The rain fell steadily on that cold September morning in Prague. In spite of it being summer, rains often made an appearance in the form of a prologue to violent storms.
Precisely what Berta was fearing, she did not know, but as she read the morning newspaper, a familiar chill crept up her spine, not caused in the least by the gloomy weather. Her long, golden hair fell in a neat, beautiful mess behind her shoulders. She absent-mindedly kept stirring the tea in her cup, not realizing that the sugar had long dissolved.
At one end of the narrow cobbled street, the building she lived in stood wet and solemn, facing another structure of similar architecture and flanked by a dead-end and an identical building on either side.
At the other end of the street, a car rolled to a halt with a confident finality that belied the nondescript location of the street. A man in a dark grey suit stepped out from the back seat and pulled the overcoat tightly around himself, slightly nervous at the task ahead of him. His experienced eyes surveyed the lane on either side of him. Taking a deep breath, he set off towards the dead-end, his black leather boots echoing a dull, muffled thud on the wet cobblestones. He screwed his eyes into narrow slits as he gazed upwards. A solitary drop managed finding its way into his eyes nevertheless. As he pulled his hat further down, he looked around him. All the small buildings were colored in a consistent shade of beige. The dark, cobblestoned path and low, grey skies made the red tiled roofs on the buildings the only bright spot in Prague, he thought. He counted one hundred and twenty eight windows in eight buildings and tried to clear his mind. The suitcase felt heavier in his hand as he approached the last building.
Berta had finished her tea. The cup had turned cold quickly. She had just pulled her legs up from the floor into the relative warmth of the sofa and her thighs, when the doorbell rang in a shrill, long monotone. She jumped at the sound, the sense of foreboding within her increasing considerably. For a moment, she stood frozen near the sofa, not daring to move.
The man stood outside the door, alert and apprehensive. He rang the doorbell for the second time; this time a lot shorter. He hoped inwardly that no one would open the door, but the very next instant he heard the lock turning. The door swung open and he took his hat off and held it under the arm in which he held the suitcase.
Bowing slightly, he asked, “Are you Mrs. Berta Dvorsky?”
Berta whispered, “Yes.”
“Is your husband Captain Bojan Dvorsky?”
She nodded, her throat dry.
“Ma’am, I regret to inform you that…”
Berta collapsed and fainted.