Stories in Isolation: Rogue

The second story in the trilogy I am sharing has a much darker ending than the previous one. Regardless, it provided a figurative escape during a terrible time, especially as my friend is a very animated storyteller.

Like the first story, I have injected some creative flair, although little was needed! The events depicted are genuine and historical details have been checked where possible. For more information, please see my introduction to the previous story.

All three stories are extracts from a collection of creative nonfiction essays in which I share my lived experience with mental health difficulties: to find out more about this work-in-progress, please see my About Me post.

Do you have a story you would like help sharing? Please feel free to contact me to arrange a chat.

I hope you find the following engaging, and I would love to hear your thoughts! The final story will be up at the same time tomorrow: do come back and check it out!


Photograph of brick wall by Tim Mossholder. Text, editing, and design by Lydia Ruth Martin.

Russian Vas lights a fresh cigarette and cheerfully bellows: ‘I was shot in the leg in my hometown, Khabarovsk, when I was six years old!’

‘Michail and I meandered through dense snowdrifts of dreary grey on our way back from school, shoving each other into exceptionally gruesome ones for kicks.

I was still gagging on grit when we turned into my street. Michail, desperately attempting to extricate it from his eyes, wasn’t faring any better.

The first gunshot sent miniature avalanches rushing down to envelope our knees. We froze to our respective spots, me with a hand in my mouth, Michail with a finger in the eye.

Two brutes in string vests and sandals were waving Kalashnikovs at each other, just metres away from us.

Despite his blurry vision, Michail caught on quick enough to dive behind the nearest Soviet-style apartment block. I was hypnotised by the weapon pointing in my direction, its accusing stare looking me dead in the eye before veering off erratically.

Grunts and bullets reverberated around me as the men shot to kill. A rogue shell whizzed past my right ear, shocking my body into motion, and I lunged towards Michail’s cries.

As I landed face first in his snowbank, a bullet ricocheted off the building to my left and buried itself in the side of my knee.

Except my knee wasn’t there anymore, because most of it now clung to the side of Michail’s face.’


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