Chapter XX.

11 Oct

Viktor Razum gave a wave to the man hurrying across the crowded hotel lobby toward him. He smiled to himself, a philosophic, inner-oriented smile.

“Have you seen Sara this afternoon?” searchingly inquired David.

“She should be around the hotel somewhere,” the leader assured the nervous former detective. “Sara is not going to miss dinner tonight, especially when she finds out that her old teacher will be present there.”

“Teacher?” Klimov’s mouth suddenly turned painfully dry. “What do you mean, sir?”

“When she was a student at the University of Moscow, she worked at the Parapsychology Institute under a renowned pioneer in the field, Dr. Grekov. He is here in St, Petersburg to attend the psychic convention, David.”

The latter swallowed hard.

“It will be like a reunion for Sara,” continued Razum. “And you will have the opportunity to meet our primary collaborator in the development of telehypnotic method, too. He informed me by fibrafon that he will meet and eat with us this evening.”

All at once, David lost all vestiges of appetite. What could he do to avoid a personal disaster that night, for Dr. Grekov would certainly be able to recall being questioned by a private detective searching for Sara Milova.

“This professor was your collaborator, you say?” he succeeded in asking the founder of the movement.

“He was in charge of the scientific experimentation and testing of the technical aspects of telehypnosis,” confessed the head of the House of Razum. “It was a great risk for an academician to take at the time. Everything that he carried out at his institute had to be done secretly. Our Sara was his personal assistant for a long time, till she went on her own out into the field.”

Parts of a general puzzle now fell into place, for Sara had never described her work with Dr. Grekov for her lover. At least some questions could now be answered that concerned her past actions.

But Klimov realized he had no solution to the coming problem of once again facing Dr. Maxim Grekov, the parapsychologist he had questioned in Moscow at the start of his hunt for the missing daughter. Would his past profession now be uncovered in front of Sara? Would a painfully embarrassing unmasking occur as soon as his identity was recognized?

Doctor Razum broke into his intense reverie.

“Have you visited our Psychic Pavilion yet, David?”

“No,” he heard himself say. “I have not had time for that.”

“This is a good time to do so,” the leader instructed him. “Later there will be bigger crowds of people there and it will become crowded.”

“Perhaps I will find Sara there at the pavilion,” muttered David as he drifted off across the lobby already filling up with psioniki of all sorts.

The long corridor, the walls of which were covered with blue-tinted mirrors, contained tables with displays on them from one end to the other.

Special interest groupings and circles had placed signs and posters telling delegates, guests, and the general public nurturing curiosity what was available within the Psychic Tsekh. Teleportation, Paracommunication, Psychic Networking, Telepathic Forecasting, Signals from the Past, Telekinesis, Psychic Chemistry, and Mental Teletherapy: these were some of the most notable subjects of interest that were available for perusal.

It was under the last of the signs, Mental Teletherapy, that Klimov recognized a familiar face, that of Dr. Ivan Ivanov. Zigzagging through the small groups milling around at the center of the pavilion, he headed toward the table where the psychiatrist sat with several people whom David remembered from Yaroslavl as telepathic patients who had joined the Psychic Tsekh at the time of the historic meeting at the Children’s Theater.

“Dr. Ivanov!” he called out as he stepped nearer. “So glad to see you here. How is everything going for you? This promises to be a glorious occasion for the House of Razum, in every conceivable way.”

The doctor rose to his feet and extended his hand for David to shake. “It is going brilliantly at this table,” he answered ebulliently. “There is already deep interest in psychic methods of psychotherapy that use telehypnosis, I have learned. And the convention has not yet formally begun.”

“There will be five days of meetings and lectures during which you and your people can talk to both members and the general public about the great strides being made by the movement of the Razumites,” announced David.

“I intend to deliver our message to thousands,” proudly asserted Ivanov. “This is a first step in revolutionizing all of Russian psychiatry.”

Klimov remembered who it was he had come into the pavilion to see. “Tell me, have you noticed Sara Milova since you have been here today?”

“Yes, I have,” nodded the doctor. “In fact, we spoke for a brief moment. She was heading toward the far, other end of the pavilion.” He made a movement with his hand in that direction.

“Thank you, sir,” concluded the ex-detective. “I have to speak to her about something important.” With that, he started off down the aisle again. His eyes scanned the displays as he advanced. Is she still here somewhere? he wondered. And what was he going to say to her about the delicate problem posed by the presence of Dr. Maxim Grekov at the psychic convention?

It took him less than half a minute of searching to locate Sara.

She was sitting at a long table at the very end of the pavilion, reading something intently. The sign that identified this area told him that the main concern here was “Psionic Legkost”, a term that was new to him. What was this “psychic lightness ” that his beloved Sara appeared to be so interested in? As he neared the table, she looked up and saw him. “Sara!” he grinned with both joy and curiosity. “What sort of subject is it that interests you here so much?”

Her face was a mask of seriousness and concentration. “Levitation,” she muttered. “This is a circle of psychics exploring the earth’s force of gravity through the power of psionic thought. I have been reading the results of recent research. It is a deeply fascinating area of study.”

David, standing opposite her across the table, searched her expressionless face for several seconds. “Is there anyone who is capable of actually rising into the air on a psychic basis?” he skeptically asked her.

“Simon Timov, the leader of the of this small research circle, claims he will accomplish that right here in the pavilion on the last day of the convention. His plan is to levitate himself from here to the observatory of the convention center up there.” She turned her head and pointed to the open porch area above them. David peered upward toward the high ceiling. Several people were at that moment gazing down into the pavilion, leaning on the metallic railing of the elevated observatory.

He returned his eyes back to the face of his lover.

“Is such a feat possible?” he asked her with a shadow of doubt in the tone of his voice.

“Why not?” she said curtly. “It should be no more impossible than teleportation or telekinesis, both of which you have yourself witnessed at the House of Razum in Yaroslavl.”

She stared at him fixedly, waiting for him to either affirm her assertion or mount some sort of argument against it.

Before that could happen, though, a fat little man appeared next to Klimov and began to speak specifically to Sara.

“Did you finish reading the parts of the manual I told you to?” he whistled in a high, birdlike voice.

“Not yet, Mr. Timov,” she apologized. “I have been talking with a friend I would like to introduce you to.”

She introduced David to Simon Timov, and Simon Timov to David. The two men shook hands. There is something of a child’s innocence about this character, the former detective told himself as he peered at the short stranger.

“Sara is enthusiastic about the possibilities of psionic legkost, Mr. Klimov,” chirped circle-faced Timov. “I believe she herself secretly wishes to levitate.”

“You, then, have succeeded in countering gravity, haven’t you?” smiled David.

The smaller man returned the smile.

“If you come to this pavilion the last day of this convention, my good man, you will be able to see my demonstration of the process I have developed.”

Sara, sitting on the opposite side of the long table, interceded at this point.

“From what I have been reading here today, I find that levitation is simple and straightforward. The secret of it is the same as in all psychic phenomena: persistence, determination, and concentration. That makes what appears to be impossible into the attainable.”

David stared with fascination at Timov. “Is that all there is to it?” he boldly countered. “Is levitation as simple as that?”

“It takes a measure of luck, as well,” muttered the fat man, his face suddenly unsmiling as solid stone.

Sara was next to speak. “Simon, could I take your manual of notes to my room and go deeper into it when I have some free time? The subject of legkost fascinates me, I have to confess to you. I plan to watch your performance at the end of the convention.”

The weighty little man turned with a broad grin and beamed at her.

“Of course,” he tweeted cheerfully. “Take the manual with you, Sara.”

The latter rose from her chair, picking up the book she had been reading and tucking it between her right elbow and hip.

“Excuse me,” murmured Timov. “So glad to have made your acquaintance,” he directed at Klimov as he hurried away down the central aisle of the pavilion to the other displays and tables.

David turned toward the now standing Sara, studying her eyes a second or so.

“Where are you headed?” he softly asked her.

“Up to my room, dear, to take a short nap.”

Klimov pondered: should he ask to accompany her? No, he decided. Better not to do so now.

“You feel a bit tired?” he purred.

She gave him a look that raised his concern. “There is so much going on at this convention. I have grown excited, although perhaps I do not show any signs of it. Everything is so fast and hectic. I fear I am running a small fever.”

David focused on her brow. It had a slight red tint to it.

“Perhaps you should not go to Viktor’s dinner party tonight, but stay upstairs and get the rest you need.”

“No,” she argued firmly. “There will be someone from Moscow there that I wish to see and talk with.”

The ex-detective was forced to swallow in fearful consternation.

He walked his lover back through the pavilion, to the entrance that led to the Neon Hotel lobby. His mind groped for a solution to the dilemma caused by the presence of Maxim Grekov.

Sara kissed him goodbye gently on his cheek, then disappeared up the escalating stairs.

David decided that he must disappear, at least for that one evening.

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