Chapter XXIV.

14 Oct

Bands of members of the Psychic Tsekh already filled the spacious plaza when the istochnik, the podemnik, and the three posredniki came out through the hotel door.

Sara, clothed in a dress of radiant white, took her position at a small circle especially drawn at the center of the silex concourse.

The posedniki occupied a spot about fifty meters from her. Irina Antova stood in the middle, Lev Tronich on her left and David Klimov to her right.

Meanwhile, Dr. Viktor Razum walked away in the opposite direction, until he was at the first intersecting cross street. A small group of his followers had already congregated here at a metro-subway station.

The psychic leader entered the plasmasine rest stop and sat down on a bench that his adherents had reserved there for him.

The istochnik checked the timer on his right arm, then took a deep breath.

Only seconds before his psychic effort was scheduled to start, he took a final glance at his timer, then closed his eyes as tightly as he could.

Second followed second with heightening tension both at the metro station and in front of the hotel. The trio of media stared at Sara, waiting for the start of this levitation exercise.

The huge crowd on the periphery of the plaza grew quiet as the moment for psychic lift-off came near. For several moments, it seemed that no one was breathing. All eyes were fixed upon the white figure of Sara Milova.

She was rising. Everyone realized this at exactly the same time. She was climbing higher every second.

Klimov looked into the eyes of the podemnik as they fogged over. An eerie, distant point took control over his mind until he was part of a unit larger than himself alone. Psychic force surged through, then out of him. This flood grew ever greater.

Ten, fifteen, twenty meters upward went the figure of the podemnik.

The lifting became slower and slower as more altitude was gained. No one in the surrounding ground made the least noise as they gaped up at the floating white dress.

What happened next came too fast for anyone to remember all the many details later. The picture put together was a composite from numerous disperate angles, with no guarantee of their accuracy or validity.

In the plasmasine metro station, a short and portly stranger appeared among the members of the House of Razum. No one noticed or recognized him as he made his way through the entrance and slipped toward the leader acting as the psychic istochnik. All of a sudden, he made a quick, desperate lunge forward toward Viktor Razum. A bright gleam revealed that the intruder carried some sort of weapon. This came too late to stop him before the blade struck the flesh of the intended victim.

Razum gave out a sudden groan of excruciating pain as the knife entered his chest.

Meanwhile, the rise of the podemnik stopped. Sara hovered precariously for a few seconds, then plunged groundward with accelerating momentum.

No one was capable of any psychic rescue. David felt himself drained of all power as his lover fell and smashed with force into the silex pavement.

Scores of eyes stared at the bleeding body before a few of the observers proceeded to examine the unmoving corpse of Sara Milova. Soon a small crowd formed around her.

Klimov watched in petrified horror. He would never hold his beloved alive in his arms ever again. The shock to him was overwhelming.

From a distance, the sirens of ambulances and police electros sounded, louder by the second as they rushed nearer.

“Razum has been stabbed,” shouted someone. “He fell unconscious. It was an attempt to assassinate him.”

David turned toward Irina. “We have to find out what happened to the istochnik to cause this tragedy,” he muttered to her darkly.

The leader’s body was being placed in an ambulance van as the three posredniki got to the plasamine metro station.

Two uniformed policemen escorted a handcuffed Boris Milov to an electro and placed him in the rear seat.

“Make way,” a third officer shouted. “We must get this vehicle out of here.”

David, all of a sudden, heard a voice addressing him on his right.

“Mr. Klimov,” it inquired. “How is your condition and that of your two colleagues?”

A small turn showed who it was. Dr. Maxim Grekov, the Moscow parapsychologist.

“We are alright. But what exactly occurred here?”

“It was Miss Milova’s father who caused this catastrophe. He attacked Viktor viciously with a concealed knife, it appears.”

“Who saw what happened here?” asked David.

Grekov pursed his lips. “I was only a few feet away. No one was able to stop the madman, it happened so fast.”

“You are certain it was Milov?” asked Irina.

“I was once introduced to him in Moscow. What is her condition now?”

David gulped. “The fall may have killed her,” he managed to get out.

“How tragic and useless,” gasped Dr. Grekov.

A policeman walked up to the three posredniki. “Excuse me, but you will have to come along with us to headquarters for some questions.”

“I would like to talk with you later on,” whispered Klimov to the man who had failed to recognize him a short time before.

After twenty minutes of interrogation concerning the levitation demonstration, all three of the posredniki were released by the police.

They walked side-by-side down a long corridor of black polynex while talking among themselves.

“Viktor is in a very serious and critical condition,” sadly said Tronich. “He is at the Central Polyclinic and has been operated on by advanced surgeons.”

“We should go there at once,” advised Irina, staring at David. “There is nothing any of us can do for the dead Sara from now on.”

The truth of this statement sunk like a heavy weight in Klimov’s inner mind.

As the trio neared the doors of the entrance, David caught sight of a familiar face coming into the building. It was his friend, the detective from Moscow.

David stopped, telling Irina and Lev that he would see them later at the Neon Hotel.

When Georgi Shutsky reached where Klimov was standing, the other two psychics were already gone.

“Why are you here?” bluntly asked David without prologue or greeting.

“I have come to see my client, Boris Milov,” explained the fat little detective.

“Why are you seeing him?”

“To find out whether he still needs my services. I believe that he does, David.”

The latter’s face twitched slightly.

“Can I go with you?” asked the psychic.

“Why?” demanded Shutsky.

“I, too, want to learn the truth.”

The two proceeded down the black silicon corridor to police headquarters in silence.

Milov still wore ferric kandaly on his wrists.

He sat on a small stool in one corner of a small, dimly-lit holding cell. Shadows dominated over the scarce light available.

“How do you feel?” began Georgi. “Do you need any medical attention?”

The face of the Moscow merchant resembled a mask of a ghostly color.

“I am fine,” weakly muttered the prisoner. “At least as of now.”

Klimov decided to get to the heart of the situation with one question.

“What made you do what you did?” he bluntly blurted out.

Milov peered at him with enlarged, swollen eyes.

“A dream,” he confusedly stuttered. “It came in a dream to me.”

Both visitors drew a step closer to the man on the stool, up to the vertical bars of the cell.

“Can you explain what you mean?” whispered David as gently as he could. “What kind of dream are you referring to?”

The man in the cell briefly hesitated before revealing what had happened to him.

“I was watching what was going on in the hotel plaza. It only took a second or so. A stranger I had never seen before passed me by. The look he gave me! It burned deeply into my mind. No one has ever gazed into my eyes like that before. It was so uncanny.”

“Go on,” demanded Georgi Shutsky.

“I felt as if I was no longer myself, yet not anyone else either. Nothing as eerie as this has ever happened to me before. I cannot describe or explain it. Everything else then came quickly.”

“But where did you get the knife?” carefully said David. “Do you have any memory of how you obtained it?”

“No. None at all.”

Klimov and Shutsky glanced at each other for a moment, then turned back to the man who had stabbed Dr. Viktor Razum.

“Do you recall what the stranger looked like?” inquired Klimov.

“It took a while before Boris Milov was able to reply.

“All I remember are the eyes,” he slowly muttered. “They were like those of a …a bird.”

“A bird?” said Shutsky with surprise. “What sort of bird?”

Milov made a visible effort, but nothing came forth from his memory.

Finally, David decided to probe some more.

“You just told us that the eye was a large one, didn’t you?”

“That’s right,” remembered the merchant. “They were enormous.”

“Like those of an owl, perhaps?” persisted the ex-detective who had become a psychic. All of a sudden, he stretched forth his eyes as far as he could with his facial muscles.

“That’s it!” marveled the man in kandaly. “That’s it!”

All at once, David knew who had hypnotized and taken control of Boris Milov. He turned to Shutsky. “We have to get back to the convention,” he declared in desperation.


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