This is a short story I wrote, which is a complete rework of something I wrote four years ago in my junior year of high school. I figured the subject matter would be of interest to CN players, so I made a blog for the express purpose of sharing it.
I deliberately didn't refer back to my old work until I was almost finished. Comparing the two, they're almost completely different in style, with their own strengths and weaknesses. I don't want to make this too tl;dr so I won't be posting the old work unless people show interest.
I also realize that the prose isn't very good and am open to criticism, but I hope you guys find the story interesting.
That morning, Ilya had received the letter informing him of his older brother's death. Andrey was a lieutenant in the Red Army and had died while valiantly leading his unit in an assault on German positions in Stalingrad, or at least that's what the letter said. Now, two weeks after Andrey's death, Ilya was in the same city, having crossed the Volga only a few days before with his unit. Unlike Andrey however, Ilya was only a cadet, and most likely if he died nobody would know.
Ilya didn't resent his brother, and in fact he loved him as his closest friend, but the realization that he was insignificant combined with Andrey's death devastated him. Still, he found that he could not weep for his brother, even though his depression was obvious enough for his fellow soldiers to point out.
"What's the matter, comrade Ilya? Why won't you eat?" they asked.
"It's nothing, I just seem to have lost my appetite," he replied. He immediately became angry with himself for lying, and he felt like a coward. "Excuse me, I need to take a piss." He got up, leaving his rations unattended, and entered an alley between two bombed-out buildings.
"Is this how I'm supposed to mourn my brother's death? Through denial and self-pity?" he wondered as he punched the wall. "Damn it!"
* * *
That night, the unit found shelter in an abandoned house as the battle raged on in other parts of the city. They intended to search the house for provisions but found that it had already been raided. Nonetheless they decided it would be a safe place to rest.
Ilya walked to the other side of the house looking for a place to sleep. On the far end of the hallway to the left was a small room. On the floor were two naked male corpses, with Red Army uniforms next to them. They had clean red holes through their skulls and puddles of blood and brains next to their heads. Both faces expressed unimaginable anguish.
"Poor !@#$%^&*," he thought. He wasn't phased by the sight, and instead sat down in the hallway next to the threshold, exhausted. He laid his rifle in his lap, closed his eyes, and fell asleep.
* * *
He awoke to the sound of voices in the next room. He looked around the corner and could see two naked soldiers of the Red Army kneeling and pleading with their German captors.
"Please don't kill me, I have three children. Please!" The Germans laughed. Although Ilya could not speak German, he could understand what they were saying perfectly.
"So the Schweinhund wants to live, does he? Well, if he can dodge a bullet, then surely our comrade deserves to live!" The captain swiftly withdrew his Mauser. He shot the soldier in the head, and the soldier collapsed.
"Dmitri!" The other soldier began sobbing. He had spots of his comrade's blood on his face.
"Quiet! Your friend had his chance, now you will have yours." The lieutenant smashed the butt of his rifle against the soldier's head, knocking him to the floor. He pinned the man's chest under his jackboot, and took aim at his face. There was a thunderous bang, and then silence.
The Germans stood there for a moment, observing their work. Ilya froze in his spot next to the threshold. Soon he could hear their footsteps coming toward him, and his fear multiplied with each step. The Germans paused as they stepped into the hallway.
"What's this?" The captain stared at him, but Ilya did not turn his eyes toward him. He was focused instead on the lieutenant, whose face was obscured by shadow. On the lieutenant's sleeve was not a German emblem, but the insignia of a lieutenant in the Red Army.
"Andrey..." Ilya muttered. The lieutenant smiled.
Ilya struggled to lift his rifle, but its burden felt so heavy in his hands that it would not move. Andrey was smiling stupidly by now. Ilya never averted his eyes.
Andrey began to take his helmet off with an awful noise, like that of flesh tearing. Blood began to flow from his scalp and cover his face and uniform. His eyes and nostrils were missing, replaced by thin membranes of skin, now stained red. His grin became inhuman and sinister. Still Ilya could not move, and the captain began to laugh and taunt him.
"What's wrong, comrade? Aren't you happy to see your brother?" As Andrey slowly started to lift his rifle, Ilya heard a horrific, constant roar coming from outside, which was getting louder. As Andrey brought his rifle level with his brother's chest, the roar was deafening, drowning out the captain's maniacal laughter. But still Ilya could hear Andrey's last words.
"Goodbye, brother." Andrey pulled the trigger.
* * *
Ilya awoke to the loudest noise he had heard in his life. The room beyond the threshold was gone; so was most of the house, and with it his unit. Tears were streaming down his face. He curled up into a ball and wept as sunlight slowly started to flood the hallway.