Red Sounding: An Interview with Lieutenant Zhora Ivankov


Hello everyone. We’re in the year 1983, with Soviet naval officer, Zhora Ivankov

What’s your job on your submarine, K-389?

     -I’m the Tactical Officer. I coordinate the ship’s sensors like sonar, radar, and periscope sightings to track enemy vessels. I also oversee the torpedo systems to dispatch those vessels. With the submerged environment we cloak ourselves to hunt beneath the waves. But this cloak also blinds us. Imagine hunting an armed burglar in the dark. Whoever shoots first either wins if their aim is true or exposes their position only to be killed himself.

What’s it like being in the Soviet navy, on a submarine?

     -Imagine your whole life wrapped in a titanium capsule. We operate and fix machinery that defends our nation and keeps us alive. Fresh water, oxygen, electricity, we produce all these. Our food, cooks prepare in the galley. Our beds lie between the missile tubes. Every crewman counts and the slightest error might endanger us all. We do what we can to ease tension: music, cards, pranks, but our jobs and duty we take very seriously.

Where are you from?

     -Murmansk. My father commands the Northern Fleet out of Severomorsk. My mother, well, she does her best to be a good Communist Party wife. She entertains my father’s friends and rubs elbows with the wives of other politically minded men.

What was growing up like? Did you have any brothers and sisters?

     -I was born in a navy hospital in Severomorsk in 1959. My father spent most his time away, either at sea or remotely posted. I was an only child. After my birth, my mother couldn’t have any more children. She barely survived. My mother treated me like a delicate treasure. My father kept mistresses and discounted my mother’s value as her youth faded. I hated him for it and he me for convicting him every chance I got.

What’s one secret even your closest friends don’t know?

   -Wow, a hard one to answer. I don’t really have any friends anymore.

     -Until recently, I’d have said my biggest secret was my interests in love. There are terms and tags for people like me, but I choose to avoid them. They evoke stereotypes and judgments. I’m no stereotype and I’ve had enough judgment for one lifetime.

     -My newest, biggest secret… I’m a vampire. Beaten by my crewmates for whom I choose to love, they left me for dead. I begged to be made a vampire by the creature that found me. He meant to kill me, said the only purpose I had left to serve was to feed him. I offered him a home on my submarine in exchange for another chance to get life right.

What about your current family?

     -Funny, my ‘family’ consists of my father vampire, a daughter I created, and her first creation. Sevastyan is older than the Soviet Union itself. He considers our kind a part of nature, predators to cull the human herd.

     -Vladlena, my ‘daughter’ adored me when we were both humans. She crept around the corners of her whorehouse to admire me. When I came to her in that burning building as a vampire, she saw me as her savior. Our relationship has cooled since I shared my blood with her. She’s seen into my heart as a result. She knows the atrocities I’ve committed.

     -Vadim Adaksin I consider a ‘son-in-law’. My daughter sought him out and took him into our family without my consent or counsel. For that, tension between the three of us runs high. Vadim’s already begun to ruin my plans for K-389. I’d hoped to turn the submarine into a mobile mausoleum from which to roam the Earth and feed.

What’s your goal in life? What drives you to excel, to wake up every day and do the daily grind all over again?

    -As a living man I’d hoped to keep two happy lives from colliding. I had found love and a career I loved, but the Soviet Union and especially the Red Fleet doesn’t tolerate my desires. I love men and I love my career as a naval officer defending my country. Until my death I worked very hard to keep those two apart.

     -As a vampire I see myself as an angel of justice. Sure, I’ll kill people, some of them not truly deserving of what I reduce them to, but I focus mostly on unchecked injustice. Lately though, each mind I peer into as I drink their blood, leaves me with few humans to leave unpunished.

What scares you? What keeps your inhibitions in check?

     -I feared my father as a child. My own success as an adult dispelled the only fear I had, except for death. I’ve always been afraid of dying before I’ve made my mark in history.

     My inhibitions were kept in check by the beatings I knew would come if I weren’t discrete. Now that I’ve died and risen a new creature… I fear nothing. Death would release me from the horror I’ve become and success as an avenging angel tempers that self-destructive angst enough to keep me moving forward with my plans. I’ll either succeed through my boldness or die a quick death. Either suits me fine.

If you could be doing something else with your life, what would it be?

    -I would live on the beaches of the Black Sea with the man of my dreams. We’d be spies, a spy team, like in those American and British movies. We’d travel the world and eliminate threats to our nation while drinking martinis.

What is your favorite thing to do with your free time?

-I read. My father’s library included books forbidden in the Soviet Union. He’d always explained, you must know your enemy’s mind to out think him. I like science fiction especially. There’s always something that pushes our future toward one focus.

Do you have someone you love, someone special?

-I do, but he’ll never love me the way I love him. I wrestle with that every time I see him.

If you had to choose between immortality alone and mortality with family, would it be a difficult choice?

-I’ve already chosen. Difficult? Ask me again after I’ve conquered this crew, this submarine.

And for the future… Where do you see yourself in ten years?

  -I will burn the current civilization in a nuclear fire. Two nations in 1983 sit ready to help me. Afterward, I’ll recreate a new world in my own image.


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