Glass Curtain,
By Thaddeus Hutyra

Chapter 88 - Jaws of abyss  || All Chapters

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The escapade up the Kanijiroba mountain took place early in the morning and there were in total nine participants,the guide,two Americans,two Swiss climbers,one national of the Netherlands,one Englishman,John Ruchter and Tadek Vangard.One of the Americans was a lovely,sporty woman,Carla from San Francisco.She was often nearly glued to John Ruchter and their laugh was heard through a thousand and one echoes which spread from one chain of mountains to the other one.The mountains had indeed an exellent hearing.
Getting to the fourth thousandh level where the renowned �Yeti Hostel� stayed was relatively simple and everybody got through this part of the route in a remarkably easy way.They enjoyed a yeti menu and an hour later continued their climbing.This time it happened to be more and more difficult,with many precipities on their way.One mistake and one would fall into the jaws of abyss.
Tadek Vangard was astonished to see his friend as the one who was most fit of all the participants,he was incredibly dynamical and at one point Tadek Vangard had an image of Steven Mac Dantosch fighting with Carlos.He shivered because his friend�s movements were suddenly so much similar to the movements of Carlos,the assassin.Nearly identical or even�identical! No,it could not be! John Ruchter certainly did not know more about Carlos than anybody else in this pack of innocent tourists turned mountaineers,the ones who tried their best to be good citizens.
They have already been nearing the fifth thousand meters� level and felt exausted.
The Englishman,John Thompson, looked at his watch.
-�My friends,we�re perfectly on time!�- He announced to everyone.
-�Let�s make a stop.I�m hungry like a homeless dog.�- Hans Grotbieger,a climber from Switzerland proposed.
They had a rest of only fifteen minutes,drank strong,black coffee and then began to continue climbing.There was even more snow now and lots of icy bricks.The American couple gave up and decided to go back.There were now seven of them.They followed each other while tied by a rope.In a case if someone was faaling the others would hold him,thanks to the rope.It was indeed a team work,something what was a necessity in the unfriendly environment of high mountains,the guardians of virginity.They moved up icy rocks which rose sheer above their lower counterparts.It was better not to look down there,to the jaws of the abyss.Tadek Vangard followed John Ruchter who in his turn followed the guide.There was a bigger piece of rock ahead of them,which had a sort of a large cave within itself,so large that if there was a sudden snow-storm or even hailstorm or both then ten or even fifteen people could easily find a shelter there.Tadek Vangard shivered at a thought of a sudden storm in such conditions as they were right now,so vulnerable! He would not like to stir up a net of hornets.Or to wake snakes either.
The guide was already there.John Ruchter needed yet two or three more movements and then Tadek Vangard followed the suit.He was tired but happy.There was a thousand meters yet,before they could get to the top.A thousand meters of nearly a vertical direction.
There was a sudden,vicious movement,something as if an enormous stream of air engulfed them and Tadek Vangard saw,with an overwhelming thrill in his eyes,that the guide was falling down to the jaws of abyss.Strong arms of John Ruchter were still in a position which suggested without a doubt that he was the one who commited the crime of killing.Before Tadek Vangard managed to say a word,in order to protest,John Ruchter cut off the rope via which the others were interconnected to Tadek Vangard.An echo of absolute despair,heard from the mouths of the falling victims sang a deadly tune throughout the chains of the Himalaya mountains.
Tadek Vangard got such an enormous blow of shock inside his entire being he thought he turned into a stone.He was unable to move at first,just looked at the deadly fall of his fellow climbers and listened to their cry of uittermost despair which was then caught by the listening chain of mountains and spread over Himalayas as an unspeakable story of horror which could not be understood in any way.He vomited to the ground and felt sickeningly as never before.Then he looked up at the guy he shared so many days and nights together.Ha saw him standing there on the edge of the cave,unnaturally quiet and even�smiling.No! He was actually laughing! The guy must have had bonds with Satan alone!
-�You�re ashole! You�re a pig! You�re a murderer! I hate you! �- Tadek Vangard screamed aloud and the echo of the mountains repeated his words.
John Ruchter turned to him and made a few steps.
-�You forgot to ask me who am I ?�- He said,instead.
-�I don�t have to ask it! You�re a pig,pig,pig! A thousand times a pig!
-�Ha,ha,ha,ha! I�m much worse than that,guy. And I must tell you we know each other much longer than you think�.
Tadek Vangard felt now not only sickeningly but also damned.
-�I don�t think I have ever met you in any other part of the world,except of here,in Himalayas.You�re an evil,evil,evil guy! And you must know that if I have ever met you earlier than I think as you suggest it now to me,then I would myself jump there,to my death,without you asking me to do it.�
-�Ha,ha,ha,ha�Then you�ll have to do it,because you indeed know me longer than you think.�
-�O.K.Can you explain yourself?! And why have you killed those people?! You�re a pig,pig,pig! I hate you! I hate you as no one else.�
-�Ha,ha,ha,ha,there is someone you hate even more!�
-�Who�s that?!�
-�Shit,you�re really a madman!�
-�Yes,I�m a madman! Bigger than you think!
-�Then say,fucking,who are you!�
-�Certainly not John Ruchter as you think!�
-�This I could believe,you�re a monster!�
-�Bigger than you think,guy! I�m� Carlos!�
Tadek Vangard nearly fell down to the ground.He felt now not only sickening but actually as someone who was dying,because no more air could get to his lungs.He understood suddenly everything.If the guy really was Carlos,the assassin,then everything indeed was so incredibly simple.Carlos as he knew him and as the world heard about was an image of Satan,perhaps even a seed of Satan.He now recollected all that thoughts which compared John Ruchter to Carlos and which he always put aside as a nonsense.God,his six sense warned him a couple of times and he never got over it seriously.How could it be possible this guy whom he thought was John Ruchter was in fact Carlos,the assassin? He saw Carlos before so he knew how he looked.This guy did not resemble Carlos in his appearances at all.Yet now,he felt he was slowly recognising the guy.The same deeds,the deeds of evil,the same movements and the same silhuette.Only the face! The guy�s face was totally different from the face which belonged to the real Carlos.If it really was Carlos then how was it possible for him to change himself so profoundly.It was as if Jack Nicholson turned himself into Marlon Brando.Was it possible?
-�Listen,I saw the real Carlos,I was threatened by him a number of times.His face is entirely different than your face! Besides,as you heard it just last night,Carlos was arrested by the French secret police!�- Tadek Vangard felt somehow he indeed dealt with Carlos.What he wanted to decipher was how was it possible for Carlos to change himself so profoundly.Did he have a plastic operation? No,a plastic operation would not change him so much! What was it then?
-�Ha,ha,ha�You�re going to die so I let you into my secrets. It�s simple: I hade a gene transformation which changed the looks of my face into a new image,unrecognisable to anyone.A plastic operation followed,but just as the addition to the gene therapy.I became a new person and a new identity.To become John Ruchter,the billionaire with a diamond fortune was as simple to do. I�ve simply orchestrated a terrorist action which resulted with destroying a plane in which the entire family of the real John Ruchter travelled to their wedding.I took his place and the fortune is mine.Just as simple as that!�
Tadek Vangard had an impression his mind would blow apart at any time. How could he never recognise the guy as the real Carlos?! How could he be so blind to his own sixth sense which indeed warned him.The warnings were subtle but firm.And yet he did not react to them.
-�What about Carlos,the one who was arrested by the French secret service?�- He asked with a resigned voice.
-�I�ve told you yesterday. The guy is a double-ganger! And in fact I have a number of doubles.So...I�m immortal this way!�
-�I have no words against you any more.You�re evil,evil,evil!�
-�Ha,ha,ha,ha�I�m evil and that�s what makes me happy.You�re the next one to die and this time you won�t escape from me.We�re going to climb up to the top and then I�ll do with you the same what I did with our fellow climbers.The death is already dancing over your head,guy.�
-�I don�t fear death!�- Tadek Vangard answered with a venomous manner.His thoughts rushed feverishly over and over as he tried to assess the situation and find,perhaps,a solution.
Once again the maxime of his life shone in the forefront of his thoughts,the famous maxime which was shared by uncountable numbers of people worldwide: �Nothing is impossible�.
Yes,indeed,nothing was impossible! He had to believe in it especially in that dark hours.Perhaps there was a way out.A miraculous one.
-�Well,I accept you�re Carlos.Nobody else would do so terrible,so nonsensical crime.�- He added.-�But I suggest we rest here overnight.I�m simply having no strength to climb up the mountain,after what I saw.So�you have a choice: you kill me now or we do further climbing in the morning.�
Carlos did not answer immediately.He was thinking and it looked he also assessed the situation.
-�Well,you might be right.�- He said.-�I want to drop you down from the top of this mountain and I think it�s better to continue the climbing in the morning.By the way,I�ll have my own Guiness Record! Nobody else did before what I�m going to do with you! Ha,ha,ha,ha��
Tadek Vangard boiled from hatred but said nothing this time.He just walked to the other end of the cave and opened his enormous bag in which there was a sleeping bag,thermos of hot tea and some food.He had also a book which he could pretend to read.In fact it was already a late afternoon and it was better to have a good sleep.Perhaps the last one before a terrible death which was awaitig him.Falling down into the jaws of abyss,the jaws of death,what a horror!
He had no appetite,so he opened a book and pretended to read it.He understood no word from it,naturally.He was too agonising and too much overwhelmed by the horror images which stayed within him like hyenas which wanted to eat his mind away.He watched Carlos with a corner of his eye and saw him pouring tea out of his thermos.
He was strucked suddenly by a thought.God,he had sleep inducing,soporific set of tablets in the pocket of his jacket.He bought it just a couple of days ago because he had sleepless nights.What if he dropped all the tablets into the Carlos� thermos?! Perhaps then he would be able to escape.God,there was a chance!
But how to do it? How on Heaven to do it? There was a chance only if he stayed nearer to Carlos but above all if Carlos got asleep. He had no choice but to try.He packed up,got up walked towards Carlos and when he was already about four meters from him,he stopped and without looking at Carlos he opened his bag and got a sleeping bag out of it.Perhaps what he did might have looked strange to Carlos but not to a point of inducing some sort of alarm within his mind.At least he hoped so.The thermos belonging to Carlos was now only about two and half meters away.Plan one was over.Plan two was that Carlos would fall asleep and that there would be at least some light,perhaps from one of the sky�s stars,so he could see the thermos.Plan three was to get to it and drop all the soporific tablets into it.And finally the plan four that Carlos would indeed drink the tea from the thermos.Tadek Vangard promised to himself to feel the luckiest man in the world if all the plans can get realized.As of the moment it was rather death which hanged around him and made fun of him.He opened his sleeping bag and got into it.He did not close it.He observed Carlos in the meantime with a corner of his eye.He was satisfied to see Carlos intended to have a sleep,perhaps confident that the victim who lay just a few meters away from him would have a courage to do anything.
Tadek Vangard had terrible nightmares,demons were engulfing him and eating him alive,leaving not a piece of him and then he woke up with a sheer thought:�Shit,I got asleep! How could I do it ! As if I didn�t know my life is already hanging on one only thread of my hair! He looked carefully towards the place where Carlos lay.The guy slept.He had a real sleep!
Tadek Vangard looked at his watch which showed to him there was already 4 a�clock in the morning.Just one hour longer and he could consider himself part of the kingdom of death.
He got up and moved noiselessly towards the thermos,the magic object which could give him a chance of being alive.The thermos was his only chance! He heard rhythmic breathing of Carlos what suggested the guy slept.He had already the thermos in his hands,opened it and dropped all the soporific tablets he had.He closed it and turned back towards his sleeping bag,with not a rustle being heard.He approached his sleeping bag and got into it,and then looked at sleeping Carlos.He was still breathing in the same manner as a moment ago,what was a proof enough that he was not awoken by Tadek Vangard�s venture to his thermos.
-�God,I made it�- Tadek Vangard thanked the Allmighty.
Now everything depended on whether Carlos will have enough thirst in the morning and will reach for his thermos.The rest of the night Tadek Vangard did not sleep and it was around six a�clock when he saw Carlos getting awoken.He closed his eyes and pretended to be still sleeping.Half an hour later he made a yawn and spread his hands,what was a sign to Carlos he was also awoken.
He saw Carlos sitting on his sleeping bag and holding the thermos in his hands.
-�Drink,drink!��- Thoughts of desire spread within Tadek Vangard�s head.He never desired it more as now.It was a matter of death and life.His life depended on this very moment.Will Carlos drink it? And if he drinks it will he recognise something strange in the essense of his tea? He sat up and looked at Carlos,without saying a word.
-�Want tea?�- He heard Carlos asking him.
-�No,I have my own tea.�- He answered.
Carlos in the meantime poured tea to his cup,reached for a sandwich and began to eat and drink.Then he poured another cup and yet another cup was filled later on.Tadek Vangard felt warming up within his mind and his body.There was actually an enormous chance of succeeding.
It looked Carlos had such a great thirst that he was intending to drink everything what he had in the thermos.Tadek Vangard looked at the Carlos� bag and saw there yet another thermos. It meant Carlos did not bother about leaving some tea for later because he had yet another thermos.Carlos indeed filled his cup yet again and his thermos was empty.Now the only thing which was left was to wait yet another couple of minutes to see the effects of the soporific tablets being activated within the assassin�s body.It indeed was the case,eyes of Carlos were closing more and more,to the point he himself began to realize that something strange was happening with him.And then he looked at Tadek Vangard,with eyes full of recognition but was unable to get up and fell down on his sleeping bag.His eyes were closed and it was sure he would sleep for at least four or five additional hours.
Tadek Vangard stood up and approached his enemy.He was now in a position of killing his nemesis.But,God,he never killed and would never kill.As simple as that.
He turned dus away from Carlos with a determination to go the same route back to the Yetti hostel where he could call the police and ask them to contact Interpol.Or whatever secret agency.He knew how to do a reverse mountaineering because he was born in the mountains and practised climbing yet during his college years.It got him three hours before he was back at the �Yetti Hostel�.He alarmed there everyone about a threat in the air,at the hands of visious Carlos who might appear there within the next few hours.Then there was just a chain reaction of events.
The police and army helicopters appeared before the hostel and Tadek Vangard were interrogated.He cooperated and said everything he knew.They did not believe him that the man he was warning them about was Carlos,the real one,because they heard the news about Carlos being arrested by the French special forces. Yet,at the same time,they had already reports of several deaths and the guy who was left on the slopes of Kanijiroba was a ruthless murderer which should be arrested.
They thankt Tadek Vangard and promised him to provide him with information over the guy he called Carlos.Yet another military helicopter showed up and Tadek Vangard was asked to get aboard of it.He did so and found himself downtown Kathmandu within an hour or so.
He got news a few hours later from the Nepalese police officials.They have not found the guy whom he called Carlos.The murderer managed to escape.Tadek Vangard again shivered from the agony.He realized he was once again in a danger.Carlos could track him down at any moment.He had to act.No a minute could be lost.He contacted with the special services unit and asked to let him to make a few telephone calls to people who were as much in a danger from Carlos as he was and also to make a plane reservation for him back to Belgium. What he requested for was granted to him and the first telephone call which he made was to Helene and Herman Van Veenen.He heard Helene�s voice.
-�Hello,I call to warn you about John Ruchter.He is not really the one as you think he is.He is Carlos!�- Tadek Vangard announced.
-�Tadek,you joke! It can�t be! We heard��
-�Helene,I�m sorry,I know what do you want to say.No,the guy which was arrested by the French secret services is not really Carlos.John Ruchter is the real one.He killed ruthlessly fellow climbers and threatened to kill me but fortunately I managed to escape.Helene,believe me,please,he�s Carlos! He transformed himself to another identity by a gene therapy,plastic operation and killing the entire family of the real Ruchters,including the real John Ruchter.Only Carlos is capable to do something as this!
-�Oh my God,what have I done�What have we done?!�- He heard Helene Van Veenen crying.
-�I think,Helene,you�ll have to move away from Your s�Gravenwezel Villa.It�s too dangerous for you there! Be careful! Bye�
He made yet a call to his best friend,Steven Mac Dantosch and narrated to him about Carlos alias John Ruchter.
-�Tadek,I�m happy you managed to escape from him.Be careful,try to get out of Nepal yet the same day!�- He heard his friend advising him.
-�I have a plane back to Brussels in two hours.Thank you,Steven.Say �Hello� to Melissa and her mother!�- Tadek Vangard felt rays of light,which engulfed his entire being.He did not end in the jaws of abyss,he was engulfed by the rays of light,instead.The special ones,the ones which came from his best friend whom he longed to see again.

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