A Comrade’s Carol
Twas the night before Christmas and not a creature was stirring except for maybe one louse. Ebenenzki was a former member of the Politburo of the Soviet Union, now head of the Communist newspaper The Stalin Sentinel. He had just sent his assistant, Mr. Bobachov, home. He knew that he would not be in for work the next day, because it was the 25th of December. Though he also knew that he would not have to use the "people's money'' to pay that wretched "religious fanatic" for a day, which brought him some comfort.
After feeling satisfied with himself, having fought the patriotic fight, he decided that he deserved a rest. He put on his old tweed sports coat, shined up the old red star pin on it, then crowned, or coved, his regal yet thoughtfully wrinkled forehead with his old drab gray hat. He then checked to make sure every hair of his masterpiece of a mustache was in place. He then opened the door to his office but paused for one moment to take a look at the picture of him and the other co-founder of the paper, Joseph Marlikov. However, he thought that since Marlikov was now in the void of non-existence, what use was he, and promptly left.
It was a disgusting journey through the streets of Moscow on that day. The once strong, uniform and colorless streets of the good old days, had given way to the signs of joy, laughter and lights. People going around with useless gifts, over indulgent food, and some even daring to have religious greetings on their tongues. To be honest, he'd rather the useless greed than to hear those words of ridiculous nonsense. Oh the horror of it all, thought Ebenenzki, "Oh, you could have spent all that money to feed the poor and the homeless." He thought to himself. Though, he did have a three course lunch, but that was in order to keep his strength in order to continue the socialist struggle. Quickly changing the subject in his mind, he continued walking.
After walking down a few more streets, he arrived at the entrance to his flat, knowing that he had spoken the truth, if there was such a thing, to the masses. He reached for the handle of the door, but there were two reflections in the handle, one himself and another which looked like… "Marlikov?" After saying this word, Ebenenzki, turned around to see, no one. He looked back at the knob, seeing only himself. "Must be those horrid lights." He said to himself and went inside, locking and double checking the door behind him.
Ebenenzki was a man of science, so he would not let a mental reconstruction induced by visual distortion of light reflections, cause him to be upset. So to calm his non-agitated nerves, he decided to eat some borscht. There was always something calming to Ebenenzki about eating borscht.
After slurping down the worm delectable contents of his bowl, Ebenenzki decided to relax with his pipe and his favorite record "The sounds of the revolution". He sat holding and admiring this record which was a collection of socialist songs, which was his favorite. However, when he was about to get up and place it onto the old record player, his thoughts were interrupted by a most unsettling sound. "Ratal, ratal" went the knob of his study door. Was it the KGB thought Ebenenzki, no unfortunately they were no more, probably capitalist robbers. But then came a sound that pierced him to the core. "Eeeebenenzkiiiiii!" came a ghostly, yet familiar voice from the other side of the door. "Who is it?" Replied Ebenenzki. "Mmmaarrelikovvv." The voice replied. "Marlikov?" Ebenenzki 's blood ran cold as the word left his mouth. Was he here to take his house back, or his pipe or his record. '"I should have made sure he was dead." Thought Ebenenzki. Then the voice called out again, "Will you let me in Ebenenzki?" Now Intrigued, he replied "Fine. Come in if you wish."
Then, unfazed by the closed and locked door, came a the form of a man in tattered rags and chains trailing behind him. It was the form of Marlikov, though skinny and not plump as he once was, not to mention he was now also semi transparent. The form moved over to an empty chair in front of Ebenenzki and sat. Marlikov looked right into his eyes. Ebenenzki, now having reorientated himself, and being a man of science, laughed at this obvious hallucination. "You don't believe in me Ebenenzki? I thought you believed what you see?" Asked Marlikov. "Ha," replied Ebenenzki "You are nothing more than the side effects of digestive distress causing delirium. There is more borscht, then bewildering about you." Marlikov just sat, unflinching, unmoving, staring at Ebenenzki. This penetrating stare, started to stir up dread in Ebenenzki, it was both dreadful and somber at the same time. After taking this for an extended moment, Ebenenzki threw his pipe at the apparition. The pipe flew through Marlikov bounced off the chair's cushion and onto the floor.
Marlikov, looked at the still smoldering pipe and then stood up and looked Ebenenzki straight in the eye. He then spoke "Ebenenzki, I or you, where not granted this blessing so you could throw a pipe at me." He then continued "I appear to you from the place of perfection to which I got into by the skin of my teeth, by one act of remorse as my soul was about to leave this world. But I fear that this will not be the case for you." Marlikov then pointed to the chain which led out of the door, then continued "Each link, a transgression, all of which must be undone. I fear the world will end before my freeing from this chain. Though I have hope, for the locks which anchored me to the abyss were broken in that, my last act, by His great mercy. But your locks are numerous and your chains incalculable, they weigh you down all around you. That is why I appear here, to declare to you, that you have this chance, Ebenenzki. I beg you not to deny this chance." Ebenenzki then responded "The real Marlikov would never talk this way." But Marlikov responded "Death does strange things to a man. Tonight Ebenenzki, you will have three sets of visions, except the first at one, the second at two and the third at five." "Why such an odd schedule? And why three different ones, could I not just have it all at once?" Asked Ebenenzki. Marlikov responded "My time is up, don't be a fool Ebenenzki" And with that Marlikov was gone and Ebenenzki was left alone in his study, wondering what had just transpired.
Ebenenzki, without hesitation after that odd episode, decided to go to bed, since he was a man of reason. Though going to bed, and laying under the covers was easy, going to sleep proved more difficult, no doubt due to something he ate. Then the old clock in his home, which he also took after Marlikov's death, toned one.
Right at that moment the covers were somehow thrown from the bed. Ebenenzki, breathing heavily, probably do to something he ate, saw no one. He then felt a presence, to the right of his bed, it was not a malicious feeling, but unworldly. Though he could not see anything Ebenenzki threw his pillow in that direction, then to his shock, it stopped with a "thud" and hung in the air, creased as if grasped by an invisible hand.
"I am your guide for this vision." Said a voice from the direction of the floating pillow. To his own surprise, Ebenenzki spoke, "Guide to what?" "Your vision of the future." Replied the voice. Then the pillow fell to the ground and when it hit the floor, the room changed slightly, it got darker colder and a little more dusty, and the alarm clock, which was usually on the nightstand, was now on the floor. Ebenenzki jumped out of bed and looked back to see the blackest and sheets now hanging off the right side of the beds and draping onto the floor. "What happened?" Asked Ebenenzki. "Time." Replied the voice.
At that moment the door to the room opened and two men came in. One was someone he knew well, his lawyer, Yori. Ebenenzki had a great admiration for this former KGB officer. It was he who made sure Ebenenzki got all of Marlikov's possessions (minus a healthy cut for himself), even with no will and despite that the two were not related. "Let me guess, they don't see us." Said Ebenenzki. "This is correct." Replied the voice. Ebenenzki was quite happy with himself, having found out this fact. That was until something seemed familiar about the conversation the two men were having. "Well what do you think?" Asked Yori. "A little run down." Replied the other man. "Okay fine, I will bring down my cut to twenty-five percent." Then picking up the old clock (the one that toned) from a shelf in the room, Yori continued "I will even let you have the antique clock free today." The other man replied "I know you Yori, if I take that clock you will then try to black me for stealing." "At least he was not stupid." Thought Ebenenzki. Yori was crooked as a dog's broken hind leg. "Well, what about the place? I could get a will forged before noon." "Very well." Replied the other man, "I have a Beijing buyer, set and ready to go."
The two then left the room and Ebenenzki was fuming, Yori charged him forty percent to take all of Marlikov's possessions. Then his attitude changed, if they were talking about a will, that would mean… Right at that moment the surroundings changed. Now Ebenenzki found himself in a cemetery on the outskirts of Moscow. "Look." The voice commanded. Ebenenzki, looked and saw a freshly filled grave with only four people around it, two holding shovels. "Is this supposed to be my grave?" Asked Ebenenzki. "This" replied the voice "is your funeral. "Where is everyone?" Asked Ebenenzki. "Only two came." Replied the voice.
Ebenenzki looked and saw that next to the two gravediggers (who had their hats off) was his assistant Mr. Bobachov, and his crippled son, little Timofey. Bobachov said "We are here today" the diggers looked at each other in confusion, then Bobachov continued "to remember a man, who was also a writer, who wanted to do good, I guess. At some point in his life he probably had good intentions, but now he is gone from this world."
"What do you think?" The voice asked. Ebenenzki replied "That was that rubbish? After all I have done, no one even shows up, except my brain dead assistant and his drain on society offspring. I leave these ungrateful, uneducated, unenlightened sheep to their slavery." "Wait there's more." Said the voice. "Oh, great!" Replied Ebenenzki. Then a small voice started to speak "I have prayed for this old man ever since my daddy started to work for him. He always seemed to be such a miserable man from what I heard, and this made me sad. So I have prayed he would find happiness, may God bless him and make him happy now."
Ebenenzki, did not say anything about the boys speech. He felt something inside him when he saw this little crippled boy, with such joy wish him, who had all he could ask for, to be happy. "It is time to go." said the voice "You have another visitor coming. And at that, Ebenenzki found himself back in his bed, and dismissed it all as a bad dream. But noticing the blackests on the floor, a far distance from the bed, a small doubt came into his mind.