Veronika trudged through the snow toward the plane that was waiting with engines turning at the little anonymous airport. The man beside her was big and powerful and spoke very little except when he indicated where they would be going next. “Through those doors please Ms Tartakovsky.” “Kindly follow the corridor please Ms Tartakovsky.” “We will be leaving for the airport in that car Ms Tartakovsky.” He was polite and well spoken, very well spoken in fact though she could not pinpoint his accent. They had been travelling together now for over 7 hours and still had a flight ahead and Veronika knew next to nothing about her guide. He seemed to be the ultimate professional and some kind of military or security, of that there was no doubt. She noticed that he was alert at all times and was constantly scanning as if there would be some kind of attack, this had made Veronika feel very uncomfortable to begin with until she realised that he was also quite relaxed and this was in fact merely a long ingrained habit. After some time, she relaxed enough to begin to ask him questions, all of which he fended off professionally with the line: “All your questions will be answered at our destination Ms Tartakovsky.” By now Veronika was pretty pissed off, her curiosity was hitting blanks and was turning into huge frustration. They stopped at the foot of the stairs to the plane and the man turned gestured to the hatch.
‘Please be so kind as to board the…’
‘It’s pretty damn obvious that we will be boarding that plane Mr Stranger, it’s the only damn plane in the airport, so please just stop with the unnecessary communication and if you do feel a pressing need to speak, maybe you could start by telling me your name?’
Mr Stranger just stood and regarded her with cool eyes and then nodded ever so slightly and walked ahead of her to the plane and up the stairs. This at least was something, up till this point, he had told her where to go and followed her, reminding her of the cross-country runs she had done at school, there was always a teacher at the very back of the straggling line of unwilling runners and this teacher would use any means necessary including a kick up the rear end, to keep the last of the children running until they reached the finish line. By walking ahead, he had trusted her to follow, a small victory? She stood alone in the freezing wind for a moment longer and cast her eye about the white expanse in the middle of nowhere, the only options were back to the airport manned by a small, semi military looking ground crew or forward to the warmth of the unmarked prop driven aircraft in front of her. Who was she kidding, there was actually nowhere else to go, he trusted her to make the only real decision to get on the plane.
Muttering her frustration, she pulled her long coat up and ascended the stairs to the plane, passing the only crew member, a young woman, again looking semi military with no badges, but welcoming Ms Tartakovsky on board. She chose a seat at the front as Mr Stranger had positioned himself in the middle of the small craft. In short order the airplane taxi’d out to the runway and then fought its way through the driving snow into the air.
She did the calculations in her head, 7 hours of driving at about 60 mph, the fastest they could travel in this weather so they must be somewhere within about 400 miles of Skolkovo, but why? Skolkovo had its own little airport close by, why did they not just use that? All her questions would be answered at the destination. She said this over and over like a mantra until she drifted and went through this mornings events that had led her to this strange situation. Interrupting breakfast, Mr Stranger had knocked on the door of her house and handed her a note. The note said only “Follow this man and do what he asks.” and she had.
Veronika was curious and always had been. Her father had carried her on his shoulder while she was young and shown her how fascinating the world was. He had flicked switches on the wall and instantly, there was light, he had pressed the black and white keys on the box by the wall and then there was sound. Everything was connected and she wanted to know how and why. She had grown up and followed her curious instincts, driving into an ever deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of all things until she graduated at the University of Moscow in theoretical physics and social science and eventually found her dream job at Kransk. Within 10 short years, she was the head of probability science at the Kransk Group, pioneering the Russian effort into the effects of intention on random events. Her father would have been proud of her. This morning, the most random event of her life occurred and perhaps even her insatiable curiosity may not have been enough to follow the big strange minder into a strange car even under those circumstances but then again it was not the words on the letter that had caused her to voluntarily follow Mr Stranger, it was the fact that the message was written in her own hand writing.
Copyright Faramond Frie © 2017