For a moment, Viktor thought the strong hands on his forehead were his mother’s. Then he smelled the blood and gangrene and he remembered.
“How is the battle?”
“The lapots are bombing the Volga’s east bank,” the nurse said. “But Stalingrad still stands.” Her hands worked at the bandage, teasing the cloth away from the fevered flesh.
“Is there penicillin yet?”
“Russian penicillin,” she said. Then the pungent taste of the garlic extract filled his mouth.
“Is there any hope?”
Her hands smoothed down the new bandage onto his scorched scalp. “We are Russians,” she whispered. “We never give up.”
* garlic was used so often by the Red Army that it was nicknamed Russian penicillin
**Lapot: Russian nickname for the JU-87 Stuka divebombers, from the word for bast shoes, since the landing gear resembled that type of shoes.