“ELEVEN DAYS OF HELL”
As I walked to the Mercedes, I had an
uncomfortable pang in my stomach that something
was not quite right here. That feeling probably
had a lot to do with Oleg, whom I found absolutely
disgusting. Oleg, with his beady, slit-like eyes,
just seemed to be full of hatred. Not wanting to
sit next to him, I slid into the back seat.
Grigory, the manager of our Moscow office, sat in
the back seat to my left. My husband, Danny then
climbed into the front passenger seat beside Oleg,
who started the car and pulled away from the curb.
As we turned out to the exit road, I looked out
the window at the landscape of Russia in winter.
It was very different, very depressing. A veneer
of steel gray replaced those bright colors of
summer and autumn. It was not a terribly cold day,
maybe around 30 degrees, but the wind was howling,
the sky was pale, and patches of dirty snow
littered the ground. Something else was different,
too. I watched for the usual turn onto the main
road yet Oleg bypassed it, staying on the outer
ring road that took us in a different direction.
On previous trips, we had driven right out into
heavy traffic. Now, no other cars were on this
road. Oh well, I thought, Oleg must know a
shortcut. I sat back, my eyes closing.
Some five minutes later, I heard Oleg mumbling
something. I opened my eyes and saw his face in
the rear-view mirror, wearing a look of concern.
Although the ride seemed smooth, he was acting as
if he were fighting the steering wheel. He said a
few words in Russian to Grigory, who said there
was a problem with a tire. Oleg yanked the car
onto the right shoulder of the one-way road and
Then, with not a shred of warning, our world was
turned upside down.
With dizzying suddenness, a long and
baleful-looking black sedan, crept up behind us
and screeched to a stop. By all appearances, it
was a Zil – a Russian-made automobile that for
many years were hardly ever seen except on the
highways around Moscow, in the so-called “KGB
lane,” that could only be used by KGB agents.
Little wonder that the Zils send shudders down the
spines of Russians everywhere.
Now, the shudders went down my spine, more so when
I saw five men inside the Zil who looked and
dressed much like Oleg all jump out and come right
at the Mercedes. One of them pulled open the
unlocked door beside me and he and another man
reached in. Too stunned to react, I felt myself
being dragged out of the car by my arms like a rag
I was screaming now. I tried somehow to dig my
heels into the asphalt of the road to break the
momentum of my upper body but could feel myself
being manhandled, my feet merely scraping the
pavement as I was carried along and quickly forced
into the back seat of the Zil.
With no control of my body, it was as if I was a
spectator watching myself in a movie. I could hear
my voice pleading and crying, feel hands holding
me down, but my brain couldn’t process it all fast
enough to realize that this was actually happening
to me. I could also see, as if through a tunnel,
that Danny had been pulled from the front seat of
the Mercedes and was now in the back, flanked by
two men, one of whom had a vice-like grip on the
hair at the base of his neck – and Oleg turning
around in the driver’s seat and waving his fist
just inches from Danny’s face.
I tried calling out to him but nothing came out of
my mouth. And in the next instant, the Mercedes
had driven off with a great roar. I looked to
follow its path down the road but almost
immediately lost sight of it.
I was alone. Danny was gone and all I could see
were two grotesque men holding me down, all I
could smell was their foul breath. What was going
to happen to me?
Was I about to be killed? Raped? Dumped on this
isolated road? And why was this happening at all?
What the hell was going on?