Another chapter in the increasingly creepy saga of KGB Colonel Fabrizio Leonidovich Vianello, brought to you by Grognard Emeritus Thomas Gaul!
TIME: 1:30am Moscow time, 14 Sept. 1985
PLACE: Deep, deep, in the bowels of the “Special Branch” of the KGB annex of the Kremlin, Special Interrogations Divisions
The “clack, clack, clack” of the boots of the military goons marching KGB Colonel Fabrizio Vianello to the door of “Special Interrogations Room” sounded to KGB Colonel Vianello like the shots of a firing squad. As he was being “guided” to his perhaps final destination, KGB Colonel Vianello’s mind feverishly worked to come up with a plan, a scheme, a plot, anything to avoid what he fully expected would be his last confrontation with the Soviet Party . Never had “the Survivor” needed the cunning of his personal avatar, “the Weasel” more than now. Surely, this was all a misunderstanding! None were more loyal, more dedicated, more devoted to the glorious Socialist system. Surely, this would be recognized? Surely he was still useful? Surely there were others the “Special Branches” division of the KGB were more interested in then him?
That was it! His genius had done it again! Denunciations! The last refuge and true product of the Glorious Soviet Communist State! Others were at fault! Many others!! His superiors, obviously. His colleagues without a doubt. And, of course, those lower on the totem pole than he anywhere at all in the Soviet system. And, in a pinch, his wife was none too trustworthy. Even his children had recently show an unhealthy and bourgeois interest in jeans, rock music, and fashion of the decadent West. A few decades in the Gulag would help to re-focus their aims.
The two goons frog marching him down the corridor sharply turned a corner and stopped abruptly before a larger than expect steel-encased door. Two other trogloydte-shaped thugs in the uniform of the Special Branches division gazed with beedy, pitiless eyes at the Colonel. For a moment, the four Neanderthals simply glared at the Colonel. Then, slowly, the largest and dimmest looking of the four guards took out his truncheon. Raised it. Stared at the Colonel. Suddenly, rapidly, the club and the arm holding it came crashing down.
And struck the steel-encased door. Like the tolling of a funeral bell, the sound rang throughout the corridor.
“KGB Colonel Fabrizio Vianello, is present, Major (RESTRICTED)!”
“Send him in” hissed the feminine, surprisingly soft-spoken, sibilant voice of the enfant-terrible of the KGB’s Special Branch, Major (RESTRICTED). With not a word spoken between them, the four minions opened the door, shoved the Colonel in, and then slammed it shut like the lid of a casket, leaving the Colonel alone with his Doom.
The Colonel blinked in surprise. The room was ordinary, looking more like one of the many briefing rooms throughout the Kremlin than the expected torture chamber. A desk, a chair behind the desk where the Major sat studying some papers, and another chair before the desk. Mounted on a wall behind the desk, somewhat dimly lit, was an enormous map of Germany, Central Europe, Scandinavia, and the rest of the battle area presently being fought over between the Glorious Forces of Socialism and the blood-sucking leeches of the Capitalists of NATO. Military symbols crowded over each other, but seemed to be in their correct place. Clearly the Major was kept well informed of the progress of the operation.
Spoken quietly, like the whisper of poison, the voice of Major (RESTRICTED) compelled instant obedience. As if he had been shot, the Colonel collapsed into the chair in front of the desk. Major (RESTRICTED) did not move at first but just stared at the Colonel with the coal black, burning eyes of the fanatic, inspecting her subject like she would a rodent who she had cornered and was contemplating how best to terminate.
The Major, despite her high rank, was young, (RESTRICTED), no more. In spite of her youth, legends had already grown around her like weeds in a graveyard. Not since Beria had the KGB known such a terror in one person. How she had risen so far, so fast, had been the subject of numerous Party rumors, each one darker, more lurid, and more sinister than the last. Of course, most Party rumors were false, put out by the individual to terrify his opponents and enemies. With Major (RESTRICTED), the false rumors were put out to cover up the even more horrific true ones.
The foundation of the rumors began with the appearance of the Major herself. If the room itself was ordinary, the Major was not. Beginning with her “uniform”. Not strickly regulation. In fact, not regulation at all. Her boots, while boots they were, rose much higher up her legs than the manual authorized. Shined to a high gloss midnight black sheen, they had heels at least 4 inches higher than regulation. The uniform itself was as tight as a second skin, showing all her medals in distracting glory. Her hair, black as a starless night, was bound tightly as required but the binding was done by a clasp in the shape of chains. Around her neck, worn on the outside of her uniform (against all dressing standards of the Red Army), was a necklace embossed with the motto, “Pain is the Way to Truth and I am the Guide”. And, with her at all times, including now, was that for which she was most infamous. Her knout.
Legends abounded about this unique piece of Major (RESTRICTED)’ uniform ensemble. Some said it was a family heirloom, from Tsarist times, where, rumor had it, female members of the Major’s family had served the Tsar since the beginning as “enforcers of his Divine Will”. Others said it was a gift from one of her many mentors, those who had moved her career along so quickly. Given in gratitude. Or in sniveling, abject terror. All that was known for certain was that one of her mentors, a high-ranking general, had somehow acquired the sobriquet “Bootlicker” during his tutelage of the Major. Just before he had to be retired to a sanitorium.
The knout also had at least a dozen strange, red marks, like slashes or wounds, carved into its handle. Some said this was the number of spys the Major had uncovered through her methods. Some said it was the number of traitors she had personally flogged to death. Others were emphatic that this was the number of lovers she had sent to the Gulag for “Failure to meet Socialists Norms of Performance”. The last was only whispered far from her hearing.
As quickly as the Colonel had collapsed into his chair, Major (RESTRICTED) slowly rose from hers. Uncoiling like a snake with her prey in sight, Major (RESTRICTED) did not directly approach Colonel Vianello but instead turned to an aquarium-sized glass case behind her, reaching into it to remove something outside the Colonel’s view. Not bothering to face the Colonel, she spoke with the voice of the executioner:
“Let us begin”