SO this kid is writing a book about the time when he was stationed in Chechnya:
THE WAY OF ANIMALS
My cold freezing fingers tried to light up my American Zippo lighter. My thumb was shaking violently as it pulsated all over the striker. Nothing, not even a single spark. It can’t be like that; I thought the American made lighters would light anywhere anytime. Probably some piece of **** made in China.
“Sasha, you got a match?” – I asked
“Why? The “zippa” died?” – He answered while passing me a box of old Soviet matches.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just remember who is your buddy!” – I replied and like a hungry drug addict I jumped on his matches.
My name is Alexei Vetrov or simply Alesha, but to the Western world I’d be known as Alex. I’m a soldier in the Russian army, and right now we are in Chechnya driving to the village of Vedeno, which is 80 miles south of Grozny, the angry capital of this hell.
About five days ago a bunch of our guys were ambushed there during their cleansing operation. Out of thirty-two guys we think only six survived; well kind of. They are missing, and if the rebels captured them alive, the chances are, their heads will be found near our block-post sometime this week. Most of the guys around me believe the ambushed convoy was sold out by a bunch of broke ass generals
Most of the guys sitting next to me are farm boys, from places you’ve probably never heard. But don’t feel bad, because I don’t think I heard of them either. To my left is Sasha. He’s been here since the start, so I usually ask him a lot of questions about this war. To my right is Sergei. He’s always quiet and he’s our best sniper. Behind me is “Pitbull”. Our commander of battalion, or as we call him “Kombat,” calls Pitbull “Walking Furniture”.
The town of Vedeno was punching out of the fog towards us. It looked like the town was moving at us, and we were sitting perfectly still. The little houses reminded me of a village I used to visit in Russia with my grandma. Little blue boxes with white windows were scattered around the snowy terrain. It looked like a ghost town you would see in the horror movies. Most of the villagers were still sleeping, and didn’t realize that this would be their last morning.
We parked by an old post office, and I jumped off the BMP before our driver hit the brakes. I clicked the selector of my AK-74 assault rifle to full auto, and I brought it comfortably to my shoulder, pointing at the village. With our usual luck it started to snow. The white roofs of the houses dissolved into the fog even more.
“Kombat” gave us the order, and we took off running towards the first house. Sasha signaled to us to take cover, and sit still. The house looked to be in a good shape. The light brown bricks looked brand new, and suspicious to us. The order was to get villagers outside, and line them up for inspection.
Sasha knocked on the door, and we pointed our AK’s for his cover. A woman opened the door, and Sasha grabbed her long black hair, and threw her down the stairs on the ground. As he walked inside of the house screaming at the people just waking up, Pitbull helped the women get up and walked her to the middle of the street.
I tried to understand on what’s going on as Sasha called me inside.
“Where are the rebels?” – Sasha had his boot on a Chechen’s throat, probably the husband of the poor woman that took a head dive down the stairs.
“What rebel? We don’t know.” – The man answered with a heavy accent.
“You lying Muslim piece of ****. One more time, where are the rebels?” – Sasha pointed his AK at the man’s eye, and the black muzzle break touched the skin.
“Don’t kill me Russki, Don’t kill me Ivan!” – The man was afraid, stuttering
I thought it was a good method to pressure him to get an answer, until Sasha pulled the trigger, and sprayed the Chechen’s brains all over the wall.
“Dude! What the …?” – I couldn’t even finish the sentence
“Shut up, and go outside to help the others, wow look at his face.”- Sasha interrupted me as though nothing really happened.
“Dude what the hell did you just do? He is not a rebel…!” – I screamed at Sasha
“Get outside! I said now!” – This time he yelled at me
He was a lieutenant, and had an attitude, plus I didn’t feel like arguing with someone who just shot a Chechen man in the head. I had blood all over me, and the smell of it was making me sick, I walked towards the crowd of my guys, and I felt like I was about to pass out. There were around 20-30 Chechen civilians outside, taking off their shirts and jackets. Some of our guys were walking more civilians there, and I turned around to see Sasha walking two people with him.
“Vetrov, come here!” – Our “Kombat” yelled at me.
I began running, and my AK was rocking back and forth behind my back. There were probably around eight Chechen women, and 20 men. Their shirts, and jackets were on the ground, and they looked very cold. My eyebrows felt like they were touching my eyes, what the hell is going on here? Another soldier brought four more men and quickly undressed them. He ordered the people to raise their hands up, and suck in their stomachs. One of our BMPs slowly drove by with soldiers sitting on top. They whistled at the Chechens like they were some hot women in a strip club.
I was out of breath, and I think anxiety hit me hard, I am thinking I had seen all this before. Yes I’m sure I had, it was on TV about some German guy named Schindler. Our “Kombat” came to me, looked at me and smiled.
“Newbie, so much to learn my son” – Said our Kombat and took out his Makarov pistol and shot a bearded man who was shaking in the cold.
I pointed my AK at the officer, and was about to shoot him. I will not let this sick bastard continue his executions.
“What? You’re going to shoot me? “ –Kombat asked, still pointing the gun at the dead man he had just shot.
“Yes. What the hell are you doing, sir? They are not rebels!”- I yelled at him.
Kombat was putting away his Makarov, like I wasn’t even there.
“Come with me Alex. Come on, Come!” – Kombat walked by me again like I’m not even there. “Kulikov, take over. I’m gonna show Alex something.”
I was confused, I didn’t know what to say or what to do, but my instincts told me to follow the leader. I was walking behind the Kombat, but I still had my AK pointing at him. He just walked, occasionally turning around and making sure I was still walking behind him.
He took me behind some old water plant. As he fixed his jacket collar he gave me a long stern look; and then he hit me with it.
“Son, I understand your anger and confusion. I have a son your age; he actually looks a lot like you. He was born without legs and can’t join me here to fight the Muslim scum. But you have to understand something; we are not the animals here.” – His voice was soft and quiet
“Sir, you just wasted those people like they were rebels.” – I answered.
“See those stains down there? – Kombat asked me pointing at the concrete slab we were standing on. There were four dark brown stains in the middle of the slab. “This is where they butchered our six guys. Most of these villagers stood right here, cheering the rebels for their murder.”
“Two days ago, we found the headless bodies of our missing guys. It will be hard to identify them.” – Said Sasha as he walks up from the village. “The rebels also dropped us the tape, a video of the executions. I watched it many times trying to understand how a human can do that.” – Said Sasha and he put his hand on my shoulder.
As I try to register all of this, I hear a very familiar cracking sound. Sasha got hit right in the throat, and the sparkle of muzzle flashes surrounded us from all the sides. It’s an ambush, and right now I don’t care about the answers. Right now I’m dropping on the ground and spraying back at my enemies. Fight, Alex, Fight. Your brothers are dying next to you.
“Allah y Akbaaaaaar!” – Chechens were screaming at us.
Today I saw a lot, but right now I need to survive. Maybe I will learn what happened tomorrow. Maybe I will die today.