Stalingrad is a grey wasteland of rubble and human remains. Only One man can get across the railyard alive…
The crack of a sniper rifle changed everything.
One moment, Vladimir crouched at the end of the railyard, peering through a hole in the decimated brickwork, guarding the silent bulk of the snow-covered train. Then the snap of a rifle, the whisper of a bullet, the dull thump of shattering bones and the clatter of a helmet to the floor: Vladimir fell, and that whole side of the bombing point was no longer protected.
The battle-hardened Soviet Allies tried to rearrange themselves, but they were too thin, pinned down on the other side of the yard. They could no longer see the German bombing point objective on the far side of the train, but they could at least guard the approach. Machine gun bolts slid into place. Snipers peered through roving sights.
No German could hope to cross that railyard alive.
No ordinary German that is. Across the block, the German Kommandant called forward the men. His quiet voice never faltered, his words given higher authority by the distant clatter of machine guns and rumble of artillery. He talked about the fatherland. He talked about a new and better world. And he talked about that vital rail junction, and the need to obliterate it. But he and his men knew that only one man could carry the explosives across those snow-covered rails safely.
The young soldier shouldered his pack of explosives, checked the detonators, then cleared the mechanism of his rifle. He nodded grimly to his Kommandant, then stepped toward the shell-shattered windows of the rail station and peered out.
Tracks criss-crossed the brittle snow, dotted with corpses. The railyard was quiet, but everyone knew how many guns were trained on that 150-meter stretch of open ground. Karl VonBunhopfen held his breath. And then he charged.
But he didn’t just run. No, any human running across that snowy no-man’s-land would’ve been cut to ribbons by the screeching hail of bullets that erupted from the nearby warehouse, invisible knives of steel that threw up clouds of snow and debris from around Karl’s feet. No, he didn’t run.
Karl VonBunhopfen hopped.
He hopped up, and he hopped down. He hopped and skipped. He hopped, and hopped, and hopped even higher. Then he hopped again. Bullets whizzed through the air, but none could touch Karl VonBunhopfen. Not while he was frantically hitting his jump button.
The Red Army panicked; they threw grenades. They cried out to one another in Russian: “He’s hopping!” but to no avail. Gunners paused to reload while others took up the fight. They sprayed clip after clip at the bouncing man, but just couldn’t hit him.
“Jump, Karl, Jump!” cried the Germans over the roar of the guns. “Hop for the Motherland!” howled the Kommandant.
Karl, meanwhile, showed no signs of fatigue. He jumped and jumped, his hands and rifle flailing wildly, a broad grin on his reddened face. He hopped, and bullets swerved aside. He hopped, hopped as would a schoolgirl stepping over invisible jump ropes, hopped until he crossed the railyard, and disappeared behind the train with a final triumphant hop as bullets splintered all around him. Then he planted the bomb.
And that’s exactly how it happened.
Of course, in real-life, few men could master the bunny-hop. Of course, that’s a good thing, because otherwise we’d all be speaking German.
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