Dessert In The Ruins

I woke up from a dream about my old house, and it took me a moment to remember where I was. The abandoned church. We had decided to spend the night here, and I had taken first watch, which meant I got to sleep last. I sat up and looked around. Rosakov was pacing up and down, smoking a hand rolled cigarette and muttering to himself.

“Talking to yourself?”

He stopped and looked over at me. He must have been deeply enmeshed in whatever thoughts had occupied him, as he looked annoyed rather than embarrassed. “Trying to remember some recipes,” he said.

The intensity of his stare made me feel embarrassed for having interrupted him. This isn’t quite right, I found myself thinking. If anyone should be feeling ill at ease right now, it definitely shouldn’t be me. “What kind of recipes?” I asked, trying to maintain control of the conversation.

Rosakov shrugged. “Anything involving flour,” he said. “We found several bags in a storage room in the basement.”

I glanced around the church. Chersky and Skolnikov were still sleeping. I couldn’t see Bertov or Galgarin. Presumably they were still on watch somewhere. “Just flour?”

“Just flour.”

“Well, ” I said, in what was intended as an attempt at humour, “now all we need are sugar, eggs and butter, plus a working oven, and we can make a cake.”

“There is a farm half a mile west of here,” said Rosakov, sounding excited, or as close to excited as a man with no emotions can get. I was about to explain that I had been joking, but then thought, why not? As we carry out this mission of ours, why not take time out for a mission of our own? A roadside picnic, as we march onward towards our noble deaths. And if we don’t find all the ingredients, we may at least be able to make pancakes.

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