My name is Pyotr Tchermoeff. But that didn’t matter much to me anymore. My name was nothing, as I was just a spectacle blowing in the wind. I was someone that nobody cared about, nobody knew and that would never make a serious impact on the world. When they tortured me to death I wouldn’t get my name in the paper. We didn’t even have papers like that in Chechnya. This wasn’t the United States, we didn’t have nightly news. If we did then news would be flooded with innocent Chechen children riddled with bullets and burned for decades, heinous and relentless torture of my people.
I had joined the freedom fighters knowing that we’d never actually be free. We were just making a statement to the Russians that we wouldn’t sit around and let ourselves be killed. I became a shadow, they taught me to use a sniper rifle when I was twelve. I didn’t fire one until I was fifteen, instead while I was progressing in age I learned everything there was about the Sniper Rifle. My sniper rifle at the time was a Remington. It was far less technologically advanced as the Alias CS5 that I had. It looked absolutely amazing. It was high quality, advanced technologically with a custom design. The exterior was mostly red with some streaks of black. It didn’t blend in with anything but I knew if they saw me I was dead anyway so why not die with a cool looking rifle.
I didn’t care about much, I wasn’t a Muslim and I didn’t want a wife. I was an outcast in Chechnya but I loved the country. I grew up there, I knew the people that lived in this country and especially my village. I decided to become a sniper when my brother was killed by a bombing. I couldn’t believe that it happened. I was absolutely in disbelief, and I was feeling as though I was suffering from shellshock. I already hated Russians, they treated us poorly and they were always very cruel. They beat us, terrorized us by raiding our homes and shot our people. It was unacceptable and nobody did anything about it, so it was our duty to do something.
For the most part I would lay still on the fifth floor of a building that was in one of the few abandoned cities of Chechnya. Nearly decimated by the bombings and the first war, few people still lived there and if they did they’d stay on the outskirts. My assignment was to kill a high ranking Russian officer. The city was usually a gateway to Grozny, the capital. So often the Russian pigs would roll through. They had done so four or five times since I had been on the fifth floor but I couldn’t identify a good target and they were to close.
The side of the fifth floor that I was on, was opened from a tank shell that went through the side of the wall. There was a large hole in the ceiling as well, and bullet holes all around the room. I lay in the rubble and kept watch, keeping my binoculars handy. Next to me, was an old Uzi, my CD player, a picture of my brother, a Penthouse magazine and a cell phone. In the other room was some food, I would usually get some food delivered every week. I ate very little and I always would conserve everything, but now I was running out of pills.
Days got long and time didn’t always pass as quickly as I wanted, so they would give me a couple hundred painkillers a month. I went through them quick and this time I finished a week early. It worried me, and I didn’t want to call them up to ask for more but it seemed as though I was going to be forced to. I didn’t want them thinking that I was some kind of drug addict even though for the most part it was true. They didn’t even make me feel good like they used to, I just needed them to feel sane. My job up on the fifth floor was so boring that sometimes I didn’t know what to do with myself.
That day I thought about everything before I was shot and killed. Your life really does flash before you when you die, and I’m telling you all this as the bullet rips toward my head. That day, I lay on the ground with my rifle positioned on the bipod. I looked in the scope to see what was going on. There was a plastic bag flying around the streets that ended up getting caught up against a pole. I was just getting ready to go to sleep when I heard a yell. I didn’t think much of it, because there were a group of kids who came around playing and would usually throw me a signal or two if the coast was clear.
I stayed alert for a couple of minutes but then my attention started to drift off. I figured it was just some kids playing football, so I put my head down and rested against my pillow which was conveniently placed right near where I’d lay with the rifle. But when I closed my eyes I heard a second even louder yell. My heart raced as I shot myself up. I grabbed my Uzi and took cover and peered down. I saw a kid running with two fingers up, he was missing one finger from it get cutting by the Russians so it was slightly awkward. But he made the devils horn sign which made me chuckle but then when I really thought about it this seemed like it could be bad. The little boy made another sign that frightened me, he put his thumb up to the side.
My heart dropped and I put the thumb to the side back to him, I wasn’t sure if he could see it or not. But I knew what the thumb to the side meant, it meant that there was a high ranking Russian official near me. I was scared to be honest, I had only pulled the trigger a few times but this was the real deal. I could be a hero, a martyr. But I could also be just another death.
My hands were sweaty and sticky and so was my face. I didn’t know what to do to prepare, I was scrambling. Then I decided to go back to the basics. I sat with my legs crossed and sat up straight. I started to deep breathe, slowly but surely my anxiety went down. After ten minutes of completely going to my zone I departed from it calm, cool and collected. I reached for my rifle and got into position. I set up the bipod and then grabbed the binoculars. I had excellent vision on the fifth floor, basically I could see the whole city. And there I saw a group of soldiers and then what looked like an high ranking Officer.
The Russians believed that the whole city was a ghost town, like us they believed the only people that lived there were in the outskirts and that they were peaceful. It was the perfect cover for me, so there I lay watching them and continuing to deep breathe. I dropped my binoculars just as the boy who signaled me ran off. The troop was far from him anyway but he must have seen or heard them. Another boy ran behind him, he must have been hiding. I realized I needed to be more aware because I didn’t even see the little bastard. I wasn’t some shitty sniper they put out on the fifth floor of a decimated building to eventually be shot, I was a damn good sniper who was there to kill a high ranking official. The problem was when I got killed I wasn’t going to go to a bunch of virgins, instead I was just going to leave this cruel world. Sometimes I wondered if it was a mistake not continuing to pursue the Muslim faith, what if there really was a afterlife of some form. The Chechen Command initially didn’t want to even put me in a big position despite my skill, due to a complete lack of faith on my part. Instead they decided to take a risk, one that would now pay off.
So I looked into the scope still calm and cool, I made sure to continue to breathe normally. I saw that they were two streets away and I knew that I had to act. There weren’t many of them in the troop so it was time to make the kill. I put the scope to my eye, positioned the gun and put the crosshairs on his head. He was wearing a hat reminiscent of a high command, I started to get shaky and fearful when the hat reminded me he was an officer. I didn’t know whether or not to pull trigger. I was covered in sweat and I started absolutely panicking. I took a deep breath and then pulled the trigger, I watched the officer’s head whip back.
Everyone in the troop got down and I jumped back myself. I ran to the back of the room and then jumped into the closet. I smiled as I closed the closet door, I felt accomplished because I did it. I was just about to celebrate in my closet when shots were fired into the room. I started to panic again because I didn’t know what to do. First I ran out to grab the Uzi and fire back but then I decided to stay hiding. I closed the closet door again and started to cry.
I had no idea what to do so I stayed. Time passed, I thought I was safe. I was as quiet as possible and closed my eyes. I had acted as though I was completely ready to die, but when the opportunity came up I was terrified. I was scared of the unknown, I wasn’t sure what would be up in the afterlife or if there even was one. And if there wasn’t one, everything would just end. And then I remembered that I didn’t have my Uzi.
Ten minutes had passed and I decided that I had to go for the Uzi. It would end up being the worst choice of my life, and as I dived out of the closet to grab the gun I heard someone in the hallway. I reached for the Uzi but it was to late, I felt the bullet rip through my bicep. I screamed, in the face of death I was absolutely shocked. I lay on the ground looking up at the barrel of the gun.
They spoke in Russian, and I didn’t even have time to move. Instead I had time to go over my whole life, the first time I had sex, my first true love, my breakups, my mother and father, my favorite things like playing Call of Duty and killing Russians or watching Manchester City with Sergio Aguero or Daniel Silva. There was a moment where I finally felt free, I know I didn’t begin my story years ago but I’d like to start at my death. Life was like that, I have all the time in the world before I go so I can tell you the whole story. In a bizarre way, this end is only the beginning. It was time to tell my story.