In December 2013, due to a family emergency, I was forced to put down the brush I was using to work on my tube paintings. My partner was recovering from a life-saving operation in Szolnok, so I could not leave her to along. Since I could not paint in the apartment in Szolnok, I looked for a new creative activity.
The basic idea for the novel had been in my head for years, and I had a computer in Szolnok, so I started writing. The basic idea for my novel came from a frequently asked question, which I had not found an answer to before: why is there no limit to human greed?
The key question raises further questions. Why a man is not content once he has acquired great wealth, power, political or religious influence? Why does he want to rob, destroy and erase other people, often other nations?
Do not get me wrong. I have nothing against people who make a fortune through hard work or by exploiting their inventions. Their businesses provide work for the less fortunate. Some of them even take care to provide decent working conditions for their employees and donate money to charitables causes. My novel features one such billionaire.
Of course, greed is a human trait that does not depend on wealth, and to always find contributors in the lower strata of societies whom help carry out evil plans. Without it, no dictator could maintain his power.
The history of humankind is the history of uninterrupted wars. No wonder there is a little mention of long lasting peace in history books. We can also see that behind every offensive war is a greedy and cruel leader who is building some kind of empire He justifies his cause to his followers and often to himself by economic coercion, by flourishing the lives of his people, by spreading the only true faith, or by a commitment to some other fabricated ideal.
Is evil a mental illness or a genetically coded deformity? In my novel, I try to answer this difficult question while entertaining the reader with an exciting and twisting plot. Here are some lines from the "Acknowledgments" page:
“Thanks also to the well-known writers who enchanted me with their writing, shaped my worldview and helped soar my literary imagination. I would like to mention just a few of them: Shakespeare, Verne, Bulgakov, Chandler, Ludlum, Ken Kesey, Stieg Larsson, Irwin Shaw and our contemporaries, Dan Brown, Lee Child, Ken Follett and Greg Iles.” In the first edition, I did not mention the name of Jo Nesbø, who is rightly called the king of Scandinavian crime fiction. But besides him I have met many other great writers in the last quarter of a century. I will list, in no particular ranking, the names of Jeffrey Archer, Joseph Finder, Vince Flynn, Allan Folsom, Andrew Goliszek, James Grippando, Phillip Margolin, Michael Robotham and Carsten Stroud. If you find a favourite writer among the names listed, I can assure you that "The Gene of Evil" will also win your heart.
Page 3 of Part I reads: “My novel is an imaginary story. The characters and plots are the product of the writer's imagination. Any resemblance to real persons is a matter of chance. Exceptions are living and deceased history-shaping personalities, as well as other famous people whose recollections have contributed to creating a realistic atmosphere of the era. My book is not recommended for readers under the age of eighteen because of the scenes of brutal psychological and physical cruelty and the unvarnished depiction of sexuality.”
An old friend of mine, graphic artist Zoltán Simon, with whom we started our military service together in 1970 in an armoured reconnaissance squadron, read the proof print made in November 2018. You can read his review on the cover of Part I of the book. He finds the story shocking and recommends it only to those with the nerves of steel. But that should not scare you. The novel trilogy is not horror. There are no mindless killers running around with bloody knives or chainsaws. In fact, I try to keep the reader in suspense. I present the many faces of "Evil." In one chapter I wrote: " If evil appeared with horns on its head, it would be easy to recognize." The story is not just about intrigue, cruelty It is about family cohesion, friendship and, not least, love.
To this day, many people have read Part I of the novel, and the feedback is good. My readers range in age from 20 to 80. None of them have had a heart attack and are looking forward for the sequel, which is now available to them. I have written Part II to provide a complete experience to a reader who did not read Part I. The film-like replays briefly inform the new reader of the events of Part I, while recalling the excitement of the prequels in my old readers. In Part I, I tried to ration the tension in waves, the scenes are gradually hardening. This continues at a similar pace Part II. As the reader gets deeper into the story, he gets to know my heroes better and better. And together, we hope that hell may have an emergency exit.
Copyright © Kovács István, 2022
January 1978. Georgiy Melnyik is a young Parisian resident of Soviet military intelligence GRU1. The Moscow center unexpectedly sends him to Ethiopia. His new station is the struggling city of Harrar. He takes the name ’Gregory Tabakov’ for his secret work. His job as an interpreter is to establish contacts between and obtain information from Soviet “advisors”, Cuban volunteers, and the Ethiopian military.
Gregory is a talented linguist, an excellent athlete, also skilled in martial arts. He witnesses a street robbery attack in an old town alley. The interpreter recognizes the injured victim as Sheldon Brown, a CIA agent, about whom he saw several photos at the embassy. Brown caused severe damage to Gregory's superior in Syria. The interpreter does not want to be complicit in the assassination ordered by his boss. He frees the half-dead American from the four-member gang.
June 1988. In Munkács, we get to know the Melnyik family during a Saturday lunch. They celebrate the successful graduation of their younger son, Alex. After lunch, Alex’s uncle, Georgiy, rides the sidecar motorcycle, on which three more are traveling: Alex, his brother, Victor, and his childhood buddy: Pityes. Georgiy does not reveal their destination to them. They arrive at a watermill on the shores of Latorca. Lina, the well-known courtesan lives there. A surprise awaits the celebrated. But instead of Lina, Alex is greeted by his love, Anna.
Alex flies to Leningrad at the end of August. He begins his studies in the Department of Microbiology at the State University. Owing to his photographic memory, heeasily becomes a top of his class.
Afghanistan Mountains, October 8, 1988, Georgiy and seven of his fellow soldiers are attacked by an overwhelming Mujahideen squad. Georgiy thinks he could be their number one target. He has begun an investigation into the suspicious cases of his boss, General Sergei Zverev. Zverev has the power to take a secret action against him. Now Georgiy is trapped with his wounded comrades as they hide in a barracks. No chance to escape. The Taliban commander instructs his men to behead the dead. Before they come for Georgiy, he bites on a capsule, causing him to lose consciousness and his vital signs disappear. He appears to be dead. Georgiy can no longer hear the noise of the approaching helicopter.
Alex visits his family in Munkács at Christmas. He wants to meet his love, Anna and his friend Pityes, who studies computer science in Kiev. Alex finds out from his friend: Anna is dating someone else. The two friends sit in the Latorca Restaurant. Alex wants to forget his disappointment; he trusts that a drink would help. He is surprised to see that the waitress is Lina, the pleasure girl their former schoolmate in the elementary school. Pityes tells him, that he used the girl's services several times, with much pleasure. While drinking, Alex also gets turned on and comforts himself with Lina at a nearby motel. The atmosphere at home is mournful. Georgiy was declared dead by the GRU. Grandmother Sarah prepares for the hespad. The family hides Sarah's Jewish origin for several reasons. Alex is depressed by the family atmosphere, he visits Lina, and stays with the girl for the night. He falls in love with the smart and educated courtesan. This causes a serious conflict with his parents.
Alex has a bad fight with his father and moves to the water mill. He spends the rest of his holidays with the girl. They talk a lot.
It turns out that Lina is interested in genetics, too. She wants to know who her biological father has been. After the tragic death of her mother Lina moves in with her mother's partner, Pavlo Ruszin. Lina also tells Alex that she started prostitution because her stepfather was threatened by the Russian mafia because of his gambling debt.
1 Soviet military intelligence and counterintelligence, in Russian: Glavnoje Razvedivatyelnoje Upravlenyije, abbreviated as GRU. This state defense organization is directly under the supreme command of the army. Its name did not change during the "perestroyka".
Alex continues his studies at the University of Leningrad. He talks to Lina on the phone every month. He plans to travel to Lina in early April 1989. Alex learns from Lina's boss that the girl has gone to Kiev to work without leaving contact information. Alex takes a summer job in Kiev but searches for Lina at restaurants in vain. Alex's brother, Victor, stops him upon higher orders. Victor is already committed to the GRU because he wants to work in weapons research after his university studies.
In the summer of 1992, Alex works for an American stem cell research company in St. Petersburg (the new and old name of Leningrad since 1991). He performs DNA analysis with the latest tools, which is closely related to his studies. He and his American colleagues visit a jazz club where Alex meets two artists who invite him to draw to an art college.
In the fall Alex decides to take the opportunity and draws a nude as a recreation with the teacher’s permission. There he meets Vera, the nude model. The beautiful and lovely Russian girl works as a night cleaner and as a part time model in the college. She also does photography and paints as well. Their relationship becomes ever closer. Alex falls in love with Vera, and she feels the same.
In June 1993, the university's end-of-year party approaches. Alex invites Vera. The girl is transferred by her boss to work as a hostess. Turns out she's a waitress at the event. She promises Alex, she'll set herself free from ten o’clock, and they can be together at the party. This is not fulfilled, because Vera is raped by a law student, Gennady Zverev in the dressing room. From his girlfriend's description Alex recognizes the rapist, whom he usually encounters at the karate training. Alex is very upset. He finds Gennady in the dancing crowd and sends him to the floor in a few seconds.
He won't tell Vera about his action. Alex accompanies the girl home, and sleeps in an armchair in her apartment. Vera suspects in the morning that he colluded with the rapist. Alex is shocked to hear the accusation. He doesn't know what to answer. Alex leaves alone his injured girlfriend.
The next day, Alex is arrested by the police. He's going to be interrogated by Detective Lenkov. Alex learns from the detective: at the ball, security cameras recorded the showdown. Alex hopes to count on Victor’s GRU connections. Victor works at a weapons testing plant under the control of the GRU. Their family friend, Colonel Igor Kuzmich helped him to get this confidential position. Kuzmich is the head of the GRU decoding department. He's been the one who recruited Georgiy and plays a key role in Lina's life as well.
Unfortunately, it also turns out that Gennady's father, Sergei Zverev, is a general of military intelligence. Alex realizes that Kuzmich cannot help because Zverev is in a higher rank than Colonel Kuzmich, who has retired. Alex breaks down. He has no idea what kind of physical torture awaits him.
General Zverev sends two of his agents to St. Petersburg for Alex. Oleg and Anton torture Alex at an airport repair shop, but do not cause permanent injury. Then they fly to Moscow and escort the victim to their boss’s office at GRU headquarters. The general presents a choice to Alex: he either goes to jail on charges of grievous bodily harm or signs an employment contract. The contract is for five years. His work would be to carry out genetic tests on a secret Siberian research base. The general needs Alex's knowledge in a new large-scale project. Alex signs the employment contract on his brother's advice.
After completing a preparatory course, he travels to Siberia.
In the meantime, Alex’s friend Pityes failed to return from his study trip to Sweden to Ukraine. Instead, he applied for asylum in the United States. Alex didn't know that. Yet his Internet access gets suspended.
Alex can take his degree and meets his family before the long journey. In the crowd at the graduation ceremony, Detective Lenkov spots him, explaining that he has found no evidence of Gennady Zverev's guilt. What's even more worrying for Alex, that he says he couldn't talk to Vera, who has gone missing. All the girl's data has been deleted from the records. Lenkov promises Alex that he'll continue to search for his girlfriend.
On the flight en route to Siberia Alex is talking to an older man who seems to be in the same shoe. Dr. Konstantin Kaydanov's story reveals the unscrupulous, vile means General Zverev deployed to obtain the necessary specialists for his diabolic plan.
USA, Arizona. Mountains near Phoenix, July 18, 1993. Sheldon Brown, the ex-CIA agent is waiting at a roadblock. Sheldon leads the bodyguard team of the billionaire businessman Alvin Greenstone. Unexpectedly, a tow truck pushes his SUV into the ravine. He gets away with some light injury because his car gets caught in a group of candelabra cactuses. The attack is a message to Greenstone, who has crossed plans of a drug cartel in Mexico.
Greenstone is preparing to inaugurate a cultural center for young people. He names the House of Culture after of his murdered daughter Emily, an enterprise he began in Mexico City on behalf of the local city government. The old billionaire’s company won the tender, about which the cartel’s boss, Manolo Hermosa, was not happy. He wanted to create a drug mall instead of a modern cultural facility.
Thomas Brown (Sheldon's brother) is the owner of the security company. He commissions a well-trained bodyguard, Martin Reynolds, to secure the inauguration ceremony to replace his injured brother. Martin protects Alvin from the assassin's bullet with his own body. The bullet breaks his spinal vertebrae, confining him to a wheelchair. Greenstone offers to his saviour a guest suite in his country house, with everything what could help his rehabilitation.
Alex is occupying his accommodation at the Siberian research base. At the bottom of his suitcase he finds a police newspaper. On the front page there is the black frame photograph of Detective Lenkov and his obituary describing an accident. From the newspaper he also learns that Vera was brutally murdered along with her nine-week-old fetus. Alex loses control and ruins the furniture of his room. The guards stop him. In the medical ward of the research base, Sister Zoya wakes him up. Alex befriends with the nurse, and they begin a sexual relationship.
The deputy leader of the research, Professor Regykin, briefs Alex on his work. Alex begins analyzing the 4,000 plus DNA samples. The samples were collected from many countries, from smaller or larger groups of people. The purpose of the analysis is to detect similarities and differences between human races. The results are stored in a computer database.
1994. Experiments with apes begin at the research base. The scientists involved in the project focus on their own subtasks. Only the two leaders of the base can see through the whole plan. Alex is briefed by his friend Konstantin on some details of the research. These help Alex to put together the picture of the project objective.
Alex’s monotonous work is made bearable by the intimate hours spent with Sister Zoya. The nurse maintains a lesbian relationship with mushroom researcher Irina Lavrova as well, who is an important participant in the project. Their relationship sometimes creates tension. August 1997. After careful preparations, the first phase of human trials begins. In Yekaterinburg, a special building is being built, which is named "Labyrinth", referring to a rat experiment conducted at the beginning of the century. The ceiling of the Labyrinth is a detective mirror. The researchers are set up for observation above the ceiling. Experimental subjects are selected from convicts in the city prison.
November 1997. Kuzmich, the retired general receives a postcard from Venice. Her daughter’s unusual writing poses a challenge to the experienced decoder. After solving the puzzle, on the Internet he encounters a person with similar goals as his: to expose the corrupt and ruthless General Zverev. The unexpected American source has a lot of new information about Zverev’s secret bank accounts. Kuzmich has not had access to these so far.
Human tests are successful in the first two phases. Due to the harsh winter in Siberia, the water plumbing of the Labyrinth freezes. Leaders order a break until spring. The third phase of human trials is to continue in April. The result of this raises an ethical dilemma for Professor Regykin, as the conditioned subject must liquidate a target person. Finally, Regykin is forced to follow General Zverev's instructions.
In May 1998, a dangerous incident occures with the apes. Alex regularly walks into their greenhouse with permission. He makes good friends with the smart animals. Then, with some coded music the bonobos are tuned against Alex. Some angry animals nearly kill Alex.
Sister Zoya and Alex suspect that the jealous Irina turned on the coded music, because the mushroom researcher was at the base in the same time. Irina denies the accusation, but Zoya doesn't believe her. According to the investigation, the music was started from Irina's computer. Zoya then rejects Irina's approach.
By mid-June 1998, the five-year program becomes successfully completed. Only a few verification tests are required. A three-component “weapon” has been created, to make an extraordinary impact on human behavior. Using a complex mechanism of action, an unsuspected subject can also be programmed for murder.
June 20, 1998, Professor Regykin relieves Alex of his work, because an unexpected visitor arrives from Moscow. Nikolai, the young agent met Alex at a chess table at GRU headquarters earlier. Nikolai now brought bad news to Alex: Victor went missing when a rocket shipment exploded. The shipment was accompanied by Alex's brother to the destruction place.
Nikolai doesn't dare to talk openly to Alex because they're being watched by a guard. General Zverev assigned a soldier to his agent in case Alex lost self control upon hearing the news. Nikolai tells Alex he has to take him to Moscow for questioning because his brother is a suspect for the bombing.
Alex doesn't want to get know Zverev's torture chamber. He overcomes the agent as well as the soldier in a fight and then escapes through the gates of the camp. He rushes into the endless Siberian Forest. He has a plan that he would escape Westbound by train from a small town 60 kilometers away. He spends the night on a tree.
The manhunt begins. They're looking for the fugitive with dogs and helicopters as well. The dogs lose track of Alex at a creek. But the helicopter is scanning the forest with an infrared camera. The video footage shows where Alex slept.
Alex leaves early in the morning. At noon, 20 kilometers from his destination, he meets two women who tell him they would give him a lift on their horse-drawn cart. Alex is very thirsty; the women offer him warm tea. But the tea was drugged. Alex didn't think military counterintelligence employed women, too.
Nikolai transports Alex to Moscow, who has been tranquilized and handcuffed. Alex only recovers towards the end of the flight. After waking up, he still pretends that he is sound asleep because he wants to gather his thoughts and is angry with the agent. Alex makes a fatal mistake with the time drag. Nikolai can only inform him too late, that he himself does not want to carry out Zverev's order. On the contrary, he wants to help Alex in the escape. But it's too late. Zverev sends Oleg and Anton, the two cruel executors to the airport, to pick up the “package” from the young agent. Nikolai gets trapped and becomes suicidal. Alex recovers in the basement of the GRU headquarters because Oleg stuns him out for safety. Alex is interrogated by two interrogating officers alternately until dawn. A lie detector and sodium pentothal are also used. They want information about Victor's whereabouts.
In the morning, Alex is transferred to the psychiatric ward of Central Military Hospital, and the interrogation continues, but by a different method. In the closed ward a psychotic agent is used, and the dose is increased day by day. Dr. Stravinsky is a psychiatrist committed to Zverev. The psychiatrist is conducting the interrogation. Zverev holds Stravinsky in his grasp, yet the doctor’s conscience slips to the side of Alex. After a few days, he no longer doubts the young man's testimony. He doesn't want to take on the fact that he's bombarding the brains of a talented young scientist with an unknown chemical. The hallucinogenic drug was created at the Siberian base. Zverev is adamant. Blindly believes: „Alex Melnyik knows more, than he has confessed.”
Stravinsky continues the interrogation.
Alex begins to convulse under the influence of the overdosed drug and then loses consciousness. They're transferring him to internal medicine ward. The doctor uses deep anesthesia and wakes him up after 36 hours. Alex feels fine in this situation, but he doesn't want to talk. He hopes to avoid further interrogation. The doctor fears Alex suffered permanent brain damage. Alex manages to influence the results of the EEG scan. The doctor orders him to be kept anesthetized.
Alex wakes up to be pushed by Oleg on a stretcher, who doesn’t even hide from Alex, that he would be done soon. He has given Alex a drug that completely relaxes his muscles and he can't even talk, but his mind stays clear. Oleg recounts how Alex's love was raped by himself and Anton. He also reveals that Vera was strangled by lawyer Gennady Zverev with a tightening loop. The cruel psychopath shows off the bathtub and his protective gear. He wants to splash Alex alive in hydrochloric acid. Oleg is in no hurry, torturing the young man with pleasure.
He's strangling Alex with the same choke loop with which Vera was also murdered. Oleg repeatedly brings Alex back from fainting and rapes him. Alex gives up. He chooses to be strangled rather than to try the hydrochloric acid bath.
Alex can’t decide if he is hallucinating or has really heard someting.
The boiler room door creaked softly. It was as if someone had entered the room. Oleg's self-forgetful silhouette, sharply outlined on the wall, is spoiled by a fast-moving shadow. This is the last sight that is going to get to the victim's consciousness.
Oleg's hands clamp convulsively to the handle of the choke loop. Alex loses consciousness.
End of Part One