The forest had been so unforgiving. The overgrown foliage gave no room to maneuver, with each tree being so close to one another. It was a battle within itself to see twenty feet ahead in what had been considered "good weather" only weeks before. Had it been sometime in the summer, ideal conditions for hiding would at least have made up for the lack of room, but naturally, luck would have it and it was the dying end of the winter. The temperature was still bitterly cold, especially for underdressed men like themselves. Of course, what could one expect from an ancient, winter swept European forest?
Does he even know where he's going?
Where's he taking us?
The questions shot through the young man's mind like a machine gun. As one inquiry died down in importance, a new one would quickly take its place. He was beginning to believe that his hyperactive train of thought was as fast as his legs. His mind's focus then shifted, realizing how absurd it was to believe that his comrade had any more of an idea where to flee than he did. However, even this conclusion could not quell his inquiring mind. Perhaps he just needed some closure; some idea that at least one of them had a fleeting grip on the situation.
Where will stay?
Will there be food?
Will we get there before the Ivans?
There were only two. Their tattered autumn jackets provided only minimal resistance against the harsh environment, nevermind any semblance of protection against their wicked firearms-wielding counterparts following close behind. The rapid crunching of snow underneath his boots, coupled with the incessant Slavic shouting and gunfire had become so familiar to the young man that he had begun to forget what the world sounded like without them. It was all so second nature now, an intimate, if not unwanted, part of his psyche.
"Keep running Otto!" The young man's comrade shouted.
The crack of the rifle, the impact, the shouts. It all happened in the blink of an eye. All it took was one well-placed shot. The young man's feet turned to boulders, coming to a blunt stop while cocking his head backwards. As his eyes scanned the red-stained snow, it took him a moment or two to process everything. A melange of brain matter, blood and the odd skull fragment tainted the otherwise peaceful snow. The body of the young man's companion lay in a contorted position a foot away, a macabre neighbour to what was once the contents of his head.
The young man had no chance to retrieve his friend's corpse. A few seconds of grief quickly gave way to more frantic running. There was no time to mourn now. No chance to save him; there never was. That's what this war was; complete and utter barbary. The thoughts pulsated through his mind with the power of a gong, and the young man attempted in vain to clear his mind again. Fortunately for both his mental and physical state, his eyes caught sight of a rather well hidden area of foliage . Darting left, his exhausted legs propelled him forward into the cover.
He couldn't fight it anymore. He simply couldn't. He curled slowly into a nearly frozen fetal position, tears beginning to stream down his face uncontrollably. The tiny amount of warmth they provided was little comfort in the face of every lurid event he had witnessed this far.
No man deserves this…No man…