Author Topic: Ural Memoirs  (Read 1569 times)


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Offline Stan'

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Ural Memoirs
« on: February 12, 2009, 03:30:29 PM »
A few years ago I wrote a play/story set in a 1960's Soviet radio station, officially called the "Krasnye Kedr Ural, Stantsiya-42".
Nicknamed "the Kedr", or "Station 42" for short.
Yeah, bit of a mouthful.  It was located in the Ural mountain range, the so-called natural divide of Europe and Asia.

I'm starting to write a number of short stories set in the station, and as soon as I've got them finished, I'll post them here.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 03:47:49 PM by Stanmore' »

Offline Lord Palatine

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Re: Ural Memoirs
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2009, 10:57:02 PM »
I'd love to see them when you're done.  8)

Offline Stan'

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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2009, 02:45:40 PM »
The Engineer’s stay in the Ural Mountains has entered its third year.  It is not a moment for joy or celebration, instead the young Russian prefers to reminise of normal times, and think about the past.  About the man watching from behind the concrete walls.
The other permanent resident of the lonely, depressing world of Station-42 – a Soviet listening post that since the dawn of time has heard nothing but static - joins him in a game of cards, a regular scheduled event to speed up the clock.  It fails to do so.
Meanwhile the radio in the corner of the small, square room is continously manned and watched over, waiting for a stranger’s call.  They do not know what that voice will say, but what they do know, is when it comes, it means they can go home.

“I was thinking about him.”  Discipline has slipped.  Hair too long for army regulations, beards allowed to flourish, uniforms uncared for.  The torso of the Engineer’s jumpsuit hangs from his abdomen, his once-white t-shirt now caked in finger-shaped oil marks and numerous examples of dirt.
“Who?  The special one?  The reason why we’re both here?”  His attitude is bitter, words and punctuation laced with calmed hatred.  “What about him?”
“Just the things he did in the war.  A story I heard.”
“What did he do?  Shoot a German?”
“He did more than that.”
“Maybe he shot two Germans, maybe he took down a Stuka with a grenade, or stopped a Panzer with his bare hands.  Look, he wasn’t the only one fighting in the war.  Last I heard, there were a near enough hundred million.  What this guy did was his job, he did what he was asked, like we are just now.”  The cigarette in his right hand swirls smoke through the air in patterned displays, slowing burning towards its end. The Airman drinks from his glass and throws a card face up.  The supply of tobacco and drink is becoming low.
“You don’t understand.  He hadn’t even shot a gun before the Germans tore up our fields with their tank tracks and boot prints.  The guy was a medic, his weapons were a syringe and a bandage.”
The Airman shakes his head, “like I said, I’m sure millions of others hadn’t used a gun before the day came to fight.”
The Engineer leans forward on elbows, pushing palms together.  “Think about it.  Warm day, sun poking through tiny clouds, you’re watching a group of birds heading south for the winter season when suddenly the sky turns grey with mortal shells and smoke.  You hit the ground, bullets shave against the skin of your helmet and you’re starting to wonder if the metal is thick enough to stop them from hitting your head.  Next thing you know, you’re on your feet, running after the painful wails of a friend.  His arm’s blown off, he’s dripping more blood than a burst dam and you’re just hoping that he won’t be another name on the list of the dead.”  The Engineer is getting passionate, determined to win the argument on behalf of the man who watches them from behind the scenes in his director’s chair.  “Then you move on to the next guy.  Fifty yards, down the street, but you hear him.  You know where he is.  And you start running, hurdling over a dozen dead comrades lying on the street.  There’s Germans at either side firing their guns at you but you can’t stop.  You’ve got a man’s life to save, and if you get shot in the process, then you just start running faster.”

He is out of breath, the words roll out of his mouth at a frantic speed, he takes a drink from the glass then slams it down hard, the playing cards wobble in fright.  “He did that for eight long months.  Going to sleep for a handful of hours every second or third night, waking up the next day knowing he had to stare in to the empty eyes of another man he knew.  Lying to the man on the ground that he was going to be okay, that the next time he opened his eyes he’d be back home on his bed with his wife smiling back down at him!”
The Airman pushes the nose of his cigarette in to the ash tray, shaking his head.  “Your father was a soldier in the war, wasn’t he?”
The Engineer snorts through his nose and nods.
“Then why would you travel all the way here to protect such a brave man, when you have a one-legged hero dying in his bed all the way back home in Kursk?”

The words are a trigger, a detonation, a push of the switch.  The table is thrown to the side with a clatter against the radio, cards flutter in to the air, glass crashes on wood, and the Engineer has the Airman pressed hard against the wall, curled knuckles tearing in to green cloth.  “Don’t you ever say anything about my dad.  It’s men like them that kept this country going, lifted us from the pits of the shit, took their blows and got back on their feet with their heels dug deep…”
His comrade interrupts.  “You think every veteran deserves respect, huh?  My dad killed his fair share in the war as well, but you don’t hear me boasting his praises.  You know what he told me the day I got called up?  He told me I wasn’t to go, the man was in tears, said there’d be plenty more men out there willing to die for this fucking country.  He’d help me dodge the army, hide me, do what he could.  He was a soldier, and now he’s a coward,” eyes never leave eyes, “I catch him in the sight of my gun… I’ll shoot.”  His comment sinks in, he turns to the side, exhales sharply, rattles his head.  “…I’d actually… shoot my own father.”

The men part.  The attacker looks on in disgust, the Airman picks up the table and stands it on all-fours, then sits on the stool near the radio equipment.  Tilting forwards, legs open, forearms resting on thighs, eyes magnetised to a large crack in the wood on the floor.  “He was a carpenter.  I used to help him after school, carry his tools and pass what he needed.  Used to look up to him.  Then he said that to me.  Felt sick.  Couldn’t look at the man again, all those stories he told me counted for nothing.  I hate him.”  Eyes finally lift.  The Engineer is already half way out the door.  “Thirty million men and women doing the same thing doesn’t make it so heroic.  Tell me, if we’re invaded again and it’s our turn to defend our borders… what are we?  Heroes?  Or young men just protecting our families?”
He doesn’t reply.  He doesn’t need to.  He leaves the room thinking of his father.  He smiles.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 12:04:15 AM by Lord Palatine »


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