Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Strange Meeting

The shack stood at the bank. The clear water of the Volga had frozen to create a smooth pathway; even smoother than the roads. Desolated in the darkness, the place was seldom clustered with tourists, or even the locals. But now, there stood a vehicle. A shiny Bentley; complete with government plates, tinted windows, and bulletproof glass; and it was the automobile of Victor Petrov-one of the most influential men of the country.

The dim light from the hut just touched the vehicle as it stood there alone in the cold. Screams and groans of ecstasy pierced the silent night air as the man and woman inside moved to the tune of each other. It had been 7 years since Victor had visited the place. And today, he had returned. He had been forced to go back; back to his old life. Because he had relived his past, a past he had not wished for. And he did not wish for it to return. He wanted to end everything…and that would happen…today.

The shriek of the telephone slashed through the dream. It had been a sunny day, and he had been sitting with Ilyanova; flirting and charming her with his dialogues. The shrill intrusion brought back the real world back to him. The clock on the stand beside his bed shouted out the time-0435 hrs! Accustomed to these interruptions, his hand moved mechanically in the darkness towards the ringing contraption, and as he heard what was said, he jumped up in bed-shocked. “No! This cannot be happening again,” he exclaimed hysterically into the night as he banged the receiver and hurried to the bathroom to put on a fresh suit.

“I am extremely sorry to disturb you at this unearthly hour sir, but this emergency requires yours and the Politburo’s instant attention,” Victor said courteously into the phone even though he wanted to scream it out.
“Just get it out of your mouth, you idiot,” the voice at the other end said insolently.
“An American aircraft carrier has just been detected 2500 nautical miles from our borders, sir. It has the military capacity to annihilate the whole of the capital or any of our towns. The General has ordered an emergency meeting at the Cave at 0600 hours. I am just doing my duty of informing you about this catastrophe,” Victor replied, his voice strained with anger.
“I will call the others. We will all be there. You better be on time Petrov, we do not want Mother Russia to be insulted because of a minor snag caused by you.” And the line went dead.

The drive in the Bentley unfortunately took more time than expected. Even though he drove recklessly through the slippery streets of St. Petersburg, Victor reached the Cave an enormous 17 minutes late.

“I told you to reach on time, you blithering idiot! We have been sitting here without knowing what the exact situation is for 20 minutes,” bellowed the Army General.
“I apologize profusely for my lateness, but I was hindered by the slippery roads. USS Eisenhower has been detected by our Kilo Class submarine just 2500 nautical miles from our shores. On being contacted, the ship’s commander has informed us that this is just a routine exercise and that the carrier means no harm. This carrier is the largest the United States Navy has, and at this time, it is carrying weapons that could wipe out a whole nation,” informed Victor.

Sighs lined the air which was heavy with blue smoke from the imported cigars smoked by the Politburo.

“We need to mobilize the entire Baltic Fleet at once! This is an emergency! We are again at war with US of A. Violent jerks, all of them. Let’s blow them all up at once,” said the General. This dialogue was welcomed with claps, and almost all of the members agreed at once.

“We should think of this from another angle as well. This may really be a training exercise. The rough weather in the region north of the Bering’s sea proves extremely suitable for naval exercises. This strip has attracted navies from all around the world, and it is we who have started using this region for this specialist reason,” conflicted Victor.

“You know nothing of this lad. This country has been very well-known to attack on the pretexts of exercises. This was visible to the world when they invaded Afghanistan. You have provided us with the information, now you may please shut your mouth and attend the whole meeting or you may get out of our sight at this moment,” bickered the already enraged Army General.

Looking on for a moment, Victor stood in silence. The meeting reconvened, and the muttering recommenced.

His voice thick with anger, Victor roared,” You old General, you have lost your touch. Why should we sacrifice the precious lives of our soldiers? Why should we again get provoked by them? Why should we fight with them again and that to without concrete knowledge of the situation? I have just returned some years prior to this day and I have seen the condition of our patriotic comrades. But you have not seen a battlefield since 2 decades. They live for days in the immense cold, without proper food, drink or shelter. But why do you care? You just have to be politically correct with your decision.”

“Get out of my sight right now. And do not return. Or I will have you shot for treason,” bellowed the General at this angry lecture.

“Of course I will. But I promise you that after this imprudent decision, there will be nothing left for me to return to. Because the US Navy won’t leave anything. We won’t be able to defend our nation; because they are stronger,” replied Victor as he headed for the door.

The day had passed as he thought about what he should do about this decision. He had to do something. He cursed, swore abusively, and even cried at his helplessness. At last he thought of visiting one of his old comrades. Someone who had supported him at all times; had been successful in cooling him down and seeping the frustration out of him. He jumped into the Bentley and drove off to the shack near the Volga, to meet his old darling. He hoped she would recognize him. And she would help him…for old times’ sake. He just hoped…

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