The enemy shell hits the front hull perfectly, just to one side of the driver’s vision port. The frantic driver also saw the enemy fire, and pretty much watched the enemy shell come right for him. There is a white flare and wall of sparks as the round is deflected by the angle of the steel plating.
“I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead!” the driver is screaming, while Anatov is now yelling to the gunner to fire the damn gun. They are maybe 160 meters – practically point blank range – and they cannot miss.
But the enemy gets the first hit, throwing Anatov off his commander’s seat. Their gun is loaded and he cannot believe they didn’t get the first shot, and more so, that they have been hit already. “Fire, damn you, fire!” he shouts at the gunner, from the floor of the tank.
The gunner is looking through the sight and has everything lined up just right, and now finds himself frozen in fear. He cannot make his hands work to grip the trigger. He also saw the bloom of death from the enemy tank and felt the hit and he cannot do anything about it – he is paralyzed by the fear of dying, the fear of the enemy, and mostly the fear of his tank commander.
He watches as the enemy tank lets loose another burst of exploding gas and spent cordite and yet another round streaks towards his tank. He watches the round coming right for him and closes his eyes, waiting for death.
The driver is still screaming and now scrambling out of his seat as the next round explodes against their front hull, again, almost in his lap. He falls from his seat and lands on Anatov, who is scrambling up to grab the gunner. If he can only yank the man away, he will fire the damn gun himself. Now he is tangled up with the screaming driver, the dull thrum of the enemy shell reverberating through their tank and stunning them with its impact. Anatov feels like he is losing his mind, knowing what he has to do and unable to do it.
“Get off me you jackass!” he shouts at the driver, punching and kicking him unmercifully in his effort to free himself from the crazed man.