Flipping through paperwork I came across a photocopied image of an old polaroid. The words "Home : Winter 1963" were scribbled across the back of the photograph. The front of the faded photo showed a snowy house with a man smiling in front holding a rabbit by its hind legs. At the bottom of the photocopy a small note was printed "Home byl zničen požárem, nemovitosti na prodej. Čtyři kilometry čtverečních osm tisíc Koruna"
The gas lamp went out. Darkness. I stood up and approached the small cracks of light shining through the window's boards. The cold burned my eyes. Grey clouds stretched on as far as I could see from the second story window. The street was strewn with debris and bodies. Some of them were standing.
In the cold darkness I felt my pockets. Three bullets, a few Chernarusian coins, an empty lighter, and a cell phone. I pulled the lighter from my pocket and ran my thumb across the wheel. The sparks lit the room for an instant. I saw my suitcase and its contents strewn about, I saw a metal pipe on the floor, and I saw the bills of sale for my family's farm.
"I should've used that light reading something in English." I mumbled spitefully.
All that mattered was the house in the picture. Somewhere in the unfamiliar horizon, the house I was born in slowly decayed. I thought of my family. I thought of work. I thought of the cold.
I sparked the lighter again. I could see the empty fridge and the torn outer layer of my coat on the floor. The lighter fell from my hands and jingled on the floor. I crouched down and ran my hands across the tile searching for the lighter. Nothing. The slivers of light from the window faintly illuminated an advertisement on the wall. "Roční období pozdravy od hotelu Černogorsk" I couldn't read the Czech, or Russian, or cyrillic or whatever language was being used. I thought of my father, and how we moved away from this land so long ago.
Gunshots rang out. I suddenly realized I was laying on my back, I must've fallen asleep. I rushed to the cracks in the window boards. I ran my hands across the plywood to find the cracks. I found them, there was no light. More gunshots. The muzzle flashes lit the streets for an instant at a time. Flashes in a window across the street. Flashes near the street corner. Silence.
There was a slam from across the street and metallic clanging.
"Voz'mi moi puli, vy vor!" a voice yelled.
More gunshots from the window towards the corner.
Footsteps thumped up the stairs of my building. I rushed for the pipe. Silence. I stood by the door with the pipe ready to swing. The voice from across the street made yells only to be muffled by the window's boards. The door's handle turned. Slowly, the door tilted open as the muzzle of a gun brushed the doors edge, making a quiet echo. Slow footsteps entered the room and moved towards the window. I raised the pipe higher and approached the footsteps.
Everything went red.
I opened my eyes.
I was lying in a roadside ditch, surrounded by fields. Slowly, I stood up, feeling the bloody wound on the back of my head. Everything I had was gone. I began to walk down the road. Everything except my family's farm.