Life for the average soldier in the Red Army is never easy, but it is a better life than for most Russians in the late-winter of 1933. You have a bed, steady rations, and place of security in a dangerous time. There are duties to perform, yes, and sometimes they are hazardous. They are the price you pay for what you have.
But now there are new orders — to repair the telegraph lines at a distant outpost. It seems like a simple task, but you have doubts. Why not wait until the roads have cleared? Why send the Army to do what prisoners should do, even if at gunpoint? Why haven’t our comrades at the station repaired the line themselves? Why are the Telegraph Agency men wearing pistols?
There are horrors enough in the Worker’s Paradise. The new collective farms have failed to provide as was promised, and famine stalks the land. A knock at the door might mean death in the gulag. In distant Moscow there are rumors of a coming purge of enemies, both real and imagined.
And yet . . . there are worse things to be found at Machine Tractor Station Kharkov-37.