Putin took a deep breath and turned the doorknob. The door swung open easily, and he walked inside.
For days he’d been picturing what the room would look like, and his imagination had run wild.
He’d conjured up Medieval interrogation devices, dental tools, a variety of genitalia clamps, the Moody Blues “Timeless Flight” box set …
The reality was far different. Inside the White Room were simply two metal folding chairs and a filing cabinet with three drawers.
The walls were blank except for a single poster showing an adorable kitten clinging to a tree limb, with the slogan “Hang in there!”
He was a bit disappointed. Although he associated this room with profound personal suffering, he also had looked forward to seeing it.
As a torture connoisseur, Putin had been interested in visiting such a hallowed hall of instrumentalized pain: It could be educational.
He frowned, shrugged his shoulders, and walked over to the filing cabinet. Inside the top drawer, he found dozens of manila folders.
Putin pulled one at random: patient Yakov Naumovich Pokhis. Placing his flashlight in the crook of his neck, he flipped open the file.
Personal history, phobias, “treatment” record … He flipped through the pages until he came to one labeled “Operation Circus Bear.”
He dropped the file and grabbed another one. It had a section for “Operation Circus Bear,” too. Every file he opened did.
Finally, Putin found his own dossier. It was twice as thick as all the others. “OCB” was stamped in red letters on its cover. He opened it.
Just then, he heard the door slam shut behind him. He spun and delivered a roundhouse kick to it, but the thick steel held fast.
A muffled explosion above made the room shudder. A small crack appeared in a corner of the ceiling, spread, and water began to pour in.
“The cooling pool above must be draining,” thought Putin. Within seconds, the water had risen to his muscular thighs.
Putin quickly removed his Member’s Only jacket, wrapped it around his file, and stuffed it into his pants waistband.
As the water reached his chest, Putin ripped off his shirt. The water rose higher, and he kicked up to the ceiling.
He punched at the crack, widening it to a Putin-sized opening, took one last gulp of air before the room flooded, and swam up into the pool.
Looking up, he could see the building collapsing above him. He swam past massive chunks of concrete falling through the water.
Finally, he reached the surface. With one kick he launched himself out of the pool like a porpoise and hit the ground running.
Putin didn’t stop until he was astride the Yunker, racing toward the Fortress of Opulence. Someone had tried to kill him––but who?