And the men who hold high places
Antonia came into the room. “Where’s Alieta?” she asked.
“We don’t know,” replied Luda. It was true; we hadn’t seen Alieta in quite some time, and we had no idea where she was.
Antonia left. Varvara eyed me mischievously and said, “You could call her.”
“How?” I asked.
“Touch the grandmother clock and you will figure it out.”
I touched the clock trepidly. Nothing happened. I opened my mouth to speak, but the word I had been about to say resonated in my mind as if spoken through a comb filter. I concentrated. “Alieta,” dozens of human-like voices sang over and over in different harmonies. I let go.
“What was that?” I demanded.
“Clock,” Varvara said dismissively.
“Come on, let’s do laundry,” Luda grunted.
We carried our laundry out to the garage, which is where the washer and dryer lived. Alieta slipped in through one of the open garage doors, and surreptitiously pulled Varvara over for a whispered conversation.
Antonia wandered in and squinted in Alieta’s general direction. Luda quickly pulled Varvara in front of her. “It’s just Varvara,” she announced.
Antonia’s eyes glazed over and she went back into the house. Alieta pursed her lips and studied the wall as if there might be some reflective object that had alerted her mother to her presence. Then she grabbed Varvara by the hand, pulled her over to push the buttons that closed the garage doors, and dragged her into the house.
I watched the garage doors close. Then I watched the one on the left reverse direction. I opened my mouth to notify someone of this, but the doors reversed direction again, and proceeded to partially open and close as if possessed. I tried to hide behind Luda, without success.
Now she was watching as well, as reality seemed to to shimmer and bend. The roof became arched, and there were loud mechanical noises as our environs transformed. When it finished, the place where the garage doors had been was now a wall of screens displaying video as you might encounter in a television store. More disconcertingly, we were in front of a railing which overlooked what appeared to be a car dealership showroom.
Luda sucked in her breath. “Benjamin Snow, you were into some serious shit,” she muttered.