Odessa Revisited

From the Story Arc: Bear It Alone

Previous Story in the Arc: Silence by Soviet Bear (Sunday, July 23, 2006)

(posted Sunday, July 23, 2006)

Vladimir Polokhov awoke to the sound of birds chirping and a light breeze in his hair. He was outside of Odessa, he could tell, just by the way that the air smelled. The scent took him back, it was the scent of 1936. The mingling scent of agriculture, nature, and industry working together into a heady mix of progress. He leaned up on his elbows and took a look around.

The sun was rising over the hills to the east, brightening the early morning sky. In the distance, a factory was making something for the Soviet state, probably steel, or widgets, or sardine tins. From this distance, however, it was completely irrelevant. Vladimir was most puzzled by his clothing; he was wearing a simple peasant costume: a loose white shirt with some handsome embroidery and some brown pants.

"It's about time you got here," a dulcet voice purred behind him. "I've been waiting a long time."

He turned his head and saw her, illuminated by the dawn. Her hair was golden and her skin was white alabaster. She was wearing a simple white cotton dress, but carried herself as if she was a czarina. She placed a slender hand on the back of his neck and lowered herself to the ground. She was classically pretty, like a Greek statue, but her eyes were lively with the fire and suffering that could only be genuinely Russian.

"Ilyana?" Vladimir's voice trailed off. Tears began to form in the corners of his eyes.

"Shhh," she said, placing her finger gently on his lips. "It takes a while for it to sink in."

A tear dripped down his face. "You were killed.. and even then.. I was much older. I must only be a man in my thirties. And you were killed. I saw your body." Vladimir began sobbing gently.

Ilyana drifted softly against him, lowering his head into her lap. She ran her fingers through his hair to calm him down.

"You're in the Worker's Paradise now, Vladimir. We're the only two people here, though Lenin shows up every now and then looking for you. We're always in good health, it's always dawn or always dusk, and anything we desire is available for us. I've been waiting for you so I can truly relax."

"But our daughter," Vladimir sobbed, "I tried so hard to save her, let her know we loved her..."

Ilyana became tense. "That monster was not our daughter. Bejouled was the daughter of the Soviet Union who just happened to share our genetic materials. Our daughter died with me."

"But what of Paragon City, and the CCCP?"

Ilyana shook her head gently and kissed him lightly on the forehead. "You are not the Soviet Bear anymore. They are strong enough to carry on. You need to relax."

Vladimir looked up into her eyes. "I've missed you terribly"

Ilyana smiled gently, "and I've missed you too."

"This Worker's Paradise... What causes it? Is this even real? Or could it be the last firings of my neurons as I fall into the abyss of death. This could all just be a very vivid final hallucination."

Ilyana smiled at him. "Does it matter?"

Vladimir turned his head and kissed the palm of her hand. "I suppose not," he said.

"So what do you want now, Vladimir?"

He looked off into the horizon, into the hills and factories that would be impossible to reach. He took a deep breath of the smells of Odessa and the captivating scent of a lost lover. He rolled onto his back and closed his eyes. "Why did you wait for me, Ilyana?"

She laughed. "Haven't you learned a thing, Vladimir? Life is too heavy to bear it alone."

He chuckled to himself. "The first thing I want to do," he said, "is finally get some sleep. Wake me when it is dusk."

And the Bear closed his eyes and drifted off, into deep, eternal sleep.