Click here to Download The Silent Unseen PDF Book by Amanda McCrina having PDF Size 7.4 MB and No of Pages 255.
The desk belonged to Comrade Colonel F. Volkov, 64th Rifle Division, NKVD. There was a nameplate. There were also two photographs in frames—I didn’t know of what; they weren’t facing me—and a fountain pen in a holder, all precisely arranged. The drab green papered walls were empty, though you could see the odd dark spot here and there where previous occupants had hung things.
The Silent Unseen PDF Book by Amanda McCrina
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They were still clearing out this place from the German occupation. Lwów had been in Soviet hands for all of twenty-four hours. The dust hadn’t even settled. Somebody shut the office door behind me, muffling the sound of the ongoing telephone call. Comrade Colonel F. Volkov came around the desk, unbuttoning his coat.
He folded the coat neatly over the back of his chair, laid his briefcase on the desk, and set his smart blue cap beside it just so. Then he sat down facing me. He didn’t look at me yet. He opened his briefcase and took out a piece of paper—my arrest report, I presumed— and spent a minute reading it in silence.
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Red Army front, Kostya guessed. He had no idea what his contact looked like. Didn’t know his name either. Whoever he was, he’d been the one to initiate proceedings, and he’d at least been smart enough not to do it directly. The message had come in code through Commander Shukhevych’s headquarters over in Volyn.
No time, just Afternoon 27th. Place, password, countersign, brief instructions: Take off your cap, fold it in your belt. That was it. He would give it ten more minutes—half past. Then he was out of here. They would try again another day, and this time he was going to pick the place. He poured one more glass and took a last opportunity to survey the room while he tipped it back.
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Another pack of soldiers was straggling in from the street. There weren’t enough open tables. Four or five of them broke away to come stand at the bar. Kostya pretended to be lost in his glass. Damn it. The more and more groups that came in, the more and more obvious it was going to be that he was alone. Being alone invited questions.
His room was four blank brick walls and a concrete floor and a single bare electric bulb hung on a wire from the ceiling. He had his old quilt for a bedroll and a line to hang his change of clothes, and he had his name saint, the Roman emperor Constantine, on an icon stuck in a chink in the wall where a bit of grout had come loose.
He’d had a photograph of the family—all of them, Papa, Mama, Lesya, Lyudya, and him, the baby—but Kyrylo had taken that away from him as soon as he’d seen it and thrown it into the kitchen stove. “What are you—stupid?” he’d snapped. “What if the Poles or the Germans found that?” Papa was already dead by then, and Lyudya was gone, taken by the Germans. It had been the only copy of the photograph. The Silent Unseen PDF Book
That was the first time he’d ever wanted to kill Kyrylo. The door was locked. He’d tried it. He was pretty sure this used to be a pantry—you could see holes in the brick where the shelves had been drilled in—and it locked from the outside. It doubled as a cell sometimes when Kyrylo was holding a prisoner for questioning.
When that happened, Kostya slept on the floor by the kitchen stove, trying not to listen while Kyrylo did the interrogation. Kyrylo always handled the interrogations himself because he spoke all four languages fluently—Polish, German, Russian, Ukrainian. Nobody else in the squad knew German, and most of them wouldn’t speak Polish or Russian on principle.
Or maybe it just seemed that way given the circumstances. He didn’t know. He was curled up on the back seat, hands cuffed tightly behind his back, sweating under an NKVD officer’s heavy woolen coat. There was a twisted bundle of handkerchiefs stuffed halfway down his throat. They didn’t seem to care as much about him suffocating as about making sure he did it out of sight and quietly. The Silent Unseen PDF Book
He’d made one panicked, desperate attempt to get away right outside the church, jerking his head back into Solovey’s face and stomping Solovey’s foot under the heel of his boot. Andriy, Solovey’s second-in-command, had opened the car door smoothly right in front of him just as he started running. He’d hit the door, then the pavement— hard.
He’d still been dizzy and wheezing when they shoved the gag in his mouth, threw the coat over him, and tossed him into the back seat like a sack of potatoes. The invasions came in September—Germans sweeping across Poland from the west, Soviets from the east. By October, Papa was dead.
He went to a meeting called by the new Soviet authorities, he and all the other smallholders of the village, and he never came back. At first, people said they’d shipped them off east, off to the labor camps the way they’d done with the army and police, but Karol Nowak had found the bodies in the wood one day when he was out hunting. The Silent Unseen PDF Book
He made the mistake of telling people, and also of hunting without permission, so the Reds shot him too. But at least then people knew. The Germans took over two years later, June 1941. There was no question for Kostya by then. Papa was dead. Kostya was staying on the farm. But it still hurt like a fist to his own gut to see Lyudya coming in white-faced from post office with the bulletin clenched in her trembling hand.
All secondary schools and universities were closed to ethnic Slavs, Untermenschen like her—serfs of the German Reich. From now on, Poles and Ukrainians need learn only to write their own names and to count to five hundred. I was furious again, all at once, senselessly, bitterly furious—at Lew for saying that name, at Tomek for this whole stupid, stupid plan.
They had killed him the way they killed Mama and Papa. I knew they had killed him. I had known they would. I had tried to tell him. And all he could think to say to me was, Talk to him, it’ll help—as if I were the one who needed help. As if I were the unreasonable one. “I assume he talked to Julian about it,” I said cuttingly. “That’s what I mean.” The Silent Unseen PDF Book Download
Lew shifted a little on the edge of the bunk. “Some of the squad,” he said carefully, “most of the squad—they don’t think we should have taken a prisoner in the first place. Because of Edek. They think the commander made a mistake taking him alive. Maybe you’ve heard some of that.”
My hand had gone reflexively to my Walther, tucked under my coat. There was no way he was going to get away from me—he had been dragging his bad leg this whole time as if it were made of lead, leaving a lovely clear trail all through the wood behind us—but I remembered the way Tomek and Julian had to wrestle him down when they tried getting that morphine syrette into his arm.
And I remembered the way he nearly throttled me when I startled him awake that first morning in the wood below our cornfield. He was even bonier now than he had been a month ago, but I had absolutely no doubt he could still snap my neck if he was desperate enough. He found me in the darkness. “Where is Lew?” he demanded in Ukrainian. The Silent Unseen PDF Book Download
His voice was sharp and accusing, as though he had suddenly realized something was wrong. His shoulders were rigidly straight. “Where is Lew?” She’d been gone for over an hour. He’d been lying here flat on his back on the damp, dead leaves at the foot of an old oak, watching the sun crawl farther and farther into the sky.
It was seven o’clock, maybe seven thirty. She’d probably already gotten a message off to Rivne. Mama and Lesya were probably already dead. And he couldn’t move. He tried. He ached all over, bone deep. His muscles felt like pudding. They’d come fifteen kilometers last night or close to it. But he tried.
He tried to sit up first, pushing himself up on his elbows, but he couldn’t hold himself up long enough to get his good knee up. Then he rolled over onto his stomach—slowly, slowly, hissing through clenched teeth—and tried lifting himself on his hands and forearms, shifting his weight very carefully onto the knee. Still no good. The Silent Unseen PDF Book Download
He couldn’t push himself up—bodily could not. His mind was screaming at his body to move, and his body was whispering no. “I saw the cart in the barn,” Kostya said to Marek. “It’s a false bed—the cart bed. I’ve seen them before.” He’d used one before, carrying dispatches up to one of the forest squads—three hours flat on his back in the cramped.
Dark space between the bed and the chassis, the floor slats just centimeters above his nose, while the wagon jolted and groaned over rutted mud tracks. “We’ll pay you to drive us. You can drop us before you get to the Reds’ checkpoint at Malechów.” To Marek’s credit, he didn’t try denying anything. He pulled on his pipe, studying Kostya with shrewd eyes. “Pay us how?
The clothes off your backs?” “Medicine. Morphine and codeine.” Kostya waved a hand at the girl’s pack. “Your doctor down in the village would probably kill to get his hands on it.” The girl was very still beside him, tensed tight as a spring. Her lips were moving just perceptibly. She was either praying or swearing. Probably swearing. He didn’t exactly blame her. The Silent Unseen PDF Book Free
Marek had humiliated her by knocking holes in her plan, and now he, the farm boy, the stupid peasant, was humiliating her by letting on he’d known a better one this whole time. They had put us on the train in Lwów, once we went through the transit camp and they decided where in Germany to send us.
It was trucks before that because the Resistance had managed to blow a railway bridge outside Olesko— ninety kilometers on the frozen mud roads from Bród to Lwów in the back of a cargo truck, crammed in the airless dark with forty other girls. There was another truck for the boys.
They kept the canvas flaps shut the whole way except for once in Krasne when they let us out in pairs, under guard, to relieve ourselves while they refueled. One pair of girls had tried to run when it was their turn to get out. The guards shot them—just shot them right there in the middle of the road with all of us watching. Everybody else who got out after that had to walk past their bodies. The Silent Unseen PDF Book Free
They left them lying there when we started again. I think I had already known, deep down, that we weren’t really going to Lwów to help shift rubble from the streets the way the soldiers said, but that was the moment I knew I was never going home. “She’s not with the squad. Doesn’t have anything to do with it. Just lives across the hall.”
For the first time since the warehouse, he darted a glance at me. His mouth was tight. There was something about this—about her—that he wasn’t telling me. The woman waited for us on the landing. I knew from one glance that she was starving. It wasn’t quite September, but she was bundled up in sweaters and shawls and a wool coat —layers and layers draped around fleshless limbs.
Hunger made you cold like that, always cold. She looked old in the window, but she wasn’t. She probably wasn’t much older than Tomek. She was probably twenty-four or twenty-five. It was just that the hunger had carved lines and furrows into her face, stretching the thin skin, pushing up the bones. Her ash-blond hair hung loose and limp. She was hugging herself. She was nervous.