Red Crisis: Chapter Eight
Diatchenko’s rapid-fire questions had gotten him nowhere. Lisa simply didn’t know anything about him or the two other agents, only what he’d spouted off in front of her and Cecelia. In defeat he’d ordered the other man in the room to fix the light so he could gather his maps. It was a relief not to have it shining in her face, and she also got her first look at the third agent. Who just so happened to be Mr. Lysine, the history teacher. Figures. He didn’t like me much either.
Now Roskoldikov had returned. Without Cecelia. Oh thank God! Lisa thought. They didn’t catch her. Maybe she had a chance of escape after all!
Cecelia would get the police!
“What happened?” Diatchenko growled the second he registered Roskoldikov did not, in fact, have Cecelia.
Roskoldikov shot a glance Lisa’s way and asked in timid Russian, “Aren’t you worried she’s going to understand you?”
Diatchenko waved it off. “She speaks Russian, an unfortunate edge on her part. Now we’ll have to do away with her.” A horrid scowl crossed his face, causing Lisa to shudder.
Do away with me? Was he just threatening her or did he really mean it? Oh God, don’t let them hurt me, please!
“I couldn’t find her,” Roskoldikov was saying. “I tried all the roads I could think of to cut her off from the police station. She vanished.”
Diatchenko swore in Russian. Lisa cringed. “We’re ruined. Simply put, we’re ruined. We’ve failed Moscow and they aren’t going to sit well with this.”
The door opened and Mr. Lysine, “Slobozhanin” walked in. “I got a hold of Dobzhansky over the transmitter.” His face was taut and his body stiff. “He didn’t send the letter.”
“Then who in the blazes did?” Diatchenko exploded. “Who sent me a letter addressed under my real name? Who blew our cover?” He slammed his fist against a table in the middle of the room.
It was all Lisa could do to hold back the new stream of tears that threatened to erupt. She couldn’t cry. She couldn’t show she was afraid. They’d use that against her.
“We have to think this through,” Slobozhanin mused. He glanced at Roskoldikov and raised an eyebrow. “I see you didn’t catch the other girl?”
“Shut up,” Roskoldikov growled.
“The police will be searching the school and our homes,” Diatchenko muttered. “They won’t find anything. They can’t trace us on paper, we don’t exist. Our biggest problem is her.” Simultaneously they all gazed at Lisa, and her heart all but stopped. “They’ll have pictures in every station, at every agency and all over the country. We can’t get anywhere if we have her, someone’s bound to know who she is.” He ran his fingers through his hair and groaned. “We can’t go anywhere without her, either. They’ll be shoving pictures in every person’s face around the nation. Without a hostage we’re as good as caught.”
“Ho-hostage?” Lisa squeaked before she even knew she’d spoken.
She didn’t know why that surprised her, but the very thought sent a cold shockwave down her spine and numbed every part of her body. Hostage!
Diatchenko cursed again and glared at her. “Should have thought about that before you went snooping around in my desk, huh, Lisa?” He jerked his thumb in her direction and barked at Roskoldikov, “Untie the brat. I’ve got a call to the police to make. We’ll see if they meet our demands when I get a couple screams out of her.”
She could barely utter a prayer as Roskoldikov untied her and roughly shoved her forward. Dear God, save me. Please. If it’s your will, please save me.
“Mr. Lysine has blond hair with blue eyes and he’s younger, like this guy,” Cecelia explained, motioning to the photograph. “I always thought he was German, ‘cause he looks a lot like my friend Tyler’s Dad. But this guy in the photo looks identical to him!”
“Excellent!” Agent Lynch exclaimed. He grinned and set the photo apart from the others. “This man is Andrew Slobozhanin. We weren’t sure if he was in America or not, but if you saw him then we can cut to the chase much faster.”
He sorted through a large stack of pictures and pulled out a small bundle. “Now we don’t have to go through the rest of these, only this little pile here. Since we know Slobozhanin is on this mission we can look through the pictures of the agents he’s been partnered with.”
“Oh good! Then you can find Lisa faster!” Cecelia agreed.
Four photos in through the new stack and Cecelia spotted Mr. Ross in a crisp Soviet uniform. “That’s the guy we ran into in the hallway! I think he’s the one who grabbed Lisa. Mr. Dover called him Roskoldi or something.”
“Agent Viktor Roskoldikov,” Lynch corrected. “One of the Kremlin’s best American experts. I’m surprised they’d spare him on a mission…” Lynch set the photo next to Slobozhanin’s picture. “If Roskoldikov’s been partnered with Slobozhanin, then--” he stopped abruptly as his eyes widened.
Cecelia stared at him. Her heart began to beat against her chest. “What’s wrong?” she managed.
Lynch didn’t reply, he fished through his suitcase and pulled out a photo attached to a file. “Is this the third agent?” he demanded in an almost rough manner.
She didn’t need to see the picture twice to know. “Ye-yes,” she stammered as she looked into the eyes of Mr. Dover, his scowl and uniform sending shudders down her spine. “That’s Mr. Dover.”
Without another word Lynch snapped his suitcase shut and left her to sit at the desk by herself. “Boys, we’ve got a lead,” he called to his fellow agents.
Cecelia had no idea what had just happened, but it was not good from the look Lynch had given her. Dear God, please protect Lisa, she prayed. Something’s up and I don’t know what it is.
She got up from her seat and crossed over to where the police officers and federal agents huddled around a table, examining the pictures Cecelia had identified.
“…been after this man for two years,” Lynch was saying. “He’s been in the United States three times and each visit he’s managed to weasel out of our hands. One of my agents was following up on a lead we’d gotten on him this week. That must’ve been the letter the girls discovered, it was designed to make him call his superiors on a transmitter we could trace to his whereabouts.”
They’re talking about Mr. Dover! She realized. The FBI were the ones who sent that letter we found?
Lisa was right, no bad guy would slip up that bad. It had been designed to catch Diatchenko in the act, and they’d messed it up!
“What’s so important about this agent, other than he’s tarnished the FBI’s record?” Sergeant Parker muttered.
Lynch shot him a look and snapped, “He’s not just an espionage expert, Sergeant. We’ve pinpointed several acts of violence and murder to have either been done by him or ordered by him. He’s killed American citizens to keep us off his trail.”
At those words Cecelia jerked to attention. “He’s not going to kill Lisa, is he?”
It was clear by the looks on the lawmen’s faces they hadn’t realized she’d been listening. “Child, why don’t you go sit back down with Jen?” Sergeant Parker began.
“No!” she cried. “No, I want to know the truth! Do you think he’s killed Lisa?”
Silence. One of the agents glanced at Lynch, and he sighed. “Cecelia--”
At that second Jen came rushing towards them from the direction of her desk. “Sergeant Parker,” she gasped, out of breath. “There’s a man on the phone who identified himself as someone who knows about the KGB case you’re working on!”
“Put him on the speaker for all of us!” Sergeant Parker ordered. He glanced at Cecelia and suggested, “Perhaps you should go--”
She shook her head. “No. I was in on this from the beginning, I want to know what’s going on with Lisa.”
She could tell he knew she was serious. He sighed, muttered something on his breath, but didn’t send her away.
Cecelia crowded next to the officers and agents as Jen pushed the speaker button. Everyone remained quiet. Sergeant Parker grunted, “Sergeant Parker here. You said you have information about the KGB case? How do you know about that?”
There was a low chuckle on the other end. “Oh, I’m very well informed in these matters,” the caller snickered.
Cecelia jolted and clapped hand over her mouth to keep from shouting, “It’s Mr. Dover!”
Lynch took one look at her face and placed his finger on the photo of the Soviet agent. Him? he mouthed.
Lynch pushed the photo over to Sergeant Parker and tapped it to show him the man on the other end was Diatchenko.
Sergeant Parker grimaced. “Dmitri Diatchenko, is that you?”
There was a slight pause, then another chortle. “You must have the FBI listening in. Good. This is for them to hear, too.”
“Diatchenko, we can do this the easy way or the hard way,” Lynch growled. “You know how much we’d just love to shoot you. Don’t give us a reason to do it.”
“Oh, I’m going to make sure you don’t!” Diatchenko shot back. There was a slight scuffling sound, then a sharp screech sounded through the speaker.
This time Cecelia couldn’t help it. She yelped, “That’s Lisa!”
“You hear that?” Diatchenko snarled. “I can make her do a whole lot worse if you don’t cooperate. Can’t I, Lisa?”
There was no response at first, then another sharp cry and Lisa’s voice sobbed, “Leave me alone, please!”
“Diatchenko, keep the kid out of this!” Lynch pleaded. “She only stumbled into our trap. We sent the letter to get you to talk to your boss! She has nothing to do with this case, it’s between you and the FBI. If you and your comrades let her go we can set up a fair trial. If you kill her then you’re looking at a death sentence.”
“That’s why I’m not going to be caught. Hear this and take it to heart-- if you come after us or let out a press release, I’m going to kill the child. Don’t mess with me.”
The receiver clicked off and the room was left with an eerie silence.
Lynch was the first to speak. “Donovan, do you think you could trace that call?”
Agent Donovan, a dark haired fellow with gray hairs beginning to emerge, shuffled his feet. “I can try.”
Cecelia stared at the phone, the words Diatchenko had spoken etched in her mind forever. I’m going to kill the child. I’m going to kill the child.
Oh God, this can’t be happening.
“Let D.C. know what’s going on,” Lynch ordered. “Tell them we’ve got a Red crisis on our hands.”