Wednesday, March 16
Mercy’s hand is bitten by the saved,
The deceptive mask has been removed,
In a confrontation of fire and water,
Ugly, naked Truth walks into the light.
The sultry Anya of the night before looked more like an exhausted librarian as she slept on her couch, the well-worn pages of War and Peace lying open on her chest. Her cell phone rang and she grudgingly woke up. She moved her hand to brush imaginary locks of hair from her face, seeming completely ignorant that her hair was but an inch long.
Grabbing the phone she answered, “Anya Aho, speaking.”
“My favourite agent!” The Administrators voice was kind, and he was obviously smiling at the other end, “you seem a little tired this morning, reading War and Peace again?”
Anya cocked an eyebrow suspiciously. “If I did not know better, I would think you watch me with some hidden camera.” Anya’s reply was followed by a cavernous yawn.
“Whoever said that I did not? It would be quite a show,” he replied jokingly. Then his voice became serious, as if he had changed persona as one would change hats. “Listen, duscha, I need you to do something slightly dangerous.”
She groaned, “I hate the way you say ‘slightly.’ the last time something was ‘slightly’ dangerous, I was in a lot of trouble.”
“I could make this well worth your while.” he tempted, returning to his nearly playful tone.
She grinned, “And I love it when you tell me things like that.”
The Administrator continued with the details, and she replied with the occasional question or flirtatious remark. Which was both earnest, and ensured anyone listening would believe she was talking to a boyfriend back home, rather than her boss.
After the call ended, Anya prepared to depart, leaving her gun behind.
Mashka and Aleksei groggily consumed a very early breakfast of leftover cold beet soup. Mashka distractedly filled Aleksei’s glass with water, but she had placed the cup to close to the table’s edge, so it tipped and fell. The glass did not break on the soft carpet, but the water soaked in.
“Nyet…” Mashka sighed, “Aleksei would you please get a towel?”
Aleksei walked past her and closed the curtain. “No need for towels.” he replied cheerily.
Mashka looked in confusion, as he continued closing all the curtains. Aleksei simply gestured for her to be quiet. He placed his hand over the wet spot and as he raised it, a stream of mist trailed beneath his palm. Then it twisted around his body before he sent it hurling into the sink, leaving the carpet dry.
“You show off,” she smirked condescendingly, though she was unable to hide the look of wonder on her face. “I bet you just learned that in the shower, right?”
They laughed, mostly because the situation was so unbelievable. Had he done the same thing a couple days ago, Mashka would have been shocked beyond belief. Then, after recovering, she would have marched him to the priest for an exorcism. Something that she still considered, for the both of them.
As they ate, Mashka asked, "What are your plans?"
“Well, it’s going to be understandably awkward if I run into Radik. I hope he has not told anyone. Then again, who would believe him?” Aleksei felt a little too pleased with that statement. “Hopefully, he will just act like nothing happened.”
“That would be the logical thing for him to do.” Mashka replied. “However, he‘s a teenage boy. You never know what to expect from those beasts.”
“Hey!” Aleksei responded, his face the picture of injured dignity.
“Relax, you were born middle-aged. Your brother on the other hand…”
“Oh yeah Vladimir,” Aleksei chuckled, “Remember that look on his face when I fell onto hi…” her brother’s voice trailed off as he reminisced about his twin. He coughed and continued, “Anyway, that was before he went to Narva.”
Moving on to more pleasant topics, they finished eating and cleared the table. Before heading to school, Aleksei kissed his sister’s cheek. “Be careful. If you need any help, just call.”
“You too astronaut.” she replied.
Mashka tapped her steering wheel as she waited for the light to change. The street was packed with busses and cars in the early morning twilight. She sighed, noticing that the sky was a cloudless, monochrome blue, a silent promise to a lovely day. It made her regret having to be in a classroom when there was such beautiful weather to enjoy.
A scratching sound beneath the passenger seat disrupted her reverie. As she glanced down, a sparrow fluttered up, causing Mashka to shriek. She pulled off the street and rolled down the window. After a few moments of coaxing, the bird escaped.
It must have hidden in the car trying to avoid the cold night, she reasoned.
After letting her heart settle down, she became aware that she was parked next to a construction site and could hear the workers at their trade in the early morning. They seemed to be demolishing one of the older apartment complexes. Starting to roll up her window, she froze at the sound of a woman’s cry for help.
Shutting off the engine, she stepped out of the vehicle, trying to determine whether she was hearing correctly. The sounds of demolition were overwhelming, yet somehow she could hear past it all. Her breath came in short gasps. A woman was screaming. She ran up to the fence. The screams were coming from somewhere in the building. Worse yet, the sign on the fence read 'Danger, Demolition in process.'.
Mashka spied one of the workers standing about twenty metres beyond the fence. She called to him, but his earmuffs were muting her cries. Looking desperately around, she noticed there was a break in the fencing, so she slipped through. The woman’s screams became louder, screams of hopelessness and terror. Mashka’s heart was pounding while she leapt up and down and yelled to the man. He even looked her direction, but it was still dark outside. She could not even get to him because of all the materials in the way. Looking at the building, she saw that she had a clear path straight into it. Casting all logic aside, she ran.