Chapter 13: Home is Where the Heart is.
Trevor wasn’t sure what to expect when he peered inside the door. On his list was not the muzzle of a Makarov pistol. Not that he knew the make, the muzzle of any 9mm pistol looks pretty much the same when you are on the wrong end of it. Growing up in London he’d never been on the wrong side of a gun. Even traveling the world after school, he’d been lucky never to experience the excitement of looking death in the eye. It affected him.
His head spinning at this new development, he should’ve been more surprised, when the muzzle started speaking Russian. He’d never taken an acid trip, but this is what he assumed one must be like.
He thought a voice next to him was speaking Russian; but found it hard to concentrate on anything other than the gun.
The gun started speaking broken English, “You, sit down on the bench.”
Unwilling to take his eyes off the gun he had no real way of knowing which bench the gun was talking about. A gentle hand at his elbow guiding and sitting down next to him, he was grateful for this kindness at the end of his life.
“Now tell me are you with the Russian Government?” It was becoming clear the gun was not speaking, but it was attached to a left hand.
For the first-time Trevor noted his hands were up. That must have been instinct. He did not recall putting his hands up. At the moment, he couldn’t remember much before the opening of the door, he shook his head.
Hearing a voice to his left, that seemed attached to the hand on his arm, “Sergei, does he look like a Russian Agent?”
Trevor felt the sensation of his head shaking more, stressing what the soft voice to his left was saying. How preposterous to be thought of as an agent.
“The Russians can be sneaky. I was once attacked by a teenage girl. You!” the gun hand and arm was attached to a head. What a scruffy head it was. It looked like it’d been years since the last trip to a barber and he was saving a fortune on razors. The head was speaking. Trevor thought that made much more sense.
He was asking him another question. “Say something. Prove to me you’re not an assassin sent here to kill me.”
Barely able to muster, “I am bloody British... Can I get a glass of water? I feel faint,” the room seemed to tip on its side. From Trevor’s perspective, all was akimbo as his body slid to the floor and he passed out.
Trevor dreamed he was riding his bike again. The sun was warm on his face and the wind blowing over his skin, through his hair. This time instead of turning home he was stopped in the middle of the street, by a grubby man speaking with a thick Russian accent, “Why are you here? Are you with them?” Why are you so angry? Trevor thought. The hobo started yelling in Russian. You should know it will do you no good to yell at me in Russian. Thirteen-year-old Trevor handled the situation much better than thirty-six-year-old Trevor did.
He also heard a disembodied voice, the best word he found to describe it was gold. Thinking if gold was a sound, this voice he heard was gold.
“He is not here to hurt you. He is not a Russian assassin. Do hitmen normally faint at the sight of a gun?” she spoke some Russian that to Trevor sounded flawless.
Trevor knew that voice, it was Crystal. Wait he didn’t know Crystal when he was a kid, so he must be dreaming. This was a wonderful dream, except for the yelling Russian.
He started to wake up, noticing he was on the floor, lying on his side. Deciding it was the better course to lay still, he waited for a chance to escape. To get the hell out of there.
Crystal took the Russian’s gun-free hand and was holding it. Speaking in the same soothing tone she used with the horse. This time he took the opportunity to analyze her as she spoke. He must be imagining the waves of positivity coming from her and directed towards the Russian.
“Sergei, you are my friend. I would never do anything to hurt you; you would never do anything to hurt me correct?”
Watching the gun lower off him, Trevor believed he might live a bit longer. Sergei became less agitated. Like a mental patient after given a shot of Thorazine, he could observe the man with the gun relaxing.
“Nyet, you have been kind to me. I know you. Him I do not know,” he made a motion towards Trevor with the gun but it was halfhearted.
“You can keep the gun if it makes you feel better, but you know I will not let anything or anyone hurt you,” Crystal continued cooing to him.
The Russian took a deep breath and held it before letting it slip between his lips like a slow leak in a balloon, “No, he appears relatively harmless. Besides the gun has been out of bullets for decades.”
Throwing the gun onto a workbench several feet away, “Anyway, your friend has been awake for some time,” with that, Sergei pulled away from Crystal and walked deeper into the room.
Crystal knelt at Trevor’s side, “I warned you he was a bit eccentric. Are you better?” caressing his cheek with the tips of her fingers, the warmth of her touch giving him strength.
Feeling reenergized by her touch, “I hate to be an alarmist, but is he going to cave in our skulls if we turn our backs to him?”
Cracking a lopsided smile, she winked at him, “You will be safe now. He is harmless, I promise,” helping him to a sitting position.
“Do you still need that drink of water?”
Slowly shaking his head, “Just, let me sit here a moment to collect myself.”
Inspecting what he could view of the space he almost died in. It didn’t look like a mine at all. From what was available for him to check, it appeared as if H G Wells and William Gibson created a love child of a setting. Not your average serial killer hideout, or evil genius lair, sort of a cyber-steam-punk feeling about the place.
Rubbing his eyes to clear his vision, he gave the room deeper consideration, and was able to recognize the remains of the 1930s mine. Bare light bulbs hanging by wires provided the light source. Trevor was afraid to question where the power came from.
He would not have been surprised if there was an unshielded nuclear reactor somewhere nearby. This must be the remains of some sort of pump room for the mine. All that was left of the original equipment was the carcasses, everything of value having been torn apart for spare parts or scrap. From his vantage point, the walls were covered in a metal lattice work. Chain-link fencing had been stretched to cover every foot of visible wall.
Then there were the haphazard workbenches, construction of which had been hobbled together from any found scrap wood. Some with the legs cut to match-up with the uneven floor. On top of which sat a couple of computers. These gave the impression Frankenstein had taken three or four different computers and made one grand computer.
Electronic parts from different decades could be seen on the benches next to projects in differing stages of completion. The few other pieces of furniture, stolen off an I Love Lucy set. A mixture of dilapidated and dusty chairs and end tables, with one enormous well-used listing recliner.
Trevor risked a peek towards the hermit as he left what might be a distilling plant. Heading towards him with two blue enamel cups and a bottle labeled ‘Водка’ in black marker on a white label. He noted, there were numerous bottles with white labels and displaying various markings about. Most of them holding clear liquids. The still took up the better part of the back wall.
He shoved the cup at Trevor and poured him a drink, “Here drink, make you feel better,” he did the same to Crystal.
Smiling back Crystal said, “thank you.”
The Russian motioned to Trevor to drink some.
He gaped back at Sergei, who stood over him expecting him to drink. Trevor, raised his cup, “Skol” and sipped some. Surprised at how invigorating it tasted, he knocked the remaining portion back.
With that, Sergei took the bottle and tipped it up taking three healthy gulps.
“Now to what do I owe the honor of your visit to my humble little hobbit hole?” he offered Trevor his right hand while keeping a firm grip on the bottle.
Trevor gripped his hand grunting to his feet with Sergei’s help.
Shocked Trevor compared Sergei’s grip to a vice. Keeping hold of Trevor’s hand, Sergei started in, “Crystal has convinced me you can be trusted. So, tell me, how can Major Sergei Tsitnikov, former Spetsnaz, defected, be of service?”
“I had some questions about an event you witnessed a few months ago,” Trevor stammered out.
“Then let us get more comfortable and I will answer your questions as best as I can. I do think you will not like the answers,” he released Trevor’s hand allowing the blood to flow once again into his fingers.
Motioning Trevor to the lone recliner, he retrieved a rolling work chair for Crystal. Then selected a chair from a fifties dinette set for himself.
After all were seated and as comfortable as possible, Sergei drank again from his bottle before beginning, “Before I tell you about that night. Let me give a little information about myself. Now, I know, I might look like some crazy old man but I was not always like this,” he takes another drink.
Trevor thought. Mate, you look bat shit crazy but smiled and kept listening.
Sergei continued, “During the eighties, I was a highly-decorated member of the Voyska spetsialnogo naznacheniya, or as you call it in English, Spetsnaz. I achieved the rank of Major just before we had our little excursion into Afghanistan, Russia’s Vietnam. I sent too many men home, in boxes or broken. For me, it was hard to take. I lost so many friends and good soldiers. There was no winners in that war. In any war, really. I returned from war to a country I no longer recognized. For my service, I was awarded Medal Ushakova,” he takes another drink.
“It felt like slap in face to every one of my men. They’d been killed or wounded in that senseless war. I was a hero in Russia but in my heart, I was a traitor because I was still alive.”
Trevor drank a little, listening more intently, “I decided to defect. I first went to your country, Englishman. I did not want to come to the country that supplied so many weapons to the Mujahideen during the war. If not for America the war would have been over quickly. I loved England, so polite and peaceful. The Soviet Union never forgets a slight. It was not long before there was an attempt on my life. Like I said, from what appeared to be a teenage girl. I decided I needed to find a better, larger country to hide in.”
He got up, walked over to the still, loaded his bottle before topping off the two cups of his guests, speaking on as he went, “I thought about where I could hide, I went to ground here in Texas. Finding this perfect piece of property cheap, I started making this old mine my home. That was over twenty years ago. I live out here, alone. In my home in the hill, staying to myself, only going into town when I need to. I am safe here from interference, and doubt anyone could find me...” turning towards Crystal, “...unless someone showed them.”
Crystal returned the look and smiled. Shrugging her shoulders in acceptance of the blame.
Trevor had to ask, “Surely no one is searching for you after all this time. I mean the communists aren’t even in power now.”
“The former head of the KGB is the president. Don’t think things have changed as much as you wish them to. One thing the powerful loves is staying in power. You poke your finger in their eye like I did, they will never forget. Somewhere in the Kremlin, KGB, FSB, SVR or GRU, there is still a list and my name is on it.”
“I was here for many years, alone and peaceful. Then about a year ago, I started picking up scrambled chatter on the monitors. Something was happening to the south, and by the encryption, it had the feeling of military. Fearful my home might be found, I started exploring the area with the most activity. To the south, there is a valley. That valley is guarded. You would not see the guards if you did not know how to, but they are there. No fence, no warning, but you cross a line, head into the wrong mountains they will snatch you up. Maybe you come out again, maybe you end up in some Black Site in a little backwater country the guest of Uncle Sam, no?”
Trevor thought this had to be the ravings of a madman, there is no way a country like the United States would ever attempt something like that. But he held his tongue, waiting for the full story to unfold.
“I setup a position outside their perimeter to monitor them. I was blocked by mountains but I know there are transport planes entering and leaving every day. Just like they do in the Groom Lake facility, Area 51. We are less than three-hundred miles from Roswell and White Sands is even closer. A government wanting to hide something, this would be a perfect location.”
We must be farther than three-hundred to Roswell, that is so close. If there is a base near here, perhaps the lights were some new weapon or plane. Trevor was trying to find a handle on all this.
“I was in my position about midnight on that night, it was as uneventful as every night when I started to hear the loudest noise. It gave the illusion like it was drilling into my brain. Like a dentist, it hurt to the very bone. The sound ruptured both my eardrums. Soon the golden lights showed up flying in low from the north. First one, followed by probably a half dozen. It attacked, like a strafing run; I had a hard time judging the size as they moved so quickly. The noise was deafening, suddenly the noise stopped; I could no longer feel the vibrations in my body, but the lights continued to strafe, and they began to pulsate. I ran like hell to my truck, then did my best to get out of there. The lights chased me to town, growing in number; toying with my truck like a cat with a mouse. Even after fifteen years of military service, I was never so afraid as that night. For the first time, I knew I was going to die. I made it to town, ran into the only place with lights on, the damned barbeque restaurant and fell inside.”
Waiting a few moments, Crystal finally spoke, “I am so sorry for you. The experience must have been terrifying.”
“Terrifying? I am not ashamed to admit I soiled myself. I am sure any sane human, given the same circumstances, would have done the same.”
Trevor had been thinking during the last bit of the story, he asked his question, “You are sure it was not a military aircraft of some kind?”
“I have seen most man-made aircraft, many in combat. This was not from this earth. I would swear to it on my life,” the tone of Sergei’s voice left no room for misunderstanding. Trevor knew Sergei believed what he was saying was true.
Rising Sergei offered, “After that, I need some tea. You want some tea?”
Trevor followed him part way, “Sergei, do you think they were aliens?”
Crystal, “I don’t care for any tea,” while trying to catch Trevor’s attention.
Sergei went to the still, which is in practice a giant kettle and used a spigot to siphon off some near boiling water, into a kettle.
“As I see it, here is the problem with Aliens coming to earth. One of two things will happen. They will be so advanced we will be like insects to them, we get squished. The other they will be so advanced they will come in peace, as long as we do what we are told. Like children or we get squished. Aliens ever do come to earth, not saying they haven’t, but using humans as an example I imagine it ending badly for us. Just study how the more advanced populations treated the indigenous peoples of earth. They got squished.”
The tea ready, Sergei poured out two cups of the strange smelling liquid. Crystal tried to intervene, “Trevor, are you sure you want that tea?” pointing to the cup.
He glanced over his shoulder at Crystal, who was shaking her head no trying to warn him.
“It is tea, if there’s one thing the English know, it is tea,” the two men both clinked cups and sipped the pungent steaming liquid.
Old Sits brought the pot and they return to their places, both sipping and talking theories.
Trevor asked first, “How many lights were there? On the picture I have, it looked like hundreds.”
“It is hard to say. At first, there was one, then four, but they kept coming. By the time, I tore into town the sky was full of them. Too many to count.”
“Why do you think they were hostile? Did they attack you?” Crystal asked.
“They could have taken me out at any time. They did break both my eardrums, with their sound weapon. Imagine if they attacked a major city with that thing, the damage they could do. At that time, there was only one. What if hundreds were using the sound weapon? It would be devastating.”
Crystal scrutinized the pair of them as they continued to drink the tea, and theorized over something neither had a clue about. She studied Trevor, as he intently inspected Sergei as he spoke.
“How are you making your face melt?” Trevor asked Sergei.
“Ah, it must be starting to work,” Sergei explained.
“What is starting to work?” Trevor asked.
Sergei emitted an evil chuckle, “The tea. It is peyote tea.”
Crystal just shook her head, expecting the worse.