5) Status the Fifth
MY DREAMS ARE YOUR NIGHTMARE
The ones who are pulling the strings are being pulled by cords.
– Pick up a child immediately and go there! – @RoughMac said to his ex-wife in a voice opposed to any epilogue, while hurriedly getting into her house.
– What is going on? – Branka asked in panic.
– We have no time. Go now!
– Explain to me…
– OK. Just tell me, are you all right?
– I am absolutely conscious. Don’t wait anymore.
Branka packed promptly the most needed things, actually those of which she was able to remember at that very moment. #Mac meantime, incessantly watched through the window. Afterwards, they simply parted in their own cars.
Branka headed towards Sabac to the apartment of their daughter, and then to previously agreed secret place. While #Mac has been recounting to her many years ago, the details of the escape ”from anything that may come up”, trying at the same time to put her under interrogation, she laughed so carelessly and kept on repeating: ”You are really out of your mind!”. Luckily, they knew each other quite well, since their childhood, and together they succeeded in overcoming a lot of difficult moments, so that she believed immediately in seriousness and jeopardy of the situation the whole family experienced, avoiding even to think, if there was some trace of #Mac’s guilt along the way. Although, as a sort of a rule, she used to argue with @RoughMac so ferociously, considering his attitudes being either one-dimensional and prophetic, mad and ingenious, arrogant and caretaking, ridiculous and tempting (what represented the reason, she both loved him and hated him), this very time she said no word, and did what she has been told.
#Mac on the other hand, headed to Belgrade. In Sremska Mitrovica he bought immediately a new SMS card and a cheap mobile phone, which he put in a bag hung over his shoulder, whereby he checked its content once again. Having arrived at his Vracar apartment, he made a detailed inspection of it. To a sensible man nothing would point, that someone uninvited had been coming, but @RoughMac, being obsessive and compulsive, had noticed that a couple of trinkets were out of its prearranged and over again rearranged order, and had come to completely opposite conclusion. But he felt indifferently because ”two of his girls” have been left in a safe place, while he himself always played the game of untouchability, promised to him by The Circle.
Having had a quiet sleep, he woke up in the morning and found himself on the way to his favorite café, situated at Obilicev Venac, where he usually drinks his morning coffee while staying in a capital. A lot of it was yet unresolved, so he felt extreme desire to meet his enemies again, and to hear them started their regular slating, in order to anticipate something upon it, at least. But the waiting prolonged, and he managed to take a walk through Knez Mihailova street couple of times, lolling around various places, after which he found himself again in the garden of the café, he initially left. He ordered espresso again, and started reading the Blic – daily newspaper he just bought. While reading, he’s been “immersing” more and more deeply into its articles, forgetting at moments the real intention of his simulated loitering.
Having taken a look at extremely beautiful girl, which while walking along the wide passage through the gardens of the rowing cafes, has been cheekily swaying with her thighs and buttocks, fading slowly away, left-sidedly of his raised newspapers, he had decided to put them on the table and to stretch himself a bit. Precisely opposite of his place, but by the same table, The Old Man was sitting!
With his jaw tightly clenched, and with a look as cold as an ice, he quietly uttered a word in a pretty unnatural manner:
– Good day… But not for you.
Shocked by sudden emergence and words of this grey-haired man, #Mac quickly threw the table down in front of him, and started to run away, using the passage leading to Knez Mihailova street. The Old Man rushed after him. At the moment when his persecutor emerged in the pedestrian zone, where our hero fled away, #Mac suddenly separated two, with horror struck young ladies, with which he was seemingly sharing hugs, by having suddenly grabbed them tightly to himself, with his unshaken squeeze as heavy as an iron. Expecting that the fugitive had already managed to flee in the direction of the Kalemegdan Park, The Old Man hadn’t been capable to react timely. Having tried to point the gun with a silencer towards @RoughMac, he was suddenly struck by him, with a hard blow straight into his throat, after which he fell down onto pavement, starting to choke.
Having looked around himself, #Mac noticed three policemen, having watched straightly at him from the direction of Terazije Square. For that reason he continued to run away, following the same direction he was heading to, but the policemen ran after him. Having found himself in the crowd and considering that the guys in uniform won’t be able to see him, he ran quickly into the building, into which he was intending to get anyway, and so he moved on to the second floor, in the offices of the Judicial Comitee of the SPO, where he used to come by sometimes, in order to visit his fellow soldiers from the time of Milosevic’s tyranny. His intention was to jump through their window, and to reach the roof of the Millenium Shopping Mall. However, climbing upwards almost slowly stepping, he looked around and saw that the policemen entered the same building. Suddenly on the staircase, he took a look of Jovan Memedovic, ’cause he lived in that same building, so with a clear intention, but rather affectionately, he asked him:
– What’s up?
– Oh, hello neighbor, I hardly recognized you.
To #Mac’s astonishment, the policemen stopped and began to talk among themselves. Having realized what was it all about, newly-born fugitive came back downstairs following Memedovic, and started to bother him with questions about his TV shows. The policemen separated themselves, so as to make space. Having opened the front door of the building, @RoughMac almost couldn’t see the day light. Actually, the front door was fully occupied by two gigantic and furious young men, who definitely at least at some period of their lives, must have been serving in the special military or police units. At the very moment when #Mac realized, that there was no point to try running away again, two young men stood aside and let (expectedly) Memedovic, who was heading towards Terazije Square, to pass through, but (completely unexpectedly) #Mac as well, and afterwards he immediately winded down towards Kalemegdan Park. Having heard some shattering noise coming out of the building he just left, #Mac couldn’t stand not to come back and open the door again. Inside, the members of the special units or “the members of the special units”, using their exceptional fighting skill, have been eliminating the policemen or “the policemen”.
Our hero momentarily decided to exercise his favorite activity – running away. Firstly, he went on down the Knez Mihailova street, and then he turned left into Zmaj Jovina street. Desperately trying to reach Toplicin Venac and Palace Hotel, he all of a sudden changed his mind, and hid himself by the entrance of the Lotos Bar. He was thinking whether to move towards Obilicev Venac where his car was parked? But there, they’ve been waiting for him anyway. Or to turn to the other side, towards Pevac cafe, to get in, order a drink and wait for the whole fuss to calm down. Ridiculous! Who wouldn’t be able to find him there? Completely irationally, untimely, he remembered that exactly at “Pevac”, Bryan Ferry was given to taste cevaps, but entirely in accordance with his character, he ate only one of it. It was the clear sign that our hero’s slowly becoming prisoner of extreme fatigue, to that extent, that he’s already beginning to lose his composure. And even worse – by recalling nice memories, he’s trying to escape reality.
Regardless of his firm decision to regain his composure, what he actually has managed, he hasn’t really had an idea what further to do. It became pointless very soon, because he was immediately caught by those two young men. One of them moved towards him in a friendly manner. #Mac took a taser out of his bag, given to him by one of his dangerous clients, and the young man was struck by power shock of extremely high voltage.
– Why have you done it? – yelled the other young man, swiftly and furiously rushing towards @RoughMac.
This one began to cast his taser from one of his hands into other one, seemingly preparing himself for defence.
– There’s one small problem with it – the young man said. – It needs to be recharged.
In a couple of seconds, with a stroke of a leg, he got a taser out of #Mac’s left hand, and then he violently twisted it. His cynical smile that followed was an utter mistake, because the hero of our story, with a stroke of his right hand, stabbed the knife through the left thigh of his rival. While he was suffering from terrible pain, @RoughMac tried to continue exercising his forced escape. However, a couple of sportswear-clad young guys entered the main entrance as well, and without exception they looked as if they were members of some special police unit, having been followed by a tall, slim man, dressed in a suit. He ordered guys to search #Mac all through, and to take away from him anything what might be used as a weapon, and consequently he showed to him an identity-card, proving his belonging to the Inteligence Service.
– That’s classic – @RoughMac said. – The Secret Service works for bad guys.
– I asked you nothing – roughly answered the man, and then he ordered his guys to move away, what to #Mac was a sign, that he should say goodbye to his own life. – Now, you will follow me. If you even do some harmful move, I will kill you without hesitation. Having come out of the building, they turned toward Obilicev Venac. While walking, the man held #Mac’s left arm, holding at the same time a pretty big gun in his right hand. The street was horribly uncrowded.
Suddenly behind their back, a dreadful sound of a gun with a silencer shot was heard, and the man walking beside #Mac fell down like a cut tree. Now, The Old Man took him by the arm and ordered:
– Move on!
Moving slowly they finally reached garage at Obilicev Venac. They entered the black Mercedes, sat at its back seat, and The Old Man ordered driver to start the engine. He wasn’t subjected to any kind of special treatment, such as putting to sleep with a stroke or with an injection, putting a bend over his eyes or whatsoever, so #Mac was capable to see everything and to follow the route of the car, by which he was being driven. To him it meant only one – after they do with him, what they had intended to do, he won’t be able to tell the story about his “trip” to anyone, because he will be silenced forever.
Firstly he was imprisoned in the dark and damp room. He realized that the torturing was to begin. Expecting to suffer physical pain, he was trying to prevent mental one. And that’s why, as same as he did while falling into sleep, enshrouded by the darkness of this torturing-place, he started to recall the memories. Perhaps still under impression of today’s mad race, he was nineteen years old again. He used to consider that age as the most beautiful time of his life, the time during which he had been regularly running every single day, not less than five miles, while subjecting himself to doing one hundred knuckles on each day as well. Regular bike-ride hadn’t been even counted, and marathon sex even less. Without skipping any single day, he’d been having exercises regardless of weather conditions, even though the summer was anyway long, sunny and warm. He would have been running through the field paths, sensing the scent of earth soaked by the artificial rain, and breathing the air so deeply, that the last couple of miles he left behind, had been giving him an impression of him turning into his own lungs. His feeling of happiness almost was in direct proportion with the amount of breathed air, so that he had been exactly living every single moment of his life. He had been almost experiencing an orgasmic pleasure, that he had been describing to his friends by these words: ”Running is exciting as same as sex”, and after the loud answer of his friends: ”For me, to be honest, no”, all of them would have been carelessly laughing. Scientific discoveries about secretion of the so called “hormones of happiness” on occasion of the physical activity, having been proved lately, had given him right.
And then came the time for army-service – Slovenia and overwhelming Tolmin, a small town along the shores of river Soča, in opinion of many, the river with the brightest blue color of its waters in the whole of Europe. During the First World War, those areas were known for being attended by Hemingway and Hitler, who had been serving as soldiers there. After hard army exercises he used to have been sleeping in the old army-barrack in Kobarid, and had been making jokes by saying that he had been sleeping in the very same bed, which once was occupied by no one else than Hitler.
During the initial probe of soldiers’ physical condition, army servants had been sharing an opinion, that they had been fulfilling their duties hand in hand with Superman. In a 1,500 meters race, uniform clad and with army-shoes on his feet, he scored a victory, after left everybody else at least 200 meters behind himself. That way he became a courier, but after initial gun-shooting exercise, a sniper had been put into his hands. The very moment their army mates began to make jokes on him, stating that except for couriers, only sniper-shooters and commandos living more shortly (the latter ones most shortly), he had been transferred to a famous Alpine Squad, which also was a commando squad. As he was primarily an alpinist and a skier, the time he spent in that unit was dedicated to trainings in knives-casting, diving and basic principles of martial arts. His squad was filled with members of the ski-national team of former Yugoslavia – Strel, Ulaga, Križaj… they had been preparing themselves for various competitions on Kanin, so the rest had to do certain work for them as well.
His garrison, almost strayed into the neighboring Italy, had almost nothing in common with the values of the JNA, and whether the clearly felt scent of the West, or some sort of twisted experiment, might have been the main reason for that impression. The food given to them was “hardly better than the one served in the hotel”, and the lack of political poisoning strengthened even more #Mac’s liberal views, while the discipline at free time hadn’t been existing. On the other hand, the army drill was very similar to that one seen in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman, and had been stood only by the strongest ones. Just like Loiss Gosset Jr. had been shouting at cadet: ”You want to fuck me up the ass? Is that why you called me a ewe, boy?”, and the soldier had been answering: ”Hell no Sir!”, the same way lieutenant Kucan, being known for his fascinating physical skills and therefore dubbed “rubber man”, had been warning the soldier: ”When you salute me, I always see your thumb (what is improper – author’s comment). With that thumb you are fucking my mother.” It’s only that the soldier was a slightly stupid, so he had been answering: “No, I don’t fuck your mother, Sir Lieutenant!”
Once on an occasion, a couple of officers had been trying to pass certain exams in order to receive higher military ranks, so they had to conduct a particular military exercise without any mistake. The Alpine Squad, which counted about thirty men, represented the terrorists, strongly barricaded within the walls of the old fortress. Three troops, each comprised of more than 150 men, should have surrounded the fortress and imprisoned the persons found behind its walls. In the end, the soldiers of the Alpine Squad have been ordered to surrender, because that was the only way to conduct the exercise according to determined plan. On the occasion of assault, the First and the Second troop have been configured in the shape of the letter “L”. #Mac noticed that while the two troops distancing one another, their initial spot (a corner of the “letter L”) had been remaining empty. Having almost reached the spot at which two troops had been separating under straight angle, he attacked like a fury. Using fake ammunition, which in vicinity of human surroundings produce a considerable danger because of its fire-power, he started to shoot in direction of the soldiers’ eyes, what forced them to fall down on their backs, straight onto snow. Having broken through the surrounding ring, @RoughMac frenziedly ran away, just like he did today in Knez Mihailova street. A couple of soldiers unaware of the fact that they are spoiling the exercise-rules in that way, promptly rushed after him, but of course, the distance among them began to increase rapidly. Having reached the edge of the cliff, #Mac jumped down, into couple of meters in depth, but managed to remain firmly on his feet, and then he intentionally fell down onto his back, using a rucksack instead of a sleigh, and in a furious speed he slid downwards along the steep precipice. His persecutors hadn’t been even trying to repeat this. More precisely, all except for one, ’cause among them there was a lunatic as same as @RoughMac was, a boxer from Novi Pazar, adroit as a cat and robust as a bull. Hesitating for a while, he did jump downwards the cliff either. However, being pretty heavier than #Mac, his feet haven’t been listening to commands, so he toppled down the slope, with his body rolling downhill in all possible directions, until he finally found himself at the bottom of the steep slope. Having seen that there was no time for joking, #Mac rushed back so as to help him, sure that his army-mate was seriously hurt. But when he finally came close to the boxer, he promptly got up and started running after him. I was capable of countlessly laughing out loud at some scenes seen in the Charlie Chaplin movies, but believe me this one was at par with all of them. After two heroes found themselves head to head, more precisely two lunatics, #Mac showing no sign of hesitation, threw a burnt “cannon stroke” (imitation of grenade, that wasn’t harmless at all) straightly towards the boxer. This one started to run at first, but then he came quickly back and raised the “cannon stroke” that was still burning. Obviously under impression of the movies he liked to watch, boxer tried to throw a fire-device towards #Mac again, but at the very same moment, it simply exploded while he held it in his hands, and he was badly burnt. There wasn’t any real danger, but it did certainly hurt a lot. This time, without hesitation #Mac fled towards the village.
For the next couple of days, his escape became some odd mixture between “surviving in the wilderness” and rural tourism. He was aware that his seniors wouldn’t have interest to report on his disappearance, because in that case the exercise would be a failure, and the officers who had been trying to pass their exams, wouldn’t have received for them already prepared higher military ranks, what means consequently that certain important bosses would have been putting their careers at stake. Therefore, #Mac had been spending his time by sleeping in barns, and eating tinned food found in his rucksack and small bag. When he was run out of his food-stock, he reached for money. He would have been visiting village inns, where he had been eating ham and eggs, and to locals’ disgust, who had been primarily drinking beer, he would have been drinking a chocolate liqueur. When he finally brought decision to come back to his barracks, he was seen entering the front door proudly, even though he looked like as shabby as his tomcat Keith Richards, moreover he looked even shabbier than the real Keith Richards.
– There he is !!! – yelled his commander excitedly, in a voice as loud as a cannonball-fire. – Come over here, you brigand, nobody’s going to put you on trial; I will kill you personally!
– Sir sergeant-major, let me address you! I would never surrender to our enemies.
– Oh, wouldn’t you, idiot? Now, you will attend the prison. Unchain your bootlaces.
– Yes, sir sergeant-major! – #Mac said while having started to loosen the bootlaces.
– What are you doing?
– Well, I’m unchaining my shoelaces.
– Oh, come on, go away there. And don’t let my eyes seeing you again.
The door of @RoughMac’s jail suddenly opened. The Old Man couldn’t hide his evident surprise, when instead of some to death scared creature, he saw cheery and smiling #Mac.
– You are expecting to survive hellish pains, aren’t you? – The Old Man asked.
– I’m not hoping to experience something nice. – #Mac tried to act that he was calm, but unsuccessfully. His fear was obvious, perhaps it was the fear he never experienced before. His only “guilt” was the fact, that he wrote bloody status, and it was the reason to be awaiting the terrible torture, probably created by Mengele himself.
– Calm down. There’s only one unpleasantness you are going to experience, albeit pretty harsh one. After questioning, which is entirely painless and harmless, you are going to be killed.
#Mac smiled at first – today, either in the reality or in the memories, everybody threatening to kill him. Then, he felt joy, for the reason, that despite all those threats, he’s actually still alive. At last, he wondered: the man who wants to draw out of him some essential secrets, giving him comfort in advance, by telling him that the questioning is not going to be dreadful at all. Then why would he, even if he knew something, would tell him anything?
– What do you know about achievements in the field of the mind reading? – The Old Man asked.
– I have recently read that it was possible to produce certain pictures of the people’s thoughts, as much as I recall, by using scanner. Judging by this what I saw, it seems to me that the whole matter is still in its initial phase of exploration. Allegedly, a man is able to imagine a bird, but the envisaged picture of that bird, resembling a lot more to some blur made of multi-colored ink.
– It’s just a part of the story let to become known publicly. But, the mind reading already existing for a longer period of time, and we, of course do apply it.
– If it is the case, then why did you approach me from afar trying to obtain certain answers by intimidating me, if it was quite enough to push me into scanner, and read my “content”? – #Mac asked in an ironic voice.
– Well, what to tell you, you were right when you expressed doubt, that our Circle was perfect. There are certain people within it, much more influential than me, who persistently claim that in your case, it is not going to be functioning.
– So, you decided to deal with the whole matter in your own way?
– Exactly. I would have done it before, and I would have found out all what was necessary, but I was obliged to respect decisions of The Circle.
– But now, you’re not under obligation anymore?
– Officially, I am still obliged. But, unofficially… hahaha. I’ll tell you something off the record. Unlike others, I am aware since beginning, that you’re just an ordinary man, who accidentally found himself in the centre of the vortex. It should be flattering to you – you are claiming being a loser, and I am the only one who is believing you.
And finally, #Mac was pushed into scanner. It lasted pretty longer than he had expected. It seemed to him that something was out of order, so these appalling men were trying to repeat the whole procedure several times.
After having been drawn out of the unit, he was brought back to the room where The Old Man was sitting, but no trace of monster’s self-confidence was visible. His face turned pale, and he put @RoughMac into an armchair, opposite to a huge LED monitor.
– What could you tell us about this? – asked The Old Man in a humble way.
– Oh, you are addressing me courteously again? How have you deserved that honor, hence it neither can make me feeling honored, nor will I ever felt being honored.
– We asked you so many various questions, but to any of them you hadn’t reacted properly. What was recorded, hadn’t had any connection to questions asked, but the scenes had been repeating turning around cyclically, as if they had been arranged in advance.
The Old Man switched on a video-material recorded on the occasion of a séance being conducted within the scanner. Firstly, there appeared an image of Yoko Ono in front of Dakota, then a shot was heard, a certain fuss came up, and finally everything finished with the photograph of the Universe, on which the stars resembling to fluffy snow-flakes, ablazed by the headlights of the moving vehicle, were flying hitting the audience. Then, a view starts from the car, a courtyard of the Serbian Government’s Building was in front, and the Building itself, then the shot was heard again, and then the same video of the Universe. After a hill resembling to Calvary emerged, #Mac didn’t wish to watch it further.
– Man, do you understand? There are only executions existing inside your head and you are always observing it from the position of a victim! Lennon, Djindjic, Copernicus, Socrates, even… – The Old Man became pretty excited.
– Don’t be so one-dimensional. Why are you skipping the Universe?
– That’s exactly I am interested about…
– And I’m finding pretty interesting, let’s be honest– and indescribably delighted, that my dreams became your nightmare.
Suddenly someone loudly knocked on the door, and opened it at once, without waiting to be let in.
– Excuse me for popping in so unexpectedly, but you have to know this – said a young man being out of his breath, while running into room. – The Zero in person has arrived!