Friday, March 18
Surrender… the desire to let go
Falling into a freedom mistaken.
The hand of salvation comes
From one lost did awaken.
Episode Twenty Nine:
Aleksei slowly opened his eyes and was greeted by black walls and a giant mirror. A headache assaulted him as he rose from his bed.
“You are experiencing the side effects of the suppressing agent.”
Aleksei spun his head, immediately grabbing it in pain from the motion. Blinded by vertigo, he asked through gritted teeth, “Who are you?” He opened his eyes and looked at the tall, dark man clad in a white coat.
“Not even a Dobrae utro?” The man asked, seeming offended. However he smiled and continued. “Well, I’ll overlook the lack of etiquette. I’m Dr. Hamid, pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Well, to be honest, I am not very pleased to see you.” Aleksei replied matter-of-factly. This man was one of his captors, and held all the cards, so it was not wise to be saucy, but it was difficult controlling his mouth with his throbbing head. “Where is Mashka?” he demanded.
“Well,” the man began, but he was cut off by the door slamming open and Mashka running in and embracing Aleksei.
“I was so worried! Where were you?” she interrogated him as she squeezed.
The doctor gave Aleksei a shrug and a nod that seemed to say, 'Here she is.'
“I, I don’t understand.” Aleksei stuttered, as he let go of his sister. “What is going on? We were hunted, shot at, and terrified. I run into a guy who is just like us, and I would have beaten him too, had I not been interrup...” he paused, trying to recapture his train of thought. Finding it, he continued. “And after all that, here you are, fine and dandy in their base and concerned about how I am? And furthermore, you seem happy that I have been captured! Am I missing something?”
Mashka replied, “I realise how crazy this seems, but well, we are not in danger. They never meant this whole mess to happen. Um, I think Hamid here would be better at explaining.”
Aleksei raised an eyebrow, 'Not ‘Dr. Hamid’?' he wondered. 'Pleasant terms.'
“Da, Aleksei, I’m afraid my boss was a little hasty in procuring you.” the doctor responded.
“A little?” He likes his understatements.
The doctor continued, “It really was not supposed to happen that way. The problem was that our western nemesis was closing in on you, though unbeknownst to us, they actually thought you were in Novgorod. So it seems we jumped the gun.”
“Alright, slow down,” Aleksei said, “who are these “we” you speak of? Who is this nemesis? Who is your boss? What are we doing here? And why am I on drugs!?!”
Hamid sighed, realising how unhelpful he was being. “OK, let me try again. We are a private research organization, involved in pharmaceuticals as a cover. We really work protecting you, and people like you.
“Now, our nemeses are organizations mostly located in the west. They also know about you and others like you. However they prefer to simply kill you rather than learn to understand you.”
“There are others? Like us? How many?” Aleksei asked.
“Yes, there are. How many? I don’t know.” Hamid replied. “Now to address your last question, the drug is a suppressing agent. It keeps you from using your ability effectively. If you promise to not cause trouble, there’s no reason to continue to administer it.”
“So, if I behave, I get to be a prisoner, just without the drugs.” Aleksei reiterated.
“Well, yes, you both are technically prisoners, but only until we are able to make it safe. I assure you, life can and will return to a normal. This is the best place for you to be right now.”
Aleksei sat silent for a moment, thinking over what he had been told. Something did not feel right. But his sister was right there, and she seemed to be fine. He determined he was not going to get too comfortable, but he would cooperate until he learned their true motives.
“Alright,” Aleksei said, “do you have a name for people like us?”
“My superiors call you by many names. Subjects or abnormals are the most common terms on missions. However, when on base, we frequently use the shorter term that I coined, ‘Jinn’.” Hamid answered.
“What’s a Jinn?” Mashka asked.
“According to a story my grandmother told me, the Jinn or Djinn, were a people made by God from the ash of creation who held powers beyond that of the normal humans around them. They could take many forms, but the shape of man was their most favoured appearance, as it allowed them to blend in. The Jinn once lived in harmony with mankind, but over time they intermarried with humans and their blood was diluted and dispersed among the nations. And those who were the Jinn were nearly forgotten by man. Their numbers dwindled further because when a child was found to hold such powers, the people feared and frequently killed it.
“Granted, this is all a story retold by a woman suffering dementia. I think she was confusing the Arabic origins with some Russian fable about fairies. But I felt Jinn was an easy name to remember and it expressed what you are very well; people with abnormal abilities. Anyway, the term caught on around here. If you do not like the word, I will not use it.”
Mashka shrugged and replied, “Better than ‘abnormal.’”
Aleksei nodded, “Yes, Jinn is fine, if you must use a term. But remember we are people first.”
“Very well,” Hamid nodded, “I will leave you two for a while to catch up.” He turned to Aleksei and continued, “Should you wish, we have a more comfortable room available near your sister’s.”
“Spasibo,” Aleksei nodded.
The doctor departed, leaving the two alone.
“So,” Mashka said, “kak zhizn?”
“Well,” Aleksei said hesitantly, “I am fine. But I feel a little gypped considering how worried I was, and here you are, perfectly well. It seems they have treated you well.”
Mashka shrugged and replied, “Yes, they have. There were some tests but I am mostly done with those. I now know more about my ability and do not have to hide. When we are released, we will have control of our... stuff.”
Aleksei worked on absorbing what his sister was saying. Thankfully, his headache was starting to wear off. Then he remembered the one thing that had been worrying him the most. “That bald man, he has not gotten near you at all, has he?”
Mashka shook her head and replied, “No, he has left me alone, but he still disturbs me. I cannot hear him when he approaches and he only barely has a scent. Thankfully he seems to be on a short leash.”
Aleksei sighed, “Good, but does this mean my cat and mouse game was for nothing?”
“How could either of us known?” Mashka reassured, “They themselves admitted they did not make it look good. Oh! I almost forgot,” Mashka rummaged in her pocket. “This is a letter from our parents that I think you should read.”
Aleksei unfolded the paper, his face excited, but sceptic. When he was finished reading, he silently refolded the page.
“What do you think of it?” Mashka asked, looking at her brother’s face.
“Seems a little convenient, does it not?” Aleksei answered. “It is beyond logical thought, completely out of nowhere.”
“It is the truth, Aleksei.” Mashka insisted. “There is no other explanation for why we can do these bizarre things.”
“Well I am not going to accept it so easily.” he replied resolutely. “This cannot be from Mom; she always made a point of never lying to us, keeping something this big from us, all this time. It just does not seem like mother. Furthermore, them saying we are not related? How can that be? Vlad and I look just like dad, and you are a spitting image of mom. They cannot expect us to believe that... we... are a lie.” His eyes widened as the implications hit him.
“You imply I accepted this easily?” Mashka scoffed. “If that is too unbelievable, have you noticed that I can throw grown men like laundry, and you drip water from your fingers? We would have laughed at both of those things had we been told them last week. Does being made in a lab sound any more crazy? I am simply trying to find some logic and truth in this situation. Everyone is lying to us and you’re saying I don’t get it?” she was near tears as she paused to take a breath.
“I did not mean it that way, sorry.” Aleksei apologised.
Mashka sighed, “Well it’s not like we have other options. Whether we believe it or not, these people at least act like they know what they’re doing. And hopefully they will help us to discover what being one of these “Jinn” involves.”
“What about Vladimir? Is he still in Narva?”
Mashka nodded. “Da, and he is fine. I asked this morning and Hamid said there are no threats to his safety, so they are not going to bother him.”
Aleksei sighed in relief, glad that his brother was safe. But still, something was fishy, and he was going to get to the bottom of it. But he also wondered if his sister was right. What did that make them? Experiments? Jinn? Blessed? Cursed? And did they, in some way, owe their lives to their captors?