and 7 odd Chernobyl stories


Part 2. The Night

Secret              1st Reconnaissance Company


       I yawn, stretch, rub my hands... It’s cold.
       Black night beyond the little squares of window.
       White, brightly lit walls of the long barrack hut.
       In one corner a plaster bust of Lenin stands on a red cloth; a television in another — a blank grey screen. Between them, in the middle, a plywood lectern with a coloured emblem of the USSR glued to it.
       Our battalion's Lenin room. Scene of political meetings and indoctrination sessions — a lounge and recreation room the rest of the time.
       Two of our company’s platoon commanders — Valera and Zhenya — are sitting at a long table made of simple wood planks covered in polythene. Deep in thought. Playing nardy, an oriental board game.
       A ledger lies on the table in front of me, the title written on the cover in copybook writing.
       Our company’s irradiation log.
       To try and shake off tiredness, work up a bit of energy, I light a cigarette...
       ...First I tot up all the exposure doses. Then list — names, doses — the 'backgrounders'. On the basis of doses, my knowledge of the routes to be covered and condition of the vehicles, I make a draft order for tomorrow's recce missions: routes — names — vehicles. I write a fair copy in the duty roster: names — armic numbers. Then I add other duties — at the NPP and on contaminated machinery in the vehicle compound. The end result is a collection of neat lists, bundles of field reports sorted by day, and a sensible and fair order of the day: vehicles-men-routes...
       Valera interrupts his game: 'Reconnaissance section told me the ‘science’ need two extra armics with drivers tomorrow. Plus they want an experienced crew for their own use...'
       Here we go... The work that was all so well ordered in my mind evaporates...

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Design by: M.Opalev
Studio ARWIS  Kharkov, 2001