Dramatic historical fiction based on the Manhattan Project to develop the atom bomb in WW2
After Colonel Mirov had obtained from Brandt important details of the American bomb project, he hurried to Moscow, summoned by Joseph Stalin to plot strategy. They had to figure out a way to disrupt the Americans’ plans. As Mirov sat waiting to be admitted to his leader’s office, he surmised Stalin’s ultimate aim, and it wasn’t as simple as just thwarting the Yanks. Everything with Stalin was Machiavellian. Stalin had agreed at the Yalta Conference to enter the war against Japan after Germany’s defeat. That’s the crux of it, Mirov thought. And Stalin confirmed his suspicions as soon as he granted him permission to sit.
“I will do anything to ensure that Russia, and not those damned Americans, occupies Japan,” Stalin began. He smashed a fist to his desk. “Japan must be brought under communist control!”
Stalin stroked his bushy mustache between thumb and forefinger, grabbed his pipe, and sprang to his feet. “With an atomic bomb, the Americans will bring Japan to its knees before we can even get our army over to the Pacific Ocean.” He strode to a map on the wall and pointed with his pipe stem: “We have 10,000 tanks but only one railroad to get them there.” Ramming the mouthpiece into Siberia, he yelled, “And it’s strung across 9,000 kilometers of wilderness!” He walked over and gazed out a window. Mirov marveled once again how someone of such short stature could wield such brute power.
“By sea, it’s 13,000 kilometers from Sevastopol to Tokyo,” Stalin continued, noting the location of the Soviet’s main naval base. “And that’s if the British let us through the Suez Canal. Plus… our navy is still weak and disorganized.” At that, Stalin stopped, spun, and drilled Mirov right through with a lethal glare.
Mirov grasped the warning. Fear twisted his insides. What incredible irony in Stalin’s last statement! With intense restraint, he just sat and shook his head a bit, put on a slight frown, and hoped that he had conveyed nonchalance. He had no desire to end up like all the others. Of course the navy’s a mess! he thought—a bit afraid, even, that the maniac could read his mind. Stalin’s paranoid purges and executions of thousands of Soviet naval officers had once more come back to haunt him.
With these meager resources, Stalin must accomplish an enormous logistical feat. “I need time,” his voice trailed off, “Much more time.”
Mirov arose as he conceived a solution. “I can send lieutenant Koskenko to America. He’s one of our best spies and an excellent saboteur,” he offered. “He could disrupt the American bomb program.”
Stalin cut him off. “I remember that not so long ago, you were the best saboteur in the Motherland.” He edged in close and huffed smoke in Mirov’s face. “Have you gotten soft? Lost your nerve? Or have you forgotten your patriotism?” Stalin scowled in silence, then returned to his desk, boot-heels clunking the floor. He sat and twirled a dagger-shaped letter opener. Glaring from it to Mirov with a wicked smile, he spun it several times, until it pointed directly at the colonel. Stalin’s face turned leaden as he folded his hands atop his desk and leaned forward. “Who would let their American education and accent go to waste?”
Mirov saw stars as panic exploded through his mind. He went weak in the knees. Yes, he’d lived in America for a few years when he was young, but he was not educated there. Living in America was a strike against him, he knew, but the accusation of an American education could be a death sentence. Plus, he’d only been on a couple of minor spy missions throughout his many years in the GRU. Stalin, he knew, was quite aware of these facts.
“I have your GRU dossier right here. It shows you were a spy and saboteur for over ten years,” Stalin said in an obvious taunt. “Many successful missions. Aren’t you pleased that you were such a great spy and saboteur? A glory to your country? Your family can be proud of you!”
Stalin opened the folder and shuffled papers, “Here’s one in Finland!” He closed the file and dropped it to his desk, flicking a backhand above what Mirov knew was the handiwork of the NKVD secret police. “That can all change, you know.”
“I am most eager to serve my country in any way possible!” Mirov interjected with a smart salute. “You know that I am your most loyal officer.”
He fought the overwhelming urge to vomit. So this was Stalin’s way of eliminating him. I’ll be just another name slashed off his death-list—drawing up in my wake another poor soul to his highest priority for the lowest treatment. Despite his best attempts at fortitude, Mirov felt his face go cold. There will be a tipoff to the Americans after I arrive in the U.S. He was quite sure he was being sent as a decoy for the real operation, an effort that would be conducted by someone younger and currently more in Stalin’s fickle favor. Nobody stays in that place for long, he knew. Especially not a colonel who has lived in America, a country about to become again a mortal enemy.
“Don’t worry, I wouldn’t send you on such a dangerous mission alone. I suggest you take… Gouzenko.” Stalin’s well-practiced con-man voice was cold as ice and slick as a pool of blood.
Yes… so he can be my minder. And my executioner! thought Mirov, well aware of Vladan Gouzenko’s previous assignments and their grisly outcomes.
Stalin stepped around the desk extending his right hand and making a tight smile. Mirov pictured the sub-human as a three-horned devil, fresh from a medieval painting, grasping shrieking virgins and ripping them apart with snarling fangs. Risking his life, he snapped a smart salute and turned for the door. Just you wait. Vladan Gouzenko will finally meet his match.