15 May 2010

Saturday Serial: Win A Day With Mikhail Gorbachev, Part I

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

I've posted a number of my published short-short stories on this blog, but I've held off from posting longer works. Then I had a bright idea: how about serialising a few stories?

So, for the next four Saturdays, I hope you'll enjoy "Win a Day with Mikhail Gorbachev! A Melodrama in Four Parts", which was included in Best New Zealand Fiction 4 and then collected in my second short story collection, Transported. I'll add links to Parts II-IV as they are published.

Part I: Off To Work

Mikhail Gorbachev's day begins much like that of any busy western executive. After a vigorous session of sexual intercourse, Mikhail and his wife Raisa (a former student of philosophy at Moscow University who now drives a tractor in the Ukraine) enjoy a leisurely shower together before descending the central staircase of their modest Kremlin apartment to a hearty breakfast. Mikhail, trained as a lawyer, puts on the toast whilst Raisa brews up a stiff samovar of tea.

Over the breakfast table, Mick and Raisa chat about the news in the morning's Pravda and the hot gossip amongst their circle of friends - mostly the latest titillating details of Soviet Premier Nikolai Tikhonov's infatuation with a 22-year-old Intourist guide - before sticking the dishes in the machine and heading off to work. For Raisa, it's now just a matter of setting the matter transmitter for the banks of the Dnieper and stepping through to the collective farm; for Mikhail, it's a brisk walk across the back yard to his regular job as General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Wednesday the 15th of May is a comparatively light day for Mikhail, who arrives at the office at 9am sharp, exchanging quips about last night's dismal tour performance by Moscow Dynamo (they lost 1-5 to Punta Arenas F.C.) with his guards as he pushes open the swing doors of the Central Committee's open-plan office and heads for his desk at the back. After taking a quick look at the morning's intelligence bulletins - it appears Ronald Reagan has fallen off his horse again - he welcomes in the man ultimately responsible for preparing them, KGB Chief Viktor Chebrikov.

Viktor, who wears a terrible line in spectacles, is an affable, balding secret police professional. Today, he's looking more than usually pleased with himself, and the reason appears to be contained in a book he's carrying in his one good hand (the withering of the other is a legacy of the Sverdlovsk anthrax epidemic). The book, it transpires, is Arthur C. Clarke's Expedition to Earth.

Transported cover

You can buy Transported online from Fishpond or New Zealand Books Abroad. You can also read review excerpts and find out more about Transported.

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