Silent Night

By: Jeremy Ridnor

Vladimir Barsukov worked diligently on his Christmas tree. The very idea of promoting any religious celebration was strictly forbidden, so Vladimir’s Christmas tree had to be classified information. It was dreadfully cold inside his miniaturized cottage. Ironically, the heater did not work which made his cottage as cold as the inside of an igloo.

He attempted to warm himself by boiling a cup of tepid water as well as grabbing a Campeones cigarette. He swiftly placed the cigarette butt up against his chapped lips. He struck the match against the side of his leg, which caused the flame to ignite. He covered the spastic flame with his right hand, so that it would not blow out. Then he inhaled deeply, held it in for a couple of seconds in order to savor the warmth that surged throughout his body, and then he strongly exhaled out a puff of smoke. Vladimir stuck his pointer finger into the cup, it was lukewarm, which meant it was the perfect temperature.

Vladimir was quite religious, but would be persecuted if he flaunted his religious believes. His people were called Godless. Perhaps one day his people could celebrate Christmas like they used to. His favorite Christmas song was called “Silent Night.”

Vladimir was exhausted from a lack of sleep. He had been working around the clock in order to serve his country. He was a nuclear physicist. He worked with a large group of scientists. He had just clocked out at around midnight. His eyes were heavy and blood shot. He crawled into bed after he had finished his cigarette. It felt good to lie down, even if his cot was stiff. He had a thin cotton blanket that he wrapped around his body.

As Vladimir began to doze off, he noticed a little black spider way up in a narrow corner. The spider was barely visible to him as it sat in the center of its translucent web. The spider had carefully woven together his web thought Vladimir. It was quite a fastidious creature; it paid close attention to detail. It was now just a waiting game. Eventually some oblivious fly would get tangled up inside the web, and it would be completely helpless and the spider would hold no mercy. Finally, he closed his eyes and fell fast asleep.

Vladimir was suddenly awoken by some blustering sound. He quickly leaped out of bed in order to see what all the commotion was about. He looked out of his window seeing nothing but the black sky, the endless patches of snow, and a black terrier. Then finally, he saw what was causing the boisterous noise. It was an assemblage of planes. They quickly zipped by Vladimir’s cottage.

Immediately after the planes past, it started to snow. It was so quiet when it snowed. Thousands of frozen rain sprinkled down onto the earth’s ground, and then suddenly it stopped. It was if someone shook a snow globe. Vladimir waited a little longer to see if any more planes would come by, but no other planes came.

He then plopped back into bed and just before he shut his eyes, his phone rang. Vladimir had this sudden wave of nausea overtake his body. He slowly crept towards the phone, but for some reason he was hesitant. Something inside him told him that danger was afoot. Maybe it was intuition or maybe he was just paranoid. The phone rang relentlessly; it was almost as if each ring became more and more urgent. He picked up the phone, bringing it slowly to his ear.

“Здравствуйте,” greeted Vladimir.

It was the Vladimir’s boss. He sounded strange, and he could barely make out what he was saying. All he could really hear was him saying was something about an attack. Then he heard a loud crackling noise.

“Здравствуйте… Здравствуйте… Здравствуйте!”

Vladimir drops the phone, because he saw some blinding light out of the corner of his eye. He promptly cocked his head to the left. He sprinted toward his window and saw an irradiating light. Vladimir heard a fulminatory sound, and then without any notice he temporally lost his hearing. All he could hear was some high-pitched ringing which pierced his eardrums. The light dissipated which slowly revealed a massive cloud of smoke heading right towards Vladimir’s cottage. The glass in his window shattered and shards of glass went everywhere. A blast of air smacked Vladimir in the face, causing him to lose his balance. He fell backwards and smashed his cranium against the thick wooden floor.

He felt dizzy and disoriented. Slowly his hearing came back, however the high-pitched ringing did not leave. The phone was off the hook. It repeatedly made this whining beeping sound. He ran his finger through his dirty hair, but felt some warm, gooey substance. He quickly withdrew his hand, and examined it. He soon realized that his hand was drenched in blood. He now consciously knew he had a head injury. This new discovery caused a rush of pain to travel to the crown of his head. Salty tears drizzled down his cheek.

He tried to get up on his cot by clenching onto the headrest. He lost his balance a few times, but finally managed to get up. Once again ran his fingers through the back of his head, but this time he went a little lower. His finger pricked something sharp and then Vladimir realized that there was a large jagged piece of glass lodged in the back of his head. He tried to pluck out the piece of glass, and finally he was successful. However, as soon as the glass piece came out, a copious amount of blood started to seep out of the wound. There was still more pieces of glass lodged in the back of his head, but Vladimir did not attempt to pluck them out. He did not want to bleed to death.

As he sat on his stiffened cot bed, he happened to look out his open window. He noticed it was snowing, but something was odd about this snow. He worked up the strength to get a closer view of the falling snow. He rubbed his eyes long and hard, and then looked vigilantly. What fell from the sky was not snow, but ash and soot. Vladimir unintentionally inhaled the debris. This caused him to cough spasmodically. In the mist of his coughing spasm, he happened to see something in the distance. It was a dark shadow engraved in the snow, and then it clicked. The engraved shadow was a black terrier.

Vladimir felt woozy, and then he regurgitated all over the wooden floor. The acid reflux burned his throat. The bitter taste of vomit lingered inside of his mouth. He felt lightheaded and dizzy, due to a damaged cerebellum. This caused him to collapse. This time when his head hit the floor, the glass went in further. His vision blurred, and his head throbbed. Vladimir tilted his head over to the right and saw his blackened Christmas tree. Then he closed his eyes and started sing aloud the song “Silent Night.”

“Silent night, holy night,

All is calm, all is bright

Round yon Virgin Mother and Child

Holy Infant so tender mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly…”

Vladimir stopped mid song. His felt like it was exploding. The reason being was that he was suffering from a cerebral hemorrhage. Shortly after that he died.

“Looks like Vladimir is not coming.”

“Well we have to do something, we need to retaliate,” argued Shvernik

“But we’re not sure what the nuclear weapons are capable of.”

“Then I think it is time for a test run.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes I am, let me just check with the general.

Shvernik picks up a phone and calls the general.

“Hello.”

“Ah, hello Uncle Joe.”

“Please call me Stalin.”

“Stalin, I’m sure by now you were informed of the Americans bombing Stalingrad.”

“Yes.”

“Would you like us to retaliate?”

“Yes.”

“Say no more I will make the call.”

“Good let them Americans get taste of their own medicine. Oh yeah Merry Christmas Shvernik.”