Part 1 - Boris Mikheyev
The night is laden with fears; a wilderness haunted by doubts, insanity, and tired emotions that keep the mind slow, rigid, locked onto tradition. The sound of a siren cuts through the dark of midnight; it cuts into the mind, sharp, harsh, it echoes in thought, but it comes as no surprise to Boris Mikheyev. He raises his head. The practice alert has begun, the one he was awaiting for. He knew it would be called. . .
To the others at Lenin Base the call of the siren is little more than another disturbance in a long train of impositions that the men have taken for granted as a part of life. To Boris its pulsating sound brings on a feeling of being intensely alive. The timing is perfect! The alert came as though it was written into a script. He is alone in the pit. He is ready. For days, every step of the plan has been rehearsed, timed, and re-timed, and then committed to memory. He puts his lunch on the ground, quickly, and then starts running towards the bulldozer. The eerie whine of the siren stirs an uneasy feeling as he climbs into the cab. The feeling is quickly suppressed; he starts the engine. This is no time for emotions, he tells himself. He knows that he has less than five minutes to prevent the shutdown of the automatic firing sequence that he knows will be initiated during an alert procedure. He moves the bulldozer to where a stone marker lines up with the trunk of a tree. He cuts back to idle and waits. . .
The plan has been rehearsed until each move became implanted in the deep recesses of consciousness. Nothing could be allowed to go wrong. In forty-five seconds he will know if the alert is true. Fake alerts were not uncommon. He leans out of the cab window, his stopwatch set. He listens. At forty-seven seconds he hears the faint grunting noise of a silo cover being drawn aside. He resets his watch. He is now in synchronism with the launch sequence. . .
What takes place from this point on is no longer the result of deliberate will. His actions become mindless; mechanical; a series of rehearsed reflexes. The plan is in control. The plan has been in control of his life for the last two weeks. With ever-growing intensity it crowded out his personal feelings. Now it has taken over his life. . .
He accelerates the bulldozer. While the machine gathers speed he struggles with himself for one last time to take control of his actions. He knows that he can still call it all off, scrap the plan if he wants to, and walk away - nobody is forcing this plan on him! . .
At the third marker, the last timing checkpoint, he makes a correction in speed. He notes that the plan is still in control. Its sequence proceeds uninterrupted. Eighteen seconds to go, seventeen, sixteen. The speed should be correct now! With the precision of a finely tuned mechanism the plan is acted out step by step. He verifies his speed and position at a forth marker. This is the starting point of the final, full power run. His timing is now correct. He moves perfectly with all the extreme precision that is required. There is a narrow time slot during the pre-launch sequence in which he must sever the power cable to the Launch Control Complex. The task must be accomplished precisely within the narrow window of time when the missile's internal sequence has been started for its system initialization phase, but before the end of it, when the launch control officer verifies the ready status and aborts the launch sequence. This brief window of time is his window of opportunity to change the world. It is less than three seconds wide. . .
His last cue is the air blast that indicates that the fuel trunks have been jettisoned. This also marks the beginning of the internal launch program. Only the data link trunk remains connected securely nestled inside its slip-off hatch. . .
The mouth of the silo amplifies the air blast, as by a giant trumpet. Boris can easily hear it. It ruptures like a gun shot followed by a noise of rushing air that takes on the sound of a train conductor's whistle at it fades. Boris knows that within six seconds the internal sequence will be aborted. He checks his position against his final marker. He is right of on the mark, infinitely more precise than he needs to be. The bulldozer is now at top speed, racing towards a trough of loose dirt below which lies the cable. He reaches forward to lower the blade. Here he hesitates! . .
At this final instant at the crossroads of history, as if time itself stands still, he hesitates, pulls his fingers back from the lever. In this moment as if all time were frozen like in some galactic vortex of western SCIFI novels, a torrent of thoughts is flooding his mind from all conceivable directions; images of Tania - bright, sad, beautiful - of her waving, crying. She cries bitterly. She begs him. But whom is she crying for? For him? For the children? For mankind? . .
He sees the masses of humanity reaching out to him. He alone knows the secret! He alone has the key to change, the key for mankind to have a future. His plan is perfect! No one is in danger! Not a single person will die. Only the system will be destroyed that is poised to destroy humanity if it is not overcome. . .
Only why is he seeing Tania in tears? Is it a warning? Or is it just a reflection of his own fears, fears of the night, of doubts, of his reaction to emotions.... . .