Melanie Underhill

The Double - Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin

Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, The Double by Fjodor Michailowitsch Dostojewski


Alexei had been climbing up the hill of Moscow’s bourgeois district for already ten minutes when the first drops of sweat grew on his temples before they travelled across his face and fell to the ground. He was on his way to a meeting with Igor Basharow, a man that had up until then been unknown to him. Igor Basharow, the president of the institute for genetic manipulation, had sent Alexei a letter a few days ago with a kind request to meet him today at 14.00 at his house. With doubts but even more curiosity Alexei had accepted the invitation and now finally reached the house that belongs to Igor Basharow.

A little nervous and unsure Alexei stepped up the first steps holding on to a balustrade that led him up on to a veranda-like entry seamed with columns. The entry was entirely cased with dark wooden panels which gave it – together with the columns – a representative and noble character. Climbing the stairs, all of a sudden not only one but two entry doors appeared. For a second he asked himself if it matters which door he would take. As there were no doorbells, Alexei grew more and more confused.

Meanwhile, Igor had prepared a kettle with tea for his guest and got out all the files he wanted to go through with Alexei to make the delicate issue as comprehensible as possible for Alexei. He sat in an armchair in the corner of a room, lit by two windows and waited for the water in the kettle to boil.

With the last step that Alexei took, he decided to knock on the door straight ahead of him. He knocked once, then again, but Igor did not hear this, as the kettle was howling in that very moment.

Hesitantly, Alexei opened the door an stepped into the house. His glimpse followed the walls surrounding him. The room seemed to have both interior as well as exterior façades, some made of bricks, but not all of them. This all enhanced his confusion and Alexei took a deep breath to calm himself down.

Igor Basharow was in the middle of getting the pot of tea, when he heard the entry door opening and  Alexei’s footsteps. He had heard the church-bell striking 2 o’clock only a few minutes before, so he was prepared to get a visitor.

Standing a little bit lost in the room, Alexei finally heard the voice of Igor Basharow and felt relief. It was an unknown voice up until then to him, a delicate and sophisticated voice, Alexei liked the sound of it.

Igor Basharov:

«Alexei, how glad I am to see you today and welcome you here in my house. Thank you for making it all the way up the hill. It is an important issue that I want to talk with you about. »

With his gaze following the patterned floor, Alexei could finally see Igor. He was opening a sliding door at the very other end of the room visible to Alexei and stepped towards him. Igor Basharov was dressed elegantly, his appearance was just like his voice, delicate and charming. Alexei replied in a low and stumbling voice, a little bit intimidated and uneasy:


«Good day, Mr. Basharow. Thank you for the invitation. I have to tell you though that I only have time until 3 o’clock. What is it, that I came here for? 

Igor Basharov:

«Alexei, I guess I have some information for you, there is something you should know.»

Not feeling very convinced and rather in a defensive tone, Alexei replied:

«What could that be? You know, I am happy if I could just enjoy my Sunday in peace. So, what news do you have for me? I am curious to hear what made me climb that steep hill.»

Igor Basharov:

«First of all, I am Igor Basharov and I am the president of the institute for genetic manipulation. We have been contacted by the police, as they have had several murder cases where peoples’ genetic information has been stolen to commit crimes. Something here seems to get out of hand and we have to stop it!»

Curious but not grasping what is going on, Alexei replied:

«This is all of no interest to me. What do I have to do with it?»

Alexei grew more and more uneasy and nervous about the situation and sweat appeared on his temples once again. At this point he wished he would not be where he was. He came to the house without expecting anything like this. Igor Basharov could now tell that Alexei was very uneasy and tried to loosen up the situation. Igor stepped closer, reaching his arm towards Alexei offering his hand. It did help and Alexei stepped more into the room too. He passed the sliding door and the two men greeted with a firm handshake in the middle of the room.

Igor Basharov:

«I am afraid to say, but in one case, your identity was used. After it had been stolen by the murderer, he used it to attain your identity, overwrite his own and a crime was executed.»


«What? My identity? But… But how?»

Igor Basharov:

«That is what we are trying to find out. You are here because I want to warn you and to protect you. We need to find out what is going on, who is doing this and how he or she is doing it to prevent this from happening any further.»

Alexei started to notice some strange things about the space he had been in. More and more steel columns appeared, supporting steal beams and on top of that even more beams, made of concrete, crossing and intersecting. It was startling and not easy to grasp this all. Alexei rubbed his eyes intensely, as if to make sure he is awake and not in a dream, but no: This was real.

Igor Basharov said suggesting:

«Why don’t we step outside and catch a breath of fresh air before discussing all further details.»

Alexei agreed and stepped towards the oriel. He stepped outside and saw the entire city beneath him. He took a deep breath, turned around as it was rather narrow and saw the entity of the house with all its elements for the first time.

The puzzlement in his eyes was impossible to hide.