Posted in 1930s, Historical fiction, holidays, Third Russian novel, Writing

WeWriWa—Changing into costumes


Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

Every October, I feature Halloween excerpts. I’m so disappointed and upset that WordPress quietly removed all retired themes in late 2021, my yearly October template Monster among them! It really set the mood for all my Halloween and horror film posts.

We’re starting off with Chapter 44, “Martian Panic,” from Volume II of Journey Through a Dark Forest. It’s Halloween 1938, and Barnard students Valentina, Vladlena, Tatyana, and Dusya are changing into their costumes after classes. Valentina can’t bring herself to feel any happiness for this holiday after she and her boyfriend Rodya just broke up. Neither of them wanted to break up, but they jumped to the rash conclusion that they had to do this after “compromising” themselves by going all the way outside of marriage.

Valentina and Rodya were among the tiny minority of people genuinely terrified by the radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds (which was never a mass panic, contrary to urban legends), and they wanted to have that experience before their believed deaths.

Valentina spends Halloween in a daze, not paying much attention in her three classes, and crying in the library between classes and during lunch. When she runs into Tatyana and Dusya on campus grounds, she lies that she’s still rattled from the Martian scare. At the end of the day, when she changes into her boring, low-budget Gypsy costume in a powder room, she feels anything but Halloween joy and merriment. Rodya will be at the Halloween party at Vasya’s house, and she won’t be able to touch him or sit near him. At most, she expects an embarrassed apology.

“Was it really that scary?” Tatyana asks as she puts on a maid’s costume. “Kolya and I listened from the start and thought it was a wonderful drama. Very realistic. It’s important to come in at the beginning. If you tune in late, you’ll miss important information.”

The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.

“Exactly,” Dusya says, adjusting the homemade blue fairy wings on her back. “We tuned in late too, but Vasya’s father called the police and was told there were no disturbances they knew of. We changed the dial a few times, and the other stations didn’t have any such breaking news broadcasts. If it were real, it would’ve been news on every station, not just the one.”

“We thought it was real,” Vladlena defends her. “How were we supposed to know radio programs would lie? It was surprising enough to discover our native country regularly lies in the media and doesn’t report things. We’re used to believing what authorities say.” She throws a cheap pink feather boa around her neck, a finishing touch to her generic glamour girl costume.


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

3 thoughts on “WeWriWa—Changing into costumes

  1. Interesting how everyone reacted differently to the program! But poor Valentina can’t undo what happened.


  2. Unfortunately, some things can’t be undone (like their intimacy). Although Valentina and Rodya could get back together. I’ll look forward to furute snippets to see if that does transpire. Tweeted.


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