Finding My Place

From the Story Arc: Radoslav: The Chronicles of Agn Stratonik

Previous Story in the Arc: First Day on the Job by Agn Stratonik (Monday, December 27, 2004)

Next Story in the Arc: Uncle CCCP Wants You! by Agn Stratonik (Thursday, December 30, 2004)

(posted Tuesday, December 28, 2004)

I’m lying in bed. Right next to me is another person, although I can’t turn around to see who it is. I can sense her hands, her body against mine, pressed tightly like a mother holding her young. I close my eyes and see her black, shadowy hands touching me. I try to speak, but I can’t. I try to get out of bed, but she places a hand on my chest and neck, preventing me from moving. I don’t try to move. I lie still and she grabs my hand, caressing it. Her touch is cold, like metal in Siberian wind. She lays her head on my shoulder. God I can sense her slender body next to me. She’s warm and cold all at the same time. I can still see her next to me when I close my eyes. Why can’t I see her face? Why is her body blackened out and shadowy and only a silhouette in her place?

I finally get the strength to get out of bed, but she tries hard to stop me. I stumbled through the kitchen, dazed and still unable to speak. I make my way to the bathroom and just when I turn on the light…

“Ahh,” I yell as I wake from this nightmare. “Damn you, tortured soul,” I muttered as I wiped my face. “I’m sweating,” I said in disbelief as I looked down to my hand to see it drenched with sweat.

Ever since my father died, a chunk of my soul has been eclipsed in darkness. I keep having these strange dreams about shadowy figures and things that don’t make any sense. Except they feel so real. I didn’t even know I was dreaming that time. Usually I can tell, but that time, I couldn’t tell the difference. I thought I was losing it. I looked at the clock on the nightstand next to my bed. 2 o’clock in the freakin’ morning. I might as well be a damn insomniac. I got out of bed and took a shower, contemplating on my dream.

I managed to find a nice apartment in Steel Canyon near a laboratory where I could work on hobbies and projects. My apartment was on the 53rd floor. It was just high enough to see Heroes doing battle in the sky or waving as they fly by my window. “Thank God I don’t walk around naked,” I thought as I brushed my teeth and looked out of the huge, double-plated, bullet-proof window that showed a beautiful view of Steel Canyon. After a while, I dressed myself and decided to head down to the laboratory. I was wearing a black leather jacket, an old Metallica t-shirt, a pair of jeans that had been lying on my floor for the past few days and a pair of Doc Marten boots that came up to my knee, causing me to have to tuck my jeans in military-style. Neighbors would have probably thought I was a Nazi. A scientist named Dr. Strube gave me keys to the laboratory and granted me use for whenever I wanted after I saved his daughter from becoming spare parts to the Vahzilok gang.

My main focus, though, was to contact leaders of the SuperGroup known as the Coalition of Communist Crusaders for the Proletariat, or the CCCP. I had been given contacts, through a message sent to my hotel room, from the leader Red Saviour. She instructed me to get in touch with other officials, but it was in vein. When a person is out “crime-busting” there is little time for conversation, I’ve found. As I walked out the door of the complex, I waved to the front desk clerk and told him I’d be next door just in case I got any messages. Who the hell gets messages at 3 o’clock in the morning?

I walked outside and took a deep breath in as I placed my hands in my pockets. The air was cold that night. It made me think of that damn dream. I looked around for any gang activity, but found that the area was devoid of it. I proceeded to the laboratory and with a quick jingle of the keys I entered and turned on the lights. Other than a few sounds from the building settling, it was dead quiet. I like quiet. I removed my jacket, which became easier with time. Removing a jacket from hulking, metal arms can be a bit of a chore when it gets caught. I placed my jacket on a desk, put safety goggles on to protect my one, good eye and got to work.

I had been working on a synthetic skin ever since I received access to that place. I wanted the feel of my old arms back. Human skin was always a better feeling than cold metal. So I worked tirelessly to make this a reality. Androids were given skin to make them appear more human-like, but the skin was just a rubber layer. I wanted this skin to respond to nerve and tissue interaction. I wanted it to feel as real as possible and work in coordination with the dead nerves in my real arms to give me full control again. The metal casings that covered my real arms were stiff and gave little way to full range of motion. If I would be successful in this endeavor, I could change all that. I also worked on a way to bring sight back to my right eye. I figured that in a world of limitless possibilities, I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. I had to prove that theory though.

In-between this, I fashioned a pair of infrared goggles that gave me thermal/heat sight that both of my eyes responded to. “Do Svedanya, stupid ass eye patch, “I said with a chuckle. Walking to the market everyday was a real pain because of neighborhood kids that called me a Pirate and asked me every damn day what it would take for me to make them walk the plank. “Ever walk the plank off of a 50+ story building, you little pukes,” was the question I wished to pose to the little runts, but I remained calm in my mannerisms toward them. Of course the goggles were for uniform attire and not to be worn on the street. I didn’t want people to think I was a freak or a Hero or something of that nature. I’d have to suffer through the “Davy Jones’ locker” jokes for a bit more.

Before I knew it, it was 7 o’clock in the morning. I grabbed the goggles and walked out just as scientist began coming in. As I headed back to the apartment complex, Dr. Strube ran to catch up with me. Dr. Strube was a short American man, but a giant in his disposition. His glasses and bald spot that sat between a crest of graying hair gave away an air of what Americans call “Nerdiness.” His intelligence and humble attitude defied those stereotypes though and his work was superb.

“Mr. Stratonik,” he said huffing and puffing. I smiled and said, “Good morning, good Doctor. Is a lovely morning, yes?” Finally catching his breath and looking up to the sky he said, “Why yes, it is. I have something for you,” he said as he handed me a medium-sized brown paper bag. “Natalie, my daughter, made this for you. She’s been talking about you ever since you saved her! I think you’ve had a profound effect on her, my dear boy.” He chuckled, tilted himself into plantar flexion to stretch his calves, and placed his hands behind his back. I smiled and looked in the bag.

It was breakfast. She had managed to fit 4 slices of sourdough bread, bacon, sausage, pancakes with syrup, an orange and a bottle of chocolate milk all in that bag. My heart almost melted and seeped out of my pores. I looked up to Dr. Strube with my eyebrows furrowed and a half-cocked smile. “I know, Agn. You’re wondering why? Well, people show thanks in many ways. Make sure you eat that while it’s still hot otherwise my daughter would beat me upside my head like a drum. Have a good day!” He turned and walked off. I was still speechless. I’m not the type of person that’s used to receiving compliments and gifts. I always say, “Just doing my job,” and think little of it. Gifts like that though, that come out of nowhere, tend to touch me a lot more because of that.

I smiled, showing all of my teeth, as I walked into the complex and headed for the elevator. Bobby, the desk clerk, caught me just as I was entering the elevator and handed me a note. I thanked him and read the note as I went up to the 53rd floor. It was from a Hero named Ursa Minor, but she signed “Bear” at the bottom of the note. Ursa is Bear in Russian, so I could only conclude that was a nickname. She wanted me to meet her and other members of the CCCP about enlisting within their ranks. My smile grew wider. “About damn time,” I thought.

I had spent a week training and fighting and was ready for some real action. I inhaled Natalie’s delicious breakfast, as all Grunts like me tend to do, but I remembered to at least taste it as it went down my gullet. I put on my uniform and headed out the door for the meeting location. Thankfully, it was in Steel Canyon, not far from where I was. I first met with Ursa Minor, a jumpy, out-spoken Hero, as I would come to know her. Her American heritage raged forth in her attitude and she did little to constrict her ideas from others’ line of sight. I respect that in a person, so long as she doesn’t get me to the point of duct taping her and leaving her in an abandoned warehouse’s closet.

We briefly spoke then rendezvoused with other Heroes of the CCCP and other affiliated SuperGroups. The most notable was Commissar Kostyak. He was the man to decide if I was to be placed in the CCCP. Another American with socialist intent, Kostyak reeked an air of arrogance, but confidence all in the same aspect. I, in all my militaria and discipline, felt like a complete Jackass standing in front of this man at Parade Rest as he asked me why I wanted to be in the CCCP and showed casual mannerisms to my disciplined demeanor. Of course, I told him of my wants to fulfill the glory of Mother Russia, but that was too mediocre for his taste buds.

“Why should I let you into the CCCP,” he asked, with a sarcastic smirk on his face. Seeing the situation I placed crossed my arms, sarcasticly reacted by saying, “That is a good question, comrade. Why should you let me in?” This may have been bold, but was an acceptable move because I found myself being added to the roster shortly after. I assisted on several missions that afternoon, being side kicked under Kostyak’s tutelage. Visiting places, such as underground caverns and a huge cemetery weren’t the most settling of sights, but I got a good feel of my strengths and weaknesses.

When the fighting was over, I headed back to my apartment for a nice shower and a good night’s sleep. Before I got into bed, I looked out my window and up to the moon. “All this is for you mom and dad,” I whispered then bowed my head. “Watch over me and see that I won’t let your deaths be in vain.” I crawled into bed and turned off the lights. I began to drift off into a slumber. My last thoughts were of the shadowy girl in my dream. I wondered if she would come back. And maybe if she did, I’d take her hand and not be afraid.