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The Female Tanker in Novoye Selom
What once was a simple town within the large Russian nation is now anything but. While a glance under the night sky made the village look abandoned, that was far from the truth. The children, who once ran around freely in their small little town, were replaced by foreign invaders. The place was taken by force, Germans with large guns shoving the residents from their homes. Children screamed and cried for their parents as they were torn from their arms. Those who were not lucky enough to flee from the invaders’ grasp were killed.
The town was quickly turned into a base, used specifically as a barrier to protect the German land gains. Many soldiers resided within the town, settling down for the night. However, there were quite a few who were stationed away from the town. Pushing farther within the native land rested a small post. A post which job was to kept watch over the horizon. They were to be always on the ready in case of an attack from the Russians. While it hasn’t happened in a couple years, one never knows. Especially in a time of war.
Within the post sat dozens of men. Majority held guns either by their side or strapped to their backs, ready to attack when commanded. Others were manning larger guns, mounted to the ground to damage and destroy any tanks that attempted to roll through. While these two groups sat apart from one another, there was an exception. One foot soldier sat beside one of the men who controlled the one of the few artillery.
“You do believe me, don’t you?” the foot soldier questioned, his eyes glancing in the direction of the other. His hand increased its grip around the strap to his gun, pulling it closer to his body.
“Believe what?” the man assigned to control the artillery responded as his eyes continued to scan the field. He was to remain alert at all times, even as he talks.
“The Fighting Girlfriend, Klaus!” the foot soldier shouted, his body now fully turned to the other. Klaus simple closed his eyes as they rolled. The soldier’s name was Helmut and ever since he was reassigned after the fall of Smolensk, this was the only thing coming out of his mouth. For his first few days, he never rested. He would refuse to do so. He would sit far from anyone, holding his gun close as he shook. Whatever happened in Smolensk terrified him, and everyone was dying to know. Yet, when he finally spoke, his words were dismissed.
Helmut would tell everyone he passed about his ‘Fighting Girlfriend’ story. By the end of the week, everyone at the base knew about it. Yet, no one believed him. While he began to settle down about spreading the story, he does still talk about it from time to time. It’s under a collective agreement at this point that the foot soldier was hit upside the head during his time in Smolensk and all of this was a made up story.
“Helmut,” Klaus spoke softly, his eyes locked with the other. Desperation leaking from the eyes of the foot soldier, wanting to be believed. Wanting for someone to understand that none of this was made up. “I want to believe you, I really do. But, don’t you realize how unrealistic your story is? A tank with the name ‘Fighting Girlfriend’ painted upon its side and manned by a woman? Women are not allowed in war. They are far too delicate. They would break under the pressure of war.”
Helmut's eyes fell away from Klaus’, focusing upon the snow at his feet. His shoe dug away the light layer to reach the brown dirt. A sigh escaped his lips, the gun on his back shifting. Sadness and frustration radiated from the man while disappointment rested within his sigh.
“She’s real… I promise…” soft words escaped the Helmut’s lips. Klaus, once more, rolled his eyes. Yet, he couldn’t help but feel sad for the man. The thing was, his story was just too unrealistic. There was no way a woman would be in war. But, his eyes always held truth to them. Had he gotten hit hard enough to believe his own fantasy or was there truth to his story…?
Not a second later did an ear deafening sound of an explosion rock the whole post. The ground shook as the shot landed, flinging up dirt all around it. Shouting echoed throughout the post, orders from their captain being thrown about. Foot soldiers help their guns tight to their bodies as they rushed towards the action. Helmut, on the other hand, cowarded back in fear. His fingers latching onto his gun, holding it for dear life. One of the running soldiers from the crowd moving towards the explosion noticed the cowering man. He quickly rushed over, latched onto Helmut’s arm, and dragged him into the crowd of people. All Klaus could do was watch as Helmut’s fearful body fell within the sea of men.
Klaus’ attention fell back upon his own weapon. The two other artillery operators were already in position, prompting him to follow suit. Men flocked around the large guns, quickly loading it with its necessary ammunition. Once the gun was loaded, the operators, like Klaus, lowered the barrel into a proper firing position. While the combat was just barely visible under the night sky, they still had to fire when ready.
Soldier of both armies, the attacker being that of the Russians, clashed. Some men rushed onto the open field, creating a physical wall they had to get through. Most, however, stationed farther back. They were placed in such a formation that created a firing wall, used to knock down as many of the opposing men as they could. On the back line of the Russian army, tanks made their movement forwards, pushing through the combat and killing whoever stood in their way. Whether that be friend, or foe. And those giant machines of metal were Klaus’ targets.
The other men arming the artillery began firing. A loud explosion echoed within his ear. Klaus winced at the pain, but pushed through. He was used to the loud noise in his ear. Adjusting the aim of his gun, the German fired. The gun jolted back in power, rocking Klaus to his core. He tried his best to follow the shot, but the black coloring got lost within the night. Within seconds men were back upon the large gun, reloading it as fast as possible. Klaus was quick to re-aim and fire once more.
It would take a couple of hits for a tank to go down, unable to gauge the damage under the blanket of darkness. Yet, no matter how much the post fired, the tanks kept on rolling. As Klaus was waiting for his gun to be reloaded, his eyes remained upon the battlefield. Dead men were scattered everywhere on the ground; much too many to count. However, it was an explosion that caught his attention. One of his fellow operators had fired a shot that had just barely missed the tank. However, it managed to kick up the tank enough to get it to stop rolling. The second quickly repositioned himself and fired his own shot upon the tank. The large metal mobile rocked as it was hit, yet it wasn’t enough to destroy it.
Klaus’ body leaned forwards, looking through a small looking glass that was mounted to his artillery. His eyes instantly fell upon the stationary tank. Was this machine down for the count or was it still going to be a threat? However, when the lid to the opening of the tank was shoved open, Klaus froze. His initial thought was a simple ‘who was that crazy enough to leave their protection in the middle of battle?’
The Russian quickly crawled his way down the tank before moving over to the damaged area of the tank. The man began fixing the damage pieces right in the middle of the battlefield where he could be shot any minute. However, the crazy man seemed to have no worry.
Without a second though, Klaus reposition his large gun, aiming it near the man. Looking back through the scope, the German watched as others climbed from the tank. However, instead of going to help the crazy one fix the tank, they all stood around the mechanic with guns at the ready.
And then, it caught his eye. There were white symbols upon the side of the tank, clearly evident to that of Russian lettering. It was a large set of words, the two distinct words covering the entire side of the machine. While he had no idea how the read the Russian language, something else clicked. Something that made Klaus’ eyes widen.
Helmut’s story… the Fighting Girlfriend…
The German remained frozen, unable to process what he was seeing. His eyes simply rested upon the crowd of Russian protecting their mechanic. Within that tank was the female soldier Helmut was talking about. But, this can’t be! No! It just can’t be true! No woman was allowed on the battlefield. Stalin would never step that low, would he…?
His finger shook upon the trigger, unable to fulling pull it down. He would be helping the fatherland by stopping the Russian ascent onto the town. But, just the thought of her lifeless body resting on the battlefield… A woman, his own girl, flashed before his eyes. Her long, blond and bouncy hair. Her bright blue eyes. What if that was her? What if a Russian killed her out on the field? He had a duty to the Fatherland, yet couldn’t pull the trigger in fear of killing a woman.
Explosions began to ignite around Klaus, dirt and debris flying about. A metal burst rung in his ear as the sound of a neighboring artillery gun blew apart besides him. Sections of the post began to give way, falling apart to the ground and allowing entry. Men from his unit began running from the battle, guns in hand. Many were shot down as they ran, yet some still managed to pull away.
Quickly, the shouting of his captain echoed throughout the field, commanding all to pull back. Those stationed as long ranged shooters quickly pulled away their guns and followed suit of the footsoldiers. The couple that were alive still next to Klaus were dragged away with the crowd as well. However, Klaus sat there, his eyes falling back within the looking glass.
The tanks began closing in as Klaus directed his attention to the painted tank. The men still gathered around their mechanic, protecting him from potential firing. However, they all began pulling away once their opposition began retreating.
The eyes of the mechanic rose away from the tank, looking upon the battlefield and at the torn apart post the German’s once controlled. The man’s small figure irked Klaus’ stomach as thoughts began to grow. However, it was only when his hat was removed did his stomach sink. The fluffy black hair fell to shape the mechanic’s face. A face that was now evident of its feminine features. That was her. That was the commanded of the Fighting Girlfriend.
Quickly, Klaus’ body was pulled away from the artillery by one of the last remaining runners from the field. They had to run. They had to flee, unless they wanted death upon their lives. But, he just wanted to look. He wanted to glance upon the female fighter for longer. Just so he could know if she was true. There was a woman upon the battlefield who has now reclaimed their captured cities.
Helmut was right. She was real. Only he and Helmut know. But, who was going to believe him? Who in their right mind would believe a silly story of a female tanker? No one. No one would listen to a word that slipped from his lips. They would call him crazy and delirious. Just like they had done to Helmut… Now, Klaus stood on the opposite line. A truthful story spilling from his lips, yet no one to believe him. He now rested within the shoes of Helmut; a deranged soldier coming from a lost battle.