Doctor Razum. Chapter IV.

3 Oct

The church was impressively old Russia. Dark oak surrounded the psychic enthusiasts congregating in the log church. About two dozen members were already present when Irina entered, the stranger at her side. The iconostas wall in the front held ten haloed saints. Eyes stared down on the Psychic Tsekh members from the brilliant icons. David felt the hypnotic fixedness of the non-realistic faces and the holy images. He could understand why tourists flocked to Suzdal. These images were entrancing ones.

The two sat down next to the central aisle, a little to the rear. Klimov watched as a large, burly man in a purple suit came toward them from the front of the church. His face had a red glow to it, under a large head of gleaming silver hair.

The towering figure stopped beside the seats of the pair.

“Irina,” he said warmly. “How are you this evening?”

David turned his eyes on the tall man standing in the aisle.

“I am fine,” she smiled at him. “I have a new recruit into the Tsekh, Lev.” She glanced toward Klimov, then turned back. “He is a writer from Moscow who is fascinated with the parapsychological world.”

Lev leaned forward, carefully studying the stranger’s face. Then he extended his heavy right hand past Irina, offering it to David, who took and shook it.

“Lev Tronich,” the giant said proudly. “Mayor of Suzdal.”

David gave a start, then told his own name.

“You are a writer?” said the official. “I don’t believe I have ever met anyone like that at any of our events. What do you write, sir?”

“Crime stories,” blandly lied Krimov. “About criminals and detectives. There is always some mystery to solve in the books I write.”

“I can imagine that psychic power would be of great value if applied in such matters. Is that what brings you to our Tsekh?”

“Yes. In fact, I am now engaged in a novel about a psychic person who disappears.”

“Disappears?” The Mayor appeared deeply interested.

“It is a very complicated plot.”

“You must tell me the story some time,” declared Tronich. “But it will have to wait until after this meeting.” He turned to Irina.

“I plan to nominate you for delegate to the convention in St. Petersburg,” he whispered to her in a hushed tone.

David noticed how her face flushed red.

“Will you accept the honor, Irina?”

She replied with an affirmative nod of her head. “My mother will be happy if I am elected,” she softly murmured.

“You will be chosen,” Lev assured her. “I have arranged it that you and I are both elected by acclamation.”

With that, he turned and walked to the front of the wooden church.

Every aspect of the meeting fascinated the detective posing as a writer. He craned his neck to catch sight of each speaker. No one else followed the proceedings as closely as he did. Might he hear something that could put him in touch with Sara Milova? He listened and watched.

Mayor Lev Tronich, at a small table in front, gaveled the group to order. At least forty were present by then. The secretary, a small woman who looked like a spinster, rushed through the minutes of the previous meeting. Her report was accepted by voice vote. Then, present business was dealt with.

Two delegates had to be selected for the Psychic Trekh convention in St. Petersburg. A tall male scarecrow rose to nominate a pair of names.

The Mayor and Irina were proposed and seconded.

Any other nominations? asked Tronich. No one had any more to make.

The president turned the meeting over to the secretary temporarily. The two nominees were approved by unanimous voice vote. Tronich took back the gavel and thanked everyone for the honor of having been elected. Irina stood up a and expressed her appreciation. She promised to do the best she could at the coming convention.

Mayor Tronich asked whether anyone had any suggestions about what the two delegates should propose or bring up at the national gathering. A fat woman with long, braided hair rose and spoke.

“We must begin a program in the schools of Russia that will promote psychic study in the younger generation,” she shrilly cried out. “They have very little exposure to our movement and its activities. As a result, the anti-psychic prejudices of the teaching profession and the educational bureaucracy infects the young. Their minds become closed to our ideas. The Tsekh must find a way to enter the schools and change the negative attitudes instilled there.”

Two others, a man and a woman, spoke in a similar vein. But then a short, spare young fellow changed the direction of the discussion.

“We must take steps to change our image in the mass media. Videon programs give a distorted picture of our movement,” he vehemently insisted.

Several others also spoke on this theme. But then came a turn that gave Klimov an electric jolt.

An elderly man sitting far in the rear was the one who said “What is our national organization going to do about the House of Razum?”

David twisted around so he could see who he speaker was.

“I understand that these troublemakers are trying to capture the Tsekh in Yaroslavl. We are fortunate not to have them here in Suzdal. But they plan to open their houses throughout Russia. It is only a matter of time until we too see them. What do we then do?”

A woman in front rose to her feet. “The national leadership must take action before the Psychic Tsekh is taken over everywhere. What is happening in Yaroslavl is a warning. If necessary, the fanatics must be expelled. Before it becomes too late, the danger must be removed. Otherwise, those crackpots will disgrace and destroy what we have so far achieved. They will ruin all that we stand for.”

Klimov did not find out what caused this fear of the House of Razum, or what it stood for. He would have to inquire later about this topic, mentioned in the papers of Sara Milova back in Moscow.

The meeting went on to matters of local and minor interest.

As the Mayor adjourned the meeting, Irina leaned close to David and whispered to him. “If you wish, I can arrange a psychic experience for you tonight,” she said with a feline grin.

Mayor Tronich drove the two to his home in a sporty canary yellow electrocar. The house, on the periphery of Suzdal, was a magnificent mansion made of silica. It sparkled with the ostentation of Russia’s 21st century entrepreneurial class flush with money.

“Beautiful,” said Klimov flatteringly. “I did not know that such spectacular new structures existed in Suzdal.”

The head of the city government led his guests down marble steps to the underground section. “I live all alone,” acknowledged Tronich. “During the day, I have two servants who take care of the building for me. But at night, I am by myself.” He entered a study lined with tapes and disks.

The visitors took cushioned chairs while the owner sat behind a glass desk.

The Mayor began to reminisce a bit. “I have been interested in things psychic since childhood. In a way, that has been my lifetime hobby. The only one, in fact, I have. Although politics is my profession, and it has paid off handsomely, my first love remains the uncanny powers of the human mind.” He smiled with delight.

Irina looked to the supposed mystery writer. “He has expended a lot of resources on experimental equipment, David,” she informed him. “I doubt that there is any individual in Russia who has invested as much as he has in our programs. You will see what I mean later this evening.”

“Indeed,” proudly murmured Tronich, rising from his desk chair. “I cannot wait. Shall we begin now?”

The two took Klimov through four rooms filled with electronic receivers and transmitters. The detective marveled at the complexity of the apparati he saw. What is this politician doing with all of this? he wondered. How is he using such equipment?

The brawny giant seemed to read what was in his mind. “I am attempting to pick up all sorts of telepathic communications,” he informed Klimov.

“How have you succeeded?” the latter boldly inquired.

“I believe that I have had good results,” the Mayor calmly stated. “Something tells me that you want some proof of what I say. Would you like to take part in a little experiment tonight? It will be safe, and I am certain the results will surprise and fascinate you.”

Klimov eyed him questioningly. What was the big man up to?

“I am becoming very curious,” said the visitor. “What do you have in mind?”

“Good!” exclaimed Tronich. “I intend to place you into a tank and test your psychic potential. Something tells me that you possess hidden, unused potential that has never been used or applied.”

The pool in the Mayor’s basement was enormous. It stretched far beyond the dimensions of the house over it. The motionless water was as deep as a full-sized man. On all four sides there ran a silicon trench that enclosed the lake of still water behind a transparent wall.

David noticed built-in steps that led down into the water. A long silex bench was positioned at the center of the wall, facing the watery depths.

“Let’s go down there and sit down,” proposed the Mayor. “Irina will go to the far side and transmit words to us.”

David had a strange feeling as he descended the steps into the trench with Tronich. Something extraordinary was about to happen to him, he sensed. But what, precisely, would it be? And what would it reveal to him? he wondered.

Irina had separated from them and gone to the opposite end of the great water tank. The two men sat down near the center of the long bench inside the trench. “She will be ready in a few seconds,” announced the Mayor with impatience. “You will then have an experience I guarantee you will never forget.”

Through the layers of thick plexion and the tankful of water, a dim shape was vaguely visible. It was Irina, the detective realized. “She will be sitting on a bench like the one we are now on,” whispered Tronsky tensely. “The test will be starting momentarily.”

What have I gotten myself into? was the question pulsating through the mind of Klimov. Where had the hunt for Sara Milova taken him? He was in a world he had never supposed he would have to enter or explore. His thoughts were reeling.

The lights in the basement ceiling suddenly went out and a yellow illumination began to glow from the silicon floor and the plexion walls of the gigantic water tank.

“Irina has turned on the radiant lighting,” explained the Mayor. “Keep your eyes on the water in front of us. Something is about to happen.”

The liquid was a bright, brilliant yellow, becoming yellower by the second. Was it still water? gasped David. He had never seen anything like this before, nor imagined that such a sight was possible. Yellow gelatin was what he was reminded of. Or yellowish Russian tea.

He peered into the eerie liquid with focused intensity.

In a short while, he heard a sound as if a switch had been turned on. Was there a change of some sort inside his own mind? He stared at the water and the light shining through it. The yellow was changing into yellow-green in front of him. The green was becoming dominant. Yes, that was it: one color was turning into another as he watched spellbound.

Klimov opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He began to breath more deeply, until he was almost panting. It was the chromatic spectacle before his eyes that was making his heart beat fast, his blood flow strongly, his skin redden. He had never before experienced anything like this.

The yellow was now gone, but the green water darkened in hue. It was the light from the bottom and the sides of the tank that was changing. What was the color of the water now? Blue, the astounded witness told himself. Rays of blue light were turning the green water to an intermediate turquoise. Bluish green, that was what it was becoming. Blue was replacing the green that had driven out the original yellow!

The sight before him filled the detective with awe and amazement. It concentrated every strand of his attention. All else was displaced from his consciousness. What was to happen next? How far was this process to take itself? How was it going to end?

The blueness pushed out the green. Shade followed shade through all varieties of aquamarine. At last, pure blue was triumphant. A serene, reassuring solid blue. Klimov contemplated the ocean-like water as if he had seen a mystical transfiguration. He asked himself no more questions about the cause or the meaning of what was happening. The experience was self-contained, beyond the ordinary or the natural.

But a new change in the light occurred. The water began to turn purplish. A certain redness entered the blue water, growing stronger by the second. The viewer watched the tide of color change. Red conquered and replaced the blue. One color died and another came into fullness. The water burned with fire now.

Where was this process of transformation headed? The detective could foresee that the red was not going to be final. It was already changing into orange. Soon, a yellowish orange dominated. It was a return to the original pure yellow of the cycle he had experienced.

David viewed all of this with soaring rapture in his brain.

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