Keeping With The Times
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It was always like that. I grew up in a small village just south of Niznyj Novgorod, as third of four children. My mother always longed for how, before I was even born, we lived in a nice apartment Moscow, with my father working at the ministry. Then Chruscov came. "We got to think in new ways." he said, and so, my father ended up a deputy in the local soviet. Even that was probably thanks to my grandfather…

My grandfather was a war hero - lost a leg fighting the SS-men. When I was a boy, I wanted to be like him - tell jokes to a full pub or House of Culture, play folk songs on a harmonica. My class teacher once heard me talk about it with Sergej, so he took me off, and knocked on my forehead - "You got to think in new ways, Grigorij - the culture of tomorrow doesn't need drunken comics, and you are neither good enough, not with a right cadre profile to be taken to study acting." Well, so I did, and became a militionary.

What can I say.. Nights are long and cold, promotion nowhere… I somehow lasted through, and got transferred to the city. Life went better from then - the girls like a uniform, and there were some other things to do… until that one night. We got called in by some hag.. think she was a pensioned teacher… She claimed to see some youths carrying off half a pig, and in this time of shortage, sure must have… Ah well - we had a bit under our hats already… made a game out of who to send. . Six shots of vodka, two of kerosene, and a peg on the nose… needless to say, me and Fyodor weren't lucky. Ah well, thought we'd scare them a bit, and if it was really meat ,gonna bring some of it home and ask those fuckers where you can get it black.

At least she was good at describing.. we recognised the house outright. Belonged to a grandpa, thought those youngsters might be his family… or he did business to make a bit on the side of state pension. We knocked with no reply, then Fyodor managed to pick the lock - he learned it in the army and it was better than kicking it in, anyways. At least you could write that it was open already into the report - like anyone would check too much. As the door opened, we heard some noise, we rushed in, that sort of odd mix of eager and angry you get in such cases. "Hands up, eagles!"….

What we seen in the room made me throw up, and that's me - back during military service, I won a bet eating a rat. There was a strange, sweetly smell, candles, odd diagrams. The three fucks were nude.. with faces like they'd been picking strawberries, and in the centre of the room… well, let's say that what was there, all carved up, wasn't a pig.

It's odd how much strength seeing something like that gives you. They got nightstick over head, and irons over arms, and we dragged them straight to the station, followed by kicks and punches… Falling down the stairs, they call it in an arrest report.

The commander filed in papers, made phonecalls… Ivan and Josif looked at us like at a golden calf… We went off to have some drinks. I had a bad feeling , went to check them.. two were sitting in their cells allright, but the third one of them pulled something strange from…the thing must have been sewn into his forearm. Oddly, he didn't bleed that much. I went to the commander. "You got to think in new ways, not superstitious nonsense… just go in there and give him a few calming whacks, and handcuff the fuck so he doesn't kill himself". And so I did.

When I opened the door, the fuck was no longer alive. Instead there was.. it looked like the inside of.. I crossed myself, pulled out my gun and shot at it. A part of it tore away, something sparked…

I woke up surrounded by a bunch of folks in lab coats, and army uniforms. One of them, a young girl which I would have swore I seen in one of the pubs before gave me an injection. Then, three of them came and asked questions. I told them everything I knew and remembered, and things I thought I haven't… hell, even things I wouldn't say to my brother… bribes, fines I pocketed…. Oddly enough, they didn't seem to care.

I suppose I was lucky in a way … two years later, a western defector brought in amnesiacs and plans how to make them, and that made it easy… I'd be still a militionary, thinking a gas line burst. Instead one of the uniformed folk said a lobotomy would be a waste of a good man with quick aim, took my papers, and asked the medics something. He then asked me if I'm in the party. I nodded, he remarked "Well, then you know Lenin said, 'to learn, to learn, to learn'", dropped a large grey binder on my bed, and told me to go over it in the next five days. It was a brick to get through - at least Tania, that medic who supervised me, helped with some of the heavy words. At least about half of it were political matters - the estabilishment of Fourth Department Abnormal Occurences Comission by a direct decree from comrade Stalin following the murder of S.M.Kirov, its expansion into Division "П" - during the war as a response to psychotronic threats to people's democratic estabilishment from the SS and later, Vatican agents, as well as with whatever odd cropped up at home. The rest.. standard protocols, emergency protocols, my immediate superiors…

I started as a guard on Objekt П-3 - a steelworks somewhere near Ural. They brought new people in, almost every week, we had to supervise their off-loading and make sure they stayed in a room with an odd statue for the right amount of time - what Katia, one of the academicians working in there told me over a glass was, that they were special prisoners, troublemakers or even counter-revolutionists, and that a few hours spent in front of the thing every day made it easier to get answers from them. Well, until it messed up with that Afghan fuck… but hey, three of us got a medal from it.

Some days, I think that atheisation would have went so much easier if at least some of the stuff we took in, documented, and tried to use, store, or destroy had been put into textbooks and shown to the kids at schools. I mean… I heard that in one of the republics near Germany, they had to demolish maybe a fifth of the capital because of some thing that infected buildings, made them grow and fall down. I had to know this time, though I guess Lena would have told me even if I wasn't the director of security. She had pretty legs, a beautiful smile and was the head researcher on its weaponisation project. We did that to a lot of things… combat first-aid kits imitated from an old Kazakh whose blood lived on its own, an experimental reactor made with help of tapeworms that could crawl across people….. At those times, I looked at the bust of Lenin on the hall across from my office, and thought to myself the days of the imperialists were over.

I was badly mistaken. Thinking… .I wonder we lasted through Gorbacov as well as we did. The man was a fool but his modernisers somehow skipped over our section… I heard an operation of ours saved his life twice. However, once he gave up and Jelcin came, it all went to hell. Even Objekt П-3 was decommissioned, and sold to a dummy company owned by a foreign shadow group.. SCP or something , they called themselves. I think Lena joined them after her section was removed from the budget. See, after the coup, the new rich and their politicians had no trust for organisations filled with siloviki. "You got to think in new ways" a man in a suit called. "We have nothing to fear from the west anymore, and the integration with the GOC is just the first harbringer of modern, international Russian Federation more than ever able to respond to anomalous threats…" But this time, I didn't need his words… I have learned to think in new ways myself.

The middle-aged officer was disturbed from his thoughts by a tall man with clean-shaven head and an Armani suit. He stood up.
"The object's verification has been completed, Mr. Bezukladnikov. Here's our part of the deal - eighty thousand dollars, ten thousand rubles, a Czech ID and passport with US visa and plane tickets." The man smiled as Grigorij Bezukladnikov immediately began looking over the documents, his hands shaking slightly.
"I'm sure you will find them no less valid than the border officials, comrade lieutenant colonel. After all, Mr. Marshall believes in honest business."

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