Ice (Inspired by Erica)
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EXCERPT: The pale sun rose through a haze of sparkling ice crystals that drifted out of a dark primeval forest across a snowy field dotted with white, misshapen mounds. The ice-crystal wind drove small clouds of snow before it like ocean waves that broke into swirling eddies around the mounds.
A faint, painful cough from among the snowy mounds was almost lost in the moaning of the sparkling wind. SS-Rottenfuhrer Walter Kirchner, his breath ragged and shallow, crawled slowly, painfully among the field of dead, leaving a steaming bloody trail as his burning wounds reopened.
Finally unable to use his legs any longer, he pulled himself up a snowy embankment by a war-torn evergreen tree near a shattered tram stop. Walter gasped as he rested against the trunk while snow and ice crystals coated his sunken face and tangled brown hair. He looked up at the torn green branches reaching down toward him. In the light of the cold sun, he saw that the branches and needles were encased in protective sheaths of sparkling ice.
He looked at the blotches of frozen and fresh blood and patches of frozen snow on his stiff field-gray greatcoat. Dully he studied his stiffening bloody hands resting in his lap; a tear rolled down his left cheek and froze.
Walter raised his burning eyes and stared at the distant onion domes of the Kremlin peeking over the top of the dark forest. Like a distant beacon against the deep blue sky of the early dawn, the domes gleamed in the sunlight, beckoning and taunting at the same time…
In the black night at a forest road intersection on the Volokolamsk-Moscow Highway, the hungry, exhausted, and frozen Landser, German infantry, occupied positions carved out of deep snow banks beneath a bright star-filled sky. A thin mist drifted among the dark trees, reinforcing the feeling that they were in a dark, primitive world.
Walter wrapped a thin woman’s scarf around his head and across his face in a futile quest for protection against the frozen air, and replaced his helmet. He listened to the dark wind that moaned through the forest and thought of the once-proud gray columns that marched east into a barbaric wilderness behind the clanking gray panzers…