Merry Christmas Commissar

From the Story Arc: One of Two

Previous Story in the Arc: The Longest Night by Belladonna Aura (Tuesday, January 01, 2008)

Next Story in the Arc: On My Watch by Belladonna Aura (Tuesday, June 30, 2009)

(posted Friday, December 12, 2008)

Hard work, perseverance, and the fact that the burrito factory next door had moved into larger quarters meant that, at last, CCCP owned the entire block at the corner of Bleeker and Waid, King’s Row. Petro had rounded up Chug and gotten him to eat through the wall into the former factory to create an entrance, then turned him loose on what was left of the machinery and debris—and any non-load-bearing walls as well. Under supervision, Chug was a much better—and quieter—demolition crew than anything anyone could hire.

Then had ensued the hammering and banging. And occasional explosions. And a great deal of cursing in Russian (Petro) and American (JM).

Ivan-the-cat was unnerved, and spent most of the time holed up under the cot in Bella’s office, growling. Bella was not unnerved, but spent most of the time in there with him, with noise-canceling headphones on. The closer it got to December 12th, the further she dug into her work. December 12th….the anniversary.* When BB-and-Bella became Bella alone. She was arranging to mark the date with what Zach would have wanted—comedy performances in the pediatric and oncology units in hospitals across the country, courtesy of the Zachary Marlowe “Make ‘Em Laugh” Memorial Foundation. Bella had made six new commercials to fund those performances. And a lot of big name comics had pre-recorded fifteen minute segments to be shown on the in-hospital televisions for those who couldn’t manage to see the live shows.

As for the date itself…right now there was a bottle of vodka in her desk drawer she rather expected she would resort to.

On the afternoon of December the 11th, Petro let everyone know that the Porters would be down while they were moved. It was a good thing, actually; the beasts would finally be in a logical order. There was more cursing, a lot of dragging, some horrible noises that sounded as if the entire building was coming down, accompanied by Ivan-the-cat wailing.

Then there was more hammering, an uncanny whine that turned briefly into a howl that practically made Ivan-the-cat turn himself inside out, and then…at last…sounds in the base settled back to normal.

Horosho. Bella got back to last-minute-prep, and tried not to think too hard about that bottle.

The quiet tapping on the doorframe, therefore, nearly made her jump out of her skin.

She looked up, to see Petro standing awkwardly in the doorframe. “Bella,” he said, sounding as awkward as he looked. “Please to being come looking at Porter room.”

She stifled a sigh. “I’ll see it soon enough when I go out, Ivan. I’m sure it’s perfect. You never do less than an excellent job.”

“Da but—please to being come look anyway.” From the way he was standing, she could tell he wouldn’t leave her until she had, and it occurred to her then, that he knew very well what the date was—the clock showed seven minutes after midnight—and he might well be trying to distract her.

“All right, I’m coming.” She hit send on what she’d been working at, and pushed away from the desk, feeling…leaden. And melancholy. Of course, she couldn’t expect everyone in the world to make a fuss over the Anniversary, but…it seemed as if no one at all remembered that there had ever been a Commissar Bestial Boy, much less how he had died. It was demoralizing as well as depressing. Is that all we are? Do we sacrifice literally everything, only to be forgotten when the next Heroic Flavor of the Month comes along? Even her own comrades seemed to have forgotten. And not just BB either, but the Heroes of King’s Row, the comrades that had died when the Council tried to take over CCCP HQ and the entire Row, and wipe out CCCP forever.** Heavy Brother, Grand Master Te, Free Radical, Iron Curtain and Mojiotok. All gone. And Krasnaya Zvesda’s human host had lost its human consciousness—The Kheldian Warshade Star was convinced he was dead and she was in the body alone now. Did anyone remember them? Only Bella, it seemed. They didn’t even have a proper memorial.

She followed Ivan out towards the new Portal room, thinking about that, mournfully. Not even a plaque, much less the sort of memorial that would have made the old Soviets proud, and the Americans secretly tickled, an oversized exercise in the only kind of excess the old Soviet Union enjoyed, Monumental Statue---

And then she saw it. Smack dab in the middle of the Portal room. Her jaw dropped.

A giant hand surrounded by CCCP banners and floodlights, held up the ceiling, like the comrades held up each other. A globe bisected by a CCCP plaque stood in front of it, the names of the people she had just been thinking about engraved on the rim surrounding it.

“Is Monument to Glorious Fallen CCCP Heroes, Bella,” Ivan said, with a certain shy pride. “You know, here inside, where everyone must pass every day. And I am beink move Zach’s plaque from outside, and putting replica in what it was. See? Here it is.” He pointed to a plaque on the wrist of the hand—the plaque, with Zach’s Hero of the City medal and CCCP Commissar’s insignia pressed into it. And the little vase where she always left half of her daily bunch of violets. He scuffed one of his armored feet against the stone floor. “Am not likink to see you out in cold weather. Cannot be good for you to be standink there so long.”

JM came up behind her and gave her a quick, hard hug. “You’re a bitch t’get presents for, y’know, kiddo.” He ruffled her hair. “Merry Christmas, Commissar.”

* See Story Arc: Three Days in December

** See Story Arc: Battle Stations!