My high school Russian class has won a dinner at the Soviet Consulate in Washington, D.C. Most of the class members won’t be able to make it but I’ve decided that I won’t miss this for the world. I’ve got my outfit all picked out: jeans, a t-shirt celebrating a particular Russian-distilled vodka, and the formal jacket of a Soviet naval captain (which is red with yellow piping for some reason). The jacket is a little tight but I spruce up pretty nice when I need to.
It’s about a two-mile walk from my apartment to the Consulate but it goes quickly in the brisk air of this autumn evening. The building is a big basalt cube set against D.C.’s low skyline. Security is surprisingly light and it isn’t long to get inside. Many jokes are made about my choice of attire – – all in Russian spoken a little too quickly for my just-barely-above-novice-level ears. They’re good-natured about it though and none of the guards are at all malicious. I’m ushered into the main hall where an extensive bounty of hors d’oeuvres are being served. I dig in and try out my student’s Russian on the guests.
Unfortunately, the buffet session is cut short when the floor gives out and we fall into a subterranean labyrinth. Everything is dark or else very dimly lit. The walls are nowhere in sight but the terrain is a series of variously sized black and greasy gray cubes. The groans of encroaching zombies are all around us and we run, fleeing, jumping from cube to cube, frantic.