child of a russian night
witch and spanish poet
in a world of picture-
perfect porn I am curious
about the desires
of the unlovable
and the doomed;
those of us who
dream under the light
of the dog-star.
I’m glad that you go mad, sometimes, despite
all the beauty that you’re still buried in.
Here is your map and flying goggles, night
witch. Here is No-Man’s Land. Erotic sin
mandates that you get caught while doing this;
but our people won’t be able to bring
back your body. Today, stay sane, princess.
See this symbol of the fuck? The bleeding
fuck. Now take off and fly. Kiss me, kismet.
Just this once stop being his wife, mother
and friend. Come back to me. Your bestial
hunger piques my interest. You’re my rosette
stone, one awaiting an interpreter.
Flesh and blood, you are undecipherable.
My spiritual mother, Colonel Marina Raskova, founder of 588th Night Bomber Regiment — what the Germans in WW2 called “Die Nachthexen,” the “Night Witches” — once asked me, “what is the purpose of prose if not poetry?” She delighted in French Avant-garde theater, Dada art, surrealistic verse, and so do I. If stream of consciousness bores you, dear reader, you might want to read elsewhere. Since erotica is, by its very nature, fantasy, writing about women warriors in an erotic setting, even set during the Siege of Leningrad, can be helpful. For one, it allows me to bypass certain sexist ideas that, surprisingly enough, remain in effect even today. National Public Radio recently ran an article “Women In Combat: Inevitable?” (02/16/12) where a surprising number of readers wrote in with comments that seemed to be based on some sort of odd 1950s-era, Father Knows Best, gender determinism. While my Night Witches are based in the realm of the erotic and the fantastic, that does not take away from the fact there have always been women warriors and there always will be. As always, these stories are dedicated to those of us who have survived.
* * *
[a dream, half wild: the naked ambition of war brides]
A room in a peasant’s cottage on the Ukrainian front. A large fireplace dominates the right. On the left sits a heavy oak table with benches. Woven mats litter the floor. A door at left leads into a bedroom. In the corner rests a cupboard. At the back of the room a wide window with blood-red geraniums poking up here and there, beyond that, an open door. A few rifles are stacked near the fireplace. There is an air of homely interest and care, even tidiness, about the room.
Through the open door women can be seen stacking grain. Others pass by carrying huge baskets of apricots, still more others are loaded down with wood. Every now and then, in the distance, a bugle blows or a drum beat can be heard. A squad of soldiers, none over the age of sixteen, march quickly by the open door. Everywhere there one can feel the tense atmosphere of dread, the anxiety of the approaching war.
Pizlina Katzev, a slight, flaxen-haired girl of seventeen, enters the room. She brushes off a couple stray stalks of hay from her jacket, walks over to a small travel bag with an air of secret determination. Her mother passes by the window, stops, silently appears in the doorway. She is old, work-worn, cranky but sturdy. She carries a heavy load of wood on her back, looking even more weary. She casts a sharp eye at her daughter.
“What are you doing, girl?”
Pizlina jumps, puts the bag in the cupboard and turns to face her mother.
“Who’s going away? They haven’t sent for Zhorah yet?”
“Is all the hay in?”
The old woman sighs, drops her load on the hearth.
“Yes. I put in the last load. All the big work here is done, so …”
Pizlina turns, looks at her mother, hesitates, while the old woman begins sorting the wood into kindling.
“I’ll do that, Mother.”
“Let me be, girl. It keeps me from worrying. What were you doing with that bag? Who were you packing it for?”
Her mother turns, anxious, “What for?”
“Listen, Mother, be still while I tell you …”
“Is there any news?” her mother asks quickly. “Chop-chop! Tell me!”
“Not since yesterday. Only they say Brody is at the front. We don’t know where Jurg or Karolek are, there’s been a battle …”
Her mother sways a bit, closes her eyes.
“My boys, my boys.”
“Don’t think like this, Mother! They might come back.”
Far off a cheer can be heard. Despite the war someone, somewhere, is celebrating.
Pizlina looks out the window, shrugs.
“They are cheering the war brides, that’s all.”
“Aye,” her mother nods. “There’s been another soldier’s wedding ceremony. Someone will ask you soon, too.”
“O Mother,” Pizlina cries. “That isn’t what I want to do.”
“What is there that’s better than having boy babies for the Motherland?”
“Colonel Marina Raskova has called for volunteers all across the country–”
“Oh, her.” A dismissive sniff.
“Kamenka, Bratrumila and I saw a newsreel of Colonel Raskova down at the theater yesterday. The Germans are calling them Die Nachthexen, The Night Witches!”
“My daughter, the witch.”
“Yes. That is what I was going to tell you just now. That is why I was packing the bag.”
Pizlina goes over to the cupboard, removes the little bag.
“I– I want to go to Moscow, to volunteer. I want to go tonight. I can’t stand this waiting.”
“You leave me, too?”
“I want to go to the front with Brody, Karolek and Jurg, to drop bombs on the Nazis, to help push the invaders out of our country. Why not, I, too, must do something for my country.”
“Nonsense, you are a girl. Who has ever heard of a female soldier? Fiddle-faddle.”
“Look, Mother, the apricots are plucked. The hay is stacked. You can spare me. I have been dreaming of it night and day.”
“No, Pizlina! Having babies. That is our first duty. Anything else is … unnatural.”
At that there comes a knock at the door.
“Who’s that?” her mother asks.
Pizlina, glancing out of the windows, whispers, “It’s Vasya Pupkin.”
The knock is repeated.
“Open, stupid girl! Don’t stand there!”
The door creaks. Pupkin strides in, tall, with curious patchy skin. His voice, like the pink patches on his cheeks, grow husky and he labors for breath in-between each sentence. His lungs were once vast, now ill used. The blue of his eyes gleams with moisture and his lips lighten until they are no more than a thin purple suggestion, cutting his wide, unwashed face into a smile. Accustomed to having women wait upon him, he turns fondly to Pizlina.
“Well, well, well, well! Not one appypolly loggy. You snuck away from me yesterday!”
He is from Moscow and speaks a polyglot of teenage slang and ancient, Tzarist Russian. It sounds ridiculous. Pizlina glances, highly uncomfortable, at her mother, who does not look her in the eye. Finally she nods.
“This is my mother.”
“Dobby day, Mama,” Pupkin nods.
The old woman rises to her feet and attempts to execute a curtsey. There is something forlorn in the gesture.
“Where did you itty?” He demands of Pizlina. “Here she was, as baddiwad as promising that we were to be married today, my Mama.”
“Yes, yes, yes, yes you did. You let me lubbilub you full on the piggy tips, in front of everyone and Bog.”
“No, sir,” Pizlina says again, taken aback. “You simply fell out of the local tavern, I had the misfortune of passing by you in the street.”
“And then,” Pupkin continues, paying no attention to her, “when I itty to the church today, no bride for Vasya Pupkin. I must skazat, they had a bratchny smeck about that, for I had told everyone I had found the prettiest devotchka for me. But tomorrow …”
“Oh, yes, you will.” Pupkin cries, roughly taking hold of her, vodka fumes making the girl squint. “I won’t bother you long. I’m off to the front any day now. Come, marry me! What do you skazat, my Baboochka?”
“Aye. I should like to see her wed,” her mother says.
“There! You viddy? It’s offical.”
“But I don’t know you.”
“Smot me yarbles. Don’t you think I am dobby enough for her, Mama? Besides, we can’t stop to think of such veshches now, Pizlina. It is war time. This is an emergency measure. Then again, I’m a krovvy soldier, that ought to count for something, I should skazat, especially if you love the Politburo, you do, don’t you, Pizlina?”
“Khorosho, then, we can get married, get acquainted afterward the war.”
“I’m going to be a pilot.”
“Chepooka!” Pupkin laughs. “Pretty devotchkas like you should marry. Uncle Josef, even all the generals, they all have commanded it. It’s for the bezoomy Motherland. Shouldn’t she have my baby, eh, Mama?”
The old woman nods, remote, a million miles from home.
“Of course. It is your patriotic duty, Pizlina. You’re a queer one. All the cheekas are tickled at the chance. But you are the one I’ve picked aahhht. I am itty to have you. Now, you sweet devotchka – come with me!”
“And that,” Pizlina Katzev laughs as she walks across the muddy ground of the aerodrome with her comrade, Florentina, by her side, “was the last I ever heard from that bastard. Someone said he choked on his own vomit later that day, wouldn’t be surprised.”
The day before it had rained and the fog kept the 588th Night Bomber Regiment grounded. Today the girls would resume their daily practicing. Even with having to go a whole day without flying, Pizlina remained cheerful by noticing that near the hangar where she normally climbed into the cockpit of her old biplane, there sat eight new airplanes none of the female pilots had seen before — smaller crafts, with peculiarly curved tails; Yakovlev Yak-1s — each with an up-to-date machine gun mounted just along side the top, right where any forward pilot could conveniently squint down the sights.
“Why, it’s a thousand times better than our old ‘Kukuruzniks’,” exclaimed Pizlina on closer examination, using the Russian word for crop-duster, the ancient biplanes the Soviet air force had allotted their female pilots. “It says, huh, let’s see.” She squinted at the call letters. “Ee-dee nah hooy.”
Just then Lily Litvyak and Tatyana Mozarov strolled up, hand in hand. Litvyak had a great green woolen greatcoat on that she had found somewhere. It was ridiculously large on her small frame, as well as a pair of shiny spit-polished kick-boots.
“Going out for a little spin, Piz’da?” laughed Lily, throwing open the hangar door so that the sun fell full and proper upon the single-seat war machines.
“You can do anything with these uncontrollable cunts,” joked Florentina, stubbing out her cigarette on the sole of her boot, “except fly to Venus. Do you think we’ll all going to get one? Those motors will drag you to Hell … or to the Nazi stomping grounds, whichever you choose. As for stunts, heh,” and she spread her arms wide, “diving, dipping, playing dead, you have never seen the miracles of what a girl can preform who can work a joy stick while snot, blood and fire is erupting all around her. I only hope we go up in one soon. I hear there’s a new raid on in the works then it’s back to the old cardboard and twine Po-2s.”
Drifting away from the crowd Lily moved into the shadow of the hanger as her friend ambled away, talking and laughing, oblivious to everything, musing on that day’s hinted raid. Reaching the clubroom door, the gaggle of girls entered. There were a dozen or more of the flygirls inside, blue cigarette smoke tinging the air. Just as Lily hoped, Oksana Rzaev was working on the engine of a shot-up Ilyushin Il-2, her legs sticking out from underneath the small bomber’s underbelly. Lily remember watching the mechanic’s body before as she sweated under the boiling Ukrainian sun. She would put down her wrench, peel off her outer shirt, her breasts hanging loose in the skimpy t-shirt that all gunners, mechanics and armament specialists were required to wear, swish her mouth out with sun-warmed tea, then cock her head back, spit like a fountain into the puddles of grease that dotted the hanger’s floor. Lily would finger herself at that sight, cumming all over inside her flight suit, as well as later, at the site of Oksana bending over an open engine hood, sweat dripping down her breasts, forehead, lips.
To the city girl Oksana was exotic and alien. Her mastery of the Russian language was terrible and, truth be told, she was probably a dozen or so years older than Lily, but that didn’t show on her broad shouldered frame. She was short, like so many other of the Arctic women, had a welder’s body packed into her boilersuit. Rumor had it she had been a professional boxer once, back in Helsinki, though, of course, such things were unheard of in the more lax warmer climes. She was a refugee from the Winter War. Lily loved to watch the muscle-bound Minerva, a modern-day Roman goddess of wisdom and war, hard at work. Every airplane was different to Oksana.
“Each engine say to me, er,” and she broke into her native Finnish-Sami, the language of shamans, “nyt suunsa ja syö minun pillua.” 
“Eh, you know, pillua,” and the older woman put the victory-sign of her index and middle fingers on either side of her lips and stuck her tongue between them. Lily’s eyes bulged then watered as she tried not to snort coffee out her nose from laughing.
“What! You mean, working on an engine is like licking pussy?”
“Juu! Yes, poosy, leek, pillua!”
“I … well, I never really thought about it like that.”
“Metafora. Just like how every pillua wants to be leeked differently,” Oksana confided. “In an areoplane her buzz only happens when you make her happy. Juu? Yes? Like a kiss – always sounds like a kiss.”
There were few mechanics in the training camp that knew engines like Oksana. When she started to work on a small attack plane like a Kochyerigin DI-6 she would radiate delight at all its complexities, laugh at the Curtiss-Wright engineers who had obviously attempted to stump the Ural mechanic with problems of its radial motor. The whole hanger brought something different, there were female mechanics from every corner of the Soviet Union, but even when Oksana was doing something mundane, repairing a fixed landing gear, she was alive in every movement, as if she were leading a jazz combo, or present when Billie Holiday first hummed the tune ‘These Foolish Things’ under her breath.
When it got beastly hot she’d drag the engine into the deep, dark parts of the hanger, where no wayward eyes could see, then strip off the top of her uniform. Her breasts, arms, stomach would all ripple in the heat. When she worked on a classic engine, like the Petlyakov that Lily flew, she would literally cum. Lily once saw Oksana as she adjusted a bolt on a Peshka Pe-2. Her hips swaying, big black boots tapping out a tune that only she and the forces of the universe could hear. Once she even reached down between her legs with the flat side of a wrench and began rubbing her clit.
* * *
On the day that Oksana didn’t hear Lily approach, she lay on her back, trying to wrestle a bolt back into place. When the shadow of the pilot in the immense greatcoat fell over her face, blocking out the sun, she stopped. Lily stood over the mechanic, one leg on either side of Oksana’s roller board, cleared her throat, trying not to giggle, asked, “Synishku, do you want something to drink?” She purposely called Oksana a ‘darling boy’ just to see her reaction.
When the Sami shaman heard the pilot’s voice, she couldn’t help but smile. She had wanted Lily for a long time. She reached out to roll herself out from underneath the plane, found Lily’s legs planted on either side of her shoulders. She used the girl’s boots for leverage to pull herself out and as Oksana emerged into the sunlight she could see straight up the pilot’s greatcoat, showing off her curvaceous, naked body underneath. The body of a killer.
“Synishku, you didn’t think I walked all the way here just to show off the latest Moscow fashions, did you?” Lily squat down, bringing her cunt inches away from Oksana’s up turned face, asked coyly, “my little king, are you more hungry or thirsty?” Oksana reached up, grabbed Litvyak’s scarred thighs with both of her dirty, greasy hands, brought Lily’s clit right down to her face. She was hungry after a day of working with her hands and ready to sate her herculean appetites.
Oksana sucked all of Lily’s cunt into her mouth at one go, like how one strips down the flesh of a kumquat with their teeth; however, she didn’t break the surface, didn’t leave a mark, only took the girl’s clit between her powerful lips, as if to say ‘my, look what I just discovered.’ Soon she was rewarded with the first fingernail shiver running down Lily’s entire frame. Oksana massaged Lily’s ass, spreading her cheeks wide, bringing all of her down to rest upon her face. Those cunning Alices who consort with the taboo always develop feral, emphatic hungers. Lily knew what the older woman wanted, felt those strong, callous hands on her thighs bringing her closer still. The mechanic took her time devouring in, kissing up, licking down every inch. Then her tongue reached her Lily’s asshole and for only the third time in her life Lily’s short life she was startled, but then cooed for it felt so fucking good. No one had never tasted her there before. It sent shivers through Lily’s battle scarred aura. The universe collapsed in on itself momentarily. She could feel her goose bumps spreading out in waves, infusing all the colors around her in orgasmic shivers.
Lily opened her coat wider, exposing her round ass. She wanted to give the mechanic full access. She loved the way Oksana’s greasy hands left imprints on her legs, her feet, everywhere. Oksana went back to feeding, lightly biting Litvyak’s clit, taking it in her mouth again and again — sucking on it, humming – urging the quivers onward, forward, up, everything between heaven and earth that was in her power to drive Lily wild. The girl looked down just as she opened her eyes. Their eyes met. Oksana could see the lust in that down-turned face, Lily could see the radiant energy staring up at her. They exchanged smiles that pulsed like magnetic fields. They were both lost in their distant worlds, oblivious to the fact that the hanger door was still wide open, anyone walking by could see what they were doing.
Lily started grinding — up, down, up, down — as Oksana’s tongue, her nose and chin, probed her deeper, deeper still. Pity the lover with an one inch tongue. The pilot was so wet. Her pussy was practically gushing. Oksana reached up, grabbed her tits in her boxer hands, massaging them, pinching her nipples, evoking out loud moans with each twist.
“Take off your coat,” Oksana ordered hoarsely. Lily momentarily snapped back to reality. She looked out, around, noticed the hanger door with the shadows of people walking to and fro just outside.
“Synishku, the hanger door is open, anyone can see us,” she moaned.
“Obey your mechanic,” was all the other could get out.
There was no arguing. Lily let the coat fall to the floor, swayed momentarily, turned around, came down on her knees facing away from the older woman. She unzipped Oksana’s boilersuit, ran her fingers down, between the valley of her breasts, over the little potbelly Oksana’s first baby had left behind, down into the mighty hedge of pubes, a wall of curls and colors. She could smell her pussy juices, mixed with all the other smells of the hanger — industrial paint, heavy-duty exhaust, diesel gas, twenty year old oil – all the birthing smells of machines of war.
Oksana stopped feasting on Lily’s cunt long enough to slap her hard on the ass. From far away the tell-tale klaxon siren was winding up. Suddenly she hugged the pilot as if passion alone could somehow protect her. Their faces came together, she kissed, almost fearfully, while Lily caressed the mechanic’s strong back, her biceps, the buzz cut of her hair. Then Lily stood, turned, the greatcoat now around her shoulders, buttoned to her chin, and walked out into the sunlight, taking nothing with her save two greasy hand prints on either of her ass cheeks.
* * *
The clubroom door burst open as the siren sounded off on the parade ground near a grove of trees. It was the general summons for squadron practice. From deep inside the cigarette smoke tinged the air the girls filed out, each in their full flying suits. They saw Commander Popova on the field, watching the mechanics roll out the Yakovlev Yak-1s. Each aviatrix at once mounted her own. Lily, as squad leader, had indicated that she wanted to pair off with Pizlina earlier that day. In the east, from over a monotonous expanse of scarred, war-torn country, came the sullen roar of artillery at the front, a stern reminder of what was close approaching.
In a few moments the entire squadron was aloft, in ones or twos, gyrating playfully, always climbing, swooping higher, until to the naked eye they became nothing more than mere dots in the vast sky.
At a signal from the lead plane they began maneuvering — two hostile squadrons about to engage in aerial combat that would have left the spectator amazed at the girls’ battle tactics.
“Budʹte vnimatelʹny!” said the Commander cried out a warning, her fieldglasses screwed to her eyes. “The Lieutenant is going to loop.”
True enough, Lily’s Yak took a nose flip, was soon flying upside down. Then she leveled out again. The rest of her squad followed suit, then followed their leader into a wicked angle, all of them righting up level once again. The first plane in the other squad, flown by Pizlina, began rolling over and over soon as well. The others behind her began much the same tactics while the first line drew away as if preparing for counter moves. Now they were descending in long spirals, each handful of planes by themselves, yet preserving the mathematical distance required from both opposing sides. Finally the two leaders circled slowly as their respective members followed each other to the ground, some coming in recklessly, others drifting down slow, while others slanting lazily in as they passed under their leaders. However, as giddily as it looked, it was all mathematically timed. The planes saluted methodically as they passed the Commander on the ground.
As Lily and Pizlina taxied their aircraft across the gravel in front of the hanger, the other pilots at last arranged themselves at opposite extremes of the landing stage. Soon all the exhausted aviatrixes had left their busy mechanics who were crawling over the Yaks, while they, discussing what just took place, walked away soberly into the shadows.
* * *
“Are you going to take me with you?”
“On this raid.”
“Did you just call me a cunt?” Lily asked, giggling.
The vodka bottle had been getting passed between her and Pizlina for some time now. Rain kept the Polikarpovs grounded, pointless to send bombers out into a fog when the ground was invisible. At the word ‘cunt’ Pizlina thought she would melt. She reached for the bottle, took a long swig. Lily was sitting on her bunk, leaning against the wall, about a foot away from her. Pizlina stared at the empty bottle for a few moments, then announced there was another one in her trunk.
“A copious supply of vodka isn’t the real reason I want you flying with me,” Lily said.
“The real reason?” she asked.
“Well, if you want to get up, you can always show off your ass to me, I won’t mind. I’ve always liked a girl with a big ass in a tight flightsuit.”
Pizlina turned around to face her, suddenly feeling very self-conscious in the dim light and warmth of the aerodrome dormitory, while at the same time quietly elated.
“Are you drunk?” she asked Lily.
“Most indubitably,” said the girl from Moscow, “now come over here.”
As Pizlina leaned back she repositioned herself so that she was leaning closer to Lily than before. Before she could say anything Lily she took her face in her hands, brought their lips together. She pulled back slightly blurred, only a tad taken back. She looked the other girl in the eyes, she knew then that Lily Litvyak meant everything she was doing. The quiet elation she had felt turned into total, utter delight. She kissed her again. Pizlina’s lips were plump, soft. Opening her mouth slightly, Lily probed forward with her tongue, rewarded with Pizlina’s tongue making its way into her own mouth.
Pizlina couldn’t recall how long that kiss lasted, they were lost in the moment, but after some time she pulled away, began to kiss Lily’s neck. The girl obligingly threw her head back, giving her access to the muscled lines of her windpipe. At the same time she undid the top button of her shirt, then stopped. The barracks were empty, everyone was in the officer’s club. With a smile Lily placed her hands on Pizlina’s hips, started to run them over her stomach under her loose top, her fingertips slowly working their way upwards towards her breasts, felt her own nipples staring to harden in anticipation. She kissed her again, seizing her lips with her own, plunging her tongue into her moist depths, then resumed her work on the buttons on her shirt. Before long it was hanging open. Still kissing her deeply, Pizlina pushed the shirt back over her shoulders, unhooking her bra.
Lily’s newly freed breasts were now before her. So struck by them was she that Pizlina simply gazed for a second or two. Lily smiled as she looked on; delighted by the way she was in awe of her body. Finally Pizlina tilted her head, again caressed the side of Lily’s neck with her lips, but this time she worked her way downward. Lily moaned quietly as she started to play her breasts with her tongue. She could tell from the aroma that Lily was wet, that thought made her own juices start to flow as well. She thought about all those fantasies she’d had in her little life before now, all the times that she so desperately wanted to make love to a girl while growing up in a village of drunken louts, she also thought of all the times in the last few weeks when she’d been fingering herself while sitting in her cockpit. And during all that time, an eternity of waiting, she had wanted to have a girl just like Lily in a situation just like this; now she did.
The door at the other end of the barracks burst open, sucking out all the warmth and light as four girls entered, laughing, oblivious as Lily sighed and began to button up her shirt. Pizlina was about to say something but the other just shook her head, speaking into her ear.
“There will be time enough when we get back, darling. Be patient. There will always be time.”
* * *
It rained all the next day as well, but Florentina’s speculation about a night raid finally came true. From time to time, Lily, who would be in charge, held private discussions with various members of their night bombing squad. During the dark hours assorted scouts penetrated the cloud banks over the enemy lines, their reports returning being favorable for the plan Lily had in mind. A risky plan, yet, as with all good things, promising, if skillfully carried out.
“Well, well, Piz’da! How do you feel about a little search and destroy?”
This from Lily as she jumped down from her bunk earlier that morning just as the dawn was breaking. The time for teasing had just begun.
Pizlina, still drowsing, opened one eye. The next instant, remembering what the day would hold in store for her, she threw off the covers, leaped from her bunk in her bare feet. At the same time she hit the little lieutenant a mock blow to her abdomen where, according to ancient Greek history, Theogenes of Thasos, the greatest female boxer with over 1300 titles wins in the course of her 22 year career, would always drop her opponent. Then she sprang back, feet maneuvering, fists feinting.
“I can take on the whole Nazi Luftwaffe,” she retorted. “Want some more?”
“Manda, you mad vag gunk, manda!” Lily was laughing as she recovered, retreating, grimacing. “I don’t want any more ugly scars at this stage of the game.”
Night came, with it a thin ground fog that rose white, misty, good for the purpose in hand. The clocks were pointing towards midnight, the witching hour, when two dozen women, wearing their regulation flight suits, gathered at the usual open space, while from the doors of several hangars mechanics silently rolled out their machines.
Each aviatrix gave a few modest adjustments to her own biplane, just to reassure herself that things were all right. Then came a brief minute or two of silent waiting. There were no spectators. The rest of the women at the aerodrome had orders not to appear.
Out in front stood Commander Popova, attended by Lily and Pizlina, talking in low, indistinct voices. Finally Popova looked at her watch.
“It is time. Do your best, you two. Comrade Litvyak, you will veer to the right as you approach the enemy trenches. You, Comrade Katzev,” she said to Pizlina, “will draw to the left. Your squads will follow. Should you meet opposition before you reach your goals, don’t recoil, don’t retreat. Don’t signal unless necessary but obey ever signal given. Good hunting, girls!”
Each pilot returned to her machine, heading out in front of a short double line of six idling biplanes. Lily smiled up at Florentina, who would be her navigator for the flight. About this time there came a sudden blue flare, a signal rocket, shooting upward from beyond the grove of trees. At the quiet signal the leaders taxied away, finally rising, spiraling up into the arching darkness. Presently all had vanished, motors making their familiar putt-putt-putt noise, the sewing machines, zigzagging up toward an easterly direction.
Once clear of the Soviet front line, the double platoon of planes spread out on either hand, flying swiftly, keeping near the earth. The night mists, growing more murky, promised favorable cover from any forward observers. Without question the few advance sentries that still remained near the ruins of a train station they had bombed a week before were keeping indoors. The Nazis had hoped to use the station as headquarters, doubtless expecting a swift assault; however, the Soviet bombardment turned any advance futile so the vast bulk of the Hermann Hoth’s troops pulled back to a safer location.
But for the forward observers, the distinctive noise of motors of the Night Witches close above in the clouds confused their computations. Why were Die Nachthexen flying so low? Might they not be up to more devilment? Then the motor roared over, passed, then dwindled, but towards the east. What did that mean? Their sergeant was telephoning hurriedly as to what was happening.
“Achtung! Airplane motors close overhead. No bombs.”
Presently the drum and thrum of approaching biplanes became more audible along the eastern portion of the front.
From her plane Lily made private signal to the others to put on all speed. It was not a minute or so after that that the raiders were upon the front trenches. Each woman sat with the release wire of their bombs within easy reach. The handle of the machine gun handy, its deadly muzzle pointed along the top of the fuselage into the dark future.
At the final signal down through the night air dropped bomb after bomb as the line passed over those open trenches in which German troops were massed. As they fell and exploded their flashes could be seen distinctly. Great tongues of flame leaped high along with dirt and debris skyward as if trying to reach the aircraft that had hurled the destruction down upon the cowering shadows. A dull boom told of an explosion, then another and another. The air rocked with the disturbance.
By this time heavy-caliber machine guns began to splatter shots among the darting planes, while further back anti-aircraft artillery rounds were fired into the night and exploded into clouds of smoke and fragmentation that pockmarked, black upon black, the heavens. On they went. In a minute or so the gas-bags would be in sight, the zeppelins; for these observation balloons were the real object of this nocturnal journey.
Suddenly one of the planes in Pizlina’s close formation began to belch fire all around her left wing where it joined the fuselage. Whoever it was in that plane was gliding without power, it seemed, cutting the engine, slowing up and pulling off to the right in the direction of a moderately empty stretch of countryside, fighting now to save herself and her navigator. She was too low for them to jump, there was not time for the biplane to climb to a sufficient altitude to permit a chute to open. Slowly the little wooden craft lost speed, began to settle into a glide that looked like it might come to a reasonably safe crash-landing. But Pizlina could see that the flames were spreading furiously all over the left side of the ship. Right before it touched down the left wing came off. The Polikarpov cartwheeled, a great shower of flame, smoke and sparks appeared just ahead of the point where the bomber disappeared.
“Onward!” came the signal from Lily’s plane, running a gauntlet of tracers and cannon fire, steering to the left, rising higher from the forty to fifty foot level they had so far kept to. The squadron made for the rear line. Here rose a shadowy line of oval bags, so shaped as to qualify them for the term “zeppelin,” though far less regal or large than their commercial brethren. In daytime their elevation enabled them to see over a great expanse of that level, war-ruined countryside.
There were open gondolas below each, but here, too, the Nazis were at a decided disadvantage. Evidently no raid was anticipated, for there they swung, hardly half-manned except by the few drowsing guards at night watch. In and out among them shot the planes, their machines belching their curtain of steel, with the Nazis apparently too dazed to make much resistance or lower their zeppelins to the ground.
Using explosive bullets that flared at the moment of contact soon the bags of gas ignited, one after another. As a burst of flame enveloped the last zeppelin, Lily was already mounting higher when she saw Pizlina’s plane go corkscrewing earthward with one of her wings shattered.
“What ought we do?” Lily called into her microphone that connected her to her navigator.
“What do you mean?” Florentina asked, peering over the side of the cockpit into the dark.
“We need to put down, we need to go find them.”
“I don’t see – wait, there is something burning down there. Do you think you can put us down in the dark?”
“It’s a still night, foggy, terrible for anything besides not being seen. Of course.”
Taking her bearings as best she could, Lily swung the plane into a wide arc, heading back westward, keeping at an elevation of six or seven thousand feet. The moon came out behind a cloud for the first time, she could see a little road, even partway across the field they were heading for. Briskly yet carefully working her machine, the girl from Moscow descended until she was able to flatted out over the darker background shadows of war-torn earth.
Circling round at an even lower level, the ground came up fast through the mist. Gently, cautiously, she felt her way downward, easing up in speed as best she could. The wheels jolted over rough but level terrain, until the plane came to rest along a dirt road in a small field. Far to the east the sky glowed red. Quickly she adjusted the controls, killed the engine and, revolver in hand, boldly leaped out.
Except for the lurid flashings of the distant artillery it was dark. Leaving Florentina to guard the plane Lily raced across the field toward the burning wreckage. A heavy, yet trembling groan of metal, bending in its own immolation, startled her. It was a noise of nothing more but mechanical pain. It slowed her course. Stumbling forward, she almost tripped over a body laying prone across her path. The dying plane gave another horrid metallic groan.
Dropping to her knee she gently turned the body over. It glimmered in the moonlight — a face at once both familiar and horrible. A face she might have called beloved one day, yet so ghastly now in its disfigurement that Lily shivered, drew back, then bent forward once more, hating herself for such a reaction.
“Pizlina!” she asked. “Is this you?”
The one eye left opened faintly, the gashed lips made a noise that was less than a mutter. Lily shuddered as she saw that the face, indeed the whole head, were so torn by the impact that had thrown her from her plane that it was only a question of minutes, if not seconds, before she would be dead.
As it was, Pizlina’s one eye recognized Lily. She tried to speak, but faintly. Lily reached down and took the girl’s hand. She sat there for a full five minutes holding the dead hand in her own, looking intently into the face. She never uttered a sound all the time, except once and it was only a sniffle.
Finally she put the hand down. She reached over, straightened the points of the pilot’s shirt collar, then she rearranged the tattered edges of the uniform around the gaping wound. Then she got up, walked away down the road in the moonlight, back to Florentina.
There was a little copse of trees at the end of the field, but long ago the ruthless shelling had reduced most of the timber to scraggy, scarred skeletons. Still they were dangerous for planes when trying to land — or to rise again. The fog was rolling in once more. Soon all of this would disappear, as if it belonged to another world. A shaman’s journey into a fever-induced nightmare.
A little while later the war machine was flying through the fog, quicksilver in the night, gradually lowering its altitude, advancing across the lines of the enemy, revealed only to the pilot and navigator by the flashes from the barrage of distant artillery in the rear.
Almost in an instant they were over the front platoons, spectral, flying as close as they dared in order to escape the bombardment that was now passing overhead, falling here and there over the front trench line of the Germans.
Occasional a few shots were fired upward by soldiers who turned far too slowly at the sound of the noise, a phantom in the clouds; however, the ghost machine vanished almost at once, and the quicker of the men, these lumps of clay that sat in the dark, would urge their fellows to holster up their guns, to keep quiet, keep respectful of the night, for all around them, and high overhead, it felt as if the dead were too near. [cont.]
 “Nyt suunsa ja syö minun pillua.” I understand using untranslated foreign words in stories is irritating. I spent some time trying to find out how to say “lick my pussy” in Finnish, or Norwegian, or Sami, one of those North-polar languages the shamans used to speak to the spirit-world with. I finally found this phrase, which Google translates into “Now shut up and eat my pussy.” I guess my point was that oral sex, much like mechanical engines, requires a whole different language most people never bother to learn and sounds alien when spoken aloud. Still, there is a reason why everyone loves Oksana’s skilled fingers, regardless of how it sounds when written down on the page.
Other foreign phrases used:
“Budʹte vnimatelʹny” / “Watch out” in Russian.
“Ee-dee nah hooy” / “Fuck you” (spelled phonetically) in Russian.
My spiritual mother, Colonel Marina Raskova, founder of 588th Night Bomber Regiment — what the Germans in WW2 called “Das Nachthexen,” the “Night Witches” — once asked me, “what is the purpose of prose if not poetry?” She delighted in French Avant-garde theater, Dada art, surrealistic poetry, and so do I. If stream of consciousness bores you, dear reader, you might want to read elsewhere. It is true that erotic war literature can be problematic, I understand, especially for people who live comfortably enough where they will never have to face such moral dilemmas. My mother never had that luxury in 1941 as the Nazis were invading the Soviet Union: Operation Barbarossa. This story is dedicated to all of us who learned how to survive.
* * *
“I want you to pose naked for me.”
“What, Sargent Rudenov?”
“Comrade Aleksandra, did you not just knock on my door and enter?”
The younger pilot blinked in the well lit room that served as Sargent Yevgeniya Rudenov’s, flight squadron leader for the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, personal quarters.
“Yes, Sargent Rudenov.”
“Comrade Aleksandra, did you not just ask me if you would be flying in tonight’s sortie?”
“Yes, Sargent Rudenov.”
“And when I said no, did you not say ‘what can I do to fly tonight’?”
“I’m sorry, Sargent Comrade. Did you just say–”
“Yes. That I want you to pose naked for me.”
Aleksandra looked at the decorated Hero of the Soviet Union, Order of the Red Banner and Order of the Red Star sitting before her, trying to make some sense of the offer.
War had stripped Rudenov of her girlish charms, leaving her with a curious, rugged sensuality that everyone – women and men – in the regiment noticed. They say in Russia that there are only two types of females: girls and elderly babushkas. Where does one find the link between caterpillar and butterfly? Who has ever witnessed such a transformation in a world that holds motherhood so cheap? “In what mysterious pupa,” one traveler asked, “do Russian women prepare for the next stage of their lives?” The answer is easy: war. War burns away all the virginal blushing embarrassments, the banal madonna-whore complex, the artificial accouterments of a bourgeois society, leaving behind only queer middle-age women who know how to survive.
“Comrade Aleksandra, you have been in camp over a month. We have lost twenty-four pilots and navigators during that time. Girls just like you who came into this very room saying they would do anything to get the chance to drop bombs on the Germans. And now here you are, their sister, obviously, standing before me saying you’ll do anything to get the chance to fly in a Polikarpov,” Yevgeniya smiled at the obvious confusion and discomfort this was creating in the younger girl. “You tell me that you would do anything?”
“Yes, Sargent Rudenov.”
“Well then, you can convince me about that by posing naked for me, right now, yes? So you choose, the night is young, the plane do not leave for another three hours. Come day break, where would you like to be?”
Yevgeniya stood up from her desk, walked over to a small cabinet and removed a large, chrome camera. Aleksandra looked nervously at the older woman, she reminded her of a nun she once had at school. She could feel her heart beating loudly in her chest. It was a cold night. Somewhere outside a crow, the messenger from the other world, cawed in the dark.
“I’m sorry dear, I hate to rush you. Perhaps you’d like to think about this back in your barracks?” She started to door as if ushering the younger woman out.
“No! Please, Sargent Rudenov.”
Yevgeniya looked at Aleksandra as if surprised she had spoken.
“Are you sure I can’t just–” But here the younger girl was at a loss as to what she could offer. It was either posing for photos or being grounded for who knew how long. “Who would see these photos if I agreed?” The girl stammered, looking at the ground, blushing violently. “I’ve never been naked before … anyone one else.”
Closing the wooden door to her quarters and pulling the latch, Yevgeniya looked the young pilot up and down. She smiled at the girl’s nervous plight. “How did you ever make it through eighteen years of life and never once have the urge to let other people see you for what you are?”
“Sargent Rudenov?” Aleksandra asked, drawing a deep breath.
“My dear girl. I have a dozen other pilots also wanting to fly tonight with far fewer hang-ups than you seem to possess. The pictures will be shown to very few, but please understand I will demand that you are to be naked. You will be posing in extremely … titillating ways for me.”
“But you’re a woman!” Aleksandra blurted, then bit her lip before she said anything else moronic. Yevgeniya’s omnivorous appetites weren’t exactly state secrets.
“Yes, Comrade Aleksandra, I am.”
Yevgeniya smiled as she returned to her desk with her camera. Aleksandra’s head was a whirl of emotions, her legs felt as if the would give way under her. She wanted to cry. She wanted to run back to her barracks and throw herself into the arms of her bunk mate, Alyona, who took such good care of her. It was cold in the small room and the girl rubbed her arms.
“I’m sorry it’s a bit chilly in here, Ukrainian summers are never warm — drink?” she didn’t wait for the girl to answer but poured her a shot of vodka, which she took gratefully. She immediately drained half, then coughed before putting the glass down on the table. Aleksandra watched as Yevgeniya took the camera up and felt sick with nerves at the reality of what she was about to do. She drank down the shot her commanding officer refilled her glass with.
“Nervous?” the older woman smiled at Aleksandra as she nodded. “Well don’t be. You’re a very lucky pilot. One day I’ll tell you what I had to do to win this.” She pointed to her Order of the Red Star. “And you are so very pretty, I love your uniform, it shows off your charms so well. Have you ever been an artist’s model? My mother had a friend in Paris, Rene Vivian, who looked just like you.”
Aleksandra shook her head, looked down at her dress, then heard the camera click as she smoothed it over her hips and blushed again. In reality it was the same standard uniform all the women were issued. But, she had to admit, at least it was a dress. On the first day of training Aleksandra, as well as all the other recruits, had been ushered into a large storeroom, where, piled on the floor in separate heaps, were bundles of enormous boots, rough woolen vests, standard male underwear – nothing to suggest that the 588th Night Bomber Regiment was an all-female unit. In other piles were ugly male tunics, wool trousers, overcoats. Aleksandra walked past the lieutenant who had brought them to the room and picked up two boots at random. They were mammoth. Later that day the sound of hysterical laughter could be heard all over the building as the recruits attempted to fashion themselves uniforms. Woolen vests dangled down below the knee, trousers were hitched up almost to the chin, and greatcoats — the pride of the Soviet armed forces — spilled across the floor behind them like monstrous veils for some unholy wedding ceremony.
It was nearly a month later that a package from Moscow brought the girls their dresses – drab, ugly things, true – but at least they were dresses and they could be made to fit. Aleksandra glanced nervously down at the low neckline that she suddenly felt now showed off far too much of her ample cleavage. Small metal buttons ran down the front to her waist.
“Yes, I think we can keep the boots on, they’ll show your legs nicely, it’s a shame there isn’t a single stocking left in the entire Union. War makes beggars of us all.”
Yevgeniya seemed to be thinking for a moment. Aleksandra stood waiting, shivering from cold, nerves, wondering what on earth she was supposed to do next.
“No, lets just play with what you’re wearing. You really are so pretty, I love your breasts.”
Aleksandra blushed again despite the chill of the room. Alyona would say the same thing, but that’s what bunk mates were suppose to say, was it not? Late at night, once the candles were doused and the barracks were dark and quiet save for the occasional moan and snore and stifled low-down dirty groan during those long summer night. Her arms came up to cover her chest.
“What panties are you wearing? Lift your skirt, show me.” The camera came up to Yevgeniya’s eye again. Aleksandra froze.
“Show you my …?”
“Lift your skirt, soldier. I will not send a woman into the air who refuses to follow instructions, she will kill herself and her navigator so do as you’re told – that is a direct order!”
Aleksandra jumped, as if she had been slapped, pulled up her skirt, gathering it quickly around her hips.
“Slowly, Comrade, slowly.”
Click, click, click.
Aleksandra felt foggy, stupefied, feeble-minded. Holding up her skirt while a commanding officer took photos of her pathetic, government-issued panties. She glanced down, looked at her unshaven legs, her feet in their ugly black boots. May that stray Nazi artillery shell everyone jokes about find its way over to this tent right now, she thought.
“Pull you’re panties higher up your hips for me, Comrade –” She lifted her skirt a little more with her free hand, then pulled her white cotton higher up her hips, making a W where the fabric cut across her girl-lips.
“Hmm, much better.”
She had Aleksandra lift her foot onto the wooden table, holding her skirt out to the side, asked her to smile, all the while the girl, still blushing, still embarrassed, did everything she was told to do.
“Turn around, yes – now, bend forward, lift your skirt high, higher, push your ass out, yes, like that.”
Aleksandra sighed, there was still that girlish need to cry inside her. What was it that Lady Macbeth desired to be so that she could commit the acts that made “her kind blush at”? Ah yes, “unsexed.” But if one is not born a woman, one is made a woman, why blush at all? If femininity is indeed an artifice, why not embrace Eros as deeply as we embrace Pathos? She let her skirt fall, reached for her glass. Yevgeniya poured her more vodka. Smiled at the young pilot’s inner-struggle.
“Comrade, listen to me. You’re in a bad situation. You want to fly but your pride stops you doing something so simple that it’s even recorded in the Bible as the first trick Lilith taught Eve before God made Adam and broke the two girls up. Fighting this only making it worse. You could at least try to enjoy it.”
“But–” Aleksandra stammered, drunkenly looking into the shot glass as if it contained secret answers. “What do you mean ‘Lilith and Eve’?”
“Listen, let’s make this easier for you shall we? You are going to pose for some naughty photos for me, if you want to fly there is no way out, you have to learn to take orders. If you don’t want to pack your bag tonight and go back to your Worker in Moscow or whoever it is who pays your bills, parasite. Now, I want you to take off your top before we go any further – now, soldier!”
Aleksandra felt a tear slide down her cheek, fumbled with the tiny metal buttons of her dress shirt, then glanced up at her commanding officer, only to pull the shirt wide, revealing her bra, a luxury for the women. Finally she pulled each cup down to free her breasts. The moment they were exposed, her nipples immediately puckered and hardened in the cold air, making her embarrassment obvious.
“Push your tits out, flygirl, be proud of what you have, Comrade Aleksandra.”
Doing what she was told, Aleksandra flushed, partly from the vodka and partly as she felt her exposed skin studied by lecherous eyes. She then drew in a surprised breath as Yevgeniya reached out, softly stroke each nipple, feeling the weight of each breast before drawing her blunt fingernails over the crimped skin of her aureoles, tugging softly, drawing on each nipple. When Alyona did this, that was fine, she was her bunk mate. But this? Aleksandra fought to stop herself covering her chest.
“My dear, you are beautiful.”
Aleksandra watched as she brought the camera in for a close-up of each.
Click, click, click.
The girl simply stood there in the cold with her arms crossed beneath her breasts, swaying slightly.
Yevgeniya bent down towards her left breast and Aleksandra felt the wet warmth of her mouth close around her so terribly erect skin.
She couldn’t help it. Aleksandra glanced down, watched as the older woman did the same to the other nipple, entranced, unable to move as tiny earthquakes traveled through her. She was gasping as Yevgeniya rose in front of her, didn’t resist as she bent forward, kissed the girl softly on the lips.
“Now, you will do as you’re told, won’t you, Comrade dear? Please, turn around, bend over.”
Aleksandra did as she was told. The vodka must have gone to her head. She turned, her breasts, swinging free, felt swollen, the nipples cold, hard, as her squadron leader’s spit dried upon them.
“Bend over more, dear.”
She did, put her hands down on the wooden table to support herself. She felt her skirt being pulled up over her back, didn’t resist as her panties were drawn down around her knees. She felt flushed and drunk as the camera clicked behind her. Yevgeniya took her free hand, brought it Aleksandra’s to her ass.
“I want you to hold the cheeks of your bottom apart, Comrade.”
Aleksandra glanced around at her.
“What? please — don’t make me –”
“Please, what?” Her commanding officer arched an eyebrow, smiled at the younger girl.
“Please, Sargent. Don’t ask me to – ah! piz’da!”
Yevgeniya’s hand had come down sharply on her naked, fleshy ass, sending a jolt stinging through her.
“I’ll spank you again, flygirl, if you keep being naughty.”
Aleksandra made a face and put her hands back on her ass.
“Now be a good girl, pull your cheeks apart.”
Aleksandra rubbed her warm bottom, reluctantly pulling her cheeks apart, instantly feeling how her anus was exposed to the cool air, as well as how wet her pussy was suddenly getting.
“Hmm, I love blonde hair, it’s almost as if you were shaved; so naked, so exposed.”
Aleksandra did feel exposed, as well as the older woman’s hand slide between her legs to touch her pubic hair.
“Ah, Comrade, you naughty girl. Hold your cunt open for me, push out your bum, more, yes, now keep your legs straight.”
Aleksandra did as she was told, heard the camera click, inches away. It would have been more comfortable, some part of her drunken brain thought, if she could let her panties drop to the floor, take off her boots, they made her feel tomboyish, almost as she had been surprised while sitting on the loo. She started as Yevgeniya’s free hand caressed the inside of her thighs, closed her eyes, bit her lip, still holding her ass cheeks apart as the other hand moved closer to her pussy, all the while she pushed her bum out further and further, inviting the camera to record all.
One slim finger gently pushed past the wet resistance of her vagina. She felt it enter her slowly, inch by inch, stifled a small groan of pleasure. “O, Alyona love,” the younger woman barely whispered. If Yevgeniya noticed she said nothing as her finger slipped in further, then finally again several times before it was joined by a second.
“You have a lovely wet cunt, Comrade. Keep your lips spread for me.”
Aleksandra tried to do as she asked, even though her legs were beginning to spasm, but then had to bring her left hand down to the table to support herself. She yipped as she was rewarded with a hard slap to her ass. The fingers returned to fill her, the feeling of being finger fucked hard consumed her. Yevgeniya’s free hand was tickling her exposed anus. She flinched at the first touch then pushed back to welcome the intrusion, but suddenly everything stopped.
“Why is it, Comrade?” Yevgeniya asked, looking up at Aleksandra, the shadow of her labia in the lantern light throwing shapes across her wild upturned face. “That when I ask you to show me your cunt you blush and act like an English Capitalist’s bordering school daughter, but the moment I lay a finger in your ass you are a pup in heat? Is this the secret to unsexing you?”
“No — it’s just–”
“You want me to fuck your ass with my finger don’t you?” It was neither a question nor a command. It was simply a statement of truth. The pressure of Yevgeniya’s finger returned as her other hand continued to play with the young pilot’s hot aching pussy. “Don’t you Comrade darling?” she insisted, a throaty whisper. “‘That I may pour my spirits in your ass; and chastise you with the vulgar valor of my tongue to all that impedes me from this golden hind’ — Would you like to feel my finger in your ass?” She slowly withdrew the fingers from Aleksandra’s pussy, then trailed the girl-juices over to her gaping anus. Aleksandra let out an involuntary moan. Yevgeniya’s hand came around to the others’ face and she forced her pussy-sticky fingers into the open mouth, smiling as Aleksandra greedily sucked on them.
“Comrade Aleksandra, would you like me to fuck your mouth as well? Now tell me why you want me to put my finger into your ass but not to see your delicious curly-q of a cunt.”
The fingers returned to her pussy, Yevgeniya’s thumb began to rub, to tease against her anus while her other fingers rubbed against her clitoris. “Tell me Comrade!” Her other hand came down in a stinging slap on her gaping ass.
“Oi vey! Yes, Sargent Rudenov –” Aleksandra yipped. She felt her left breast fondled, then the nipple was pinched, cruelly, followed by several hard slaps
“Please — do what you want with me –” Aleksandra didn’t care anymore. If this was how wars were won, then she had found a role that consumed her. She was grateful she wasn’t going to die ignorant that such pleasures existed. Why do they not teach these things in school?
“Tell me what you want.”
“To fly a Polikarpov –”
“To fly a Polikarpov? What would you do to get a chance like that? Something like this?” At that, while the three fingers from Yevgeniya’s hand continued to slip in and out of her cunt, she felt an extra finger from the older woman’s other hand slide into her anus.
“Yes!” the girl managed to gasp out.
“Then ask me to put it in your ass, flygirl.”
“Please, Sargent Rudenov! Ma’am, put your fingers in my ass!”
“No. Not on your first flight, little nestling, but,” — and here the fingers pushed but did not slip in — “for tonight I’ll put two fingers in for you.”
Aleksandra groaned, almost collapsed but caught herself, straightened her legs, pushing her splayed-open ass out higher. Yevgeniya was a cruel mistress when she wanted, bore down with her weight, smiling as the young pilot finally screamed out, her orgasm ripping like wild-fire through her, phosphorescence in the dark, finally collapsed onto the table. The squadron leader for the 588th Night Bomber Regiment removed her fingers from Aleksandra’s canvities, while the girl gazed foggily around, dimly wondering why the world was still spinning from her tail dive.
“Comrade Aleksandra, na kaleni, shalava.”
Aleksandra felt her hair being pulled, forced to her knees. Yevgeniya dragged her across to her chair, sat down, pulled up her own military issue skirt. Aleksandra watched in a daze as the older woman dragged her forward, forcing her face into her own wet pussy. There was a cruel side to Yevgeniya, as anyone who must send soldiers out to die in the hundreds every month. She grew tired of Aleksandra licking softly at first but then became excited as the girl began lapping at her with enthusiasm.
She turned over, pushing out her chunky, muscular ass. “Lick my cunt, my bum, flygirl, do it properly.”
“Yes, Sargent Rudenov,” Aleksandra mumbled, looking up, wearing a fur mustache.
Sometime later, far later, Aleksandra banked her Polikarpov biplane toward the west, sweeping over the sleeping purple and silver countryside, and put her fingers into her mouth. That was a good taste. A very good taste. But this would be even better. Guided by her navigator, using her stopwatch and map, Aleksandra approached the target at a height of just over three thousand feet, then, on cue, cut her engines, gliding like a witch through the dark. The wind rushed through the struts, she concentrated on her instruments, keeping on the compass mark, her navigator whispering through the com-link instructions. The navigator finally thrust her arm over the edge of the open cockpit, dropped two parachute flares into the slipstream. They they spun away, ignited, suspended from their little parachutes, casting a savage glorious blue light over the alien landscape. They were right over the target.
To be a war pilot, to feel this fantastic sense of achievement, that was worth everything. The girl could clearly see the buildings in the cold dark night. The Germans hadn’t heard the plane coming because of their gliding approach, but now the searchlights came on, the sirens, the black flashes of flak starting to probe the sky for them. Aleksandra didn’t want to spoil her aim so she simply flew straight through the puffing cloud ‘plosion until she was right over the target. The Po-2 bucked in the gusts from some of the artillery shells, but kept on. Then Aleksandra yanked the release wire and dived away from the searchlights, pulling upward as the whole world below her blossomed into bloom.
My spiritual mother, Colonel Marina Raskova, founder of 588th Night Bomber Regiment — what the Germans in WW2 called “Die Nachthexen,” the “Night Witches” — once asked me, “what is the purpose of prose if not poetry?” She delighted in French Avant-garde theater, Dada art, surrealistic poetry, and so do I. If stream of consciousness bores you, dear reader, you might want to read elsewhere. My mother was the lover of the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, and from that union I was born. Federico was shot by fascists for being a queer poet on August 19, 1936. Marina perished in a fiery plane crash on January 4, 1943. I am now an orphan and dedicate this story to the queer poets and women warriors the world over. Paz, mãe e pai.
* * *
[a dream, half wild: the breasts of tiresias]
“So here we are once more among the smell of petrol and menstrual cramps and sulfur and shit. We’ve found our ardent country, our ardent country girls. Comrades, girls, my girl, we have a stage, a theater of war. The Ukrainian Steppes are ablaze. To our dismay, on Saturday June 21, 1941, our pilots fell out of the sky like rain, men on fire and so the Panzer tanks rolled on. White tigers. They say theater no longer holds any greatness and so little truth in virtue but I have also found a stage, Lily. Stalin ordered us thirteen hundred into the air and thanks to Comrade Raskova, my very own Yes Ma’am, No Ma’am, Lick Your Clit, Ma’am, we have killed the tedious nights before the war. Don’t you think that we’ll die like all other men die, Lily?”
“Except we’re not dying, Anahit dear. You’re just talking about the sin, but you never mention the saviors. We’re still flying in the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, you know. When the hour is struck it will be women who will be raining down, lit matches, hair ablaze. I have been at war like all other men, one night while flying over the western front, gazing up into the pulsating stars in heaven, a thousand rockets rose from the trenches to greet me. I heard the shells’ voices but no explosions.”
“Yes, I’ve flown over the flashes of enemy guns, too. Their angles are all on fire. And at each billowing orange bloom the stars were darkening in the sky, one by one. I think this is how constellations die.”
“Do you really think constellations can die that easily?”
“I never thought girls could die that easily.”
A shadow passed over them.
The two girls stopped, squinted into the empty, dry sky.
A biplane, its engine rhythmically puttering, crossed overhead. The pilot, her hair trailing behind her in the slipstream as she glided along for a landing, dipped and curved into the lap of a gentle valley, flashing brilliant in the light.
The scene in the valley of Engels was a striking one. Low ranges of gently sloping hills, green by the mill, widened out and here, secluded, their factories had not yet been bombed to ruin, their villages not yet razed, the whole world above the tree-line not yet set on fire with phosphorescent fuses that sucked the oxygen out of everyone’s lungs. The Regiment’s training base, spread out over a dead lee-level of swamp and twice-trampled grassland, was enclosed by high-barbed walls, irregular ovals of wire and mesh, torch-light and spot-fire and burning pits of crude with large clumps of trees in the center, witch’s oak, a multiplicity of large hangars; small, mostly queer-shaped buildings all scattered, peck-a-hen, about.
There were a few idle wide roadways, mud spills and loose pages, with smaller avenues intersecting, hairy-like legs and larger fur-down open spaces, bordered by tarp and tarpaulin tents, at either end of the oval.
On a bulletin board in front of one of the hangers stood a placard, tacked with thumb-prints that read like the signatures of clouds, at which several young women in baggy khaki flight-suits, wearing aviator skull-caps and those glorious chunky goggles, all pinked lip, were gazing, remarking and fingering otherwise. There was no pandemonium that this placard had to tell, war apparently, for all its sleepless moons and daily bling and night sallow blindness, had dulled the senses of the pilots and mechanics and navigators. What was written was as follows (officer stamped twice): ‘They’re putting out the stars with shellfire — qui vive at 7 pm. tonight. Specific orders will be issued to each at that time.’
The words ‘Members of 586th Fighter Regiment – will be on the’ having been crossed out by some waggette, adding the very conversation Lily and Anahit had been talking about. Curious.
“I suppose this is coming from that bigmouth megaphone at supreme headquarter or whatever they’re calling that lonely bull paddock two miles away from here, who will no doubt be driven in a Party car to stare at our planes, check off names on a clip board and have something interesting to say, smelling of brute and vodka,” remarked the short athletic girl, throwing an arm casually over the shoulder of her smaller companion, tweaking her nipple that, even in heavy elevation gear, threatened to expose itself to the cool Barbarossa morning. “Do you think this means that we’re going up in those crazy old biplanes they’ve foisted on us?”
“What, just because all the male pilots have refused to fly in them? They have refused to give up their shiny Yakovlev Yakety Yaks, no doubt. Then that will be a fine reason to make us take their ancestral relics up for a spin or two,” replied the smaller girl, a sprightly youngster, dark-eyed, curly-headed, round-faced.
“Well, all the world is a stage, they say, especially when you’re burning up over Leningrad at 30,000 feet in your very own popcorn popper. I say, any landing in which I am once more among you huddled groundlings is a finger-fucking good landing, eh, Anahit?”
“Were you thinking about playing with your pussy just now?” chided Lily, jokingly.
“Mention the words ‘finger fuck’ and you are so cute in your embarrassment.”
The two strolled off together as others, also in bulky flight suits, gathered about to read, sigh, then turn away to their own private musings.
“I wonder if they’ll ever build us a bigger stage one day.”
“What, big enough for your pussy?” laughed Lily Litvyak, the athletic nestling. “‘All the world is a pussy’ – no, it doesn’t have the same ring in Russian now, does it?”
“Shush, you foul girl,” Anahit Abandian furrowed her brow. “No. But if war is a story, all we have to write is our own wry action scene and who does not love when the tone of a story turns from pathos to ironic burlesque? and with reasonable use of the improbable we can turn any actress into an, er, what did you call me yesterday? Ah yes, a ‘big ol’ hairy bush pilot,’ since we’re all to be going round soon, we all go round and around, and suffer the enemy’s squeals and the blare and rupture of eardrums at 30,000 feet, and I ask you, dear, the moment you mount the stage and pull that wire and drop your bombs, haven’t you ever thought for a second that this stage is spread out before us not just mankind to witness our feats of daring-do, but for the whole universe to see?”
“All that monologuing just to complain about having to fly in a Polikarpov Po-2?”
“Po-2, Sewing Machine, Popcorn Popper – why do the Germans call them popcorn poppers?”
“Because they can hear us popping away over head even during a December wind storm.”
Anahit nodded. Lily pinched her girlfriend’s forearm, having grown tired of the nipple. The air was cold and damp, the mist thickening by the minute.
“You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to go up to that bigmouth megaphone and say, no, mister colonel, you won’t make me fly in one of these old junk heaps. I will fly as I please, hup hup. You pilots have been doing what you want long enough. After all I too want to go and fight the enemy, hup one hup two.”
But Litvyak was thinking, scanning the ghostly fields and hedgerows. Finally she announced decidedly: “You know what, dear heart, after being a soldier I want to be an artist. Yes. Perfectly perfectly. I also want to be a doctor and a psychiatrist. I want to make Europe and America trot and tremble before me.”
The other shook her head dubiously, for a second her expression held something slightly predatory, a delicious look in a creature so small, but it melted away almost as suddenly as it appeared and she replied, “Yeah? Well, I want to be a philosopher chemist mathematician princess firefighter. Give me a plan and a plane that I can drop bombs from and I’ll bomb the Nazis for you, Madam Artist, Comrade Klitt.”
Litvyak, of course, disclaimed any need for a design, an idea or a plan, since engines of chaos need only but a direction to let loose their bloodhounds of hell, and Anahit felt that her girlfriend was putting on airs (the downside of a liberal Soviet education), as usual. When they parted Lily watched Anahit walk away, delighting in the sight of her massive, round girlie bum wiggling under her high altitude uniform.
* * *
A half hour later, Lily stood under the shower, contemplating the type of soap needed to wash grief right out of her hair and what a terrible metaphor it was. If grief really was so easily washed away it wouldn’t be grief. Dominika’s and Galochka’s plane had been caught in the German searchlights only two days ago, Galochka was carried from the plane, a bloody lump soaking her seat, Dominika, burned, her whole arm broken when she brought the old crop duster down in the dark.
Her hand massaged her sore muscles, stopping at her belly, enjoying the feeling of her hip bone against under hot water, then slipping down to her bushy honey-milk bush. Bush pilot, indeed. She took the shower head and directed the water across her nipples, moving it closer to her skin. After a whole night of constant vibrations from the airplane’s Shvetsov M-11 air-cooled, five cylinder, radial engine between her open thighs, the hot water felt like a hand, or, perhaps, a three foot long tongue.
As she moved the Joie de vivre down, with her legs spread, Lily directed the spray to her pink tippled-tip clit, moving the shower head up and down, exciting constantly excited nerves. A finger slipped into her wet gap, airy void. She finger fucked herself furiously, as if no one would ever touched her again for years and years, as if she was about to perish in flames. She moaned, glad there wasn’t anyone else in the barrack’s shower room, just this once. She lay against the cold wall when her legs started shaking into orgasm, the gift of the gods, a feeling like screaming, like burning, like twisting naked in the air, falling from her plane’s canopy, turning over and over in lust, the heat in her cunt exploding. She finally gushed, spreading her girl-cum over each of her fingers, the palm of her hand.
The water splattered hot in the shower, turning cold then hot again, pressure washing away any proof of her solitary exercise.
* * *
Later, when dinner was over, Lily Litvyak found her way to where the squadron commander was checking off the different machines, assigning each killer machine the various pilots and navigators. All this on a yellow pad, in one of the hangars, with no one else near. Lily passed her squadron leader, Yevgeniya Rudenov, who nodded. In Hangar Four were two Polikarpovs, all in trim order. The Colonel stared at one of them, grumbling to himself.
“What will I do?” he mused, half aloud, through his Wilhelm II mustache. “I forgot that Dominika’s arm was all shattered into little bits and the like and poor Galochka with that great big hole in the top of her curly head. Sending girls up into the air, chyort voz’mi! What was Uncle Josef thinking?”
“Begging your pardon, Comrade Colonel!” A short, athletic young girl with hair like sunlight through silk on a Sunday afternoon was beside him, standing respectfully at attention in her bulky uniform. There was always something slightly unsettling for the older man knowing that under these khaki, bulky, unisex uniforms the female pilots were naked save for their government-issued panties – black-market bras being the only way most of these girls could acquire them, what with the selling of cotton for breast control being prohibited just now for the glory of the war effort. “Why not let me take Galochka’s place? Give me a chance!”
So commanding — so deferential — Lily’s attitude, her curt Moscow manner, her firm flat shoes, the obvious feminine shape under her uniform, her dirty vanilla panties, her — Colonel Dragomira blinked for a second, said nothing, simply stared at the girl.
“But – but, lysyi didko, you’re too young, too inexperienced, too – too -”
“Comarade Colonel, please, go and ask Dominika! You know what her judgment is. If I am to have a navigator, let Dominika go with me.”
“Dash your bally impertinence, you young skip and ruggamuffin!” Dragomira had once seen a rather droll British comedy, ‘All Riot on the Western Front’, where the marvelous Donald Calthrop went around saying that exact line, in fact, it was his only line. The Colonel had memorized it by heart and hoped that one day there would come a time he could use it, even though he and Lily did not understand a lick of the English language themselves. He smiled to himself and asked, “What do you know about Polikarpovs, anyway?”
In five minutes of seductive engine-talk, expertly fingering various parts of the green pleasure machine, Lily had convinced her superior. Furthermore, by ingenious manipulation of certain bolts with a wrench, a pair of tweezers and a gob of greasy spittle, she readjusted a valve in the petrol tank which she had heard Dominika grumbling about before her last flight. This she did with such deft speediness that the Colonel nodded his approval, standing so close to the young pilot, adding: “Where did you pick up so much mechanical knowledge, Comrade Litvyak?”
“At the Nova Slobodskaya Flying Club, in Moscow.”
“Well now, go and see our poor Dominika. If she is not well enough to go with you, er, have you anyone else in mind?”
* * *
Half an hour later Lily Litvyak stood by the cot of a gray-faced girl who lay groaning discontentedly. At sight of the young Moscow pilot she tried to raise herself up to a sitting position, revealing her whole right arm still bound up in splints. Lily noted that the pain of moving made sweat stand out on her forehead.
“Lily dear, my comrade is! I welcome so much you.”
Dominika was a native from Tajikistan. There was a lot about her Russian that could be desired and sometimes it took Lily a few moments to simply decipher what it was her friend was talking about. When Lily briefly explained why she was there, what the Colonel had told her, Dominika fell back, gave a horrific groan and said: “Thank you, comrade!” Here she chuckled. “No use to you now, I would like to go, I want to go! But I am no use to myself, not at all! But you be sure to bring my baby back safe now, you hear? my Polikarpov — Ah! What a great baby my Polikarpov is!”
Lily smiled and gave her friend a kiss on the forehead, the only spot on her entire body that was not giving the Tajikistan girl pain, promising to do her best.
An hour later Lily, accompanied by her new navigator, Tamryn Zolotov, stood before Colonel Dragomira in his pigeonhole-sized office, while a stream of flightsuit-clad young women filed in one by one. Dragomira waved them all to their chairs, then turned to Lily.
“I saw Comrade Dominika myself,” he said grimly. “She wanted to go but it will be a week before she can use that arm. I spoke to Major Bershanskaya about you. She was reluctant, but owing to the inexperience of so many of you Moscow pilots, she stressed that you two must be careful, dare I say, cautious even. Can you bring the plane back, Comrade Zolotov, if anything happens to Comrade Litvyak?”
“Yes, sir, I think so. I’ve often flown before, alone.”
“Under fire by sausage eaters?”
“We shall soon find out, Comrade Colonel.”
Dragomira gave them both one long look, then turned away to address the other pilots and navigators with a soft, “here go hell come,” under his breath.
* * *
Shortly after a bugle call the following order was posted on the bulletin board in front of the hanger for all concerned parties to see.
“Members of 588th Night Bomber Regiment will carry out the following order at 10 a.m., 12 midnight, 2 a.m. At each time three machines, each carrying eight 25 pound bombs, will bomb respectively Charlie Foxtrot and Charlie Lima India Tango. Each member of the squadrons assigned will be ready at Hangars No. 4, No. 7, No. 9 at times noted. That is all.”
Each aviator, with her navigator, had been privately notified by the Colonel in person. These night raids were mostly for the purpose of keeping the Nazis nervous after a hard day of getting shot at, anything to lower their morale even lower than it was. Usually the points selected were the shell-torn fields outside of villages where the Nazis had been sent for a brief period of rest before advancing into cannon fire once more. Then the witches would come. The Night Witches, Die Nachthexen, around the time the exhausted men were just beginning to lie down in their billets, dreaming of home or whatever it was Nazis thought about. Then the bombs would begin to fall, tents would explode into fragments, men crawling about in the dark on their hands and knees, a whole night’s rest lost to general turmoil, fire and death.
When Lily and Tamryn clambered into their waiting Polikarpov — bombs already stowed, wheeled out in front of their hangar — everything was quiet. The other women moved about, ghosts now, shadows of women facing an inky unknown. A few minutes later the first of the night raiders climbed up into the swirling darkness, the only noise being the wind and the whirring putt-putt-putt of their engines. Watching for the signal of the leader of the squadron, they all banked sharp and headed to the front.
Over the ruined farmland, star-shelled from continual artillery fire, their infantry could be seen below. There were women soldiers down there too – tank teams, snipers, explosive experts – Stalin was using everything in his power to push back Hitler and his drive toward Moscow. Following their flight leader, the Night Witches kept at a sufficient altitude, hugging the darkness, avoiding glints of light, dodging occasional search lamps, all without speaking a single word.
“You’ve been out here before, Litvyak?” Zolotov spoke at last. “How much further are we going?”
“We’ll be there in two minutes. Hold on, I’m going lower. Get ready our bombs.”
“Rodger Dodger, girl friend.”
Below lay blackness, broken at one point only by a few dots of orange light that marked where German troops sat, smoking in the dark, their lit cigarettes custom homing signals on which these women were to let loose their bombs.
“Now!” whispered Lily to her navigator. Others were at work as well. The enemy tents below, already in half ruin, began to detonate with sharp explosions, lurid flashings, an inhuman uproar of human cries. It was evident that the raiders had struck the right spot.
Just then a blinding gleam of spotlight flashed aslant into Lily’s eyes. Pulling hard on the throttle, she darted the plane aside suddenly, giving her whole attention to the machine. The Polikarpov zigzagged, dodged, spun, while the scene below was soon illuminated by the flashing roar of hostile artillery. A shell blossomed with a deafening explosion so close to their plane that it was evident that the artillery had sighted them during Litvyak’s last lower loop. Pulling back on the throttle, the old biplane began to climb into the upper atmosphere, little whiffs of cumulus clouds lessening the danger of further shells.
“Did we make it?” Lily yelled over the roar of the wind.
Receiving no answer, she glanced behind her. To her dismay Tamryn’s slender figure lay drooping again the side of her cockpit, her head knocking this and that in the slipstream. She tried to crane her neck even further back, reach her navigator, and in doing so heard something pop in her back and immediately her muscles began to scream.
Tears running down her face in pain, Lily scanned the sky. The two other Polikarpovs had vanished in the darkness, undoubtedly bearing for a higher strata and safety in their flight back to their Engels aerodrome. Meantime German spotlights were stabbing through the inky night. The swift reports of anti-aircraft fire could still be heard in a most dreamlike manner. Tamryn groaned, trying to raise her head. There was blood everywhere.
[to be continued]