In Eastern Europe, during the Soviet Union and Cold War, a boy in high school is met with the choice of doing the right thing, but the cost of such may shift his future to an entirely different direction. No matter his choice, fates rest upon the feet of those who take life into their own hands.
Peace had spread itself upon the lands and all the youth had to do was trust in the government, trust in the system set in place which would bring paradise to all. But one poor boy, Slavi, had seen through the illusion and couldn’t find a place for himself in this dodgy world.
Knowing he cannot fight this huge beast, the only thing left for him was to lay low and wait for his opportunity to breathe, to allow him to change his life for the better. But, in the face of injustice all of his plans would crumble in darkness.
Will he persevere against this savage gloom or be eaten by the mistakes he had made? Will survival overtake his senses and steer him in the raging oceans, or would it lead him to certain doom?
Copyright © 2019 by Markovas
All rights reserved. Reproduction or distribution of this book and its visual assets, in any kind of electronic or physical way, is prohibited without the permission of the publisher.
6 chapters, 48 pages
Chapter 1: Quarrel
Chapter 2: Clash
Chapter 3: Consequences
The rest of the chapters are available at – https://amazon.com/dp/B08392Z127
Air of wobble disgruntled the hot confines of the stale room whereupon the rays of sun were trying to squeeze their way through the bashed and poor blinds. Newly coated green covered the walls of this cage of promised knowledge, conformity and education, while the portrait of Lenin and Stalin watched over all of us in the patient requiem’s eternal life of artificial preservation.
I had never been there to personally witness their husks, in the mausoleum upon the Red Square, but they had shown us pictures of proclamation of the heroes who had created the utopia in which we now existed. But I couldn’t find their utopia, since there were days when I’d curl into starvation of this unjust world.
A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of communism. This specter, it haunted not only Europe, it haunted us all.
Amidst the perfect discipline in equilibrium to slumber, the air wobbled with the notes of the teacher behind the desk, “I want all equations solved before I’m back,” she demanded with a glare at the whole classroom, which then pointed at the students responsible to keep order and stability. I couldn’t understand why she appeared so disgusting with those pink-framed glasses and shrunken nose, as if she were under the spell of some kind of witch.
I faked some scribbles on my notebook on the lone black desk, since the last thing on my cramped life was to be in the sights of this awful cousin of the Boogeyman. The door shut closed and her repugnant aura was lost to the faintness of serenity. The children in the classroom conversed immediately in whispers, as if the communist portraits on the walls alone were able to instill discipline to such an extent.
This was the last place I wanted to be, and I was growing hungrier by the minute. The fact was to be kept to myself, but my guts growled in loudness to my surroundings, and to my annoyance, the girl in front looked at me and giggled. My eyes couldn’t even hold a second of her gaze as humiliation, to my own inability to look after myself, found roots from the wooden chair’s sterility. If only I could go to work earlier today, it’d fix my whole week at best. They all said we wouldn’t need money, but how was I supposed to survive without it? The orphanage was awful and I couldn’t even bear to stay there more than the night.
“You’ve been avoiding me,” said a raspy and calm voice from where I had looked away. I knew the notes too well and cold sweat filled all my pores as my mind and body braced for what the odds demanded.
“I think I was just…” This immediately made my eyes to fixate upon the two bodies of youth. There he was, a lanky boy with baggy clothes and a wrinkled lip of cold command. This person was worse than a rabid dog.
“Just what?” the boy sneered and got closer into the girl’s personal space, his bruised hand on top of her notebook and the other on her chair. I knew she could flee, shout or yell, but not with this piece of filth. He was disregarding the rules and the head students were supposed to instantly reprimand him, but everyone was staying out of this, and it was perfectly normal, yet why?
“Trying to flop me, Vania? Stupid gypsy serf!” He grabbed her by the black hair and squeezed his disgruntled fist down so his mouth was in her ear. The terror was dominating my veins. This was nothing new, but it was happening just in front of my nose… and I did the most irrational thing in this utopian world.
“Stray off, fucking psycho!” I shouted to the silence of whispers, as if the most surprising thing had happened in this box of dreams and futures. I could feel all the eyes on me, begging me to sit down and just leave this to not unravel, but my stance was high and my body spoke violence against this lanky trash. He was weaker, yet the malice that danced in his stale greys was bashing nails into my courage from doing the right thing.
But he only pulled on her hair again into her sobs of needed mercy without even bothering to remove his apathetic glare, which was given only to me and me alone. My mind was confused, as it called for survival and for strength in both directions.
But before anything idiotic would happen, steps echoed in the corridor, which made the incarnation of malice to quickly go back to his seating to the front row of the desks, all the while not moving his expressionless eyes away from me.
Everything was given the same prior element of nothingness as the teacher entered and sat down in deep contemplations, the class festering in the silence of what had just occurred. My leg was thumping in the adrenaline of the idiocy I had just let be, while my mind sought for solutions to how I can resolve this new issue. He was not somebody with whom you joked with or tried to clash fists, as his reputation was of one equal to those of the people on the streets of nights.
But wasn’t I just being bias in my own thinking of what was perceived by those around me? Wasn’t this little caricature of bones just nothing than a scared kid who had to be taught a lesson, a lesson apparently nobody wanted to give him force to. Yet, he was so smart and manipulative, the perception our mentors had of him was of a peaceful lamb…
Staring into the doodles of my notebook, my fingers could do nothing but just drum against my temple as my mind raced in the mud of mistakes. I didn’t know why, but I glanced at Ivana for a moment and noticed the gratitude. It made me grab my short hair as my lungs filled with toxicity, all under the wasteful gazes of portraits those dead.
She didn’t deserve it, but I didn’t either!
The class ended without event, and I was one of the first to sneak out and get to a place I knew nobody would follow me. Sure, the air tasted of cleaning products-sharp, and the coldness oozed off the windowless basement walls in the weak yellow light, but nobody was going to bother my thoughts at a place like this.
Looking at my fingers, I played around with a recent scar which was the consequence of trying to carry weight not fit for my body. Immediately I was brought to why I was doing it back then, and my stomach curled into a whimper, my legs tightening together over the squatting toilet I was hovering over. Losing all your height sometimes did help in bringing the feeling of insignificance, and thus proclaiming calmness all over.
Nevertheless, my ears twinkled at the sound of the toilet’s door opening to a creak, and my heart crozzled at the prospects of who may the person be. All of a sudden, I had no other problems but the one on the highest pedestal.
The steps were subtle and carried no weight, while the air’s chill was invading me somehow stronger, despite the outside confines having the searing Celsius of late spring. It should’ve felt nice out of the zone of sweat, but all I could find was the need to get out there under the warming gaze of yellow’s damper.
Maybe if I just kept quiet I’d be untouched from my hiding spot, but then again, all the other doors were open and only mine was closed… Such a Billo I was to cage myself at a place nobody would hear me at. As expected, the shadow and steps stopped right in front my door and idled there as if mocking my monkey brain, twitchy fingers drumming against my squatted thighs.
I could take him on. I was bigger than him, so I had a chance after all. My body still decided to stay low on the tiled floor, and then, in between the whiffs of awful chemicals, I caught a scent misplaced to the person behind the door, as if I were again in the classroom 10 minutes ago. Was this—
“I think you’re in there,” said Ivana, and all I could do was to just crash my head into my legs in irritation to her presence. After all, I had put myself in this mess because of her, and now she was further trying to include me in it all? Preposterous!
“Can you open?” She tried the handle in failure and scoffed in the echoes of isolation.
“I think I’ll climb over there…” As if I’d believe she’d do any of that. With those skirts, the best those girls could do was skip one step. If this was her best bluff, she could just g—
She was already on the other side and the grunts and banging of the middle pipe gave my eyes a widening of stinging. Was she really… “What’re you— hey!”
“I to— ugh, you.”
“I’m… I’m naked, abandon this!” I called, standing in my lie, since what only was naked was my ability to make her go away. But in the lack of response, I saw her head pop over the tall wall with her black hair and smug smile, as if she knew full well the situation, which was prompting me to throw something at her for finding amusement in the direness of today.
“I think you’re not, Slavi.” To her comment, the only thing I could do was glare, but all the stress was slowly evaporating, since my understanding was she wasn’t here to laugh at me, and curiosity got everything else to step down from the red carpet. It didn’t mean I wasn’t going to show her what I felt, so I just opened my door and went out, waiting for her to get down from the height and tell me about what the hell she wanted.
But underneath all her grunts and movement, the jump was the only thing out of the equation. “C’mon…” I fussed, yet nothing changed, so I just went to the sinks of long stretch, ones which would’ve been fitting for horned cattle to drink from. As I was washing my hands in the liquid coldness, she whimpered with embarrassment.
“I think… can you help me?” What was she playing at… was I supposed to believe she couldn’t get off from where she had climbed on? Anyhow, I sluggishly went over to the entrance and saw a sight befitting my chuckle, as Vania was ducked on top the tall toilet cistern, looking down with lots of regret and trying to jump with one leg dangling, yet she pulled it instantly and whimpered.
“How did you even, hah…” I tried to say, but a snort stopped me. But in the lack of response, I just walked over the squat hole and motioned with my hand for her to grab on and climb down. But instead of turning around and doing it safely, she jumped at me like a predator upon prey, her body colliding with mine and causing me to make several steps back from the force and shock.
“Wha— ugh.” She hugged me for her dear life, and I couldn’t react appropriately to this strange and fully unexpected motion. Her legs were even intertwined behind my back. Why was I even holding her? In my befuddlement, she moved back a bit, her hands supporting her behind my neck, and smiled.
“Thanks!” In humiliation to this closeness and with a new wave of heat, I quickly disengaged and exited to the wideness of the tiled space, where my mind fought its emptiness and the strange feelings underneath my ribs.
When I saw her again, not knowing for how long I was just standing there, she was holding what looked like… food!
I forgot instantly the prior embarrassment as the hunger entered me anew. Her face was half hidden by her long hair, and in a way I couldn’t find irritation to throw at her, especially as a sort of understanding was dawning on me.
“I heard you today, and I think you’re not eating. You’re trying to cover it, but I think I can see it in you…” She looked away with sadness, but then her vigor came back. “Wanted to thank you for protecting me from that leper Pietre…” Her leg scratched the other in lack of courage, until she pushed the bag food close to me.
“Here,” she finalized and gleamed her oaken eyes with expectation-overflowing, which went on to crash at my stare. But then, as my stomach yelled at me to be smart, I just took it and quickly went to the sinks where I could sit at an angle on a dry patch of white.
In the bag I found sandwiches, potatoes and a cucumber. Must’ve been her whole share for the day, and she wanted to share it with me. It kinda felt too good to be true, and when she sat next to me without my eyes recognizing the closeness, my mind quickly managed to find a reason to why she was doing this.
Holding a potato close to my mouth, I asked, “Ain’t any charity this, eh?” The glance-away was the answer I needed. Nonetheless, I ate the potato quickly, since I didn’t want her to snatch the bag away due to being caught so early.
“Maybe… I mean, well… I think it’d be nice if you could keep doing it… would you?” She got closer and grabbed onto my arm, the desperation and hope dancing like solar flares upon her face. The encouraging effects were giving me this power in a sense, and were pushing me to acknowledge the possibility, despite the knowledge of me being manipulated into the concept.
But then I saw it as an opportunity of work, since the payment would be me getting food in exchange for helping her out. Sure, I could get in a lot of trouble for clashing with Pietre, but it was better than just starving slowly to death day by day, or getting my back and hands cut, finalizing my life as a cripple in a year or two.
“Keep bringing food, and deal.” Maybe she was going to back off from this, since it was no small effort, but then her full body collided onto my side as she embraced me again, this time the awkwardness being way less than it was.
It kinda made me feel… nice.
The day had ended without much of a difference at all. I and Vania conversed as I ate her delicious food, leaving her enough to get by the day, and we got to finish our classes without Pietre causing any trouble. He had actually avoided us like the flu, which was confusing. We hung out after school for a bit, something I knew she wanted to do since it’d remove the threat of her getting caught alone by the leper, as she’d say.
And now, now I was lying in my bed at the orphanage I’ve known all my life, my ears finding irritation at my roommates who were fighting on the floor, because one of them had accused the other of cheating at a card game, which was illegal to be played anyways. I think it was because they were betting, but who cared.
Putting the blanket over myself, I tried to force the shouts out of my ears, but then I was hit on my stomach by someone, which got me to flare with a fist at the direction of probability. It missed. But no joy was met when I caught the person’s eyes, as it was Herfil, the kid who slept on top of my bunkbed. My fury died, and the trepidation upon his face made me unable to swear at him.
“Dirtbag. Some creep’s looking for you’round the building,” Herfil mentioned.
“Throw him anything?”
“Pft, as if… wha’d ya do?”
“Threw him a fuck off.” At the answer, nothing else was said between us amidst the rattles of unstoppable clashes of fists, and what more was really there to be said? Pietre was looking for me, and he hadn’t just forgotten about today, while I had agreed to help Vania against his abusiveness. I guess it wasn’t the best decision in my life, hence, the feeling of power I had carried with me in those toilets was now turned into a crozzled vase of deformity.
With another flick of blanket, I tried to force myself asleep from my troubles, but the only thing of success was the images of what may happen with me, of what may incur to my existence, my survival.
Now, now was the reign of chaos.