The Gulags Reach
Sasha stands with a friend as she waits for her cousin to dismount the bus. Shoulder to shoulder her and her friend stand in the cold winter of Russia as it ensnares them. The sky is wide with blue but the streets are hugged in snow and busy bodies.
The bus arrives and Sasha grins widely with excitement. Her friends clasps to her arm as they share the energy of anticipation. A small crowd gathers around them as others wait with titillating excitement to receive their friends and family members.
People start to dismount and the crowd suddenly envelopes Sasha and her friend. It becomes difficult for them to see if her cousin has exited the bus. Sasha and her friend try to push through the crowd but they are met with resistance from other overly energetic bystanders. So they stay where they are bobbing up and down on their toes. Peering like meerkats hoping to catch a glimpse of her cousin as she steps off the bus.
As they wait, thick clouds of the dismal roll in over head. They shroud with such gloom, like muddled slush of a busy city against street corner sidewalks. The heavy cast quickly begins to rain, pouring without remorse as winds begin to stir. Visibility becomes teetered by the rain. Sasha, becoming impatient, relinquishes her arm from her friend and shoves her way through the crowd. She ducks beneath the arms of the crowd as most of them stand taller than her.
Her friend tries to follow but is quickly caught up in the frantic mess of the mass. A minute or two goes by and Sasha finds her way out of the crowd. Just as she does someone grabs her by the arm and guides her back from the bumbling group of people.
She looks over to see who it is, it is a man dressed in a large brown overcoat and wearing an Ushanka. The ear flaps of the hat hang down to his shoulders, making him look as if he has no neck. His shoulders are broad and his eyes are kind, but resonate with an assertive aura.
He keeps a gentle hold of her arms and asks, "Are you Sasha Solzhenitsyn?"
Sasha unsure of who this man is she doesn't reply right away. Rather, she waits for the man to say something else in the form of identifying himself. The broad man takes his free hand brushes it against his mustache to remove a few flakes of snow.
"You're waiting for your cousin Annya are you not?"
Sasha nods her head with skepticism. The man smiles and says "Well I am one of Annya's friends from back east, we grew up together and thought I might catch her too. I went to check the manifest of the bus to make sure this was true, but I did not see her. My mother had informed me she would be coming to town. But the bus has been delayed I guess, according to transit command."
Sasha loses all excitement of seeing her cousin and carefully removes her arm from the mans grasp. She then looks back to see if her friend is still there. The small crowd had mostly dispersed and her friend was gone. She looked around for a moment as she became uneasy with the sprouted situation.
Seeing her friend is gone, she turns to the man and says, "Who are you again?"
"I am Boris, an old friend of Annya's, she won't be here for another hour. Would you like to grab some food while we wait? I can tell you all about my stories with Annya, she was always one to make me laugh growing up." He forces a laugh from his belly, but it is convincing enough for Sasha to lower her guard.
Sasha adjusts her large white and grey fur coat and presses down on her white Cossack to cover her ears better, smiles and says, "Okay, I am a little hungry I haven't ate since this morning."
The man nods with courtesy, "May I take your arm?"
Sasha nods yes, the rain starts to pour harder as they make their way through the bus station and out the other side. Pushing the entrance doors open to exit, a cold wind rushes past them. Sasha's hat is blown from her head. She tries to turn around to retrieve it. But the mans grasp keeps hold of her arm and he grabs her by the waist.
"You won't be needing that for where you are going." The man pulls her over to him.
Sasha is taken with fear, her eyes widen. Suddenly a long black vehicle pulls up and stops urgently, the rear passenger door swings open. Two men come rushing out and grab hold of Sasha.
She tries to scream but one of the men covers her mouth before she can. Sasha starts to kick and jolt violently. But the men are too strong, Boris, free of Sasha opens the front passenger doors and says not a word.
Sasha and Boris lock eyes just as she is being tossed into the car like a whore by hands of a pimp. Boris with his once kind eyes now glow with pure malevolence. Tossed into the car she lands uncomfortably on her side. The two men squeeze in with her. She tries to escape by opening the other door, but there is no door handle. The two men laugh as she tries.
Sasha squirming about with terror, the men grab and cuff her. They then wrap a cloth around her mouth forcing her to bite down on it as they tie it behind her neck. Sasha begins to weep as they speed off into the cold Russian streets without telling her anything. She sits restrained in the car with tears rushing down her face.
The men converse within the car as if nothing is wrong. Talking about last nights outing at the bars. After and hour of driving they arrive at an entrance to a building. The entrance has four guards armed well and wearing military uniforms. The driver of the vehicle lowers his window for one of the guards to look inside. The guard leans in, Sasha panics and screams to grab the guards attention.
The guard looks at Sasha with a dull expression and nods. The guards open the entrance and the driver brings the car through. Through the entrance they pull up into a small lot of other dark vehicles.
The driver and Boris exits the vehicle, he then leans in and says, "Make sure whoever processes her forces a confession to her crimes by tonight. We cannot afford another loss on our quota."
Sasha, hearing what Boris said is hit with confusion. She thinks to herself with shivering fear. "What confession? For what crime, I am merely a baker's assistant? What are they talking about?"
The two men then remove Sasha from the car. She tries to struggle but one of the men punches her in the gut, she coughs and loses her breath. She becomes frail in composure so the men grab each an arm over their shoulders. Draping Sasha like an unconscious drunk.
They walk her over to a small entrance that leads into a large dull building that is similar in appearance to a prison back home. Sasha, weary in breath looks at the entrance as they arrive, and in small letter it reads.
Orotukan Prison. Sasha instantly becomes overwhelmed with dread. Though she is breathless she springs together a small amount of energy. The men were sure she would try nothing, somehow she is able to escape the hold of the guards.
She takes off toward the entrance from where they arrived. Hands cuffed and mouth bound she does not get far. One of the guards quickly removes his metal baton from his waist band, aims and throws it at Sasha, he hits her in the head. She drops instantly, her face collides with the concrete, she loses a few teeth.
The guards laugh and walk over to her. One of them kneels down garbing a chunk of her hair and lifts her face from the ground. He examines her for a moment then puts his ear to her mouth.
"She's dead, good job, now we have to go out and grab another. Boris is going to have our heads if we don't bring another by tonight and get a confession. The man holding Sasha's hair, lets go, her face plummets again into the concrete ground. Another tooth is busted lose.
The other man walks over and grabs her by the legs and looks at the other man, "Well, grab her arms, we have to toss her to the animals now." They load Sasha into the car and drive for awhile and arrive at a zoo. One of the men grabs Sasha by the legs and pulls her lifeless body from the car. With no care of her from life or death, he allows her limp body to hit everything on the way out from the car.
Her face is almost unrecognizable at this point. The clouds break free as they drag her up a path and into the zoo. The sun is casting high in the sky and reflects off the glass of the animal cages. They drag her body for so long the flesh from the right side of her face is shredded. Teeth and bone show through.
They reach the cage of the Siberian tigers and open the feeding door. As they open it a rush a stench floods out. The men gag for moment, inside the small space of the feeding door are pieces of rotting corpses from other failed and even successful confessions. Before tossing Sasha's body into the feeding space, they strip her of all her clothing so the tigers can have no resistance of feasting.
For a moment, they admire Sasha's nude body, they then make sinful and repulsive remarks about what they would have done to her if she was still alive. After their horrible play of thoughts the men toss her body into the feeding space.
Without any hesitation they close the feeding door, the tigers rush over and with no indecision they begin to fill their starved bellies. The men get into their car and drive off. Make their way into the city and check their list of victims before snatching up another.
This story was inspired, which I take that word lightly upon this story, from the true experiences from the book, The Gulag Archipelago. If you do not know what this book is I suggest you get a copy and find out.
It is something I believe everyone should read and experience. Our world is not a shade of pretty colors, but many dark and bright colors. And if we do not read of its history we are sure to repeat it.
Suffering is what should bring us together, no tear us apart, A Man's Traveled Heart
Coming soon, The Bleeding of Words
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