The Terrorist’s Game
“Dreams are like paper, they tear so easily.”
Talia shuddered as the Niva pulled into Rynok Square in the oldest part of Lviv. The scene before her was her dream. This was the place that held the building in the photo on Eduard’s wall in Reykjavik. This is the place that her mind had created from minimal information. Everything looked exactly as it had been foreshadowed. The house on the far side of the square stood out from the rest with its black stone blocks that looked as though the building had recently been burnt. The building had not been recently on fire, but was currently a museum. It was exactly as she had pictured it time and again in the dark subconscious corners of her mind, except for the sign on the door that read “closed”. It wasn’t closed in Eduard’s photo. The torture of many years was culminating here with the event that would finally finish the story of her departed husband. She knew he was inside, and she knew that in that building the nightmare would finally end. She was going to go in there to face whatever demon was inside. She was going to end her nightmare, her marriage, and Percival.
She knew that her marriage had been a lie, which she chose to ignore. Because she disagreed with Dmitri, he wrote her off easily, like one would discard an uncomfortable pair of shoes. She was certain that her husband faked his death to rid himself of inconvenient entanglements, and was heading the terrorist group that was systematically taking over Russia by proxy.
“He kidnapped my daughter,” she thought. “He has to pay.”
She was there to rescue her daughter from her husband. She wouldn’t leave without her, and she didn’t intend to spend one more day away from Anya. She vowed to be the mother she had always wanted to be once she freed her only child. She wouldn’t spend one more day estranged from her only daughter. She would no longer take orders from terrorists to stay away from her family.
She would return to Russia if necessary. She loved Russia, and she was far happier there than in New York. If there really was a game, she would dedicate her life to ending it. The world needed to move ahead as nations with leaders, instead of being taunted and coerced into a puppet’s life as a tool of a separatist. Terrorism was not a game, and Talia Anderson would dedicate herself to ending separatism in the world, and ending any game that they played.
Cameron stood next to her and watched her take in the scene before them. She had told him, in grim detail, about her dream. From what she told him, he guessed that this was the scene from her dream. A chill went up his spine as he looked around at the scene that surrounded the photo he saw in Eduard’s apartment in Iceland.
“How could she have dreamed of a place she had never seen?” he wondered. “She only saw the one house. How could she have known the rest?”
He didn’t know what to say. If she was psychic, not only did it go against everything that he believed about the occult being ridiculous, but it made her all but unstoppable.
The phone in Cameron’s jacket pocket, began to ring. Talia turned and looked at his pocket. He stared at her for a moment, and then took the phone out.
“Hello?” he said. “Excuse me? No, I’m not Eduard.” There was a pause as he strained to listen. “Oh, my God!” He handed the phone to Talia. “It’s Anya!”
She grabbed the phone. “Anya? Where are you? Thank God! We’re outside in Rynok Square. Listen to me. I’m with a man named Cameron. He has on a big olive drab parka, he has brown hair and he’s waiting for you.” She looked around for a landmark. “He will be by the Drunken Cherry stand. Can you get out?”
She listened and motioned him to go and stay by the stand that served Cherry Liqueur cocktails from its bright colored location to tourists in the street .
“He knows what you look like,” she said. “He’ll be right next to The Drunken Cherry. “I know honey. I’ve known for a while. Don’t cry sweetie. I’ll make everything all right. Come out and stay with Cameron. I’ll be there as soon as I can. I love you.” She ended the call and turned to him. “You need another phone.”
Talia turned to the driver who hadn’t left the square yet. “I need your phone.”
The driver handed her the phone without question. “Shall I wait?”
“Yes, please,” she replied. “Thank you.”
She turned to Cameron and handed him the phone. “Here. Apparently, I have the number.” she showed him a picture of Anya on Eduard’s phone and then put it in her pocket. “You call me the minute she’s safe.”
“You shouldn’t do this,” he said.
“I have to. It won’t ever end if I don’t.”
“Do you realize…” he began.
“Yes. He’s in there, he’s alive, and he’s Percival.”
“I have to go,” she said. “Take care of my daughter.”
She walked to the black stone house that she had dreamed of so many times. She couldn’t shake an eerie chill, because she knew what she would find inside. She had dreamed it a thousand times. She felt the Baikal Pistol in her pocket, convincing herself that she could take the life of her own husband. She saw the carvings over the door. She remembered it well.
She took a deep breath. “How could it have come to this?”
Her husband was the leader of a separatist group that wanted to take over the world, starting with Russia. He used his own father, abducted his daughter, and left her a shattered shell of a woman as he played some kind of sick game for world domination. She didn’t want to look at him. He was not the man that she thought she married.
Ironically, Dmitri, when he was her mentor, had told her about moments of clarity. He said that there is a point in every person’s life, when they have a moment in which they see everything as it really is. No distortion, only truth.
Her moment was at that door. The truth was that her husband had only loved her when she agreed with him. He was so selfish that he gave no thought to destroying his family. He felt no guilt, forcing them all to live in fear for their lives, unless they did as ordered. He was an egomaniacal monster, and he needed to be stopped. There was only one way to stop him. It was time for Dmitri Sokolovsky, aka Percival, to die.
She entered the house and found herself in an entry hall. It looked old and was well preserved with carved wooden walls of mahogany. She stood on deep red carpet with tiny flowers. There was a long hallway with a closed door at the end and an open staircase a few feet in front of her. To her left were open French doors that led to the sitting room that was also preserved from times of old, with carved walls and deep red carpet. The furnishings were 17th century French, and that room was empty.
On her right was the office that she knew from her dream. In that room she would meet her husband, the serpent. She walked into the office and took her place in front of the giant wooden desk that she had seen a thousand times in her sleep.
It seemed as though time had stopped. She looked at her watch time and again, but it seemed as though the numbers weren’t changing. She felt like she was being watched, yet she waited patiently. She was certain that Percival was sitting in the next room watching her.
How could she have been so blind? How could she have not seen what Dmitri truly was? She did everything he asked of her, yet he did nothing but tell her how naïve she was and how much she had to learn. He lectured her on how ignorant she was in the ways of the real world, and he called her stupid.
“Well, he should be proud of me now,” she thought.
She refused to let him win. It was just the two of them, and now she would get her life back. She was no one’s fool now. Finally, there would be some closure for her. She had been dangling in the wind, screaming in her sleep, and now she could be whole again. She knew he was there, but he thought that she was still clueless.
She looked at the desk, and saw a map. She didn’t move, but she examined the map from afar. It was of the world, and it was divided into seven areas. There were different words in different languages on each area. She recognized the map that Dmitri had shown her years ago in Moscow. It was the map that he’d drawn, and she knew now that it was a map of the terrorist’s game.
When the door behind the desk opened, Dmitri strolled in. He stopped behind the desk with a smirk on his face. When he looked her in the eye, his expression suddenly changed. She wasn’t stunned. She didn’t faint. Instead, the young widow resisted the urge to smile as she saw a look of disappointment spread across his face.
“What’s wrong Dmitri?” she asked.
“You knew?” he gasped.
“Of course I knew,” she snapped. “I learned from the best, right?”
“Why are you here?”
“I came to get my daughter,” she replied.
“There is nothing you can do,” he said.
Her phone rang. “Excuse me, I have to take this,” she said. “Hello. Good. I have to go.”
“Who was that?” he asked.
“That’s not important,” she replied. “Why did you turn into a monster?”
He stared at her. “Because progressive change does not accomplish anything. Radical change is the only effective form of change. You defied me, and you were no longer of any use.”
She didn’t flinch. “Why did you make your own father the focal point? Why did you turn on your own family?”
“My father betrayed me years ago, and you would not listen,” he snapped. “You did not agree with my vision. My ideas will change the world. I could not allow you and my father and your archaic thinking hold me back.”
This was the serpent that Talia dreamt of. She saw the black in his eyes and the lack of a soul behind them. He wasn’t the man she fell in love with. He wasn’t the man she married. He was a lost soul with delusions of utopia that would never be realized. He was unsavable.
“How did Eduard betray you?” she asked.
“He let my mother die.”
“Eduard couldn’t do anything to help your mother,” she said. “There was nothing he could do. She was ransomed by terrorists, and government policy was not to negotiate. No government negotiated with terrorists in those days. You can’t blame him.”
Dmitri stared at her with his soulless eyes. “He should have tried. Now he does everything on Earth to rescue his granddaughter. He should have done something then. It would serve him right if I killed his precious granddaughter to teach him a lesson.” He slammed his fist down on the desk.
“You can’t do that,” she said.
“What can stop me?” he snarked. “You? That is ridiculous.”
“Who the hell do you think you are?” she exclaimed, showing all of the emotions that she wanted to hide.
“I am Percival.” He spat on the floor. “I have created a new world order and will soon be the only one. No one can stop me. Certainly not a ridiculous girl from America.”
He was deranged. He thought he was a God. She pulled the Russian Baikal 441 pistol from her pocket. She leveled it at him across the desk. The safety was off and the ammunition was loaded. It was time for her to end her nightmare.
“I think I can,” she said.
The serpent of which she dreamed grinned at her. “What about your daughter?”
“She’s with a friend now,” she stated.
“No matter,” he said, dismissively. “You will not kill me.”
“You can’t be sure,” she replied, gun aimed at his head.
“There is more to this game than you know,” he said. “Killing me will only enhance the game. You would be better served to preserve my life and learn what I know. Cutting the head off the serpent will not end this.”
“How the hell did he land on the exact same symbology as my dream?” she wondered.