On the next birdbath car jerked and their heads hit the low ceiling. “I almost forgot the pleasures of travelling on such a rattletrap,” Julia quipped with a wry smile. Looking out the window she saw potholes instead of a road, and added: “We should have put our helmets before getting into this car.” Everybody else remained silent.
They were taken away directly from the Saturday neighborhood clean-up. People in the gray-green uniform came during the cleaning in the park and told that if everybody there was so commitment-minded, then it was just time to defend their country. Young people froze with rakes and garbage bags in their hands. Someone laughed nervously, someone became angry, and Vanka from next door just ran away when no one was looking in his direction. Julia volunteered to go by her own free will.
Through the small window powdered with dust they could still see a piece of the scenery slowly passing, or rather hopping behind the windows, and a long stream of cars ahead. Zhenia and Vlad stared off at the window, Pavel Pavlovich was dozing in the corner, and Senya pretended that it was very necessary to understand the principle of applying the colors on his uniform. “Have you ever done military service?” Julia turned to him with sympathy, during college she was the only girl in the military department and also the head of her course. Senya reluctantly raised his eyes and his vague “no” almost drowned in the roar of the car on a new pothole. “You were kicked out?!” Julia continued. “I left on the fourth year… I had to work, to help parents” Senja started staring at the uniform again.
“I did military service,” a voice from the corner belonged to Pavel Pavlovich, “it was a long time ago.” All eyes stared at him, waiting. “What is there to tell? Anyway, times were different: people had something to believe in.” “But we still believe!” Julia replied. “Into what?” Pavlovich grinned sarcastically. “We believe in people, in this country … in friends!” the girl was furious. “In the country that raises troop during neighborhood clean-up? In the people who give such orders?” Pavel Pavlovich looked Julia straight in the eye and added: “In friends, who were given military weapons after two weeks of questionable training?” Julia didn’t answer.
“You know, after all, you didn’t have too much to believe in, and you still believed” the voice of Vlad sounded surprisingly sharp, even in the noise and din of the wheels. “What do you mean?” Pavel Pavlovich outraged. “Oh! You didn’t even know what was really going on: you listened fairy tales and had no access to alternative sources of information. You were sent to hot spots of the planet, for the “liberation”, which was actually a military invasion. You were forced to dispatch work, but mediocrity leaders wasted most of your work and indulged idlers. You don’t even know your own history, which was replaced by the beautiful empire myth. And having all this, you believed?” “You…” Pavel Pavlovich opened his mouth but at that moment the car stopped abruptly. The cab driver looked into the cabin and briefed: “It was reported that the road is mined. We will camp here.”
While the tired and irritated people silently unloaded the car, preparing to spend the night in the middle of nowhere, far from them, in a beautiful building with a large white domes, important state decisions were taken. Decisions to bring peace or make people believe into something? Nothing changed. Nearly nothing.