Saturday, 26 March 2011

Another taste of "The Abaddon Stone."

          Lieutenant-Medic Catrina Dombrovski wiped her forehead with the back of her bloody hand and bent once more to her task of attempting to suture together the shredded remains of a young Shturmovik pilot who had caught a large piece of shrapnel in his abdomen as his aeroplane had been shot down by the quad 20mm guns of one of the German Wirbelwind self-propelled anti-aircraft guns ranged on the edge of Seelow town.
          The old barn that served as the field hospital reeked of blood and excreta, vomit and dirt, and the sickly-sweetish smell of early-stage gas gangrene. On the rough table next to her; two Red Army Medical Service doctors were performing amputations; using only vodka as an anaesthetic. They worked swiftly. As soon as the offending limb was removed, it was thrown into an enamel bucket resting on the dirty, blood-stained floor.

          The wounded lay in rows on the dirty floor. There were no beds; just planks and benches salvaged from the shattered buildings in that part of the little town. The dying and the dead lay next to each other. Medical orderlies removed the corpses and amputated limbs when they could, and dumped them in a large, communal burial pit scraped out by the pioneers, for want of any better way to dispose of them.
          The only lights in the field hospital were from Hindenburg-Spar Lampen... Hindenburg Candles. These were flat circular bowls made from pasteboard and filled with tallow. When the short wick in the centre was lit they would burn for some hours. They had originally been designed for use in the trenches of the First World War. They were extremely smoky and gave off a foul, acrid smell from their dim, guttering flames; but there was nothing else.

          Catrina Dombrovski studied the pain-sweated face of the young pilot. He was only about twenty; but he had been lucky... if lucky was a word you could feasibly use in this ramshackle monument to the bloodbath behind the Seelow heights. The shrapnel had hit him in his solar plexus and ripped across the lower quarter of his stomach. When they had brought him in, he had been deathly pale and quiet. There was nothing in the way of anaesthetics or antiseptics left; the assault on the Seelow Heights had cost casualties counted in thousands of the Soviet forces. The German engineers had released water from a reservoir upstream, which turned the plain into a swamp, and left the armour  to use the few roads which were easily targeted by the defenders.
          When she had examined his dreadful wound; the only anaesthetic available had been a vicious uppercut from a large Guards Medical orderly. The shrapnel had missed both his oesophagus at the top, and his pyloric sphincter at the bottom of his stomach. With infinite care, she sutured the laceration back together. He would make it, provided shock, infection or peritonitis didn't get him first. Infection she could do something about. The other two were in the lap of the Gods. Finishing the suturing; she snapped her blood-stained fingers at the assisting orderly, who handed her a half-full bottle of vodka and a sheet from a bundle of newsprint that was being used for swabs and dressings. Newsprint can save a man from gas gangrene.

          Carefully, she tucked the sheet of newsprint into the airman's wound and poured neat vodka over her suturing. With the excess soaked up by the pages from a three-month old copy of Pravda; she gently removed the sodden newsprint which had effectively acted as a swab, and picking up her needle and suture thread, began to repair the torn abdomen muscle. This done; all that was left, was to close. If he survived the night, he would have an impressive scar to show to the girls. She allowed herself a tiny smile. OK; let's make it a heroically attractive one.
          As the young pilot was carried away from her operating bench, she took a quick swig from the vodka bottle proffered by her orderly. She had been working for ten hours non-stop, now; and there was always another shattered body waiting for her to attempt to repair to some degree of normality. 

 As the next stretcher bearers approached, she sighed, and wondered if, one day, the mangled remains of the human being in front of her would be her brother Sergei.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Update on "Abaddon."

Abaddon is now up to 111,500 words and proceeding nicely. I normally use chapters of about 3000 words length, but this time, seeing as I was into the mid-twenties with the chapters, I have separated the novel into three parts.
It broke nicely with the storyline....
Part One covers the Fall of Berlin and the Heroine's escape to the Allies.
Part Two describes her return to Berlin during the Soviet Blockade and her adventures in the espionage community.
Part Three follows her adventures as she seeks out the Abaddon Stone in distant lands.

That's all you are going to get for now!