Dark Creations:Gabriel Rising (Part 1&2)

By: Jennifer Martucci

Prologue



Sergei Sokolov would have chosen to be anywhere other than his current location—stationed at an obscure site just outside an alleged mobster’s lair. He closed his eyes and squeezed the bridge of his nose, frustrated from weeks of staking out a prominent member of the Russian Mafia and his gang from the driver’s side of his unmarked car. Instead, Sergei momentarily focused his thoughts on his wife, Antonina, and their newborn daughter, Anna. Both were so beautiful, so warm, and so far away.

Separated by nearly a thousand miles, the distance between he and his family seemed vast, endless. Homesick and in desperate need of solace, he flipped down the visor just above his head and was immediately greeted by his wife’s smiling face, beaming with pride, holding their daughter in her arms. The image, a photograph taped to the shade, was comforting, and briefly made him forget what was troubling him.

Sergei’s heartening reflections were interrupted by his partner, Yuri Popov, feverishly rustling papers.

“Could you be a little louder?” Sergei asked, his words dripping with sarcasm and bitterness. “I can’t even think with all that noise!”

“Sorry! Didn’t know I was bothering you,” Yuri replied with matching acid in his tone. “What the hell is your problem, man?”

Though he would have loved to rattle off a list cataloging his many complaints about their present assignment, he refrained from doing so, opting instead to respond with a generic “nothing” when, in fact, something felt off.

Their location, the stakeout, the men they were shadowing, all of it felt wrong. Sergei could not quite identify exactly what was wrong, but he could feel it deep in his core. A sort of sixth sense he prided himself on possessing during his fifteen years with the Russian Police indicated that trouble lurked just beyond the confines of their vehicle. As an agent of the central law-enforcement body in Russia who operated under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Sergei had employed his instinctive perception to solve more crimes and apprehend more criminals than he cared to admit.

Seated in his unremarkable tan sedan with the heating system activated at full force, Sergei felt goose bumps dimple his flesh despite the warmth of the car. Both he and Yuri had been patrolling incognito, surveying the comings and goings of a Russian mob boss and his crew. Thanks to intelligence collected by the Ministry of Internal Affairs about possible shipments of plutonium to a port in the Avacha Bay, they were both sent to the Kamchatka Peninsula to the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

Several mysterious communications intercepted by the Ministry revealed that the recipient of the plutonium batches was a member of the Russian Mafia, a development that, if corroborated, could prove disastrous. To that end, Sergei understood the need for his presence, its urgency. But the necessity of his attendance did not ease his misgivings about leaving his wife and child. The prospect of validating or invalidating the cryptic claim did little to abate his intuitive qualms; he was stricken by the notion that something far worse than the possibility of mobsters with plutonium awaited.

Situated just down the road from a brick warehouse with hundreds of miles of woodlands to their rear, thus far, Sergei and Yuri had not seen any deliveries other than lumber companies. Such transfers were appropriate as the dossier provided by his department stated that the formidable repository, which featured approximately thirty four thousand square feet and occupied an entire block of real estate, housed timber. Nestled in the expansive area, the Ministry suspected that a three thousand square foot office existed and was operated by the Russian Mafia.

As Sergei and Yuri sat vigil outside the expansive storehouse in tense silence, the sun began its descent into the frozen horizon line, relinquishing its weak grip on the day and surrendering in shades of deep orange and salmon to darkening breadths of violet sky. The enfeebled rays of dwindling light transformed the bleached landscape to an unearthly electric blue, lending it a preternatural eeriness.

Blanketed by cyan shadows, the scenery around them became unnatural, ethereal.

“The countryside looks like something out of a horror movie, no?” Sergei commented.

“Am I allowed to speak without disturbing you, Sergei?” his partner asked derisively. “I wouldn’t want to interrupt you or anything, seeing as how you’ve become so sensitive to noise,” Yuri continued.

Sergei laughed aloud, heartily, for the first time in long while.

“Oh man! I guess I am a bit sensitive lately, aren’t I?” he asked still chuckling. “You know how it is, Yuri, to be away from your family. It’s hard.”

“But it’s our job. It’s what we signed on for,” Yuri rationalized. “This assignment will end, and you will be back with your family again.”

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