Warren Murphy: Look Into My Eyes

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Destroyer 67: Look Into My Eyes

By Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir

Chapter 1

It was better than being in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan the bandits would shoot you from ambush, or if they captured you, they would cut you into pieces very slowly. Sometimes their women did it with their cooking tools.

Sometimes the officers would throw you under the treads of a tank if they thought you might desert. Afghanistan was where you died horribly.

And so Sergeant Yuri Gorov did not find duty in Siberia a burden, nor did he question his strange orders. He was to allow no one, under any circumstances, to leave the small town he and his division surrounded. He was to beg first and then to plead with anyone trying to leave, and if that failed, he was to call an officer, and if that did not work, he was to shoot the person, making sure the person did not leave alive.

Shooting escaping prisoners was not strange. What was strange was that supposedly no one in the village was a prisoner. Even stranger was the notion that anyone might want to escape.

Yuri and his platoon had driven into the village once to dig a sewer for one of the residents. For Siberia, it was a very nice village, and one house was particularly nice. The house was two stories high, and only one family lived in it. There were three color television sets. Wondrous American and Japanese appliances filled the kitchen. Carpets from Persia, and lamps from Germany, and wall switches that turned on the lights every time. And the rooms were the size of several apartments combined.

There was red meat in the refrigerator and fruits from all over the world, and whiskey, wine, and cognac in a little closet.

And toilets, with soft seats, that flushed every time, and ceilings that had no cracks in them. It was a marvel of a house, and every house in the village seemed to be almost as glorious.

Officers noticed the men dawdling in the house instead of just using the toilets, and ordered the house off limits. But everyone had seen the enormous luxury of this house and sensed the grandeur of this village.

It was heaven on earth. And under no circumstances were the soldiers posted outside the village to let anyone leave alive.

To this end, four soldiers were posted outside for every person inside. One of the old-timers of the division claimed the people inside did witchcraft. But a recruit pointed out he had seen high-ranking KGB officers and scientists enter. He knew they were scientists because one stopped to talk to him once. The KGB and scientists certainly would not countenance witchcraft.

But a recruit from Moscow said he thought he knew what this village did. Back home in Moscow he would sometimes meet visitors from the West who asked him about Russia's parapsychology experiments.

"What is parapsychology?" asked Yuri. He had never heard of such a thing, and neither had the others in the barracks.

"We are supposed to be famous for it, according to this American woman I met."

"Did you sleep with her?" a corporal asked of the Moscow recruit.

"Shhh," said the others.

"Let him talk," said Yuri Gorov.

"She told me," said the Moscow recruit, "that we have done more experiments in parapsychology than anyone else on earth. There are books on some of our experiments printed openly in the West, and there is a center for it here in Siberia. I think this village is the center."

"But what is this parapsychology?" asked Yuri.

"Seeing things that aren't there. Like halos over people's heads. Or having their minds go back into past lives. Witchcraft things."

"No wonder they would keep a thing like that secret. Assuming, of course, they were doing those things."

"Everything with the human mind that you can imagine is done there. Mind reading, mind bending, everything."

"I don't believe it," said Yuri. "We would not do such things. "

"I bet someone is reading your mind right now."

"If that were so, the KGB would use it already."

"I bet they do, but they only use it on important people," said the recruit.

"Nonsense," said Yuri. "Those things don't exist."

"Have you ever had a message and known who it was from before you got it? Have you ever had a feeling that something bad was going to happen before it happened? Have you ever known you were going to win something before you won it?"

"Those are just hunches," said Yuri.

"Those are the parts of your mind that parapsychology deals with," said the Moscow recruit. "And that village we surround is filled with people who experiment in such things. I'm right."

"I'd rather know if you slept with the American woman."

"Of course I did," said the Moscow recruit.

"Is it true that they do strange things?" asked another. As in all barracks, sex was always a major interest.

"Yes, they enjoy it," said the Moscow recruit. Everyone laughed.

And then one night, when a gentle chill enveloped the rich land, a man in an expensive Western suit came walking up the road from the village muttering to himself. He was about five-foot-seven and walked in a splay-foot fashion, as though he couldn't care less where his feet went. He was muttering something quite furiously.

"Excuse me, sir," said Sergeant Gorov. "You can't come through here."

The man ignored him.

"Left alone. Left alone. I want to be left alone," said the man. He had soft, woeful brown eyes and a collapsed bag of a face that looked as though he was perpetually tasting something unpleasant. He wore gold-rimmed eyeglasses.

"Sir, you must stop," said Yuri. He stepped in front of the shorter man.

The man tried to walk through him, then with the physical contact realized where he was.

"You can't go any farther," said Yuri. "It's not allowed. "

"Nothing is allowed," said the man. "It never is. Nothing."

"I cannot let you pass."

"You cannot. He cannot. She cannot. Everybody cannot. What is the matter?" said the man, raising his arms toward the dark Siberian sky.

"You'll have to turn around."

"And what if I told you no? The simple, beautiful, exquisite word no. That single syllable that comes off the tongue like sunshine in a winter hell."

"Look, mister. I don't want to shoot you. Please go back," said Yuri.

"Don't worry, you're not going to shoot me. Don't make such a big deal already," said the man. He put his hands in his pockets. He did not turn around.

Yuri yelled back to the little guard post. "Sir, comrade refuses orders to turn back."

An officer drinking tea and ogling a magazine filled with seminude women yelled back:

"Tell him you'll shoot."

"I did."

"Then shoot," said the officer.

"Please," said Yuri to the man with the sad brown eyes.

The man laughed.

With trembling hands Yuri raised the Kalishnikov and put it to the man's head. No matter what was said in basic training, every soldier knew many men never fired their rifles in combat. He had always suspected he would be one of those. In combat he could maybe get away with it. But here, if he didn't fire, it would mean being sent to Afghanistan for sure. It was either this poor fellow or himself. And the man didn't seem to be stopping.

Yuri leveled the gun at the sad brown eyes.

Better you than me, he thought. He hoped he wouldn't have to look at the body. He hoped that the blood would not spray too much. He hoped that he would someday be able to forget what he had done. But if he pulled the trigger at least there would be a someday. If he went to Afghanistan, there wouldn't be. Yuri felt his finger slick with sweat against the trigger.

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