Shots and Sirens #atozchallenge #Ukraine

It was days but it felt like weeks before we saw Vlad and his boys. They all were wearing the ugly tshirts that we had bought at the beginning of our journey before we even knew about a portal.

“We are getting in…” Vlad whispered to my husband. “two or three men only. But we are getting food in and children and babushkas out.”

I put a chair behind Vlad and he immediately slumped into it. I gave him some borscht and brown bread. I had gotten pretty good at making this Ukrainian staple.

I went around to all the men giving them their food and pointing to where they could clean up and rest after dinner. None of the guys complained though there was grime and blood and bruises all over their bodies.

“Vlad what happened…” My husband rushed into the church frantic.

Vlad held up the hand that was holding the bread. “Let me explain.”

In between bites, Vlad told us of the last group he had gotten out of Mariople.

“These soldiers are heartless. We loaded up many people into small car. They each needed help to walk with canes or even wheelchair. They needed to get out of Mariople. Wheelchair and canes thrown in trunk and clothes and pillows to the roof of the car. How anyone could breathe I don’t know.”

“The car is covered in bullet holes, Vlad.”

“Getting to that.” He chewed. “They started shooting at all the cars getting out. Car in front and me pushed the petal down quick. Glass sprayed everywhere from the shattered windows, tires blown and pillow stuffing flew all around. Not one of us got one tiny scratch. The cars behind us was much worse. “

“What do we do with the car now?”

“Of course we fix it…” Vlad smiled that Ukrainian confidence that I had grown to love about the man who I figured was nigh on 100 – give or take.

I looked in my medical bag and pulled out scissors and a roll of duct tape.

My husband chuckled “You know that book titled 1001 uses for duct tape? I think we can make filling bullet holes and repairing car windows 1002 and 1003.”

Though we were all getting weary from no nights of sleep, bombs falling, and air raid sirens blaring, we were still able to smile at the little miracles in a war zone…

 Thank you to the A to Z community and each blogger that joins in April.

This on-going story for A to Z challenge 2022 was originally written in 2007 in Odessa, Ukraine. I’ve tweeked it to arrive in 2022 but the elements of a multiaccess portal and a war (the original story had multiple wars) are original. The Passage that is central to this story is a real hotel built in 1880s. She’s seen alot of history stomp through her doors and I could feel the past while I lived there. I hope you see the tenacity of the Ukrainian people through this attempt to honor their bravery. The story about the shot up car and the people is one of many stories we got from friends helping people escape Mariople.



The Basics

Clearly Crazy


E- Eavesdropping

F- Friends and Family

G- Grumbling Titka

Hiding in 1991

I – Intensity

J- My Journal

K- Keep Moving

L- Cold Air Lunch

M- Medical needs

N- What Next

O-Out of Sight


Q – Questions

R- The Russian


Medical Needs #Ukraine #fiction #timeportal #atozchallenge

Though the moving is hard I like being here in 1991. My husband and I can talk freely and I can write. We have met people who are over a century old. I wish I could just sit down and write their stories. I will try to piece bits together for a novella…maybe. We have yet to meet Anatoliy the scientist who understands the portal. I finished writing in my journal.

“The ships turned back. There was nothing else to do.” My husband told Vlad.

“Those were strong Crimean sailors who stood up against Russian officers.” Vlad puffed out his chest.

“We must prepare for other things. By the sound of his voice Dmitre didn’t sound hopeful for Mariople.”

“We would be too small a force to fight them.”

“And it would be a challenge to get all of you there. We only have two cars.” My husband pointed out.

“We need tank.”

“Who would operate it?” I asked.

Vlad scratched his head. “We will find someone.”

We went back and forth across the portal and were safe each time. I kept looking for the dark eyed guy but he either was gone or was waiting…

When we were in 2022, it was ordered chaos. Many people had fled to the borders and we heard many reports that they were safe. We watched the television very little. It was too difficult to watch smalls towns being bombarded.

“Odessa is safe but not Kherson.” One of the hotels clerks told us. “My titka lives there. I wish she could come here.”

We spoke with our clerk friend. Her store was closed but she was able to sell us several more things. I had taken the t-shirts across the portal. Vlad thought it would be a good way to identify each of his guys with t-shirts from 2022.

Our housekeeper, Svetlana, came in one day with smudges on her face.

“What is wrong.” I put my arms around her.

“Many friends and family are coming. They have nothing. Some are badly hurt. My husband and I are helping our church give all we have.”

“We have a few bandages that we brought when we came and some warm blankets.” I pointed to the pile on our bed. “Can we come with you tonight?”

“Da, Da. Yes, please come.”

Our visit to Svetlana’s church showed us what the days ahead would be like.

Hundreds of people were sleeping in every square inch of the small church. Most were dirty; some had head wounds or major scrapes. Olga the pastor’s wife and I set up the kitchen as the first aid station. I got out my first aid kit and got to work cleaning wounds and bandaging them up. Svetlana and another woman tore up rags that they had boiled so we had enough bandages.

One little boy had gotten a long splinter of metal in his arm. It took some time but we got it out and cleaned it up. The boy was so brave as I worked.

“Did you notice the people had a calm about them even though they have nothing.”

“They have their lives.”

“These people need a full time medic.” I was making a list of things we needed from 1991.

“Supplies of food and water, too.” My husband said in a whisper.


The Basics

Clearly Crazy


E- Eavesdropping

F- Friends and Family

G- Grumbling Titka

Hiding in 1991

I – Intensity

J- My Journal

K- Keep Moving

L- Cold Air Lunch

Always Great bloggers at the A to Z Challenge

Friends and Family #Ukraine #atozchallenge #fiction

The next morning there was an envelope under our door.

“Eviction?” I mouthed

“Embassy,” He stated as he ripped open the envelope. ‘As a citizen of the …. You are being strongly urged us to leave Ukraine.’ It says: ‘If you choose to stay, your embassy cannot assure your safety Please be advised the last flight, leaves tomorrow at 10am.’


“Should we call someone?”

“We were told.” I mouthed to tell no one.

“Let’s call granny and tell her we have decided to stay.” My husband said in an intentionally loud voice.

Anything else we might need? I wrote on our notepad.

“Yes, courage.” He wanted to shout.

We called granny.

“Hi mom. Yes, we are doing great. We are staying to do more writing. Oh, it’s completely safe. When you talk to your grandchildren tell them we are staying in a nice old hotel. You are so right it’s the perfect place to inspire writing.”

The funny thing was I realized that we hadn’t done any writing since we had arrived.

“Yes, we will talk to you soon…”

‘That was a big fat lie. When was the last time you lied to your mom?’ he scribbled.

‘”In another century,” I replied.

‘We have no clothing for the children.’ I wrote on the pad. ‘Let’s go to that used clothing store and see if we can find a few things.’

As we walked out of the hotel, I noticed a man paying too much attention to us. I snuggled against my husband and whispered in his ear.

“We at least have a face.” My husband gestured toward the stores nonchalantly. “Walls have ears…”

We were able to find just what we needed for the children and a few things we hadn’t thought of. There had been an old kerosene lamp in a store window. Light would be important.

I also asked Marina our shop clerk friend if she had anything that no one would buy.

“That makes no sense.” She raised her hands.

“I want to buy something so the money will help you and your family.”

“Oh, now I understand. We were sent too many matching ugly t-shirts. Pay me whatever you wish.” She made a face as she held one up.

“Yes, they are a unusual.” The t-shirts were a waste but money would help Marina.


“Dmitre, how are?” My husband sounded concerned.

“We will be overtaken in a day no more than two. My friend we did not expect Mariople to be vulnerable but they have already sighted Russian ships. My mother must leave.”

“That is a wise decision. We are ready for them.”

“You are?” The strain in his voice lessened.


“Okay. They are packed and ready.”

“What about you?”

“We would never make Odessa. We will go west to friends. We will hope…”

“And pray” the two men said in unison.”

“They will be safe here, my friend.” My husband said with assurance.

“We will keep in touch for as long as we can. We told the women to pack warm layers of clothing and to leave all else.”

“We hope for their safe arrival.”

“Yes, let us hope for the safety of many. Please have them call when they arrive. My mobile is the only way to reach us.” I could see the moisture around my husband’s eyes.

“Thank you, my friend.” Dmitre ended the call.


Reader: have you ever purchased an item or items with no usefulness to help another person?

We recently purchased a hat from a man in Uganda. So many people had been out of work that we knew any amount of money helped put food on the table. The hat hangs on my bed post as a reminder.

Thank you for visiting Penned in Moondust aka Moondustwriter. if you are visiting from the A to Z challenge, thank you for your time. here is the story in order – it is a fictional story about what is going on in current time in Odessa, Ukraine. Believe it or not this was originally written in Odessa during my stay there in 2007.

Links to the beginning of the story:


The Basics

Clearly Crazy



Catch the great bloggers at the A to Z Challenge

X where the roads meet #atozchallenge #Uganda

Can I paint a picture for you where four roads meet and a story is told?

A young man closes his eyes and I hear a six-year-old huff and puff as  his feet dash  from tree to tree.

“Please soldiers don’t look up from your noon day sleep.”

He and his family run back to their hut to get some of their belongings.

“There it is the book that my teacher gave me to read.”

A dusty road forks and a long line of refugees trudge southward.

“No one wants you” people wave their hands to ward them off.

makeshift wooden buildings are put up in the south

“Stay here. No one cares.”

Some at the end of the war don’t return the journey is too painful

Others have lived on the edge of the war  zone – waiting

The dust on the road finally clears

one family then two return to a village of ashes

“I look at myself playing dangerous games as a child. I could have been shot.”

Everyone has lost loved ones.

The land welcome the Acholi home.

The young man is expecting a child soon.

He points down the road.

“There is a tree where we have prayed. We are almost there.”

I see pride rise like the sun in his face.

“This is our church. ” He points at two sprawling trees.

“God hears us rain or  shine.”

We give children water and cookies under the prayer tree.

I see a piece of the fourth road as we drive away.

It isn’t clear what it will hold.

It is filled with hopes.

Acholi tribes to prosper

Orphans healthy and safe

Rain  falls on fertile soil

I hope to be there to see the dust settle.

These amazing people the Acholi have known so much loss, terror, hardship and yet it is in their rightful ancestral land where refugees are being welcome to rebuild their lives. Uganda is the third largest country in the world to offer refuge to the war-torn people of our world.

Thanks to the A to Z challenge for allowing me to share about these people the Acholi and Uganda.