48 Hours a Day
Chapter 66 - The Mannerheim Line Welcomes You
Chapter 66: The Mannerheim Line Welcomes You VIII
Zhang Heng still couldn’t figure out where he was, only knowing that he was heading towards a northeasterly direction. He was well-rested, having caught quite a few naps throughout the entire journey. The good news was he did not encounter any Soviets while they traveled. It seemed he had finally escaped the warzone.
After some time, the sniper tapped his shoulder, signifying him to stop. So, he stopped walking, looked for a clean stone, and carefully set the wounded man down. Though he could not see his face, Zhang Heng knew that he was in great pain just by looking at his saddened eyes. The patch of blood on his stomach was getting bigger by the minute. Although he had no problems moving around when Zhang Heng carried him earlier, the bumpy ride had aggravated his condition. And here he was, again, choosing to say nothing about it.
Suddenly, Zhang Heng had a bad feeling!
Immediately, he took a look at his surroundings and realized that they were still in the middle of nowhere. Initially, he thought the sniper would lead them back to his base. They should have at least came across one of his allies, but judging by his current condition, he could die bleeding out any second now if he did not get any medical help.
If he died here right now, it would be useless for Zhang Heng to locate the guerilla base. They would definitely shoot him on sight if they saw him alone. This wasn’t the time to worry about what might happen next. Right now, he needed to make sure the sniper was kept alive.
Realizing the gravity of the situation the sniper was in, he wasted no time and looked for fallen branches hoping to start a campfire. It would help ensure the cold wouldn’t get to the wounded man. Luckily, twigs were aplenty, and the fire was started, much to the relief of the freezing men. Zhang Heng melted some snow in a canteen, quenching their badly scorched throats.
They soon settled down, under the warmth of the flames. The sniper groaned in pain but looked slightly more comfortable. Phew! After a short moment of doubt, the sniper had finally decided that it was safe to take off his white face mask, which he had worn all the while.
What Zhang Heng saw left him startled in shock. The sniper was actually a girl with a golden lock of hair. Judging by her appearance, it seemed she had only just reached adulthood! It was mind-boggling for Zhang Heng to imagine such a young-looking girl was capable of so efficiently harvesting the lives of battle-hardened soldiers, reaping away every soul she wished dead!
Suddenly, he remembered that during the winter war, Finland had conscripted three million of their people to fight off the Soviet Union. The number of soldiers that were willing to fight and protect their county was more than that of Japan and Germany combined, ready to do whatever it took to chase out the invaders from their country.
Of the many definitions of bravery one could find in a book, this, in my opinion, was its highest form. Zhang Heng stared at the sniper as she slowly sipped the warm water in her hands. Without saying a word, he then took out two sausages from his bag and placed it over the fire. However, the sniper simply shook her head, indicating that she d. It was an awkward moment for them.
Right now, Zhang Heng was left in a dilemma. It was now virtually impossible for the sniper to continue the journey. This was no action movie, but rather cruel reality. In the movies, soldiers would usually extract the bullet from their wounds after they were shot. On a real battlefield, on the other hand, no one would attempt such a dangerous feat. Festering wounds and infections were a major concern. The biggest problem that one could encounter while attempting a bullet extraction from an open wound was the bleeding problem. Seeing that she had lost a huge amount of blood on the way here, it was definitely not the brightest idea to extract the bullet out of her right now.
Zhang Heng had to re-assess the current situation. Should he stay here to take care of her or leave her alone? Right now, was both of them were like different species, unable to communicate with each other. All they could do was use simple sign language to tell each other their intentions. Right now, he had no idea how far still the guerilla base camp was, not even knowing whether they were heading in the right direction.
Despite her grave wounds, the female sniper looked really calm. Zhang Heng guessed that she must have come up with a solution to overcome this problem or she was prepared to die here. Of course, he secretly hoped that she had an idea to get them out of this sticky situation. However, judging by the way things were turning out, it was more likely that she was ready to die here.
The night was arriving, as the sun shone its last light. Zhang Heng chose not to leave her side in the end. After dinner, he went picking more tree branches to keep the campfire burning through the night. He then poured out half of his backpack out and placed it under the female sniper’s head to act as a pillow.
After all that was done, Zhang Heng took out his machine gun, attempting to study it. He tried to reload it and aim for a couple of inanimate objects lying around.
To be honest, Zhang Heng was never a fan of killing. Unfortunately, he needed to learn how to protect himself in such an environment. Although he knew he would probably be unable to pull the trigger even fo he encountered the Soviets, this wasn’t enough of an excuse to simply just give up.
At the same time, the female sniper eyed him intently. At times, Zhang Heng felt that this could not have been a person but a log. This was because only a log could forever keep its calm. She had been through a whole lot but had never once unveiled a single ounce of emotion.
Under the twinkling night sky, the flames of the campfire danced with the wind. After playing with his machine gun for a bit, he suddenly noticed something amiss about the sniper. Her skin had grown much paler, and all her lips were white, devoid of color. Her forehead was wet with beads of cold sweat, and her body was shaking nonstop. Zhang Heng instantly felt her feet and hands, discovering that they were like pieces of frozen meat. Her body was losing temperature, descending into hypothermia.
Bloodloss had caused most of the heat in her body to slip away, especially her red blood cells. Hemoglobin’s main function was the vehicle transferring oxygen to the entire body. Once their count had dropped drastically, one’s body would fail to function normally. If such a situation were to occur, no amount of warm clothes could keep her alive.
Surely, she could be saved if she was admitted to a hospital right now, getting a crucial blood transfusion. Unfortunately, they were now in the depths of a forest. There was nothing Zhang Heng could do to save her. Left with no other options, Zhang Heng removed his clothes and hugged her, hoping to share body heat and revitalize the dying girl.
The female sniper simply looked at him, not knowing what to think or how to react. She didn’t push him away, though. Perhaps she knew her time was near and was the verge of dying. As for Zhang Heng, he did not harbor any sexual desires towards her. After all, the both of them had not showered for several days. The body odor and the stench of blood were enough to put off the strongest of libidinous innuendo. Besides, a piece of cloth wrapped around her chest.
Their skin rubbed on each other, sharing no distance and seemingly more intimate than certain rambunctious lovers. Despite all that, they did now know each other’s names. Due to the language barrier, the two of them could still not communicate with each other using words. All they could do was to remain silent.
Zhang Heng had managed to maintain her body temperature but could not give her back the lost blood. As time passed, the female sniper’s condition worsened. Her shallow breathing became rapid, and her pulse was erratic. Zhang Heng knew deep down that she might not be able to survive the night.
Then, all of a sudden, he heard a crunch!
Bell had taught Zhang Heng to scatter some dried tree branches around him as an alarm when it was night time. It seemed like someone had stepped on the loose twigs. He instantly jumped up and wanted to grab his machine gun. To his surprise, the person was already squatting down beside the campfire, pointing a machine gun at him.