A Real Spy Story: Part Seventeen

This is the seventeenth part of a fiction serial, in 777 words.

When Helen had stopped crying and regained her composure, I suggested she might want to eat something. But she shook her head and continued talking.

“I lost track of time. At first I kept pace with the weeks, using the routine of the shower to mark them. Later, I became confused, so had to use the changes in the weather out on the exercise yard to guess the time of year. For months and months, I had no conversation, so ended up having nonsenical conversations with myself. I had tried speaking in Russian to the guards, but they ignored anything I said. Then I began to find it hard to recollect faces of people I knew. Desi was first, and all I could remember was her mass of dark hair. When I started to forget what my parents looked like, I feared I might lose my mind, Martin”.

She poured more vodka, and lit another cigarette.

“Then one morning, they came to get me. I was taken to the warden’s office and given that form I showed you. It was my transfer to Moscow. I must have been in Odessa almost a year, as it was rather warm outside, and sunny too. Two soldiers appeared in the doorway, and the warden told me i was being taken to the railway station to be put on a train to Moscow. I was handcuffed to one of the men, and marched along corridors to a door leading to the outside where their black van was parked. On the train, I was surprised to discover we had a private compartment at the back of the train, in the last carriage. Blinds were pulled down at the window, so nobody could see me sitting there. The guards spoke to each other, but not to me. I asked the one handcuffed to me how long it would take, and all he would say was ‘We’ll be there tomorrow’. When I asked to use the toilet, he came with me, stood outside, and told me to leave the door open. Thankfully, he turned his back. When we had been travelling for about four hours, the other guard left the compartment and returned with a tray of hot sweet tea and three sandwiches. I had to eat and drink still handcuffed, but I didn’t care”.

Helen stopped to swallow half the tumbler of vodka.

“After the food, they lit cigarettes. I asked if I could have one but they just laughed at me. The one handcuffed to me blew smoke in my face. Then the other one stretched out across the long seat opposite, pulled his cap down over his face, and went to sleep. I wanted a cigarette so badly, I even considered offering some sexual favour to the soldier next to me. But why would he have wanted that? I hadn’t had a shower for almost a week, and I must have looked awful. I had not been able to see myself in a mirror since the day I was captured in Bulgaria. There were none in the shower block, and they hadn’t given me a toothbrush or toothpaste either. Can you imagine not brushing your teeth for almost a year, Martin? I had got used to the taste in my mouth, but my breath must have been foul. I had no hairbrush, and my hair had become tangled and matted, as well as growing so long it covered my breasts. Oh, I forgot, I have more papers to show you”.

She came back with some more documents in Russian, and I read through them as she drank more vodka and lit another cigarette. I was sure she might pass out, as she had eaten nothing, but she carried on as usual, with very little sign of the effects of alcohol.

“The man opposite sat up after about five hours. He went down the corridor to use the toilet, and when he returned, they swapped over, changing the handcuffs to his wrist. Then the original soldier lay down on the seat, faced the back cushions, and went to sleep. When he was snoring loudly, the man handcuffed to me turned and gave me a cigarette. I thanked him as he lit it, then I swooned as the nicotine coursed through my system, making me light-headed. That was one of the best cigarettes I ever smoked, Martin. Then I must have drifted off myself, and woke up needing to pee. The kinder soldier took my handcuff off, and didn’t make me leave the door open. Two hours later, the train pulled into a station, and I saw the signs on the platform. Moscow”.

36 thoughts on “A Real Spy Story: Part Seventeen

  1. One of my weaknesses ~ brushing my teeth. It is such a necessity, and first thing I do when I wake… and I’ve even thought of such situations where I would not be allowed this luxury and was surprised how much it would bother me. I liked this addition to the story as it hits. The human side of the guard at the end of this chapter also speaks to the good to be found in any moment no matter how horrible a situation may be. There are good souls out there… of course, many not so good as well and will likely find out soon…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, not being able to brush your teeth for so long would be a real privation for most of us. That’s why I added it, and also because personal hygiene would not have been a ‘right’ in a Soviet prison.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. (1) “After I was buried, I feared I might lose my mind. And lose it I did, thanks to Dr. Frankenstein!” #TransylvaniaTransplants
    (2) “Two soldiers appeared in the doorway.” Fortunately, the transporter beam worked flawlessly. Not one human molecule was lost.
    (3) Hailin’ a van is one thing. Playin’ Van Halen is another.
    (4) “It was rather warm outside, and sunny too.” I think it was early Spring because one of the soldiers turned to Helen at the door and said, “March outside!”
    (5) Bad citation: “When I asked to use the toilet, he came with me, stood outside, and told me to smile for the camera.” (“Skazhem, syr!”)
    (6) “I had got used to the taste in my mouth, but my breath must have been fowl.” (Catwoman, after eating chicken dinner)
    (7) Helen didn’t brush her teeth for a year. #PlaqueAttack (I was going to mention that she also didn’t brush her hair, but I decided to brush that fact aside.)
    (8) “I swooned as the nicotine coursed through my system, making me light-headed.” And yet she entertained dark thoughts.
    (9) Bad citation; “Two hours later, the train pulled into a station, and I saw the signs on the platform. Moscow on the Hudson.”

    Liked by 1 person

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