Red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue.
I can sing a rainbow,
see a rainbow,
running through the forest to ...
It was a bit like film of an avalanche, a billowing mass travelling at speed,
only it wasn't what you'd would call cold death.
I believe it's called Napalm.
Two aircraft, each dropped a load and to paraphrase; Napalm to the left of them,
Napalm to the right of them, roared and thundered. Yea, stormed at with shot
and shell, while all the world wondered.
Whether it blistered the paint was rather immaterial, it was clearly close enough
for us to feel the heat. Maybe you know the feeling when the barbeque doesn't
want to light, so after struggling for ten minutes you throw a beaker of petrol
Between the two strips of scorched forest was six to eight feet of timber just
beginning to burn. Oh, and us.
"I usually appreciate pine smoke, but I don't think I like the smell of
Napalm in the evening."
"You know where we would be if we hadn't hit this tree?" questioned
"I've a pretty good idea. But just now I'm more worried about burning tyres
and the petrol tank exploding."
"We go now?" asked Natasha.
"We go now."
Thankfully the tyres didn't catch alight, the accelerant ceased to burn in minutes,
the intense heat had created a charcoal carpet and put a little more light on
the forest floor. If we had been somewhere drier there would no doubt have been
a major forest fire, but that would be nit picking. It was move before they
sent in a helicopter, or the troops caught up. As it was they no longer needed
the Kola Bears, we were, for the sake of a better pun, trail blazing. Punching
out a clear pattern in the smouldering under-storey. They went that-a-way.
"I wonder if there is a God?" muttered Serge.
"Why, do you think that he assisted with the Napalm sandwich?"
"We could so easily have been in the middle of that."
"It's just as well we were."
"You know what I mean."
"Yes." I knew exactly what he meant but though humbled I hadn't time
to develop any faith.
Briefly we were masked by the canopy,
though the scent of pine wasn't strong enough to mask the lingering after
burn. Then once more there was daylight ahead.
"It can't be the border yet, no river."
"Probably a fire break," decided Serge with humour in his tone.
"I can't hear the jets."
I risked making headway at the expense of visibility and tore along the
wide pathway. The terrain wasn't smooth enough to get a decent wiggle
on, sorry turn of speed, and there were a few tree stumps around. Hopefully
it would reduce the likelihood of being heard, for a little while at least.
"The Migs may have run out of munitions. No doubt they will swiftly
be replaced so we can't stay in the open much longer," said Serge
"This will do anyway."
I headed west again and through the regular rows made good time. There
was only a light under storey, immature trees that had long died.
More matchwood. An acceptable loss through natural decay?
"How far do you reckon now?" I asked cautiously. Things were
running just a little too smoothly.
"At the end of the firebreak I saw water, quite a narrow stretch.
Looking at the map I'd guess two, maybe four minutes."
It was three and once again the canopy was letting through more light.
I slowed, two rows in from the grassy fringe there was a green diamond
nailed to a tree. I stopped, dead.
"What's the matter?"
"Intuition." Yes, maybe, that and an underlying gut feeling
that chilled me to the core. Perhaps physical space was drawing together
two flimsy membranes. After all, this was just the type of forest where
I needed to part company with our destiny. If I could see the wood for
Turning to the left we moved parallel to the ribbon of water. Within half
a mile we found what passed for a gorge. A fifty foot deep ditch, maybe
thirty feet wide, a sharp drop off on one side, more sloping across on
"I take it we are going to try and jump that?"
"What do you mean. Try."
"And the mines?"
"I'm coming to those."
Carefully I lined the car up with the centre of the feeble chasm. Then
I stepped carefully from the car cradling the Kaliashnikov.
"You realise you might quite easily miss one," called Serge.
"Don't put doubt in my mind."
But his thoughts were along a slightly different track. I used the automatic
to cut down a sapling, well a twenty five foot pine.
A Mig screamed past us, following the border clearing, barely above the
"I need a hand, Serge," I called, ignoring the distraction.
Together we struggled, but eventually stood the heavy tree upright on
the edge of the second row. Then let it drop. We repeated the trick several
times. The ground was clear to the grass at least. The third time we dropped
it on the grass, we lost the top five feet.
"That will bring the termites out of the woodwork."
"Then we had better hurry," I said, starting to roll the trunk
across a wide enough strip to drive down. Nothing else went Boom! We dragged
the trunk back and laid it on the very edge of the drop, as we walked
away, for good measure I turned and sprayed a whole magazine into the
ground ahead, that's what Serge thought I was going to do anyway.
The crashing of shells from the forest ceased and relocated on the border
stream, maybe only three hundred yards to our left, moving closer.
A lot of even more tightly crossed fingers were gripping firmly onto the
seats as I reversed for the run up. I didn't back up as far as I really
wanted either. There was this little problem of gunfire. That was why
they had stopped bombarding the area behind us, if they lined up a tank
this time we would be in real trouble.
"Now or never," I muttered as I leadfooted the throttle.
I didn't bother to look at the speedometer, there wouldn't be a second
chance. A rather too accurate burst of fire took out the windscreen just
as we became airborne. There was no drift into the sky. We hit the log
and the bonnet lifted, then the car fell like a lead balloon. When we
landed we lost our momentum, the rear wheels began to spin hopelessly
on the grass. At least we were across the river. I could almost feel the
soldiers getting closer, the bullets were still cutting into the grass
I had no choice.
As another Kola Bear roared overhead I slipped into reverse, flicked the
front down as we turned and sped off along the grass. Moving, but right
out in the open.
"Pray," I said as figures emerged from the trees and bullets
cut into the bodywork.
Then there were a series of explosions. For a moment the firing stopped.
As Serge looked back I tried for the trees, we had just enough speed to
get us through the boundary to safety.
"They stepped on some of their own mines," sighed Serge.
The artillery fired once more, but yet again seconds had saved us, trees
protected us and we were where no soldiers could safely follow.
Natasha started to cry.
"Darling," she wept, "we no longer are in Russia."