Contact Info / Websites
THE OPUS PART VII
THE FOLLOWING MORNING AT THE CABIN
It wasn't the rain pitter-pattering against the roof of the cabin that woke them up. It was the sound of a bird squawking loudly from outside.
"Bloody shut up! I'm trying to sleep here!" Leonard was unimpressed with the irritating incessant sound. He didn't dislike animals, but he also didn't like being woken from his slumber prematurely.
"Wha-s-goin-on?!" Winsor mumbled.
"Can't you hear? There's a bird outside. Hasn't stopped screeching for at least twenty minutes."
"Might not be a bird. Might be a Russian guard making animal noises."
"Ha, very funny. Or Matt and Andrew playing a practical joke on us."
"Can't we all just get our heads down and try to have another hour of sleep? We have a long day ahead of us."
"Didn't get much sleep Leonard?" Carter enquired.
"I spent half the night with one eye open. You never know what's going to happen. It's not safe around this part. That bloody bird is not helping matters, it could bring somebody over here to investigate."
"Doesn't that give us more incentive to just collect our shit and get the hell out of here."
"You're right Carter. What am I even thinking? Sleeping for another hour? Pfft! Complacency is what will get us all killed. I said we'd head for the Dome at first light, and that is what we will do."
Leonard smirked eerily, like he was in his own little world. A blackout of the mind.
"You are the creepiest old man I've ever met Leonard. Don't keep smiling like that."
"Thank you for the compliment Winsor. Blame it on the trauma, dementia, whatever you want to call it. I prefer to call it paranoia, and paranoia can be an intelligent trait to have. It keeps you alive."
"Yes, but is being alive a good thing when we live in a world like this one?"
"This Earth could be beautiful Carter. And we're going to make it beautiful again."
"Typical isn't it? We wake up and that blasted bird stops making a racket."
"Life is full of coincidences. Most of the time they are nothing, but sometimes they are a sign."
"A sign of what, Leonard?"
"A sign that is telling us to wake ourselves up and stop being lazy and complacent. Besides, there is a spot I want to take you to on the bank of the Istra River. It's perfect, and once there, we will make an attempt to contact Matthew and Andrew via the walkies that we have in the bag."
"The Istra River? Is that near this Cupola Dome place you keep telling us about?"
"Yes, it's very close."
"All we have to do is pass through this forest behind the cabin a short distance. Of course it would be easier to travel on the road, but we cannot risk being spotted. Once we get through the forest, we will come to a small river, and there we will set up camp. You will be able to see the Dome from that spot."
"Where exactly are we?"
"Currently, we are residing southeast of the country's capital Moscow, in a little town called Istra. Part of the Istrinsky District in Moscow Oblast."
"So the plan is to go to that Dome first?"
"No, I thought that we would take a little detour west first and visit the New Jerusalem Monastery, you'll be thankful we did. Besides, I left something there."
"New Jerusalem Monastery? You've been there before? What did you leave?"
"It is a place that the German army destroyed in 1941, when they blew up the belfry and demolished the towers. It was eventually reopened in 1959. When you see it, you'll wonder why anyone would want to destroy such a magnificent thing. Like most soldiers of any country, the Nazis were without conscience. Had no minds of their own, they all followed that fucking painter and decorator like sheep. Ordinary people can be made to do anything if you terrorise or manipulate them enough."
"But you fought in the war Leonard!"
"Yes. And not one day passes by where I don't regret signing up. If you could put a wise man's brain into a young man's body, nobody would sign up for the military. Ordinary people trust authority. They feel as though there is never a choice. But there is always a choice. And they should exercise their right to remain stubborn more often. If they are forced to choose, they should choose to die on home soil. Death is a refuge, and it is better to die on one's own terms than to have his free will determined by strangers."
"But what if the other country invades, what do you do then?"
"You begin a cycle that starts from birth, that teaches against war. You close down barracks, destroy nukes. But most of all, you create a world that doesn't give people a desire to be unhappy, to fight."
"That's not realistic Leonard. War is forever. How can you make the hearts and minds of billions perfect? Even if the world is perfect, statistically one person will still want to kill someone, it's innate."
"Who is to say that the Governments of the world don't have that plan already? An agenda to create world peace, but in order to get there, they are doing it a different way. Using oppression and bloodshed."
"C'mon let's stop talking nonsense, and get the hell out of here."
Leonard led the way, inching the wooden door ajar and peaking out into the distance, making sure that the coast was clear. There was nothing, the High Voltage Pulse Generator was now dormant. He looked up at the sky, it was strangely blue, not a single cloud in sight. Knowing that it was safe to leave the cabin he gestured with his index finger to Winsor and Carter without uttering a single word, indicating that they should follow him.
They started heading north, venturing into the trees to begin making their way through the forest.
"We have got to be very careful around here. Keep your eyes on the ground at all times and take slow, steady footsteps. If the ground looks different in any way, you stop still. Got that? The last thing we need is an accident at this stage."
"What are we supposed to be keeping an eye out for Leonard?"
"Holes. In the floor. They look like deep wells. But if they do exist, they might have been covered up or just haven't been exposed yet. Sinkholes are very unpredictable, That is why I needed Matthew here."
"What does Matt know about sinkholes?"
"Well I'll say this much. I didn't know a hell of a lot about the Cloaca Maxima's cave system. Not until I met Matthew Goodman. He's a Speleologist you know. Some of Pinto's notes were... Tricky."
"A caver, Winsor. He likes spelunking."
"Yet here we were thinking Matt was just an ordinary neighbour with a boring life!"
"You shouldn't poke fun at Matthew. He's a world class urban explorer. Ever heard of the Catacombs in Paris?"
"Yep. Heard of it. Don't know a lot about it."
"He used to explore that place on his own, a lot. I said to him, did it ever scare you, walking around something so deep and claustrophobic, so dark and unnerving. So lonely and helpless? 'Doesn't frighten me one bit,' he'd say, it made him feel detached from the world, at peace. He seemed to possess a natural sense of direction, he never felt like he was ever going to get lost. Like he had eyes in the dark. That's an extraordinary capability to have. He is a unique individual. He has explored bomb shelters, caves, sewers, you name it, he has explored it. The only problem is that he is not here with us right now in this ruddy forest!"
"And it was so kind of you to lead us through this death forest wasn't it Leonard!"
"This is the only safe way I know that will take us to where we need to be."
"What do you think made these holes in the ground?"
"Maybe the question should be not what, but who made the holes."
"That's right, blame everything on the aliens. Aliens are flying down onto our planet, making holes in the middle of a Russian forest that, coincidentally, just happens to lie next to a ruddy big Research Center, and then fly away again as if nothing has happened."
"So I take it you don't believe in aliens?"
"It's not that I don't accept that there isn't other life out there. But the idea that this other life is making secret visits to our planet, creating holes, abducting people and killing livestock makes a great cover story for the military. It takes the attention away from their weapon development and aircraft testing. They want more people to believe in aliens because if the people are thinking about aliens, they are not suspicious of the military's activities. Which may or may not be nefarious."
"And what are the military doing?"
"Competing. With other countries. To avoid being militarily left in the dark. Always looking to build the next super weapon or find that advancement in technology which gives them the edge. Russia, America, China, Britain, France. All afraid of each other's capabilities. The minute you are inferior militarily and economically to your enemy, you start becoming vulnerable. Vulnerable to being a bit part player. Vulnerable to colonisation and totalitarianism. This High Voltage Generator out in the middle of nowhere for example is an example of a country that always wants to be one step ahead, to have the intelligence and weaponry that other countries do not. To be at the forefront, defend the country, or just for economic influence."
"Area 51? What about that place?"
"Everything that you could ever imagine. Every kind of test. Invisibility, cloning, eugenics. Area 51 is not just exclusive to America. Most countries have their secret places where they try to outdo one another. But sometimes, in their innocence, people discover horrible things when dabbling in science. Fission bombs for example. It was the Curies who discovered that pitchblende contained polonium and radium and isolated it. All these tiny childlike experiments lead to big things. Things that people will fight and kill for."
"What are we fighting and killing for, Leonard?"
"We are not fighting, or killing anyone boy. We are here to continue what Pinto started."
"Pinto sounds like a bit of a maniac in my opinion."
"Not true! He was a victim of other people's corruption and disunity."
"Hey! Have you guys not noticed how warm it feels? There isn't a single cloud in the sky, yet it was absolutely pouring with rain last night. The ground doesn't even feel wet this morning. Not find it odd?"
"I was thinking exactly the same thing boy. Cloud seeding?"
"Nothing seems to make sense anymore. We have just walked away from a huge generator situated in the middle of nowhere without even blinking. Why aren't we fucking shocked! Literally!"
"When the Great Patriotic War ended, the town of Istra became a research center for electrical power engineering. The Federal State Unitary Enterprise conduct application studies in the field of high and ultra-high voltages, electrophysics problems, physics of plasma gas discharge, impulse electrophysics, solid-state physics, circuitry engineering, superconductivity and science and technical problems."
"That explains a lot Len!" Carter said sarcastically.
"It is believed that these experiments are based on the work of Nikola Tesla. A man so far in front of the word genius, he makes the word genius look pedestrian."
"How long before we get to this river?"
"Twenty minutes or so. We have to keep taking this forest nice and slow. We're doing okay so far. But let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet."
"The Istra River is a tributary of the Moskva River. Think of it like a branch coming out of a tree trunk."
"I did study Geography at school. You don't need to patronise me."
To be continued...