Russians in My Head

Russians In My Head
By
Steve Miller

© 2011 by Steve Miller
all rights reserved

The most important thing my father ever taught me was how to kill my mother. He was quite clear about it: he wanted me to use a rifle, like the 30.06 or my M-1, and not the shotgun.

“Pay attention, now,” he said, holding the gun in one hand.

“You gotta get this right. In case of emergency I want you to keep one last clip for the rifle and a pair of shells for the shotgun. Your mother don’t understand what it’s like–but I–well, you saw my medals. I was at Nagasaki after the bomb.”

He looked away for a minute and then he put it to me straight.

“It won’t be easy, but if it comes down to it–if the Russians bomb Baltimore, or if they invade–don’t let yourself be captured, nor your mother. Best thing is stay free and hide, but if that don’t work, load both the guns, and if things get bad, just shoot her in the back of the head, full in the center! Do it when she doesn’t know, and then use the shotgun on yourself. Make it quick, and it’ll save you all from hell. If there’s anybody been injured, shoot them too. I saw Bataan–don’t let ’em take you alive.”

We were standing near the lake and he handed me the rifle then; and he taught me to shoot it very, very straight. I was a good shot, and then I was on the drill and rifle team for the Demolay, and later got my medals.
I think about all he told me as I do my exercises. He’s kept the Russians out of me head, you know: it was his warnings that kept me straight.

I do my exercises in the top floor where there’s more room for my wheels to run when I can’t get out because of the weather; sometimes I go out anyway but then when I come in I make Mom mad because I insist on cleaning the chair entirely. She says I don’t have to but I do you gotta keep your equipment ready!

I turned fourteen the week of the Cuban Missile Crisis when President Kennedy–the last Democrat with any guts, he was!–told the Russians to get their missiles out of Cuba. The CIA caught ’em red-handed with missiles on the decks of the cargo ships and Kennedy told ’em we wouldn’t put up with it. Had that red button ready to push and who knows if we wouldn’t have been better off if he had?

We held my birthday party down in the finished basement that year, with sandbags filling the outside window-well and plyboard and canvas nailed over the glass so it wouldn’t cut us if there was an air raid. One of the missile-range circles they showed on Huntley and Brinkley told the story: most of them missiles had a range up to DC, but a bunch of them could get up to Philly. We was in them crosshairs.

We had a family tradition of having cake and ice cream first and then the presents; the whole time I was eating my mother’s best recipe–the Catonsville Hot Milk Cake with Hershey Icing–I kept swinging my legs and tapping my foot against the big boxes of canned food and bottled water under the table. My little brother Danny kept complaining about the noise but my father just said that “he’s the birthday boy, it’s his party Danny-Boy!”

Danny kept at it though, till my mother gave me one of those looks and I stopped; but I liked knowing all that food was there!

Then, after I blew out the candles and smiled a lot at Carla, the girl from up the street who I was sort of going steady with though my mother didn’t really like it, then I got my presents.

One thing I got? My own transistor radio so if we had an alert I could always have WBAL–that was the Conelrad station!–ready to go listen to.

The best was my very own M-l from Sunny’s Surplus, just like my father had used in the War. I liked it a lot, and Carla was really impressed. She gave me my first kiss that night.

My father didn’t trust the Reds at all. They didn’t go to Church like he did (Sunday morning service and at least one Wednesday a month, too) and they were tricky.

“Don’t ever trust them bastards!” he told me, and then he gave me all these books about how the Communists would sneak in some place acting friendly and positive and helpful and before you knew it they’d put their own men into the government and the next thing you knew they’d be using your own tax money to take you over.

Dad was smart: he’d warned me about all this stuff before most people’d heard of Viet Nam and before there was anything called an artificial neural transducer! Still, some of the books warned about Russian mind control, and drone workers and stuff. Didn’t scare me. Just made me wary.

Dad taught me a lot, but then his liver started acting up and his heart, and two weeks before my eighteenth birthday he died on Uncle Fred’s cabin cruiser, crabbing down to Middle River, just off the Glenn L. Martin plant. See, that’s why he KNEW Baltimore was a target: what with the steel mills, and the big airport and the Glenn L. Martin plant where they built the Vanguard Missile. And there was Sparrow Point with the steel, and the important railroad tunnel right through the heart of the city.

I learned a lot from my father. One of the books he gave me explained how the Russians get in your head; they’d sneak stuff into the water supply or whatever so you’d be in favor of what they want, and then they’d take over your mind. I got an American mind, and they won’t take me over.

You know, Russians don’t like people who resist. Especially people who resist successfully. Look at the gasses they used in Afghanistan. Look what they did to Bobby Fischer when he beat all those Russian chess players and became World Champion: they used mental telepathy to mess up his games and his head. and then after he beat them anyway they used secret drugs and stuff on him and tried to use radio to control his head. He beat them though. When he pulled all his tooth fillings out so they couldn’t get through to him. I don’t have a filling in my head!

Dad didn’t live to see me in my uniform, but I went over there and did my best to keep them Reds from taking over the whole world. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun. but I knew rifles before I went into the service so I got to be a specialist. A sniper.

Danny-boy grew up all weak-kneed and all. I tried to explain to him about the rifle and shotgun back when I was getting ready to ship out to ‘Nam but he looked at me like I was crazy. When I finally got home for good I found out he hadn’t even cleaned or oiled any of the guns since Dad died. Guess Dad meant me to shoot him, too, though, even if it is kind of late for him.

Geesh. I think the Russians have already been in his bed. And in his head. He thinks this is all his idea but I’ll bet a ton of smokin’ gold that little Marxist he’s been seeing put him up to this.

I’ve cleaned the guns–I check them out once a week. Good thing, too, because them Russians are sneaking one over on everyone. No–not quite everyone. I know.

The problem is that the Russians get in your head anyway they can. Sometimes it’s by making you dissatisfied with America, or by giving you drugs. I saw that spy trial where they gave one guy cash, and another one girls, and another one they blackmailed because he’d been sleeping with his uncle. They try radio control and they try bribes.

They can’t do any of that with me: girls don’t do me much any good; it was a Russian-made mine that got my back and legs screwed up. What’s cash going to do for me? What’s gone is gone, I say.

But they’ve been watching for ways to finish the job they started on me up at Phu Bai, and now this stuff.

The Russians are coming to Baltimore. They’re gonna take over. These “sister-city” types are going to hand Baltimore over to them and they want to hand me over too.
These “doctors” they’ve sent over to Johns Hopkins Hospital on exchange–Sokalevsky and Pirikin! (say them names three times fast if you can!)–they want to see if they can’t attach this artificial neural transducer to my back. Two, really: one to my back and one here up near the base of my skull. They say I’ll walk again.

Now, let me tell you where they got all this stuff. We gave them computers and we gave them info on how to make computer chips and now all the sudden they say they’ve invented a new way to repair nerves. All we have is their word for it though; we have pictures of their veterans of Afghanistan walking around with a lump on then back of their neck. Did our doctors see it done? Hah! If they did, who knows was in their drinks the night before, off there in commie Moscow?

They say I’ll be almost good as new.

As good as a new what? A new slave? A new drone? A new commie?

I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let the Russians in my head.
I’ve been planning this pretty good.

I got the rifle sighted in two weeks ago when they let me out back with the old target. I moved the shotgun last week: got the chair as close as I could to the attic stairs and then used my arms–I can press twice my weight with these arms!–to climb up.

Yesterday I got the window opened, and today I put the telescopic sights on the rifle.

The Russians won’t get in my head. They won’t get in Mom’s either. They’re trying; they almost got her convinced that Pokalusky and Pirikin and Rosenberg can “make me whole”.

Tomorrow the “sister-city” commies are coming, and the stupes at city hall are going to hand over the keys and let the Russians play “Mayor and City Council” for a day. Can you believe it? ‘sposed to “foster goodwill ‘tween our cities.”

Like hell.

I remember my dad. He was a real American. He told me what to do: “If ever the Russian’s take over, just use your rifle, like I told you. Ain’t no use letting your Ma suffer.”

So I’ll ask Mom to have Danny come take me to Hopkins to meet these mind-thieves, and I’ll tell her to invite Carla too, since Carla broke up with her third husband a couple weeks ago. And once they get here I’ll ask Mom to go get some ice cream–and then I’ll make dad real proud.

I’ve made much harder shots than this. I’ll wait till she’s walking down the walk and I’ll just lay the barrel across the window sill: Plink. It’ll be quick and sure.

The shotgun’s a pump, a good old American made pump. Quality stuff, designed right. No fake Russian science or artificial nerves here. Soon’s I’m finished with the rifle I’ll use the pump on me, just like Dad said.

Won’t none of my family be getting Russians in their head!

–30–





Sharon Lee & Steve Miller present rare genre moments for readers looking for a fiction fix