Chapter XVII.

10 Oct

The sun filled the morning air of Yaroslavl with its piercing, ultra-brilliant rays. Its warmth soon evaporated the dew left overnight on the city. David Klimov awoke from his sleep an hour later than he had intended. A glance at his wrist-timer told him that he had probably missed his scheduled breakfast with the Suzdalian pair. Perhaps Lev and Irina had already eaten and left for the Childrens’ Theater. He rushed to dress, then took the descending lifter down to the front desk.

“Is there any message for me?” he asked the clerk.

The latter checked the letter box, then came back. “No, sir. There is nothing here for you today.”

“Have you seen Miss Antova with a large gentleman?”

“Yes,” smiled the clerk. “They left the hotel about four or five minutes ago.”

“I see,” said David, turning and stepping away.

Perhaps it was better this way, not to see them before the battle where he had to come out and fight against their side. It would have been difficult to continue the string of lies with which he had already compromised himself.

The Childrens’ Theater was built on the former site of the Soviet Secret Police, the K.G.B., torn down in 1999 for the new facility.

It was in the reborn, traditional style of Tsarist Revival that came to dominate Russian architecture in the early 21st century. New building materials and methods were being used in this renaissance of classical forms and design. Polynex surfaces gleamed both inside and outside the theater building, giving it light colors of chrome yellow, whitish pink, and cerulean blue on the ornate walls, columns, and arches. There was a distinctly Russian aura about the whole place.

The primary attractions presented by the Detskii Theater were robotic shows from the old Russian repertoire. Legendary kukla and marionetka figures dominated the stage productions. The structure was irregularly ovoid and the rows of seating semi-circular. The balcony above the ground floor, up near a translucent ceiling with a dome, provided excellent viewing of the mechanical actors on stage. Puppet dolls moved and spoke under remote control without strings or wires of any kind. Parents brought their children here from far and wide to enjoy traditional Russian dramas for the very young.

David Klimov arrived early, anxious to take his post and begin his assigned job as lookout. He went up to the main entrance, located on the south end of the theater building. A line of Psychic Tsekh people were slowly filing in, showing their plasmine membership wafers to two men who were in charge of this entrance door. The detective took a place at the end of the advancing line, reaching into his coat pocket for his money holder. He pulled out his recently issued wafer and put back his curious wallet. The noise of new arrivals came to him from behind his back.

“We have caught up with you, David!” rang out a woman’s voice.

The one being addressed recognized instantly who it was.

Turning around, he confirmed his first judgment.

Irina Antova stood there, with Lev Tronich just behind her. An unusual, uncharacteristic frown covered her brow as she began to speak.

“What’s going on, David? Why could you not see us earlier this morning? And what was it that kept you so occupied last evening?”

So, the Mayor of Suzdal had not mentioned to her that he had seen him coming out of the Bear traktir. Klimov glanced a second at Tronich. The face of the burly giant was a rock, mum and expressionless.

David turned back to Irina with a warm grin. “Do not be so alarmed,” he admonished her. “I had a lot to do with the House of Razum activities last night. I did not get back to the hotel until near midnight. There was no reason to fibrafon either of you at such an hour.”

Tronich motioned to him to move forward with the progress of the line.

“What are the Razumites planning to do at this morning’s meeting?” demanded Irina with evident anger. “We expected to learn that from you last night. None of us can foresee what our foes are going to do here.”

David, thinking fast, made the decision to continue weaving a tissue of lies.

“I am confident that the followers of Razum will have nothing anywhere near a majority when the session begins in a little while. The votes will just not exist for them, and they will have only a small minority of the total votes. Their support will not be enough to avert their complete defeat. None of their candidates will be selected to be delegates to the national convention.

“They are depending too much upon the eloquence of their founder to sway and convert the psychics through his oratory. But the votes will not be there at all. They will lose the critical vote on delegates.”

David felt a growing unease about what he was doing. Is it my conscience that causes me pain? he wondered to himself.

But of course, he instructed his wounded conscience, the new members recruited by Dr. Ivan Ivanov were not going to arrive here until well after the start of the formal meeting, yet in time to decide the issue of who the delegates were going to be. That election was slated to be the final business, after several hours of speeches and reports. The electrobus with the mental patients would have all that time in which to arrive with the winning margin of votes.

David caught once again what Irina was saying to him.

“I hope that what you say is the way it all comes out today,” she said, averting her eyes away from the glassy gaze of Klimov.

“It will not be possible for me to sit with you,” muttered the latter. “I will have to carry out a couple of simple chores for Viktor Razum in the course of the meeting.”

Before he could be asked any further questions, the undercover detective stepped forward to make his way through the theater entrance, showing his Psychic Tsekh identification wafer to one of the officials standing at the door.

Seeing a crowd milling about in the vestibule of the theater, Klimov rushed into it, leaving the couple from Suzdal behind him. Within seconds he was inside the auditorium of the structure. It took him only a moment to locate a flight of stairs going up to the balcony. Rapid stepping past the rings of seats brought him to a high point where the stage and most of the lower story were visible. No other individual was up here in this distant area of the theater. That seems natural, the detective said to himself. All the action this morning will be down there below. This balcony should remain completely empty during the coming performance, except for the one person assigned to watch for Dr. Ivanov’s electrobus.

A giant pane of transparent, polymerized silex, clearer than traditional glass, covered most of the north end of the building’s second floor. It extended all the way up to the chrome yellow dome. Similar sheets of silex let morning sunlight into the theater from the other three upper walls, from the south, east, and the west. David turned his face toward the sun, rising behind the eastern pane. He raised his right hand to shield his eyes from its blinding glare. This was going to be a clear, bright day, he said to himself.

He followed the highest outside aisle to the north and peered outside through the wide window situated in that wall. Yes, that was a parking lot down there on the ground. People were pouring out of electrocars and making their way into the theater. They were heading around the building, taking the two walkways to the main entrance.

No electrobus was visible anywhere. It was too early for Ivanov’s arrival. That was due to come later, during the meeting. It was meant to take the enemies of the House of Razum by surprise. David turned around and surveyed the scene below in the theater.

The area around the circular stage was already filled up with Tsekh members. Men and women were filing in through the south door. A loud din arose from the already crowded floor. Klimov began to recognize some of the faces. The Razumites were situated to his left, on the eastern side of the auditorium. There was Viktor Razum up near the stage, in the second row next to an aisle. In the seat behind him sat Sara Milova. Beautiful Sara! thought the balcony lookout. He remembered all that the two of them had experienced together the day before. What did the future hold for the runaway daughter of Boris Milova? he dreamily mused. Or for himself, with all the fictions he had invented and told so far?

Suddenly he noticed a pair of shining eyes looking up directly at him. Sara was touching Razum’s shoulder and pointing upward at the north wall of the balcony. The psychic leader raised his hand for a second, then turned away when another follower said something to him. David continued peering down, for Sara still had her eyes on him.

The undercover detective sensed a psychic message being transmitted to him. He knew, at that moment, that telepathy existed among those who shared their love, because his mind was now an antenna picking up what his lover was thinking at that moment. The message was received clearly, for it was identical to what he would have been sending to her if he himself had equivalent transmitting capacity. Three words repeated over and over: I love you, I love you…

Doctor Razum turned around and spoke to Sara. This broke her concentration and her telepathic contact with the man on the balcony.

The theater was filling up completely now. Klimov decided it was time to take his post at the silex window. The meeting would be starting soon he told himself. Yes, quite soon.

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