A - Willows Run. Chapter 01
DescriptionThe Cold of War Can still make you feel alive.
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Willows Run Chapter One " Awake Awake to another morning. At least I know I'm still alive. Hands are half frozen, as if they have been in an icebox all night. But at least I'm alive. I slowly get my things and shove them into the tattered frayed rucksack. Compass, maps, tinned food, matches, canteen, bandages, and a few rounds of ammunition. Sling the rucksack sack onto my back, knife into a side leg sleeve and rifle onto my shoulder. It's time to get going. Quietly make my way to the, what use to be a house, entrance. Stepping over blasted bricks, upturned table and other odds and ends that had seen much better days before the bombings turned them into nothing more than objects of war. I pull my jacket tight, or what's left. Holes and frayed cloth all over, yet it helps keep some of the cold out, which I could feel trying to seep its way into my blood stream to which it would freeze over like a river. I carefully peek outside making sure the coast is clear, no soldiers to be seen. I place my hand of the entrance wall, the cold brick attacking my hand sending pins and needles right through me. I take a second to listen, the rumbling of planes overhead. The most I can hope for is that they fly straight over. So I take one step outside, and as if on a cue the tell tale sound cuts through the morning cold. The gentle whistling sound of bombs falling towards their target to destroy all that lies below. So it seems this morning I have no luck. I need to get out of here. Soldiers will soon sweep this area after the bombing. I push off the wall and launch into a half paced run. The rucksack on my back bouncing side to side, should have positioned the tin food better. The tins scraping along my back with each step sending shots of pain down my cold back and into my legs which were mind numbingly cold. My legs feel like dead weight, as if trying to run with concrete feet. But I can't stop. They start hitting. Fragments of wood and brick everywhere. The explosions amplified by the cold of morning sends a ringing into my ears, I manage to pick up speed, adrenalin flowing through me which helps break the clutches of cold shackled to my legs, thawing them out. Keep running, I turn down a small street, jumping over a trash can and weaving my way through debris. Round the corner at the end of the street just as a shell hits to my right sending fragments every which way. Shards of wood and glass shattering away from the house the shell hit sends shrapnel flying, I try to shield by myself but stray glass and wood slice my face and burrow their way into my leg. I fall, crawling along the ground trying to get to cover, hands pressed to the ground, glass digging into my flesh. The shells keep falling, buildings all around me being brought to the ground in grand style. Glass shattering, bricks crumbling. Fires growing, sending a billow of smoke to all ends up the sky as if it were one giant smoke signal. If only it were a smoke signal, but for one that would get me out of here. I scamper to my feet and keep running. Blood trickling freely down my face and hands onto the ground below. I need to get out of this city. Then it hits me, like being hit by a car at 200km/h. A shell lands no more than 8 metres away from me. And for a short moment, I could fly. I land hard, rucksack splitting open sending tinned food rolling out like bowling balls and leaving my other supplies scattered. Sharp pain runs right through my body, I look down my side and notice the knife had come loose and lodged itself into my leg. That must have been the last of it. The whistling stopped, the rumbling of planes gone. For awhile, it's silent. Or so it would seem due to a temporary deafening. Soldiers will be here soon. Using the last ounce of energy I can muster. I pull myself under some nearby crates, hoping it will provide enough cover as to not be seen. That would be the worst thing possible, even worse than glassed hands, face and a knife in the leg. A few minutes or more pass. Pain sets in as the adrenalin fades from my body. Slowly I pull the knife blade from my leg while biting down hard as to not make a sound. Blood runs out, not even the cold of the morning could ease the flow of blood. I tear the arm off my jacket, leaving it now looking even more like a rag, but I needed a bandage, I couldn't risk going out into the open to retrieve my bandages once the bombing stopped. So for now this will have to do. I wipe the blood off my face first and then proceed to wrapping it around my leg, making a knot and pulling it tight. Somehow I was lucky enough to keep my gun slung over my shoulder during the blast. I take it from my shoulder and position myself in a way so that I'm concealed in cover but have a line of sight out into the open. Check my ammo, five rounds left. Rest of my ammo had fallen out of the rucksack during my brief attempt at flight. Not enough ammo to hold them off, but shooting is a last resort. It's been about thirty minutes now since the shelling stopped. But I can't be too hasty in leaving. A few more minutes pass, I start to get drowsy from fatigue and then there is that sound. The crunching sound of dirt and rocks beneath dirty muddy combat boots. They inch into sight, a small squad of soldiers dressed in there worn grey uniforms and helmets. Not so shiny badges on their shoulders showing their rank. Some sporting bruised faces and bandages on their arms or legs. Some had missing fingers or teeth. "Spread out, search everything!" yells one. Must be in charge of this squad. I set my sights on him, following every move. Shooting a last resort. Gently I wrap my finger around the trigger. Have to be prepared. In the corner of my eye I notice a soldier making his way in my direction. I shuffle just enough to get my sights on him. Beads of sweat run down my face and mix with dry blood, some getting on my lips, the salty taste. I'm sure he is onto me, otherwise why would he come this far, I grip the gun tight, "don't shoot!!" I keep telling myself. He keeps walking, less than 10 metres away now. He stops about 2 metres away from me to the half wall to my right and proceeds in taking a piss on it before walking casually away. I ease off the trigger and let the tension roll out of me. That was to close. I need to get out of this city.