Chapter XI.

6 Oct

A matter of immediate importance seeped into the thought of David Klimov and tortured him. He had been hired by Boris Milov to find and bring back his daughter. She was there in Yaroslavl with him every day now, but he had not informed his client back in Moscow. This appeared to be a breach of professional duty. When was he going to fulfill his promise to the man he was employed by? Or was he going to allow his tardiness to evolve into falsification of the truth?

The question now weighed heavily on his conscience.

The detective could decide nothing yet. He felt a paralysis of his will. Was he going to remain passive indefinitely? His situation was rapidly becoming impossible to continue this way. He realized that he had completely changed his perspective on the House of Razum. If so, how was he obliged to deal with its conflict within the Psychic Tsekh? He was obligated to reach some conclusion as to what to do. That was difficult but necessary.

The door of the library room of the House of Razum where he was supposedly studying opened from the outside corridor. David looked up to see the founder of the movement entering and approaching him with slow, cautious steps.

“I have learned what happened to this Baba Nara,” Razum began. “That gang of wild thugs took the poor old lady for a member of our organization. They threatened to harm her unless she denounced us. It appears she had no idea at all what they were talking about. Then the fanatics went on to the ultimate extreme against an innocent victim of their hatred. It must have been horrible for her.”

Klimov pursed his lips, then spoke. “That gang was made up and led by Psychic Tsekh traditionalists with conventional ideas and beliefs, Sara informed me later. She was able to identify several of them. Is anyone going to begin legal action against them?”

“Unfortunately, it would have little effect on the violent animus against us. We do not have the resources for an effective counterattack using the law.”

“I was appalled,” said Klimov. “Their fury was inhuman. They labeled her a koldunia who practiced the black art of koldovstvo. these lunatics accused her of exercising hypnotic power over those who came to her as customers.”

He studied the face of Viktor Razum as if searching there for the answer to an obscure riddle.

The leader of the movement took a chair across the library table from David, waiting a short time before speaking to him again.

“Sara tells me that you have read a great deal in recent days on our progress with hypnosis. Is that right?”

“Yes,” replied the neophyte with a nod. “I now perceive how it is the center of the entire realm of psychic phenomena.”

Dr. Razum smiled warmly with approval. “That is a truth I came upon early in my research, and I believe it deeply. It has changed my life and direction. You know by now that all hypnosis is based on supreme concentration and focusing of the mind’s attention. The augmented stage that we have now attained is that of telehypnosis at a distance. That demands extreme intensification of psychic capability to achieve. You have learned what our principles are.

“Now, we must provide you with active hypnotic experience as soon as possible. Although Sara is a recent convert to the philosophy of the House of Razum, I think she will be able to guide your further training in our methods. She will provide great benefits to your mental development, believe me. You shall have wonderful telehypnotic experiences with her instruction and practicing together.”

Before David could make any reply to this, Victor Razum had risen to his feet.

“I will arrange an active field session with her for this evening,” announced the head of the movement. “Can you be ready to take part about eight?”

“Yes,” replied the obedient new recruit. “That will give me plenty of time for dinner at my hotel. You are certain that Sara is willing to do this for me? I do not wish to impose upon her in any way.”

“I assure you, David, she will be happy to help you in the development of your own ability for telehypnosis.” He turned and strode out of the library with energetic, confident steps.

Shock struck Klimov as soon as he stepped into the large, ornate hotel dining room. There sat Irina Antova and Lev Tronich, but with an unexpected individual between them: Georgi Shutsky, his fellow detective from Moscow.

His chubby colleague, shorter than the other two at that table, caught sight of David and smiled broadly. The startled Klimov was able to make out the words of Georgi to the two others.

“Here comes the absent author,” he chuckled. “Or, should I call him our absent-minded novelist. Where have you been so late, my dear friend?” laughed the fat one. David stood breathless before the round dining table where the three were located.

“Sit down, my boy,” laughed Shutsky. “Are you not happy to see your hard-working literary agent?”

So that was the story that the Moscovite had invented to tell Irina and Lev. But why had he come to Yaroslavl? wondered his fellow detective. What was the purpose of such a journey?

“Sit down here beside me,” suggested Irina. Without revealing any of his interior confusion, David did just that.

“We were fortunate to meet Mr. Shutsky in the lobby this afternoon,” explained Lev Tromich. “He was inquiring about you at the reception desk as we walked in and asked for our keyboards and mail. We introduced ourselves to him at once.”

David gulped. His throat was as rough and dry as sand.

‘Your friends told me where you were all day,” grinned Shutsky. “Most interesting, I said to them. It is fascinating to me how you find activities to get yourself involved in, dear chum.” He ended with a loud guffah.

“Georgi tells us that he brings good news from your publisher,” announced Irina.

So that was the excuse that the wiretapper had devised to explain his presence in Yaroslavl. But what could be the real reason? wondered David. Shutsky would not have traveled so far without some definite plan or goal in mind, David told himself.

Fortunately for the latter, a waiter appeared at that moment. “Is anyone ready to order?” sang out the friendly young man in a bright white suit.

“I am literally famished,” said Irina as she picked up the menu cassette on the table top in front of her. She pushed several micro-buttons, then handed the device to the waiter. The other three soon followed her example.

“How is your manuscript coming along, David?” asked the fat man posing as his agent. “There are great prospects with our electrowire publisher. I want to talk to you about that later tonight,” he said with a huge grin.

“I am sorry, Georgi, but I will have to go out again on an appointment,” grunted Klimov, now in full control of himself. “But you and I can get together later, if you have not gone to bed yet.”

“I will still be up and awake when you come back here,” smiled Georgi.

The four looked up as the waiter returned with a wheeled wagon that held the dishes each of them had ordered on their cassettes.

The route through the mostly deserted streets of Yaroslavl back to the cul-de-sac that held the House of Razum was a torturous exercise for the lone walker.

David had rushed off from his three associates as soon as he was finished eating a small meal of vegetables. Neither Lev nor Irina had any opportunity to ask him why he was going back to the House of Razum that evening.

How much had the two from Suzdal revealed to Shutsky about his new undercover activities for them within the camp of their psychic foe? He wished he knew that. He was taking enormous risks of being exposed in a web of falsehoods.

It was evident to him that Georgi had gone along with his claim to be a novelist hunting for experience and creative material.

All at once, he turned a corner and entered the familiar dead-end ulitsa.

The undercover investigator came to an abrupt stop.

The arrival of Georgi Shutsky had to be connected with the fact that an urgent communication was being brought to him. The fibratapper must have something important to relate. Big enough to bring him from Moscow to Yaroslavl in order to deal with what he may have discovered.

But who had sent so vital a message that it had to be handed to him in person?

Could it have originated with the client he himself was supposed to be working for, the father of Sara?

David moved onward into the dark cul-de-sac.

What did Boris Milov want him to know? he asked himself. The answer to that would have to wait a while.

“Focus your eyes on the point of white light,” commanded Sara. “Do not let any object or thought distract you from the laser tochka, David.”

The latter sat across from her in the darkened library. Upon the table that separated them lay a tiny device that emitted four invisible rays of ordered, directed, concentrated photons of light that crisscrossed a foot or so above the table. The only visible point was where the rays intersected. It was the single locus of brilliance with no length, width, or height. This point of light had a sun-like intensity to it. Everything else in the room was eclipsed by it.

“Try not to think of anything but the tochka of light before you,” she instructed him in a voice he had never heard her use before. It was authoritative, with steel in it. The sound overpowered him, taking hold of his mental will.

The man about to undergo hypnosis felt a tremor in his spine. What if he lost control of himself and was forced to reveal what he really was? That he had entered the House of Razum with the aim of rescuing Sara from the clutches of its leader? That he had been associated with the mortal foes of Viktor Razum and his sect-like movement? That he had woven a fabric of inconsistent lies and fabrications around himself?

There was a danger that he might expose the truth and thereby destroy what he had so patiently built up. How could he keep secrets to himself while under hypnotic trance? Was that possible?

“You are becoming drowsy, David,” slowly murmured Sara. Sleep is about to descend on you, but it will be a waking, conscious sleep in which you will be able to hear and speak.”

He suddenly felt as if he were falling at an accelerating speed, as if in a bottomless tunnel. The white spot of laser light seemed to him to be rising, lifting up until it stood above his head.

A nerve connection in his brain snapped loudly. Then he sensed that he was no longer in control, that a new and different consciousness had fallen upon him. When Sara next spoke to him, her voice sounded as if it came from inside his own head.

“Can you still hear me, David.”

“Yes,” he said in a hollow, unfamiliar voice.

“You are now in a trance,” she informed him. “Your mind is in a state of hypnosis. Do you understand what that means?”

“I will now be subject to suggestions from the mind of another,” he slowly told her. “Your mind can displace and influence mine.”

“Do not be afraid, David,” she assured him. “No one can make you commit any act that your own conscience considers unacceptable and evil. Your inner sense of right and wrong cannot be countermanded.”

“I know that.” His hands had a slight tremble to them. Sara took note of this apprehension in him.

“You have no reason to fear the condition you are in,” she gently told him. “Why are your hands still shaking?”

“I might say things that I should not,” he confessed to her. “Things that would embarrass you or me.”

“Nothing like that need be said here tonight. You can trust me, David. I have no intention of prying into anything. You know how much I like you and prize the friendship between us.”

His hands no longer shook. “You like me, Sara?” he asked her. “You really think that you do?”

The hypnotist felt a hormonal tingle pulse through her inner organs.

“Of course.” Her voice became an embarrassed whisper. “Don’t you sense that?”

“I didn’t know,” he mumbled. “At least, not for sure.”


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