I walked into my home, the house where I was raised, and he was there. Both of us had our guns at the ready. Both of us had been expecting each other. Both of us suddenly realised we were being played. Neither of us cared.
Vasily asked me how I could live with myself, knowing that I’d killed so many people. I asked him the same.
Neither of us answered. The answer would have been too terrible to pollute the air with.
He asked me did I know what the creature I’d been working for was. I said that I didn’t. He said that it was just as well.
I asked him if he knew what the creature he’d been fighting against was. He said that he didn’t. I said that it was just as well.
Then everything happened.
A hooded figure exploded through my living room window and tackled Vasily to the ground, sending his gun flying across the floor. Before Vasily could react, the figure kneeled on his biceps, pulled down his hood with one hand and aimed a gun at his head with the other. Vasily was spewing with surprise, hatred and, more than anything, rage. All he could was spit out one final word.
Then his head was gone. An almost artistic use of dum-dums. At that moment, the artist himself turned to face me, the remains of Vasily Loginov in his hair and teeth; Nikola Chernov. I dropped my gun in surprise but before I could scramble to pick it up, Chernov had walked over and taken my hand warmly. He congratulated me for a job well done and apologised for manipulating me. The truth began to seep in then. Chernov was the benefactor. I asked him what was going on and he said he would explain everything once we had found a safe place. We fled into the night and found an abandoned warehouse where we could hole up and talk.
Chernov first learned of the existence of the swelling man from Vasily, after the latter returned from the “special assignment” he had been given by the man who used to have his job. Vasily had confided in Chernov, his closest friend, that he was going to be taking a cover job with the MVD and working as a permanent member of the secret government organisation tasked with suppressing information about the swelling man, combatting his agents and eliminating those who threatened their anonymity. Chernov had objected to the very existence of the organisation, saying that it was a travesty of justice for such a group to be able to operate outside the purview of the law. Their friendship was destroyed by the argument and Chernov began his quest to destroy the group. Over the course of fourteen years, he slowly but surely learned all that he could about it and learned that they observed children exposed to the swelling man from a young age and, depending on whether or not the swelling man entered their lives again as adult, let them live their lives or had them killed.
Despite all the information he had gathered, Chernov was no closer to destroying the organisation when he first met me while working on the Nikitin case. He recognised my name instantly from files he had read on observed children. Apparently, whatever designs Vasily Loginov had on me when he selected me for the case, the swelling man had greater and even longer-lasting ones. At any rate, he began to wonder if there was a way for him to use me to take down Vasily and his collaborators. That’s when I handed him the key to his plan.
The password to my blog.
All those months ago, when I used his iPod to update this blog, I forgot to log out of it. Chernov read my blog, guessed that my contact with Nikitin would bring me back into contact with the swelling man and decided to manipulate me from afar so that I would destroy Vasily’s organisation for him. He saw that my personal sense of justice would drive me so much that he would need only occasionally prod me in the right direction to get me to completely dismantle the whole operation and he was right. Over the course of a couple of months, I did what Chernov failed to do in fourteen years.
And now I’m an outlaw, wanted for ten murders and a multitude of crimes that don’t even exist in Russian law, but I’m willing to take that as the price of justice. By removing so cancerous a tumour from the Russian nation, I have managed to protect thousands from having their basic rights, even their right to live, denied to them. If I have to run for the rest of my life, then that’s worth it.
Chernov thinks we should move out and I’m inclined to agree. I’m going to continue updating this blog for now, so you can expect to hear from me soon enough.