After crossing the final hill and coming to an edge, we could see the smoke in the village. Instantly, I thought we were late, yet our column moved downhill without stopping to scout or evaluate the threat.
I followed them, and then I saw Dadan pulling his legs like beat dog. I sized him up, gasped and came to him.
– Damn it man. Your mind is somewhere else. I need you to get back in the zone and watch my back. Let’s do this. Common. – I tapped his shoulder while he stared at me like a corpse.
No warm smile, no gesture made him speak. He remained silent, and that was just chilling my bones more than a snow we had to go through. Eventually, I just moved hoping that message was clear and that he understood what sort of danger we are about to walk in.
Column was passing the center of the village with flaks spaced out to sides where Dadan and I took the right wing and carefully pushed forward. Heavy snow covered the roofs, so everything seemed the same on a first glance. I didn’t need to turn around to see if Dadan was there, I could just hear his bored sighs and assholish stomps in the wet squeaking snow.
That same squeaking was interrupted by an unexpected sound of a baby crying. Dadan rushed in the house without hearing me yell at him to stop, or at least check for booby traps that enemy might left.
– God fucking damn it Dadan! They could’ve done something to the baby! – I chased him around the house and stopped at the doorstep of a children room where unicorns were dilapidating from the crumbling walls, – Don’t pick it up just yet. See if there are wires around the cradle. You don’t want to kill us all in the room. – I moved aside with my hand stretched at him, my eyes running over the walls, while Dadan smiled at the little one in the cradle and murmured something.
He picked up the baby and started shushing it, while smiling and rocking it on his shoulder.
– Alright. You played with it long enough. Leave the baby and move. – I caught my breath and gesticulated him to get out, but he just frowned and shushed the baby.
– What monster are you? It’s a baby. It can’t take care for itself. It misses the mommy. – he smiled and looked at it, – He must be hungry and cold. – Dadan spoke not listening to me.
– Babies don’t feel cold. It’s just hungry or needs a change if diapers. – I pointed at the blanket the baby was wrapped in and Dadan again looked at me.
– Don’t feel cold? I completely forgot about that. I must set up some mnemonic system to remember all of the things I learned about the babies. – he said, acting like a mother, not realising we could all die any second if the enemy is still in the area.
– Common Dadan. We have no time to play family. Why don’t you leave a baby and do what are you sent for? They could be just behind the next hill man. – I spoke restless and eager to get out, but he was persistent.
Dadan picked up the bag with all of the things he needed to take care of a baby, and with a wide smile walked out, without even asking me to move out of the way. He was on some other place, totally zoned out and distant from the mission.
– Lets found your mommy. – he murmured when I stopped at the doorstep again and moved looked right to the kitchen where I spotted women’s legs and a red stain on the tiled floor near the counter.
I knocked my head down, took a deep breath and closed the door. Maybe I was a monster, but I wasn’t even close to the monsters we were hunting in the snow.
And some stories you want to read.