Major Ivan Kuchenko, a Russian defector, is sleeping in a cheap hotel in a neutral European city when the phone rings. He answers it and the man at the other end talks to him by name and says that he’s contacting Kuchenko on behalf of his “friends.” The man asks Kuchenko to stay in the hotel room and prepare for a visitor. Kuchenko is unaware that the man, Commissar Vassiloff, is in a darkened room across the alleyway and is watching his every move along with his henchman Boris. Boris wonders why they’re waiting to kill Kuchenko and Vassiloff tells him that Kuchenko’s death will be a work of art.
Vassiloff knocks on the door a little later and Kuchenko ushers him in at gunpoint. Vassiloff talks of Russia and Kuchenko says that he was imprisoned in Siberia. Vassiloff notes that Kuchenko was a political prisoner held in Siberia for 12 years before he escaped and tried to flee to the West. Kuchenko remembers that Vassiloff was one of his interrogators, who stood in the shadows and gloried in his pain.
Vassiloff offers Kuchenko a drink from a bottle of wine he’s brought with him. Kuchenko scorns the effort but Vassiloff assures him that it isn’t poisoned. As he prepares to drink, Vassiloff explains that he is an artist in execution and plans to make Kuchenko’s death a particularly ingenious one. Vassiloff takes a drink and offers Kuchenko the bottle. Kuchenko scornfully drinks it and boasts that he’s going to kill Vassiloff. Vassiloff, amused, notes that he plans to make Kuchenko’s death a long one in tribute to his abilities. Kuchenko collapses to the floor, unconscious.
Three hours later, Kuchenko wakes up and finds a tape recorder left behind. Vassiloff has left a recorded message informing Kuchenko that he has built up immunity to the drug in the wine bottle. He explains that there’s a booby trap hidden somewhere in the room, attached to a common item. Kuchenko has three hours to find it and if he succeeds, Vassiloff will let him go free. If Kuchenko fails, or tries to escape or turn off the lights, he’ll be shot through the head. Kuchenko spots Boris across the alleyway but starts searching.
Boris follows Kuchenko’s careful search for the bomb as he checks the door knob, the books, and a drawer. Finally Kuchenko checks the phone and Vassiloff tells Boris that the telephone is booby trapped… but it will only go off when an incoming call is answered. Kuchenko tries to cover the window with a blanket but Boris opens fire, driving him back.
Kuchenko has no success finding the bomb. With ten minutes left, Vassiloff puts his plan into motion. He calls the room and Kuchenko starts to answer the phone… and then stops. Frustrated, Vassiloff rings again. Kuchenko starts to reach for the phone, but runs out of the room as Boris opens fire and misses. Vassiloff and Boris go to check out the room and wonder how Kuchenko realized what the trap was. Vassiloff is confident that he’ll find Kuchenko in the next city, and won’t underestimate him again. The phone rings and Boris automatically picks it up. The bomb goes off, killing both men.
At the airport, Kuchenko smiles in triumph as the operator informs him that the other party has been disconnected. Hanging up, he heads for his flight. Share this article with your friends