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The Dyatlov Pass
« : 09 Февраль 2012, 11:53:29 »


DYATLOV PASS
A Novel
ALAN K BAKER
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Re: The Dyatlov Pass
« Ответ #1 : 09 Февраль 2012, 11:55:27 »

PREFACE

I have tried to think of an appropriate description of the following document. It has not been easy: to call it a psychiatric report (which it was originally intended to be) is no longer accurate or appropriate, since I have included lengthy passages describing my own personal responses to the sessions I have conducted with the subject, Viktor Strugatsky, as well as the strange and unsettling discoveries I have made during the course of my evaluation of his mental state.
Of course, it goes without saying that a psychiatrist’s responses are of the utmost importance in the treatment of a patient; and yet, I realise that I have gone much further than I intended in my evaluation of Strugatsky, to the extent that I have now become a part of his story. This is at least as troubling to me as the elements of the story themselves.
I should note here the preliminary facts of the case, and describe how I came to be involved. On Monday 23 February 2009, the criminal militia approached the Peveralsk Psychiatric Hospital just outside Yekaterinburg, where I work, asking for assistance in a possible homicide case which they were investigating.
Nine days previously, a man had entered the village of Yurta Anyamova, north of the town of Ivdel in the Urals. The village belongs to the Mansi people, who are indigenous to the area. The man was apparently in a state of profound shock, and was suffering from a fever from which he only recovered due to the care administered to him by the villagers.
It seems that on the previous Sunday, he had passed through Yurta Anyamova in the company of three other people. They were 68-year-old Vadim Konstantinov, a retired professor of anthropology; Veronika Ivasheva, 28, a police sketch artist; and Alisa Chernikova, 31, a physicist working at the Ural State Technical University.
According to the headman of the village, Roman Bakhtyarov, the group had claimed to be conducting research into the so-called ‘Dyatlov Pass incident’, which occurred on the slopes of a nearby mountain called Kholat Syakhl fifty years ago, in February 1959. The facts of the Dyatlov Pass incident are well known to the region’s historians, and I will refrain from repeating them in this preface, for reasons which will become clear.
Bakhtyarov stated that one of the village elders, a shaman of indeterminate age named Prokopy Anyamov, volunteered to accompany Strugatsky and the others on their expedition. Five days after they left Yurta Anyamova, Strugatsky returned to the village alone; he was sick and incoherent, but in his infrequent moments of lucidity, he claimed that the others had been killed in the pine forest that lies to the south of Kholat Syakhl.
The Director of Peveralsk, Dr Fyodor Pletner, agreed to admit Strugatsky for observation, and asked me if I would undertake an examination of the subject. Strugatsky was brought to the hospital, and quarters were assigned to him in the secure wing.
Following treatment for his rather poor physical condition, the result of exhaustion combined with lack of proper sustenance (it seems that the villagers had not been able to get him to take any food, either during or immediately after his fever), I scheduled a session with Strugatsky for Wednesday 25 February.
What follows is, as I mentioned at the outset, difficult to describe. I suppose it would be most accurate to call it a chronicle of my evaluation of Viktor Strugatsky, a personal memoir, one might say. But it is much more than that: it is also the story of my own growing awareness of the true nature of what he encountered in the forest, and of his mental state. I believe that the people with whom he set out for Kholat Syakhl are indeed dead; but I do not believe that Strugatsky killed them.
I am equally certain that many will find the text which follows problematic, for several reasons. Those in the psychiatric community will doubtless comment on the style of the prose; I would respond to those concerns simply by saying that the style is fitting for my purposes in writing a personal chronicle. Those in the wider scientific community will, equally doubtlessly, treat its contents with incredulity, or even contempt. For them, I have no response, other than to say that I present this material for what it is worth.
I would make one final note on the text: the particulars of the Strugatsky case have been gathered during the course of several sessions, during which our conversations were recorded. I have used these recordings to piece together his experiences, and have decided, for the sake of clarity, to present them in the third person. I have included many minor details and observations gleaned from Strugatsky’s conversation, which I have edited to form what is hopefully a coherent narrative. As I mentioned at the outset, I have also included my own responses and discoveries.
What those discoveries mean, for the world and for humanity, I am unable to say; but I believe the implications of what you are about to read are of the utmost seriousness and significance.

Anatoliy Baskov
Peveralsk Psychiatric Hospital
June 2009
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Re: The Dyatlov Pass
« Ответ #2 : 09 Февраль 2012, 11:57:32 »

PART ONE
INVESTIGATIONS
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Re: The Dyatlov Pass
« Ответ #3 : 09 Февраль 2012, 11:58:49 »

BASKOV (1)

I went to the hospital’s secure wing and entered Viktor Strugatsky’s room. I instructed the two orderlies who had accompanied me to wait outside, and they assured me that they would come to my aid immediately, should I call for them.
The room was small and spartanly furnished, but clean and bright. Strugatsky had damaged nothing, which is not always the case with subjects whose mental state is in question, and who have been accused of serious crimes. There was a bed, an armchair, washing facilities and a small desk at which stood a wooden chair.
‘Good morning, Viktor,’ I said, smiling at him. ‘I am Dr Baskov.’
Strugatsky was lying on the bed. He immediately sat up and put his feet on the floor. ‘Good morning, Dr Baskov.’
He did not return my smile; but neither did his face display any hostility. In fact, his expression was blank, save for slightly furrowed brows, which gave him the appearance of someone pondering a minor problem of no particular significance. I noted the light tan on his face which had been remarked upon during his initial physical examination (and which suggested that he had recently spent an extended period of time in the open air), along with the numerous flecks of grey in his hair, which gave him the appearance of a man somewhat older than his twenty-eight years.
I indicated the chair by the desk. ‘Do you mind if I sit down?’
‘Please do.’
‘How are you feeling today?’
‘I’d like to get out of here.’
‘I’m afraid that’s not possible just yet,’ I said gently.
‘Not until you decide whether I’m crazy, or a murderer,’ he said; and now he smiled, but it was a very small, sad smile: an expression of resignation rippling on the surface of fear and uncertainty.
‘That’s correct,’ I replied, placing a DAT recorder on the desk.
‘I’ve got one like that,’ said Strugatsky. ‘Same make.’
‘Ah, yes. You’re a journalist, aren’t you?’
He repeated: ‘Yes, I’ve got one like that. At least, I used to have one. It’s still there.’
‘Still there?’
‘In the forest. Maybe it doesn’t exist anymore.’
‘Why wouldn’t it exist?’
Strugatsky said nothing.
‘Do you mind if I tape this conversation?’
‘Would you refrain from taping it if I said yes?’
‘It is standard procedure.’
‘Then I don’t mind.’
‘Thank you.’ I switched on the machine. ‘How long have you been a journalist?’
‘About four years. You think I killed them, don’t you? You think I’m crazy, and I killed them.’ His voice was quite without inflection as he said this. Clearly for Strugatsky, it was merely a statement of fact, like saying that the sun rose this morning.
‘No, I’m not saying that. In fact, I don’t know. That’s why I’m here, why we’re talking.’
‘If I’m not crazy, then why am I locked up in a mental hospital?’
‘You’re here so that we can figure out what happened to you, and to your companions...’
‘They were killed.’
‘How?’
Strugatsky said nothing, he merely looked at me; but as he did so, I saw something in his eyes: a flash of apprehensiveness, perhaps outright fear. ‘It’s all right, Viktor,’ I said gently. ‘You can tell me.’
‘That’s the problem, Doctor,’ he replied in a very quiet voice. ‘I don’t know if I can tell you.’
‘Why not?’
His frown returned, deeply furrowing his brow. ‘I don’t know who I can tell, and who I can’t. Do you really want to help me, or...?’
‘Or what?’ Silence. ‘Yes, I want to help you, Viktor. Everyone who works here wants to help you. You’re among friends. You’re safe.’
‘Safe?’ He gave a short laugh.
I decided to try a different approach. ‘Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself?’
‘What do you want to know?’
‘Well ... are you from Yekaterinburg originally?’
‘Yes.’
‘And you work for the Yekaterinburg Gazette.’
‘Yes.’
Two monosyllabic answers on the trot. Clearly, Strugatsky considered the subjects of his personal history and occupation to be unworthy of conversation.
‘And you have an interest in the Dyatlov Pass incident,’ I said.
He looked up at me suddenly, as if startled. ‘Not at first. But it’s how it started.’
‘How what started?’
He smiled again, and this time the smile was broader, almost feral. ‘The train of events that have led me here, Dr Baskov.’
‘Would you like to tell me how it started?’
Strugatsky stood up slowly. I was ready to call out for the orderlies, but he merely went over to the armchair and sat down. ‘Don’t worry, Doctor,’ he said. ‘I’m not a violent man.’
It took me a moment to realise that he had known I was preparing to call for help. ‘That was very perceptive of you,’ I said.
‘Thank you.’
‘Well then,’ I said. ‘Why don’t you tell me how all this started?’
Strugatsky sighed, and said: ‘All right, Doctor.’
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Re: The Dyatlov Pass
« Ответ #4 : 09 Февраль 2012, 17:51:42 »

ONE

Viktor leaned over his desk with his head in his hands, staring at the notes he had so far assembled on the Borovsky case, the noise and bustle of the office grating on his nerves. He had just got off the phone with another potential witness who didn’t want to get involved, in spite of the promise of anonymity. The Yekaterinburg Gazette was a serious newspaper, Viktor had told him. There was nothing to worry about; his identity would not be divulged. But the man was terrified – Viktor had heard it in his voice. ‘I’m sorry,’ he’d said. ‘I can’t help you. Please don’t call me again.’ And he had hung up, leaving Viktor with a dead receiver in his hand, and the notes for a story that was going nowhere scattered across his desk.
He glanced up as Cherevin’s raucous laugh shredded the air. The reporter was reclining in his chair on the other side of the office with his feet up on his desk, talking to someone on the phone – probably one of his girlfriends...
‘Arsehole,’ Viktor muttered, disgustedly pushing himself away from his desk. He walked towards the drinks machine by the door to the stairwell, his hands thrust disconsolately into his pockets.
As he passed the open door to Maksimov’s office, the editor shouted out at him: ‘Strugatsky! Get in here!’
Oh, shit, Viktor thought. What have I done now? Or what haven’t I done?
He stopped and leaned in through the door. ‘Yes, boss?’
Maksimov beckoned him inside. ‘Come in and have a seat, Vitya.’
Viktor didn’t like it when Maksimov called him by his nickname. Somehow, it made him sound even more like an irate schoolmaster than he normally did. Viktor stepped reluctantly into the office and sat down.
Maksimov was big, balding and frequently bad-tempered, but now he smiled. Viktor was not comforted. ‘How’s it going?’
‘Fine.’
‘What are you working on at the moment?’ Maksimov asked, as if he didn’t know.
‘The Borovsky case...’
‘Oh, yes.’ Maksimov reclined in his high-backed leather chair, which creaked under his weight, and put his hands contemplatively behind his head, like some bigshot executive planning his next corporate takeover. ‘The slum landlord who wants his tenants out so he can sell up to developers.’
‘That’s right.’
‘And what progress have you made?’
Viktor shifted uncomfortably in his chair. ‘Well ... it’s difficult to get anyone to talk. Borovsky’s goons have been going round, leaning on people pretty heavily. It’s not easy to get first-hand testimony when people are that scared...’
Maksimov sighed. ‘In other words, you’ve made no progress whatsoever.’
‘Well...’
‘Come on, Vitya! What do I pay you for? You’ve been working on this for nearly a month, and what have you got to show for it so far?’ He pointed a stubby finger at Viktor. ‘I gave you this assignment because I thought you could handle it! I had confidence in you, I thought you had potential...’
‘I do, boss,’ said Viktor, hating the unintentional, plaintive whine of his voice. At that moment, he’d have liked nothing more than to tell Maksimov to take this job and shove it right up his fat arse. Yes, that would have been satisfying ... had it not been for the small matter of food and rent.
Maksimov leaned forward and planted his pudgy elbows on the desk. ‘How long have you been working for the Gazette?’
‘Two years, just over,’ Viktor replied quietly, half expecting to receive his notice right there and then, and regretting that he hadn’t acted on his impulse and told Maksimov where to go. Better to resign with a few valedictory insults than be unceremoniously fired.
‘You know, Vitya, you’re not a bad journalist. I still think you’ve got promise...’
‘You do?’
‘Yeah. It’s just that I don’t think you’re ready for this type of story. That was my mistake, not yours. I thought you’d be tough enough to dig where people don’t want you to dig. But...’ He shook his head sadly, like a father whose son had committed some unpleasant and disappointing transgression. He leaned back in his chair again, and said: ‘Give your notes to Cherevin – whatever you’ve got so far. Let’s see if he has more luck.’
‘Cherevin? But he’s –’
‘He’s what?’ Maksimov said sharply.
Viktor sighed. ‘Nothing. I’ll give him my notes.’ Fuck it! he thought. He’ll never let me live this down.
He was about to stand up, grateful that at least he still had his job, when Maksimov said: ‘I’ve got something else for you.’
‘Not another store opening.’
The editor smiled. ‘Don’t push your luck, Vitya.’
‘Sorry. What is it?’
‘I’m thinking of running a historical piece.’
‘On what?’
‘The Dyatlov Pass incident.’
‘I’ve never heard of it.’
Maksimov grunted. ‘Why doesn’t that surprise me? All right, a quick history lesson. It’s something that happened in 1959, in the northern Urals. A party of ski-hikers set out on a cross-country trip from here in Yekaterinburg. Their objective was a mountain called Otorten ... but they never made it.’
‘What happened?’
‘Something killed them.’
Viktor hesitated. ‘Something?’
Maksimov nodded.
‘What was it?’
‘The authorities called it “a compelling unknown force”.’
‘A ... what the hell does that mean?’
Maksimov chuckled. ‘It means that no one had the faintest idea what happened to the hikers – but they were concerned enough to close off the area around Otorten for three years. No one was allowed in – at least, no civilians. Only one member of the party survived, and that was only because he fell ill during the first stage of their journey, and had to return home. His name is Yuri Yudin, and he lives in Solikamsk.’ Maksimov paused before asking: ‘How would you like to go and interview him?’
Viktor looked at him, and realised that this was his last chance, after which he’d be out on his arse. ‘Nineteen fifty-nine?’
Maksimov nodded.
‘So we’re coming up on the fiftieth anniversary of this ... of the Dyatlov Pass incident.’
‘Precisely. So, what do you think?’
‘I think it would make a great piece,’ Viktor said, trying to sound more enthusiastic than he felt. Solikamsk was nearly five hundred kilometres from Yekaterinburg.
Maksimov nodded, and slid a piece of paper across the desk. ‘Yurin’s address.’
Viktor took the paper and read it. ‘No phone number?’
Maksimov shook his head. ‘We don’t have it, and it’s not listed in the Solikamsk directory.’
Viktor sighed. ‘So I’ll have to show up on his doorstep unannounced.’
‘It’ll be good practice for you,’ Maksimov said pointedly. He glanced at his watch. ‘There’s a train to Solikamsk at 10.35 this morning. You can make it if you hurry.’
Christ, thought Viktor. You don’t want me to waste any time, do you? He nodded, stood up and went to the door.
‘Vitya.’
He turned. ‘Yes, boss?’
‘This isn’t exactly Watergate. It isn’t even Anton Borovsky and his goons. I’d rather you didn’t come back empty-handed again. Understood?’
‘Understood.’
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