Thursday, August 6, 2015


By Erika Kocher

Sirens screech from the intercoms as people run through the corridors. A person pushes me into a wall before running through a door. The metal wall rubs against my back as I lower myself down and pull my knees towards my chest. The hall shakes as an automated voice comes over the intercom.

“Ядерная реакция неустойчивая,” says the voice. “Весь персонал делает ваш путь к близко челноку избежания.”

Yeah, because everybody in this tank has NO idea that the reactor is having a meltdown. Maybe they think the sirens and lights are for Boris’s birthday. The sirens eventually stop, leaving just the lights to tell people about the incident.

“Hey, young pup,” says Boris. He sits down next to me and leans his head back against the cold wall.

“I guess the saying ‘speak of the Devil and he shall appear’ is real after all,” I say.

He bumps his elbow into my arm a little too hard as he starts laughing as loud as he can. “Please, if anyone is the demon around here it’s you, little missy.”

More people run down the hall yelling about their experiments that they are trying to save, and that manages to halt the laughter. Boris reaches into his lab coat and pulls out a carton of cigarettes and his zippo lighter. He takes out and lights it quickly, taking a large breath of the smoke. After a few smaller puffs he takes the cigarette out of his mouth and holds it out for me to take.

“I already told you, I don’t smoke,” I say.

His face softens and he looks me in the eyes. “I don’t think it’ll matter for much longer,” he says. “Besides, the young should try just about everything at least once in their life.”

I look into his eyes as well and I see the same sadness that he had when he got the letter about his wife and kid back in the homeland. I grab the cigarette and place it between my lips before taking a large breath in. I start to cough viciously as the smoke burns and clogs my lungs. A few rough pats on my back help to get the remaining smoke out.

“Sorry, doch’,” he says. “Should of told you not to inhale on your first try.” He rubs my back until the coughing subsides and I can breathe normally again.

“Well, now you know the exact reason I didn’t want to try smoking,” I say.

He just laughs and says, “Like you could have known it would have been that bad.”

“How exactly do you know that I didn’t expect it?” I ask.

He smiles at me before saying, “Then you wouldn’t have inhaled.”

I open my mouth to try and argue with him, but he, actually, is right. So I just end up crossing my arms and pouting. He just laughs and ruffles my hair like how he always does.

Suddenly, a sound, similar to the pop of a champagne bottle, resounds from down the corridor. A small stream of salt water comes running quickly down the hall to where we are sitting. The water is freezing cold as it hits our feet and legs and I instinctively pull myself into a small ball to try and get away from the water, but it continues to flow into my side. Boris wraps his warm arm around my shoulders and pulls me over and onto his lap, leaving him to get the full force of the water.

“Oy, you never did tell me your story,” he says.

“Story?” I ask.

“Yeah, the story of how an American teenage girl got on board a Russian submarine,”he says. “I’d wager it’s a good one.” He has that cheerful face that always reminds me of a child asking for candy.

“Long story short,” I say. “Young genius, blah, blah, abusive parents, blah, blah, ran from the country, blah, blah, got picked up by a Russian University, blah, blah and, voila, the youngest American engineer to work for ‘Mother Russia’. That good enough for you?”

His eyes are very wide as he looks at me. “Yeah, I would think that is good enough.”

More popping noises echo throughout the hall and more water rushes into us until our legs are submerged and the water begins rising even higher. We hug each other tighter as the salt water soaks us both.

I am shivering so much that I have a hard time getting my words out. “I h-had a q-question too,” I say.

“W-what would t-that be?” he asks. He is shaking just as hard a I am.

“W-why do you K-keep c-calling me d-doch’?” I ask. “What d-does it m-mean?” The water has risen up to our chest and it makes talking even more difficult that before.

He looks me in the eyes the best that he can. “I-it means, d-daughter,” he says.

I look at him silently before I turn my waist and hug him around his shoulders. He returns the hug and squeezes around my torso as the water reaches the tops of our necks.

“Thank you,” we both say. The water rushes up and over heads sending us into the cold, dark abyss waiting for us.

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Erika is an aspiring novelist who is working to get her Creative Writing degree. She wants to become a full time novelist but is happy to be writing any stories or poetry that someone in the world will enjoy.


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