Pathetic Stukach


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Scene Title Pathetic Stukach
Synopsis Sasha is paid a visit by Baba Yaga. He is not hallucinating.
Date April 23, 2010

Anonymous Safehouse

Houses with unfinished basements are notoriously cold in the winter. When the weather dips close to negative thirty degrees Celsius, the pit in which Charlie is keeping Sasha Kozlow threatens to transform into a tomb. The derelict radiator to which he is attached by a pair of handcuffs does not provide much solace, but the rough woolen blanket the Russian has draped around his shoulders for warmth is comforting in the same abrasive way that too-scratchy turtleneck sweaters are, minus the uncomfortable choking sensation.

As Abigail stipulated, their captive has been given access to clear fluids including both water and chicken broth. Somewhat miraculously, he's been able to hold down both, but it's only a matter of time before he either succumbs to the virus that's crippled him or someone comes down the stairs and finds him drowned in the bucket he's been given to relieve himself.

And there are footsteps on those stairs, slowly making their way down, as if to give an ominous timbre to the arrival. As the bottom is reached and the man sighted, a voice speaks in feminine pitch and quiet volume, drawn out for effect. "«Aleksandr Kozlow,»" the woman begins addressing him in Russian, "«you've been a very bad boy.»" She carries a broom in one hand and four chicken leg bones in the other.

A few feet away when she stops, the woman is wearing a top-quality mask which has the features of an old and wrinkled crone. Her clothing is black and antiquated in its fashion, a long skirt reaching ankles and sleeves down to her wrists. "«I am very angry with you, Aleksandr Koslow. What have you to say for yourself?»"

A flicker of something passes over the surface of Sasha's eyes, made dull by the duration of his confinement, and he lifts his head a fraction to observe the figure at the bottom of the stairs with the broom in hand from behind a sweaty veil of hair that would be more fashionable if worn several inches shorter than it presently is. He hasn't been given the opportunity to shave either, lest he sliver open his veins with the razor and empty them out into the bucket along with his other bodily fluids, leaving his face unreasonably scruffy and haggard-looking.

He resembles a neglected dog with its ribs showing more than he does his old Vanguard namesake.

With the captive man not speaking, the woman's harshly whispered voice resumes. "«Sasha,»" she warns, "«You will tell me what I want to know, or I will turn your blood to borscht and eat it with a spoon while you watch. Where are Feng Daiyu, Bing, and Carlisle Dreyfus to be found?»"

The chicken bones are placed on the floor in the way the corners of a house might be laid.

Sasha has been expecting an interrogation since they first locked him down here. He couldn't have anticipated that it would come from someone dressed as old hag, however, and there's an uncharacteristic sort of wariness about the way he winds the handcuff's chain around his wrist and curls against the radiator as though it might offer him shelter or protection against the figure at the bottom of the stairs. Shoulders hunch and a lip peels back to expose imperfect teeth in an unspoken warning.

"«Such bad form, Skoll,» she follows up in that same tone, unphased by his exposure of teeth, "«for a Russian man to be the lackey of Nazis. Shame on you. If you survive this, you should go beg forgiveness on your knees from every soldier and comrade who died in the Great Patriotic War.»" She cackles then, a shrill and unsettling sound, then lets silence hang for some moments.

"«So pathetic, a son of the Rodina assisting Nazis. And raping fine Russian women like that ballerina, threatening to rape Abigail Beauchamp. Maybe instead of making your blood into borscht, I'll make it vodka instead and give it away.»"

She cackles again. "«After all, I could hardly expect anyone to pay for vodka from such a pathetic stukach.»"

The skin around Sasha's wrist where the cuff rests has been rubbed red and raw to the point where some of it has peeled away. It undoubtedly hurts, but a little pain doesn't stop him from redoubling his efforts to free himself, his movements becoming increasingly agitated as the stranger speaks. He's been living with his sickness for so long that he can sometimes tell when he's hallucinating and differentiate the sounds rattling in his ears from the imaginary ones careening around in his skull.

He isn't sure about the crone. "«Go away,»" he snarls under his breath. And for good measure: "«You aren't real.»"

Another cackle, as she listens to this man's words of defiance, sees him test the handcuff. "«Skoll,» she mocks, "«Be nice to me, or I'll use your skin for wallpaper in my new house. I brought chicken legs for the foundation.»" They're held up for him to see. "«You know who I am, know the stories about me, how I sometimes come to kidnap and devour, and sometimes impart wisdom, offer guidance to lost souls.»"

A knife is produced from a pocket of her skirt, a long and wicked one, which she turns over a few times, then looks at him, just before a flashlight is taken out and shone directly into his eyes. "«The wisdom and guidance I give you, stukach nazi who betrays the Rodina, is to repent and confess all.»"

Sasha squints against the glare of the flashlight, instinctively turning his head away so that only his cheek and the moisture glistening on his sallow skin and the bristly hairs of his red-brown beard are visible. His back rises and falls, individual vertebrae standing out beneath the material of his blanket, and if he was on the outside looking in instead of the inside looking out — it would be a familiar sight.

So is the blood that's begun to gather around his wrist, thick and almost viscous. Gluey. It smells foul, but what part of him doesn't under these conditions? "«Go away,»" he says again. "«I want to talk to Logan.»"

The flashlight follows his attempt to escape it, remaining in his eyes. Her voice sharpens, no longer a hostile whisper but a growled conversational tone filled with malice. "«Skoll,» she tells him, "«I will leave you to think about your options. If you confess, I may allow you to see Logan. Perhaps even bring you soap and a bucket of fresh water so you can clean your shit from your useless stukach nazi arse. But if you do not, your blood will become vodka for the freezing American masses and your skin will wallpaper my new house. Your bones will be the rudder, the pestles for my mortars.»" Turning away and heading back to the stairs, she cackles once more. "«Good night, nazi stukach. Sleep poorly!»"

Baba Yaga has left the room.

If he sleeps at all. Sasha does not relax when the upstairs door shuts and the lock slides back into place, signaling that he is alone, and if there is any temptation to slump against the radiator then it's outweighed by his desire for other things.

Things like freedom and his skin where it belongs: plastered to his body and not the walls of a house belonging to a figment of a feverish imagination. Blue eyes move tentatively between the radiator and the Russian's mangled wrist.

In the end, it isn't a difficult decision to make.

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