Rated R for violence and adult themes.
by Ben Burgis
The Tsar abdicates in February. The Provisional Government gets around to letting Fyodor out of prison in March. In April, he meets his Uncle Grigor at a Petrograd cafe. They talk about magic, death and revolution.
“I don’t care, Fyodka. Romans or Visagoths, Christians or Mohammedans, Tsars or…” The old man waves his hand, making a show of remembering the word. “…Bolsheviks… They’re all just different acts in the same circus.”
Fyodor and Grigor sit at a table by the window. They drink their tea in the Ukranian style, with apple slices.
Most of Grigor’s little sermon is familiar from the letters they exchanged while Fyodor was in prison, but one line rankles. “Politics change. What we do doesn’t. You should remember that.”
Fyodor wants very badly to correct that ‘we,’ to tell his uncle that there’s a reason he hasn’t so much as looked at his magic books since he was fourteen years of age. Instead, he blows on his tea and watches the steam rise up and disappear. When he does speak, his voice is subdued.
“In ancient Rome, who did the work?”
Grigor favors him with a sad, indulgent look. It’s exactly the way he always looked at Fyodor back home in the Ukraine, when they spent long winter afternoons playing chess. The look says, ‘I see why you’re moving your bishop like that, and I wish you wouldn’t, but I suppose this is the only way you’ll ever learn.’
About the Author
Ben Burgis is a graduate of Clarion West, and he has an MFA in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast program in Maine. He writes speculative fiction and realist fiction and grocery lists and Facebook status updates and academic papers. (He has a PhD from the University of Miami, and currently holds a post-doctoral fellowship at Yonsei University in South Korea.) His work has appeared in places like Podcastle and GigaNotoSaurus and Youngstown State University’s literary review Jenny. His story “Dark Coffee, Bright Light and the Paradoxes of Omnipotence” appeared in Prime Books’ anthology People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy.
About the Narrator
Eric Luke is the screenwriter of the Joe Dante film Explorers, which is currently in development as a remake, the comic books Ghost and Wonder Woman, and wrote and directed the Not Quite Human films for Disney TV. His current project Interference, a meta horror audiobook about an audiobook… that kills, is available free on iTunes and at Quillhammer.com.