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Synopsis

His name was Vladislav Kuznetsov, and he had been a twenty-one-year-old student at Mount Harwell College in Mount Harwell, Ohio. On a Friday afternoon, March 24, 2001, he succumbed to a sudden attack of spring fever and cut his classes for a stroll in a public park near the campus. Even after fifty years and several hundred centuries, he remembered it as vividly as though it had happened an hour before.

It was a warm, fresh day with a promise of spring--the first really pleasant day of the year after the usual vagaries of a midwest winter. He strolled leisurely through the park, thinking with shameless delight of the stuffy classrooms he was avoiding. Eventually he seated himself on a patch of greening grass with a convenient tree to lean against and enjoyed the soft breeze and the peaceful surroundings while he absently whittled on a twig he had picked up. He felt sleepy. Probably he dozed off.

Then came a tremendous jerk, like having a chair pulled from under him at the same instant that a truck hit him, and he almost lost consciousness. He landed with a painful bump and skidded for a short distance along a very rough wood floor. For a moment he sat gazing about him dazedly. He had been abruptly translated from his seat on the ground in a pleasant park on a lovely spring day to a seat on a wood floor in a large, dim room with a thunderstorm raging outside. He had a distinct impression that the two scenes had been linked by an earthquake. He tried hard to focus his thoughts, staring first at a table where a candle burned brightly and then at an animal tied to one of the table's legs by a short leash. It was a hairy pig. He raised his eyes to the room's two small, water-streaked windows and saw nothing beyond but branches swaying in a strong wind...

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