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SHENKOV'S CHILDREN

Shenkov's Children is a work of fiction based on an historical event and is a compelling and stimulating read from start to finish. The finding of an old diary written in an extinct Mongolian dialect throws questionable doubts concerning the sale of the Alaskan territory to America in 1867.

When Alex Shannon, born in Russia and brought up in America is recruited by Agency 5, an elite internal security organization; and sent covertly into Russia to track down the copy of the nation's treaty, a dangerous and intriguing adventure unfolds. Finally in a cave where it all began Alex experiences sadness and closure to an empty part of his life.

In Store Price: $AU25.95 
Online Price:   $AU24.95

ISBN: 978-1-921406-40-9
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 256
Genre: Fiction

 

 

Author: Anthony Newberry
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2008
Language: English

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Biography  

Anthony Newberry was born and educated in England. He studied music under the guidance of a professor from the Royal Academy of Music in London which took him into the world of theatre where he met his wife, an Australian girl employed in a ballet company in Europe. 

Through the years, apart from business, a high percentage of his employment has been connected to the arts in some way or another. His desire to write rarely far from his thoughts. Later, he took an extensive course at a Professional Writing College.  

Anthony now lives in Australia with his wife.

           Prologue           

 

All exits out of Winchester were indeed closed. But the artistry of the man was extraordinary. Mister George Washington now wore a grey wig and a pasty white face to match. With dark glasses and shabby clothes more suited to a tramp, and a limp that somehow made it all the more believable, he was lucky to get a seat on the last bus leaving Winchester for Washington. The next bus wasn’t for another three days due to weather conditions.

       “My brother’s been in a terrible accident,” said the old, dishevelled-looking gent to the ticket clerk, his voice heavy with emotion. “I have to get to the hospital. They say he hasn’t much time left.”

       “I’m sorry, Sir,” replied the ticket clerk, his tone lacking in compassion, “but I can’t help you. All tickets for this bus have been sold. There are no more seats available. You’ll have to come back in three days, unless you wish to purchase a ticket now. At least you’ll be certain of a seat.”

       That was when the young serviceman interrupted.

       “Excuse me, I couldn’t help overhearing. But if it’s that important, he can have my ticket. I’ll stay over. It won’t be that hard; my fiancée will be more than happy.”

       “That’s very kind of you, young man,” said the old man. “You’re sure it’s no bother?”

       “Sure I’m sure. You go and see your brother.” The serviceman then handed over the ticket, for which the old man paid and boarded the bus. In the seat next to him was a blond wearing far too much make-up, but her smile was genuine when she said, “That was nice of that young soldier. Where are you heading?”

       “Oh, I live in Alexandria. It’s a suburb of Washington.” The old man then nestled back and placed his battered hat over his eyes. The blond took the hint. Moments later the bus moved off, but before it had gone a mile or so, it was confronted by a roadblock. Police were everywhere directing all traffic to pull over. When the bus driver opened the door, a police sergeant entered rather hesitantly. He was obviously nervous, and the bus driver couldn’t help noticing the cop’s hand on his gun as he slowly walked down the aisle, peering closely at each and every passenger. Finally, he appeared satisfied and returned to the front of the bus. With a nervous smile of embarrassment, he quietly announced, “Everything’s okay driver; you can move on now,” and stepped off the bus and onto the sidewalk. The door was then closed and the bus continued on its way.

       It seemed colder in Washington somehow and, as the old man made his way down the street, his destination came into view. It was an old building badly in need of restoration. A shining brass plaque hung on the entrance gate announcing the residence - Russian Embassy - which drew him like a magnet. At last he was home. Well, almost.

       Pushing the heavy doors of the embassy open, the old tramp walked purposefully towards the young girl at the reception desk.

       “Colonel Lensk, please.”

       “Who shall I say is calling?” she said sarcastically, staring at the shabby-looking individual confronting her.

       “Lieutenant Shenkov,” he sharply replied.

       “Oh, thank you,” she replied, now more attentive. “Would you kindly take a seat? I’ll see if he’s in.”

       She spoke only a few words into the phone before quickly replacing the receiver. “He’ll see you. Third office to the right down the hall.”

       The Lieutenant had barely heard the command to enter.

       “Good morning, Comrade Colonel.”

       “I heard about the commotion,” replied the Colonel. “You obviously had no trouble getting out of Winchester; certainly not dressed like that.”

       “None, Comrade Colonel. People are stupid. It was easy.”

       “So, what happened?”

       “Nothing really, Sir.”

       “Nothing!” bellowed the Colonel, his bad complexion turning red with anger, accentuated by a bulbous red nose covered with blood vessels. It was a face of stone, unsmiling and without humour or compassion. 

       “No, Comrade Colonel. After their deaths, I took everything. Documents, bills, post cards and whatever I could find, and when I returned to that terrible motel, I spent hours going through them. But there was nothing. If they did know something they would have told me. As you know, Sir, I never fail. Pain and death are convincing arguments.”

       However, while the Colonel was distracted, Lieutenant Shenkov recalled what he had found in Bradley’s apartment: two bits of paper covered with scribble. On one piece, some figures were faintly legible, firing up his curiosity, so when he had returned to his motel, he had exhausted all avenues trying to discover what the figures might have been. Frustrated, he had moved towards the table on which a bottle of cheap vodka stood. Perhaps it was his military training, for as he was about to pick up a glass from the table, he suddenly yelled, “Hell! They’re map coordinates.”

       That’s when his curiosity began to erupt. Some time ago, Colonel Lensk had told him, although briefly, about two retired government officials who were investigating an event that took place long ago. Perhaps the numbers and that event were connected. It had to be important, for the Lieutenant felt that the three murders he had committed were in some way connected, so he quickly deposited the two bits of paper in a safe place. With his thoughts now back to the present, the Lieutenant began to sweat, but fortune was on his side. The Colonel’s attention was still distracted by the paperwork on his desk, allowing the Lieutenant time to retrieve a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his brow. 

       “What about your contact?” shrieked the frustrated Colonel, his attention now diverted back to the Lieutenant. “Did he have anything of value?”

       “No, Sir. But he was getting very nervous. The last time we met he told me not to meet him again at the Westford Arts Museum, so we made arrangements to meet the following Sunday in a small, but very discreet restaurant called The Good Cup, some two blocks down the road from the Museum.”

       “Do you believe this man can give us anything more of value?”

       “I’m not sure, Sir.”

       “And there’s no one who can connect you to this man or the three traitors?”

       “Absolutely not, Colonel.”

       “Very well. Arrangements have been made for your return to Moscow within the next week or two. Incidentally, what section of government does your contact work in?”

       “I’ve no idea. He always refers to his place of work as, ‘my section.’ That’s all. When we first met…you remember how, Sir?”

       “Oh, yes, that compromising situation with that boy, about fourteen if I remember. Very damaging to his career I should imagine.”

       “Quite so, Comrade. He never did ask how we came by the photos, just asked how he could get them back. That’s when our association began. Strange, there was no outburst or temper. He was all business and said he could supply me with classified information. I gave him the impression that if he supplied us with enough, we’d consider handing over both the photos and the negatives. I’m certain he doesn’t have any idea why those three traitors were of interest to me. Each time we met it was always the same: he gave me some documents but made no comment. I thanked him, and he went on his way. I thought it unwise to engage him in conversation.”

       “That seems plausible. By the way, I have to return to Moscow in two days. Don’t be too demanding when you next meet this man. Feign a little interest in their decadent art when you’re at the restaurant. It’ll relax him. Above all, don’t alienate him. And stay out of sight as much as you can. So far, we’ve managed to keep your secret identity closely guarded. If you wait for a while before returning to Winchester to see this man, I’m sure the excitement will have subsided, enabling you to continue your mission. However, for any future rendezvous with this man, perhaps you should consider meeting him in some place even more private, away from the public eye. Do what you feel is appropriate.”

       “Very good, Comrade Colonel. Dasvidanya.”

       His boss gave him a terse smile and dismissed him.      

Colonel Lensk’s return journey to Moscow was cold, bleak and grey. There was no doubt he had become accustomed to the easier way of life in America. After climbing the two flights of stairs, he arrived at his office located on the East Side of the Kremlin, chosen not only because it overlooked Red Square, but also for the presence of children who often played there, finding it a happy distraction from his many problems. As for the noisy brass band, a weekend ritual in the park, a friend had come to his rescue in the form of an old gramophone, along with many recordings of his favourite classical works. All that was needed was to turn up the volume to block it out.

       Inserting the key, Colonel Lensk opened the door to his office and, for a moment, stood in silent anger as a cold wind whistled past. Not only had someone left the window in his office open, but they had also turned off the radiator, his only form of heating, which now sported icicles beneath it. When he did turn on the radiator’s rusty handle, presuming the ancient furnace in the cellar was still holding together, steam would begin to make its way up through the rusty pipes, hissing and crackling until it entered his room vibrating his radiator madly. If he was further lucky and the boiler didn’t break down, the room would heat up in about two hours. Throwing down his bag, Colonel Lensk then closed the window and set about organising a meeting with his two colleagues.

       Just over an hour later, two elderly individuals walked into his office. Both were well-dressed in thick expensive topcoats. Both were also well into their seventies. Both also had grey hair and a weight problem. They were the faces of power.

       “Gentlemen,” said Colonel Lensk, rather awkwardly. “First I must apologise for the lack of heating. The radiator had been turned off in my absence, so in the meantime perhaps you’ll be more comfortable with your coats on.”

       Rostov Suzdal then reached into his pocket and withdrew a flask. “Vodka,” he said with a smile, “for the cold. We’ll need it if we’re going to sit in this freezer much longer.” It was merely a statement of fact, said without malice. Then he offered the flask to his colleagues but they declined. Without another word, he took a large swallow and returned the flask to his pocket.

       Rostov Suzdal, and Nikolai Simenko, had been senior Ministers in government for more than two decades, ruling with an iron fist, taking what they wanted and giving little or nothing in return. It was common knowledge that during their reign, many of those who stood before them after having been arrested were never seen again. While these men were in power, knowledge of the Alaskan Treaty could well have passed through their hands. Unfortunately, in October 1917, they were moved aside to make way for the first Politburo created by the Bolshevik Party’s central committee to provide a new leadership. Many influential men were later elected to the newly formed committee, all of whom were powerful in their own right. But within the committee were two who desired complete control: Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Ilich Olyanov, later to adopt the pseudonym, Lenin, who succeeded in 1917. Following Lenin’s death in 1924, Joseph Stalin came to power, and with it began a nation’s suffering and mass executions.

       “I must also inform you,” continued the Colonel, “that no headway has been made regarding our investigations. However, I was informed that among the masses who fled Russian soil were three of Yuri Shenkov’s steadfast colleagues. But like all the other fragments of information, this too has never been substantiated. Not long after Lieutenant Shenkov and I arrived in that decadent country, the Lieutenant whose code name, as we all know, is Ostrov, a name selected by me for his specialist abilities, somehow managed to acquire some very incriminating photos which the owner, who worked for the American government, was very anxious to have returned to him. Unfortunately, he was unable to discover which agency within the government his victim worked for, but he did manage to obtain information about three of Yuri Shenkov’s steadfast colleagues while working for many years in the Kremlin. Incidentally, Yuri Shenkov was Lieutenant Shenkov’s father. But little or no information of relevance was gleaned from each of the victims, resulting in three lives being terminated without justification. But Ostrov was still confident that his contact could reveal something pertinent to our objective. Unfortunately, all subsequent information was quite unproductive.”

       It was the short, bloated, red-faced Rostov Suzdal who next spoke.

       “Colonel, the next time your agent is ordered to investigate information you feel is of some value, I suggest you investigate the source more thoroughly before your man puts to death three guiltless Comrades, even though they had deserted the mother country.”

       “Being guiltless is only proven after an interrogation, Comrade,” replied the Colonel. “Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to locate any of Yuri Shenkov’s colleagues from that era still alive. But on a more promising note, a loyal informant of mine, whose parents are conveniently incarcerated,” smiled the Colonel, “uncovered a tale of intrigue regarding Yuri as a young Lieutenant. He had the honour of being selected to accompany the Russian delegation on their mission regarding the sale of Alaska in 1867 to the Americans, which, as we all know, was ordered by the Czar. Following several meetings in Washington, final arrangements were to take place in Sitka, the capital of Russian Alaska, where the handover was to be made. However, during this period, Yuri befriended a young man named Vladimir, another member of the Russian delegation employed as a stenographer to record the minutes of all meetings and transactions between the two delegations. One day, however, and quite out of character for Yuri, he visited the small village of Grymar, where he met Vladimir. The intrigue begins here.”

       “Where’s this Grymar village located, Colonel?”

       “It’s a few kilometres north of Sitka. It’s unknown why Yuri went there, but it has been suggested he went there on business, and meeting Vladimir was purely a coincidence. On the other hand, it’s more likely that Vladimir went to Grymar on business. Yet again unconfirmed. However, rumour has it that Vladimir’s family was in some way connected to the Russian court. This too has never been confirmed.”

       “What was Vladimir’s family name?” inquired Nikolai.

       “It’s not known.”

       “Surely they must have been friends, working together?”

       “I agree. But to this day, the reason for Yuri’s visit to Grymar, and indeed Vladimir’s, is still a mystery, and to venture there would, I’m certain, not only bring the attention we do not need, but torturous consequences if the reason for our quest was discovered. A move we should obviously avoid,” said an anxious Colonel.

       “On reflection,” interrupted a nervous Simenko, “I too feel it would be wise to avoid that line of inquiry.” 

       “So, tracking this Vladimir person down would be a waste of time then?” said Suzdal.

       “Quite so, Rostov, and time is exceedingly short, and to waste it on such a gamble would be reckless. Even though a huge question mark hovers over all that I have told you, Comrades,” responded Colonel Lensk, “it was on the basis of this, albeit vague evidence, that I chose to visit America to further our investigations. Lieutenant Shenkov came along for his...indisputable talent.”

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