run! – briefly ordered Ivanov and darted along the cells doors. We rushed after him. My right cheek began to hum of the flick. We turned to the stairway from the corridor, surmounted it with the two leaps and turned to the building corner. At this moment the bomber with a thick roar flied right above my head, it seemed. The major and Fedorchuk were running with the fifteen-kilogram tubes, like we were scampering with the “spitters” back at school – the hollow tubules made of a sort of a fern plant barrels, from which we were shooting with a rowan berries. A few seconds later we stopped under the poplar just near the carriageway.

Andryukha, from the rear! – bellowed the major.

I swiftly lied on the curb and began looking in the sight. At the same moment a clap sounded behind me and split second later – a distasteful high whistle was. My feet were glowered, though the boots were on them.

Course? – questioningly uttered the major.

Sixty, speed’s five hundred. It will be now, – said Fedorchuk.

Look, Andryukha, how of it, – Ivanov addressed to me.

I stood up and looked there, where the plane was directing. Somewhere almost on the horizon a faint flash appeared for a moment, and about three seconds later an ugly black-yellow hat emerged above the nine-storeys. Almost after that I heard a dull, but clearly distinctive explosion clunk.

We came back. Andrey Ivanovich and Kolya took their places, and I took my rifle behind my back and asked the major:

So what was that captive’s name?

Whose one?

Well, the one, who was a punk.

Ah, – understood Ivanov, – I told you, something like… Alekseev, I guess. Right, Alekseev, yes.

I began to worry. On the other hand, there could be a lot of Alekseevs… Ivanov looked me over.

What, you really know him?

I had the classmate surnamed Alekseev.

And what’s his name?

Vova. Vladimir Nikolayevich.

That’s right! – the major looked at first at me, and then at Fedorchuk, – Vladimir Nikolayevich! Hes like so, of a medium height, brown-haired

That’s him, – gloomily said I.

The news, I should say! – the major looked at me again, – the breaking news.

But where’s he now, do you know, Andrey Ivanovich? – asked I, still standing.

I have no idea, Andryukha. But not by me for sure. In principle, finding it out – it’s a piece of cake. Most likely, he’s either by Arturych, or by Sanya Prokhorov. I’ll find it out and te… – suddenly the major speedily raised his left hand and looked at the floor. Kolya sprang to his feet already and took his launcher.

Yeah, I got you, – said Ivanov. And added, jumping: – They’re coming back.

We ran out of the basement to the same place again. I lied on a cold sidewalk again, only this time face east and I saw three planes, which were flying right at us in a group, at once. A pang shot my cheek; my hands began to shake a little. A disgusting perspiration appeared on my back instantly. An ack-ack clapped right above my head, and a missile rushed toward the bomber. I firmly decided to see the fall, despite my palms were fully wet, but suddenly I’ve heard that in my right ear over the roaring:

Run away!!

Kolya jerked my left hand, and I started running after him. Ivanov was running ahead of us across the pave. We began spanking after him, but I felt myself so, as if I’ve just run a few kilometers and was just about to take a break. We passed the wooden house and were rushing through the sidewalk along the hostel, when the explosion happened and split second later – there was another one. I touched the tree by my hand to stop – I was completely out of breath. The din in my ears was getting stronger and stronger, and blood began dripping to the ground. I sat to the ground horrified with my back on the tree, looked up and I was stupefied.

A huge, fourteen entrances long, nine-storey building was visible in full view. It was visible, and it was telescoping inwards, like it was toy one. A storey was crawling on a storey, and they were going down, like into the water. The glazed loggias were sinking to the vortex, the window holes were disappearing in the turbid-brown bricks and cladding stream. The wall pieces, the wooden planks and, apparently, the glasses fragments, and also the multifarious tatters were thrown to the different sides and were kiting, like snow. They were in the air on the right, on the left and above in the same time, in a word, from all sides, and they were falling down, like in a film slow-motion. Their unhurried moving to the ground was accompanying this verily hellish picture of a dwelling house erasure from the city map. Obviously, the thunder has hurt my eardrums yet, because I was hearing nothing, only watching at the collapsing leviathan, agape. Soon after that the dust has clouded all the free space.

Militia Day

Tell me, general, – suddenly asked I, – were you really lying under a shelling for forty days?

He looked at me incomprehensibly. The guys exchanged glances questioningly also. Tarasenko uttered:

This’s lieutenant Polozkov, the head of our group. Now you have to answer his questions.

Galaktionov began to look at the table again. Meanwhile my colleagues took their stuff from the table and chairs, and then left the room. I glanced at the air-conditioner.

How does that concern it? – asked the general, still looking at the table.

That does, that does, – with authority said I, – cause you still hadn’t tell anyone, what was your mission then. Because, apparently, nobody tried to ask you about that, right? So, just in a family way…

Galaktionov glanced at me. I was looking at him for a second, and then resumed satisfactorily:

So I want to find that out, how was that you came with a simple mission there, but as a result of that you were lying under a shelling for forty days. As I was told.

How does it concern my family?

Well, I give you three guesses, – I got up the chair and stepped to the wall, which was opposite the door, having stood with my back to him.

I have always been exasperated by such ignorance in adult people, to put it mildly. I begin getting frustrated. The point was even not this opinionated, polished sun-downer couldn’t recognize me – he doesn’t much wish it, considering our situation – it was that such individuals don’t wish to learn anything in life. They don’t, and that’s all. You could do anything with them though. You should write everything on a sheet for him. You should explain everything for twenty times for him. You should formulate all your questions right for him. He can recall nothing anyway. And with that he knows everything and he can do everything. Well, at that side is believed that he knows and he can do. That’s why he’s passes for a general, probably. Or, maybe, I still don’t understand something? Maybe, this’s such a versute idea? I turned around and asked:

Are you thirsty? Do you want to drink?

Yes, if that’s possible, – uttered he after a little pause.

I filled two glasses with soda, took them and came back to the table. Galaktionov took his one, sipped and said:

I guess, I put that not quite right. Just a lot of time has passed since that, and I don’t remember everything yet. I think, that was somewhere in the Airport area, I don’t know… We were trying to repair the bridge over the river, well, and… we got shelled.

Yeah, and also you were planting trees, flowers, potatoes and telling the small children in a local school about the advantages of a militioner job, – acrimoniously uttered I. – Come on, general! What “a lot of time has passed”! Only eight years have passed! And what you’ve seen there and then could be never forgotten at all. You better tell me, how could you attain from a major – you were just a major then – to a lieutenant-general for the eight years! Do share your secret with me! You were thirty-six then yet, you were a major, but now you’re only forty-four, and you’re a lieutenant-general yet. You’re a soon-to-be department commander!

He drove me angry a lot yet, I shouldn’t do so – I was already feeling a heartbeat definitely.

Well, I’m still thinking – your surname’s familiar to me, – smirked he, – but I still can’t recognize you by your appearance. Perhaps, we didnt meet a lot.

So we had met only two times, two times only, my dear comrade general! I wished to find that out from you then, how you got to be under some shelling for that long! But now it’s more interesting for me, how you got to survive then! Goddamn!

I kicked the chair leg angrily.

The general was keeping silence. Probably, it wasn’t so bad. And maybe he just wanted to sit and keep silence; anyway, I was feeling better with every second. Really, had I met few of such people yet? Not few at all. Even a lot of. I did like that one notably, whom were, so to speak, hiring me once – his explanation about that he doesn’t know where is our railway station because he doesn’t use suburban electric trains, was just unmatched. I did really want to laugh for not to cry then, but now it’s an absolute playgame. Comrade Galaktionov pales in comparison with some aboriginals. No, really, how could that be yet – an adult man had lived in a big city, well, maybe even the less part of his life, two or three years, but he hadn’t sit on the same place yet, he had been itinerating day by day – and he hadn’t found time to explore, where we have the railway station. That is, both I have and he has it, including. There aren’t a lot of them here yet, the railway stations.

Okay, now, I think, I could be grateful to Alexander Anatol’yevich, and then resume our interview. Now, just a half-minute more. I still didn’t want to look at him. I glanced at my palms, inhaled very deeply, then exhaled, raised my head and asked him suavely:

And do you know where the station is?

Galaktionov looked at me incomprehensibly.

I mean the railway one. Okay, never mind. I wished to ask another thing. So, you won’t share your secret with me?

Which particular?

Well, that one, how many people you have to shoot… or to slaughter, maybe, I don’t know, for to attain your altitude?

You should work, not rebel, that’s all, – calmly uttered he, – you shouldn’t make weird stuff.

I was stunned again.

So youre working now? You’re on duty now?

Of course, – same calmly said Alexander Anatol’yevich.

It seemed to me, that I became dumb – I wished to ask a thousand questions to this man, then to argue with every his answer and to say ten words after every his word, but I couldn’t even move, being struck by such… obduracy? Callousness? Inhumanity?

But do you… but do you kill people yet? Orm-m

You don’t kill…

I know, I know, – I was looking at the table again, – you destroy enemies in the war. So, youre destroying. In the war. So, youre a military. But what about

What? – asked he. It seemed, he was listening to me very carefully.

Nothing. But we were all watching the tape. You were watching, I saw that yet!

But what about it? – asked Galaktionov. He was looking at me with the same serious mine.

What do you mean “what”? – I didn’t get. – You did see that they weren’t airliners?

The general was hesitating with the answer about three or four seconds.

But how else can we fight with you? – asked he.

Radiation, Chemical And Biological Protection Troops Day

Maslennikov put the sheet away and said:

There are our demands. As all of you can see, we don’t want anything new, and, most importantly, anything impossible. It’s up to the federal party now.

Avdeev at first looked at the lieutenant-colonel, and then he turned back to the journalists and uttered:

All of you understand that we need some time. That’s why we begin with the captives, cause this question concerns everyone most of all. By arrangement with Valery Mikhaylovich we made, – the man without stars on his camouflage swabs, who was sitting on the right, handed to Avdeev a few varicolored plastic folders, – the lists. There’re the lists of the militaries, who are captives. Here’s the list of… m-m… seven hundred and thirty-two names, whom are in the formations of your party, Valery Mikhaylovich.

With these words the colonel-general passed the file to Maslennikov. The cameras flashes began to clack. I turned the objective to the lieutenant-colonel. He opened one file, quickly looked the paper sheets over and said, raising his eyes at the commander:

We have one thousand, one hundred and eighteen men listed. Plus six hundred and fifty-four dead else.

Avdeev and his right neighbor glanced at each other.

Give me your list, – uttered the colonel-general after a five-second pause, – apparently, we have to specify it again. And your namesone, please.

Maslennikov gave the documents with the flashes repeated chirr. Avdeev same quickly looked over the list, raised his eyebrows and asked wonderingly:

Two hundred and six men?

Two hundred and six, – answered the lieutenant-colonel.

But we have two and half thousand of them there, – with the same genuine surprise stated the commander.

Oh, he’ll announce him about the two and half thousand now, thought I.

Maslennikov looked at first at me, that is, to the objective, and then he glanced at Kostya Sandalov.

Valery Mikhaylovich, will you specify the names? – asked the Avdeev’s right neighbor.

I’m sorry, – said Maslennikov, glancing at Kostya once again, – I guess, there’s, really, some kind of mistake. Our staff, apparently, has mixed something. You can see it – a permanent rush, a lot of duties, people don’t get enough sleep… You, Vladimir Grigor’evich, give me, please, your list for some time, we’ll specify everything. Yes, thank you, thank you very much.

With these words Maslennikov took a blue rectangle, that was handed by Avdeev above the table, turned to Kostya, and then Kostya stood up from the table at once and passed me by. The lieutenant-colonel smiled to the federal representatives and then – to the hall with the correspondents.

You see, gentlemen, – said he, – all of us are tense, and all of us need this process. We’ll report about our decision very soon.

We have one more query else, – instantly said Avdeev, – a small separate list by our law enforcement organs request.

Like a real illusionist, the colonel-general materialized one more beautiful rectangle and showed it for the intrigued hall. Then he turned the file to himself, turned to Maslennikov and presented it to him. In the camcorder blue shimmering there were gravity and solemnity on the commander’s face, however, it seemed, that lieutenant-colonel was far from partaking it. He watched the content, but without visible concern.

Do you need some time? Probably, this does explain your difference.

No, I don’t need it, Vladimir Grigor’evich. Theyre not captives.

That’s right, – said Avdeev with authority, – not captives. These people are traitors. And the federal command demands of their immediate displacement back under our control.

Of course, we’ll displace them, – Maslennikov smiled one more time, but much more cheerfully now, – but only after that, when we will prosecute the most thorough inquiry. Because this question requires an especial examination. We can’t rush here, but we also must not to be slow anyway. If those people are criminals, more than that – if they are traitors, that is the most wanted of criminals, that means they must be prosecuted with the full extent of the law. Prosecuted with the applying of all the extraordinary measures, which are caused and provided by the current martial law. We will execute those of them, who’re guilty of the crimes against life or health, I promise it. With those ones, who committed marauding, burned the residential buildings or poisoned the drinking water, as well. The valiant aviators, whom are leveling our city for two weeks still, will deserve our special attention. But what I’d like to add, gentlemen, – the voice of the lieutenant-colonel suddenly became about two times louder. – The men, who are mentioned in this list, joined us. Voluntarily. They are the soldiers and officers of our army. Believe me, right because of it we want to find criminals among them not much less than the federal party. To find the murderers, rapists, marauders. So the inquiry will be prosecuted. But, – Maslennikov did a little pause. – If a particular military’s fault in a crime committing wouldn’t be proved by the prosecuted inquiry, nobody will displace him to anyone. And none of us will treat him traitor for sure. I think, the captives question can be closed for the details specifying. Lets move on to the next one.

Marines Day

And along they come. A few dozen, maybe, even a hundred planes, attack ones and bombers. They filled all the sky, from horizon to horizon. The rapidly increasing black dots, which were fetched out even on the background of this revolting shroud, which filled the opposite shore sky. Their engines roaring, perhaps, must flatten the buildings remains, above which they were flying, on the ground. The armada was closing quickly, but I was standing still, having no power to revert my eyes. And I saw the bridge, which was sinking to the water. Its bays, as if on cue, were slowly going down, like in those films, where a quake suddenly happens in a downtown or something like that. An anti-aircraft cannon begin thundering somewhere, the first clouds of its shells bursts appeared in the air, and I came to myself.

When I ran into our room, it was clear to me, that everything was collapsing and crumbling with usury above there, however, here it was heard not very loud. Apparently, the whole our squad was in session, because there almost wasn’t a free space in the room: some of them were sitting, most of them were standing, and all of them were silent. The sound was hearing only from the TV-set. I squeezed to the half-circle and looked at the screen.

– …of the existing arrangement. As you know, three days ago, during the negotiations between the federal forces command and the terrorists’ representatives the illegal formations commander in the conflict Central zone Valery Maslennikov was sacramentally assuring those who presented, that the main city bridge will be undamaged, no matter what. I quote: “It will be necessary to us, after we make a good execution for you, bastards”. You, our dear audience, and we could now see the value of his incompetent pathetic statements. Of course, on this evidence the earlier statements of Mister Maslennikov are also wholly lacking in credibility, in particular, about the left-shore city part carpet bombings, about using napalm, and, surely, an absolutely fantastic federal party casualties count, that is claimed by the terrorists head. But, as the absurd speculations, based on the excogitations of the high-ranked gangsters, continue being exaggerated in some foreign media, we asked to comment what you’ve seen now live by the commander of the fourth operational grouping lieutenant-general Efimov. Good afternoon, Pyotr Pavlovich!

General Efimov, as large as life, dressed in a grey city camouflage with the dirty-green swabs, appeared in the frame. The bombers wave was with a heavy hum moving in the sky above him and woman-correspondent, who was standing nearby; the faintly distinctive flashes were visible somewhere on the horizon.

At your command, – bassed Pyotr Pavlovich.

Tell us, what can you say about what all of us were unintentional witnesses a few minutes ago?

What can I say more here? What can we speak with them about? They’re people, they have no honor and no shame, they’re terrorists! They were purposely convincing us on those negotiations they won’t blow up either bridges, or anything else, and were purposely waiting till our vehicles reach the bridge, for blow it up. They are not soldiers! A soldier fights with valor, but they aim to do it from the corner, sneakily, like rats… We didn’t need those negotiations at all; it became only worse because of them.

But so-calledindependent watchersfrom the West continue to state yet, that the negotiations were the big success, and for the federal center including!

Efimov sneered.

That’s exactly why there’s no one of these “watchers” in my grouping area of responsibility! They’re the terrorists accomplices, dare I say it! They establish the negotiations… I can definitely tell about the cartel that all of it is the enemy propaganda! My soldiers recaptured their captives by themselves, nobody was exchanging anyone there.

But the proposition showed up somewhere, that lieutenant-general Galaktionov was in captivity by the terrorists!

This is – a bald-faced lie! – snapped Pyotr Pavlovich out. – General Galaktionov was and remains in his post now – the commander of the fifth operative grouping troops.

That’s right, really, – the correspondent emerged in the objective again, – within yesterday you, dear comra… audience could with your own eyes watch the conflict zone commanders’ press conference in our program, where lieutenant-general Alexander Galaktionov gave the most precise characterization of the situation and the prospects of the terrorists’ formations. Of course, the question still remains not fully closed, the question about the real causes of this blatant public opinion misinformation from an odious gangsters formations leader!..

That’s all clear yet! – the camera returned to Efimov. – Because he’s a traitor! He’s a traitor and coward! When he had got, that no one man believes that his lies about the whole fifth grouping eliminating, he concocted that tale about Galaktionov, and then he blew the entire township up! And everybody saw that, that barbarianism! Our casualties, in reality, are small, thank God, we’ve learnt, how to fight.

Pyotr Pavlovich, whats the status now?

You can see, that we’re using a long-range artillery, aircraft, helicopters, – with these words the ceiling of our shelter began to tremble, and a plaster poured down on the TV-set, – the high-precision weapons. We don’t need excessive losses, that’s the most important thing. And this particular minute we’re making the air attack to the terrorists’ positions, which are placed near the Shevchenko square and in the contiguous blocks. They have heavily fortified there, have built a lot of ferroconcrete weapon emplacements, and we require a massive air preliminary.

That means that the ground phase of the operation will be continued?

Of course! But only after that our air force accomplishes its work.

But you have, nevertheless, heard the repeated pleas of some foreign countries representatives about the duration minimization of, as they call them, “air strikes” to the “rebels”, in their expression, positions.

Efimov sneered in the most wry way and said:

We’ll be bombing it as much, as we need. I repeat that the soldiers’ lives – are more than anything. And our soldiers won’t die for nothing. We know, how to fight, unlike of this coward Maslennikov and his brainless gangsters, who can only torture captives and destroy their own city! He’s not going anywhere.

Thank you, comrade lieutenant-general! – the camera again turned to the journalist, who was standing on the background of a blast-scarred dam, the gaping pits on the place of the metropolitan bridge bays and three chirring “twenty-fours”, which were violently spewing with rockets something, what was seen only by them. In the high upper corner of the screen the “live” was still written. – And now we’re in touch with the Joint federal forces grouping headquarters and the grouping commander colonel-general Vladimir Avdeev…

Missile Troops And Artillery Day

The machine gunners were peppering the enemy with fire with a vengeance. The yellow flaws of the high-caliber shots looked just charming in the darkness. A low, slightly roaring sound wasn’t building pressure in my ears at all, even the contrary, it was perceived as a real lullaby. I alternately tried to recall the sounds of an artillery cannonade and an air bombardment. Yes, definitely, a machine gun burst is better. It sounds in low frequencies, and they, as is known, calm and help to relax. I was like entranced gazing at the elevator mirador, from where the traces were flying from left to the right: this view was reminding me one August meteor shower, which was happening many years ago. About a hundred of that stars had fallen from the sky for about ten minutes then. I wonder, how many rounds have they there else? They’re firing with such long bursts, that they, in theory, must shoot all away already. Shot. Shot. One more. The last burst, the longest one. All right, now they have to run yet, if they aren’t bored with life. And I have to run too.

I was just about disposing myself for a fast run, when something lively thundered upwards. They consumed our bell-tower with a tank or some kind of that, that’s clear yet, we may pass that by. My rifle was aiming to tilt me to the right side, and I was trying not to think much of it. When I ran with it being on my back, the first couple of times I supposed, that it would interfere me more being in my hands, but no such luck. So that’s rubbish, a closed chapter. It’s really more comfortable being in my hands, I should only not to forget about switching them, and everything will be tip-top. Thiss not these stupid rails under my feet. I’m tired of these rails yet, really. They’re flashing before my eyes. I should put them somewhere out of harm’s way. Come on, come on, shake your leg. One-two, one-two, linksOh, and whos there? Aren’t the gangish formations members?

Damn snipers!! – cried I and spat at once, – hoots!

I had such feeling, that they were running about three times faster than me.

Move! – in response to me my namesake, Andryukha.

They’re trained, bastards. They were teaching them a lot of stuff, in their army, devils.

Andryukha and Slava were running about ten meters ahead of me now, and this distance, it seemed, was keeping increased with every second. Damn, the houses are visible yet, but I now had such feeling, that I have to run to that one we need about ten more kilometers. And I have gone five of them behind me. Really, when will this running end yet? I cant stand at all. The heads humming. That’s hot, like I’m skirring back and forth in a vaporarium. O-ops! I don’t need stumbling! What idiot had placed these stones here? Some wise men told right, that when you’re running, you better watch your step. Okay, pull baker. The guys arent seen at all now. And nothings seen at all, except this blackness. How am I supposed to run further? O-okay, stop this nagging, pull baker, pull devil… Some ruins. The pile of whether some garbage, or some tires. We round it sweepingly.

Yea-ah, in general, they don’t care about all that. They smashed our mirador with a tank shell direct hit. A ferroconcrete weapon emplacement. Well, no, if they said, that the terrorists have fortified, that means, they have fortified, then they have to make a preliminary bombardment before the assault, sure. All of that is probably right. For not to, they mean, waste soldiers lives. Well, one of them said in warm blood, even he was in general swabs, so what, but nonetheless he was generally right… And they shouldn’t make negotiations with terrorists more, cause they’ll regroup again and will build up their strength… You can see all with your own eyes… But how can we not to destroy? A whole building? Well, a building. One house, two houses, a block. A microdistrict. A city… Pooh. The phlegm hit an incomprehensibly remaining leaf, being on the branch of an incomprehensibly remaining tree.

They dont care.

Our shelter was right in front of my face. I speedily jumped over the fence and ran a couple of meters more amain. So, here I should turn left, then left once more and then downstairs. Bo-o-o, Im there.

Aint you hit? – asked the Andryukhas voice over my head.

What with? – I asked again.

That means not.

What, they began yet, or what?

Troechnik does have such firing there, that you can place a pail beneath it.

They’re assaulting, you mean, – I’ve already, perhaps, taken my breath, – they began an assault.

Don’t worry, you will fight more, soldier.

How dare you talk to a senior officer this way, you servant? – I looked at Andryukha threateningly. Andryukha began laughing loud. Slava too. I also began to laugh, because the joke was good really. We kept laughing for about, probably, thirty seconds. I think, its better to laugh, generally speaking.

Phew, you fatigued me, – I leaned my rifle to the wall, – the machine gun was overheated yet?

What are talking about, it was almost melt down, – Slava put his flask back to the vest. – Lieutenant, sir, will you reprimand us for that too?

Stop it, – I warningly raised my finger, – you will report about the dji-ai materiel to a more senior one! But I meant that.

Well, we could give a shit, namesake, what condition has this materiel. You better look there.

I looked at the elevator through the window. Even from its back side it was seen, that they were smashing to it from all the guns now. Two flares were slowly flying down from above. The gas station was smoking with the thick puffs on the left. A poor mirador, really, was long gone. Some pieces, first big ones, then small ones, were flying off the walls every split second. The mortar shells were falling in to the roof with howling and were aiming to tear a few fragments from it in their turn. A couple of shells exploded somewhere nearby yet. Afar two machine gun bursts have boomed, and right after them the rifle fire has begun. The glow was slowly rising over the elevator building.

Cool, – truly informed I.

Don’t worry; it’s treatable now, – said Andryukha.

No, thats really beautiful.

Slavyan, look, what could armed clashes do with people.

Slava was silent.

Railway Troops Day

One down! – I reported, leaning to the wall and crawling to the right at the same time. Something rumbled downwards – a rocket launcher shell. The machine gun was displeasingly and highly thundering above my ear. Damn you all, huh. A bullet struck to the windowsill sharply, right before my nose. I shot two times without raising my head.

On my right, across the stairway, a familiar RPG-7 grenade sound hummed, and a second later something exploded in the distance. That’s right, get ‘em. I sprang to my feet with an exhale and leaned to the sight. Yeah, here are they. They’re running more, fellows.

Burst. Burst. Three shots. Three more. You’re bugging me; I’ll be shooting till they hit me. Something has poured down behind my collar. Catch it. Shot. One more. This will enough for all of you. And this machine gun on the left isn’t pissing me off so much already. Thats it! Get it! Where are you running to, son of a bitch? Are you the smartest, or what? Take it! Catch it, you bastard!

Suddenly the sound of a falling was distinctly heard behind my back.

Sanek, whats with you? Hey!! – Vanya Mishutin cried and ran up to Varlamov, who fell right to the room middle.

Mishutin, stand down! – bawled Troechnik in his turn. – Go back! Polozkov, take the “Es-Ve-De”, move!

I crawled to the corpse on my hunkers and saw the rifle, which was lying nearby. I glanced at Sashka. He was face up, under his head was a dark spot, that was keeping increase, and made me eerily sick and tired. I took two magazines out of his waistcoat quickly, leaned the rifle to myself, looked at the scope and same squatted pattered back. The rounds are in the clip, okay, now. I beat Vit’ka to his leg, and he began thundering with his machine gun at once.

Something grey appeared in the scope, and I shot instantly. Therere they, bastards. I know, what they thought up. Yeah, and all of them, as if on cue, lowered their heads. Now from there, from this long thing, from the hill, I guess, the smartest Vasya will come out. If he will come out we will meet. And now were watching, watching carefully. Some flashes suddenly began sparkling in the middle part of the three-storey smoking shell. That’s too much high, like they’re shooting to the ceiling. And right now, from the pile on my left, about which I’ve thought yet, a guy with a rifle cautiously leaned out. A guy exactly, pretty young one. I could even say his age, so well he was visible in my scope. A common pale thin face. Youll get some now, fellow. His coverings kept shooting at random. I pulled the trigger.

This time the shot nearly made me deaf. The scope mark was opposite his neck, but the bullet hit the soldier’s left eye. He dropped his rifle and slowly caved in ahead by his corpus. I saw absolutely clear, how a thick blood jet flows out of his head. Here we go again, one more hero: his comrade rushed to the killed from the right, and I pulled the trigger one more time at once. The soldier was tilted counterclockwise, and he lied prone, throwing his rifle away and throwing his left hand up.

Something shortly struck my head, and I rushed to the left with the rifle. Everything was glimpsing and dancing in the scope.

I told you to go away! – barked Vit’ka right to my ear. A piece fell off the ceiling. Then another one.

Go, faster, faster!!!

What are you waiting for, huh?!

Well, c’mon, c’mon!

Oh, shit!

We’ve overpassed three building floors with a supersonic airplane speed. Having strongly pressed the rifle to my chest with one arm, I was grabbing the stair rails with another one, jumping downstairs almost over the whole flight. From left to the right were rushing: a dirty striped wall, a window frame, jagged with splinters, the wall again, the frame again, the wall again, the small pieces of whether ceiling, or wall on a grey dirty floor, a scarred entrance door and, finally, the entrance itself. A blue metal fence. The concrete steps. A rusty wheelset near the entrance. The cars, which left the track (or derailed ones). Stop.

Do you have a death wish, or what? Do you hear shit, or what?! – Vit’ka seized my jacket collar and began jolting it.

But I’ve really heard nothing. I was carried away by a fight, so to speak.

Easy, wait. Maybe, it’s a shell shock. Are you all right, Andrey?

I looked at Troechnik. He was gazing into my eyes. Like it’s OK, I can hear him now yet. I should answer him so. I breathed the air out of my lungs. And I heard a very close thunder of explosions.

Intendancy Day

I leaned to a rattletrap trench wall with my back, took the gauntlet off and wiped liquid manure off my forehead. My cap became dripping wet, and my head’s frozen much already. But right above it, a little upper my nape, the troop compartment of our infantry fighting vehicle was sluggishly smoking with the yellow sheets, and I had the hope, that the flame will dry and heat me sooner or later. The remaining rifle rounds, machine gun belts and three grenade launchers we had providently carried to our entrenchment from the BMP, otherwise they would exploded with all the few ammunition, that was remaining in the vehicle. Oh, yes, there’s the flamethrower else. It’s here, right in front of my eyes. I looked at my rifle. It looked so, as if it had been lying somewhere on a river bottom for about thirty years. All its metal parts were covered with rust. The insulating tape stripes on the magazines became light-brown instead of the blue ones, but they held tight. I moved the ammo box closer, detached the magazines and began to load them unhurriedly, glancing at the guys. Sema and Kolya, it seemed, were dozing. And the captain was looking into a cloudy shroud above the railway.

Okay, men, cover me now, – said he. Apparently, he was tired of dallying in our wet sticky shelter, and he wished to go over the top.

What are you doing, commander? – reasonably asked Kolya.

Look there.

All of us shifted to the opposite wall of the trench and raised our heads faces to the embankment side, there, where the captain had pointed by his hand. At first I couldn’t see anything – the ways were like the ways, the rails were like the rails, the fog was like the fog. But couple seconds later I saw a slightly distinctive moving.

That’s really stupid, – said Semyon.

So, come on. Are you ready? Popov? Fire!

I made a long burst, then three short ones. My colleagues, whom were shooting on my right and left, kept up with me. We were pushing the next group of our guests to the ground, despite that nobody was visible. But I was sure, that didn’t seem to the captain. Standing close, he aimed and fired from the flamethrower.

Right at that moment the wind has abruptly changed, and I saw something truly fantastic: a big wooden house, behind which an assault squad was hiding, it seemed, was blown to atoms. The log walls turned into the small slivers. The glasses fragments splashed extensively like a merry rain. A cluster of the wooden chips and slate, raised by the hot steam and fire jet, rushed to the sky. Apparently, they were carrying explosives, because that was hard to believe, that a flamethrower could make such firework. Yes, that was the scene. The planking pieces and various shreds were slowly sinking onto the ground. The small fountains of dirt emerged in the surrounding us puddles.

Bingo, stated Kolya.

We took our places back. I looked at the dead. The guy, who was about seventeen, was still in situ, at the trench end, near the crumbled wall. And all the rest, who died today, were in their places. I put the rifle on my lap, stretched my hands to the BMP door and thought about the bridge bays, which were lying in an ice water. What did they make that with it with? I guess, with a cruise missile. Yes-yes, high-precision weapons. What the hell did they do that for? The bridge was anyway exposed to fire from all sides. And now too – they were waiting, waiting and they have longed last. Now they’re waiting for something again. They will get shit instead of us, gloatingly flashed through my mind. So we’ll see, how much and for whom is destined to live yet. My palms have got warm, and I keenly wished to lie on the ground, which was stinking with gas, and to fall asleep. I closed my eyes.

It was still thundering and whistling all around me, but before my face was not a brown ground trench wall, but a grey stone building wall. Rather, that, what was remaining of that wall. A thick sheet of flame was rushing to the sky from the ruin, and on my lips there was some distasteful smack. The ground has fallen here again. And that comes out yet, that I’ve fallen asleep. And Mikhaylenko, Ivan Pavlovich, said nothing to me. Probably, he’s decided to take a nap too. That’s it: here they are all lying sleeping. I don’t understand anything. I need to clarify this issue.

I bent by my chest slightly and got such sledgehammer to my head, that I lost my sight for a moment. Blood began to run from my mouth, my stomach was shot through with the colic, and as a result I couldn’t even move. That’s why they snoozed, I see. Blood kept running from my mouth, and right here I have got, that for me the fight is over for today.

May 10 – October 14, 2010.

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