Chapter X.

6 Oct

A shout came from the entrance to the tent. “Get out of there, if you don’t want to be killed!”

David and Sara both turned around. The bright glare of a handheld lantern momentarily blinded them.

“Get all those people out of the tent!” bellowed a second voice.

“Grab the witch!” screamed someone.

Thick shapes rushed into the tent, going for Baba Nara. The latter put up no resistance, surrendering with resignation to the gang of muscular males taking control over her. Two of the strangers, one on each side, lifted her and carried away the bundle dressed in black.

David threw his right arm at one of the attackers, but was thrown backwards by a third man who had come into the tent. Half a dozen figures were now inside the sheltering canvas. There was nothing to be done against them, brute force was in the hands of the invaders who now took away Baba Nara.

Sara screamed in terror. “Bring her back! Set her free!” Her eyes blazed like hot coals as she followed behind the abductors.

David suddenly took hold of her by the arms.

“Calm down, Sara!” he whispered. “We must maintain self-control and get to the police as soon as possible.”

The gang of men was all of a sudden gone.

Klimov led Sara back to her chair and made her sit down.

“I will try to catch up and follow those thugs,” he told her as calmly as he could under the circumstances. “Do you think you can find a security guard and make contact with the police? I must find out who those people are and where they are taking Baba Nara.”

Sara looked up into his eyes. Her own were bursting with torrents of tears.

“I think that I know, David,” she moaned.

“You know?” His hands began to shake with delayed shock.

“They are the enemies of the House of Razum,” she explained with difficulty. “Their goal is to drive under all independent psychic activity, whatever its form or persons involved. They want only their own kind of telepathy to exist.”

David gasped for breath. “Will they hurt her?”

“That is a possibility,” she wept. “They wish to frighten Baba Nara out of continuing to give her psychic consultations here at Venera Park.”

“But why?” pleaded Klimov. “How can a little old woman be a danger to their conventional form of telepathy?”

Sara rose to her feet. “Our enemies wish to clean out all those who might bring public disgrace to the Psychic Tsekh. Tonight, the target is weak and defenseless Baba Nara. In days to come, it will be the House of Razum and all of its adherents.”

“That must not be allowed,” mumbled David with anger.

The two watched a crowd gathering near the gate into Venera Park.

“Baba Nara must be there,” fearfully said Sara. “Let’s go see what is going on.”

David led her to where a large group of men, women, and children had congregated. “I cannot see anything,” she said in frustration as they approached the scene. Dozens of human bodies stood in their way.

A voice called out from behind David and Sara. “Make way! Medicals coming through!”

Four figures in cerulean blue passed into the crowd near the pair. Two of them carried a transparent plastic stretcher bag.

“It’s Baba Nara,” shouted Sara with consternation. “I can see her face. They have her stuffed into a body sack.”

This was proven correct when, in a few seconds, an emergency team emerged from the crowd of spectators. Wrapped in their transportation container was the old fortune-teller and character reader. Her face was as pale as marble, with splotches of red blood at both ends of her mouth.

Sara drew close as the medicals passed by with their wounded load. They were headed for their electro-carrier. David, taken by surprise, followed a step behind Sara.

“She is my grandmother,” lied the young psychic. “Let me ride along with her.”

The chief of the medical team spoke directly to Sara. “Get in the carrier with us.”

The four young men lifted the stretcher bag into the rear of their vehicle.

The leader helped Sara climb in on the side. “Sit down in front,” he told her.

“I must go along with my sister,” yelled David, standing behind them.

“Climb in, then,” cried out one of the medicals from the rear door. “We have no time to lose.”

The door was soon slammed shut. “Let’s hurry to Yaroslavl Emergency,” shouted the team chief to the driver in front.

David and Sara sat beside each other in a corner, watching as a medical placed an oxygen tube into the mouth of Baba Nara. Another placed a magnetic reinforcer near the old woman’s heart.

As the vehicle sped away from Venera Park, the emergency crew administered diagnostic waves to parts of her body with nanodevices.

Neither of the Moscovites dared ask how serious was the condition of the aged victim of violent attack.

They looked at each other with that unspoken question on their faces.

Male and female nurses, medicals, and doctors hurried from cylinder to cylinder in the emergency hospital’s reception cluster. Klimov and his companion stood watching the group surrounding the electromagnetic chamber that held the battered body of Baba Nara.

The thick, condensed oxygen gas inside her silicon cylinder brought color to the old face. Magnetic waves pulsed through her, measuring, diagnosing, and furnishing therapeutic energy simultaneously.

“Are you tired from standing here so long?” asked the undercover syshchik. “I could look around for a chair for you.”

She looked tenderly into his eyes. “I am too tense and excited to sit down right now. My blood boils when I think of what those dirty curs did to her at Venera Park.”

He gazed at her intently. “I still do not understand what was behind the savage attack on her. How could a weak, aged woman like Baba Nara be considered a threat to anyone at all?”

Sara’s eyes welled over with tears. “Poor Baba Nara! She was unfortunate to be taken for a Razumite, although the woman has no connection whatsoever to us and our organization.”

“You mean that she got caught up in the struggle over control of the Psychic Tsekh?”

“It would certainly appear so,” answered Sara Milova. “These people have become bitter and angry. They are capable of violent reaction in their rage.”

A medical in blue stepped over to the waiting pair.

“You may now speak to your grandmother,” she instructed them in a low voice.

David led the way over to the cylinder that held the suffering psychic.

Through the transparent head shield, her white-haired head became visible. The two stared at her in silence a brief time. How helpless the injured victim looked, thought David.

But the eyes of Baba Nara appeared to sparkle a bit as they caught sight of Sara. “She recognizes me,” whispered the latter.

The woman in the cylinder moved her lips as if trying to speak or smile. But the effort proved too much. All of a sudden, her eyes fell shut.

“She is too exhausted,” softly muttered David. A sound from behind them compelled the pair to turn around. Two medicals were rushing toward the cylinders. One lanky figure turned to Sara.

“Your grandmother just expired,” he sadly announced. “We saw it on all our monitors and gauges. Her life just came to an end.”

“No!” gasped the young woman. “She was looking at me only a moment ago.” Terror filled her dilated eyes and her terrified face.

“Death occurred instantly,” explained the young man in cerulean blue. “She had no pain at all at the end. One second she was alive, the next she was gone. It happens that way with people her age and in her condition. There was nothing any of us could do for her. The wounds she suffered were just too serious and severe. We are all sorry.”

Two other medicals appeared with an opaque stretcher-bag.

“Please, we must now remove the patient’s body,” one of them informed David and Sara.

“We have to leave,” whispered the latter to her psychic student. “There is nothing we can do now for dear Baba Nara.”

Before any staff member could ask them what they wished done with the corpse of their grandmother, the two from the House of Razum had departed.

Half a dozen times that night David awoke from sleep and asked himself one simple question: had he been wrong from the beginning? Was the House of Razum the opposite of what he had at first taken it to be?

He was groggy all next morning at the movement’s library in the old house. Very little study or reading was accomplished by him that day. That one central question kept returning to his conscious mind: had he been wrong all this time? Had his actions been those of an honest syshchik with personal integrity, or those of a sneaky spy who told nothing but lies?

He saw the situation in a different light after the experience at Venera Park. Was it Dr. Viktor Razum and his movement who were victims in the right? That would mean that the rest of the Psychic Tsekh were the ones holding back progress in parapsychology. Were Irina and Lev backward reactionaries and obscurantists? Did that imply that he himself had been on the wrong side of this division and conflict in the world of the psychic?

He tried not to think about Irina Antova or even see her. Was she being misled by Lev and her allies? His thoughts whirled in confusion.

Who was right in the conflict going on?

Having infiltrated the House of Razum, must he now change himself into one of its loyal adherents? he asked himself over and over.

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