Albe woke to the sound of the door screeching. He rubbed his eyes, reaching for his glasses and looked to see who it was. Two men cloaked in thick, white winter camouflage had opened the metal blast door and stepped inside. Iron helmets and rifles with the same winter patterns were slung on their shoulders. One of them had a substantially large dark stain near his upper left abdomen, the other was badly bruised on his face, a black eye and a bleeding forehead. Both were scouts, trained to kill anyone within range of their scopes. They had been checking out on any potential incursions the Russians might have been up to, and from the looks of pain that they gave Albe, they got a little too close for comfort.
"Morning Albe, nice to see you're up." The solider with the bleeding forehead said with wince as he inspected the wound.
"Good morning to you too, Josef," Albe said with a yawn, sluggishly removing his blanket and standing up. He took a long look at the scenic view of the sunrise from the small horizontal opening in the metal bunker. Well, eventual metal coffin would be more appropriate, at least in his view. He stepped groggily towards the table now occupied with the behinds of his friends. "I take it the Russians gave you a parting gift?"
Greizle Josef was not a man to be spoken of lightly, and Albe should know. He was his best friend. They had been friends since early childhood, when they both met on the street and challenged each other to see who could climb the tallest tree in the village the fastest. Despite, Able being the clear winner, Josef had punched him square in the jaw for his loudmouth personality, kicking off a wonderful friendship.
"Aye, would've taken it to the grave too, if Josef didn't splatter their brains on the snow." The other soldier piped in. He wasn't clutching his torso in pain and the dark stain certainly wasn't growing, looking dried instead, which meant that wasn't his blood on his uniform. "And here is the parting gift they gave us."
He produced a small notebook and a bundle of papers from underneath his coat and set it down to the wooden table, making Josef clear himself from the vicinity. The bruised man made his way to the small washroom inside the bunker, unceremoniously peeling off parts of his clothing along the way. Albe, meanwhile, examined the small pile of documents squeezed in between the pages of the notebook, adding to the myriad of papers in various states of being stained with blood.
The the pages and papers were worn from use, their crinkle adding to the none too cozy environment that he'd woken up to. Nonetheless, he still felt the air of tension that made itself known ever since the two scouts came back from their patrol. Albe knew that information was power, and right now, he suddenly felt the true weight of the book that was in his hands.
"Where did you find this, Hanz?" Albe asked, the soldier in question combing through the documents, no doubt trying to find something of value. It was a genuine question, but that didn't seem to get through to Hanz as he scowled at Albe. "The Russians should be a week's journey away at the least..."
Hanz visibly hesitated before answering, looking away from his questioning eyes, much to Albe's suspcision.
"We ran into some scouts on our way back, seemed as though they were probing the area," He spoke quickly, turning away and removing his coat, as if to avoid eye contact. "Before they made, uhm, any m-moves."
The break in his previously fluent speech made Albe squint at Hanz, who still had is back turned to him, suddenly busy with tidying the blood-stained coat. Albe leaned against the table, rooted both by fascination and curiosity, as well as a sense of dread that came from a pit in his stomach.
'I have a bad feeling about this.' Able, thought to himself. He began eyeing his pistol that he'd left below his pillow, its holster showing from the blankets. It was more for his own sake rather than anyone else's, as out of everyone in the bunker, it was obvious that he was the odd one out. Even Josef wasn't one to lie about Albe being a bit wimpy at times, despite his often sardonic personality.
'Speaking of...' Able turned towards the washroom, leaning more heavily against the table with the jitters at his spine. 'What's taking Josef so long?'
He knew it was probably childish to worry about Josef. Of all the people that he'd met, Josef was by far the most stubborn. He was, after all, the reason why they even decided to enlist in the army in the first place. It was a surprise that they'd be assigned the role of scout, but Josef and he were perfectly suited for it - two free spirited men with a penchant for breaking rules, even in the military.
Albe eased onto one of the outlying chairs near the table, its frame groaning with the man's weight. He never considered himself to be bulky by any means, but the chair had seen better days. He tried to swat away the idea of anything bad happening out of his head. He reasoned that since Hanz was a fresh recruit, he'd be trying to keep himself together after his first real mission earlier.
'But...' An afterthought crept up to him. 'He didn't look a tad bit frazzled when he returned.'
Albe knew how recruits were like. They were young, adventurous, and hopeful, thinking that they'd earn glory and reputation by joining the army. None of them every really expected their worldview to be so abruptly flipped upside down. Hell, if he were honest with himself, even he wasn't fully over the fact that he had taken the life of a man who looked no older than he was.
Hanz's calm, almost unnerving expression when he came inside only added to Albe's anxiety. He contemplated checking up on Josef before the man himself came out of the washroom, a few bandages on his bruised face. Albe walked up the his best friend, placing a firm hand on his shoulder.
"Thins aren't adding up, Josef... what really happened out there?" Albe was never a man of confrontation, but Josef was never a man to shirk away from his best friend. He hesitated though, something that Albe never thought Josef could even do.
It was only after a few moment's trepidation, and some persistence in Albe's case, did he answer.
"...You're right. Thins aren't adding up."
Josef raised his right right arm in a quick motion. Albe barely had enough time to react before a loud bang rang out.
Hanz crumpled dead on the floor with a thud, his coat along with him. A whole in his head was oozing crimson fluid across the floor, soft gurgling sounds gurgling sounds emanating from the corpse.
Albe just stood there, motionless, as did Josef. But it was not long before the former of the two overcame their shock and yelled.
"WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?" Albe didn't restrain the shock and terror that he felt from bursting out. He pulled Josef into the washroom, clasping his hands to the side of his face once they got there. He tried with all his will calm himself down, but his words were still laced with the trembling of his being. "Josef... what. did. you. do?"
The bruised man looked at his best friend's eyes, his face more serious than Albe had ever seen. This time however, he did not hesitate to speak. It chilled Albe to the core. Suddenly, Albe felt something against his chin, the click of a gun echoing with Josef's voice.
"The same thing that's going to happen to you."
Heyo! This is an older story that I had lying around from when I had a creative streak. I'm new to this whole posting stories online and whatnot, but I managed to shake my own hesitation (after a lot of procrastination and memes mind you) to polish up the story and post it. Really, it's just an experiment on my part.
Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed this story. Any feedback is welcome. Thank you for reading!