The Union—Part 3

The following day was Sunday, no one should be in the headquarter except for all the assigned engineers, I was not one of them. Kosygin had fulfilled my wish to meet me, saying, “I also had something to say to you.”

It was a rainy Sunday. Kosygin was late, the black coat he was always seen wearing was drenched. I saluted as soon as I saw him. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I had to run an errand beforehand.”

I knew he was such a busy man, it was an actual honor for me to have a meeting appointed with him. “Sir,” I started. “The matter I am about to talk to you—“

“I know, I know,” he said. “This is about Colonel Yuri Gagarin. He is also what I want to discuss with you. But Colonel, one problem: I am in no position to abort the mission.”

“But Sir, you are my—our last hope. The KBG wouldn’t lend us a hand. They, in fact, had brushed off all the lending hands available.”

Kosygin shook his head, “Unfortunately Colonel, I couldn’t be of a better help.”

“Nothing?” I pleaded, and he weakly shook his head again. “He is, a nation’s pride, will be killed in ship of thousands of errors, and you, Sir, with all due respect, a high officer couldn’t be of a better help? Is this how this nation’s treat their heroes? Nothing?”

He looked just as stunned as I did. I didn’t expect to spit all of the things I just said into his face. “I, I’m sorry, Sir,” I apologized. “I didn’t mean to—“

“No, it’s fine, it’s fine,” he fixed his way of sitting. “I get it. Your best friend is dying and you want to do something about it. I get it, you were the one who told him about the thin chance of him going back to earth safely. It was what I wanted to talk about to you.”

“About that—“

“No, Colonel, it’s fine,” he cut. “I knew it was definitely you who told him such information. And the fact that I am fine with it—this meeting is an absolute secret.”

“Thank you for your understanding, Sir,” I bowed to him. “And I might be rude for asking more but… I have a special request to make, Sir.”

“And what is that?”

I paused for a moment, making sure of my upcoming decision, “I request to be the replacement of Colonel Yuri Gagarin.”

He nodded, seemingly relaxed and not as tense as before. “I knew you would say that,” he said. “But Colonel, I’m still in no position to make any change. Besides, I thought you were medically unfit.”

And just before I let out another sigh of distress, Kosygin stated, “although I could propose you to be the backup pilot instead. But one thing that concerns me: you are medically unfit, Colonel.”

“Yes, medically unfit twice for training, but I am a prodigy, Sir,” I said proudly. “I have grown stronger, I have undergone medication, also I have flown the Voskhod- 1 if you remember, Sir. My health will not be a concern, if…”

“If?”

“If I will be dead in the end.”

It was settled, Kosygin agreed Soyuz-1 needed a ‘less-important’ pilot. But in spite of that, he had still been worried of me, I was a great pilot, too. But I told him to be rest-assured, “there is chance of living. I will help check on Soyuz-1.”

“Colonel Komarov,” he called me before I was about to leave. “Why are you doing this? Why are you sacrificing yourself, just for a friend?”

“That’s Yura,” I said. “And he’ll die instead of me. We’ve got to take care of him.”

Little did he know, a tear slipped down my eye. There was a bit, a tiny bit, piece of fear that was left in me.