Week 44

As they gradually gained on the van, Putin pulled the Lada into the center lane. Soon they were racing along side by side.

Putin swung right, bumping the van, trying unsuccessfully to push it off the road. The van pulled away, then swung left, bumping the Lada.

“Get ready, Snowy,” Putin said. “You know what to do.” The valiant War Bear nodded, unbuckled her seat belt, and grasped the door handle.

As they pulled even with the van, Snowy opened the door and leaned out, her weight forcing the Lada’s front bumper to the pavement.

The little yellow car tore along the highway in a shower of sparks. And then the mighty bear jumped!

The impact sent the van careening across the right lane, off the road, and into a ditch.

The Opel rolled over and lay on its side, ominously quiet. How long before it would explode?

Putin cranked the Lada’s wheel hard to the right, almost striking a green VW, and skidded to a stop on the shoulder of the autobahn.

He jumped out and went running toward the wreck, toward Snowy, who was lying, unmoving, atop the van’s left side.

“Are you all right?” he cried, as he reached the motionless form, still clinging to the side of the van.

“I … think so,” she replied, slowly rolling over and onto the ground. There was no movement inside the Opel.

Quickly, Snowy used her claws to tear a gash in the van’s thin aluminum, opening the cargo area. Putin began tugging at the crate inside.

Snowy marveled anew at her master’s strength as he carried Paul’s water-filled tank to the Lada and placed it carefully in the back.

Then Putin ran back to the van and looked inside at the unconscious occupants, one of whom was bleeding rather badly.

Even with their bushy black false moustaches, Putin recognized them both.

The driver was Dr. Antonosky, whom he’d last seen at Chernobyl, and the other man was none other than the Commander, from the KGB!

Stunned, Putin turned and ran back to the Lada, started the engine, and drove away down the A42, heading back to Moscow.

He was grateful that Snowy didn’t ask if he’d recognized the men in the van, but then he wondered if perhaps she’d hit her head.

“Are you sure you’re not hurt?” he asked her. “Just bruised, I think,” she replied slowly, sinking into the seat for the long ride ahead.

After a pause, Snowy spoke again. “There was one thing: I kept seeing green VW Beetles. I don’t think it can have been the same one.”

“It’s Germany,” Putin replied with a smile, “it’s bound to be full of bugs.”