Piotr Karpenko

According to the stipulations of the ‘seconds’, who were Kerensky and Korkhanidi on my side, and on the side of my rival the two strange boys whom he had brought along with him, we were to go to the artillery range early in the morning before the firing began, and at approximately one hundred yards from the targets lie down at a certain distance from each other in some large shell-hole where no one could see us, and remain there until dusk; whichever one was still alive by then could leave and go where he wished.

The seconds also decided to remain all day near the range, by the banks of the river Kars Chai, and in the evening to look for us in our holes to find out the result of the duel. If it should turn out that one or both of us were merely wounded, then they would do the necessary; and if it should turn out that we had been killed, they would then spread the tale that we had gone to collect copper and lead, not knowing that there would be firing that day, and so had been ‘wiped out’.

The next morning at break of day the whole party of us, supplied with provisions, made our way to the Kars Chai. Arriving there, we two rivals were given our share of the provisions and were conducted by two of the seconds to the range, where we lay down in separate hollows. The seconds returned to the others at the river and passed the time fishing.

So far everything had seemed rather a joke, but when the firing began it was anything but a joke. I do not know either the form or the sequence in which the subjective experiencings and mental associations of my rival flowed, but I do know what proceeded in me as soon as the firing started. What I experienced and felt when the shells began to fly and burst over my head, I remember now as if it were only yesterday.

At the beginning I was completely stupefied, but soon the intensity of feeling which flooded through me, and the force of logical confrontation of my thought increased to such an extent that, at each moment, I thought and experienced more than during an entire twelvemonth.