The Journey Home..

13 Mar

A GSP release from Author of the Week: Joel Plue.

The Journey Home by Joel Plue and Lori Kelly-Bailey

After witnessing the slaughter of her village at the hands of the German Soldiers, little Anya must escape and journey alone across the frozen Russian tundra through a blizzard of epic proportion. Starving and slowly freezing to death, Anya will struggle to separate hallucination from reality. Each day presents a greater obstacle and another lesson learned in survival. She will be forever changed by her circumstance and the stranger that she will meet along the way



In the years prior to the German invasion of Russia, Sasha Zarkova, his wife Tatiana and their young daughter Anya were living happily in their tenement home in Moscow. In the summer months they would travel far from the city to stay with Anya’s grandparents at their cabin in the woods.

Deep in the forests surrounding Moscow, there lived a man named Nikolai Vitrovich and his young daughter Marilyn. Nikolai had lost his wife in a tragic accident some years prior and had become a bit of a recluse. Equipped with tremendous survival skills and a vast knowledge of the wilderness, Nikolai imparted these skills to his daughter, and the two lived quite simply and happily.

In June of 1941 without cause and in direct violation of the peace treaty between Germany and the Soviet Union, the German forces began their assault on Russia. It did not take long for the Nazis to advance and conquer Moscow, slaughtering some six hundred, fifty thousand souls and forever changing the lives of the Vitrovich and Zarkova families.

                                                                   Chapter One
                                                            Footsteps in the Snow

All around Nikolai’s small cabin, the cold wind whistled long and low, eerily beckoning, or perhaps warning anyone foolish enough to venture outside. The blinding white snow had fallen heavily for days, coating the tall pines and creating an absence of color and variation in the landscape. It would be nearly impossible for anyone to navigate this terrain. Inside the cabin, Nikolai sat alone in his living room, upright in an old wooden chair. He stared blankly into the hearth where a once roaring fire had burned.

The few smoldering embers that remained barely illuminated his face, revealing a pensive expression and eyes filled with sadness. Nervously, he twisted the grey hair that had grown long around his temples. He questioned the decision he had made, and now contemplated the outcome of the perilous journey that lay before him. With trembling hands, Nikolai slowly raised a small cup to his lips and finished the remainder of his tea. His breath billowed visibly as it mingled with the cold air in the room.

Nikolai stood slowly and walked to the fireplace. He set his cup down and retrieved a photo of his young daughter, Marilyn. He recalled the day it was taken and the purple dress and blue hair ribbon she’d worn. Nikolai held the picture to his chest, then kissed the frame and said to himself with conviction, “I will never stop until I find you,” and with that vow, he placed the photo into his pocket.

Nikolai banked the coals to the back of the fireplace, covering the last few embers and creating a long thin trail of smoke. Night was fast approaching as he hurried to gather the items he needed for his journey. His favorite hunting knife, which he secured to his belt. A satchel, in which he placed one flat iron pan, a thin rope, a flint, some dried meat, and a fresh loaf of bread. Nikolai cinched his boots tightly, bundled himself with a large fur coat and placed a Russian hunter’s hat upon his head. He paused for a moment to take a mental inventory of the home he was about to leave, and then with an audible sigh he stepped out into the cold night air. Nikolai stood on the porch allowing his eyes to adjust to the odd juxtaposition of blinding white snow against a pitch black sky. He shuddered as he thought about the long and uncertain journey ahead of him. Nikolai took a deep breath and forged on away from the safety of his home, across the frozen meadow and into the deep woods leaving nothing behind but a trail of footprints in the snow.



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