Chapter 32 of The Holy Lance, a fantasy thriller

Svetlana is on the run, and Druzhnikov is her only hope. Comments are welcome.

Chapter 32

Svetlana Krazavitskaya knew returning to her apartment was out of the question. She derives little solace from being relatively certain that at least she did not kill the intruder. Her options, after nearly 10 hours of aimlessly riding the St. Petersburg Metro, are limited. She has no desire to involve friends or family in whatever it is that has ensnared her. She is nearly out of money, has no cell phone, and, so far as she can tell, is being hunted by a group of homicidal lunatics who think the man-child who was recently her boyfriend is their fearless leader!

She digs through her purse for enough change to buy one more cup of coffee. Down at the bottom of her purse, under her birth control pills, is the business card of Gregori Druzhnikov, FSB. She pulls out the card and stares at it, running through her mind all of the reasons that calling him could be a catastrophe. The men who kidnapped Alexei seem to have an enormous amount of wealth at their disposal, certainly enough to buy off one of Russia’s poorly-paid civil servants. Her lack of sleep combines with her overconsumption of caffeinated beverages to render lucid decision making nearly impossible.

“Fuck it,” she thinks to herself as she begins to scour the Obvodny Kanal metro station for a payphone.

Gregori Druzhnikov feels his cell phone vibrate in the breast pocket of his sport coat as he heads for his office door. He is tempted to let the call go to voice mail. He generally considers it a point of pride to not answer his FSB cell phone until his shift officially begins at 8 a.m. He decides to at least take a look to see who it is. That the call is coming from a payphone, a taksofon in the local parlance, intrigues him. He swipes the phone to answer it and puts it to his ear.

“Druzhnikov here.”

“It’s me. Svetlana.”

“I know too many Svetlanas. How about a last name?”

“Krazavitskaya. The girlfriend of Alexei Kotuzov.”

“Where are you?”

“St. Petersburg.”

“It’s a big city, in case you haven’t noticed. Can you be a bit more precise?”

“A phone booth in a metro station. That’s all I’m going to say.”

“If that’s all you’re going to say, you could have saved us both the trouble. Why the paranoia?”

“I saw Alexei.”

 “When? Where?”

“I can’t go into it now, but the whole thing was very strange. I barely managed to escape. They’re trying to kill me.”

“Okay. Look, you need to get out of St. Petersburg. Get on the next train to Moscow. Go to the Finland Station. I’ll have a ticket there for you. You need to get here tonight. A driver will pick you up once you get here.”

“Why should I trust you?”

“Why did you call me if you don’t trust me?”

“I don’t know. I have no place else to turn, but how can I be sure I can trust you?”

“Okay. Take your chances with that group that snagged your boyfriend. It’s all the same to me. Good bye, and good luck.”

“Wait! Don’t hang up.”

“Finland Station, straight away. It may be your only chance.”