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As Blood Runs Black
Ever since that terrible night my life has been a bloody haze, an endless nightmare. My mind is corrupted beyond belief, only death can free me from this pain. Up until that point I was just a normal boy trying to live my life, but it all came crashing down on that cold, heartless, night.
If I recall correctly it was the fall of 1995. I was only twelve years old, I just got into bed after performing my Afternoon Salah (prayer). Gunfire and expolsions were heard faintly in the distance. You see this had been going on for about a year now, I was used to it echoing through my ears now. But this night, it was different. My mother ran in and grabbed my arm, tugging me into the living room. Our windows were being shattered by bullets. Suddenly an expolsion forced me out of a window and onto the street. When I finally recovered I stood up and looked over my shoulder. I saw my home burning in a massive confligration, I heard the shrill screams of my mother as she burned to death. These screams I still hear to this day. But this was no time to mourn, my whole town was being pelted with bombs that rained down from the sky. They brought nothing except pain and sorrow, but they didn't care, they just kept falling, and falling, and falling.
I saw body parts strewn about the charred streets as I pushed through them. If h*** existed, this is what it would look like. It was truly a deppressing and surreal experience running through the town that I had played in, the town that I went to school in, the town I had known and loved all my life was collapsing around me. Everything was a warped, hellish version of it's old self. Finally I reached the outskirts of the city, but I had ran too far and I must've passed out.
When I woke up, I found myself surrounded by men in military uniforms and armed to the teeth. One of them knelt down next to me, he had a dark olive coloured complexion. "Boy is that your village over there?" he said while pointing his pistol towards the West. I stood up on my feet and looked over to where he was pointing. All I saw was a large black plume of smoke eclipsing the morning sun. I was simply awestruck, I nodded yes and he replied: "looks like the Russians bombed it, You're lucky we found you" I got up on my feet and walked with the men on the long lonely road back to my village. When we arrived we were greeted by the smell of rotting, burnt flesh. The men began filming the destruction with their video cameras. I ignored them and tried to find something I could recognize. As I walked through the town I could hear the wails of mourning mothers crying over their children... or what was left of them. I remember finding my mosque that I attended since I was a baby. The structure was completely collapsed. The only thing standing was the eastern Minaret (the other one fell on the neighboring building). I got into a prostration position and just broke down and cried. About ten feet away was the upper half of a man, he stared into the sky with his glazed eyes, in his hand he clutched a crumpled picture of a woman, probably his wife, probably dead. The "leader" who I had spoken to before walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder. "There is nothing left for you here son, you would be better off coming with us." I looked up at him and mumbled "fine"
It was about midday when we left the city. I followed behind the men, occasionally we would have to move into the woods because a MiG (bomber) would fly over. Eventually the sun went down and we found a clearing in the forest to rest for the night. The olive coloured man appeared to be the the ring leader, he began instructing the other men to help set up the camp. I was sitting on a log when he called to me. "Ruslan! you and the boy go collect fire wood." I stood up and followed the man named Ruslan. As I picked up sticks I began thinking "What the h*** am I doing here?" Ruslan wasn't doing anything, he just sat on a rock staring at my feet. I seriously considered running, but I was afraid he would shoot me. So instead I gathered all of the sticks I could carry and walked over to him. "Is this enough?" Ruslan looked down, his eyes scanned the ground. He was fiddiling with a bullet he had taken out of his AK magazine "Yes carry it back to camp."
I wondered why he just sat there and didn't return with me, I must've had too many things rushing through my mind at the time, so it didn't much phase me. When I finally arrived at the camp a large fire was crackling in a stack of logs with many of the men sitting around it. I dropped my sticks into a pile and walked over to the blazing fire pit. I sat down near the flames, the leader, whose name I still to this day not know was telling incredible stories of his adventures. From Afghanistan to Bosnia, he had fought Soviets, Tajik communists, Russians, Serbs, and Croats.
As interesting as his stories were, my mind drifted away into sleep, as the next thing I remember was the morning dew soaking my shirt and seeing the soldiers packing up their camp. I stood up and walked next to the leader. "Ruslan just reported back and said a large Russian convoy will be passing through here at around noon, we will march to the road about a kilometer north and set up an ambush for them." He saw me and pulled out a small black pistol from his rucksack, "You know how to use it right?" He said as he held it out to me. I grabbed it by the barrell and replied "yes, I do" I lied, I had never fired a gun in my life and all the knowledge I had of a gun was that if you pull the trigger it will shoot a bullet out, killing whoever was unlucky enough to be on the recieving end. But perhaps, that's all I needed to know. I grasped the handle and began to follow the men who were exiting the clearing.
It wasn't a very long walk to the ambush site. When we arrived I found a small bush that I crouched behind. I peered through the bushes down onto the road, it was suurounded on both sides by hills, in other words it was a small valley. Some of the men began digging in postions and hiding themselves with branches and stalks of grass. Others ran onto the dirt road and began placing C-4 charges into small holes that they dug. After everyone was in place and the sappers had covered their ordinance, The leader shouted from his position: "When the Russian kufr's convoy is blown, unleash with your guns the steel of allah!"
I simply kept my head down, waiting and waiting, not even moving to brush away a fly. Suddenly I could faintly here the diesel engines of the Russian trucks. My heart began pounding as I knew what was about to come. I clenched my eyes shut as I knew the trucks would be blown to h***. But when the expolosion came I could feel it. The massive series of thuds shook the ground, when I looked up to inspect the carnage all I could see was grey smoke floating across the valley. my ears were ringing from the C-4 but I could still here the shouts of the Takbir "Allahu Akbar" and the cackilling sound of automatic weapons.
Finally the wind carried away the smoke, revealing the destroyed convoy. At the front lie a tank, coated in flames, a man was struggling to crawl out of the top, but he succumbed to his burns before he was able to escape. behind it was an APC, it was blackened with smoke coming out the shattered window frames, a badly wounded Russian attempted to pull out his dead comrade, but he was gunned down before he could even try to run away. The rest of the vehicles lay ruined all the same. The Russians couldn't fight back, as most of them were too injured or disoriented to defend themselves.
Suddenly I heard twigs and leaves crunching behind me. I turned around and saw a Russian soldier, his uniform was ripped up and charred, he had a trail of blood running down from his nose. He was staring at me, confused. he didn't see the gun I had in my hand, I reminisced on my town, the destruction his people wrought on mine, he had ruined my life. Without even thinking I quickly pointed my pistol at him and began firing in his direction. All I could see was him collapsing onto the ground, everything else was just a red haze. But soon I ran out of bullets and I came back to reality, I could hear him struggling to breathe, but all that came out was a gurgle. A gaping hole had replaced his trachea, his entire face was covered in blood, but his blue eyes still stared back at me, and I soon realized what I had done. He was just a boy, not much older than I. I took away a mother's son, who she had loved and raised with all her heart. Her life was ruined, because of me. The leader, that son of a b****, stood behind me as I tried to collect my thoughts and said: "Good job boy, he won't massacre anymore innocent people now." I knew he was wrong, as was I, we were no better than them.
I dropped the handgun and walked down onto the road with the rest of the men. Two of the soldiers opened up the side door of a supply truck. The second the door opened a mangled body fell out onto the road. The Russian lay on the the ground face down, one of the men rolled the body over with his foot. The russian soldier's face was a black crater, his uniform was shredded up and covered in ash and blood. I looked over to my left and saw two dazed Russians walking towards the woods with their hands up. I ran over to the leader to see what he was going to do with them.
"Hands behind behind your backs!" Shouted the leader as his men handcuffed the POWs and sat them down on a log. The leader walked over to one of the men and said: "Where was your convoy going!" The Soldier had a smile on his face, he looked down, then up at the leader. "ha ha ha, Umar, you stupid b****rd!" The leader took his AK and smashed it into the laughing Russian's temple. He then looked over at the remaining soldier, "Now, maybe you can tell us what we need to know" The Russian gazed up at the leader locking eyes with him for what seemed like an hour but out of nowhere he spit in his face. The leader wiped the slime off his cheek with his sleeve and nodded at his men. They tackled the soldier and held him down while the leader pulled out his blade. The soldier began to scream but his cry was cut short as the blade began to saw through his throat.
I was so shocked at this ogrish display of brutality, that I ran out of the woods, past the destroyed convoy, ignoring the carnage and smell of burnt corpses. After sprinting several kilometers down the dirt road I came across a Russian checkpoint. One of the guards pointed his rifle at me. "Halt!" he shouted. I stopped and raised my hands in the air. The other guard rushed over to me and began patting my body for weapons. "Were you in a gunfight?" I looked down and muttered: "they're coming..." The guard stopped. "What? Who's coming? Boy! Who the h*** is coming!" I ignored him, the boy I killed, the soldier's throat being sawed, my mother, it was all racing through my head I had to be dreaming, this can't be real. The guard grabbed the back of my shirt and led me into a small concrete building. "Sir, I found this boy by Checkpoint C, he smells like sulphur and I suspect he may know where the Mujahideen are." The commander sat in a metal folding chair, in front of him on an old wooden table was his ash tray and comm. radio.
"I don't have time for this, show him the way out. The reinforcements Zakayev sent this morning are AWOL." looking into the commanders eyes I said "They're all gone" Confused, the commander replied "What?" Then, suddenly, the alarm went off, a whining, shrill siren. "They're here!" shouted the guard. I pushed the door open and ran outside, soldiers scrambled from their posts to defend the base against the men. I knew I needed to find cover quickly, I spotted a stack of crates next to a building about 40 meters away. As I tried to make my way to the cover but I was struck in the shoulder by a bullet. I had to keep moving or else I would be among the numberless dead.
Finally I reached the crates, I ducked down into a fetal position waiting for the battle to end. After about 20 minutes of constant shooting the base went quiet. I stood up and walked through the aftermath of the battle, in the distance I could see two men grappling on the ground. When I stepped in for a closer look I could see it was the Russian Commander and the leader. The leader had the Russian pinned down on the ground trying to cut him with his knife. I knew I had to finish this once and for all. Next to me was a dead body, I rolled him over and tried to pry the rifle from his hands, when I looked at the man's face I suddenly recognized it... Ruslan.
When I recovered the weapon from Ruslan I pointed it into the air and pulled the trigger. Three rounds flew out of the barrell. The two men shocked, turned their heads to me.
"Boy! you're alive!" cried the leader
"Hurry and finish him off! don't forget what he did to your village!" He added
"It wasn't our fault." responded the commander "He fired at our planes from your village and it was at night, they didn't know! Kill him! He destroyed your village!" I knew somebody was guilty and there was only one way to settle this...
...I killed them both.