Memory is a Fragile Thing, Part 3

Chapter 3: Sevastopol

The boat onto the shore of southern Ukraine. This skiff pilot and I have one thing in common: silence. I nod my head as I disembark and he passes me a parcel. I can only assume it’s my per diem and passports. He fades off into the ink once again, and I am stranded.

Sevastopol’s city lights clang off the low-lying clouds in the early morning. 0400. The hour of quixotic renege and only 28 minutes away. I feel my mind drifting into other parts of me.

I shake off this persistent nag and move my feet toward the city. The ground is mainly flat, affording me a steady pace. The earth is holding its breath, and the sound of the waves soon becomes a waning tingle at the back of my neck.

###

“Report: 07.23.13.

FROM: INTERIOR DIRECTOR
RE: CABINET POSTANALYSIS

Rafe and Tomas,

Shred paperwork, 02114-02116.5″

“And that’s all it says?”

“That’s it.”

“So, we’ll have to can it.”

“It’s too late now, Tomas.”

“Because?”

“…He’s gone.”

###

There’s a small inn near the South Bay. That is where I will be staying for the next three weeks. The lobby is plastered in what used to be a beautiful fresco.

“It depicts our freedom from the Holy Roman Empire.” The man behind the counter addresses me, using air quotes around Holy. “I’ve personally gouged out the eyes of Alexander the Great.”

“I’d prefer him to Caligula.” He smirks.

“Name?”

“Bujalski.”

He retrieves a key attached to a faded nylon fob. “Room 23. 2nd floor. The elevator’s out, hasn’t worked in years, so you take the stairs.”

I thank him and retreat to my room.

It’s homely, outfitted with a small couch, bed, and a kitchenette. I sling my bags on to the bed and begin going through my belongings. The feeling reemerges, and I shiver involuntarily.

I must learn to control these emotions, electrical impulses, blackout smoke. A deep grumbling has come in the past, and I hope it doesn’t return this time. My face twitches, and my ears begin to ring. I feel perspiration beginning to dapple my scalp and forehead. In my chest, my heart struggles to keep pace.

###

“Gone?”

“Absent Without Leave.”

“How very PC of you!”

“I can’t get a trace on him.”

“With all the millions of dollars we’ve spent, we can’t find a fucking tracer?”

“Rafe, Rafe. Calm down. If we can assume he’s still on point, which he should be, we should be able to intercept him before he finalizes.”

“Intercept him? We don’t even know what he looks like!”

###

I rush out on to the balcony to inhale the mild fall. It does little to calm me. I’m shaking, almost violently. I turn to return inside and get a drink of water. Yes, water. I need water. My mouth is parched and I have to have water.

###

“It doesn’t matter what he looks like. We know where he’ll be.”

“Assuming he’s still on point.”

“We’ll post a few men on either side of the square.”

“Won’t that arouse suspicion?”

“What else can we do?”

###

I fumble for a glass in the cabinet. No. I have to get out. I must leave now. I knock over the chair when I grab my jacket, but I don’t care. I leave the room, find the emergency stairwell, and lunge out on to the street. I shouldn’t look back. I shouldn’t look back.

But I do.

And he’s there.

That demon.

He’s hunting me.

And I have nowhere to go.

###

TO: INTERIOR DIRECTOR
FROM: Rafe Turnquist; Tomas Unterlyn
RE: RE: CABINET POSTANALYSIS

Mr Director,

We regret to inform you that the paperwork you requested has been shuffled violently into separate piles, and we are working to reallocate the documents. We will keep you informed as we continue our search.

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