Malik's Dilemma

Scrambling back into the clothes he'd been wearning the previous day, Malik opened the door and raced across to the hospital.

He got out his key and opened the main gate. No-one was inside and yet all the lights were blazing away inside as well. He shrugged: clearly someone had been careless the day before. He began to switch the lights off one by one.

"Leave them," said a young accented voice in French. Malik turned to see young Ilya, Ivanov's son.

How had the boy got here? The hospital had seemed deserted until a minute ago!

A European had spoken. Malik would do as he'd been bidden. He switched the lights back on, mumbled an apology and was just heading back towards the main gate again when he was interrrupted by an even bigger scream than the one he had heard so recently. Turning toward the source he plunged through the double doors to find... nothing. There was an empty room. Puzzled, he decided to nose around. Young Ilya appeared, of course, to ask him to leave. The boy seemed nervous. Malik was, as asked, about to walk out when the scream came a third time, almost deafening everybody. Malik pushed on with his investiagtion and ignored Ilya, European or not. He discovered something very strange - when you pressed what looked like another book on the bookshelf there was a click and the whole section of wall gave way slightly.

Stepping through the gap in the books and down to see what was happening. To his horror he found himself in a hidden make-you-well place. In it were the old Ilya Ivanonv and a couple of Red Army people.

What was even more shocking was to see a woman lying down on the wooden table, obviously in great distress.

Young Ilya, after a discussion with his father, moved over to a chocolate tin and withdrew an almost obscene amount of money - 30,000 francs. Turning to Malik, he proffered the staggering amount emotionlessly.

Ilya looked from the hopeful eyes of tied-up woman to the bundles of notes right under his nose. He thought of how his wife would react with joy; he thought of their children dancing with delight, no longer needing to go around barefoot... he thought... he thought. All the while the woman's eyes seemed to be looking pleadingly at him.

Malik would have to make one of the most important decisions of his life. Probably THE most important.

There was only one decision that he could offer under the circumstsnces.

The End

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