The Nevsky Wall
First chapter Previous chapter Next chapter Last chapter

Chapter 5   -  The Luga Line

The rest of the drive was animated, with the reporters telling stories that were just on this side of scandalous and the liaison quietly fuming in the front seat. The young reporter produced a flask, which Alex politely refused, hoping to keeps his wits about him for the assignment. After several hours of slow going, the car pulled up at a rough encampment and the reporters and liaison got out.

The older reporter leaned in the car window. “I never asked where you were headed.”

“Somewhere near the river,” said Alex.

“Luga … Dangerous country. Keep your head down … and keep the camera dry,” he said with a wink, as the car and Alex pulled out.

The Luga Line was a system of trenches, redoubts, and artillery bunkers extending for miles along the southern flank of the river. Cadres of civilians had been organized and transported to the area to work on the fortifications. They were hastily gathered from factories and schools or simply conscripted off the streets. Given little notice and less explanation, they were told to pack a few essentials and report to a mustering station where they were loaded onto trucks and commandeered city buses for the trip south.

As he stepped from the car, Alex was astonished at the scene before him. Stretching out across the river plain, the excavation crews labored under a cloudless sky in the July heat. It was the sort of close, relentless heat that made you forget winter had ever existed. Plumes of dust rose in the air above the works, then drifted to either side, hugging the earth for a distance before slowly dispersing.

The laborers, numbering in their thousands, were almost exclusively women, though Alex could see a smattering of old men and young boys. In this section they dug tank traps, wider and deeper than a normal trench, with a raised embankment on one side. The effect was one of dredging a dry river bed. A handful of uniformed officers and NKVD men paced the tops of the trenches, shouting instructions and berating the laggards. Some of the women seemed accustomed to hard, physical labor. They wore headscarves, dark peasant blouses, and sturdy work boots. But others were noticeably unsuited to the task, dressed in light sundresses and low-slung shoes better suited to strolling the Prospekt than shoveling dirt.

Pages: 1  2  3 4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11         show all (printable version)

First chapter Previous chapter Next chapter Last chapter
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

Leave a Reply