Within the walls at the Bosnian University of Management, something evil and dreadful hides in waiting. The University's new professor of finance must challenge and conquer this evil, and rescue his girlfriend. obooko.
Also by Kenneth R. Szulczyk on obooko:
The Second American Revolution
The Rise of the Insane State
I sat on the armchair in my apartment watching the swirling snow blow outside through the large bay window. The radiator clicked and clacked as it heated the apartment. I glanced down at my muscular arm and flexed my muscle several times, admiring the hours spent pumping iron in the gym. I grew tired of people calling me a nerd, so I pack some muscle onto my frame. Now, no one calls me a nerd or, at least, not to my face, but I'm not athletic. I only look threatening, but I haven't been in a fight since grade school.
I glanced at the calendar hanging on the wall. It was Friday, January 14, and I finished my first semester, teaching at the Bosnian University of Management.
Religious holidays varied around the Bosnian countryside. Serbs lived in northern Bosnia and occupied an entire country, Serbia, to the east. The Croats lived in Western Bosnia and occupied a country, Croatia that surrounded Bosnia like a crescent moon. Croats were Catholics and celebrated Christmas on December 25.
I lived towards the center of the country, dominated by the Bosnians, who are Muslims, so I worked until five on Christmas Eve, but, luckily, I didn't teach classes on Christmas day. I celebrated Christmas with my Serbian girl, Yelena. Of course, we celebrated Christmas twice because the Serbs are Orthodox and celebrate Christmas on January 7.
I should be happy the semester had ended. I had a month off before spring semester started, but I sat in this chair, lost in thought. I lifted the beer can and guzzled my fourth beer,
I rarely drank beer, but my troubled mind needed to be inebriated and sedated. I needed to suppress my rage and think clearly.
I was extremely upset, and a Smith and Wesson .38 lay next to me with the gun's barrel sandwiched between my left leg and the chair. I shivered from the gun's cool metal as it penetrated through my khakis. I never owned or shot a gun before, but I planned to kill Damir and Adnan and Jasmin, maybe not in that order, but I knew the world would be a better place without those three in it.
I glanced down at the gun and observed several nicks and scratches on the metal while the handle was cracked.
I traced the crack along the gun handle with my index finger, wondering if a soldier used this gun during the Bosnian War. How many people did he kill? Were some of those people innocent?
I picked up the gun and practiced several pretend shots at the opposite wall. My hand trembled and, under my breath, I mumbled, "Bang! Bang!" Nevertheless, I never pulled the trigger.
I never killed anyone before. My most violent act was playing Dungeons and Dragons. Then I heard many stories about Damir and his drivers. They were war heroes who knew how to use guns and kill people.
My hand trembled and shook as I held the cold gun. I abhorred the coldness because it reminded me of death. If death's instrument were cold, then this must imply, death itself must be cold as warmth drains out of a cooling dead body. I didn't want to be condemned to eternity in a freezing hell, but I had no choice. Damir, Adnan, and Jasmin must die!
I kept this gun hidden behind the radiator under the window. I knew someone from the university searched my apartment weekly when I taught in another city.
At first, I was confused and thought my mind was playing tricks on me, exhausted from teaching and the long hours traveling in the car between cities. My mind refused to accept the obvious. A soda bottle or a bag of chips would be missing here and there.
Then one cool day in November, when I returned to the apartment, I noticed a cigarette butt right outside my apartment door, and I smelled the faint stench of cigarette smoke in my apartment. Then I noticed the brand name, Bosna, which was produced by the Sarajevo Cigarette company and was Adnan's and Jasmin's favorite. Only proud Bosnians smoked their brand, Bosna.
I sat quietly in my chair, drinking a local Pilsner, produced by a brewery three blocks from my apartment.
Outside, the snow was falling while temperatures hovered below the freezing mark. Being oblivious to the falling snow outside, I began to recollect the time when I first came to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the time when I first met my friend Karl and first saw my soon to be serious girlfriend, Yelena.
I remembered the first day I saw the university...
President, Damir Kovacev, bought an old cinema, located four blocks away from the town's center. The president converted two large halls into six classrooms, and left the third hall intact, using it for university ceremonies and graduation. Damir placed the university's administrative wing along offices along the building's back. Damir Kovacev copied his business plan and opened similar campuses in Banja Luka and Mostar. Ironically, Banja Luka was located in Serbian country while Mostar was located in Croatian country. When it came to making money, the Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs could put their hatred of each other to the side. Greed even surpassed hatred on the emotion scale.
As I approached the university building, I saw an old cinema marquee, painted a fresh white with a bright red trim. Incandescent light bulbs outlined the marquee, and bulbs would flash and flicker during the night. Large red letters spelled out Bosnian University of Management across the marquee. Then someone posted smaller signs along the front of the building, 'Now accepting students, please inquire inside. University has 3 million euros in scholarship money to award to top students.'
About 1,000 students enrolled into the small university for all three campuses. However, the president remained aloof and distant from the faculty. President leased faculty office space across the street at the television station, where all faculty members shared a large community office. University president deliberately placed the faculty as far away from him as possible, but the professors could cross the road and teach their courses.
All faculty members had never seen the university president, but we could recognize him by his portrait that hung in the foyer where students and professors entered and left the building. In the portrait, the president wore his Armani suit, smiling at the camera, sitting behind a mahogany desk. He held a pen in his right hand, appearing he had signed some important document for the university. When I studied the picture closely, the president's smile appeared slightly contorted as if the president forced himself to smile, something he rarely did since Emina's death. His life became devoid of joy and happiness.
I found it odd that I never met the university president, and yet, I planned to kill someone I had never met. I actually thought the President Damir Kovacev was doing well for his country. Then during the semester, I discovered the president's skeleton closet, where Damir filled the closet with bodies and human misery. Damir Kovacev was an extremely evil man, a wicked man who owned a university. That immoral man was educating the next generation of Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs.
In the beginning, I didn't know this. I was eager to start teaching and thought I could educate the future leaders of Bosnia. However, I found it odd that the cinema had a stench to it. Stench was not a smell or a decomposing body buried beneath the foundation. Old cinema was clean, and every wall, door, and ceiling had a fresh coat of paint. It was like when someone walked into a haunted house, and the place does not feel right. Everything feels wrong, dead wrong. Something evil lurked in there, but one cannot ascribe it with an odor or touch it like an object, but it slapped you in the face when you walked in through the front door. On a hot day, I occasionally felt a cold tingle crept up my spine when I walked into the old cinema, and glanced at the president's constrained smile on the portrait.
Something was wrong with BUM University. Something wasn't right.
Then I met Karl Carlson, a sex-crazed political science professor from Oklahoma. Karl was nearing 60 years old, and he continued chasing young women in their 20s and 30s. Karl still had a full head of white hair and a clean-shaven face. Although Karl was slim, age was leaving its mark on his body. His face had several large deep wrinkles, hanging down in flaps as gravity pulled and tugged at his loosening skin.
I met Karl for the first time at the faculty office. As I walked through the door, Karl turned around in his swivel chair, extended his hand for a handshake, "How'd ya doing partner?"
I grabbed Karl's hand and vigorously shook it and answered, "I'm doing well. My name's Keith. I'm going to teach finance here."
"My name's Karl Carlson. I'm a political science professor. As you can see, this is a community office. Just grab a vacant desk, and write your name on a piece of paper and claim it. By the way, these computers are ancient. I hope you brought a laptop with you."
"Alright, thanks for the info. I have my laptop right here," I stated while I patted the black laptop case for emphasis.
I sat at a corner desk with a window view of the courtyard. Then I moved the computer mouse and waited at least two minutes before the screen saver switched to the desktop. These ancient computers were slow.
Veronika walked quickly into the office.
Karl began his sexual harassment and bellowed, "Did I ever tell you Veronika that you are the most beautiful woman in this room?"
Veronica stopped and turned to face Karl, and replied in jest, "Well Karl, I'm the only woman in this room," Then she walked by him, staying out of reach of Karl's pinching fingers.
Karl continued, "How about I take you out for dinner tonight?"
"Karl, I know you are married. You have a Ukrainian wife living in Oklahoma."
"I won't tell if you don't," Then Karl winked at her and added, "I can keep a secret if you can?"
Veronika shook her head no as a large grin swept across her face.
Bosnian women were very traditional and enjoyed men's attention as long as the men admired them from a distance.
As Veronika approached me, she greeted, "Hi, Professor Swanson. I am glad you could make it here. Is everything okay?"
"Thank you Veronika. I'm doing well. I'm still getting used to my surroundings."
"Great! I just wanted to welcome you to the university. I would also like to schedule a meeting with you. Bosnian government requires many documents. I need your passport, your original college degrees, and official transcripts. Could we meet in my office on Friday at 10 o'clock?"
"That shouldn't be a problem. I'll be there."