Ivan heard his rifle butt drop on the floor as he snapped into action, he raced forward to his fallen leader calling for the other guard on duty. They lifted him gently onto a nearby couch. Ivan ran to call Georgii, “surely he would know what to do.” The phone rang a few times before Ivan heard the soft “hallo” from Georgii. “The General Secretary is in trouble comrade, I think he’s suffered a stroke.” The phone fell silent, Ivan held his breath, “I’m on my way.” The phone clicked as Ivan looked back at his comrade. He pensively replaced the receiver. The next few moments were as tense of moments as Ivan had ever experienced. The short quick breaths from the dictator only heightened the fear that permeated the room. Ivan didn’t want to think about it, but somehow the thought lingered, “what if this was it for the man who had stopped the Nazis?” For hours they waited, Ivan’s ears became as keen as a fox’s and twitched with every noise; the unbearable silence was only broken by the irregular breathing of the man on the couch. Finally there was a knock at the door. Ivan looked down at his watch, it was 3 am. Georgii Malenkov arrived along with Lavrentii Beria. The haughty members of the Politburo stormed into the room. Malenkov glanced at Ivan and barked: “GET OUT! Can’t you see he’s fine? He needs space! Out!” Ivan and the other sentinel saluted awkwardly before beating a hasty retreat. “Of course he was right,” Ivan thought to himself, “The real hero of the Soviet Union was strong and virile, he would pull through.” About an hour later Malenkov and Beria exited, assuring Ivan that the Secretary was fine and would soon be back to himself. After all, this was not the first time he’d suffered a stroke. Comforted but still on edge, Ivan looked at his watch, his shift was almost over again, but something told him he would be hard pressed to sleep today. He decided he’d stay on shift. He wanted to be close to his fearless leader today.