Week 73

Finally, Mila stopped. Panting, she looked down at the Commander, unrecognizable, lying on the wooden floor. What had she done?

She absent-mindedly wiped the blood from the vodka bottle onto the skirt of her housedress. She should have found out who he worked for.

Now there was no telling who might come looking for him. She would have to dispose of the body, and quickly. She considered her options.

It wasn’t her first time; she was a highly trained agent. She was just beginning to form a plan when a roach scuttled across the floor.

The Commander’s hand shot out, grabbed the insect, and stuffed it into the bloody pulp where his face had been.

He wasn’t dead! Mila moved to the comfy chair, pulled out the Makarov pistol from beneath the cushion, and fired three shots at close range.

Before the echo of the shots had even subsided, the Commander had rolled onto his side and appeared to be trying to get up.

Still not dead! Mila ran into the kitchen and got the heavy cleaver she used for chopping beets and cabbage.

Several hours later, Mila was still dismembering the Commander in the bathtub. The plastic poncho she’d pulled on was covered with blood.

No matter how she chopped, it seemed each little piece of the Commander’s flesh had a still-twitching mind of its own. зомби? No, that…

She ran the shower to wash the blood down the drain while she filled another bin liner with chopped meat, and did not hear the door open.

When she glanced up, Putin was standing in the bathroom doorway, poker faced, watching her. “Shit!” she hissed.

“Well,” Putin said, glancing about and taking in the bloody scene. “Rough day?” “I should have known he was working for you!” Mila snarled.

“He? Who?” Putin asked curiously. “The Commander, of course!” Mila snapped. Putin blinked. “The Commander? You killed the Commander? Here?”

“It was a moment of weakness,” Mila admitted. “I should have done it elsewhere, and I should have found out he was working for you.”

“He wasn’t,” Putin said flatly. They looked at each other: Who, then? “More to the point,” he went on, “who do YOU work for?

“I saw the photo of you, disguised as a nurse, in Depardieu’s room. I came to find out about that.” “The tiger was your agent?” “Yes.”

Mila thought quickly. Now that he was President, Putin would have access to many files … She decided to tell some—but not all—of the truth.

“I am a retired KGB agent, like you,” she began, “except that I am not President.” “Of course,” Putin nodded. She wanted to smash him.

“Like you,” she went on, “I reported to the Commander for many years.” “Really?” Putin smiled, “And what sort of work did you do?”

Like a blow from a vodka bottle, the realization struck her: He didn’t believe her! The smug bastard still had no idea who she was!

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