Chapter 3 - Understanding
Ivan stood at the front of his patrons’ desk listening to the tirade of abuse thrown at him as he closed his eyes, buried the anger deep within and as he opened them again he felt composed and alert.
“A little birdie tells me you have made progress tonight Ivan, so please tell me what you have found with this new equipment of yours.”
Ivan shifted his hand slowly to the tape in his pocket to ensure it was still there, and as he looked to sit he was met with yet another blast from Shikov.
“I didn’t tell you to sit Ivan! I asked you to share your knowledge, knowledge that I pay you to get.”
Ivan composed now looked directly at the horrible man in front of him and sipped on his sweet caffeine mixture before answering.
“Uri and I had what we thought was a voice but we cannot tell for certain it was not interference from the other machines in site Dr. Shikov.” He lied
“Well Ivan let me tell you that Uri has already spoken with who ever will listen that he and you both heard a distinct voice on his new radio technology, and it obviously scared and excited him, as he can’t keep his mouth shut.”
Ivan swallowed hard and a faint look of displeasure came over him subtlety, yet Shikov picked up on the fact instantly.
“What I fail to understand at this point Ivan is why you would keep this information from me?”
He paused watching for a hint of something to show on the face of his employee. A lose term at best.
“So please Ivan enlighten me as to why your technician is so buoyant with excitement and you seem no more than bored, about your findings?”
“Dr It was just random words nothing more it can hardly be seen as a breakthrough at this point, surely you can understand that to enlist excitement you must first prove the technology and findings with a repeat of the trial.”
“Yes I suppose your right Ivan, from a purely scientific point of view I tend to agree with you, but this is not purely scientific is it now!”
Dr Shikov stood and started to walk towards Ivan, the fake smile a mere gesture at best, and one designed to instill a false sense of security in his as yet unclear intentions to Ivan.
“You made contact with the other side Ivan, do you know what this means, to not only you but to mankind? It means we know now that the soul never rests but lurks in the space between life and death.” Shikov made a gesture and placed his right arm around Ivan at the shoulders and waited for a reply.
“Dr your interpretation may well be that, and others will say the same, but what I heard was not an unvested soul, it was malign almost evil in its tone and it made my blood icy in their veins.”
Shikov now relented in his accosting on Ivan and moved back towards the desk and his large overused blood red leather seat. His eyes seemed to be elsewhere looking at the corner of the room as if listening to something and then acknowledging what was said.
“Ivan do you know why I had Uri and yourself put in this program of mine?” he paused yet again as if listening.
It was a non rhetorical question of course, and Ivan knew there was more explanation to come.
Shaking his head only he trained his mind into the area around Shikov and the darkness that was encroaching.
“You see Ivan you and that rap music listening genius were the only people in the entire union that had a chance of getting close with this, it’s all about frequency and the space between noises, as it is the space between life and death.” He coughed softly and paused again slightly.
“As you know there are a good many talented people work for my special team here far away from prying eyes and intelligence gathering organizations, you and your wife included as I have already said on many occasions. But what you fail to understand is the reason I am in charge of this area of operations.”
Ivan knew he was not going to like what he was going to hear and as he consumed the rest of the cold sweet liquid in his best dad mug he started to think about his family and in particular his beautiful wife sitting home waiting for him to arrive. But something told Ivan he was not finished here and that he may not see his family ever again.
Shikov pushed a button on his phone and spoke into the external speaker.
“Dirk can you please bring in our other guest”
With that the door creaked on metal hinges and Uri was dragged in the small room and pushed next to Ivan. The damage to his face already starting to show signs of outward trauma, his left eye was closed and almost purple with swelling, and the guttural noises coming from his as he was pushed told Ivan his jaw was broken and along with it possibly a good may ribs.
“Uri are you alright.” Ivan said and turned to Shikov to ask for reasons why but before he could get any words out he was dealt a blow to the back with a security issued night stick.
“You see Ivan you have served your purpose for me and now I have a way to converse with those who have passed over with the view to gather intelligence for me in another realm.”
“You’re mad Shikov the voice we heard was not a crossed over soul but something more sinister, you don’t understand!”
“Oh Ivan but this is where you are wrong! I do understand, you see I know what’s out there in that space, I always have, the shadows speak to me and have done all my life. They know me as you now know me.” He looked to each side of him as Dirk moved to the side wall and dimmed the lights, putting the room in a half light.
“You have heard my friends now you can see them!”
Ivan strained as his mind was filled with the sound of static. He looked over to see Uri in a state of shock and his good eye now bulged with the pressure of knowing what was starting to materialize before his very eyes.
Turning to face Shikov, Ivan looked past the bastard before him and started to make out shapes emerging behind him at his side. The void was giving birth to two shapes in the darkness an elongated humanoid outline with very little shape slid into reality with a pop and crackle in his ears as if the room had changed air pressure. The smell of faint ozone and a strong chill hit him like a wave that made his spine shudder involuntarily. The room swam with images of swirling oil like substance dancing before him as if luring him drawing his psyche into a remorseless place where nothing existed. Ivan draw a comparison quickly to his own powers and remembered what his father had told him, a warning he may not get to tell his own son.
The room stopped in time and two figures now stood in the half light almost featureless with sinuous growths where a mouth would be. Emaciated wraiths of death with sunken cheeks and a void where a nose should be, the view was hideous but at the same time fascinating, so many questions, and so many answers he would never know.
A voice cut through his mind and into his conscience thoughts.
“What would you have known of us Ivan?”
The voice if that is the right word was thick but gentle, and similar in tone to the one on the tape he had captured earlier.
Without speaking Ivan replied, “Who are you, or more to the point what are you?”
Uri was now a mess and was blubbering on his knees begging for the shapes not to hurt him and get out of his head.
“We are the keepers, those who control the shadows you have seen all your life, but failed to understand. We ensure the dark ones, the shadows that try and entice you to the shadows and feed, only take those who have passed.”
Ivan struggled to understand but in his mind he understood, that primal part of his brain that was attuned to the before and passed down in his genes.
“Why do you show yourself now, I do not understand” Ivan struggled to get out, his head now feeling like it was the size of a baseball cramped and struggling to think.
“You know us you always have, just never seen us just our minions that you thought were apparitions and voices of departed and dead but we are just the keepers, they are the feeders of souls. We are the gatherers and it is only when confronted that we show ourselves but we are tired after a millennia of serving the shadows in our world between worlds. We would have more!”
“I still don’t understand why you show yourself to me now?” Ivan replied trembling uncontrollably now.
“Ah, you know now that we exist and the problem is that if you know, then this information can be gleamed by others who would do harm to the overseer.” The shapeless thing emoted towards Shikov.
Ivan closed his eyes and fled in his mind to his wife, a spark of knowing fell over the keeper and he nodded at Shikov who placed a nine millimeter bullet between Ivan’s closed eyes and then Uri.
Zoya Chomsky was startled out of her rest by an awareness that greeted her with an agonizing sadness.
The apparition took her by surprise and she stifled her scream as not to awaken the boys. The shape drifted around the room in an awkward manner as if trying to get her attention but she was already well aware of the vision that stood before her. Using her own abilities to understand the shape a solitary tear formed in the corner of her left eye and as she went to wipe it away the blurred outline of Ivan Chomsky, her husband and lover shimmered in and out of existence. She knew what to do and immediately ran to her bedroom and began packing a bag with essentials, fighting against tears and sadness knowing the reason why he was visiting her in such a way.
Alexei was dreaming now of his grandparents in Odessa when a vision of his father crept into his thoughts and he appeared in his dream as if he was stalling the thoughts freezing the motion within his dream.
“Father what’s wrong, why are you here?” Alexei said in his dream as he ran towards him and hugged his father smelling the aftershave he wore and the feeling the corporeal warmth of his body against his.
“They are coming for me Alexei, the dark ones, the shadows in the night, the dancers, and the enticers.” Alexei let go of his father and saw the pained expression of helplessness on his face.
“Never let them lay their hands on your soul son; I won’t be there to protect you anymore.” The vision of his father stopped and started looking around as if he felt someone coming.
“Father you have passed, haven’t you? That’s why I can see you so well?” as tears appeared in his dream state eyes his father shook his head in acknowledgement.
“I know it’s too soon Alexei, but I had no say in it, forces greater than you or I have played out and my body is now no longer useful, do you understand? I am still here but I no longer have use of my body, I am a lost soul, and I am unsure of what is next Alexei, I do know that I need you to be strong and know that I am still here for now, but I must keep moving or I will lead them to you and your brother.”
An aura of green light appeared to Alexei as it did when the man on the rocks died and his eyes welled with more tears that he could even taste now in his dream. The dream world that Alexei had conjured in his sleep started to shimmer and the edges of his sleeping reality started to breakdown.
“I have to go now I have to keep running as you do now, please promise me you will not use your power, at least until you hear from me again! Can you promise me that Alexei?”
“Yes father I will wait for you and never again will I roam the never” he replied in his dream.
“Listen to your mother and do what she says, never return to this place never try and contact me stay away and wait, you must do this for me and try and make Dragon understand Alexei, I love you all.” And with that his father was gone and so was his dream, as his mother burst into the bedroom and gathered him and Dragon with his grandparents Boris and Olga right behind packing bags for them and getting them out of the house and bundled into the old Volvo Boris drove. The Volvo although a box was as reliable as tomorrow but Zoya now fighting back the tears wondered just haw reliable that now was.
The understanding of Ivan being dead hit her hard and Olga also struggling with the knowing that her only son was dead comforted her as they sat quietly in the car taking the rout that Boris and his son had predetermined in case of an emergency like this. Neither of them trusted Dr. Gregory Shikov and now that uneasiness was playing out as true.
Using the disposable mobile phone that was packed for this emergency Zoya punched in the number of her parents in Odessa and informed them of what was happening and to expect them at the designated point in the harbor.
The phone used was now smashed and discarded along the leafy deserted road leading the broken family to their first stop in Voronezh, where they would pick up another car in assumed names to take them to their next stop in Luhansk, before making the trip along the coast west to Odessa.
Dr Gregory Shikov sat in his chair Keepers at either side awaiting news of the family, he had sent his special forces to capture or if need be kill on site if they met resistance.
“The boy has talents Overseer, as his father and his father’s father.”
Lighting his cigar Shikov watched and waited patiently as the two dead bodies were removed from his office and disposed of judiciously by his personal security.
“Have your minions done what is required Keeper”
“The one you call Uri is no more his soul now the food in the bellies of the shadows, but the one you call Ivan is gone he has powers the soul travels the light and steers clear of the shadows”
“So which one of the dead oness sons has the power Keeper, is it the one they call Dragon or the little one called Alexei?”
“Oh yes that is the one, the shadows followed the aura to a vision but they were gone before they could find him”
“Gone what do you mean gone Keeper? I must have them the knowledge in his mind can bring us down can undo everything we stand for.” Shikov rose from his chair and turned the lights up full to remove all traces of shadows in his office, and with the encroaching light the air pressure returned to normal and the chill was gone from the air.
“FIND THEM, KILL THEM”