Rimka didn't know that the wolves still lived in the forests, so close to Moscow. She lied about her age and managed to enlist in a women's brigade, sent to a farm to save the badly needed potato harvest, before the invading German Army would lay siege to Moscow. She lived to regret it.
How could she be so stupid as to run into the forest so late at night? She went to this farm to do something meaningful, to matter. The women in the brigade, however, immediately recognized a spoiled city girl, who didn't do a day's work in her life, and a Jewish one at that. They picked and picked on her, especially, that crazy Zoya. Today, Rimka couldn't stand it anymore, she lashed out, and she and Zoya had a terrific cat-fight, ending with Rimka running out of the hut where the gleaners lived and into the forest. She got lost immediately, poked here and there into the black prickly bushes, then found a clearing and decided to wait there until the morning. That's when she saw three pairs of glowing red eyed looking at her from the darkness. To say that she was scared was not enough. She felt sick with dread. She couldn't breathe or move. Then she heard her name shouted by several voices. The glowing eyes abruptly disappeared. After a few moments, Rimka found her own voice and called back. Zoya burst into the clearing. Her flash light beam danced around the trees crazily, then settled on Rimka. "Come on, you, stupid city brat", she said - "you cost us a whole night's rest!". Sobbing, Rimka clung to her enemy for dear life.
She didn't know, how could she, that a year and a half later, while on a recon mission for the forest partisans, the nineteen years old Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya will be captured by the Germans. She will be tortured and hung. She'll become one of the most revered Russian heroes.
"Well, if I get blown to pieces, at least it'll be in paradise". Meyer looked around him in wonder. The blue haze of the approaching Moldovan evening covered the hills and the valleys. The tiny silver ponds shivered in the breeze, the alabaster lilies dancing on their surface under the clouds of gnats. The heather and the grasses gave off potent, head turning aroma. The frogs, the cicadas, just began their nightly song. And thousands of stars looked down at the Earth with consternation. Even the muddy road, where the soldiers walked, was glistening with unerring beauty.
The two soldiers plodded on, Meyer carrying the spool of telephone wire, about three feet in diameter, and Wolfzon - loaded with the tent, tools, wooden poles and the cooking utensils. He was also unreeling the wire from the spool on Meyer's back, laying a communication line for the approaching army. Usually, Lt. Serov would stride in front of them, unburdened, giving instructions and feeling important. Today he walked a quarter of a mile back, and the soldiers knew why.
Meyer heard the crash and instinctively stooped down, covering his head with hands and dropping the spool. Wolfzon swore and Meyer rose up, to see his comrade take a joint out of his pocket and light it up with shaking hands. For once, Meyer didn't blame him. Three days ago, he was shining Serov's boots, while the lieutenant sat in the chair and tried to sharpen a pencil with his pocket knife. The knife slipped and cut into Serov's thumb. Spitting curses, Serov jammed the thumb into Meyer's cheek, smearing blood all over his face. That was too much even for a meek Jewish boy. He punched Serov and sent him to the floor. Serov flew at Meyer, shouting that he'll see him court-martialed for striking the superior officer. Nothing came out of it, though, because Serov was known as someone, who abused his soldiers, and was a raving anti-Semite, embarrassing even for the Russian army. Today, Serov chose Meyer and Wolfzon, the only two Jews in his unit, for this mission. They figured out why, when he refused
to walk with them. The Germans had time to lay mines somewhere in the vicinity, and Serov tried to use this opportunity to get rid of the hated men.