Kirill was pursued by some ill fate. Or maybe a healthy and kind one. It was quite difficult to find out, because when you have already sailed away from old coasts and haven’t moored to new ones, and only a boundless blue sea of life is lying ahead of you with no signs of tempting far-away coast, – it’s really hard to tell when, actually, something out of an ordinary will surface itself on your course of sailing, and extremely harder to find out whether it was for good or for bad. City just like a city, sea as a sea. The sea was a cold one, however, and the city was rainy – but even the great Peter wasn’t powerful enough to change that … except, perhaps, for the Saint Peter – yet even that is not a fact by all means.

And what really disturbed Kirill, who like any other true IT specialist was devoting almost all of his life to own metal computer friend, were the cases of so-called “dejavu”, which became frequent recently. A strange word, and no less strange phenomenon, which has been annoying Kirill for several last month already, precisely like a sea iceberg standing on the path of his ship, the most significant and invisible part of which was, as it usually goes, inaccessible for common human sight, being hidden either in the depths of memory or in the waters of destiny.

This wonder of nature manifested itself variously. It could be a dream in which he, being dressed in exotic black cylinder and dress coat, was travelling along familiar streets of St. Petersburg with some excessively unusual titles in an old Slavic language, as if they were given names only recently by willful Peter the Great himself. Or he could be rushing through some sort of cellars in these dreams, vainly trying to locate his companions, who have been recently seized and taken away from there. Or he could come to some Anichkov Bridge and stand idle like captivated for ten or so minutes, so that people, hurrying for their works, start looking askance at him as if he was some kind of a madman.

– And what if I am truly going crazy? – he was thinking from time to time, when current streams of objective and subjective realities mixed up to such an extent that it was no longer possible to distinguish them from one another. – No way, just don’t get enough sleep, – he calmed himself down over and over again.

And it could happen that he starts discussing architecture of some new software module with his colleagues and analysts, begins to argue, turns angry and blurts out something in the spirit of: “Fuck off to Admiralteyskaya Embankment in a post chaise!” And then he stands with his mouth wide opened and cannot answer even to himself – why is that a post chaise and Admiralteyskaya, anyway?

And the other day he even went to a roof of St. Isaac’s Cathedral with some kind of Chinese tourist group and started performing “Kalinka-Malinka” dance with imagined music in the face of stupefied public under the gaze of tens of smartphones cameras. And we should actually admit it, that he danced such nicely, that these Chinese even applauded him upon finishing of this creative rush, as if he was doing all that specifically to amuse them. He didn’t try that in any sense – even had no real dancing experience in his life – well, not this particular life, in any case.

Is that even normal, aye? Computer has replaced him both friends and a girlfriend for many years, which weren’t noticeable even on the horizon of his life, and he dances on roofs of buildings during own day offs! Perhaps, nature itself mixed in something special into this autumn air of St. Petersburg city, forgetting to warn weather forecasters and all the others, less skilled in respect of knowledge of her possible surprises, residents of the cultural capital? And, possibly, Kirill just got bothered with going down the stream of small sea of his private life and decided to discover new depths of his creative potential? Unfortunately, we were not told about his true motives – and we are absolutely uncertain, if he himself gave any thought to it.

Yet dejavu, most likely, perfectly knew it – and decided to surrender to Kirill once and as a whole. So here and now he was standing, looking at the “Admiralty spike”, glorified by a classical poet, and different, almost alive images were rushing before his eyes.

Noises of post chaises. Footfall of horse legs. Newsdealers, crying something aloud on city streets, swinging with their huge newspaper sheets. The team of workers, hurrying on a pavement, being supervised by a gendarme. Two ladies in ancient wide-brimmed dresses with small white lacy umbrellas, who were slowly walking through a park together with their small manual doggies. Looking totally different “Humorous park” of Peterhof. Regiment of imperial soldiers, marching on the square by a fountain…

As if some other life, another reality in Kirill’s consciousness was laid upon this one, recognized by all considering themselves adequate people as the only existing, only real one. This second reality was definitely related to past times, when the humankind didn’t yet launch into cosmos, but just like now people considered themselves as the last unique existing standard of mind and reason.

And what is the reason and where does its standard lie? Maybe, our ancestors from old times were much more reasonable than us, modern ones, rushing about and around in endless searches for personal happiness, being unable to accept the destiny, desired by the highest powers, in whom many of us have ceased believing countless ages ago? Perhaps we, ascended by technological measures contemporaries of ourselves, remorselessly destroying each other, have already massively gone mad even without some mysterious dejavu?

– One can go crazy!

– What did you say? – asked Kirill, who was sharply torn off from inner reflections by a suddenly talking interlocutor.

– I say – damn crazy beautiful city you have here! – repeated this unexpected stranger. – Beautiful city, I tell you! – he laughed, having bared a couple of golden-color teeth.

– Beautiful, yes, – Kirill inertly repeated after him, having not yet come to his usual senses. – And where are you from?

– Me? Baikal region. In a business trip here. You appreciate your city, you do, it’s beautiful, even though wet! Well, farewell! – said short-term stranger and without new excess words went away to fulfill his private affairs elsewhere.

– Honestly beautiful, – Kirill, who started to slide in own thoughts from a wet reality into a cozy and warm himself, was disturbed again by a new voice – this time it was women’s one. The girl of apparently twenty five years leaned the elbows of embankment fence, glancing with interest both at thoughtfully looking afar Kirill and sailing across Neva ships.

– My native, – Kirill replied unwillingly. – And it’s indeed wet. Just like now. You should better cover with umbrella, because it’s possible to get wet and ache even from a drizzle, – with these words he gave his umbrella to a girl.

– Thank you, but I have no need for umbrella. I love rain, – she smiled. – Casts different thoughts and memoirs. Even dejavu sometimes.

– You too? – Kirill looked at her interrogatively.

– What too?

– Well, you said – dejavu. Are you having them too?

– On a constant basis recently. Trapped with no way to escape! – she laughed. – For instance, not further than yesterday I saw a dream where I was walking in the rain and looking at ships – and what do you think? Today I am indeed walking in the rain, looking at ships.

– You’ve got an amazing coincidence here!

– One can say that, – smiled the girl. – You are a local one, huh?

– Since my very birth, which happened I don’t even know how many years back, especially taking all sorts of funny dejavu into account.

– And I moved in here recently, from Chelyabinsk. It’s wet here, but the air is fresh. And it’s easier to remain creative here. I am Liza, by the way, – she introduced herself.

– “Liza, don’t go away”, – Kirill quoted a popular song. – You can call me Kirill. It’s clearly visible that you have arrived here from a mean city, aren’t afraid of rain at all. And what exactly are you creating?

– I am all like that, – smiled recent stranger. – I am a novice artist, painter. There will be an exhibition of my works here soon, so I arrived to this city. Perhaps I should remain here for a longer term, how do you think? – she added, having winked at Kirill.

– Well, you have already prevailed over the rain, as far as I can tell. You only have to win against a dejavu now – and everything will be good and shiny for you, – Kirill answered, smiling. – And I can only paint like a chicken with his paw, by the way. Totally not born for painting.

– Oh, but I don’t want to win against it. My dejavu happens to be so interesting at times! I started feeling myself comfortable with it. Well, sort of a best friend, who is always nearby and with whom you don’t feel yourself wet. And concerning the painting … probably, everyone draws the way he is able to. One can draw, say, with his own deeds – such interesting pictures can be born that way!

– With deeds … yes … I guess you are right, – Kirill got lost in thoughts for several seconds. – By the way, what were your plans for the upcoming days off? Weather forecasters promised us a good weather. Would you like to go for a walk together? We truly have many interesting places for tourists and guests alike. Let’s go to Hermitage?

– It’s possible to take a walk, – girl blushed. – I didn’t manage to visit Hermitage yet. And one of my last dejavu has been already wandering there!

* * *

Two young white-winged men, whose true shape could give humans an abundance of thoughts concerning the possible fact that highest powers exist after all and for all, and don’t care what some earth sceptics might think about their existence, were ironically looking at each other. After so many years their main task was successfully completed, and only a little updating of a course for their wards was awaiting them.

In order to organize a meeting of these aforementioned by us Kirill and Liza these two their invisible curators from the other world had even to resort to the mechanism of awakening of previous memory in souls – a permission for such interference was granted to them from above. And the memory, which is being kept in souls of men, as every even the most inexperienced Guardian Angel well knows, is stronger than the death. Just as the love is.

– A funny name humans thought up for this memory, – Kirill’s curator was thinking, looking as his ward goes on a meeting with Liza, holding a bouquet of roses in his right arm. – Dejavu … what sort of a word!

– Do you remember that dream, which I have shown you? – asked a mental question for Liza her invisible white-winged curator. – The one in which you have met him prior to your real meeting? Tell him about it. You can do it now … now it is your new, most real, drawn with your own deeds reality.

Aauuuuu! Heart-breaking howl of wolves, supported by two dozens of throats, escaped into the night sky, lit with a pale moon.

Auuuuuu! Everything was mixed in this howl – pain from the losses of his companions, hatred to ruthlessly killing them hunters, a hunger that was beating with a faint echo in their stomachs…

Auuuuuu! There she is, the moon. A yellow circle in blackness. Attracting and frightening. Lighting the road in darkness for them. Light of night.

Auuuuuu! He is now a part of the pack. Strong pack. They accepted him. Though he was different once. Doesn’t matter when.

Auuuuuu! Tomorrow new hunting awaits. Such is the order of their leader. Attack of dwellings of the big beings, walking on two paws with their sticks, shooting with beams of light, which have turned many of his comrades into piles of ashes.

Auuuuuu! Fight for their pets, whom they were eating. Not to starve to death. Fight to the death.

Auuuuuu! Many of those, whom he knew during these three years, were already taken away by the great queen of the night, who has given them the moonlight. Death from hands of orthograde hunters. Death of the brave.

Auuuuuu! The smell of their pets, the sound of the cartilages, torn apart by his canine teeth, blood, streaming from their wounds. Such a sweet meat. Sweet prey.

Auuuuuu! Hunger. The stomach, clenching from it in pain. Tomorrow this pain will stop. They will attack under the hood of night. Will be sated. Will then hide from hunters. Confuse traces. Tear with claws.

Auuuuuu! He remembered that he was different once. Not one of their kind. Didn't remember when. Long ago. Not important any more.

Auuuuuu! He had an owner. House. Big house. The owner died. Someone another lodged in the house. Expelled him away.

Auuuuuu! Pain of loss. He strayed on roads. On fields. Through woods. Had no more powers. Wanted to die. Hunger led him into depths. There he found the Pack. Found his brothers. Became one of them.

Auuuuuu! He sings his praising song to the great moon and twilight of the night. They are their cover. They are their support. Will not survive without them.

Auuuuuu! Yellow eyes of the moon. Almost like their own.

Auuuuuu! They bit hunters to death too. Those that have strayed away from their pack. Their meat was rigid. Cannot argue with hunger, though.

Auuuuuu! When he had lived in the big house with his owner, colorful pictures came to him during nights. Cannot recall their name any longer. Too old reminiscence.

Auuuuuu! Images were strange. He had two legs instead of four in them. He was orthograde. Almost like hunters.

Auuuuuu! It is dreadful to remember. Images. In them he was a … person? Strange word, almost forgotten, almost lost. Striking with intolerable pain.

Auuuuuu! The person in his night pictures was pitiful and mean. Worse than a dog. Wolf in sheep's clothing. Wolf … a strange word.

Auuuuuu! The person deceived and betrayed others. Did foul things. Bad person. Bad!

Auuuuuu! Bad! The person was told, that he is worse than a dog. The person only laughed, showing his golden canines with a smoking stick inside. Lots of evil came from that person.

Auuuuuu! Then the person became an inveterate drunkard. Was left alone. No longer necessary. Both he, and to him. Worse than a dog.

Auuuuuu! Strange pictures, tormenting his memory. Yet there was something in them. Like he was once another. Not even when he lived with the owner. Earlier, much earlier.

Auuuuuu! Pictures come in flashes. Bright, in his eyes. Brighter than the moon. It is terrible to recall.

Auuuuuu! The person waited. Not here. In another place. Totally different. Waited for so long. As well as all people. But this one wasn’t a man. Worse than a dog.

Auuuuuu! The person was estimated. His way was. Unworthy.

Auuuuuu! Unworthy! Pain, pain, pain! It is terrible to remember!

Auuuuuu! Something happened to the person. He changed. Four legs instead of two. Not worse than a dog.

Auuuuuu! The person lost his memory. Have forgotten! No more former consciousness. Didn’t deserve. Was erased.

Auuuuuu! Lead me on, great moon! Accept us in your embraces, queen night! Satisfy our hunger, sooth our pain! Let us stick our canines into hated hunters, let us get drunk from the blood of their pets!

Auuuuuu! There is no person any longer. Not a person, but a dog. Not a dog, but a wolf.

Auuuuuu! Bad pain. Bad memory. Bad person. Good wolf.

Auuuuuu! People, where are you? How many of you are there? Not enough people. Too many wolves.

Auuuuuu! Tomorrow they will feast on human blood, satisfy their hunger. It will be nourishing. Pictures will go away. Bad pictures.

Auuuuuu! Then they will be followed by hunters. Terrible hunters with killing beam sticks. And they will be left with only one option. To tear them apart!

– Ave! Did you check yesterday thought-mail? I left there a couple of new messages, concerning our couple and temporary-spatial coordinates for their potential meeting.

– Aye-aye, comrade sergeant, I checked on that. But you know that I have little experience yet, afraid to miss my target. And what exactly happens to people when you do miss – they haven’t yet told this to us in the Academy, we were only given a generic induction, concerning safety measures and usage of bows.

– Well, that depends on how you miss it, – his current curator answered to the cadet with a smile. – It’s possible to miss the way that you will feel sorry for all their lives, and they will never remember you by either a kind word or a warm thought. For example, if you strike their heads instead of hearts, they will respect each other with a guarantee – but hardly will pass hand-in-hand through, as we say, fire, water and trumpets of Jericho. If your arrows hit their stomach spot, they will certainly love without fail – yet not each other, but their own refrigerators, especially at night, especially after 6 P.M. And if you happen to strike, well, below their stomach – the flame of passion in their relations will be able to burn them alive, but a warm flame of love will never spark. And our mission is to give them love. So – keep training with phantoms and don’t miss, – with these words the man with white wings and golden feather on his head, that was called as sergeant, approvingly clapped his workmate in new given to both of them mission and stood close to him at a shooting loophole of the fortress, observing with a smile how curly-headed pink morning clouds keep floating below.

– Thanks for explanations, comrade sergeant. I will surely consider that in my trainings!

– And also when you pull a bowstring, move your wings back as well so the tension will get stronger, and impulse of Cupid will exceed one hundred of spiritual units upon hitting. If it gets below that value – they can indifferently pass by each other and will hardly have anything between them in the future. And if it gets greater than one hundred – it will always work, verified by experience.

– Comrade sergeant, and why should this happen near a bus-stop? You wrote that to me in thought-mail yesterday. I, certainly, formed today a path for him there, made arrangements with colleagues, estimated times, gave him a couple of necessary thoughts, even shown a dream about this upcoming meeting. Yet I still don’t understand – why are they supposed to meet with each other there instead of a nearby park, it’s located not far away and there are less people there, it would be more comfortable for them to communicate with each other afterwards.

– And this, pal, was not my will, but the higher one. I am too small and inexperienced myself to solve tasks like management of destinies, – sergeant burst out laughing. – Department of Destinies Control provided me with all required data, when I was appointed to this task. And there, as you well know, serious pals are working, and everything turns out to be calculated and verified by them in advance. It’s you, pals, who should be taught almost everything, even how to properly hold one’s bow so that tears don’t splash from one’s eyes. So, should I demonstrate you how to strike a heart of humans so that their souls sing in joy afterwards?

– Aye-aye, comrade sergeant, please demonstrate!

– Well, pal, look thoroughly! – skilled Angel-curator answered to the cadet, taking his bow from a belt. – Do you see phantoms of two people, created by me on that cloud? And now I just – w-h-o-s-h! – and loudly singing in the air arrow accurately pierced hearts of two targets that were standing one after another.

– My God! – cadet exclaimed in surprise. – Two in a row! Cupid impulse equals to two thousands of spiritual units!

– Study, pal! Only that way they can be laid together in a row! – laughed the sergeant.


Today – if such a concept is applicable for worlds where time goes non-linearly – it was very briskly in the Academy. One can imagine! First spiritual-battle experience is not a joke at all, especially if there is a responsibility for a couple of two future lovers, lying on your wings.

Angela cadets, who were yet to be engaged into their first battle, accurately soared above the ground, holding bows of golden color in their hands. These bows along with specifically shaped for them arrows were the well-known invention of the legendary engineer Cupid, who has graduated from Angelic Military Academy with honors a lot of eons ago, and their most valued ability was to strike humans to death – in the sense that after direct hit in their hearts all negative feelings, created by opponents of Angels, were gradually dying away, obeying to imperious call of born sincere love. Actually, many people usually called these masters of arrows and bows by name of the inventor – even though this was incorrect, for each of them possessed his unique name, granted from above and difficult to pronounce in common for humans language.

This Academy was well-known in the Seven Worlds. Reminding unapproachable fortress, soaring in the air over the clouds, which were dimming the sky, it was a home for many of the best military engineers and smithy of a highest class of warriors. And one of these classes were such Cupids.

– Hold on! Quietly! Stand up in the air above the ground by the length of wings! – Elderly colonel, who has come through many battles with demons and was deprived by them of a half of his wing, was giving orders to cadets, who have arrived to firing practice, walking by parade-ground made from shining stones. – Divide into pairs for training firing practice! Move on to loopholes!

Colonel walked to and fro from one loophole to another, checking combat readiness of his future soldiers and correcting from time to time their fighting stance, position of wings, validity of chosen targets, tension of arrows and a lot of other extremely important aspects in a life of each and every real Cupid. – Is everyone ready? – he asked at last.

– Aye-aye, comrade colonel! – hundreds of Angels, standing near castle loopholes, answered him as a chorus.

– Fire at will!

It was surprisingly quiet today in the Hall of Destinies.

However, “today” would be insufficiently exact term for the description time movement in its common for physical worlds concept and form. Time could pass totally nonlinearly here – to either accelerate or slow down; to twist in a spiral, forming similar in character events in diverse lower worlds at different intervals of their evolutionary model’s realization; in rare cases it could even cease its perpetual motion completely in several – and, first of all, strictly determined lower worlds, – if one of Observers needed to make corrections to the highest evolutionary model of such a world. It only couldn’t be turned back – and this is the only and most serious restriction, which has been voluntarily assumed by each Observer, who was taking up a post, for almost an uncountable number of galactic cycles by the standards of lower physical worlds.

It was quiet in the Hall of Destinies.

Not in the sense that is assumed by the imperfect mind of representatives of unlimited number of civilizations, endlessly evolving in the physical worlds, by meaning the lack of difficulties or troubles during their own short-term corporal life, – but in a totally different one, appropriate for those whose tasks included observation and control of fates of infinite number of secondary worlds and all inhabiting them living beings.

This hall was extraordinary large and existed in several dimensions simultaneously. Its multiple projections, much like reflections in mirrors, each one by itself could give only a very superficial idea of its true beauty and form. In a three-dimensional space, which is common for a number of underdeveloped civilizations of secondary worlds, it reminded a hall of some official government institution with huge going upwards colonnades, from almost unreachable heights of which a light of golden and silver colors were flowing, smoothly, precisely like a feather, touching walls and a floor, forming on its way images that by desires and will of Observers were reflecting investigated by them civilizations and events, which were taking place – or have already occurred, or could happen with certain probabilities – in lower, or physical, worlds. Forms of these light reflections could vary greatly – sailing ships that were navigating through oceans and symbolizing different nations in some of secondary worlds and their interactions with each other; birds, soaring in the sky, reflecting concepts and ideas which reigned over minds and souls of people; promptly twisting and raging whirlwinds and tornadoes, representing confusions and misfortunes of both individual inhabitants of observed worlds and their groups in general; fogs of claret and gray colors that were enveloping separate fragments of this hall’s floor and were connected with origin and formation of new star systems and civilizations; fountains, that were sparkling on light with sprayed water drops, from time to time giving a birth to wondrous rainbows, not without a reason serving as harbingers of happy events…

Forms and images, created by this inflowing light of the highest spheres, were so various and, let us agree on that, unique, that any representative of even the most advanced of civilizations of the lower worlds, if he had been given a great joy of observing the work of Observers from outside, in literal sense would hold his spirit, given to him by the Maker, being bonded by invisible force with a floor’s section for a period of observation.

The floor of the Hall of Destinies – or, in some cases, its separate fragments, – could voluntarily, or, following the will of various workers, change their drawing pattern and transparency, so that someone standing on any cell of this floor could all of a sudden – or foreknowing in advance – find out in the next moment that he, for example, is standing precisely on a galactic map, and planets from one of infinite set of star systems of the physical world keep floating beneath him in their mutually attractive dance. One could imagine the surprise of a casual observer, standing on one of these fragments! But Observers could be observed only by their Supreme Coordinator, and he during that very instant – if the concept of “instant” could be somehow correlated to the concept of “eternity” – was living outside of these high walls, observing his creation from within.

For the duration of uncountable eons, which were better known to advanced civilizations as galactic cycles, of time that was streaming like a water, the Observer behold many ascensions and demises of civilizations, whose development he has been monitoring. A great diversity of physical forms of their representatives – humanoid-birds, living on slopes of mountain worlds; reasonable, reminding mermaids inhabitants of oceanic worlds with their underwater cities, stretching for thousands of miles; large ant-like dwellers of industrial civilizations, who have built vast networks of underground tunnels and were controlled by collective intelligence of their lords; humanoids that were similar to orthograde octopuses and possessed strongest telepathic abilities; enormous butterflies, soaring over the plants that were rising on hundreds of meters over the surface of their native world – that seemed totally alien and inappropriate for a citizen of primitive civilizations, – were habitual to a mind’s eye of the one, who has watched formation and development of several tens of thousands of others.

The Observer had no right to interfere directly – others descended into physical worlds for this purpose – or, to be more exact, entered glowing portals, located in another section of the hall, – both chosen souls of representatives of these civilizations for their repeated corporal embodiment, as well as other much greater and perfect spirits. The Observer could warn others of the need for intervention and adjustments to a development course of free-willed civilizations, if a probability of its demise due to deviation from evolutionary course was becoming extremely high.

Lots of former great civilizations have disappeared from physical worlds long ago, having left their mournful trace only in the informational annals of the highest world as a lesson for civilizations of the future and a study material for new Observers. How many reasons and ways to bury themselves were in the arsenal of inexperienced civilizations, to what serious consequences imperfect consciousness and ethics of their representatives led them!

Among all them there were those, who have destroyed themselves and own native worlds in civil wars. There were also those, who during uncontrolled processes of hyper consumption completely exhausted resources of their native world, making it unsuitable for living. There were those, who were ruined by the science, worshipped by them and artificially imbued with qualities of infallibility – whether it was the destruction of microorganisms, necessary for the biosphere, or a creation attempt of inanimate clones of their own representatives, that was the greatest violation of the Third Commandment of the Highest World. Also listed as dead were those ones, who tried to improve their physical shapes with different mechanical implants or violent genetic changes of own population. There were those races, who were subdued and then destroyed by artificially thinking sentient machines, for they failed to designate a correct border and limits of artificial intelligence techs that were developed by them. There were those being bewitched by opening perspectives of management of existential points for the commission of interstellar spaceships jumps, who didn’t manage to build steadily working portals and were absorbed by artificially created analogs of galactic “black holes”. Among untimely died ones there were those who tried to operate the fourth and fifth dimensions and to fully transfer own kin there, but as a result were absorbed by rifts of spatial matter that were created during these scientific experiments. Finally, there were those, whose planets were just subjected to sterilization during interstellar wars by a more technologically advanced and aggressive opponent… In a word, no matter how high was the technological level of observed during eons civilizations, but arrogance, cruelty and stupidity of their citizens were always going hand in hand with a sad fate.

For this reason several eons ago the Council of Observers has made a decision on creation of group of the most advanced peaceful civilizations, that were following a strict internal ethics code and were capable to enlighten representatives of other races in case of compliance of their spiritual level to those technical miracles, which these civilizations possessed. To give too much tech to aggressive civilization was inadmissible, as it meant either almost guaranteed self-destruction of lower civilization in a short term or an attempt to cause harm to one of the members of Intergalactic League. To give to a barbaric by the standards of League civilization any scientific discovery, that greatly exceeds their technological level, was meant to betray both a League and its ethics, and at best such an action from any of its members was punished by its exclusion from the League for eternity.

For a long time Observers have been studying tendencies of young civilizations development and their potential readiness for a meeting with representatives of the League – because such a meeting for primitive civilizations of physical world symbolized the end of habitual to them history, destruction of a set of scientific and social theories, a revolution in consciousness and understanding of own place in the universe, meaning of life and death.

Images in the mirror sphere, that were reflecting star systems, slid and smoothly replaced each other. Following Observer’s passes, this sphere rotated from one side to another, allowing to analyze a state of civilizations in adjacent galactic sectors. Today his attention was directed to one from a several tens of primitive civilizations that were located in the same sector, whose inhabitants were calling their world as the “Earth”. A strange name for the world, covered with such number of seas and oceans.

By all canons of intergalactic League, this civilization was absolutely barbaric, and the greatest dangers to its existence lied in attempts to violate the Third Commandment together with continuous inner planetary wars, raging throughout centuries. How many attempts of its rescue have been made, how many adjustment evolutionary scenarios were considered, and how much more has to be done in order to correct its self-destructive course. Even the question of compulsory intervention of the League was brought up and then postponed. Yet not the question of this civilization’s fate disturbed the Observer today – during his immortal life he has seen a lot of most different fates – but the question of fate of his Coordinator, who was living there at this very moment, in this small, inconspicuous for the detached onlooker, yet beautiful world.

The Observer inclined over the sphere, calculating and verifying scenarios and adjustments. He knew firsthand how hard the way of the evolution of consciousness is.

In this most significant for him day Artem Sergeyevich was, as they say, out of sorts. As a matter of fact, his spirit, which has grown extremely tired from a fifty-years life, was a flyer of sorts, soaring over a silently lying in a bed body, performing such sorts of air pirouettes, which would surely give a birth to envy in hearts of even the best of human stuntmen and acrobats. The body in its turn didn’t show even the slightest signs of what is usually considered to be the only one given to a human life. And how hard did the spirit of Artem Sergeyevich try to bring it back to life! He even tried both slaps in a face and uppercuts – yet no to avail.

“What, did I really died?” – the spirit, floating over a body, was thinking to himself. – “Silently, touching and warning in advance no one, died in a dream? And for what’s sake was all that, I would like to know? And where should I, as a matter of fact, go on now?”

Whatever you may say, but hard is the realization that you are still alive and standing nearby already breathless corpse, and not every Artem Sergeyevich can easily bear with it. Having performed some more dozens of somersaults and finally convinced himself, that he is indeed a little bit off himself – at least habitual to himself – the spirit of Artem Sergeyevich silently sat down on the edge of a bed near his last vessel, and got lost in thoughts.

“What did I live for – and for whose sake did I die? What was the meaning of this, so suddenly ended life, if it turned out all of a sudden that it was not the only one? What is life and why do we need death, eventually? Where have I got and what do I do now?” – these and a great number of similar to these questions soared in a consciousness of incorporeal Artem Sergeyevich, and the lack of clear answers to them forced his spirit to become more and more out of sorts.

He was distracted from these sad afterlife reflections by someone’s soft coughing behind his back. From a surprise, the spirit of Artem Sergeyevich made yet another somersault, turning towards a source of sound. Directly in front of him a beautifully looking – perhaps even to a degree of how Artem Sergeyevich thought about himself some thirty corporal years ago – young man with snow-white wings was standing.

– Ghm! – perplexedly said Artem Sergeyevich.

– And kind spirit to you as well! – young man said in reply.

– Who are you, actually, and what’s your name? And why do you creep towards me to silently?

– You can call me as the Guide of the Other World, – young winged man replied kindly. – I was sent here to help you to orient in these, so to say, unusual for you circumstances, and further to accompany you through all necessary instances.

– Indeed! Circumstances are truly unusual, – agreed Artem Sergeyevich. – I have died, damn it! And I had thought that I would live forever! It’s absolutely unusual!

– In the highest, that is, in spiritual degree, – smiled the Guide. – Not every day we are given a privilege do die, isn’t it? Though some people began to consider that they have been dying since own birth… So, are you prepared to move further?

– And where shall we go, I would like to know? – Artem Sergeyevich interrogatively raised his eyebrows. – Don’t I need to say final goodbye to my relatives? I, by the way, had two children and a wife in this former world. It’s very unlikely that they will rejoice of hearing about my sudden death.

– I am afraid, Artem Sergeyevich, that they won’t be able to see or hear you any longer. If only through dreams – but you will have to ask for a special permission in the Department of Dreams in that case, and at present times it’s seldom given to, so to speak, temporarily and untimely resting in peace ones. Therefore, we should move forward together, there is no other way. Especially when control periods for passing through necessary social instances are strictly limited. So, are you ready to go with me?

– Well, if I have no other options left…, – the spirit of Artem Sergeyevich made a helpless gesture with its translucent hands.

– You had a broadest free choice, when you have lived in so habitual to you physical world, Artem Sergeyevich. And now we must accurately follow well-established procedures.

Having that said, the Angel, who has called himself as the Guide, raised own covered with feathers hand, drawing a spiral in the air. With each newly made pass of his hands, this spiral was becoming brighter and more visible, and finally turned into a gracefully looking sparkling tunnel.

– Transition between the worlds, – explained the Guide. – Some people see it by themselves when they leave own bodies. Let’s go, – he continued, having taken Artem Sergeyevich by hand.

Two figures – one of a casting golden light Angel and a gray-brown figure of Artem Sergeyevich’s spirit – bravely stepped into the tunnel. At first something pinched in the eyes of Artem Sergeyevich, then started to sparkle, then sparkles began falling down, his head started spinning and from what he has seen somewhere inside these tunnel labyrinths he finally lost his consciousness…

* * *

– Scatty one you’ve got this time. He even didn’t manage to pass through circles on his own.

– Few are capable of doing that now. Therefore, they send us more and more often for them, you know that well.

– And I should guide a suicide spirit tomorrow, his term of near-earth tortures has just come to an end, and term for spiritual pain has just started.

– That’s not a big deal. I was once given a mission to guide a couple, who for the sake of eternal love, as our opponents inspired them, jumped together into industrial tank, filled with sulfuric acid. You’d better not see, how their souls looked like when their term of Transition has finally come…

– Cranky ones.

– Well, they are not the first, and surely not the last.

– Looks like your ward got recovered at last. His consciousness resonates from a surprise on awakening, I can feel it even from here.

– Yes, precisely. Guide him to estimators. Man, he will be surprised.

– Well, till our next meeting in the sky, brothers.

– So long.

With these thoughts, by means of which he communicated with his colleagues from department and hierarchy, a young white-winged man went with a fast pace to Artem Sergeyevich, who was lying on a lawn’s grass of emerald color.

– It’s good to see that you have finally regained consciousness, – he answered with a smile to a spirit of Artem Sergeyevich, which was drowsily looking around. – I had to lull you somewhere in the middle of our journey, because due to the nature of your earth affairs the route, that we were obliged to take, as well as inhabitants of these other-worldly tracks were not the most pleasant ones, – he added quietly.

– I … what … where… oh! – barely managed to mutter our hero.

– You are in a special place now, on fields of restoration and healing. But we need to continue our journey, because we are already somewhat out of a required time schedule. By the way, while you were resting, I have already managed to bring all necessary informational materials to the department of returned souls, including your family tree, data on your lifetime affairs, habits and hobbies, merits and demerits. Therefore, at present time we, my dear fellow traveler, need to proceed to estimators in bookkeeping department, and after that – vast waiting halls will wait for you for a whole million of earth years. As writers of your world said – “One million of years before doomsday” … or the end of darkness. It depends on your final score, calculated by estimators in bookkeeping department.

– What sort of … bookkeeping department? Is that a business of … sorts? Sales of tunnel attractions or souls? – muttered half-asleep Artem Sergeyevich.

– Oh, by no means, – the Guide burst out laughing, – no sales at all! Our accountants neither buy nor sell human souls, don’t you worry. They are engaged in estimation of their quality, because only qualitative souls will be taken into account. Well, and how qualitative is your soul by our standards, you will learn soon enough. I am, by the way, will be interested in knowing that as well, – the Guide smiled politely.

With these words being said, he took a soul of Artem Sergeyevich on his hands, made a jump from the ground and soared up into celestial heights.

* * *

– Good afternoon, Rael, – smiled the young white-winged girl in a celestial-blue dress. – Newcomer?

– And in a first person, – answered the Guide, lowering Artem Sergeyevich on a habitual to him soil, which had a shape of shining in bluish shade floor. – Registration department must have already sent you his data, check incoming messages. You calculate and estimate him now, and I will be waiting in a corridor, all right?

– Certainly, – smiled the estimator, who obviously liked Rael. – So kind of you to carry him by yourself. People have become noticeably weaker recently. Unlike the times when the leader Jesus personally descended into their world…

– By the way, I wanted to ask that a long ago, – does your program takes it into account? Well, weakening of human spirit?

– It does, – Angelina smiled. – But that’s a minus, as you certainly understand.

– I do… - Rael answered lingeringly. – Well, I am waiting in a corridor there. Come in, Artem Sergeyevich, take a sit.

– Take a seat! – repeated the accountant and moved up a chair to Artem Sergeyevich, who unwillingly sat down. – So, let’s take a look…

Within ten minutes the girl diligently typed something on the input device of her visor, and then uttered:

– It’s a real pity, Artem Sergeyevich, but it turns out that your balance score is negative. Minus one hundred fifty absolute points. And we, unfortunately, have no plans to take souls with negative balances on a balance of the new world.

– What does it mean – negative? What kind of calculations are these? What sort of absolute points?! Madhouse of sorts! – Artem Sergeyevich’s spirit was indignant.

– You see, in calculations of quality of human souls we use absolute points of Light. Unlike the conventional financial points, which are being used in your physical world and have blinded so many souls of their adherents, we use the evolutionary measure that is not subject to time. – Here, I will show you, – and with these words the girl took a long printed-out sheet and gave it to Artem Sergeyevich. – Here, for example, your care for your family, – its worth was estimated to be equal to a hundred forty five absolute points. It’s an average result, because you have been very little engaged into education and upbringing of your children, having shifted these duties to your wife, and devoting the most part of your time to building a career. By the way, summed total results of your labor feats turned out to be equal to fifteen absolute points, – that’s a very small amount, because social usefulness of your work, associated with deception of people, wasn’t high at all, and even in this job you didn’t show much diligence. And for the treason of your wife – performed twice, it worth noticing – you get minus forty seven absolute points…

– Wait a moment, wait a moment! – cried Artem Sergeyevich. – Why is only fifteen points?! I am a Holy Father, believer, turned people into your belief, led them to the Christ! What, have you decided to mock your loyal servants?!

– Wait a moment, wait a moment! – laughed the accountant. – Why do you persist in calling yourself as saint? Saints by our criteria are those souls, whose balance exceeds ten thousand of absolute points. And regarding the believer … you see, but due to those events, which have taken place many centuries after our Jesus arrival into your world, and your attitude towards him, we ceased to use that concept in our calculations. It was fair for the first Christians, but nowadays every idler is ready to beat breast and call himself a believer – and we don’t even speak of how many souls have been tortured, exhausted and corporally killed for the sake of that “belief”, and how many self-deceptions were made due to illusions of its presence. Therefore, we no longer use your pseudo-belief in our calculations, we use the concept of “soul dignity”. Pray tell me, Artem Sergeyevich, is it worthy in your opinion to urge to kill gentiles?

– I did no such things! – muttered our not-really-a-hero with rage.

– And how many times did you call your belief as the best ever existed, do you remember? And how did you publicly derided those, whom you called as atheists on your sermons, have you forgotten? And how proud you was of the power of your faith and your readiness to kill anyone to keep it strong, should I remind you? Why don’t you believe us now, when we are telling you about you? And your wish to a pedestrian, I quote – “Where the hell are you going? Rest in peace, walking creature!” – which you have made exactly a day before parting with your body, when you were rushing inside your BMW through city streets and have nearly brought him down, costed you, for example, minus five absolute points. Here, you can check it all by yourself. Everything is measured correctly.

– Why do prayers for souls of our parishioners have a negative value, aye? – Artem Sergeyevich continued to be angry while reading an estimation sheet, issued to him.

– Because you demanded from our Supreme Commander, whom you traditionally call as the God, to add a certain amount of absolute points of Light to these souls, which in most cases don’t deserve that at all – and you seek to get a reward for similar generosity by yourself in the form of those conventional financial points. This also concerns your prayers based on schedule instead of call of your soul – they are estimated to have though a small, yet negative value.

– Well, you know! – Artem Sergeyevich got furious, – you will condemn each and everyone that way! Even saints!

– No, saints are the best judges for themselves, even during their lifetime.

– And what is there … five and a half thousand of absolute points?! – Artem Sergeyevich cried out from surprise, having seen with a corner of his eyes one of the lines in the estimation sheet of another soul, that was lying on a table.

– Rescue of a soul, – Angelina answered with a smile. – Absolutely sincere and real. Plus five hundred of absolute points for rescue of a cat, whom this woman cured, having sold out a part of own hand-painted pictures for these purposes. Her art and creativity, which has inspired several other men to develop own talents, was estimated to be worth two and a half thousand of points. Our scales are extremely accurate, Artem Sergeyevich, have no doubt of it.

– Go to hell with these scales-mails-miracles! – Artem Sergeyevich exclaimed in a fit of temper. – Where do I sign here? I sign here and go to my rest place for a million of years! I deserved that!

– Wait a moment! – suddenly exclaimed the heavenly accountant. – Our system shows a change in your estimated data. The matter is that … your wife … she learned about your double betrayal during your lifetime, but … just in this moment there, on the Earth … she forgave you and asked us to help you in any way possible. Now your balance is … let me see … now you have zero points, Artem Sergeyevich. Well … probably, I should congratulate you with that. Now you have a chance, whether you deserve it or not, – she added quietly.

* * *

– What a bitch, – thought Artem Sergeyevich to himself while being led by his Angel-Guide to the halls for a very long awaiting of the Court. – Though by the end of my life, but she had finally made something worthy. I beat her in youth for a reason, not for nothing!

– Zero … a total zero, – thought the angelic Guide, while looking through the estimation sheet, issued to his ward.

– Saint…, – thought Angelina with a smile, watching how the balance of soul of an artist and Artem Sergeyevich’s wife, who has saved his soul this day, confidently overpasses the mark of ten thousand of absolutely unconditional points.

By a road, made of black stone blocks, along with the anthem, coming from a loudhailer of the accompanying armored personnel carrier, accurately measuring out the pace, a military convoy was striding. Faces of soldiers were, precisely like ones of medieval warriors, protected by casting opaque gloss visors of their helmets, and they, proud winners, representatives of the highest human race, which has conquered Earth and near-Earth worlds, worn shoulder straps with a sign of black sun and eagle, who has captured entire globe in its mighty claws – a symbol of eternal night in the world.

This military convoy accompanied a group of terrorists, that has been captured a few days ago, into a distributive concentration camp – resistance fighters from defeated countries of China, Soviet Union and North Africa. The fate of these insignificant representatives of lower races was already decided when their sun-eyed immortal Fuhrer, governing their highest race for almost a century, ascended to the throne of Fatherland. The genetic material, used for extension of life by close to the Fuhrer confidants and generals, including himself – that what these underhumans will soon be transformed into by clever, perfect and efficient machines of the Reich. One way or another they will serve for the benefit of the great Reich in their death, if they haven’t wished to serve as prisoners of concentration camps in their life. Soon enough, several years from now on, last remains of separated resistance fighters in the Central Asian and North African regions will be suppressed by new stunning technological power of the Empire’s military machine – and battle for the Earth will be completed at last. Handfuls of survivors after atomic bombings of their countries by the Reich weren’t destined to win. Not in this scenario, in any case.

– Heil! Heil! Heil! – soldiers were loudly shouting, measuring out the pace.

– Glory for the great Empire! Glory for the sun-like Fuhrer! Glory for the eternal Reich!

A few could brag of such technological breakthrough, which has been achieved by the Reich during the last several decades in this compelled fight against the remnants of resistance forces.

Atomic weapons, used with the blessing of the great Fuhrer against the largest countries of Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Mechanized robots, towering like colossuses over buildings and capable to incinerate steel and concrete with plasma and lasers – in the past they were used by the Empire on the front line, and today as personal guard for high-ranking officers. Genetically modified soldiers of the Reich, surpassing by several times all of the best representatives of lower races in force, accuracy and reaction time. Cybernetic semi-humans, semi-machines, enclosed in nanofiber armor, whose mechanical bodies were controlled by a living human brain, deprived of the memory of own past – perfect killers, implicitly executing any issued orders. Insectoid-like nanorobots, carrying paralyzing vaccines in their tiny mechanical bodies, whose sting led to a cardiac standstill after several tens of seconds … paralytic gas “zaltsyn” had the same effect, only paralyzed entire organisms of its victims in a few seconds. Microchips, implanted since the birth into all citizens of Fatherland, capable to activate themselves through a received in due time outer signal and completely control over psychoemotional behavior of their carriers. Fine machines for genetic reengineering, used both for treatment and improvements – correction of “God’s mistakes” – of Reich’s soldiers. Molecular reintegrators, that were transforming living beings into molecular admixtures, sorting their atoms and directing it to a proper pipeline inside enormous automated production conveyors…

This list went on and on, and many of the most advanced scientific and technical developments, designed to provide a space expansion of the Reich, were classified. One of the known to a wide public was a “ZigHeil” project – a group of circumsolar orbital modules that were collecting energy of a star and sending it back to Earth through sub-dimensional zero-channel. “Venus” was another publicly known space project – an industrial colonization of planet Venus by forces of more than one billion of Reich’s prisoners, the majority of which were fated to die.

The science was devoted to serve invincible Reich, giving birth to all new ways of destruction of rebellion’s remains and controlling of own representatives of the chosen race. What can be stronger than the science, given to the mercy of mad geniuses? It gave citizens of the Empire, true Aryans, a hope for immortality. And history is always being written by the winners.

– Heil! Heil! Heil! – greetings to a new day and their immortal Fuhrer of awakening from their night dreams citizens were filling streets of Empire’s city.

– Heil! Heil! Heil! – everything sank in this merged in a one huge cacophony polyphony, every morning for many decades already.

– Heil! Heil! Heil! – and there was no rescue from this mad roar of living dead people.

– Heil!

* * *

– Hey! Quietly! Wing on the right! – the elderly Angel with a charred left wing and three golden feathers in a white right, all of a sudden entered the room, where several young recruits fussed around unusual device, forcibly pushing each other with their grayish-white wings in their desire to glance into the sphere of this probabilistic and time demodulator. At the sight of their chief they immediately flew away from the sphere and stood in a row, soaring at small height over a shining with azure light floor of this institution.

In a clear human language this institution was called as Angelic Military Academy, and so suddenly appeared in this apartment colonel was one of deputies of its top command. The device, which has drawn attention of young Angels, was designed for a modulation – a viewing of the events, taking place in a real time in various worlds, where graduates of the Academy had to travel from time to time with special assignments and missions. And it was called probabilistic due to a reason that it allowed to estimate dynamics of a change of probabilities of scenarios of various events, as well as to study those scenarios, which could have happened in examined worlds, but haven’t due to some reasons. And colonel just found our cadets exactly when they were viewing such unrealized scenario of the human planet, known as “Earth”.

This device, even though it was one of the latest perspective scientific development of the Academy, wasn’t one of a kind. What wasn’t developed behind its walls by Angels-engineers and further used in practice in their missions by Angels-cadets! There were generators of energetic barriers, capable to protect whole nations of physical worlds from adverse events; defensive helmets for a protection of mind of certain people from the influence of false ideas and negative feelings, generated and directed to them by demonic opponents; infamous in human environment bows of engineer Amur, which were striking their victims and never missing; armor suits made from angelic fluff, allowing worthy people to survive inexplicably, coming out dry from waters of accidents; there was even a well-known generator of alpha rays, capable to alter space, so that enemy bullets and shells cannot touch human fighters; beta-beams generator was used to change some of local probabilities of events at the right time in order to encourage worthy people or punish guilty ones; beams of gamma-generator gave inflow of new powers to whole groups or nations of people, if their course of life was recognized as worthy by the Law. And this was just a short sample from a whole list of Academy’s miracles.

– Quietly! – meanwhile continued that elderly colonel, who has come through many battles with demons. – Who gave permission to use the demodulator without due induction? – and colonel severely looked over scared recruits with his golden-colored eyes. – Perhaps, I should send all of you to a mission on Earth? – he sounded his thoughts as if purposely.

– In no way, comrade colonel! – stammering, answered one of young cadets, having put his right wing to a head. – Veterans speak – there are hard times there right now. And we lack necessary combat experience, sir!

– You are completely right, greenhorn! – colonel grinned. – You don’t even know yet how to counter-attack a simple human depression, but already tried to watch events scenarios. Now who will tell me, what does the first law of Spiritual-dynamics tell us?

– The first law of Spiritual-dynamics, sir, says, sir, that in a favorable external conditions a soul grows wider and becomes softer and kinder, sir! And in unfavorable it contracts and becomes firmer and tougher, sir! – the same young cadet replied it as a tongue twister.

– This is a correct answer, you, greenhorn! – colonel barked in ears of his cadets. – All of you should learn it by heart and wing by tomorrow! And don’t you dare to use demodulator again without holding a proper induction. Is that all clear?

– Aye-aye, sir! – hanging in the air Angels answered simultaneously as in a chorus.

– Otherwise I will send you all to the Earth tomorrow, – colonel thought silently. – Times are truly hard out there.

The figure in a black as night attire, which has stopped reflecting shadow and absorbing light an uncountable by earth standards number of years ago, punched a chessboard with rage by its dressed in dark-red gloves hand, shaking all controlled by it figures. This game was lost. The king was defeated – one can even say that he has sent his own soul to the upcoming court of the Maker. And how incredibly useful for the game party this soul was! Animal cruelty, indescribable unscrupulousness, inhuman slyness, endless thirst for power and glory … and now all of this was in ruins! In the nearest future confidants of this dark king will leave him – some by leaving this mortal world as well and some by hiding in forgotten corners of their pathetic planet.

Black-and-red fire was blazing in the eyes of the Gamer, who has been recently sitting beside this mystical chessboard. He knew that he had broken the Law, he already knew that his plans wouldn’t come true. The Earth was lost – yet only for a while. “Others will come after me … and then we shall play again”, – he reflected, walking to and fro about the room, waiting for inevitable Convoy, who was to put him in shackles and place up to the moment of the beginning of the Court there, where even controlled by him figures of mortals had been denied access long before the time of their own creation.

The game board, beside which this figure was recently sitting, was now living its own life. Somewhere from its bottom and side surface the light started coming more and more distinctly, flashing through small breaks and cracks, whose numbers were quickly growing – and the gray fog, that had surrounded black chess figures, was dissipating as if depriving them of its protection. One after another, black figures on the chess board were turning into dust, falling under the feet of victoriously marching white ones. Without their king they had no more will for life – not in their earth world, in any case. Very soon, in the May of the forty fifth year, if we are to measure in time standards of mortal earth beings, these shining from a new inflow of powers white figures, which seemed to the Gamer and his king only several years ago as being so small, so insignificant, so easily defeatable, will break through last lines of defense, setting up their flag over the heart of his, Gamer’s, city.

The figure in a black attire started to roar, vomiting tongues of dark flame, and stretched its hand over a game board, trying to sweep away in his final blow as many white figures from the board as possible – but claws of this hand have only powerlessly hit against the invisible barrier, which has surrounded the chessboard during these instants. The figure roared from pain, promptly shrouding its wounded hand in a gray fog, and took a step away from the chessboard.

“We shall come, we will return! We will be reborn in your souls once again…”, – it whispered when a burning, scorching, intolerable for her light, coming from warriors of the Convoy, rushed with them into the Hall of Fates.

The Red Army in the world known as Earth victoriously set up a flag over the Reichstag.

* * *

The ones, who have gathered in this spacious hall, were going to decide destinies of the mankind, which they have entrusted to themselves.

Everything was going as they would like it to be in many aspects. Members of long-subjected to them governments and heads of the largest banks and multinational corporations have been voluntary-forcibly faithful to them for a lot of years already, obediently executing given to them orders, because they perfectly knew that death is not the most dreadful of fates as punishment for non-obedience. Terrorism, that was encouraged and sponsored by them in territories of adjacent states, played for the benefit of these rulers. Chaos was their weapon and its keys were reliably hidden, as it seemed to them, in their own hands. Crisis, by which their controlled mass-media frightened residents of various earth states, had to become permanent, and, according to their plan, in a bowl of this great new confusion a uniform and universal earth religion has to be formed, designed to justify their, who were considering themselves as demigods, right to punish human flesh and dominate over human mind and spirit. This new religion, new world order, had to possess strong and proven by time roots – ones that will originate from precepts of the founding fathers of the revived empire of “true Aryans”. The king has died – long live the king!

Today’s agenda was directed to searching of methods of destruction of the remains of an essence of doctrines of true Prophets. Smiles wandered on their speckled by wrinkles faces, and their eyes looked somewhere up coldly and apart, as if in contempt. They were the gamers in what they called as the Big Game – a game for the future of their world.

* * *

The new gamer, which took the place of his lesser skilled colleague, who has managed to lose the game, which was starting so brilliantly by others, was standing behind other-world chessboard and moving figures. They, his pawns, who were thinking of themselves as masters of the world, were totally suitable for the fulfillment of his own plan, and qualities of their long dead souls considerably facilitated the management process. Black, as if weaved out of a thick web, threads, coming from the Gamer’s head to these figures on a board, continually hissed and stretched, transmitting mental directions and orders through them. Under their influence board’s figures obediently shuddered and moved in the desired by the Gamer direction. “We will return”, – the new Gamer whispered, – “as we promised. We shall still conquer this world of yours. We shall still win this game party. Our puppets are completely controlled by us, unlike yours, to which you have granted a free will and therefore have ceased to operate them directly”.

Overwhelmed by thoughts of own plans and ideas, the Gamer was walking to and fro about the hall, greedy exhaling tongues of dark flame. He desired to win a game party for this human world. His own life was at stake.

Tommy Whistler was awesomely unlucky. You will, perhaps, tell us that the term “awesome” doesn’t quite fit for the description of so sad objective reality, which dear Tommy has faced? Oh, if you had only known what his family had to pass through over the last year! You, certainly, don’t have a slightest idea of that and therefore we are ready to forgive you such inconvenient and unreasonable remarks. And Tommy didn’t even whistle on a constant basis – only quietly under his nose from time to time during short moments of spiritual bliss. And they, believe us or not, weren’t that long. And how he has managed to come to this low-water financial mark – only the God or the accountant knows.
Some soul would probably tell us, that a single year – it isn’t quite a term, and there is no reason to dive into hysteric and confuse our noble readers here, – but that depends on how to measure. If to measure this term in seconds, which precisely like herd of lambs come one after another in a never-ending chain – one can easily turn into a sheep himself. And if to measure in events of his life –one will certainly cry and there will be no more wish for counting. The ideal option would be to measure in years – but what’s there is to measure then? So Tommy had either to howl to the moon like a wolf, or to the dog like a kitten, or to go at once and register without a second thought in a club of anonymous losers. There was still, however, one other option to become a family of totally and irreversibly enlightened people – but financial opportunities of Tommy’s family didn’t allow them to place such a great number of lightning fixtures in their house. Therefore his family hasn’t conducted calculations of own misfortunes for a long time, for it’s an expensive procedure – to measure own sorrows, especially when you are swimming in low waters.
And for the last three months everything was on decline, though absolutely not forever. Salary at the enterprise, where Tommy has been working, was constantly delayed, and all its workers were in literal and figurative terms fed with breakfasts. In literal – because he as an employee of a dairy factory was subject to be supplied with milk and its derivatives, and in figurative – because terms of final payments were as changeable and unsteady as women of easy virtue – even uneasy ones – never happen to be. Mainly for that particular reason he felt himself more and more like a small sprat in a bank – that particular bank when he, having trusted colorful words of marketing specialists a few years ago, has issued a mortgage.
A typical story, you will tell us? Typical, but not typically. Not typically from the word “absolutely”. Because in that significant day something absolutely out of order of his previous accidents happened to him.
* * *
During that Saturday morning Tommy couldn’t find any peace in an least two meanings: firstly, because bank workers were already going to literally throw them away in the upcoming future from their cozy dwelling due to failure to pay the credit; and secondly, because not cats were scraping his soul, but impudent mice instead, who have bred in fair quantity due to cats constant fatigue.
– What for? What for, Lord, have you given us all these trials? Don’t you see how hard our life is? Even though we live in the most beautiful and democratic country of the world, bank clerks don’t become better, housing doesn’t get cheaper and milk doesn’t form rivers with a land of milk and honey, – so Tommy Whistler mentally lamented, walking to and fro in his bedroom since early morning.
Here we have to mention, that our dear Tommy wasn’t quite a believer at all – in the sense that he, unlike a lot of other proud of themselves and respectable citizens of his small town, hasn’t spent Sunday hour in a local church, listening to ardent speeches of holy priests, fattened by parishioners. But so hard life has jammed all organs of Tommy by this moment, his heart included, and limits of his powers turned out to be so limited, that both his soul and thoughts were aspiring somewhere to limitless heights in a hope to share own grief with someone unknown, someone so much bigger than all his sorrows taken together.
– So where do you lead us, aye? – he continued in the meantime to mentally address to some unknown and far-reaching distances. – Have you abandoned all of us a long time ago? Maybe you even relaxing now somewhere up there on a cloudlet while we down here in earth dirt are trying to build our lives as we can. Phuh, perfect one! Good for you there, comfortably! I would like to be in your shoes – lie idle, do nothing in general, just help somebody from time to time so they don’t forget about you at all. Not even a life, but a fairy tale!
So, winding himself more and more and quickening more and more own rhythmic pace, Tommy wandered about his own bedroom. Movements of his legs were becoming wider and movements of his hands steeper, so the soil under his legs was figuratively more and more crumbling under his feet. In a literal sense it crumbled when a sudden ringing of a not-so-really-his home’s doorbell distracted him from these strange thoughts. Tommy faltered from unexpectedness and fell down on a floor. He would have lay like so, with a downed interface, for several more minutes, if that persistent guest didn’t continue to press the bell’s button time and again, thus producing a familiar, yet somewhat banal, “Dzin!” sound.
– Whom, lung as on mention, did the hard life brought again? – Tommy was thinking to himself while hastily putting on his business suite. – Maybe it’s neighbors who have again come to agitate me to come for a Sunday prayer? And what if this is the bank worker together with a bailiff this time? No rest from foul vampires!
– Greetings! – with a smile in response to a gloomy and distrustful Tommy’s look answered the young man in a white suite with a red bow tie. – Is this the place where mister Tommy Whistler lives with his venerable wife Valencia?
– Perhaps, – Tommy answered gloomy. – And who might you be?
– Oh, so that’s you, Tommy? Fantastic day! It means that I was correctly directed to a required address. I was afraid that estimators will mix up something again – they, you know, don’t have your all-seeing GPS, – and the way to this world and place was, trust me, a far one.
– I see nothing wonderful in this accursed day! – this strange mister began to irritate Tommy more and more.
– I am not here by accident, I assure you! – having smiled again, replied this unusual guest. – My name is … well, it’s really unimportant of how you would like to call me afterwards. You can call me simply as Agent. I am honored to represent our fine company LLC “Center of Desires Fulfillment”. Quite recently we received your inquiry, performed necessary preliminary inspections and came to a conclusion, that we can aid you in fulfillment of your desires. Congratulations, your candidacy suits us!
– If you are from a local church, then I am not going there, – Tommy replied harshly. – I am a non-believer and don’t run business with strange folks in general.
– Don’t worry, we are not a religious organization, we stand … how should I put it clearly … somewhat higher. Your last inquiry to our instance passed this designated religious structure and got straight to our processing center for incoming wishes. It’s only necessary to settle some small formalities, and everything will be just fine – you shall become our VIP client.
– And what does it mean exactly – to be a VIP? What’s in it for me? If only you get something – a bonus for another handed off flyer, or concluded by deception financial contract – then fuck off to … Iraq! – Tommy muttered.
– No deceptions, no Iraq, we are not in the UN! – smiled young representative of mysterious organization. – And, by the way, their desires were fulfilled by our direct competitors who wear black suites as a rule. – Only a few clarifying questions and a short induction, if you allow it.
– Well, drag it on.
– Fulfilling first dragging, – young man laughed the matter off. – You are Tommy Whistler, forty-two years old, your wife is Valencia, thirty-five years, you have a little daughter Mila of seven years and son Gregory of twelve years. Correctly?
– Correctly. And where actually have you got such information? What, did the service of bailiffs leaked it to you?
– Oh, not bailiffs at all, yet this has some distant relation to a court, you are right, – confirmed young man, ticking off somewhere in the questionnaire. – Recently you have been experiencing emotionally hard and unstable conditions – or, in another terms, a depression, which has relation to your financial hardship. Correctly?
– Yes. As I have thought, you are from a bank! – Tommy was totally upset.
– And the last clarification – are you familiar with the processing rules of our system?
– What kind of system? – Tommy didn’t get it.
– Ah, it turns out that you are dealing with us for the first time. That’s great, we love and respect new clients, – young man in a snow-white suite was the politeness. – So, as for the rules … they are, actually, simple. In accordance with your recent – or, more precisely, ten-minute and forty-five-seconds ago appeal, we are ready to fulfill your desire with some safety restrictions. We will turn on our system for you – we call it a system of tests. Within this system you will continue to live and work as usual – with the only difference that your requested desire will be gradually implemented with safety restrictions. In particular, you won’t be able to cause any harm to any living being in this world, especially ones with a soul – any similar action will cause a reciprocal pain in much greater amount. Secondly, a short time later you may start receiving appeals, which are being sent to our CEO, whose deputy you have desired to become. And thirdly and lastly, please remember: to receive absolute power one has to be absolutely perfect, and to be perfect means to voluntarily accept all restrictions, imposed by perfection. Also remember that either you or your relatives will be able to ask for a break, having sent another request to our department. Upon termination of system’s work we can ask you to leave us a comment or to tell your friends about it. Pray tell, is that clear to you?
– Not really, but who the heck cares. Where is that system of yours? Can I at least take a look?
– Oh, very soon our courier service will deliver it straight into your life, don’t you worry. From one to several days are required to completely integrate it, please take note. And yes, I have almost forgotten – its usage will be completely free of charge – for you were already, so to speak, financially reasoned, even though for your debts you have not yet been imprisoned, – joked the guest.
– Very funny! – Tommy squinted his face. – Where do I sign?
– No signatures are necessary. The fact of your request to our organization was already enough. Await the integration of our system – and goodbye! – and, having that said, the young man in a white suite with a red bow tie waved his hand and went, nearly jumping in the processing, somewhere further on his affairs.
– Darling, who came in there? – a sleepy voice of Tommy’s wife came out of a bedroom as soon as he has managed to slam the entrance door behind this strange visitor of his dwelling place. – Were they from a bank?
- No, sweetheart, not from the bank! – Tommy shouted in response. – Some kind of strange dealer. Offered some systems. That’s some kind of a madhouse instead of a life! – Tommy said in a fit of temper and plunged himself back into his – or not quite his – gloomy thoughts.
From this information swamp he was pulled out almost by being dragged by his dear wife, who embraced his neck and put her head on his shoulder. – Would you like some coffee?
– All right, thanks. You are my priceless treasure. Don’t throw me away as a loser.
– Perhaps I will throw you once, – Valencia laughed. – But not earlier than you will turn tail from me yourself.
– That will hardly ever happen, – he replied and embraced her in return.
– Shall we go together to a grocery shop today?
– All right, let me just have a breakfast first.
* * *
We did tell you that Tommy was catastrophically unlucky – and did you think that we were trying to deceive you? Just like that, once Tommy started coming from his bedroom downstairs to a first floor in order to go together with his beloved for a shopping spree, so beloved by every true American, their domestic cat Jess barred him a road in a literal sense of that word. “Meow?!” – she said interrogatively-instructive, having pointed a testing look of her green eyes directly on Tommy, hinting him that from the time of her last feeding an inexcusably great amount of time – certainly, by cats standards – have passed already.
- Shoo! – Tommy shouted to her, – I will feed you later. – Get out of my sight!
– Meow! – that hungry cat started yelling even more demandingly and scratched legs of his owner and by coincidence bringer of food.
– Away, silly fluffy! – Tommy shouted with irritation and kicked the cat, who was sitting on a ladder pass. – I will punish you for bad behavior once I come back!
– Meeeeeooooowwww! – Jess suddenly grown furious and rushed on her owner’s back, having seized him with her immoderately sharp by human standards claws.
Tommy cried, trying to throw off from his back a newly born predator, twirled in one place, faltered over one of the top stairs and rolled down, head over heels, damning all cat’s kin in general and that of Jess in particular.
– Ouch! My leg! My fucked curved since the childhood leg! – he moaned, having grabbed his right leg and swirling on a first floor right after he has finished his way downwards.
– What has happened to you, daddy? – Mila ran out from her room to incoming noise. – Your leg hurts, is it? Do you want me to blow on it as you did for me, and all your pain will go?
– It won’t … go, – overcoming flashed pain in own joints and as much as possible calmly replied Tommy. – It’s … sprain, probably. Better call for … your mother.
– I will do that ASAP, daddy, but let me first feed Jess, you see how she stares at us? And you lie here, have a rest, daddy, you can never rest at work, I heard it from the mother, – Mila said unperturbably with her angelic voice.
* * *
So, having lain for the first half of the day with bandaged leg in a bed and sadly beholding through a window, how the wife of his neighbor is ineptly trying to park their brand new expensive Porsche car in a garage, having managed to several times throw a slipper into a cat, who has decided to visit her sick owner, Tommy prepared morally for viewing of an evening telecast of “Voice of America”.
Here we need to note that this particular voice, which has many residents of other countries and cities, has always been calming down Tommy. How pleasant it was for his tormented consciousness to listen to it after a hard labor of everyday life and understand that somewhere there, far beyond the World Ocean in other countries, which Tommy never succeeded to visit and which he would barely able to find on a globe without some extra hints from “Google Maps”, new national revolutions are being made for the sake of democracy, and their country, America, blessed by the God himself – in whom Tommy didn’t believe – goes on with her holy mission of protection of various social minorities and strictly, just like a kind police officer, monitors the rights of humans for the sake of peace on the planet Earth. Rights of what people were meant by news announcers, speaking about the recent invasion of Iraq by the USA, approved at the UN level, Tommy never tried to inquire.
This TV telecast was about to begin in several hours, but from a sole boredom Tommy turned on his speaking box before usual time.
– Idiots, idiots, idiots – they give us the problems all day … fuck you, oh Muslims and idiots, that’s what we are gonna to say! – some newly appeared group of niggers danced, sang and threatened to finish off all Muslim immigrants on a hastily build stage of Detroit under the gaze of many television cameras.
– You are idiots yourself! – muttered Tommy and switched to another TV channel.
– My little fool, my little fool, I sleep with you, I like your rule, – a voice of yet another pornostar, who has gain access to big scene by well-known and trivial means, sang from a turned-on TV screen.
– Fuck you, freaks! – Tommy sworn under his nose, throwing TV remote aside, – there is nothing good to watch at all. Where does America slide? By the name of Mila, that’s ain’t right!
– What did you say, daddy? – Mila slightly opened a door of his room. – Did you call for me?
* * *
Next morning Tommy’s bandaged leg reminded of itself again with a sharp pain, once it’s owner stood up from his bed and proceeded on own feet into a bathroom.
– Oh, God, how great I am! – some male voice spoke over his ear all of a sudden.
– Who’s there? – Tommy took alarm, promptly looking around. – It’s a private property, what’s the hell are you doing here?! Show yourself!
– Oh, my Lord, I am simply magnificent! – the voice of invisible interlocutor continued, paying not even a slightest attention to unsuccessful Tommy’s attempt to establish a contact. – Hell, I am the most beautiful man in this damned world! – the voice assured himself and suddenly calmed down at the same moment.
– Hell, I am going crazy with this trauma already, – Tommy thought to himself. – Some kind of hallucinations are starting already. At first yesterday’s dealer, now some kind of voices. It’s all the nerves, probably … perhaps I should start buying antidepressants, – he was thinking while shaving own cheeks. – What my poor wife would only think of that…
– We love you! – two unknown girls, whose faces and other body parts Tommy didn’t see at all, suddenly sang directly into his ears.
– Do you even exists? – some person of very and very uncertain gender asked a question in a very and very uncertain voice.
– You are just a jerk! – admitted a man of average years in a fit tempter.
– Go away from me! – some woman sent Tommy in unspecified direction.
– Thank you! Thank you! – child sobbed in a crying voice.
– Are you a fool or what? Don’t you see what you are doing? What have I asked of you in a church yesterday? That’s not what I wanted at all! – one more unknown subject as if slapped Tommy in a face.
– One thousand of imps! – thought scared Tommy. – What, have I gone totally nuts? I definitely need some rest! – he assured himself. – I will surely issue a work holiday on Monday, if I don’t go mad before that day already.
* * *
This Sunday trip to a supermarket helped Tommy to learn a lot of new about his personality.
“Fool! Jerk! Genius! Rascal! Wise man! Savior! Torturer!” – voices has been tirelessly shouting inside his head. His wife cautiously glanced at her husband, who was hardly driving the car and continually crying out in the air: “You are a fool yourself! Thanks! It’s you who is a rascal! No need for gratitude! No problems at all!”
His neighbor didn’t even start to be too soft at all and without a search for roundabout ways called Tommy as the loser in response to Tommy’s comment in the spirit of “you have become too choosy from riches!”
The police officer on the road named him precisely as “the weird loony who drives faster than a hundred kilometers per hour and doesn’t look at road signs at all!”
The cashier in a shop, having silently looked at the check, called him as “cheapskate”, and his own wife as “my poor hunny” by the end of that day.
His daughter Mila called him “my sick daddy”, son Gregory as “raunchy ancestor”, and Jess-the-cat didn’t even went into unnecessary details and just said “Meow!”
Having accurately bypassed a cat in the evening, Tommy flopped down on a bed, even finding no time to take off his boots, and started snoring in some five minutes. His loving wife silently sat down near him, put her hand on a forehead of a sleeping Tommy and sadly shaken her head.
And he dreamed this Sunday night of a huge garden with a set of beds, which Tommy saw only at familiar farmers who were living outside the city, – and these beds were all except for only one filled with a horse-radish.
* * *
Tommy’s boss decided to organize a meeting, of which necessity the labor union hinted him a long time ago, and in very plain terms declared, that wages for previous two work months won’t be paid in this one, because, we quote, – “these damned Chinese communists have seized a substantial share of our market and we, proud and freedom-loving Americans have to do a lot to kick their lean yellow asses!”
And that’s where Tommy’s patience finally failed him. Having proudly straightened his shoulders as would be done by any freedom-loving carrier of democratic values and the far descendant of the first immigrants-convicts from the Old World to the New one, he grasped air in his mighty breast and, using a very primordially American speech, explained to his chief to what point in this endless space he can start moving right now without postponing this procedure in a milk bottle, and what kind of starry-eyed person his boss is in general, even though with a few inclusions in his ideal character of some truly bestial human qualities. And all that would be just nothing, but being urged by approving shouts and looks of his colleagues, Tommy agitated himself so much that in the end he climbed to the eminence from which his undersized boss was speaking, and kicked him with all his force in his primordially American ugly face. This face reddened at first, then turned blue, and then uttered that he, Tommy, can go off from here to there where the sun never shines, and that he doesn’t work here anymore from now on.
And on his way back from nowadays former work some truck crashed at the intersection of roads into the ugly face of Tommy’s car, which caused another sad sight of his wife and ill-concealed giggling of his neighbor and by coincidence owner of a brand new and undamaged Porsche.
* * *
What sort of occurrences the visitor of a club of anonymous losers Tommy had to experience for these three months, which have passed since his first meeting with that strange agent from LLC “Center of Desires Fulfillment”.
There were falling into manholes after foul language speaking with the head of a local church; broken fingers, which have already tired from showing this infamous American “fuck you” sign; torn sinews of legs, which excessively sharply kicked from own rage homeless dogs and cats; and a wide variety of other ways of interaction between the physical Universe and not less physically existing inside it Tommy. And to the voices, who have been persistently either demanding something from him, or flatteringly expressing their sincere devotion, or questioning some next nonsense, Tommy ceased to pay attention at all.
Valencia, looking at her unfortunate husband, only looked away in times – and more and more frequently her eyes filled with tears during evenings. His daughter Mila started calling him “the sick daddy” on a constant basis, and son Gregory was proud before his school teammates of how crack headed and raunchy his ancestor is.
… And it all has come to an end when a truck, carrying filled with milk canisters from that dairy factory, which honorable wage-less member Tommy has recently been, run over him on the road.
* * *
– Do you understand now, dear mister Tommy, how important it is to formulate your desires correctly? – the young man in a white jacket with red bow tie inclined over Tommy and searchingly looked him in the eyes. – A desire is – how to express it more clearly – a door in a window of opportunities. Allow me to be curious – how is the life of a God’s deputy for you?
– Not … very … lively, – with hardly obeying lips and somehow unexpectedly quite said Tommy.
– It’s quite obvious that it’s a hard life. You are not even inside so habitual for you body right now. Here you are lying in a coma in the surgery, and your wife keeps praying for you behind that door. Do you know, what kind of desires are overcoming her now? I shall tell you, even though you don’t ask for it. Her only most powerful and overflowing desire at this moment is your life, Tommy. She wants that you keep living, do you understand that? She is asking not of perfection or divinity, but of a preservation of your life – which you, it should be noted, didn’t value too much.
– Some voices … haunted me constantly, – barely audible whispered Tommy.
– Ah, these were incoming inquiries from people, mentally formulated by them, – answered the Agent. – We duplicated them for you. Unfortunately, as you have probably already noticed, thi program isn’t perfect as of yet and therefore insufficiently qualitatively performs their filtration, therefore sometimes totally unrelated to God inquiries and vain formulations pass through. That’s because our system is in the alpha stage of development – and therefore hasn’t been fully tested as of yet. But never fear – our programmers are already notified of this issue and in the nearest future we will most certainly fix this annoying error. So, why did you desire to be in a, so to speak, shoes of our director, Tommy?
– I did … no .. such thing.
– You did, Tommy, you did. Most people don’t even think at all of how is that – to be perfect. It seems to them that they only have to ask God just about anything – and he must immediately run off and fulfill any of their whims, even if that will lead subsequently to their own deaths. Pray tell me, how, for instance, our CEO has to execute wishes like “let it all burn in a blue flame” – to burn away all offices of Gazprom? To kill all people on the planet Earth – or only selected offenders of the wisher? God is perfect, Tommy, and he by his very nature is unable to execute what enters in disharmony with perfection, he can’t cause harm to living beings. And people constantly ask him of that, believe me, Tommy! Have you noticed, how our program returned back all that evil, which you have caused?
– And what about … all the evil around … who … will fight against it? – Tommy continued whispering.
– Let me explain this to you on a familiar example. When some cells of an organism get sick, becoming exclusively parasitic in nature, and rapid growth of a number of similar cells starts representing a threat for organism’s life – what must organism do in order to survive?
– To … liquidate these cells?
– Correctly, Tommy. For the sake of health and survival of whole organism individual pathogenic cells may be liquidated. The same rule applies to a planet, Tommy.
– Can I … talk to my wife?
– Firstly, you have to answer one clarifying question, Tommy. Tell us, please, would you like to prolong your desire to feel yourself in the God’s place?
– No … no desire. I think … I understood everything.
– Perfectly, then. Then today we will disconnect you from our program of tests. And surgery operation on your heart will undergo successfully, by the way. Your wife’s appeal to our organization with a request for your rescue was truly pure and sincere – and we will gladly fulfill that desire of hers. And will also help you with finding a new job – you should maintain such a loving family, after all, – with these words the Agent stretched his transparent and glowing hand to Tommy’s heart, filling all organism of the victim with some inner warmth.
– Thank you … for a lesson.
– Oh, don’t even start thanking me, – smiled the Agent. – And don’t forget of a cell analogy, Tommy.
* * *
– Incredibly powerful cyclone, dominating over all territory of Alaska, will live on for at least for a month, according to weather forecasts, having brought about eighty centimeters of snow, – loudly broadcasted announcer from more than one million of turned-on TVs. – Because of the abnormal cold weather, which have come to us from the territory of Canada, about eighty percent of state residents are unable to leave their homes for two weeks already. Scientists-climatologists promise that this cyclone will lead to a full paralysis of social activity as a minimum of half of citizens in at least eight more northern states and will sustain up to the middle of May. The president already imposed an emergency rule in five states. This is the greatest nature challenge, ever faced by our country for its entire short history…

– Stretch! Now push on! Push on! More! Come on, darling, I know that it hurts! Such is our female fate, we all passed through it. Here … I can see his head! A little more! He comes out! He comes all out! A little more, push on!

Young mother – a woman of approximately twenty-five years – could barely constrain a cry of pain, which was continually coming to a dried-up throat and desperately, like a sea wave, rolling on a coast, seeking to break over and get loose. Two women were helping her during a childbirth. One of them was a midwife, who was now anxiously fussing near the woman in labor – and a complete stranger would give her by her look about forty years even though she was hardly thirty years old, having glanced on her face, which has grown thin due to a constant lack of sleep, and her hollow brown eyes. And the second … sun-casting, golden-colored and as if slightly transparent hair of the second woman were as if fluttering on the invisible to ordinary people wind during these moments, obeying the will of all the energies that were streaming through her, her celestial-blue eyes were shining with patience and kindness; white clothing, reminding a fantastic and magnificent wedding dress, only supplemented and emphasized her beauty. Hands of this second woman, so similar during these instants to a young regal bride, were directed to a woman in labor – and brightly flashing sparkles of light were continually flowing from them and smoothly, precisely like winter snowflakes, falling down from the skies, sitting down on her tummy, from where the newborn baby was about to be completely born. Neither the woman in labor, nor the midwife saw in these minutes this mysterious stranger – for eyes of men are to blind to notice what is subject only to a spirit. Yet this didn’t confuse invisible guest at all – for the nature of her mission was so noble that a life for the sake of her fulfillment was already the highest possible reward. The light that was now flowing from her hands through invisible thin threads to a mother and her child, was weaving hidden for a common mortal being purple sphere that was protecting them like a shield. A smile was playing on a face of the blue-eyed blonde and her cheeks have already managed to blush during the time of operation.

Life was entering the law. The baby was about to be born.

* * *

The woman in a black hood and the dress, reminding itself mourning clothes of a widow, who has recently lost her beloved husband, accurately stepped over a threshold, having almost hooked by a door’s handle with a hanging on her back and attached to a belt scythe. Having hushed to a cat, who has rushed under her legs and was just going to start crying “meow”, thereby breaking blissful silence, so loved by this woman, she looked around and methodically put away from a pocket of her black as night dress a book of impressive thickness. This, as it usually turns out in real life, completely unexpected by inhabitants of this institution guest wasn’t afraid to be discovered at all. To tell the truth, only cats and these few living beings, who have not yet lost a connection with what many mortals call as “the other world”, were able to detect her presence here. Having once again re-read one of the pages of her book, which has been wrapped up in a black-brown skin, this green-eyed brunette slowly nodded, as if having made herself sure of correctness of the choice of both time and place, looked on a bony watch that was attached to her hand, and started slowly walking deep along the corridor.

Those ones living in this nursing home, if only they knew in advance what type of guest have visited their house today, would immediately rush away like mad from this future mourning place, protecting themselves with various signs of the cross in a strange hope that they, these signs, can alter their fates, which they have been forming for many years of own lives. The guest in black perfectly knew it – and this fact cannot give birth to anything other than a sad smile. For uncountable eons of her devoted sovereign service she managed to get used to such an attitude from mankind, and it ceased to disturb her any longer. After all, for her it was a usual – and the only possible one – job, and this guest has been trying to execute it as precisely and carefully as possible.

Maybe in regard with her similar attitude to own work duties, she now decided to say final goodbye to each of elderly pensioners, who were peacefully sleeping during this midnight in closed rooms away from prying public eyes. She quietly climbed by a cold stone ladder on a second floor with bedrooms, trying not to produce too much noise with her shod black brilliant boots or to touch yet another piece of local household furniture with her casting opaque light scythe, and started travelling from room to a room. She quietly embraced sleeping people, trying to imprint their faces in her memory and to hear the sound of their still beating hearts. Two out of several dozens – who have lived their mortal lives very dignifiedly – she embraced so strong and has been holding in her hands for so long that beating hearts of the two stopped their rhythms while their masters were dreaming, thus entraining their souls in wanderings through labyrinths of other worlds. One may say that these two were lucky ones – they have left before those to whom this life will seem like a hell after several dozens of minutes. They were the most worthy ones among all living here and therefore according to the orders given today to a black guest, their parting with this world should have been as painless as possible. Having kissed this couple, our guest dexterously opened her thick book on a last page, which materialized from out of nowhere during that very instant and added itself to a book. Two names of her recent beloved ones were already imprinted on this page in golden letters – unlike a vast set of gray and almost black-colored names, which were filling in a small script several previous pages of this chronicle. Shaking her head with satisfaction, the guest in a black hood, covering her head, has been continuing her night trip until her bony wearable highlighted “five minutes before 1 A.M.” time. Then, as if having bethought, she took her eternally wearable weapon from her back, approached electricity switchboard and forcefully struck it several times with her scythe. Something flashed inside it, began to sparkle, then sparks started running over the wires, flame jumped on wall-papers, then on elements of furniture, greedily consuming oxygen. Several minutes later entire floor started blazing.

Death was entering the law. And no one could avoid her eternal embraces.

* * *

– By a granted to me right let a life be given to you! – gently whispered the blue-eyed woman in white, bluntly kissing a newborn baby.

– By a granted to me right you are fated to leave this place with me after several minutes, – the green-eyed guest in a black hood, which have come out of nowhere, whispered with a cold and aloof voice, having come near a baby and leaned with both hands on her scythe just like a guard, carefully protecting entrusted to him treasure.

Sights of two women crossed.

– What a surprise! What type of bad luck brought you here? – said a woman in white dress, looking at unexpectedly arrived black guest. – It’s written in my book, that this dear child has to be born in exactly two minutes and thirty three seconds.

– And it’s written in mine, that he has to die in four minutes and forty six seconds. So please apologize me for that, but … I am afraid that you together with his parents have to behold how he slowly dies from cerebral hemorrhage, which has occurred due to hard birth procedure and patrimonial trauma of mother.

– That’s strange …, – the white guest sadly looked at the kid. – What’s the sense in it? Can you hold for just a minute, I will try to inquire of it?

– I cannot delay, for I have instructions, and you know that well. It’s possible to delay only in exceptional cases – which is, unfortunately, not this one.

The white-winged woman in a wedding dress closed her eyes and raised her head up as though listening attentively to the unknown secret music, which has been filling the entire universe since the beginning of creation and available only to its devoted listeners.

– Indeed, everything is as you said, – she replied after twenty seconds. – With such a swift death the soul of this child has to expiate an essential part of mistakes made during his previous lives, and for his parents this grief according to the plan will become a binding focal point, which will help them to overcome former mutual offenses in order to further become a strong and close-knit family, in which the soul of this kid can be born again, living happily this second time.

– Well, now you see, – the guest in a dark attire nodded with satisfaction. – There are no current mistakes and no expected ones. His ways are inconceivable as we both know it.

– Indeed so …, – the white-winged woman smiled. – I was entrusted to accompany so many lovely and innocent kids to this world.

– And I was forced to accompany so many sinners away from it, – hemmed her colleague. – Well, are you ready for the next trial of death? Please come closer to the parents, embrace them so they can at least feel your nearby presence, they will have hard moments coming to them.

– How compassionate you have become as of lately, my friend, I can’t help but wonder! – either seriously or just for fun noticed Life.

– Blame it on the years …, – Death answered philosophically. – What they can do to us, women!

* * *

Two women – one in black and one in white attire – were sitting on a bench near a city pond, looking on floating nearby swans.

– And do you remember that young man, physicists, who has been always joking about the third karma law of Newton and the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, – and it turned out to be always equal to forty two? Why did you take him away at such an early age? He had yet to live and live on.

– Not why, my friend, but what for. He would leave his motherland several years afterwards, be dragged into a military concern, started working for foreign intelligence services – and would have helped to create such a weapon that you, my colleague, would truly shudder. Therefore, I was given an order to take him away ahead of time to help both him and this world as well.

– Well, let’s suppose so, – Life was going on with her inquiries. – And that little girl, Polina, who was raped by two thugs – why have you allowed them to kill her afterwards? You were standing near them, keeping silence. I still can’t forget how hard it was to help her come to life and be born outside of maternity hospital, when her drank pregnant mother began to give her a birth.

– Exactly because she had such a family, in which she could not live for more than ten years. Everything would come to an end in a suicide, you understand? And this is such a sin that if you take one on a balance of your soul – you’ll be washing it off for a century. And she passed through sufferings now, became a martyr, it will be much easier for her now – it’s not Earth, there is an intended place in another civilization for her. And I played a nice joke with these two freaks, by the way, – for the first one I palmed off during a year such a fake vodka that his liver didn’t sustain it, and the second one fell into a manhole which was opened this day totally not casually. I was told in confidence afterwards, that no more births are planned for these two guys – so you shouldn’t accept their childbirth any longer, don’t you worry.

– Well, you know …, – Life can’t help but to be curious, – and why do you wage wars, then? You desire of harvest, enjoy sufferings of men?

– It’s not me, – smiled Death. – It’s people. And what do I do? Do you even know, what longest lists they send me in each day like that? I can hardly manage to fully read them when it’s already necessary to put them to action! – she laughed. – I have already seen all kinds of deaths – both clever and silly, brave and unimportant, self-sacrifices even … however, their numbers keep falling as of recent decades. Humans grow thin in spirit, and their lives become common, and their deaths become unimportant, – philosophically noticed Death and raised her scythe as if edifying.

– Yes, – her colleague sadly agreed with her. – Humans are, unfortunately to me, mortal. And how do you think, my friend, whether there is something in this world that you cannot take away with you?

– Ideas, probably, – answered Death after a minute of thinking.

– And dreams, – added Life. – Ones that are bigger than an individual is.

– Indeed, – Death agreed with her. – Big ones.

This particular day of Anton Pavlovich’s life went awry from the start.

At first a his lawyer for divorce proceedings called him by phone and with affectedly false regret in own voice notified Anton Pavlovich that a second apartment in a center of Moscow, which Anton Pavlovich has honestly acquired by not-so-honest work can’t be kept in any way because it’s considered a shared property, acquired by him along with his nowadays almost ex-wife. Then some sort of fool from Godforsaken insurance company called him and offered “new unique property insurance package with fire-protection included” – and this, together with a sad fact of his country house, which has been burned almost to ashes by a lightning strike about a month ago, sounded almost like professional, even though accidental mockery. In a doorway of this exact Moscow apartment, which has been bought on money from pension system fraud, his new mistress Jessica has been already waiting for him and with a languid voice she inquired, when her “sweetie daddy” is going to buy her a new promised mink fur coat instead of an old one, given to her by a former lover. And this new mistress, to be honest, was quite a black sheep – but his previous unmarried concubine Victoria demanded such thorough and capital investments, that it was much easier and cheaper to hire some east harem than to continue satisfaction of her growing not by days, but by wallets appetites. And in this moment Anton Pavlovich could do nothing better than to form a false smile on his tense face and go together with Jessica to a new boutique.

What can we say? That regrettable for Anton Pavlovich day was destined to come to a failure from the start. Anton Pavlovich was pressing on his car’s accelerator pedal so hard, trying to get rid on the way to boutique of one thousand of annoying thoughts, which have been importunately biting his raging mind, that he didn’t notice how he has exceeded allowed in urban environments speed limit of sixty kilometers per hour. Or maybe just this last hour became like a whole life, stretching into its own eternity?

Fuel track drove into a cross lane absolutely unexpectedly. It’s, however, quite possible that it, along with its driver Vasily Ivanovich, who has become quite drunk after a recent quarrel with own wife, along with Anton Pavlovich and aforementioned Jessica have all been waiting for these year, day, hour, minute and even second of this most fatal meeting? Alas, the answer to this uneasy question is hidden from us in far away informational archives of the universe, and we are unable to satisfy this possible curiosity of our faithful readers. No matter what, but the moment when Anton Pavlovich and Vasily Ivanovich synchronously pressed on brakes, and Jessica stridently cried, hands of invisible to them clocks stopped for an instant, as if forever imprinting it inside a memory of the world, and then a second hand made its last “tac!” and stood still. Black tinted jeep crashed into the middle of a fuel truck at such a speed that fuel track rolled sideways – and followed explosion muffled even agonal shout of Jessica. Shockwave threw away two nearby cars and three pedestrians without inflicting them too much damage – for it were yet not their year, day, hour, minute and second. Huge fiery mushroom sparked over a place of tragedy – and then everything sank in a roar of a storming flame …

* * *

Anton Pavlovich opened his eyes, greedily grasping autumn air, which has been flowing along with sunrays through slightly opened windows into his bedroom. He slowly wiped his eyes with own fists, trying to get rid of recent dreadful nightmare, and sat down on the edge of a bed. “What an awful dream!” – he was thinking, having not yet come to his senses. “Swindles, frauds, mistresses, road accidents … what our mind is capable of creating! Well, never mind, – the good news is that all of this wasn’t for real, it was just a dream, a simple dream…”

That way, continuing to calm down himself, Anton Pavlovich was gathering for work. Having already had breakfast, having already put on his crimson jacket and sat down into a black tinted jeep, parked near a house, already ready for new honest and not so honest feats, he suddenly caught himself on a thought that it has become somehow unusually deserted in a yard of his high-rise building – no signs of either cars, or pedestrians, or even some kind of stray dog, which weren’t travelling here anyway. “Perhaps, it’s a day off?” – an afterthought flashed in still slightly sleepy brain of Anton Pavlovich. “Precisely, day off! No further than yesterday I have finally got divorced with my silly spouse and was going to celebrate that moment today in a bar with my friends!”, – he remembered. “All because of that foolish dream! It totally drove me out of life!” Having repeatedly glanced over an empty yard of his house and having once again hemmed to himself, he struck pedals of his car and rushed through the gates.

Rare street pedestrians completely didn’t fit into an overall image of populous capital – they, having slightly stooped, were slowly moving on streets and, it seemed, didn’t look on each other at all. No sign of agiotage or any business turmoil and haste, so common for Moscow citizens … it seemed as if the city has become extinct – or have massively moved beside that distressful MKAD in a single incomprehensible instant of time.

There was no sign of a bar in habitual address, as well as no waiter, who has been obligingly opening doors before visitors. Instead of familiar three-lettered word an updated sign said – “Bureau”, while first two letters of it have been written in black, and subsequent two – in white colors; and slightly below the following text has appeared: “Salon of comprehensive otherworldly services” – and in this inscription white and black letter were going in turn. “Madhouse of sorts”, – Anton Pavlovich muttered to himself, slowly parking his jeep near bureau-bar. “What sort of bullshit these fucked marketing idiots do invent to attract more visitors”.

– We are glad to see you in our salon. Welcome to the Bureau! – a good-looking young man in a strange suit welcomed Anton Pavlovich once he stepped over a spinning glass door of this building.

– Pray tell me, man, are all of you, folks, dressed like that here? – Anton Pavlovich questioned with a jeer in his voice, while fixedly looking into the eyes of this newly appeared waiter.

– You must be talking about my wings, right? – showing no sign of confusion, he replied in return. – Frankly speaking, I have been in that form since the time of my birth – which, it should be noted, has happened several eons before your own. And, answering your next upcoming question, – this combination of colors in our poster symbolizes Free Choice – a very useful for mortals trait, which is, unfortunately, hasn’t been given to us. What else would you like to learn about the Bureau, my former workmate?

– Workmate in what sense? – Anton Pavlovich was taken aback for a mere second, silly looking first at the waiter, and then deep into the hall of unusual salon.

– In most direct and everyday, – quietly answered the man with snow-white wings behind his back. – A companion for all of your past life, which has been taking place recently. Absolutely, by the way, unnoticed by you, – he added as if with a small piece of grief in his voice.

– Young man, are you even in your mind? To me you a total stran…

– Then it’s a pleasure to get acquainted once again! – young “waiter” smiled and stretched his hand, which was shining with some kind of nacreous glow, to Anton Pavlovich. – All of our services will be completely free of charge for you today! Just follow me!

– No kidding? – Anton Pavlovich strictly raised his eyebrow.

– No desire to do so, – young man answered routinely. – I still have to bear responsibility for your course of life.

– So, what kind of entertainments do you offer? – Anton Pavlovich continued to pursue his own goals. – I was planning to meet here with my friends, by the way.

– With Jessica? Never worry, she is already expecting you here. I would even tell that she is exhausted from impatience, – smiled White-Winger. – But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and make it all right and in a correct order. According to our current action we can offer you three of our most popular attractions completely free of charge.

– Wait, what – you even keep a circus in your pocket? – Anton Pavlovich burst out laughing from own unsightly joke.

– No, no, may the Lord be with you! Circus is on the Earth, and we are different. What Lies Beyond, so to speak. We are currently carrying out an unprecedented action – we are telling all our future clients what is awaiting them in advance.

– How’s that? – Anton Pavlovich showed a sincere surprise on his face. – In advance?

– Well, you see … sometimes we are given permission to act that way. We already created similar actions … for example, about two thousand of years ago. We passed information regarding this action to you through one remarkable individual. What was his name … John, it seems. And his second name was so sonorous, as far as I remember, a … Apostle, right! And today … well, you can see for yourself to what strange methods we should resort today.

– So it turns out that your action is almost termless?

– Well, you are certainly correct in some way. We just need to remind humankind about it from time to time. But let’s get straight to business! You surely haven’t got in touch with art for a long time, am I right, Anton Pavlovich?

– I have pictures on walls in home, modern kind. And bookshelves with some … classics, – answered Anton Pavlovich , trying to remember which classics were there.

– Then it’s a due time to get in touch with what is nowadays eternal. Welcome to the Cinema of Memoirs! Allow me to open a door for us…, – and White-Winged young man waved his hand, drawing something in the air. In a couple of seconds a most real gateway appeared just in front of Anton Pavlovich’s stunned physiognomy – it was casting same nacreous light like the one coming from hands of his unexpected interlocutor. – Follow me!

– That’s how technology advances…, – Anton Pavlovich hemmed to himself with astonishment. – What sort of inventions can scientists-physicists create. All thanks to western sanctions, no doubt! – he assured himself and stepped into the portal.

* * *

The room, in which both of them have appeared, indeed reminded of some sort of big Moscow movie theater – except for the audience, which consisted only of him and his mysterious fancy-dressed colleague.

– Fourth row, eight place, – White-Winger noticed with satisfaction, taking a seat near Anton Pavlovich on a next chair. – Your place.

– Why are we sitting so close? Let’s take places far away from a screen to better see all demonstrated events, there is nobody here except for us anyway! – Anton Pavlovich muttered discontentedly.

– Unfortunately, all other places are already reserved. They just seem as empty only now and only for you. Everything is actually much more complicated, – replied White-Winger. – And this place is just yours, for exactly when you were forty-eight those events, which you have recently “seen” in a dream, have taken their place in your life.

– And how did you learn about my recent dream…

– Pay attention to the screen! – young man interrupted him. – Movie of your life is already starting!

Large screen in a cinema hall, which reminded with its carved decorated edges some mirror from Middle Ages era, lit up with nacreous light, showing a small bed with protective partitions, where a small child was sleeping peacefully, smiling in his own dream.

– Memoirs of your life, beginning from the time when your consciousness has started awakening. You were about half a year, apparently. At that time you were totally innocent, Anton Pavlovich, – young man commented on scenes.

… Meanwhile scenes continued to replace one another. Here the child uncertainly takes his first steps, stumbling and falling on a bottom. Here he diligently pulls a spoon into his mouth, being afraid to miss, eating porridge “for the father and for the mother”. Here he embraces a kitten, which was a gift in his childhood, and his eyes shine brightly with sincere children’s joy. Here he plays on a playground along with other children with steam locomotives toys, and here he takes a ride from a top of icy winter hill. Here he sails ships in autumn pools, which reflect a sky in themselves. Here he lays down together with a mother on a bed and hugs her in a sleep…

– They say that all children are precisely like Angels, – with a grief in his voice noticed White-Winger. – And adults are more like demons. These are the purest and most sincere memoirs of your entire life, Anton Pavlovich, – he continued, observing how a tear crosses a cheek of his former “workmate”.

… Pictures continued to lead their own life, replacing each other as in a kaleidoscope. Here the young “mean” man is being accepted into the institute on protection. Here he goes to night parties with fellow students. Here parents present him with a luxurious expensive car and he uses it to the full to shine and flaunt before girls of easy behavior. Here he visits night bars and striptease clubs…

– It’s hard to tell the exact moment where everything has started falling down into the abyss, – White-Winger commented on scenes once again. – Whether it was my personal oversight, wrong education of parents, false life values of society or first and foremost your personal vital choice, Anton Pavlovich? The court knows that for certain – and I, to my own regret, don’t. I am left only with a hope that both of us will be given one more chance.

… Images continued to float and move one after another, creating a unique feeling of repeated presence on own antecedents. Here an adult graduate of legal academy becomes an official. Here he runs roughshod over other’s feelings, deceiving and profiting on human laziness, stupidity and fear, – believing sincerely that he lives only a single life. Here he brings a mistress – first, second, third, yet none of them is capable to bring him back that long-lost feeling of life’s joy – the one which has been living side by side with him only during a far away childhood. Here he desires to tear all of this false life apart and become a hermit – but strong, too strong are now for his weak will his former affairs and ties…

– We demonstrate here only the brightest of your memoirs, which have been imprinted in a memory of your soul instead of a brain – and therefore became potentially immortal, having transformed into some kind of déjà vu. All other life’s nonsense, monotonous and gray life, boring and disliked job, frequent and repeating quarrels with your wife, which have brought both of you to a divorce – all of this was forced out from your brightest memoirs and therefore hasn’t been included in that movie. It was all kept in your personal record in Archives where we will soon go, – commented White-Winged “waiter”.

… Now pictures almost fly, promptly replacing each other just like years of life, rushing aimlessly before their owners, drenching them with dust of life’s roads. New financial swindles, new “none will be the wiser” deeds, new quarrels with his wife, a new mistress – Jessica. Day of their meeting in a second Moscow apartment, trip on a jeep. Fuel track, which has appeared on intersection of roads, pressed against the stop brakes, terrified soul-tearing squeal of his new passion… TV screen suddenly went black and light in a hall turned on, as if symbolizing the end of movie session.

– Why … why has my movie ended on this shot … the very same from today’s dream. Why, may demons tear you apart, is that so?! – Anton Pavlovich angrily seized his white-winged interlocutor and started shaking him.

– Let’s not use collective name of these spiteful beings in this place and context, Anton Pavlovich. You may happen to meet them face-to-face a bit later, – calmly answered white-winged young man, dexterously freeing himself from a grasp. – Let us better proceed into the Library of Fates, or, as some of us briefly call it, – the Archives. I do believe that your stay there will be able to shed some light on this question that torments you so. Shall we go?

– All right, we go, – muttered Anton Pavlovich. – And then to my friends and Jessica.

– Without doubt, – confirmed young man. – They are eager to meet with you as well.

A waving of hand – and once again a familiar silhouette of a portal appeared before Anton Pavlovich, along with a shining road that was leading deep inside it. Here he takes a step into unknown depths of this strange door and…

* * *

The Library was astounding. While movie theater somehow resembled similar one in Moscow, the Archives, apparently, contradicted all imaginable earthly laws of physics. Their carved regiments ascended to such high infinity, that it was absolutely unclear, how they could even stand still under a mass of all the books that were filling them. Huge shining tables from unknown material and mobile ladders were obviously created totally not by human measures. Corridors branched and twisted, connecting and disconnecting somewhere in a far distance. Some warm lilac light was shining from a ceiling that was totally hidden from human’s sight. Fragments of floor melodiously ringed if anyone was stepping on them. Somewhere in a distance a sound of murmuring springs and singing of birds could be overheard.

– Here we store the history of all ever lived and still living beings of the universe, which do have a soul, – suddenly materialized before Anton Pavlovich white-winged companion answered as though to himself. – We constantly supplement it and therefore Library continues to grow, as it’s said between us, – not by days, but by fates. As you can see, it by no means intended to be visited by humans, – but we have been allowed to prolong our action for a little bit more.

– Wait, are you trying to tell me that here I can get an answer to any of my questions?

– Any question, concerning the past, yes. And the future of each soul-given individual in particular and of the worlds in general has many possible outcomes and depends on that Free Choice, which I have already mentioned earlier. However, access for you here is denied anyway – mostly the staff of Department of Fates Control, which is located nearby, manage here the process of transfer and obtaining of information. They are frequent guests here, by the way.

– What-what department?

– Fates. Control. Humans included. What’s unclear? You see, Anton Pavlovich, your mortal life on the planet Earth … how should I put it more clearly … is not one of a kind. It’s just in the last time you were named as Anton Pavlovich, and before that … and how you were called before that you can learn exactly from one of the books, located in this wonderful library. The book of your destiny, which you have been writing with own deeds. You acted – and we fixed these acts, and wrote them down, and kept here. We have even shown you these books once – through mentioned John, remember? Your civilization must have kept records of his visions.

– And … why do you write down all of this? Do you write down everything?

– Everything that is related to Free Choice, yes. We store it for future Court, of course. So no deception can take place. Some soul-given live beings in this universe decided for some reason that they would be able to deceive us, “to move around a middle finger”, so to speak. Well … let them try, – White-Winger burst out laughing. – We will write down this Free Choice as well, and take it into account in the Court.

– And what do these employees do here? Are they here now?

– Most likely here, but they usually stay in a working wing of the Library, and we are in a guests section right now. You see, some of the events, taking place in your physical world, – they, how should I tell that … are already predetermined in the highest world – by chains of your previous Free Choices, and sometimes by the will of the Supreme One himself. The staff of this department carefully watches for compliance between a fate and affairs of each soul-given live being of a physical world, and if necessary verifying its accordance with a plan of his new life, created by the individual before his birth and written in his personal book, and if such necessity arises – they try to correct fates of beings so that they can manifest themselves in a best possible way and realize all their inborn potential. Unfortunately, in a case with your civilization of a Milky Way, it’s hard to achieve that goal – the beings calling themselves as humans became too willful, evil-willful, and perceive attempts of the staff of this department to correct their distorted destinies as a chain of life disorders and troubles.

– And can I … see the book of my lives?

– Now you can, – confirmed White-Winger. For an instant he touched Anton Pavlovich’s breast with a palm of his hand, and then waved in the air – and several moments later a weighty book from a top shelf of one of the racks smoothly descended on it like a planning bird, having automatically opened itself on the first page.

– Vibration code of your soul, – the interlocutor explained to Anton Pavlovich. – It’s easy to find necessary book by it. So, what did you want to learn?

– Here … what sort of lines and points are these? I can barely see familiar letters in this book.

– These are maps of your previous Free Choices. You must understand that each choice bears certain consequences along with it and opens opportunity for new ones, and together they all form maps. Points symbolizes moments of decision-making, when you choose one of options from a set of them. Numbers above arrows are probabilities with which you would have chosen one option or another at the moment of your choice. These diamond-shaped figures indicate a degree of influence of related choices on choices and fates of other people. All of this may look a little bit unclear in a two-dimensional plane – but I, unfortunately, cannot show you at present moment spaces with more than three dimensions, however I can assure you that in such spaces these books are read much more simply and pleasantly.

– Useless paper crap of some sort, and practically everything is unclear! –Anton Pavlovich sniffed angrily, vainly trying to find the moment of his meeting with the ill-fated fuel track in an artful design of signs.

– The language available only for chosen ones, – his interlocutor smiled again. – First and foremost for the staff of the Department of Fates Control.

– Let’s get out of here while the going is good, – Anton Pavlovich added biliously, – to my friends and Jessica.

– Well, – sighted interlocutor. – For preliminary Hearings then!

* * *

– … Okhrimenko Anton Pavlovich is to be summoned into the hall of Heavenly Court for carrying out preliminary Hearings. Guardian Angel Michel is appointed as the lawyer of the defendant, Demon-Tempter Zakhurat is appointed as accuser. The defendant and specified companions from his last life have arrived, Hearings are to be considered opened.

These words reached Anton Pavlovich’s hearing just in the moment when a portal, opened by his “workmate”, has transferred him with a soft melodious sound into completely new surroundings, which were resembling a court’s hall that has become habitual to him in a mortal life.

– I … what … where … what for? What a foul setup is that?! – muttered a newly teleported defendant, puzzly looking around himself and having not yet come up to his senses after so hasty change of space and own role.

– I shall explain you everything later on, we will have time, – White-Winger winked to him while going to the judicial stand of white color, which was intended for him. The opposite stand of black color in another corner of the hall was occupied by dreadfully looking being with a tail, horns and hoofs.

– The accuser, what can you tell us concerning last given to the defendant life in a galaxy of Milky Way on a planet formerly known as Gaia and nowadays being called simply as Earth?

– Thhhiiieefff…, – mischievously hissed a creature, vomiting sparks of dark flame from its mouth. – Fooorrrniiicaaattoor. Kiilllleeerr. Taaaakeee a looook…

Suddenly images started materializing in a center of the hall, reminding former ones from a movie of his – Anton Pavlovich’s life – they only had more than two dimensions this time. A shot was replaced by a shot, showing everyone how Anton Pavlovich gives and takes bribes, meets with mistresses, indulges in alcoholic euphoria, and so on and so forth. This demonstration was finished with a last shot of infantile-surprised face of the fuel truck’s driver and frozen in time shouting face of Jessica which looked almost alive.

– Quite a convincing presentation, Tempter. It’s obvious, that we are dealing with violations of three precepts and commissioning of three types of mortal – I emphasize, mortal! – sins. Does protection party wish to have a speech?

– Yes, your honor, I do have a wish, – and, having that said, Guardian Angel waved his wings and new images started floating through a center of the hall. These pictures now demonstrated how little Anton Pavlovich gently embraces his mother before going to bed; how he shares toys with other children from his yard; how he comes to the rescue of a school friend when teenagers from nearby district try to kick him to the death; how they walk in a park together with his beloved and future wife, how they truly love each other, at least for the first time…

– We thank you for that presentation, Guardian. The episodes, which you have provided, demonstrate that despite for a chain of serious violations of Heavenly Law, feelings of human compassion, justice and love were not completely alien for the defendant, which makes his soul potentially capable of Atonement. Whether the accusing party wishes to add something else?

– Wiiiiissshhhheeeess. Kiiillleeddd oonneess, – horned being hissed once again, having clicked a floor of the hall with its tail.

And with these words the fuel truck driver Vasily Ivanovich and mistress Jessica materialized in a center of the hall each from his own portal.

– You! – Jessica immediately cried out with rage, having hardly managed to jump out her portal. – My murderer! If I have only known that you would ruin me that day I wouldn’t ever approach you closer than for a mile! And I need no fur coats from you, ever! Rascal! Beast! Killer!

– Brother, you what … aye? Why you drove so … to red light? Didn’t you see … you go? –Vasily Ivanovich addressed Anton Pavlovich inquiring-puzzly. – I left my children there, my wife … who will support them without me, aye? You are a fool, brother, fool as you are!

– Are there are any witnesses from a defendant’s side?

– Yes, his mother.

And once again a portal opened with a melodious tune, and Anton Pavlovich’s mother stepped out from it.

– I brought him up … as I could, – she said with a whimper and pain in her voice. – In Christ’s values. My husband was drinking, even though he was a banker. He accustomed my son to … fancy living … alcohol … my poor little son. And I … as I was able … in the childhood … while he was pure … not to soil his soul…

– Does the defendant want to add something? We should remind that, according to the rules, each and every of his word – whether kind or evil – can be used both as self-justification and as self-accusation, in compliance with the uniform Heavenly Law, established by the Supreme One.

– I … well … didn’t know … what I was doing … I promise not to act this way from now on. To live with honor and conscience … and so on. Something like it…

– All of them speak that way, – someone hemmed from the hall of jurors. – I didn’t know, I had no idea, give me, please, one more life…

– I request to keep silence in the hall of hearings!

– Forgive me, your honor.

– If both accusing and defending parties have nothing more to add, then I suggest to end the first phase of preliminary hearings. This court session is closing.

* * *

– Well … it could be much worse than that, – summed up the Guardian Angel, brushing away sweat from his wings. – You still have a chance – not a bright one, but at least one.

– And you keep calling that as attractions? What kind of setup is that?! Return me back immediately, wake me up from this foolish dream! I still have a life, Jessica, divorced wife … I still have so many things to correct on this, how was it, Gaia! – Anton Pavlovich lashed out with fists at his newly acquired defender.

– Oh, my silly Anton Pavlovich! – sighted White-Winger with a grief in his voice. – You know what’s the hitch is? You don’t have a new life anymore! You have indeed died, my dear Anton Pavlovich…


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