Sorry for the delay, although the Blogfest started yesterday, I didn’t want to risk losing this post to my unreliable, if not downright lousy internet connection. I’m working to fix that, but for now I got to work with what I have. So, without much further ado, I present to you my entry into the “Behind the Headlines” Blogftest: Abandon All Hope….
Karina checked her watch again. She was late and their would be hell to pay at the office. The train was jammed pack with commuters. She made an effort to protect her little corner from pressing bodies and the occasional grasping hand. Perverts trolled the train, using the cramp accommodations as cover for their lasciviousness. At least the podcast playing in her ear kept her entertained during the ride. This one was a discussion, in Italian, on the multiple allegorical levels in Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Her mastery of the language, along English and her native Muscovite Russian meant that her bosses at the bank would think twice before firing her. That didn’t mean they couldn’t make her life miserable. Times may change, but the apparatchiks stayed the same.
A blond hair boy sat at his mother’s lap. He looked up from his hand held game. He looked just like the picture of Yuri her mother had on her dresser. Karina didn’t remember much about Yuri, he died in the war in Chechnya. She was eight at the time. She tucked a loose strand of dark hair under her hat. She tried dieing her hair blond, but it didn’t work. She had inherited her Ukrainian mother’s darker looks, not her father Rus roots. Instead she chose to color her hair as black as possible, to match her eyes. At least her bosses approved. It never hurt to have a pretty face to go with the voice on the phone when rich Italian old farts in their expensive suits toured the bank.
The podcast ended as she exited the train. Another one started, this time in English, on financial matters. It also payed to pad her brains as well as her beauty, she didn’t plan to stay a low level peon forever. When she had enough money she would move out of her parent’s apartment and perhaps even leave the country. She always dreamed of living in Milan.
A powerful force lifted her and slammed her against the wall. She trembled from the shock. Smoke filled the air and burned her from the tip of her nose to the bottom of her chest. Someone stepped on her right hand. The burning air inside her throat snuffed out her scream of pain. Karina slumped back against the wall. Through the smoke she saw bodies on the ground, half dozen of them. Blood seeped from under them into the polished marble floor. A distant ring, like low pitch static, filled her ears. She tried getting up once, but slid back down. She managed to do so in her second attempt.
She made her way outside, most of the passengers had already fled. In the confusion she had lost her hat and her purse. Her ribs ached but otherwise she was unhurt. A few meters away she met a co-worker, Valentina, slumped against a column. Blood covered her like a sheet.
The older woman eyes fluttered open. Karina took her by the arm and lead her outside. The spring morning sun stung her eyes the moment she hit the street. Rescue personnel swarmed around them, pulling bodies from the station. A young paramedic lead them to a waiting ambulance.
Several months passed since that dark day in the Metro. She had done every she could to avoid taking it. Begged friends to give her rides to work, managed a series of conflicting bus’s schedules and wasted money on scummy taxis. Not to mention the hours (and rubles) spend on visits to the psychiatrist. But not today, she looked at the sign over the entrance: Lubyanka Station, but to her it read quite differently.
Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here.
No, not today. Today hope rode with her. The world did not explode when her foot passed the threshold. This was just another day at the Metro station.
Well, not the happiest of stories, but it was that or a raunchy tale about Tiger Wood’s tail, so I decided to down the “serious” path instead. I hope you like it.