Category Archives: II. KGB

Week 5

Putin sighed and looked up from the file he had been examining. “Another day, another oligarch,” he thought wearily.

Sometimes it seemed he’d been at the KGB forever; it was as if he could not remember a time before he was a chief of the secret police.

All his days passed by with a grey sameness: read some files, order some torture, go home for dinner with his wife, Mila.

Occasionally he engaged in a bit of meaningless political maneuvering, destroying the career of a rival just to break the monotony.

He had the status of a successful KGB chief, yet Putin lived simply: He drove a yellow Lada; his apartment was small, dark, and cave-like.

Mila was large, brown-haired, plain. His colleagues could not understand why he had not married a blond gymnast from the Duma.

Putin could not explain the strange yearnings he felt. His trips to the country were the only thing that gave him any relief.

“I’m going to the dacha this weekend,” he said that night at dinner. “Again?” Mila frowned, but said nothing more.

Putin felt more strongly than ever that his wife did not understand him. The next morning he packed his things and left before sunrise.

As soon as he was gone, Mila got out an encrypted cell phone hidden at the bottom of the potato bin and dialed a number known only to her.

“Mila,” said the man’s voice evenly. There was no surprise, no pleasure, no emotion at all: It was just a statement of fact.

“I must see you, in person, today.” He hesitated only a split second, but Mila caught the pause. “Today,” she said again.

“In one hour, the usual place,” he said, and hung up. Mila put the phone back under the potatoes and went to the closet for her coat.

She took the Metro several stops, got out, and walked a circuitous route to the Lubyanka Building: KGB headquarters.

By the time she arrived in Putin’s office, his superior officer, the Commander, was already there and waiting for her.

They had chosen Putin’s own office as their regular meeting place, since the Commander had every reason to be in the building at any time.

And it was expected that Putin’s wife would sometimes visit to paw through his things, to see what he was up to when he was away from her.

As long as they were careful, no one would notice they were in the office at the same time. Mila turned and locked the door behind her.

“He’s gone to the country again,” she said flatly as she pulled off her heavy brown fur coat—a gift from Putin—and draped it over a chair.

“Perhaps you should go with him sometime,” the Commander murmured as he lit a Sobranie and gazed out the window.

Week 6

Mila wrinkled her broad nose and stared at the back of the Commander’s head. What did he think of her, really? If he thought of her at all.

“I will go with him if you order it,” she said evenly. “I have never failed to do whatever you ask.”

“Russia is grateful,” the Commander said blandly, exhaling cigarette smoke. “I follow YOUR orders,” Mila snapped, “but HE asks too much!”

The Commander turned to look at her, one eyebrow raised. “He wants me to do things …” Mila’s voice shook. She stopped to compose herself.

“There are … things … he wants me to do … he forces me to do … in the marriage bed …” She stopped again. The Commander said nothing.

“He wants me to … snuffle! And grunt! Like an animal!” The Commander saw that Mila was near tears.

“There are worse things a KGB chief could demand of you,” he said, taking another drag of his cigarette.

“You mustn’t take it too personally,” he added finally, as she said nothing more. “You’ve seen his file.”

“I’ve seen what’s open to an agent of my security clearance,” Mila replied angrily, “but I am his wife! Thanks to you, I am married to him!”

“As I recall, you volunteered for the assignment,” the Commander growled, crushing the butt of his cigarette in a Grozny souvenir ashtray.

“I was young, “ she said, “and ambitious. I didn’t understand …” “Yes,” he interrupted, “You were young, ambitious … and you were our best.

“We needed someone to watch him carefully, someone who could detect the slightest change …” his voice trailed off.

Mila stared at him reproachfully. At last she sighed. “Fine,” she said. “Then I am here to tell you that I have detected a change.”

“What?” The Commander looked startled. “Finally,” Mila thought, “finally I have your attention, you old pig.” She smiled grimly.

“He is going to the country more and more often; he longs for it as if it were his mistress. After work he walks through the zoo.

“At night he calls out for carnivora in his sleep. Last week I caught him looking at a map of Krasnoyarky Kray.” “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that his memory is returning.” “Impossible!” snapped the Commander. “No man could go through that and …” “Exactly!”

They realized they’d been shouting. “Exactly,” Mila repeated softly. “No man could endure what they put him through.

“The White Room, the drugs … erasing his memory, personality, his very self … No man could endure it. But he is NOT a man: He is Putin!”

Mila and the Commander stared at each other for a long moment. Then she turned, unlocked the door, and left.

Week 7

Putin pulled the yellow Lada into the drive next to the dacha and cut the engine. He sprang out, grabbed his bag, and hurried to the door.

He stepped inside just long enough to drop his things and tear off his shirt; he couldn’t wait to go fishing again.

As he hurried down the forest trail to the nearby brook, the sight of the mighty trees towering around him filled him with joy.

He reached the bank of the fast-moving stream and waded in without even slowing down. The icy water came almost to his waist.

Putin stood in the rushing water, staring down intently. Suddenly his hand pierced the surface and reappeared clutching a wriggling salmon.

A slight smile crossed his lips as he waded to shore with his prize. He gripped the fish in his teeth as he clambered up the slippery rocks.

Completely alone in the wilderness, the half-naked KGB chief sat down on a log and bit into the gasping salmon. This was true happiness!

Two perfect days passed quickly; Putin was blissfully content, unaware that this was the last time he would ever spend at the dacha.

He arrived back in Moscow late at night. Luckily, Mila had already gone to bed and was snoring heavily when he crept in.

He decided it would be better not to wake her, so he lay down on the sofa with his pet poodle, C4, and slept there until morning.

When Mila awoke, Putin was already packing a suitcase. “Where are you going now?” she asked sourly. “You just got home.”

“An assignment,” he replied. “They’re sending me to northern Ukraine, to assist with an interrogation.” He could see she wasn’t pleased.

Mila couldn’t believe the Commander would send Putin on assignment after her report on his fragile state. “But why?” she asked.

“You know I can’t tell you the details of my work,” he began, but Mila interrupted. “I mean, why you? Why not someone else?” she demanded.

Putin looked surprised at her vehemence. “I … I worry about your safety, my Husband,” Mila stammered unconvincingly.

Putin raised one eyebrow; he realized that he didn’t believe her. “Nonsense,” he replied. “Nowhere is safer than Pryp’yat.”

Putin steeled himself as he approached her. He closed his eyes and thought of a flopping wet salmon as he touched his lips to hers.

“Goodbye, Husband,” she called as he hurried away down the stairs. She pushed C4 back inside with her foot and shut the door.

Furious, Mila rushed to take the encrypted cell phone from its hiding place beneath the potatoes. She punched in the number and waited.

The phone rang many times. There was no answer.

Week 8

Putin smiled. The interior of the creaking old Antonov was cold, like every other cargo plane he had ever flown in. He liked cold.

Even in Moscow’s brutal winters, buildings were far too hot and stuffy for him. He loved fresh air, and the old plane’s hull let in plenty.

While the other passengers around him huddled in their insulated flight suits, Putin sat casually, shirt off, reading a dog-eared dossier.

He was going to Prip’yat in the Ukraine, where the KGB was holding a high-value target in a secret interrogation cell beneath a power plant.

Putin hadn’t known about the secret base before seeing the case file, and he wondered what else his superiors were hiding from him.

Reading on, he learned that the base was run jointly by the Rosaviakosmos and the KGB—a science lab with a limitless supply of subjects.

Putin was assigned to “speak with” a subject who had reacted strangely to some tests. Details were vague, but involved nuclear energy.

It seemed to entail shooting subjects with narrowly focused super-accelerated electrons, and had something to do with a new type of rocket.

All the subjects except one had died quickly; the survivor was changed. “Subject 143-9 has become a …” The rest of the page was redacted.

Again, troubling that they’d keep such information from him, but Putin knew he’d have his answers soon enough. The plane began its descent.

On the ground, he disembarked onto a floodlit airstrip and found himself at a civilian commercial airport, not a remote military airfield.

It was curious, but before he could think much more about it, an elderly gentleman with a neatly trimmed beard approached. “Comrade Putin?

“I am Dr. Anton Antonovich Antonosky. I will take you to the base.” He turned and led Putin through the crowded terminal.

The two men pushed past the roiling mass of toothless old women in headscarves, through the dense cloud of onion fumes and out the far door.

Dr. Antonosky led Putin to one of the yellow Ladas lined up at the curb and opened the passenger door. Putin did not get in.

“Before we go any further, Doctor,” Putin frowned, “I must know if you were involved in any of the space program’s animal testing.”

Antonosky looked puzzled. “Specifically, did you know Laika? Did you murder any dogs by blasting them into space? Any Poodles?” he scowled.

“No!” the Doctor exclaimed. “The Poodle is a splendid hunter, hair clipped to keep warm his joints as he retrieves game from the icy water.

“Would I harm such a noble beast? Never! I assure you, I have never experimented on animals, only on humans!”

Putin nodded. “Yes,” he said thoughtfully, “the traditional Poodle cut is totally badass. The Scandinavian trim is nice, too.”

Putin tossed his bag into the back of the yellow Lada and climbed in. “Come, Anton Antonovich. You can fill me in on the way to the plant.”

Week 9

Out the Lada’s dingy window, Putin watched the dark wall of old-growth fir blur past. Despite the bucolic landscape, he felt ill at ease.

“Well, Comrade,” said the doctor, glancing over at his passenger, “let me welcome you to Moscow’s best-kept secret.” He simulated a smile.

As Putin watched the massive nuclear complex come into view, Antonosky chattered on. “This facility is actually a secret military base.

“The nuclear plant is merely a ruse—chicken wire and papier-mâché.” The doctor chuckled. “Beneath it, however, we are building the future.”

Still the looming plant grew larger, dwarfing the yellow Lada as it approached. Antonosky gestured toward the seemingly solid structure.

“Deep below that husk, we have technology you cannot imagine. Our experiments will change the world … once our subjects stop dying.”

Both men laughed. “How does our subject fit into this?” Putin asked. “Well,” Antonosky replied, “he survived. And we want to know why.”

“The subject, he is … different now. Yes, different.” The doctor showed his credentials to a guard and they drove into the complex.

Antonosky maneuvered the Lada into a lift that could hold a cargo plane, and they began to descend. He lit a Sobranie. “Soon you will see.”

Putin said nothing; he disliked the doctor’s evasiveness. Minutes passed in silence, and then the lift settled and its doors creaked open.

They exited the Lada and walked down a long, white hallway. Through glass panels in thick metal doors, they could see scientists working.

Suddenly, Putin stumbled and put a hand to his head. He tasted metal, and the hallway seemed to tilt. “Where … is the subject?” he gasped.

Dr. Antonosky froze. “Are you all right, Comrade?” Putin turned, eyes blazing. “Where is the particle accelerator, Doctor?!”

The doctor stepped back, away from the reeling KGB chief. How could this be? How could Putin know about the particle accelerator, unless …

Not waiting for an answer, Putin spun away and ran down the hall. Antonosky hesitated, still in shock, then slapped the panic alarm.

Klaxons echoed through the subterranean corridor as Putin raced past bewildered workers, heading straight for a massive door marked DANGER!

He charged into the particle accelerator’s control room like a blinded bull. Circuit boards shorted out as he passed. Flames. Screams.

Putin spun in the center of the room. The terrified cries and blaring sirens were only a distant murmur. This place … so familiar …

Driven by an unknown power, the particles flew at velocities the facility could not contain. A violent white flash preceded the shockwave.

As far away as Homyel, the earth groaned and shuddered. The blast was seen by Cosmonauts aboard the Mir. Surely nothing could survive.