The Dealey Five
Chapter 18 (or, "What We Were Looking For")
Where We Last Left Off: Didi went back to the KGB offices to try and get the boombox back, but was in for a rude awakening.
Didi scurried out of the room and into the hall, surprised that his feet were even working. He somehow found his way back down the hall, to the right, and then to the door near the exit he was familiar with.
That voice...it hadn’t been Dimitri at all. Didi knew his master’s voice, yet this one was completely different. Dimitri never explained himself. He never had to. Everything he did was for the glory of the Soviet motherland. This Dimitri, though, had seemed very strange. He had never mentioned the old world before, and had gone on and on about the Soviet motherland no longer existing? Had Dimitri been possessed by something? No, that wasn’t logical. People don’t get possessed by ghosts. Even the universe merging that they had spoken of had a theory, a process, to it. Carissa and Mac had confirmed that it had actually happened, even though Didi couldn’t remember anything about it.
The fact that Didi couldn’t remember the other world proved that it must be real. He didn’t have his memory back. He could only trust what others told him...Dimitri and Tama included. And Dimitri was being very contradictory at the moment.
He opened the door and closed it behind him, locking the doorknob. Dimitri would be able to unlock it, but it would buy him a few seconds of time if the man came for him.
The room was dark, but just as he had remembered it. The huge uplink computer sat in the corner, untouched since Didi had left it. The bed was unmade, the window shut and the drapes across the window. Outside, the sun was finally up.
Didi didn’t waste any time and sat at the desk, perching on the chair as he had many times before. Dimitri had called himself the dictator of the world. He had said that the KGB no longer existed. It didn’t make sense. Therefore, Didi was doing only what he thought he could do. If this code was not for the Soviet motherland, then why did it exist?
He turned on the uplink, pressing the power button. After a few seconds, the screen came to life. This world’s operating system was worlds different than the one he had used in his previous world -- he knew this because it had such a steep learning curve. But after adjusting himself and reading a couple of books that Dimitri had provided, he was able to get the jist of it and write the code needed. It did seem to him that he had learned how to do this in the previous world, for the glory of Mother Soviet, of course.
Right now, though, he couldn’t tell if he was doing this for that glory, or so Tama and his friends would be okay. Dimitri seemed like he hadn’t been kidding back there. He had to find a way to delete this code, or else.
Tama’s smiling face came into his head. Come on, Didi, he thought to himself. If anything, do it for Gege. Do it for Tamanii-chan.
Once the system was done booting, Didi started the program, and the screen filled with a bunch of code lines, red and blue filling the screen. He scanned the top until he found the “header” section, deleting the tags that would start the code. Scrolling further down, he pulled out the tags that enforced each part of the code. The actual parts of code had taken him hours to figure out, so he left those for now, as an example of his coding prowess.
At midnight, the code would run and go to the boombox, creating a worldwide virus. At least, that’s what the strange Dimitri had said. Then, he remembered. Part of the code had meant the boombox could exist in this world. If that piece of code didn’t exist…
The door unlocked behind Didi. His eyes scanned down to the bottom, and he hit the ‘save’ button. The confirmation page loaded. Good. The boombox code was still in there, but none of it would implement now.
He felt a pair of strong arms wrap around his shoulders and lift him from the chair. Dimitri was too strong; Didi kicked, but no use. He lost control of which way was up and then found himself flung against the wall, dropping thankfully onto his soft mattress. Didi got up in an instant, but before he could even get off the mattress, he found himself unable to move.
He looked up, able to turn his head but nothing else. The only light in the room came from the computer screen, and Dimitri was sitting in front of it, the boombox by his side. His face was facing the screen, ignorant of the boy behind him.
Why couldn’t Didi move? “Let go of me!” he yelled in Mandarin.
Dimitri no longer spoke in Mandarin, but in English. He had never spoken in English before. “I see what you were trying to do here. It’s too late for you. This isn’t the official program anymore. I made at least three copies. If one is tampered with, the others will do the job for it. And the program is already being implemented. It’s reaching through every internet service provider in the five boroughs as I speak.”
Dimitri turned toward Didi. “And I wouldn’t have been able to do all of this if it wasn’t for you. You poor boy, thinking you were creating this code for the Soviets all along! If you only knew its true purpose from the beginning. But then again, that’s the benefit of hiding behind the Soviet moniker. You and that girl thought you were helping set this world right, back to the way you were used to in your realm. If she would have stayed, she would have seen the glory I will bring about for myself. Maybe if she had really helped me, I would have made her my queen, created this world for both of us, called it whatever she wanted. But she’ll be erased with the others. That’s how the code is written. And you were the one who wrote that code, so you’ll be erased soon as well. The clock just has to strike midnight.”
“You’re lying! You have to be! How -- how can a code be put into a music player?”
“Silly boy. I don’t operate according to this world’s rules. I make the rules now. And if I want the code to go to this boombox, it can. It’s not from this world anyway, so it’s not gonna want to play by the rules.” Dimitri patted the boombox on the side, like it was a child. “What a good boombox, doing what I tell it to.”
Didi felt tears spring to his eyes. “You...you’re…”
“So mean? So selfish? Glory to the Soviet motherland, right? Glory to Dvorak is more like it. Though you won’t live long enough to know what that means. I’m assuming nobody told you, didn’t they?”
“Told me what?”
“Oh, so they didn’t tell you? Of course they didn’t. You know that girl and her boyfriend? The Hispanic girl and the boy with the red hair?”
“The ones I’ve been spying on?”
“Of course. I’m sure they just opened up their home to you without a second thought, because you’re from that other world. But they never told you who Dvorak was, did they?”
The name sounded familiar to Didi, but he couldn’t place where he had heard it before. “I don’t know.”
“Gee, I wonder why they kept it a secret from you? Do they keep everything a secret from you, their youngest member? What other secrets have they kept? There are probably things that not even that goggle boy is telling you. Perhaps you should ask him who I am. He probably knows. If you call him now, he’ll learn everything just before he disappears.” Dimitri -- or whom Didi still thought was Dimitri -- patted the boombox on the head, and it started to make a ringing noise.
Didi realized that the boombox had become a phone just as another voice came out of it. “Moshi moshi?”
He knew it immediately. “Tama-niichan! あぶない！” He switched to Japanese, hoping Dimitri wouldn’t understand.
Thankfully, Tamasine also made the switch. ”デイデイちゃん？どこ？”
From further back on the other line, Didi heard Jason’s unmistakeable voice. “Yo, Tama! Who’s on the phone?”
“ケイジイビイえ,” Didi yelled back, hoping the boombox would still pick his voice up across the room. If he could just tell Tama that the KGB were in the room with him -- or at least Dimitri --
“Silence!” Dimitri yelled, and Didi tried to speak again, but found his mouth sealed shut. Another one of Dimitri’s strange tricks. Just who was this person, anyway?
“This is the leader I have on the phone, isn’t it?” Dimitri said, smiling as he spoke to the boombox.
Didi could hear Tama’s voice hesitate. “This is Dimitri, isn’t it? デイデイちゃん、何がいたの？”
“I’m afraid he can’t answer you right now,” Dimitri said. “He’s a bit tied up.”
“Who are you and what have you done with him?”
“Nothing you can do about now. Too bad you didn’t tell him who I am. How could that ever have slipped your mind?”
“Who you are? You’re the leader of the KGB, aren’t you?”
“That’s who called?” Jason’s voice, now louder, came through. “Dude. Put him on speaker. Hey, you freak. We can all hear you now.”
Rifka’s voice then came through in Russian. “Whatever you are doing to him, I demand that you cease this activity at once.”
“You have no power over me, little girl,” Dimitri answered in English, as if he no longer cared about saving face. “You and your words are all you have. Don’t you know who I am?”
“Something’s really weird about him,” Rifka said to the other kids at Mac’s apartment. “I don’t like this at all.”
“We’ve got to get him out of there, then!” There was a scuffle, then Jason’s voice came back. “Yo, Didi! Man, can you hear me?”
“He can’t answer you,” Tama’s voice came through.
“Well, we’ll just have to assume he can hear us, then! Come on, Greaseman! Ignore this idiot and get your ass out of there!”
“There’s no way for him to leave. We only called because he was curious about something. I’d like to speak to the leader.”
“I am here,” Tamasine said.
“Okay. Could you do your friend the kindness of telling him who Dvorak is?”
There was a pause, then “Dvorak?”
“No entiendo,” came from Rosa.
“Wait.” That was Jason. “Carissa and Mac said something about him before. Something about him messing everything up.” A gasp as Jason seemed to get it. “Hold on a --”
“I am Dvorak,” Dimitri said, grey eyes glowing, fully intent on the boombox. “And your friend here has helped code my existence into this world. There’s nothing you can do. At midnight, the entire city will bow to me.”
Tama’s voice came in. “We’ve got to get over there, now. Rosa, get Carissa and Mac.”
“But they went out for dinner --”
“The Colemak button! Didi, I know you can hear me. Stay put. You’re going to be fine, I promise. I’m coming for you, okay --”
“That’s enough of that.” Dimitri grinned and switched the boombox over to play mode, shutting off the voices. The room filled with the loud screech of dubstep music, and Didi finally found the strength to scream.
“Tama-niichan!” -- and then, all went dark.
He found himself able to move, putting his hands to his ears, blocking out as much of the sound as he could. When he opened his eyes, though, he noticed the music was gone, and he was back in his room.
The actual room itself was sparse, without a lot. His bed, a desk, the window with curtains. When he looked outside it, he could see all the way down to the alley. The door was closed, and he opened it. He walked down the hallway, seeing the long hall with the sparse decorations, all laid out in accordance with Feng Shui. The living room was clean, the same way, and his mother was in the kitchen, making something to eat.
“Good morning, son. Glory to our leader and the Soviet motherland,” she said with a smile.
He knew this was normal. “Glory to our leader and the Soviet motherland. Did you sleep well?”
He lost himself in what had to be a normal day. He and his mother ate breakfast together, as his father had already left for work. Then, she would stay home with the chores for the day. He got dressed for school and stopped by the picture on the wall before he left.
“I’ll be home soon, Gege,” he said as he skipped out.
School was long and tedious, but fun at the same time. He coded a new game and was praised for helping the cause. Someday, he would be a great computer programmer for the Republic. It was what he had been chosen for. At the end of the day, he watched television with his parents and they laughed as the tiger and bear chased the mice off the edge of the screen. That was always how the cartoon went. The tiger and the bear always won.
“Blasted boombox!” the man once known as Dimitri yelled as he tried to turn it off. This time, though, the boombox seemed to have a mind of its own, and wouldn’t switch away from the music. “I thought this thing was coded! How the hell does it work?”
When he couldn’t sleep, he went out into the hallway. The picture on the wall had been painted a long time ago, by someone he didn’t know and would never know the name of. His mother and father were in the picture, standing by the boy who had a big smile on his face. He was the only one smiling, dressed all in red, with a piece of paper saying he had graduated primary school.
The officials had told his parents that the gods had spoken. They had taken away their only son because they had done wrong in the eyes of the Soviet motherland. They were to repent by giving away their life’s savings, unable to mourn for their dead son. Unable to have another son, they prayed to the gods, and they finally granted them a new son, whom they named to have health and prosperity. No more would the disease that racked Qiang Guo trouble and haunt their home. Instead, Jian Liang would be the son.
But Jian knew the truth. Somewhere out there, in the history of this family, Qiang Guo’s name was still there. An older brother he had never known.
“Damnit!” Dvorak-in-Dimitri smacked the boombox, and it finally fizzled out, the sound crackling off without any warning. He then looked up to find the boy, on the bed, passed out. He released his power, but the boy still did not move.
He had always hoped that, if he was good, that his brother would come back someday. His parents had never spoken of him, only saying that he had died a long time ago. But he knew the truth. When he looked it up in the school records, the Xiao Qiang Guo listed there had been a genius, passing every test with flawless marks. If the gods were going to take his brother away, then he just had to become his brother. If he did that, then surely his brother would come back, right? Jian would fulfill what Qiang couldn’t do. Then, his parents would be happy again, the school and the gods would be happy, and the heavens would part and he would finally be able to meet this smiling brother he had heard so much about.
As he closed his eyes, he could almost see his brother standing in front of him, telling him what a good job he had done for the Soviet motherland. It was a memory, a dream he had thought about so often before. Then, he felt reality slip away from him, the floor under his feet disappear, his mother and father and apartment and everything gone except the memory of his brother. His brother was just a memory, no longer existing on that plane. Nothing existed on that plane any longer.
But no, he had a brother, didn’t he? An older brother, someone he had always wanted by his side. Qiang? No...but it was the same, wasn’t it? A memory he couldn’t quite remember at the moment...
“Because you’re my older brother!”
His eyes snapped open, and he found himself laying on the cot. Dimitri was still in front of the uplink. The boombox had thankfully stopped transmitting its message.
“The boombox…” He found the strength to get off the cot, stood up, faced the man who caused the old world to end. “The boombox made me remember. You’re right. The power is in the boombox. It’s what bridges this world with the one we once came from. I need to rewrite it so that the boombox can still exist here...and so that you won’t be able to take over.”
“You can’t do that.” Dimitri smiled. “You’re here. And I have the power.”
“You’re not the only one with power. I understand that now. My big brother and his friends will come for me. Because that’s what big brothers do. They watch out for their little brothers. One way or another, I will rewrite this entire world. I did it once, and I can do it again. If it will stop you. But most importantly, I want to make sure that nobody takes my big brother away from me ever again.”