The cold was angry and mean; brittle enough to cut through glass and snap the antennas off the roof of the flimsy metal shack Dimitri called home. Stationed there at the beginning of fall, he'd enjoyed the solitude until Christmas. Thoughts of grandfather's spicy homemade apple cider brewing in the barn, and the choirs that roamed the muddy streets in his village, offering carols to everyone, loneliness began to claw at the edges of the metal shack.
Passing the time was his main challenge. Posted alone on the edge of thousands of acres of white nothingness was more silent and grueling than he'd anticipated. Occasionally, on rare sunny morning, a lone bird would fly overhead.
Dimitri would stand on the planks intended to be a porch and caw as the bird darted overhead. That was his only contact, other than the dry, monotonous crackle of his radio and the weekly reports he called in.
"Situation unchanged, no enemy activity," he repeated, week after white week.
In the middle of February, after a particularly brutal snow storm, a rattle-trap truck appeared on the horizon, belching black smoke, disturbing the purity of Dimitri's solitude. The thought of encountering people, the driver of the truck, terrified him. Not knowing why, he began to weep .