Written by Anthony Smyrski / Edited by Anne Keehn
This story originally appeared in issue eight of Megawords magazine.
Roman and I are asleep in the cabin of a Soviet era sleeper train, when a knock on the door startles us awake. It is 6:30 in the morning, and we are almost at our destination: St. Petersburg, Russia. I had fallen asleep while gazing out at the stark landscape. But now I feel the tension in the air; the kinetic bustle of Russia’s metropolis looms ever closer. I begin to gather my bags and my thoughts; within 20 minutes, our train enters the belly of the city, and comes to a smoky stop in Vitebsky train station. We step onto the platform, illuminated by eerie green light. The oily smell of diesel fumes stings our nostrils.
Two days ago, I had touched down at Berlin’s Tegel airport after 20 hours of travel from my home in Philadelphia, where my friend Roman met me. I visit Roman once a year, and we always make an excursion to a nearby city or town. This time we chose to explore our fascination with the soviet legacy, and decided to travel to the more distant and foreign St. Petersburg. Roman and his family escaped the communist regime in Poland during the late 1980s, and perhaps we wanted to discover the myth and perceived menace of Russia
for ourselves. (more…)