Excerpt of Chapter 4 from Vasil Bykau's Alpine Ballad



This is a short, 5 minute excerpt from chapter 4 of the Belarusian novel Alpine Ballad available on audible, read by myself.

Vocal Characteristics



Voice Age

Middle Aged (35-54)


North American (General)


Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
Chapter four in the morning, the five of them were digging up an unexploded bomb in a workshop that had been half destroyed by a night bombing raid. They were haft linge or Flug Punkte to be more precise there in the death camp, they'd lost almost all hope of survival. And the only thing they still wanted was to make a break for freedom for one last time or to quote their loudmouth. A small dark lad nicknamed joke to slam the door on the way out of this world. Not very safe and definitely not easy. Their work was nevertheless nearing completion. Prying under the bomb with crow bars, they finally extracted it from under the crushed stone and holding it by the stabilizing fin carefully placed it on lumps of earth inside the hole. Now came the most risky and important part while the others stood around with bated breath, a handy fellow nicknamed Golo, a former black sea sailor who wore a standard striped coat with bright circles on the chest and back. Put a hand picked Spanner over the fuse, the cords in his bared muscular forearms, swelled with exertion, the veins on his temples stood out and the fuse moved a little Golo turned the Spanner two more times and then knelt and began to unscrew the fuse hurriedly with his hands. It had been severely damaged by the impact and could no longer perform its deadly function in the bomb which had been dropped the previous night from an American B 29 or a British mosquito. Those planes had nearly flattened this mountain squeezed Austrian town. However, despite its faulty fuse, the bomb itself had not been disabled and continued to hold an explosive power equivalent to 500 kg of TNT. That power was the hope of the five condemned men. As soon as the bomb had been diffused, Jo leaned over Golo slid his hand under his coat, pulled out a new looking fuse which had been salvaged the day before from a broken finless bomb and started to screw it into the empty socket with his thin nervous fingers. However, the lad was being hasty missing the threads and causing the metal to clang Ivan rose slightly in his clogs and looked over the fresh earth in case someone stumbled upon them. Fortunately, everything seemed to be quiet, twisted girders were dangling from the ceiling. Beams of light were filtering through the numerous cracks overhead and falling on the floor at sharp angles. The room was steamy, sunny and dusty. He could hear occasional cries and muted conversation from behind a row of concrete supports where dozens of people who were stirring and milling about in the sunlit dust as they pulled the rubble apart, they were watched over by SS officers who cared little for bomb disposal and normally stayed away from such operations. All right bastards. Just you. Wait. JCs said in a quiet voice. Barely controlling a fury that was bubbling just under the surface. Keep your mouth shut. Don't thrush things. Golo growled as he got back to his feet Is all right, brothers is all right. Yanka said in the corner, wiping his white forehead, a former Kolka manager, he was now a one eyed haling decorated with chess targets for three attempts to escape. He was an optimist by nature. If indeed a pow can be optimistic and always reassured everybody despite his missing eye and his burst spleen. He was reassuring both when he was telling people to escape and when he was being brought back to the camp under convoy, debilitated by torture and his clothes shredded by alsatian dogs each man had by now shown what he thought of the plan except perhaps for SBK who was standing aloof near an earth wall and coughing as he always did. And Ivan from the very beginning, SBK had not been thrilled about their scheme. The man would obviously have little to celebrate even if they succeeded. Consumption was killing him faster than the camp and the deprivations he suffered in it. As for Ivan Sarka, he simply cared nothing for small talk and he did not like to prattle when everything was clear. Anyway. Meanwhile, Golod wiped his palms on his striped trousers and looked at the other men. He was the obvious leader there who's going to hit the fuse for a few seconds. They all fell silent, lowered their eyes and peered in embarrassment at the long cigar shaped 500 kg bomb and sweeping scratches on its green sides. That was probably their biggest problem and it made everyone uncomfortable. Yuska. S sad face with gray stubble and sunken cheeks grew focused. The nervous determination in Jk's flinty eyes faded. As for Srebnick, he even stopped coughing and stretched his arms down his wafer thin body. His gaze was now unbearably mournful. The question they had pondered, feared and avoided from the very beginning. Struggling to make up their minds was clearly forcing them to suppress painful and uneasy sadness in their hearts.