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- 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."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Last War: Chapter 79, Part 4

Yurii Marchenko leaned on his shovel.

"You really didn't have to," the Iron Man said.

Marchenko nodded.

"I know, colonel. I wanted to. It's the least I could do to show you my respect."

The Iron Man shook his head regretfully, but his eyes were dry.

"I had written her a letter and sent it off just a few days before I heard. I can't believe she never got it. I still can't. I keep expecting to see her, and my whole family. I don't know what I'll do now."

"I wish I could say I knew how you felt, or that you'd been through worse, but either one would be a lie."

The Iron Man nodded. They were standing in the ashen remains of St. Petersburg, as close to Nemov's house as he could figure in the nuclear wasteland. The grave which Marchenko had dug was marked with a wooden cross. The cross had a single word on it: NEMOV.

"Colonel, if you want to be alone to do this..."

"No, Marchenko, please stay."

The major nodded and remained where he was. The Iron Man removed from his jacket a small metal box. He opened it and took one last look at it's contents. It contained the wedding ring of Boris' mother and father. It contained his youngest Marina's favorite toy, a little doll. It held a cracked pair of glasses, class ring, and a metal model, each of which had belonged to one of his three sons. It also contained what The Iron Man thought the most precious, a lock of his wife's hair pinned to a bundle of letters from her.

He placed the metal box reverently into the grave, and took off his officer’s cap. Marchenko waited for the other man to say a few words, but he said nothing. He seemed to be remembering, and smiling sadly. Not a tear fell from his face. Marchenko began reverently to fill in the hole.

Nemov suddenly walked to the head of the grave where the wooden cross was. He placed his officer's cap on the cross at an odd angle, and then looked at it.

"I'm not just burying my family today. I'm also burying the Iron Man. I can't live up to the name any more," he said.

Then he began weeping uncontrollably.

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