Read Project Daily Grind (Mirror World Book #1) Online

Authors: Alexey Osadchuk

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #TV; Movie; Video Game Adaptations, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Epic, #Sword & Sorcery, #Movie Tie-Ins

Project Daily Grind (Mirror World Book #1)


Project Daily Grind


by Alexey Osadchuk


Mirror World





Magic Dome Books

Mirror World

Book # 1: Project Daily Grind

Copyright © Alexey Osadchuk 2016

Cover Art © Vladimir Manyukhin 2016

English translation copyright © Irene Woodhead, Neil P. Mayhew 2016

Published by Magic Dome Books, 2016

All Rights Reserved

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



This book is entirely a work of fiction. Any correlation with real people or events is coincidental.

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For my beloved wife






Chapter One



ou need to understand, Mr. Ivanenko, that our bank can't see you as a potential borrower,” the teller looked into my eyes, faking sympathy. A drop of sweat rolled down his fat clean-shaven cheek. The man stretched his plump pink lips in a buttery smile. His little white hand which never could have held anything heavier than a knife and fork kept tweaking the knot of his tie. Even when he clenched it occasionally, I couldn't see the knuckles of his plump fist.

“Why, have I ever missed a payment?”

My wife and I make sure we always have an emergency fund on our account at all times. We call it our “last resort”: we must have the money, come hell or high water. On the first of each month, the bank always gets its pound of flesh, whatever the circumstances.

“No, not at all!” the clerk threw his chubby hands in the air. “I wish we had more clients as punctual as you are.”

“So what's the problem, then?” I touched the bridge of my nose, trying to rearrange the non-existent glasses.

Talk about the power of habit. The glasses had bitten the dust two weeks ago, when I’d fainted for the first time in my life. I wasn't taken ill, no. According to the doctor, this was exhaustion (as he’d put it). My nerves were in tatters. And what with all the insomnia, no wonder I'd fainted. Plus I'd broken my glasses, which had been a shame indeed. Now I had to squint whenever I wanted to see anything. But I just couldn't afford a new pair. Every bit of money available had to go on my daughter's treatment.

“You need to understand,” the clerk continued. “Even if you had three lives, you'd never be able to pay back the kind of sum that you’re asking for plus what you already owe us. You’ve got nothing to remortgage anymore. You have no relatives who could act as guarantor. Your wages are below average. Your wife doesn't work, if you excuse my indiscretion-” this cute and cuddly individual promptly shut up, apparently reading something unkind in my glare. I heaved a sigh, trying to calm down, and looked aside.

Losing it now would be the worst thing to do. This loan was vital for us. For my daughter, rather.

It had all started with some heart murmurs she’d had. According to the doctor, it was perfectly normal in a three-year old. She’d grow out of it, he'd said. She hadn't. Christina was now six, and her heart—her
heart—wasn't doing too well. Her own had burned out within the first year.

To raise money for the surgery, we’d promptly sold our apartment and our country cottage. We'd had a quiet celebration away from prying eyes when we'd learned that there was a donor heart available. Others might judge us: having a donor heart meant that someone's child had just died. Those who never spent nights by their dying daughter's bedside will never understand me. I didn't care what they might think. All I cared was that my baby lived.

The surgery had been performed in Germany by a team of expert surgeons working for a top clinic. The doctor had assured us that if the transplanted heart took, our girl would live happily ever after. Tearful with joy, we'd believed him. During the first year our faith in his words had taken root in our own hearts. Christina's health had largely improved. She wasn't short of breath anymore. Her nails were now pink, not blue. My girl was strong. The doctors kept telling us that a young body like hers was bound to overcome the disease.

Then the troubles had returned.

Chronic rejection, we'd been told. Apparently, her blood was the problem.

They’d implanted my girl with a prosthetic heart complete with a twenty-five pound battery to be recharged every twelve hours. We'd been told this was the latest breakthrough in medicine. A temporary measure while they looked for a new donor heart. If ever they found one.

We'd been waiting for a week when Dr. Klaus came to see us. He told us we’d been put on their “risk book“. In other words, they'd blacklisted us. Christina's body had rejected the very first donor heart, thus bringing her back to the bottom of the queue.

I remember the pain and tears in my wife's eyes silently asking,
'So this is the end, is it?'
Mechanically her pale lips kept counting the number of extrasistoles of the prosthetic heart ticking loudly in my daughter's chest. They'd warned us that patients who'd undergone this kind of surgery were prone to psychopathological disorders. But in our case, Christina had taken the ticking and slight vibration in her chest all in her stride. She even joked that she had a “ticking heart bomb“. But Sveta—my wife—wasn't so strong. She'd check the battery and all the connectors every half-hour and almost stopped sleeping at night listening to the beat of the mechanical heart. Only when the first orderlies arrived early in the morning, would she doze off despite the sounds of the television, her hand still resting on her daughter's chest.

Dr. Klaus had finished his sales pitch, but he wasn't in a hurry to leave. We tensed up like two hyenas about to charge their prey. Was there hope after all? According to him, there was.

With his every word, my wife's brow cleared. Apparently, about a year ago a Japanese laboratory had succeeded in growing a functioning human heart. And more importantly, it had been successfully implanted in a patient here, in this very clinic, by Dr. Klaus himself. The Japanese used the patient's own DNA which in our case was a perfect solution.

This was a miracle—the one we so desperately needed. Dr. Klaus kept talking, describing the whole procedure. We listened to him, already visualizing our baby alive and healthy.

His mention of the expenses brought us swiftly back to earth. Dr. Klaus had already contacted the Japanese. The whole process, from the initial “conception“ stage until the realization of the grownup organ, took about two months, give or take a week. If you counted the cost of the procedure itself including the transportation and surgery plus the hospital bills and the unavoidable taxes, we were looking at two hundred fifty thousand dollars. That's with all the discounts offered, both by the Japanese and the clinic itself. When later I checked their price list, I discovered that they basically shared the profits. To grow a heart cost just a tad more than implanting it.

Had we been shocked by the price? Honestly, we hadn't. We were happy. When Dr. Klaus had tactfully left, giving us some time to consider his offer, we hugged and cried. At that moment, we hadn’t even thought where the money was going to come from. All we were thinking about was that our girl was going to live. Gone would be this piece of steel ticking like a time bomb in her chest. Gone would be the bed. Christina would have a proper human heart! She would live!

We'd signed the full board contract with the German clinic. They’d sent a DNA sample to the Japanese but they wanted an advance payment of fifty thousand dollars to proceed. They'd asked for seventy thousand first, but the Germans had helped us to bring it down. And once we transferred the money into the Japanese account, my girl's heart would start to grow.

I'd signed all the papers, kissed my family and took the first flight home. Hope gave me wings.

My wife Sveta had stayed on in the clinic. We had just enough money for three more weeks in the hospital. I had to hurry.

“Mr. Ivanenko!” the cuddly clerk gingerly touched my hand. “Are you all right?”

I startled. “What is it? Sorry...”

The clerk snatched his hand back in a very feminine gesture. “I thought you were unwell.”

“Well,” I said, peering at his name tag, “Mr. Antonov, you have no idea how unwell I am. Never mind.”

I slapped my knees and rose. “I suppose I'll be off, then.”

“Have a nice day,” he mumbled at my back.

As I walked out of his cubicle, my gaze alighted on a colorful poster: smiling faces, medieval attire. I didn't read what it was about. I had other things to do.

I lingered on the bank’s doorstep, holding the door open for a portly lady, when I heard,

“Mr. Ivanenko! Please wait!”

Mr. Shantarsky, the bank’s manager, stood in the doorway of his office, smiling at me. An imposing face, a touch of gray at his temples, an expensive suit and good shoes. Everything about him told you that this forty-five-year-old man was perfectly happy.

Oh, well. I really should go and speak to him. You never know. He might help.

Shantarsky swung his office door open wide, letting me in. “Do come in and take a seat.”

A gold watch clinked on his groomed hand as he gestured to a soft chair. “Would you like a coffee?”

“I'd rather have some water, thank you,” I said while my mind raced, coming up with suitable arguments for the forthcoming conversation.

He closed the door. “A coffee for me, please,” he addressed his secretary, “and some water for Mr. Ivanenko.”

I caught a whiff of his expensive aftershave as he walked around my chair and lowered his agile body into his seat. His vivid blue eyes stared at me with compassion.

I didn't for one second doubt he was sincere in his sympathy.

“I bet you're angry with me,” he smiled. “You probably already have a conspiracy theory about it. You must be thinking that I decided to get rid of you and sent a clerk to deal with you.”

I waved his suggestion away. “The thought didn't even cross my mind. You're too busy. Nobody expects a bank manager to wait hand and foot on his every client.”

“I can if the client needs me,” he grinned. “In the West, apparently every client has access to the bank manager's office. No one would even dare object. We here in Russia still live in the Middle Ages.”

I smiled back. I couldn't agree more. I remembered a bank back in Dresden: I’d gone there to change some money and I was watching this old lady who’d barged into the reception like an icebreaker and headed directly for the manager's office without as much as a knock on the door. The manager had jumped up and begun fussing around her, offering her a chair. At the time, I’d thought she was their millionaire client but no, they’d explained to me later, she was a regular retired old lady like any other.

The door opened, letting in the secretary with a cup of coffee and a glass of water on a tray.

“Thank you,” Shantarsky said.

“Thanks,” I repeated, reaching for my glass.

“Actually,” Shantarsky went on, “back in Europe I've never seen a bank manager have his own secretary, let alone one who'd make him coffee.”

“Neither have I,” I agreed.

We paused, sampling our drinks, then continued our conversation.

“Back to what I just said,” Shantarsky continued, “I think I owe you an explanation. I've only just flown back from Munich an hour ago. I’ve only had time to take a shower and down a quick breakfast. I haven't even seen my family yet but went straight to the office. And there you were, just leaving. Had I not known about your problem, I wouldn't have stopped you.”

“Thank you. I really appreciate your concern.”

“We do care for our customers and their problems.”

There it was, the rush for all things Western rearing its ugly head. He was sitting here repeating stale catchphrases and referring to Western work ethics while I wasn't really sure how he'd have behaved in the above retired-lady scenario. I could see that he was trying to force his own agendas on me. Most likely, she'd have never made it past his secretary. He was too used to the luxury of a personal assistant's services which he'd have never been entitled to had he really worked in the West. There, only top directors had personal assistants. I knew this from experience. I'd done my fair share of traveling and been to all sorts of offices, bank outlets included. Everybody needs an expert interpreter like myself. And here I was sitting opposite this small fry that felt entitled to his own secretary and unlimited supplies of coffee and brandy... enough.

What was wrong with me today? I really should watch my tongue. None of this was any of my business. I had other objectives to take care of.

“Thank you,” I repeated. “I really appreciate it.”

Shantarsky regally accepted my gratitude. “So you need a loan,” he said with a smug expression.

I nodded but said nothing. Straight from Munich, yeah right. Pull the other one. He'd been sitting in his office all along, following my conversation with the clerk. I just couldn't work out what he wanted from me. I was as poor as a church mouse. My houses had been sold, my money spent.

'I do indeed,” I finally said.

“My colleague has explained our situation to you, hasn't he?”

I nodded again. At some point, the tables had turned. Only a moment ago I was quite prepared to plead and beg. Now something had changed. He needed something from me.

The thought was relaxing. I had nothing he could take from me. It made me curious.

“I'm terribly sorry but we don't decide these things. We follow orders,” he pointed a meaningful finger at the ceiling.

“So nothing can be done?” I played along.

He shrugged. His cold blue eyes locked into mine. “If you had a guarantor...”

So that's what it was about! Come on, spit it out. “I'm afraid I've got no one who could stand guarantee,” I said. “Apart from my wife, of course.”

“And your brother?”

At this point, I could see through his little scheme. “We don’t have much to do with each other.”

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