May 01, 1996

Senka


That morning, Senka was still in control of himself. But when, after a brief respite, the aircraft started coming in not only from the sun, but from all four sides, he realized he couldn’t go on. His body shook with a slight, dreadful shiver, and, whenever he relaxed his jaw slightly, his teeth started to chatter, just like they did when he had malaria. He had a sinking feeling in his belly, and his mouth was dry and bitter from tobacco smoke. That morning he had still had a full pouch, but now there was nothing but dust Ñ he had smoked his three-day ration in the space of half a day.

“There’s enough left for a couple more smokes,” thought Senka, as he sprinkled the dust mixed with breadcrumbs onto some paper, “and then...”

But he didn’t have time to think this through. A whole swarm of planes (“A hundred odd,” was the thought that flashed through Senka’s head) with wheel carriages like red talons started swooping straight over him. He dropped his pouch and paper, shoved his head between his legs, clenched his teeth, screwed up his eyes and sat like this until the explosions stopped. Then he carefully opened his eyes and stuck his head out of the trench. Through the smoke blowing somewhere to the left he spotted the black wing of a plane with a black cross on it. Senka closed his eyes again. But nothing happened. The plane flew off.


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