Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Novikov is pale and breathing rapidly. He was having some kind of attack. He hopes it’s only a panic attack. Beria better have switched those files. It was his only hope. Stalin was sure to have him strangled if he found out his mistake and fixation with defeating the RAF and how it had led to the oil fields … the life blood of the Red Army and Air Force … being unguarded. Those files made Vershinin look guilty. He supposed that he should be feeling guilty but all he was feeling was fear.
…” Yes comrade, not one single bomb fell on Baku and repairs continue on the damaged caused by the atomic bombs. The other remaining facilities were not touched as well. The raid sent by the Amerikosi was turned back after slightly damaging our airfield infrastructure…”
Novikov is alone in his office and is in an almost complete state of disarray. He is sweating and looks like a man who is talking to the devil himself. Some say he is. Some consider the man on the other end of the phone line the devil incarnate. He almost misses the cue to further twist the reality of the situation because of the lack of sleep. He had been dreading this call for hours.
“Yes comrade that is true but the losses are minimal in the larger scope of things. The oil is still flowing at the same rate as yesterday and the other facilities are being repaired rapidly. With our reserves and the captured supplies we should be able to carry out normal operations for the next 4 months in defense of the oil facilities. I am confident that we can beat back any more attempts at attacking Baku and soon any of the other facilities. I will admit that many of the other operations will have to wait until the spring. We will not be able to support fully all the operations in the West and still defend our vital oil fields.”
His mind was reeling with the possibility of his death being very imminent. His only salvation seemed to be that Stalin was under heavy sedation. He was not probing for weakness like usual and not mining his every sentence for mistakes and lies. This is what probably saved him…this time.
He did not fear that Beria would stab him in the back, for that bald cretin had as much to lose as he did. Both could be found fully culpable for the disaster that had occurred to the oil production facilities. Both could easily be tied to a chair and experiencing excruciating pain at this very moment if not for both of them holding to their agreed upon version of the truth. He had seen Beria’s second in command in action and he had no doubt that he would enjoy working on his superiors.
“Yes Excellency I fully understand the consequences of allowing others under my command to fail again and I do understand that it is ultimately my responsibility.”…
The phone in his hand suddenly jumps to life with the familiar ferocity he has come to know over the years. Stalin has garnered some strength from somewhere and is as menacing as ever. Besides being scared almost witless, Novikov wonders at how a small and frail old many can be so threatening over a phone line. How can a pocked marked, old man be so intimidating from thousands of miles away? He personally could manage it but only when he was physically present.
“No comrade I will not let those responsible avoid responsibility and they will be punished appropriately.”…”Yes … I understand perfectly.”