Escape from Krasnoyarsk
The story so far. Tsarina, a free lance journalist, is in Kranoyarsk, a large Russian city in Siberia writing an article for Intourist and has got mixed up with a retired English army Major.
'It’s a long story—I’ll tell you later; first we need to escape.’
‘How are we going to get out? The door is locked, were on the first floor and there are eight of them downstairs.’
‘Relax,’ he said, ‘I’ve already thought of that. The window’s not locked, undo the catch and slide the window up.’
She did as instructed and looked out the window. They were on the first floor with a twelve foot drop to the ground below. The window opened on to a vista of white snow covered fields, edged by a thick forest of tall spruce trees.
‘We’re on the first floor with a twelve foot drop to the ground, now what do you propose?’ she asked Thornton.
‘Look it’s not that bad, climb out and hang by your hands, you’re a tall girl; you’ll only have to fall a few feet, the snow should break your fall.’
She was about to remonstrate with him about him calling her a girl, when the urgency of the situation took over.
She pushed the window as high as it would go then lifted her leg over the windowsill, ducked under the top sash and sat for a moment catching her breath. It had been years since she had played climbing games, though she quickly realised this was no game. Holding on to the top sash she lifted her other leg over the sill and adjusted her position till both legs hung over the edge. She wondered if she should just jump, the snow looked deep enough to break her fall, then just as quick changed her mind. She turned onto her stomach and carefully slid over the window ledge till she was hanging by her hands.
Pushing off with her hands as she let go and landed in a drift of snow, up to her waist, about two feet away from the wall. She stood up and waited for the bulk of Thornton to ease itself through the window and down on to the snow, he landed to the left of tsarina and gave a muffled cry.
‘What’s the matter, are you hurt?’ she asked.
‘’Not sure, landed badly, nothing broken, hopefully.’
‘Are you hurt badly?’ Tsarina asked as she saw Thornton limping as they worked their way around the building.
‘It’s nothing, just a scratch.’
‘But you’re bleeding; your trouser leg is wet with blood.’
‘Let’s get to the car; I’ll bandage it up there.’
They managed to get to the car unobserved and climbed in.
She glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw that Zhukovski and the others had come out and were standing huddled beside their cars, talking, unaware that their captives were fleeing.
She started the engine and eased the transmission into drive.
Zhukovski shouted something, ran to his BMW and jumped in to give chase.
She swore and stamped on the throttle. At Thornton’s direction she turned left through a side gate. The road sloped up and trailed into the forest. Glancing in the mirror, she saw no sign of Zhukovski.
The road then swung to the left and down into a stream. Sheets of icy muddy water flew as the car ploughed its way through and then bounced up the rutted track on the far side.
As they crested the hill she looked again in the mirror for Zhukovski and saw his headlights glowing orange in the falling snow. She missed a left-hand corner and the car ploughed straight into a snow bank. They burst through, bounced over a ditch, and then slithered sideways.
She turned to look at Thornton. ‘How are you feeling?’
He shook his head and grimaced. She glanced at his trouser leg and saw the blood was still oozing from his wound. He groaned, closed his eyes and fell back into his vodka-induced slumber.
The left rear wheel bounced off of a tree stump and spun the car violently to the right.
Turning into the skid and with a light touch on the accelerator, she motored gently out of the slide then accelerated.
The car shot out of the trees and leapt three feet down on to the track. The suspension bottomed, but quickly recovered and soon they were careering down a hill.
Zhukovski was nowhere in sight. With all the fresh snow on the road she wasn’t sure if he had passed her while she took the detour or whether he had given up the chase. Either way, she wasn’t going to hang around to find out.
She put the wipers on full and accelerated through the drifting snow. Halfway round the next bend she slammed on the brakes and skidded to a halt.
They were standing line abreast, all eight of them, Kalashnikovs at the ready. She was back in the car park, that’s why Zhukovski had given up the chase so quickly.