Tangled Web of the Hidden Spider
Chekhov sat at a table with a steaming mug of coffee and an omelette with toast. He was reading an old book, the cover title worn off by time and use. As he took another sip, he noticed Mashka and Aleksei enter the cafeteria.
'So, they finally captured him.'
Aleksei caught his sister’s attention and nodded towards him. Chekhov saw Mashka look up. A nervous expression spread across her face. She turned from him and sat at a table by the window, far away from where he sat. Aleksei went to get food for the both of them, glancing warily at him.
Chekhov returned to his book, and was nearing the end of the chapter when he heard a tray set down on his table. He looked up and saw Anya sitting down in front of him.
“Privet,” he mumbled.
“Dobrae Utro,” she replied then continued, “So, what do you think of them?”
He glanced over the rims of his reading glasses, “Am I supposed to think something of them?”
“You did have the job of stalking her for a few days. You must have at least something resembling an opinion.” she insisted.
“Razve?” he teased.
“I would like to wring her neck,” she fumed, ignoring him. “I know exactly what that girl is for. She is going to be a younger, better version of me. Worse yet, that ability of hers will allow her to surpass me in no time. Now I know why I have been getting simple clean up jobs lately. She is supposed to replace me.”
“I assure you, Aho,” he reasoned, “you are more than capable of remaining useful to the administrator. Be more confident."
“I suppose so.” she conceded. “But you know how I hate competition. And that brother of hers, he is a type E ‘Jinn’ as Doc Hamid calls them. E types are of limited use to us, unlike his type C sister. I wonder how they’re going to successfully di-” she paused, remembering Mashka could have enhanced hearing, “dismiss him.” she corrected.
Giving up on finishing the chapter, Chekhov lowered his book and replied, “I don’t know about that. The Czech is an E type, is he not?”
“He is a CE type, there is a difference. His ability is the definition of discrete. An E type, on the other hand, makes a noticeable phenomenon when used.” she explained.
“I think a little competition would be helpful for you.”
Anya glared at him, but said nothing.
Chekhov glanced over at the two siblings as they chatted. He thought of when he was young, he had wished he was not an only child. Maybe he would have turned out different. He finished his lunch and parted ways with the irritated Anya. There was a pain in his chest. Was it remorse? He did not know why these two affected him more than any of the others. There was something about them that made it so he did not want to see them in harm’s way, despite what they were.
Within the red painted walls of the restroom, Chekhov splashed his face with cold water. He leaned over to let his face drip, clearing his mind of the day's thoughts. After this simple ritual, he glanced up into the bathroom mirror and instead found he was in the middle of a rolling landscape of brown dull hills. He spun around. The building had faded away, leaving only grey skies. He heard a feminine giggle from behind him. There sitting in the midst of a knoll of heather was a young teen, clothed in a white dress, her blonde tresses waving in the breeze. She was weaving together a chain of daisies which were growing in a perfect ring around her. She put the finished tiara on her head and looked at him, as if she had just noticed his presence.
“Well hello,” she greeted cheerfully. “I’m lost. Will you fly me home?”
“Excuse me?” he asked, incredulous. But he reined himself in. As preposterous as the situation was, he decided to play along, assuming he would wake up in a few moments. “I think if anyone is lost, it is me. And what do you mean by fly?”
“I mean exactly what I said,” she replied curtly. She skipped up to him and grabbed his hands. When she looked back up to his face, her eyes had changed like Maryja’s, the brilliant lavender fading to a dull yellow and a narrow black slit down the middle of each eye. “Fly for me, please.” she said through sharp canines. “I’m lost.”
Chekhov backed away in apprehension at the sudden change. This was not a normal daydream. “Who are you?!” Chekhov demanded.
She put her forefinger to her mouth, and her eyes and teeth returned to normal, “Hmm, I wonder, what should I have as a name?” she considered a moment then replied, “I suppose since you already have The Messenger, The Czech, and The Administrator, going along that drab theme, I guess that makes me ‘The Apparition.’”
He glared at her, “If this is some illusion, let me go.”
“As I was saying,” she smiled, the eyes and teeth changing again, “I need your help.”
“No, I can’t help you! Good day.” he began to sprint down the hill, away from the strange girl. Suddenly, his feet were trapped in place, his body frozen as a statue.
She appeared in front of him. “Please Iosef,” as she spoke, her face became that of a girl he had known, someone he had forced himself to forget. The apparition’s voice even matched hers, “I need your help. You used to be willing to do anything for me.”
“Stop toying with me!” he yelled. “Don’t use her face!” He could feel his eyes watering, but he did not know where this sudden passion and the aching feeling in his chest had come from. “I will do nothing for a creature like you.”
Her entire demeanour changed. “Iosif,” she said coldly, “I would give a word of caution to you. There are many more powers at work in this world than just The Association. The two you captured, they are mine! I have my own plans for them... and for you."
His surroundings morphed again, as he was engulfed by a hollow void. Then two glowing yellow eyes stared at him in the darkness. He heard the girl’s voice whisper from behind them, “You will not tell anyone about our little chat. If you do, I will place you in a nightmare you will never come out of.” Despite the melodiously sweet voice, the threat held more pure malice than he had ever heard.
His face was smacked to the side, and he was staring at the red wall of the bathroom again. He looked back to see where the strike originated.
“Dobro pazhalavat,” Anya said, lowering her hand and welcoming him back to reality.
He blinked a few times, catching up with his surroundings. He rubbed his stinging cheek as he collected himself, and looked at the woman condescendingly, “You do realise that this is the men’s lavatory? Not the best place to have a conversation.”
“Tch, like I care.” She rolled her eyes.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the “Apparition” in the mirror shake her head disapprovingly at Anya.
“Yoo-hoo! You there?” Anya called, seeing his eyes change direction.
“D-da!” he replied, quickly returning his attention to the present situation, “What is this all about anyway.”
“I wanted to see you, of course.” she smiled innocently, “I have been worried.”
“Nyet,” he said irritably, “what is the real reason?”
“You take all fun out of life, Chekhov?” she sniffed. “Alright I’ll get down to business. The Administrator has plans to set us all up for a test mission with the latest subjects. He wants you to be involved in the meeting.”
“Lead the way,” he gestured to the door.
Anya opened the door to see Dr. Hamid about to walk in. Hamid had a look of surprise as Anya pushed past him. He glanced in askance up to Chekhov, who merely shook his head in response.
“Should I inquire?” The doctor asked.
“I’d much rather you didn’t,” Chekhov replied.