Remembrance by Nils Durban

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Only moments passed before he saw her visibly relax and a brave smile came to her lips. For the first time he cast his eyes around for the child and saw her seated quietly upon the remains of some old farm machinery, staring away into nothingness.

It had been a land mine. They had made such good progress that he had begun to think that they might even catch up with their troop. Perhaps he had been too eager in urging them onwards, but, upon reflection, there was no careful way to step on a mine.
Karina had lost her right leg from the knee down and the profusion of blood was alarming. Her face was already deathly pale.

"Do you remember St. Petersburg?" she asked.
"How could I not," he indulged her reminiscence, "it was the most wonderful time. And," he asserted, "we'll be there again."
"No, my love," she whispered, "you must leave now. It's far too exposed here and I cannot bear to think that neither of us will survive."
Poul stared into her eyes, horrified. "That's ridiculous. I'll carry you."
"Too weak," she said, "and too much blood, I fear. And anyway, there is the child."
"But," he searched in desperation for the words that would convince her she was wrong, "she's not ours."
Karina smiled at him, a warm and sunny smile that did indeed remind him of their time together three summers ago, "I know you better than that, Poul. You wouldn't desert her. You must go."
He hung his head in sorrow, "how can I possibly do that? I would rather stay here with you."
"Because," she told him, "I know the man that you are, and I know that you will do the right thing."
He felt a light touch upon his shoulder and turned to face the girl who was now stood beside him, taking in this terrible scene. She reached out a small hand and he took it numbly in his own.
He leaned forwards to kiss Karina's trembling lips a final time. She held onto his neck, brought his ear towards her mouth.
"Thank you for the flowers," she whispered, "you never forgot."


Now

Poul became lost in his own thoughts as he strode purposely down the broken road, determined as he was to reach his goal without delay. The distant steady drone failed at first to penetrate his consciousness. By the time that realisation dawned upon him, he was sure that it was too late. Watcheye!

He dove heedlessly into the dense vegetation that encroached upon the verge of the road. He pulled himself downwards, uncaring of the briars that ripped at his skin as he did so. He squirmed around, trading off the additional noise and movement this generated against his absolute need to confront his possible end face on. The increasingly voluble thrum signalled the approach of the mechanism. Poul hunkered down and, through the foliage before him, stared back up towards the carriageway.

The Watcheye swam into view, hovering at a height of some six feet above the pitted and scarred tarmac, steely appendages dependant from its undercarriage. Poul willed it to continue on its way, swore inwardly when it paused, its gleaming metallic body swivelling slowly about until its glowing red camera eye was directed towards the side of the road where he had secreted himself.

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