“That doesn’t change the fact that what you are doing is crazy! Do you want to get yourself killed?” Dmitriy stood at his bunk where he sat bandaging his arm. His comrade had been lecturing him for the last hour about his stupidity and suicidal antics. “Aleksandr… think of your family for once?”
He turned his blue eyes up to stare at Dmitriy, his upper lips upturning in a snarl. “I have been thinking about them since the first day I was shipped out. I’m doing this to preserve their future.” He looked back down at his scratched up arm and continued bandaging until it was done. “I will sacrifice myself for what I believe in… for who I believe in.”
Dmitriy seemed to take a moment of silence to consider his words before slapping a hand hard against his shoulder. He winced as a bruise there flared in pain, the obviousness of the gesture making him slap Dmitriy’s hand away. “Aleksandr… I can understand your goals, but you going out and knifing Nazis to death is nothing but selfish. You could join the patrols and use your gun in the safety of your unit.”
“My unit can blow me,” he snapped and climbed to his feet, casting a glance over to Dmitriy. “Just like the General can.”
“You are going to be hung for insubordination if you keep this up,” Dmitriy offered and crossed arms at him. He ignored the gesture, which caused his comrade to bristle at him. “I wonder about your sanity.”
Aleksandr snorted and pushed passed Dmitriy, grabbing his sub-machine gun and slinging it over his shoulder. He adjusted the sleeves of his jacket to make sure his pistols were settled correctly to not hinder his movements. He then took a moment to tighten his blue bandana over his head to looked to Dmitriy before he simply turned and walked away.
“You’re a damn fool!” Dmitriy called after him. He never looked back.
Slipping out of their base camp in Tula, Aleksandr pulled his jacket around him more tightly as he walked out of the guarded walls. No one bothered to stop him anymore, recognizing what he did was a suicidal move that not many would bother to take now that they had established a defensive position. They were going to push back the German assault, but his beef was on a more personal level.
He stopped long enough to light a cigarette for himself before carrying on into the streets of Tula, most of the lights now those for the Red Army than for civilians. Everyone with half a mind had fled the city and moved closer to the capital. Only shipments of soldiers and nurses and casual civilians who helped with the war effort were hanging around this place.
Everyone told him that he took things way too personally lately. He couldn’t help it. He had been feeling strange, not that he hadn’t felt strange before. It was never a consistent feeling like it was now. In his childhood, he had felt pangs of it, but he had always ignored it for his lack of sibling. It had seemed to go away now that he had a younger sister, so he had pushed it away.
He had left his family behind to fight in the war, but he no longer really thought about them all that much. He felt… empty, like he was only half of himself at times. He felt like he was searching for another part of himself, and it haunted him even when he slept… this feeling of not being whole.
When he spoke so violently of protecting his family, he couldn’t control himself. He wasn’t thinking about his mother, father and sister when he so viciously defended his own actions, but he couldn’t place what he was guarding so venomously. It was a displaced thing, some feeling of not belonging without someone else who he had been close to, so close that he felt so itchy and desperate to rid himself of the feeling of separation anxiety.
He was missing half of himself all of a sudden, and he hated it. He felt a pull to be dependent on something that he did not even know. He knew he was a violently protective person, but how could he be protective of something he didn’t even know what it was?
Cursing under his breath, Aleksandr headed off down a side street, marching his way fast to shake off his feeling of frustration. Being frustrated always made his left shoulder burn, which was the stupidest thing he had ever heard of. He just needed to rid himself of the bountiful energy that came about this feeling he would do anything to get rid of.
He drew his standard issue knife and slipped down a few more side streets, avoiding the patrol that monitored the city limits. There was rumour that the Germans had infiltrated some parts of Tula and were using that as a base to drive northwards towards the capital. He knew it was more than a rumour, since he had killed a few in his night raids.
He even suspected he knew where a few were on this night. He would end their communication as quickly as he could, if he could find them. Some nights the patrols beat him to it, but other nights he could sneak in and slit their throats while they lay in formation. That always gave him a strange pang of emotion as well, but it was much easier to ignore given the fact that they were his enemies and would kill him just as easily as he killed them.
Moving through the streets, he entered a few buildings and searched around. He managed to find a pack of abandoned cigarettes – which he took – but there was nothing to note otherwise. He scoffed and looked out from one of the broken windows, looking for sources of light that shouldn’t be in the distance. There was nothing, which gave him the distinct feeling that tonight he would be left with his feelings of anxious frustration.
No. He was determined he would make trouble. The Germans had to be here, and he would hunt them down no matter where they were.
Staring out of the window, Aleksandr sneered as he rubbed his left shoulder with one hand and took a long drag of his cigarette with the other. He growled and walked away, moving down the stairs and exiting, heading back into the streets to continue his hunt. He tapped his knife against his hip as he walked, keeping his ears and eyes open for any signs of his query.
He tried to think of his sister, but she was like a dull image pitted against the sharp pounding of anguished separation. He didn’t need anyone. He just needed to complete his duty as a soldier and defend his homeland; there was no one out there besides his family and friends. He was never convinced of that, even as he repeated it in his mind.
“Maybe I am going crazy…”