EXPLORE THE WORLD WITH
Private Investigator Walter Balducci is always on the go, much to his dismay. He resides in Geneva, an international city that, as one writer once said: It’s a city that breeds men. (Genève: Son génie consiste à enrôler les hommes qui lui arrivent d’ailleurs pour en faire des hommes d’ici.) But every time he wants to settle down and pursue one of his many hobbies, a case pops up and he is swept away to uncover some awkward mystery in a different part of the world. He has a knack in attracting the oddest cases, some so absurd that they border on the surreal, and a knack for solving them in the strangest fashion.
His next case:
THE ODD CASE OF THE BLACK HOLE
An old Russian scientist has discovered the secret to creating and controlling a miniature black hole; his discovery could set off a world war and the end of the world. The black hole mysteriously disappears. Walter Balducci is hired to find the black hole by a three crazy scientists who want to prevent the world from being compressed to a nothing state and swallowed by another dimension.
Just to give you an idea how this thriller starts:
1956 – USSR
Of all the colors in the spectrum, black was his favorite, but he was not sure if it was really considered a color. Scientist had concluded that the absence of light is not a color. But then again, it did manifest an aspect of light, and, as far as he could see, any aspect of light is a color in one form or another. Even no-light.
That’s what surrounded him: no light.
The continuous rattling of the steel wheels on the tracks, the shaking, dark wagon, the smell of urine mixed with cold steel. He was trapped in a railroad car, travelling in the middle of the night, headed east, to a cold and secluded Gulag where he would rot for the rest of his life. All because black was his favorite color.
Vladimir Borisovich Artsimovich had studied astrophysics all his life and yesterday was supposed to be the culmination of years of research and experimentation. Finally, he would be able to control matter and light; finally, he would be able to create a minute black hole in his lab.
It was Sunday morning, a Soviet Sunday morning – the sun was shining and trying to fight the autumn chill in the drab streets of Moscow. Colors were coming to life, trying to lose their pale hue; however, at Number 5 Varsonofyevsky Lane it was pitch black. The mood was black, the results were black, the black was black. Usually, experiments that go wrong end up in a burst of flames or a massive electric discharge, but at Number 5 Varsonofyevsky Lane, everything went black. Though black is what they wanted, it was not the black that they were looking for. It was another black. A black with no power, no personality, and eventually a black that did not bode well for all those in the lab.
The experiment was a failure.
There was no black hole.
The military commander in charge of their secret operation was an ambitious, callous man who was known for his short temper and his fascination for American antique guns. Colonel Petrov Mikailovich Potamsky. He was a tall man with aquiline nose and an uneven stoop that reminded one of an African stork. The news seemed to distort even further his uneven frame; he was furious and he immediately took the bureaucrat in charge of this secret operation, a short, obese man by the name of Oleg Nevetyev, and shot him with a Savage Automatic outside of the lab, in front of everybody. Then he packed all the scientist on a train and shipped them off to Siberia.
That, in short, was Vladimir’s predicament as the train crossed the Ural Mountains and a gust of chilly freezing wind howled its way into the wagon. Not a good sign, not a good so sign at all — the gulag, the cold, the starvation, the disease, the inevitable death. He pictured it all and realized he had no chance, he was doomed.
Then suddenly he heard a blast; the wind exploded in all directions and he was thrown around the wagon like dollar bill in an arcade game, ending up face down in a pile of straw that reeked of urine and feces. The wagon door burst open and the black turned into a swirling confusion of light and snow, fire and smoke. Flashlights cut through the darkness like light sabers from another planet, voices in a foreign language, suddenly his face was aglow as different flashlights converged on him. He was blinded, he had lost all sense of direction, he was dizzy and aching all over from the crash. A number of strong hands carried him out of the wagon into the freezing outdoors; somewhere along the way, as snowflakes covered his face and blurred his vision, he felt a piercing sharp pinch on his neck. He was getting used to the light, but it didn’t last long, he was back to black.
Everything swooned; his vision fused all the colors in a dark, moving blur that got darker as he rapidly lost consciousness.
He was back to his favorite color.
Back to black.
One thing about prostitutes is that they are very faithful to their favorite customers, one at a time. Walter Balducci reached this conclusion as he observed a beautiful buxom woman by the name of Gretel greet a small, skinny man in his late 60’s as if he were the love of her life. Yesterday, at Flanagan’s, this same charming and lovely lady of the night was greeting a Hungarian diplomat in the same fashion. She had tossed in some Borsch and her love for vladbak, enough to have him eating out of her hands, her cunning approach much more effective than his diplomatic curriculum.
Gretel locked eyes with Walter who was quietly sipping an Intronation at the bar and flashed him a conspiratorial smile. She then continued weaving her web of seduction: listening, acknowledging, the false look of admiration and the occasional caress in the right place. It was this last movement, maybe a little bit too excessive, that created a sudden reaction in her client who clutched his chest and jerked from his seat, spilling on the floor an excellent Krug Vintage Brut.
She screamed in horror……
(To be Continued)