Okay, a bit of explanation about this post, because some people on my flist may not want to read what's behind the cut.
Last week a challenge was extended to the active participants in the worldaffairs community. We were instructed to write two short nightmares, one for Dominique de Villepin, and one for Vladimir Putin. The deadline was set as December 2nd.
My pieces are behind the cut. I initially was going to make this a filtered post limited to the people who've said they were interested in being in the know, but I've changed my mind and decided to leave it public. If anyone wants to read these and take the time to comment, I'd really like to know what you think. (Celia, this goes for you as well.) I don't write fiction, as I know I've said before, but these actually didn't turn out to be as bad as I was expecting them to be. So, feedback would be nice.
One moment he’s asleep; the next wide awake, staring into the darkness, heart pounding. He shivers … cold? … but then why is he sweating? Fingers brought gingerly to his cheeks … no, not sweat. Tears. He doesn’t understand.
He lies there a moment longer, waiting for his heart to slow down, confused and trying to guess what it was that awakened him. The house is silent; Marie-Laure and the children asleep in their rooms …. “God’s in His heaven and all’s right with the world” suddenly, stupidly, runs through his mind.
Sitting up, he runs a shaking hand through his hair, then switches on the bedside lamp and pours a glass of water from the carafe on the night table. He looks at the clock – A few hours still before he has to rise and begin his day. God, who is it today? The new Polish prime minister? No, that’s wrong; today it’s the new German chancellor. He groans a little at the thought, but of course he’ll be polite to her, and she’ll leave flushed and flattered by his attention. Just another day’s work on behalf of la belle France.
He’s calmer now. He puts down the empty glass, switches off the lamp, and lies down again, closing his eyes. Slipping back into sleep, he sees himself in his office, newspapers spread across his desk. A headline catches his eye: “Moscow Assassination Attempt,” and he knows what the article is going to say even as he begins to read:
“Vladimir Putin, Russian president, fell victim to a sniper’s bullet as he and visiting French prime minister Dominique de Villepin walked in the Kremlin grounds. The two leaders had drawn apart from their security details for intense private discussions, and, ironically, appeared to have achieved some dramatic breakthrough just moments before the shot was fired. Aides reported seeing the men shaking hands and then embracing. The attack left M de Villepin uninjured. President Putin remains in hospital, where his condition is described as “extremely grave”. The gunman was shot and killed by Russian security personnel. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and no motive is known.”
Dominique is asleep now, and doesn’t know he’s started to weep. The nightmare has claimed him again.
“You were talking. Talking in your sleep.”
Vlad struggles awake, disoriented by the sudden light. Lyuda’s voice, but different somehow. Calm. Expressionless. He looks up at her, sitting propped against the pillows, a glass of some clear liquid in her hand. How long has she been awake, he wonders. Sitting there in the dark, using the moonlight filtering through the bedroom curtains to watch him sleep. God. To listen to him. Momentary annoyance at himself and at his KGB trainers who had never managed to break him of that bad habit, so dangerous for a spy. Then, just as he’s wondering what made Lyuda decide to turn on the light and wake him, he gets his answer.
“You were talking about him. Dominique.” She spits the name at him, all pretence of calmness gone. She’s furious; he can see it in the way her fingers have turned white, they grip the glass so tightly. He can read it in her eyes.
“Lyuda, please …” He gets no further, because she’s talking again, mad words, he thinks, about how he’s destroyed his career and her life, how she’ll see both of them dead before she loses him to a man. He watches her reach for the pistol that’s kept in the night table drawer for protection.
He jerks awake, panicked, covered with sweat. A dream, a dream, he tells himself, not real, only a nightmare. He’s glad Lyuda isn’t sharing his bed tonight; his shout would have awakened her, and how could he have possibly explained ….
He thinks of the nightmare. He knew it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. He even knows the catalyst; that moment at the diplomatic reception last evening, when his eyes and those of the French prime minister had caught and held, and something sparked between them. He knows he has to end it now, immediately, before anything can happen to make it real … and to make his nightmare real.
But just for a moment, he allows himself to imagine what it would be like to touch … to kiss. To be allowed to touch and kiss. Then he pictures Lyuda and whispers, “but you’ll have to do.” Sighing, he turns over to face the wall. The bedside clock says ; he has time to sleep for a few more hours before he meets Dominique … no, meets M de Villepin for breakfast. A few more hours until he has to harden his heart and feel himself start to die inside.