We stood in front of the clock in the Passage Hotel. The hands seemed as if they didn’t want to move forward. I looked at my husband with open hands and pointed to the rifle.
“You are good, but you can’t shoot two guns at once.” I pointed at the Kalashnikov.
“Trigger finger, eh?” He held the strap against his shoulder tightly. “Mae, you can barely stand.”
“We are potentially entering a portal with a KGB operative. I need to man up.” I knew not to grab for the gun so I just pleaded with my eyes.
The hour hand finally clicked to the 3.
“Let’s go then.” Don handed me the rifle.
He showed me how to place my feet on the design on the carpet. We both clutched our guns in a fighting stance. His other hand was on my back so he could push me forward if necessary.
We walked into 1991 uncertain of what we would face and who would greet us.
“It’s so quiet.” I whispered.
We went down the hallway to the blue room. My husband put his ear against the door to check for any sounds. He shook his head.
“Let’s check our room.” He mouthed as he pointed across the hall.
Again, there were no sounds.
Now What? I looked at my husband with confusion. One misstep could be our last.
He turned the door knob and opened the door.
While he swept the room for signs of intruders, I noticed something out of place.
The lamp was on the wrong table. Then the question was: Would Valeria have done that to warn us?
Don picked up the lamp; there was a lipstick marking underneath. The V in the heart pointed to our secret room.
I rushed over.
As I clicked the release, I heard the voice of a child.
Don locked the door, wedged a chair under the door and stood with his gun raised at the door. He motioned me inside the secret room.
“What genius,” I thought.
Valeria had put Dmitre’s family in the secret room that was part of our room. Our room was always unlocked so it seemed unlikely that you would hide someone in an unlocked room.
The children rushed into my arms.
Malika’s eyes were moist even Luda looked grateful.
“How long?” I whispered.
“Many days or is it weeks? We have not seen Valeria for 2 days.”
“And no food,” Sasha chimed in.
“We need to take care of that.” My husband peered in and handed me the gun. “What have you heard and what noises?”
“There was a bad man here. We do not know where he is now, but he hurt the professor.”
“You have been hiding – here.” The women nodded.
“Not at first.” Luda added. She pointed across the hall.
“Vlad and Valeria were here?”
“Yes, they moved us.”
“For now, let us put you back in the room. We will be back.” Hopefully, my husband said under his breath.
The first thing we did was check the blue room. It had been disturbed then tidied up by Valeria.
“What about the supply closet?” I knew there were medical supplies and food there.
“I don’t want to lead someone to so valuable a location. Let’s change clothes then go downstairs. The man knows what we look like in these clothes.”
While we changed, I wondered where Vlad and Valeria were. And another question – where was everyone else?
If you have just read this story there is a beginning broken into parts. You can find the links here.
This will link you to the next part of this story. “Where is everyone?”
The Passage is a hotel in Odessa, Ukraine. It was built in the 1890s. The Passage still stands and has housed many soldiers over many wars and incursions. There was also an underground passage used by resistance. This story was originally written in 2007 in Ukraine. The intention of this story is to applaud the bravery of the Ukrainian men and women who are holding on to each piece of their country.