In 1984, every Sunday at 19.30, an exclusive 30-minute programme for children ended, which was supposed to reduce stress related to the beginning of school week on Monday. The smell of burnt textile school uniforms wafted in prefab houses. When the iron was kept too long on the EXEMPLARY STUDENT shield, the sweet and sour smoke drifted through ventilation grilles, reminding us of compulsory education.
Łukasz did not have a chance for that egg-shaped tab. His father, although closer to the regime than to his wife and son, imposed different rules at home. Łukasz was home-schooled. At that time, only HE and his kind could allow such eccentric behaviour. Military intelligence agents enjoyed more privileges than high-ranking apparatchiks.
Today, Łukasz, to spite doctors, was taking August-sun serotonin with his whole body. He was standing on the roof of his house, one of the most characteristic buildings in Gdańsk – the Olivia Hall. He went outside through a manhole directly from his almost 250-metre apartment, designated for his father in this bold architectonic hall by the Socialist system.
In the early morning, Łukasz logged into an oncological discussion forum, where he got a signal from his father. The old man was in good health but used this channel to contact his son a bit provocatively and by old habits. Where his father lived, the Internet was available only once a month. It was far in Russia on the Barents Sea, on an inactive oil platform turned by Soviet comrades into an exclusive apartment building for those who had rendered great service to the country. Once a month, for only an hour, a huge helicopter with a large satellite Internet aerial hang over the platform, which made it possible for the inhabitants to contact the outside world. The service was included in the rent.
When he logged in, it turned out it is metastatic cancer – which meant a code red. This situation, which was not supposed to happen, woke Łukasz up from the standby mode when he was looking at the impressive scope of works of the mushrooming Olivia Business Center. The old man’s instructions were clear. In the basement of one of the mansions on Polanki Street in Gdańsk Oliva, there is A THING he must bring to his father, who will be waiting for him the following day, on the 32nd floor of the viewing terrace of the Olivia Star Office Building.
He went to his apartment in the Olivia Hall to get ready. His legs were shaking. His hands were trembling as if he suffered from delirium tremens. He was ready, but the uncomfortable thought of disappointing his father dulled all his senses. He drove out through a special channel in the hall. The tremble of the two-stroke engine of his enduro motorcycle and the smell of exhaust, which reminded him of his Romet minibike reassured him.
He raced off down Bazynskiego Street, near the University of Gdańsk, where he never studied. Right after, he located two objects – drones, which did not fly here to photograph the beauty of Oliwa forests. He approached the old palace in Oliwa, now divided into apartments. He heard the buzzing of the airscrews of the drones following him, but here, in the bush of the old park trees surrounding the little pond, he was invisible.
He entered the palace basements, neutralising the electronic intercom hook with a strong magnet. At the end of the corridor with the concrete ceiling, there was an ordinary basement door made of rough wooden rungs with cardboard in-between, so that nobody could take a look inside. He sprayed the padlock with a liquid nitrogen compact dispenser. The padlock gave in when he hit it with brass knuckles, which he’d put on overzealously.
They were here. A few metres away. His nose was never wrong. He practised it with his father in the forest, and now he could smell it in this dense, humid basement. They were sweating sour. They were not used to such places or perhaps they just underestimated him. Such a dry crack of a well‑cleaned gun can’t be confused with anything else. Two times. Two guys. Two Berettas and two Glocks. Several cartridges.
He opened another door, this time armour-plated, 5-centimetre thick. There was little air inside. He could not close it. The sweaty guys were pressing against the door. He could imagine them digging a hole for his body, somewhere in the forest surrounding the Oliwa ZOO.
He opened another identical bunker door to enter a small, empty room with a stepladder leading to the lid in the ceiling. He went up and felt an old muslinet nappy with the THING which he absolutely – as his father wrote – had to secure; the cancer could not grow.
He was three metres above the ground. He clung to the steel ladder. They appeared down there, stinking with triumph. He heard something. Water. Think, think – he told himself off in the adrenalin rush. From there, everything happened very fast. In a moment of madness, he pulled the metal lever of the lid. The smell of sweat disappeared. The nearby pond was his only hope. He flooded the two guys with fierce water, which filled the basement like a tsunami. He held on to the stepladder and surfaced in the drying pond.
He felt he was running out of energy. Just like after the matura exam, which he failed. Home‑schooling. A fight with his father. Why revive ancient history?
He reached the land after several metres when two black SUVs pulled up 15 metres from him. He underestimated his opponents. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. He did not have a plan B, the 12th footballer. Shit, I’m sorry, it’s a matter of honour, dad, he wanted to think.
But he did not have time for it. Neither did they, because they heard it. A roar, as if a fighter plane was taking off. He was wrong but close enough. Two fighter American drones Predators hang over the Oliwa forest.
Two red laser sights floodlit the cars. They fired Hellfire missiles, which did what they were made for.
Łukasz was going by lift to the 32nd floor of the Olivia Star Office Building. On the speaker, Radio Gdańsk informed that two burnt vehicles were found near one of the old mansions in Gdańsk Oliwa. The police suspect that the possible cause of the incident was vandalism.
All characters and events depicted in this story are entirely fictitious.
As opposed to Perfect Smile Clinic Wrzeszcz, which is absolutely real.