As a child of the Soviet Union I often spent my summers in summer camps.
I was around 12yrs old at this particular one and besides the following story, I don't remember much else from those weeks.
It was as usual, 20 or so beds in a big room, the old steel framed beds with mesh springs and a thin mattress; ten on each side, heads facing the walls.
We had the token special kid, but this time he truly was, huge for his age and scary strong, even by my standards. The story was that he didn't speak until he was 5. He spoke exceptionally softly and had a weird fascination with Michael Jackson, whose mere mention brought on very loud and lispy yelps of "MICHAEL JACKTHON! MICHAEL JACKTHON!", accompanied by clapping and waggling, much to the amusement of the whole room, at least for the first few days.
He was prone to rage attacks and would often get up in the middle of the night, come to foot of someone's bed and lift it above his head, hence waking the occupant of that bed with the sound of their head thumping against the wall and his insane grunts. At which point a couple of us stronger (not stronger than him, but strong enough not to be flung at a wall), level headed kids would get up and try to calm him down, often with pats on the back and mentions of Michael. Most kids left him alone, as he was mostly harmless, unlike the next two.
How they ended up in our dorm is beyond me, these two 15yr old degenerates were mostly your run of the mill kids, but being big fish in a tiny pond, they didn't waste any time, bullying and belittling was expected, but they pushed it too far.
I have seen a lot of blood by then, but never a punctured artery, I remember just laying on my bed while they were messing with yet another kid, then, a blood fountain, across two beds, 3 meters of pristine solid blood arch.
As the two imbeciles retreat, I run up, and see that he is bleeding from the wrist, he is acting as if it's nothing serious, good boy, but not now, I drag him to the bathroom, and I he's telling me not to ruin my t-shirt, so I must have ripped it to tie around his arm. I wash his arm and watch as a thick stream of blood mixes in with the water, too much blood. This whole time he's begging me not to take him to a nurse, I lift his arm and finally look at his face, it's pale and calm.
I realise that this is beyond me, frantically look around for help, and see the whole dorm standing behind us. As I look up, I get that sinking feeling, they saw me comforting him... they saw his tears, they heard the comforting words, they saw my emotions. SOFT!, but I give myself a free pass due to the circumstances and spring back into action.
"GET THE NURSE!" and a dozen pairs of feet were doing their best to do so.
He was back within hours, though it took the nurses about as long to stop the bleeding, they were worried about cutting off his blood circulation and every time they'd let up, the blood fountain was back.
The cowards were also back, jokingly apologising, but genuinely relieved that he's ok, for their sake.
During those camps we were fed well enough, healthy and bland. Food was served in a hall, everyone ate at the same time, at the same table, with their dorm-mates.
The hall entrance was manned by one of the kids, due to reasons only known to communists, that one person had absolute power, it could be a 3foot nothing 6 year old, but if he told you you can't take that piece of bread out of the canteen, you put that bread back and you apologize.
The only food that everyone looked forward to was dessert, except for our dorm.
Two days after the blood fountain, nothing has changed, the two brutes were eating our deserts like nothing had happened, but I, having had enough, had different plans.
This time dessert was grapes, probably enough for two 15yr olds, but it was for our dorm of 20.
I look at the two of them, eye to eye, I grab those grapes and I run. One does not run in or out of a Soviet canteen, but I ran, I bolted past the kid at the door screaming "THEY ALWAYS EAT ALL OF OUR DESse..." with the two of them on my heels.
As I run out, I see adults, I grab the handrail and in one swift acrobatic 270°, land myself on my ass and start shoving those grapes in my mouth as I watch the two red faced imbeciles try to explain why they were running.
Every grape was more satisfying than the previous, and as I sat there, eating the dessert of 20, I knew... the wrath was coming. I knew that I was right, I knew that 17 of us were behind me, I also knew they weren't going to stop the wrath.
I cannot remember going to bed, but I assume I was scared. I was not scared when they came. One holding me down, the other one pounding at my face.
At this point I remember nearly beating him at arm wrestling in front of our dorm, probably not the best strategic move.
I knew this is how it'd be done, but not going one on one with a 12yr old was poor form, though I always did expect too much from people.
Triple my body-weight on top and me flat on my back... I used all my wrestling and street fighting knowledge, all my strength, nothing! Hopeless! but that wasn't going to show! I ate punch after punch, while explaining to them what cowards they were, ganging up on little kids, stealing food... I assumed the rest were watching, so I wasn't going to show weakness and make the same mistake twice.
After a while they got a tired and the one holding me down started feeling sorry for me and telling the other to stop. I was having none of that and did my best to prolong this conversation, but in the end the one holding me down had to pull the other nutter off.
Unfortunately I don't remember the rest of the camp, I don't remember if I avoided them, I don't remember if I kept doing what I was doing.
I don't remember.
I do remember, some days later, walking onto a balcony in the middle of the night, having a cigarette with one of the adult supervisors and chatting about life, and that beatings ain't got nothing on emotional pain.
Other than that, I can't remember.
Sometimes I think my brain is helpful that way.
For a lack of a better method, I used -s to go from past to present tense
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