The jeep bounced and thrashed, fighting to stay upright on the icy ground. Nemov could still remember the conversation he had had with Yurii Marchenko. They had all been relatively happy, despite the cold, because of the recent victory. Then Marchenko had received a call on the radio. The younger officer had turned to the Iron Man looked very disturbed.
“Sir, we’ve been ordered to proceed on to Hangayn Nuruu to fight Jagatai.”
Nemov furrowed his brow. Was it a joke meant to make them look stupid? Was it serious, which could have been a very grave situation? There had been a playful rivalry going on between the Germans and the Russians all throughout the Winter Offensive. It may have been a prank. Then again, if it was real, not going could put others in danger and have him court martialed.
“Germanski or Anglichani?” Nemov asked, wondering whether it was a German or a Briton.
It was too likely to ignore. So he had ordered them to proceed on. Now here they were, fighting the elements so that they could get to where they were going and fight the Imps. Nemov spotted something out of the corner of his eye.
“Halt!” he ordered.
The jeep shuddered to a stop. The Iron Man stood up. Marchenko looked to see what Nemov was doing. A man was hunched over fixing something in a tank.
“You there!” Nemov called out, “Stand up!”
The mechanic banged his head on the roof of the tank in surprise, then stood up and came to attention. Suddenly his face broke as he saw Nemov.
“I’ve been looking for you for a while,” Nemov said.
“Who is it, colonel?” Marchenko whispered.
“Remember at Sühbaatar? I recognized the ass.”
Marchenko raised his eyebrows at this.
“Are you afraid of smert?” The Iron Man asked the mechanic.
“Everyone is,” the man answered, a bit taken aback by the odd question.
“An excellent answer. Last time I only caught you a glancing shot. This time I’ll finish it.”
Nemov drew his S-pistol. The man looked as if he was going to wet his pants.
“Ruki verkh,” The Iron Man said, and the other man obeyed by raising his hands into the air.
Nemov drew a bead on the man, who looked like he was going to die of a heart attack before Nemov got a chance to shoot him. The Iron Man gently squeezed the trigger. A click went off.
“Oh, gavno, out of ammunition. You’re lucky. Driver, proceed!”
Nemov sat back down. Marchenko looked over his shoulder to see that the mechanic was sitting down and panting heavily.
“You did know that the gun was unloaded, didn’t you colonel?”
“Major,” Nemov said in an offended tone of voice, “You don’t think I’d threaten a man just to scare him, do you?”
Nemov gave out a muffled chuckle. Marchenko smiled. It was good to see his commander in good spirits again, even if only for a moment. The jeep bounced along toward their final destination: victory.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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