The Nevsky Wall
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Chapter 8   -  Clouds Rose Over the City

September 4

Within the week, Larissa was on a plane to Moscow. It was the first stop on a long journey that would take her to Alma-Ata, a desert city in the far corner of Kazakhstan that was outside the reach of the enemy. All of the major film companies were relocating, along with other vital industries, government offices, and the universities. At the same time, two trains left under cover of night carrying the great treasures of the Hermitage museum. It seemed the soul of the nation was slowly draining east by rail.

Some chose to stay. Alex was one of a handful of newsreel cameramen who decided, against advice, to remain in the city. Grusky, the director-general, had gotten his wish and been reassigned to the Moscow office. His unfortunate replacement – Alex figured he must either be incompetent or had greatly offended someone to get the post – tried his best to remain invisible and let the cameramen make their own assignments. This new-found freedom pleased Alex, though he knew it came at the price of a self-imposed captivity.

He stopped at the newsreel studio in the late morning. Nicholai, still manning the front desk, handed him a note. Alex was confused by it.

“When did you get this?” he asked Nicholai.

“A man gave it to me first thing. Big man – didn’t say much. It had your name on it.”

The note was written in a practiced hand. It was a summons, ordering Alex to come at once to an office in the Smolny complex. The name at the bottom of the note was Boris Gamerev.

Boris Gamerev. Alex knew the name from Larissa, who had invoked it in moments of frustration or when she was particularly nervous about an upcoming project. He understood that Boris was a man of influence, someone she could turn to when a problem needed solving. It was a name she spoke in passing and without elaboration. Larissa was fearless in most respects, but Alex could tell that she was afraid of Boris Gamerev.

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Chapter 8   -  Clouds Rose Over the City

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