“Yes. I’m looking to book a trip,” Nicky replied, truly not believing the words were coming from her mouth.
“You’re in the right place. Right this way.” She guided Nicky to a small, cluttered office with photographs and trinkets from travel. “Have a seat. Would you like some tea or coffee?”
Nicky slumped into a cushioned chair. “Tea, no coffee.”
Tina poured coffee into a ceramic mug and handed it to Nicky. “Now, where would your spirit like to take you?”
Nicky choked on her coffee. “Huh? My spirit?”
Tina laughed. “It’s kind of my joke, tag line as they say. We all have this desire, this pull to travel somewhere. Somewhere, where our soul longs to be. Where does your soul, your spirit, want to go?”
“Sumkino, Siberia,” Nicky asserted.
Tina release a dull laugh. “Okay, not one of our most popular destination.” She rounded her desk to sit before her computer.
“It’s where my spirit wants to take me,” Nicky replied.
“Ah. O-kay. Do you have family, or friends there?” Tina asked.
Tina raised her eyes in curiosity as she searched for information on Sumkino. Her face soured.
“What’s the matter?” Nicky asked.
“Nothing. Very industrial. You know, it’s on the outskirts of Tobolsk which is beautiful. It is the place of the Eastern Kremlin. How long would you like to stay?”
Nicky snickered. “Hold on while I confer with my spirit.”
Tina watched Nicky shut her eyes and sit in quiet meditation for a minute.
She opened her eyes and grinned at Tina. “A week should do it,” Nicky replied with surprising confidence.
“It seems your spirit sure knows what she wants,” Tina replied and typed information into her computer.
“Would your spirit be interested in riding the Trans Siberian Railroad? I hear it is quite stunning.”
“No. Not really. Would it be possible to hire a guide, an interpreter?” Noticing Tina’s curious expression, she continued. “I will be going to do some research.” She sat forward, tempting to give Tina her crazy truth. “You see, I’m possessed by an immigrant painter who I believe wants to see her homeland before she passes to the next realm.” She sighed relieved to get it out. “I’ll need someone to help me get around. I don’t know any Russian. Da. Nyet. That’s about it.”
Tina stared at her stunned. “Oh-kaaaay. Um. Let me see what I can do for you.” She typed onto her keypad and studied her monitor. Best flights are going through Tyumen and then a short drive up to Tobolsk. What kind of guide are you looking for?”
“Che-. Inexpensive. Someone personable and has good English,” Nicky replied.
“Let me put together a package for you and I’ll email it to you. I can probably send you something by tomorrow morning.” She looked over Nicky carefully. “Is that good with your… spirit?”
“Perfect,” Nicky rose from her seat and setting the cup on the table. “My spirit thanks you.”
“No problem,” Tina replied with an uneasy grin.
A burden had been lifted off her shoulders as she headed back to her car. She checked her appearance in the window, relieved to see her own face and not Kira Karimov’s. “Still Nicky Schaeffer,” she said grasping the steering well.