Dmitry Grigoriev gave a shiver and raised the collar of his fireproof jumpsuit to stave off the cold northern wind.
Ever since Magadan and its punishing chill, he loathed the winter and the wind that bit at his cheeks and turned them rose-red.
The peppered pertsovka that gently blurred the edges of his senses heated his blood and offered some lasting heat against the Russian night.
He wasn’t sure where he was going as he walked along the still tarmac, vaguely aware of the red lights blinking lethargically on the distant radio tower and the tap of his boots on the concrete.
The sky was clear, and glittered with distant stars, hazed by the lights of the Grad.
Katerina could call the constellations by name, but they were abstract and upside down to Deimos.
It was pleasurable to wander around in the still night without objective or the burden of a flamethrower weighing him down.
Anything could happen in the dark.
Not so long ago, he stalked the streets of Moscow on similar cold, clear nights, under a ghostly full moon. Those memories seemed faded as a weather-worn photograph, slowly tearing away from the nail that held it fast against the back of his mind.
If he wasn’t careful, the northern wind might very well carry it away from him, and only a rusted nail would remain as proof that there ever was such a dark photograph pinned there.
Ahead, a pair of guards huddled together for warmth and possibly more; their conversations stilled as he passed.
His pulse stirred as he thought of them, lovers without names, hushed gasps and desperate cries, pressed up against a wall or crouched behind a truck.
He wanted to turn around and confront them and make a lewd offer they couldn’t refuse, but he kept walking, pulled along like the needle of a compass swinging wildly to point at unseen magnetic fields.
In his periphery vision a figure moved under the halo of yellow from the sodium lights, and Dmitry Grigoriev turned and followed.