After one long month of isolation, they escorted hand-cuffed Gromov to headquarters. With serious faces, the members of Military Police refused to answer any Gromov's questions.
But as they got in the car, one of them winked at him and switched on the audio player.
"Is it some form of torture?"
Gromov pondered while he caught the first tones of Miriam B's velvet voice and first verses of what had to be her last hit I BELONG TO HIM.
The last two weeks, every single day, they had him wake up by this melody. But not only this, even passersby under the barred window of his detention cell sang it to no end.
Gradually, he had learned to despise every single word.
The commander of the escort had to have a similar taste in music as he immediately ordered to turn the player off.
However, the fan of Miriam B seemed satisfied and flashed a smile towards the prisoner.
The captain nodded, thankful the music faded away.
Nevertheless, after they had parked in front of headquarters and their commander had left for a checkpoint, the MP turned on the song quietly once again as if he could not stop listening to its saccharine lyrics and obnoxious refrain.
To the uttermost Gromov's horror, the remaining MPs began humming along.
"Is it a kind of some Plantarian infection?"
Situated in the police car and surrounded by grinning MPs, Gromov stiffened, as he sensed an undefined threat creeping around. "Are they trying some psychological tricks on me?"
Meanwhile, the tall guy beside him imitated playing guitar while the red-faced fatty MP pursed lips to whistle main motifs, awfully out of tune, but performing enthusiastically.
"Would you mind stopping that?" Gromov asked softly, not daring to provoke their anger. "You know you should not do this."
The MP, who was a fan of Miriam B, just leaned back and whispered, "Don't worry, Captain. This is the least we can do to cheer you up."
"Cheer me up?"
If anything, Gromov felt rather scared when trapped in such a phantasmagory.
Fortunately, they ceased singing as soon as their commander had returned with the stamped papers. Then, the car continued to underground parking in blessed silence.
Together, they went upstairs to the second floor, stopping by the door labeled 222.
Then, the escort commander nodded Gromov to proceed inside.
The long room was empty, equipped with a U-shaped table and one lonely chair in the middle. They had Gromov seat on the chair and left afterward.
Facing a bright window, Gromov's eyes gradually recognized shapes of three distant figures, sitting behind the table.
They were two men and one woman. Only one man wore a uniform, the others preferred business suits in elegant grey, with a white-blue tie - the notorious sign of people coming from the Ministry of Defense.
"Good morning, Captain," the woman said cheerfully. She had a helm of black hair, cut behind the ears, in which two blue globe-shaped rings were rocking.
Not particularly attractive, her sport figure gave away a dry mummy-like notion as if the parchment skin had been stretched over her bones.
The abnormally broad smile, framed by bright red lips, made her face transform into a fan of deep wrinkles.
"I am Miranda Jacques, the Senior Deputy of Ministry of Defence's Human Resources. I have been appointed as the head of this Special Committee."
Gromov had never heard about such a thing. He would expect a martial court, but what was the special committee good for?
"Don't worry, Captain," Deputy Jacques chuckled, not bothering to enlighten the confused counterpart. "You should know we all here are your friends and we will act in your best interest."
Gromov watched her coldly. Then he lifted his handcuffed hands. "Allow me to doubt that, madame," he said. "My friends are all dead. But my friends, as I remember them, would never let me rot one month in the detention cell with no explanation. Would you mind satisfying my curiosity now, sir? No, not you, madame... I meant the Space Marshall on your left. With all respects, I want to deal with a military person only."
Born in the Czech Republic, Pavel Morava is not a native English speaker. Having been twenty-two years old, he published his first book, which did not become an international bestseller. After a few other attempts, Pavel Morava abandoned the literary career for over twenty years, during which period he has been focusing on processing of plastics, programming, and raising of children.
Recently, with more time at his disposal, he returned to the forgotten ambition, fighting a futile battle with English language, procrastination, and the tendency to give up too early.
Being vivid reader of not Anglo-Saxon origin, Pavel Morava was fortunate enough to experience books from different countries, including Czech, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Swedish, Dutch, Japanese, French, German, and English. Such a vast literary variety heavily influenced his own work, which typically relies on an one-point-of-view narrative, consecutive storytelling, and elimination of unnecessary details.
Web novels and online publishing made him reevaluate his approach to style and building blocks of the text; the result should be, hopefully, lighter, shorter, and more intelligible for reading on electronic devices.