Chapter XVIII.

10 Oct

The local officers of the Psychic Tsekh took their positions at a small table on the circular stage at the center of the Childrens’ Theater. The president called the meeting to order and began the formal agenda. Reading of the minutes of the last meeting lasted only two minutes. A report was read by the treasurer of the Yaroslavl branch. Then came the recent letters from the national board of directors concerning the calling of the St. Petersburg convention and assigning two delegate seats to the Yaroslavl district. The floor was then opened for nominations.

David scanned the parking lot as the name of Viktor Razum was proposed and seconded by two of his followers. Where were the patients from the Ivanov Ferma? The detective could see no sign of their electrobus down below on the gray beton pavement.

Down on the floor of the theater a second nomination was made. Klimov whirled around as he heard the name of Sara Milova put forward. The Moscow native was, in fact, a member of the Yaroslavl branch and perfectly eligible to be a delegate from there to the convention. David stared at her, sitting behind Razum alongside the central aisle. She seemed to realize that he was watching her, for she suddenly lifted her head so she could catch sight of him. The telepathic transmission from her lasted for only seconds, for Viktor Razum twisted his neck around and said something to her. The two exchanged a few words, then both of them looked up toward the balcony window. Meantime, the opponents of the House of Razum nominated two of the local officers sitting on the stage to be delegates.

Klimov lifted his two arms as a sign of puzzlement: the electrobus was nowhere in sight, he signaled to the leader of the new movement. His arms fell down to his sides as he turned, so that he could again survey the parking lot below.

On the floor of the auditorium, an attempt was being made by the Razumites to delay the vote as long as possible. Speakers from the House of Razum rose to make statements and voice their views and opinions on the coming selection of delegates.

“Let’s vote and get it over with!” called out several traditionalists. Tempers snapped as seconds grew into minutes. David glanced down a second, then looked outside once again. He could feel the tension and heat between the two warring parties. The fever of the conflict was climbing and increasing.

“It’s time to shut up and vote,” roared a leonine bass voice.

And then the lookout high above spied what he had been waiting for so long.

A long, gleaming vehicle rolled off a back street and came near the rear door of the theater. David spun around, raised his right hand, and began to wave wildly. Sara was the first to see him signaling. She bent forward and told the leader that the expected moment of re-enforcement had arrived. The new voters were here. Events were moving along and about to take a new direction.

Viktor Razum glanced upward to see the detective holding up both arms, with his hands clamped together over his head. Success is near, the contingent from the sanatorium has arrived. They would soon be present on the floor, participating as members.

“Time to vote!” “Time to vote!” shouted partisans on the floor as Razumites attempted to speak to the assembly of psychics. The level of noise rose ever higher. The presiding officer rapped his silex gavel on the rostrum in front of him. Tense nerves flared all over the hall. A fever seemed to be rising from all sides.

David watched as the crowd of patients congregated at the rear of the Childrens’ Theater. It was evident that they could not enter that way, the north door of the building having been locked from the start of the morning, before anyone had arrived. The men and women down below on the floor soon realized what the situation was. Klimov could make out Dr. Ivan Ivanov approaching from the electrobus. The psychiatrist shouted something, raising his right arm toward the theater. It became clear what he was saying: they must try to enter through another door. The result was an immediate rush toward the right and around the corner to the west side of the theater.

Klimov turned and peered down at the meeting, where Victor Razum had risen to address the chair.

“Mr. Chairman,” he bellowed loudly, “it is evident that a number of members are just now arriving, and will be with us momentarily. Surely, the vote on delegates can be delayed until they are all present. I call upon you to allow those outside the theater at present to enter and be seated so that they may participate in this most important decision that faces us. Only a minute or two will be needed to allow them entrance. We must allow them to take part.”

With that, the leader of the House of Razum sat down again, his followers applauding his words with fervor and gusto.

But from the west wall of the theater came the sound of banging metal, evidently the patients trying to open the locked door on that side of the building.

On the center stage, the president of the local branch began to speak amid the uproar. “The moment for selecting the convention delegates is the present one. Since the nominations have already been made, it would not be in order to admit anyone who was not present and participating when that was done. In other words, not on the floor at that precise instant. So, we shall now proceed to the business at hand. Will the sergeant-at-arms see that no one enters this theater while we take the vote on the delegates?”

David watched as the four men who had checked all membership wafers rose and stepped back to the front entrance at the south end of the building.

“Mr. President, I object to this procedure.” It was Viktor Razum who shouted from the central aisle. “I consider this a point of order which must be decided by the entire membership, not the chair alone. The entire membership that is present here must have its say on such an important subject as this. Everyone has the right to participate and have their say.”

From numerous locations around the leader came the same cry: “Point of order!”

Klimov noticed one figure slipping away, toward the front of the theater. Where is she going? he thought as his body began to move toward the stairs on the opposite side of the balcony. If Sara was about to place herself at risk of physical harm, then he had to rush down and see whether he could protect her.

Running around the ring of seats, then racing breathlessly down the stairwell he had earlier climbed up, David stopped once he reached the ground floor and surveyed the scene at the main entrance.

From the area about the stage came continuing shouts of “Point of order!”

The meeting had boiled over and was by now out of control. The situation was growing riotous. No one could predict what might happen next.

All the Psychic Tsekh members seemed to be on their feet, yelling and gesticulating vociferously.

At the entrance, one of the sergeants-at-arms had locked the polynex door and was standing before it in a blocking position, his three fellow guards surrounding him. The four men glared at the crowd outside. Sara stood about ten meters from this group of foes, in the vestibule of the theater. Suddenly, she began to point with her two hands. What was she trying to say to those locked out of the Children’s Theater? Through the polynex, David could make out the face of Dr. Ivan Ivanov, at the head of his company of patients. Yes, he was able to signal back to Sara. Her message had been received and understood. He began to move away from the entrance, to the right, with the others following him.

Then, Sara began to run around the edge of the circle of theater seats, catching sight of Klimov as she passed the stairs.

“Come with me!” she managed to cry out as she hurried past him.

He did just that, not even thinking of what was going to happen next.

As the two of them neared the locked east door, they could hear the roar of anger and hysteria behind them. The chair had lost control of the proceedings, it was clear. No one was any longer presiding, because that was impossible to achieve.

The door in front of them, like all the others, was made of polysilex.

Sara stepped a little distance behind it and turned to David.

“See that those four don’t come here,” she commanded him.

He gave a nod of his sweat-covered brow.

Both of them looked through the transparent door to see Dr. Ivanov and his followers appear on the outside of it.

Sara stared intently at the locked door.

A crackling sound came from there. Suddenly, the entire door became eerily opaque, as if transmuted by some cosmic force from beyond nature. The sound of falling sand reached the detective’s ears, and he knew instantly what it was that he was witnessing.

Sara had applied the power of her inner psychic resources to the molecules of polysilex, breaking the material fabric binding together the door. Billions of grains of sand lay on the floor where solid matter had stood a moment ago. She had cracked the structure of a solid object through telepathic concentration and focus, utilizing the mental discipline that the House of Razum and its founder had taught her.

Klimov watched in astonishment how Ivanov, then his patients, stepped over the pile of sand into the theater building. The sound of the crumbling door, then the entrance of the locked-out new members, drew the gaze and attention of those shouting and stomping about the center of the theater.

The men and women hurrying in from outside poured by Sara and David. The latter turned to the young woman who had disintegrated the door.

“We have won, Sara,” he smiled rapturously. “I should say you have brought victory to our cause here today. Thank you for what you accomplished just now.”

As he took her right hand, David heard the voice of Viktor Razum booming over the clangorous noise in the theater.

“Mr. President, I propose that the votes of all those members now present be taken at once. There is no reason to delay any longer.”

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