The Nevsky Wall
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Chapter 5   -  The Luga Line

July 3

Alex left Vera at her dormitory and went to one of the many military checkpoints that were being established in the city – this one near the Astoria Hotel. With the war on, the newsreel studio needed everyone in the field, even those who were in disfavor, like Alex. He was ordered to a location near the Luga River, half a day’s travel southwest of the city and directly in the path of the enemy advance.

He had heard the rumors. They were spreading through the streets and across kitchen tables. Rumors of terrible Red Army losses in the Ukraine and across the Baltic region. Of widescale panic in the ranks and incompetent leadership. Rumors like these were whispered, never openly spoken, because wrecking morale was a serious offense. Anyone – neighbor, colleague, or closest confidant – could be an informer. There were stories of people being arrested at cafes for the crime of ‘inciting discord’ or ‘aiding the enemy’ simply for repeating rumors that were common knowledge. Everyone, even those privately consumed by an overwhelming sense of fear and panic, found ways to project a public optimism. Standing in a bread queue, they would say, “Our boys will hold the line – they won’t let us down,” and all heads would nod in agreement.

But the dread of waiting and the lack of positive news was a disease eating away at the city. The central apparatus of morale, which had sprung into full action in those early days, required heroes. And if they could not be found, they would be created.

At the checkpoint, Alex arranged to share a car with two TASS reporters and a young military liaison. They were heading in the same direction to inspect units of the civilian militia, the People’s Army – a group that had been quickly trained and deployed as a second line of defense. The road out of the city was crowded with military vehicles and moved at a crawl. An equal flow poured in from the outlying regions on both sides of the road – horse-drawn carts, bicycles, people on foot – all weighed down with bundles and boxes, seeking safety in the city. Alex considered getting out the camera and filming the flow of refugees, but he thought better of it.

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Chapter 5   -  The Luga Line

3 Responses to “Chapter 5”

  1. G Garcia says:

    “Did you know that I can fire a rifle as well as anyone!””

    My kind of girl.

  2. G Garcia says:

    Powerful. I’M HOOKED.

    Now I am late to work. Damn you.

    So many beautifully written passages to swirl about, making your writing a pleasure to read, because these things I genuinely feel. To quote a few:

    “truth to her, was a performance”

    “But the dread of waiting and the lack of positive news was a disease eating away at the city. The central apparatus of morale, which had sprung into full action in those early days, required heroes. *** And if they could not be found, they would be created.**** ”

    “newsreels were a magic show pitched at the common man”

    “The audience needs to see faces that remind them of themselves.”

  3. Rosli says:

    Hi pip,i love your photos.i raced the SJS this wekeend in Gunnedah. i came 3rd in the swim . 5th on the bike and had a really bad run! i am racing again next wekeend.i miss you guys hi uncle justin. good luck in your next race!i also loved your youtube video.lots of love baixxx

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