Just after a blink, the enemy was near. Her belly was kicking again,
“alright, don’t be scared, mommy’s here.”
Deafening bangs thundered the ground, shaking down fistfuls of gravel in the gloomy cellar. Dusty faces looked at each other. When the deep sounds of explosions was smothered and drawn away, she started counting in her mind, stretching her delicate feet, holding her belly and ready to rise.
“All clear! Action stations!”
Several figures held their rifles, rapidly rushed out of the hatch in order. No one shouted. No one groaned. No one talked. Even their steps stamped simultaneously. She followed at the tail of the procession, strode out to the open ground. There waited the blinding gray sunshine. A blast pushed aside her bangs, bringing a smell of earth, rust, and gunpowder. She took a deep breath. Still much better than the cellar.
These high-pitched, dragged commands had been heard a hundred thousand times. She protected her belly, carefully yet quickly weaving in the trenches. Her shoulders and arms scraped over people’s spines and gun stocks. Rows of rifles sticking out of the trenches, pointing to the west, waved along the stretching defense line like a long snake skeleton. Finally, she got sideways into her machine gun position, lying on her left side. This primitive big nest had its unique shape due to her long time use. No need to look close to notice there’s a round space for her belly to rest. It was like telling you that mommy bird was going to lay eggs.
Grabbing a magazine full of rounds, a quick slap, hooked and locked, holding the charging handle tightly, she inhaled and held the breath, pulling with an exertion. Time seemed to turn sluggish, almost stopped so she could clearly see the bullets being unblocked, and pushed up from the magazine. Even the metallic noises became so loud and crisp.
Click, CLINK! CLANK!
Accidentally dropped the iron pot, she was shivering in a panic because the harsh siren was haunting above the city. Out of the window, pedestrians running all over the streets, she couldn’t help but pace with no direction.
BOOM! A fire ball bursted out of the top of the apartment across the street, grasping her rationality back. We’re under attack! Hurry! Shelter! Got to go to the shelter! Sprinting out of her house, showered in falling gravel and rubble, following her dimmed memory of air defense excises, she dashed toward the cellar.
Hundreds of roaring iron barrels were dropping from the sky, like gigantic hammers smashing Lego castles, smashing the serene life. With a ringing noise in her ears, she didn’t hear babies’ crying when she squeezed in the cellar, but saw distorted little faces on which tears and mucus hung, and little wide-opened mouthes drooling.
When the sounds seemed to be drawn close, there were vague shouting somewhere. Some people ran out of the cellar, when some others ran in, jostling against each other, totally impolite.
“…all the… take…” Still couldn’t make a sentence.
From the murky depth arrived several crates. When a crate was handed to her, she almost dropped it, with no idea how heavy it’d be. After passing it outward to the next person, she heard it, crystal clearly, “Enemy charging!”
“Hurry! Each one with a crate in your hands, send the ammo directly to the front!”
Ammo? Oh, right. Enemy charging? Of course, that’s what I’m about to say. She held the heavy crate while thinking and ran into a trench. She had known that since the apartment exploded, no, since the siren screamed, since she dropped the pot, everything has changed.
“I’ll take over here!” a soldier stopped her. Putting down the crate, she dropped to a crouch and listened to one after another gunfire. Seemed to be forever. Seemed to be a millisecond. From the chaotic memory, she was drawn back by an abnormal silence. Gunfires ceased. Everybody had a sigh of relief as she did. Rose, poked her head out of the trench. Countless bodies covered all over the rolling terrain.
Everything has changed. Making bullets with neighbors in the basement has become her daily life. The siren whined as punctual as an alarm clock. People gradually lost their emotions, coldly taking cover, coldly listening the thunders, then getting into the trenches, then holding the line. Every time more friends lost. Every time the enemy failed again. One month, two months later, her belly was growing, so she couldn’t lift heavy stuffs anymore. Hard works such as digging trenches became a load falling down to the shoulders of elders and kids. Half year past, due to the lack of manpower, even carrying a big ball with her, she was assigned to the machine gun position because it didn’t need much moving.
“You know what? I did the math. You will be born 63 days later. You’re excited?” She said with one eye closed, aiming a little black dot far away.
“You know how many things can happen during 63 days?” She lied on her left side, elbow on the right of the belly, steadily firing.
“We may win. We may lose. Maybe you come to this world earlier. Maybe you die earlier. Maybe we both die earlier.” It kicked in the belly. “What? Don’t move. Mommy’s trying to get those in woods… Hey, don’t you hide there. Get out!”
DAT! DAT! DATAT!
“Stop. Hold still. Mommy’s wasted a couple rounds… Yes, right.” Holding the breath, she zeroed in proficiently, then, fired, “good, well done. You hold mommy’s arm so steadily. It’s easy to aim like this.”
DATATATATAT! More enemy up. More down.
“There might be nothing happen during this 63 days. You come to this shitty world smoothly, and life doesn’t change a little bit. Or maybe I just miscalculated the number. Maybe…”
Silent again, as always. She observed the ridges, then the piles of bodies. Looked at the left, and looked at the right. “OK, let’s call it a day.” She caressed her belly, “I think we make a good team. How many did we kill at least? One hundred? You know how many is one hundred? It’s ten times ten, sweetie.”
She tried to think when repeating the same actions in the basement, but found her head was sheer empty.
There was a time when she was changing magazines, she found that at this slot without firing, the enemies were more clear to see. Is this charging? It’s more like wandering than advancing. I recognize those frustrated figures, they are all over this city too. Hey, You think I want to fight? I don’t! Guess what? I’m pregnant. I have a baby! Maybe you don’t want to fight either. Look at you. So skinny, so little. Shouldn’t you be flirting with girls at school? If all of these haven’t happened.
“Machine gun! Cover in fire!”
Just after a blink, the enemy was near. Her belly was kicking again, “alright, don’t be scared, mommy’s here.” Flames busting out of the muzzle, “did I tell you nobody dared mess with mommy when I was in school? Mommy’s tough. You touch me? Touch my friends, my stuff? I’ll teach you a good lesson that you wish you’d got a chance to kill yourself first. Your mom is a notorious tough bitch. And you know what’s more terrifying? A pregnant tough bitch. No one dare mess with us. They don’t even dare try.” The bursting flames never skipped a beat.
That day, she gazed at a corpse lying on his back. Is he malnourished and poorly developed, or is he really too young? That uniform is definitely too baggy for him, just like a clown costume. He’s just a little kid. The fear still hung on his face, which was so bloodless pale that eyes seemed more hollow.
Back into the basement, she gazed at the little black holes of uncharged cartridge cases, as the hollow eyes in the day. Being vacuous, she got sucked in…
Her shoulder was slapped harshly.
Back to the surface of the ocean of thoughts. She got another slap by a handful of dirt, which was spitted from the sandbag hitting by a bullet. She blinked. There were jiggling shadows all over the horizon again. Stock on the shoulder. Safety off. Inhaled. Held.
And again, trigger pulled…