So tell us, Dr. Slezak…
What is the SHIVA project’s ultimate goal?
Slezak, a distinguished, well-dressed man in his 60s, takes Audra’s hand, then holds it gently between his in a prolonged handshake. He smiles warmly, pausing as his blue eyes hypnotically focus on hers.
“Before answering, my dear, allow me to say how charming you look. He gently touches her shoulder; Audra cringes. “Your hair is quite lovely in this light.”
“And your smile, it’s absolutely fetching.”
He smiles, his eyes carefully scrutinize his impact on her,
“Oh, yes. You were asking something, something about goals, is that right?”
He drops his eyes in thought, then looks up again.
“Our goal? The advancement of science. We serve humanity and protect our great nation. Safeguarding our nation’s security—you, your lovely family, those things we hold so dear in these troubled times-- is of the utmost importance to us. It’s the guiding principle in my life’s work.”
But you really haven’t answered my question, sir. How can SHIVA accomplish that? What, exactly, is the nature of your research?
Slezak squeezes her arm warmly, nods, and starts to walk off.
“Security issues prohibit disclosure. National security, you understand. I believe I have answered as best I can, my dear. Now, I hope you’ll pardon me. I have pressing matters requiring my attention. It was delightful spending a few minutes with you.”
Dr. Slezak, could I impose on you for only a few more minutes?
Annoyed, he returns, but his smile has clearly faded.
“Please make this brief.”
What makes you so driven to accomplish SHIVA’s goals, whatever they may be?
He huffs and folds his arms.
“Driven? I’m unhappy with your choice of words. Do I seem frenetic? Consider me as motivated—highly motivated. Now, if that is all…”
Two more questions, sir. If you could choose anyone, real or literary, as a “partner in crime,” so to speak, who would you choose and why?
Slezak’s eyes widen in astonishment. “Crime? That’s another poor choice of words.”
He looks at Audra, resentfully.
Audra blushes. I meant that only in a figurative sense, sir--humorously.
“Clearly, you have no idea of who I am or the importance of my position. My work is in national security. I’m a respected government official, not a crook!”
Sorry to offend, sir. All right then, who would you choose as someone who could work effectively with you, who shares similar values?
“Politically, one man stands out: Richard Nixon, a steadfast patriot and unflagging seeker of peace. I worked for his election and reelection. He was terribly misunderstood and mistreated by the media.”
Audra is tempted to pursue this but, wisely, decides to move on.
Please describe yourself using only three words, Dr. Slezak.
“This is the final question, young woman. I won’t squander any more time on this, this…nonsense.”
Agreed, Dr. Slezak. Thank you for your understanding.
He rubs his chin as he thinks.
“Honesty. Yes honesty, patience, and frankness. And that, I’m afraid, is all I can give you, Ms. Middleton. For further questions, contact Dr. Burton Grimes, my associate at SHIVA.”
He walks away briskly.
Overhearing the interview, Lincoln Carter, the research team’s medical officer looked towards Audra with a sour expression. He tightens his lips and shakes his head.
“You should know, Ms. Middleton, Grimes is Slezak’s lackey. You’ll do no better with him. They’re both bottom-feeders. Slezak didn’t show it, but your questions enraged him. I’d watch my professional back,” he warned. “You’re on his list. He’ll never forget this. Never does. I’d be on the lookout for an IRS audit.”
Sounds unpleasant. I’ll sleep with the lights on from here on out, believe me. Here’s more about Dr. Slezak and The SHIVA Syndrome, a psychological suspense novel:
A secret Russian mind research laboratory in Podol’sk erupts, annihilating thousands and leaving a monstrous, one-mile deep crater in its wake.
Beau Walker, parapsychologist and reluctant empath, is coerced into joining a research team, code-named SHIVA, to investigate the enigmatic event. Walker must fight his way past political and military deceptions and a host of deadly adversaries to unlock the riddle of the SHIVA syndrome.
Will he have the physical, emotional, and spiritual strength to defy the dangers he faces…or will they destroy him before he can come to a new, challenging understanding of the nature of reality?
The SHIVA Syndrome offers a dizzying ride into human abilities far beyond the known.
Prepare to alter your reality.
For more about Alan Joshua’s projects visit: