Saturday, 22 March 2014

Land of the Living

Border Security, Night Watchman: Peter Horák

January 12th 2015.

Entry 1:

19:15 - Gunfire beyond my range of vision; the sound was dull, but familiar. I don’t know if anyone is dead, although it is rare to hear gunfire without an intended target, but I suppose I can be optimistic just this once:

Deer - Deceased.

The chances of the victim being an animal are about as likely as this conflict ending within the next few months, that’s to say, minimal.

21:00 - Ivan perked up, he could sense something out there, I knew he could, his eyes were wide and his ears were twitching.

“What is it, boy?”

I asked him several times but he didn’t move, he simply sat where he was, looking into the darkness. It made me uneasy.

22:30 – Screaming, female, I requested someone investigate, but apparently we only step over the border under extreme circumstances, I’m beginning to wonder exactly what those circumstances might be.

22:45 - Currently there is no sound, and no sign of movement anywhere beyond the border, although the screaming lasted for a good 15 minutes, it stopped suddenly, I’m trying not to think about it.

00:15 – Jakub has come to relieve me of my duty, we played cards for about ten minutes before I left to rest, Ivan has not settled down, it took a lot of coercion for him to leave the post with me, even now all he does is stare out of the window into the darkness beyond.

January 14th 2015.

Entry 2:

Patricia Novak – Deceased.
Olga Peterson – Deceased (With Child).

Those are the two of the five who could be identified, by dawn’s first light we found the bodies of four women and one man propped up against the walls. Cause of death: Multiple shots to the head, abdomen, limbs- everywhere. Someone dragged them here, what for? Maybe it was a warning, a message, or maybe some sick, unsympathetic fuck just thought it would be fun. How funny is the price of freedom, the freedom to gun a defenceless person to the ground and play with their corpse? Apparently it’s priceless.

19:45 – Ivan hasn’t changed, for a trained guard dog he is one of the most mellow german shepherds I have ever encountered, he still senses something, but he’s unwilling to bark, or give any sign that he knows something is wrong.

21:00 – I can see smoke. The village closest to us is burning, maybe it’s in my mind, but I think I can hear them screaming. What is our purpose here? We sit idly by, watching, waiting, but never acting when these atrocities are committed less than a mile away from us. ‘Don’t move’ they tell us, ‘stay put’ they say, but they don’t have to listen to the bullets hitting their targets, they don’t have to clean up the bodies of civilians every other night.

22:30 – We had refugees at our gates. They wouldn’t let us let them in, they wouldn’t let us help. Some of them gave up and ran, some of them persisted. Those who ran where gunned down by the soldiers waiting in the forest, those who stayed were gunned down just the same, and we watched.
Some of us fired on them, maybe even killed a few, but those actions were condemned and met with scorn. Reduced rations for the next month, like they fed us enough to be grudging of less. Apparently our job is to protect the border, not to aid the citizens who are not our side. No, not citizens, let’s call them what they are, HUMANS, we were not allowed to help the Human Beings who were crying for our help, whose houses had been burned to the ground, people who had nothing, no-one, with nowhere to go.

I am sick.

00:10 – I did not stay to play cards with Jakub, I hardly said two words to him, I just wanted to get away. Ivan would not come, after so long I gave up, Jakub said he would take care of him. Let him stay, if he wants to keep watching, so be it, but I am done with watching for tonight.

January 16th 2015

Entry 3:

22:00 – Tonight has been uneventful, and I am thankful. Ivan seems to be more settled also, I even managed to get him to play with the tennis ball I brought along with me. I am glad to have my canine companion, sometimes I feel everyone here is losing their humanity, and I feel it’s due to Ivan that I’ve remained grounded, that I’ve retained a sense of morality through this shit-storm.
Or maybe I’m just going crazy.

23:45 – We have been fired on. The watchman just down from me took a bullet through the eye.

Tomas Petrov – Deceased.

It could have been me; it could just as easily have been me. I’ve been dismissed, but I’m still shaken, they’ve gotten bold, if they are actively attacking the border now, how long before they try and cross it? I cannot bring myself to sleep, knowing any minute this could be the day the scales of war are tipped.

January 18th 2015

Entry 4:

Adam Vanev – Deceased. Paskal Holub – Deceased. Simon Bakalov – Deceased. Mila Hornick – Deceased. Andon Láska – Deceased. Imrich Antov – Deceased. Linas Krastev – Deceased. Anna Pasternak – Deceased. Silvester Sykora – Deceased. Mladen Sykora – Wounded. Aras Tomov – Wounded.

Jakub Vantchev – Deceased.

Ivan – Dead.

19:00 – We were ambushed today, early morning, no-one expected it so soon after their initial attack. We met them outside, unprepared, unbalanced, and we fell. We kept them at bay, and they’ve stayed back for now, but we barely made it back ourselves, we are weak, and we can’t handle another attack, not now.

I’ve never clutched my rifle so tightly as I have this night, and it is only the beginning of my watch.

20:00 – Every rustle in the trees alarms me, every sign of movement, a watchman should be alert, but he should not tremble at every whisper of the wind. I feel vulnerable up here for a number of reasons, but the one that sticks like a thorn in my side is the lack of Ivan by my side. My danger detector has disappeared, but more than that- my friend is gone.

21:00 – I think they are in the trees, I can hear them whispering, I can hear voices, noises, sounds, something. They’re there, they have to be there. Where else could they be? Why is it so silent? The only sounds I can hear are the wind and the whispering in the trees. Despite the utter blackness of the place I swear I can see shadows moving between the barks, they’re here.

22:00 – This needs to stop, I cannot bear it any longer. They’re mocking me! Tormenting me! Why won’t they just leave? Why won’t they show themselves? The cowards! They think they are so clever, lurking there in the woods, just where I can’t see them, just far enough for me to sense they are there, but not close enough for me to be sure. That’s what they did to Ivan. Clever, clever, so clever. But they are cowards, whining, craven, little cowards! I won’t fire the first shot, let’s see if they are bold enough to do that, let’s see if they’ll do it. Let them take the first shot.

23:00 – They did it.

January 19th 2015

Entry 5:

They let me keep one thing when I crossed the border. I chose to keep this notebook. I think records are important, personal or otherwise, every record has value.

Peter Horák – Deceased.

The land of the living has little meaning to me, their petty squabbles and inconsequential conflicts amount to nothing, only more unwilling spectators on this side of the veil. Let them fight, let them meet their demise, then they will join us, and they can watch their world burn in spite of their sacrifice, and they will see just how little difference they made, when the powers above dictate their every move. 

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