“Stop right there!” A voice shouted through the darkness as I deftly hopped over a white picket fence that surrounded the perimeter of a small house in St. Petersburg- hopefully the unsuspecting owner wouldn’t mind my trespassing. The sack of coins that I carried in my right hand moved slightly and I cringed as a faint clinging noise cut through the air. The bag must have weighed at least ten pounds, which offset my balance slightly as I landed. I was used to the weight, though. I’d been doing this work for a few years now.
Judging from the volume of my pursuer’s voice, I was at least 200 yards ahead of him. This would give me plenty of time to slip away into my apartment and escape confrontation. After exiting the premises of the homeowner’s backyard, I quickly ducked into an alleyway and followed my usual route towards the embankment of Little Neva, where I would find refuge.
Once I arrived safely at my destination, I slowly pushed open the door to the room on the fifth floor of the apartment that I had grown to call my home. Only after sitting on the single piece of furniture that I owned in the room, an oilcloth Turkish sofa, was I finally able to fully relax and lower the rush of adrenaline that I always felt when I was on the run. As much as I loved my work, I never got over the fear that I would finally be caught and exposed to the public. But again, it was something that I grew used to over the years.
I carefully poured the sack onto my carpet, not wanting to wake anyone in the rooms around me. Hundreds of gold coins tumbled out and shimmered aesthetically on the floor. After counting how many of the coins I had retrieved, I estimated that the value of the goods amounted to a good two thousand roubles. Not bad for a night’s exertion. Like clockwork, I then swiftly swept the coins back into their sack and took them into the small closet in the corner of my room, where I hid it behind a stack of old books and records. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s good to be untidy; the clutter makes for some very satisfactory hiding places.
The next morning, I was woken by the sound of church bells and the crowing of a rooster that
lived just outside of my apartment. Shoot. I must have overslept. The boss expected me to be awake by 7:30 in the morning, and according to the church bells, it was now 8. I wasted no time in jumping off the sofa that I had passed out on and pulling on my ragged dressing gown. Through my exhaustion, I exited my apartment room and hopped down the stairs towards a dark alleyway that I knew my boss would be waiting for me in.
“Yes, boss, Dmitri Prokofitch Razumikhin here, I apologize for the delay,” I replied, praying that he wouldn’t be too mad. I’d always known the boss to be a forgiving man, though. Alexei Ivanov, a man of 30 years, wore a dark cloak in the alleyway that masked his features and expression.
“Ah, Dmitri. I was afraid that you’d been caught!” he chuckled light-heartedly, but I noticed a hint of disappointment in his voice; presumably from my tardiness. “So, care to update me on your work last night?”
“Yes, sir. I gathered a sum of about two-thousand roubles.”
“Wonderful. Any trouble?”
I grimaced slightly. “Some, sir. A man- I don’t know who it was- saw me and tried to follow me back. But not to worry, I got rid of him easily.”
The boss seemed interested. “Do you know if it was a policeman?”
“Not for certain. I did catch a glimpse of his clothing and it looked somewhat like their uniform. But he called out to me, and I do not believe his voice belonged to Ilya nor Porfiry- possibly a new recruitment.”
“Hmm,” the boss replied thoughtfully. “Well, I am very satisfied with your work, Dmitri. I will send you your next mission shortly. Until then, take care of yourself and remember to lay low.”
“Thanks, boss.” We departed ways, and I headed back up to my room on the fifth floor of the apartment to update my journal about the previous day. Not even two moments after I had picked up my pen, I heard my door open. Strange, I thought. I couldn’t remember the last time someone had visited my room. In fact, the only person I’d ever known to barge in to my room without knocking first was-
“Raskolnikov, old friend!” He stood, somewhat awkwardly, three feet from my doorframe and wore a hint of a smile on his face. Even though he seemed happy to see me, I could tell that he was troubled by the emptiness behind his eyes. I realized that we had not conversed for a good four months.
I offered him a seat on my couch, embarrassed about the state of my living conditions. Judging from the looks of his clothes, his didn’t seem much better off, though. I cursed the Russian government. This was the very thing I was working against.
I studied my visitor carefully. He was sicker than I had realized, with circles under his eyes so dark it looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks. His chin was stubbled and unshaven, and he was skinnier than I remembered. “Brother, you’re seriously ill, did you know that?”
Raskolnikov suddenly withdrew from my touch at this remark. His expression changed from a sort of guarded pain to pure distress, and I grew very concerned for his well-being. Then, suddenly, as if it never had happened, Raskolnikov became guarded again and he started rambling on about how he didn’t need help from everyone. I found his statements to be very contradictory. So, in an attempt to get him to take his mind off of whatever was troubling him, I offered him some German pages to translate and three roubles.
To my delight, Raskolnikov took the pages and left- but not even five minutes later, he returned and gave them back to me. I tried to talk some sense into him, but he hurriedly vacated my room without even a glance back. His loss, I thought, but there was no doubt that something was wrong. I decided to visit Raskolnikov later that day to check on him. But first-
Bang! A carrier pigeon rammed into my window, falling onto the ledge below. I jumped and ran over to it, opening the window and coaxing the bird in.
“Lena, you silly thing! Happens every time. You must be more careful,” I said to her, cradling her body in my arms. She looked up at me and nudged my hand with her claws. In them, she held a curled-up paper with the messy handwriting I knew could only be from my boss. Gingerly, I took the paper from her and set her on my windowsill. The paper read,
Dmitri, I have some news. That man you mentioned earlier- the new recruitment? It appears you were correct. Interestingly, I did some research into the St. Petersburg police force, and it looks like this man may be working undercover for our enemies. I need you to follow him and find out what he is up to. This task is very different from your normal ones, but I know that you can do it. In the meantime, I will be very busy with my own matters and must reschedule our meetings for later in the month. We will still keep in contact with these letters, but make sure that no one else sees them. Oh, and give Lena some food, would you? She’s getting a little peckish.
Alexei Ivanov I rubbed my chin thoughtfully. I didn’t know why my boss was so interested in this man, but I trusted his instincts. It was also strange that my boss didn’t mention the name of the man; I was on my own for that part. I threw on an old jacket and set out into the streets of St. Petersburg.
It had just rained, and now people were starting to come back outside to complete their daily errands. I figured that this would make it easier to spot the man I was tasked to find, although it dawned on me that it would still be nearly impossible- like finding a needle in a haystack. But according to the boss, I could do it. I ventured towards the river to think about where I would go first.
Suddenly, a woven sack dropped over my head and my world went black. I struggled against my attacker, but they were very muscular, and I lacked strength in my arms. I felt a sensation as if I was being picked up and carried in the air, but I was unable to escape from the grip of the person who carried me. After about five minutes, my kidnapper let me down. I still couldn’t see anything through the sack on my head and was forced to sit down onto a small chair.
“Name?” My attacker asked in a deep voice that chilled me to the bone.
“Dmitri Prokofitch Razumikhin, sir,” I said, willing my voice to be steady and keep my fear at bay.
“Thank you. Occupation?”
“A former student, sir.”
The man growled angrily. “Your real one.”
I shook in the chair but stayed silent. This was confidential information that I did not want to disclose, and it could cause me to be in a lot of danger with the police if it went into the wrong hands. I could tell that the man was getting angry, though. He made his point by slapping me across the face in one quick motion. My cheek stung, and I willed myself not to cry out. I had no choice but to tell the truth.
“I work for RHC, sir. A secret organization that takes from the rich and gives to the poor what they rightly deserve.”
“Interesting. You may take off the sack now.”
I obliged, and it took my eyes a few minutes to adjust to the lighting. I was in an ordinary room, about the size of my own living space in my apartment, with tan walls and a single lamp in the corner. Sitting in front of me was a man who wore a dark cloak that obscured most of his features. He moved to take his hood off, and I gasped. Alexei?
My boss smiled back at me, but his smile was menacing and more of a smirk. “Greetings, Dmitri. I apologize for the way I handled you back there. Hopefully you weren’t too uncomfortable.”
I scoffed with the last dignity that I had. “Why are you here? Why am I here? What’s going on?”
“Let me explain. My actual name is Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov, and I am not your real boss. Your real boss is on holiday, and I have simply… taken over for him, in a sense. Now, make no mistake, my intention is not to harm you. In fact, I am trying to help you. See, I am giving you an opportunity. There is a very beautiful young woman coming to St. Petersburg soon. Her name is Dunya, and I believe she may be staying with your friend- Raskolnikov? I saw him visit you earlier in the day and I figured you would be perfect for the job. Now, I need you to do this simple task for me. Bring that girl to the address that I have written on this paper, and in return, I will keep this organization that you belong to a secret from the police. Do you think that you could do that for me?”
Upon hearing this speech, I felt many things, above all disgust. How was I supposed to reply? “Give me two weeks,” I mustered, beginning to formulate a plan in my mind.
“One,” the man- I wasn’t even sure what his real name was anymore- said firmly. I had no choice but to nod.
He smiled and thanked me, opening the back door to let me out. “Remember the consequences if this is not done!” He yelled as I scampered away towards Little Neva.
One Week Later
Everything is going exactly to plan. I feel as though my relationship with Dunya is going well, and Raskolnikov is doing better. I have taken care of Svidrigailov successfully. Today, news of his alleged suicide was written all over the papers, and I couldn’t help but smile. I may not know many things, but I do know that the death of Arkady Ivanovich Svidrigailov was no mistake.
All the best,
I actually wrote a story are you proud :)
But this was an assignment for my english class to go off of the story Crime and Punishment, so the characters might be a bit confusing because if you haven't read the book, you probably don't know who they are. But hopefully it makes sense otherwise. I would appreciate any comments or constructive criticism you may have!