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datatime: 2022-09-25 16:27:15 Author:ngPDMFum

Jus' daydreamin', boss he said easily.Jus' daydreamin'. He shook out his pack of cigarettes.Have one?

The frenetic stammering of the machine-guns stopped abruptly and in unison, the sound sheared off as by a guillotine. The sudden silence was curiously oppressive, louder, more obtrusive than the clamour that had gone before. The gravelly earth beneath his elbows grated harshly as Mallory shifted his weight slightly, looked at the two men to his right, Andrea with his impassive face empty of all expression, Louki with the sheen of tears in his eyes. Then he became aware of the low murmuring to his left, shifted round again. Bitter-mouthed, savage, the American was swearing softly and continuously, oblivious to the pain as he pounded his fist time and again into the sharp-edged gravel before him.

Any second now, Mallory said softly.I only hope that our friend Turzig isn't among this lot. He reached out for his field-glasses but stopped in surprise as Andrea leaned across Louki and caught him by the wrist before he could lift the binoculars.Whats the matter, Andrea?

I would not be using these, my Captain. They have betrayed us once already. I have been thinking, and it can be nothing else. The sunlight reflecting from the lenses . . .

Miller studied the guns drawn up on the road behind the two trucks and cleared his throat.

Any second now, Mallory said softly.I only hope that our friend Turzig isn't among this lot. He reached out for his field-glasses but stopped in surprise as Andrea leaned across Louki and caught him by the wrist before he could lift the binoculars.Whats the matter, Andrea?

That inhuman bastard that sent these poor devils up that hill, Mallory said quietly.Make a wonderful pietare seen over the sights of your rifle, wouldn't he?

Mallory stared at him, slowly released his grip on the glasses, nodded several times in succession.

What Loiiki told you

Miller looked round at him, eyes cold and still and empty of all recognition, then he blinked several times and grinned, a cut and bruised hand automatically reaching for his cigarettes.

Mallory touched his arm.What is it, Dusty?

Miller studied the guns drawn up on the road behind the two trucks and cleared his throat.

We leave them be Mallory echoed emphaticaliy. The thought of any more slaughter made him feel almost physically sick.They won't try again. He broke off suddenly, flattened himself in reflex instinct as a burst of machine-gun bullets struck the steep-walled rock above their beads and whined up the gorge in vicious ricochet.

Miller studied the guns drawn up on the road behind the two trucks and cleared his throat.

His last words were caught up and drowned in the tearing, rapid-fire crash of the automatic carbines. With four machine-guns in their hands-two Brens and two 9 mm. Schmeissers-it was no war, as he had said, but sheer, pitiful massacre, with the defenceless figures on the slope below, figures still stunned and uncomprehending, jerking, spinning round and collapsing like marionettes in the hands of a mad puppeteer, some to lie where they fell, others to roll down the steep slope, legs and arms flailing in the grotesque disjointedness of death. Only a couple stood still where they had been hit, vacant surprise mirrored in their lifeless faces, then slipped down tiredly to the stony ground at their feet. Almost three seconds had passed before the handful of those who still lived-about a quarter of the way in from either end of the line where converging streams of fire had not yet met-realised what was happening and flung themselves desperately to the ground in search of the cover that didn't exist.

I was only sayin' what Louki told me, he said defensively.

Just one more, Gawd. The quiet voice was almost a prayer.That's all I ask. Just one more.

Miller studied the guns drawn up on the road behind the two trucks and cleared his throat.

I do not believe it, Andrea said flatly.You couldn't make a mistake like that, my Captain.

That inhuman bastard that sent these poor devils up that hill, Mallory said quietly.Make a wonderful pietare seen over the sights of your rifle, wouldn't he?

Just one more, Gawd. The quiet voice was almost a prayer.That's all I ask. Just one more.

Mallory stared at him, slowly released his grip on the glasses, nodded several times in succession.

I would not be using these, my Captain. They have betrayed us once already. I have been thinking, and it can be nothing else. The sunlight reflecting from the lenses . . .

Also a mortar, Mallory explained.A five-barrelled job, and very nasty. TheNebelwerfer or Moanin' Minnie. Howls like all the lost souls in hell. Guaranteed to turn the knees to jelly, especially after nightfall-but it's stifi the other one you have to watch. A six-inch mortar, almost certainly using fragmentation bombs-you use a brush and shovel for clearing up afterwards.

Just one more, Gawd. The quiet voice was almost a prayer.That's all I ask. Just one more.

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