Red Man: 1947

David Austin, guest writer



            NIKOLAI DOES NOT FAIL! RUSSIA DOES NOT FAIL! You dare to arrest Nikolai?! Вы оскорбляешь меня! You shall know the strength of Mother Russia!


 During the 1900’s the great Motherland sent spies like Nikolai to glean information on American dark research divisions and other classified projects. The KGB, or Russian State Security, tasked Nikolai with infiltrating secret American research divisions. There he would work as a mole inside the American government, leaking information and dossiers on the American aircraft projects to the Motherland.




            The air is stale and heavy; dense wisps of smoke drift lazily from various ash trays, cigars still glowing. Off in a distant corner a man leans heavily on the 1936 Wurlitzer style jukebox as it crackles indistinguishably. A group of four laugh and cat call to passing waitresses, their thunderous tumult fueled only by the seemingly bottomless glasses of fiery liquids. Another man sits at the bar in drunken stupor, almost swimming in his drink much the same as the sorrows he is no doubt attempting to drown.

            None of this matters to Nikolai, who’s only concerns seem to come from the flys buzzing lazily overhead and the stranger sitting almost out of sight from Nikolai’s corner booth. Though the man’s face is hidden, Nikolai could tell he had slicked-back jet black hair covered by a light gray fedora. The man’s frame is obscured by his grey colored three-piece suit and over coat. Something about the man’s appearance didn’t sit well with Nikolai. Probably an agent, Nikolai thought, he definitely fits the description.                        

            While keeping a causal eye on the man, Nikolai returns his attention to the glass sitting patiently between his bear paws. Finger marks in the condensation left small trails coursing their way to the mahogany, scarred from countless cigarettes resting atop the wooden surface, half covered by a copy of Sunday’s paper. The bronzed caramel colored liquid resting dispiritedly at the bottom of the glass left Nikolai feeling bereft. The American beer brewed in Milwaukee was a poor excuse compared to that of Russian brewed Vodka.

            A loud noise pulled Nikolai from within the confines of his mind. The Bar-Man had finally taken the plunge, spilling drink all over himself, muddled expression betraying how much the brew had made his mind slip.

            “Dempsey!” The bar tender barks as he pulls out a towel and began wiping off the counter, “Go clean yourself up.”

             Sweeping his gaze across the room, Nikolai assesses the change in atmosphere. The only change came from the waitresses adopting a slightly quicker pace. Seeing there was no need for further concern, Nikolai recesses into his own company while taking another gulp and represses the slight urge to grimace.


            Silently sighing to himself, Nikolai mentally recounts his mission so far. He had been in America four years now, and had hated every day. Too warm here, the cold back home keeps Man sharp, like knife. Nikolai had slipped into America, changed clothes, and then transferred into the military position made for him by the KGB. His identity had become that of a the Military Ambassador who would be constantly checking on the progress of the multiple companies attempting to create a supersonic airplane. Gathering information was the easy part, each company was eager to gain any glory for their discoveries. Communication between him and the Motherland was the tricky part.

            Nikolai was always surrounded by military personnel and even some of the citizens he passed every day were not actually citizens, rather, they were undercover agents watching, searching for the Russians who were no doubtably residing within the shadows. Evidence of this was the House Un-American Committee, which had begun having hearings with the intent to prove communism existed in America. The first of these hearings had been scheduled for later that year in 1947.

            Finding a way to send information out of country was never fully Nikolai’s problem. He would take copies of documents coded into a newspaper to the bar. There he would order a specific drink, and sit off in a corner. When he was finished, Nikolai would leave his paper behind where a waitress would clean the table and send the paper off to the next link of a chain stretching all the way back to Russia.


            Opening Sunday’s paper, Nikolai scans the contents. A man was accused by a coworker of being Red Man.” Someone else was found dead of a heart attack and baseball was still the strange sport it had always been to Nikolai. One article in particular caught Nikolai’s eye; “Transcontinental Flight Time Record Breaker Howard Hughes Aiming For Another? Worlds largest airplane Spruce Goose scheduled to make flight on November 2, 1947.”

Quickly checking the room, Nikolai gave himself a moment. Seems like everyone is pushing for first place in aircraft division. We are running out of time. The Bell Aircraft Corporation has developed a prototype that has yet to succeed, but they are very close. I need to get this paper to the Motherland!

            Rising from his seat, Nikolai folds the paper and begins to walk toward the front door. Nearing the front Nikolai glances to the left; the stranger was gone. Something’s not right about this. What is going on?

            “Hey Bill, turn up the TV!” a customer shouts over the ambient noise.

            “—istory is made today” the tv popped, “‘For years, many aviators believed that man was not meant to fly faster than the speed of sound, theorizing that transonic drag would tear any aircraft apart (History). All that has changed because today, October 14, 1947, United States Air Force pilot Captain Chuck Yeager has become the first man in the world to fly faster than the speed of sound.

            “In his Bell X-1 supersonic jet, nicknamed Glamorous Glennis, Captain Yeager made his flight over Rogers Dry Lake, California. His ‘X-1 was lifted to an altitude of 25,000 feet by a B-29 aircraft and then released through the bomb bay, rocketing to 40,000 feet and exceeding 662 miles per hour’” (History).

            Oh no— How can this be? The prototype was unsuccessful! I saw it myself; It should never have made supersonic flight, it was just incapable! Nikolai’s thoughts swirled in his head, lending him a slight sense of vertigo. Leaning on the counter for support, Nikolai glances back at his table. Half empty, his glass still stood there, clutching its disappointment within its crystalline structure. Beside it the news paper sat opened, the man peering into its contents had slicked-back, jet black hair, fedora in hand, clad in a grey three piece suit.

            Gradually tipping his head, the man shifted his attention from the coded newspaper to a notepad he was holding. Studying the man’s exposed face, Nikolai’s heart skips a beat while a chill runs up his spin into the back of his head, arctic air rushing throughout his skull. A flame of inexplicable heat begins reversing the affect of that arctic wind. His blood boils as a split second of recognition passed over Nikolai’s facade.

            “Agent Colson” Nikolai spat between gritted teeth. At the mention of his name, Colson looked up, locking eyes with Nikolai. The icy cold resolve in his gaze met the savage, vehement hatred in Nikolai’s. Without taking his eyes off Nikolai, Colson nodded. Instantly the bartender produced a sawed-off shotgun while the four loudmouths and jukebox-man formed a rough circle around Nikolai, hand cuffs and guns drawn.

            “Nikolai Volkov, your mission is over.” Said Colson, “You have failed. Surrender now and we will take you into custody.”

            Speaking clearly, yet dripping with hatred, Nikolai drops his perfect American accent, and spoke in his truest Russian accent— how he spoke back home in Moscow when his mother was teaching him to read from her secret Bible before his father destroyed it.

            “Nikolai does not fail! Russia does not fail! You dare to arrest Nikolai?! Вы оскорбляешь меня! You shall know the strength of Mother Russia!”

            In a flash Nikolai had drawn his Nagant M1895 in his left hand and a Colt 1911 in his right. Ducking and spinning Nikolai fires two shots, the first slams into the bartender’s forehead and the second passes through his throat. The Nagant flashes twice more; Colson dives for cover as hot lead screams past his head, tearing through the fedora. Without hesitation, Nikolai dives over the bar as bullets start flying. Nikolai holds up the bartender’s body to shield himself from the shards of broken glass and exploding bottles.

            Holstering his 1911, Nikolai reaches to his right and grabs a whiskey bottle. Pulling the towel from the bartender, Nikolai tears it into strips and stuffs it into the bottle’s neck. Pulling a lighter from his pocket Nikolai proceeds to light the soaked towel. He holds his breath and counts to five.

            Taylor motions to Corey and Ackerman to lend cover as he attempts to sneak up on the Russian cowering behind the bar. Slinking forward Taylor crouched with his back against the bars splintered wood. Taylor glances quickly at the jukebox, remembering his favorite song he had looked for without success. Shame. Taylor holds up his left hand to give his companions a three-count. As he counts down to one, motion above his head catches his eye.

            Looking up from the booth he had used for cover, Colson sees Taylor slip over to the bar. Corey and Ackerman were sustaining fire against the Russian to keep him pinned. Taylor tightened his grip on the pistol he held and gave a count of three. Suddenly a Molotov Cocktail flew from the bar and landed between Ackerman and Corey. With a loud WOOSH flames engulfed the two men.

            Nikolai followed the Molotov Cocktail over the bar. While in the air, Nikolai quickly placed a bullet into each of the flailing men, screams stopped short. Landing on his feet, Nikolai hears an American cuss behind him. Nikolai spins, firing the last round in his Nagant. The bullet slams into the crouched man’s leg, missing his torso yet still blowing out his knee, dropping him to the floor before he could take even a single step. Unholstering the 1911 and finishing his spin in a single, fluid motion Nikolai is standing face-to-face with Colson, scattering spent casings across the stained tiles.  Poised mere millimeters from the man’s sharp nose, the 1911 pulsed slightly from Nikolai’s heartbeat, sweet smell of burnt powder wafting between the two men. Nikolai stares through the haze into Colson’s unblinking eyes. Icy and disdainful, Colson smirks past the sights of his own hand gun, muzzle leveled at Nikolai’s face.

            “Time to die Red Man” Colson sneers

            “До свидания American!”

            A single shot rings out.


Works Cited



Yapp, Nick. “Decades of the 20th Century 1945”. American Map Corperatiom, 2008. Staff. “Cold War History”. A+E Networks 2009.  Staff. “Russians take Austrian Garrison at Przemśl”. A+E Networks

2009. January 14, 2018. Staff. “Yeager Breaks Sound Barrier”. A+E Networks 2009. January 14,2018.