Russian Imperial Stout (Flash Fiction)

Gregor gave the man laying face down in the freezing mud a hard kick to the ribs. The man grunted and coughed bubbles into the dirty puddle. Gregor smiled and lifted his tin mug, draining the rest of the dark beer into his belly. The liquid was cold, but it spun into a warm fire that made his smiling lips tingle. The mug clinked down the worn path as Gregor tossed it and knelt down next to his captive. He grabbed a fist full of hair and yanked the weak head back.

“Are you ready to begin begging for your life?” Gregor asked. The man’s eyes lolled in his head and he made a weak gurgling sound. Gregor laughed and dropped the man’s face back into the slop. He gave a sigh of pleasure and watched his breath escape into the gray sky. The fickle weather was changing its mind once again, turning from rain to snow. Small bits of white began collecting on his black sweater. Gregor huffed warm air onto his fingers and then pulled an old Rugar from his belt, a relic from the last great war. His thick knuckles gave the weapon a forceful cock, and Gregor knelt down beside his captive again. He began whispering into the man’s ear.

“Today, you begin your suffering,” Gregor said. “Today you reap what you’ve sown.” Gregor pointed the gun casually at the tanks rolling by. Their wheels squealed desperately for grease and the diesel engines coughed black clouds into the air. “We shall do to your people what you’ve done to us. We will castrate your sons so they never know what it is to love a woman. We will rape your daughters so that they never know the love of bearing children. Your wives will weep until the die of dehydration.” Gregor leaned in closer as more tanks rolled by. His breath was hot with hate.

“You will dig the graves of your friends and families. Your life will exist on the border of starvation and delirium. Your stomach will turn to hard iron as you dine on snow and drink the slurry from the roads. Rats will be your bed and your blankets. Your body will become so frozen that you’ll beg for the burning depths of hell.”

Gregor gave the captive a fierce headbutt, splitting the man’s temple with the top of his forehead. He stood and smiled as he watched the man convulse with sobs in the icy water. “I’ll give you one thing, though.” He picked up another mug and drained more drink from the wooden barrel. “Your people make good beer.”

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