The finale of The Babushka Society II (six part series): for the first story, click here.
An hour later, the sun is coming in through the windows. I am running. The sound of rusted metal follows.
“American bastard,” rough voices call at my back. The Hollow suit of armor runs beside me.
“That was stupid,” it reminds me.
I don’t usually run. I am too out of breath to respond. I trip and fall.
“Shit.” I pull myself up and panic my way into the Baba Yaga exhibit. It is empty. The hut sits in the glass box at the center. I run up to it.
“Hut, hut, turn your back to the forest and your front to me!” I pant. It rotates in its glass case. Light spills in through the high windows revealing an open door. A scraping, clanking, thunderous mess of metal fills the halls behind me.
The suit of armor beside me nudges my arm.
“What now?” it says from what I imagine is the corner of his non-existent mouth.
“Shit,” I mutter.
“Shit is right,” a voice calls from behind me. I turn. L stands in the doorway. Her face is mutated. Her nose longer, her leg is stiff. She walks with a limp. She grows as she does, her eyes bulging.
“Back again? Your fancy modern technology won’t help you this time, boy.”
The Baba Yaga towers over me, no longer resembling L at all. I back up.
The Baba Yaga laughs, “You uh, you uh, fool! A dead fo—“
There is a loud crack from the door. The Baba Yaga looks behind me. I don’t dare turn. She frowns. I can hear it. The Dyedushkas are moving, crashing into each other, pouring into the room.
“What did you do?” The Baba Yaga growls down at me.
“I, uh,” I pull the empty bottle of vodka from my pocket. I toss it to the Baba Yaga. She catches it and turns it over in her hand.
“No, you wouldn’t. You’ll destroy a thousand years of art,” she mutters. “No one would,” she whispers in disbelief.
I shrug. She looks down at me, wide eyed.
“Open up big man,” I tell the suit of armor. It opens up and sucks me inside without question.
The cold voice in my ear sounds surprised. “Now what?” it asks.
“Run, yeah. Run,” I say, hearing the first click-boom of an unstable Dyedushka blowing itself to bits. Then we are moving. We plow right past the Baba Yaga and burst out a window. It isn’t far down. Just in time. The room behind us explodes. The only thing louder is the Baba Yaga screeching after us.
The scene is fire. The Knight spits me out into the snow. I stand up, stumble, and fall. The whole of the Hermitage is in flames around us. Most art is just paper, after all.
“Come on!” I tell the knight, heading for the arch to freedom.
The Knight is looking behind us at the flames. He shakes his head.
“Sorry,” is all I can say. He doesn’t respond.
He walks back into the building, the entry-way falls down around him.
I turn and walk out of the courtyard into the square. People are starting to gather in the morning light, watching it burn. A group of college students, in linen scarfs and fedoras, hold each other, weeping.