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Volodymir and Vladymir            


    In my recurring dreams, huge celestial vehicles appear above our city, just a few hundred meters from the roofs of the block of flats. They roll sluggishly, silently and slowly, like billowing cigarette smoke in still air. They cover the sky, the landscape below them darkens, and from their shiny, mercurial bodies, various tubular, twisting, flashing structures extend towards the ground. The startled people huddled in groups stare petrified into the sky, others throw themselves to the ground with their hands clasped behind their back. "We ask the citizens to keep calm!" a thunderous warning sound fills the space, then beams of light shoot from the structures of the marching vehicles onto the buildings; only to leave a black, smoky spot, the size of a golf course or a city district at the site of the impacts.

    My name is Volodymyr Piatkin, I am twenty-nine years old, child of a Cossack couple who sacrificed their lives for their freedom, and also a member of the majority nation. I am Ukrainian, like Yulia Marushevska, but not a native of Kiev like her, but from Kherson, like Inna Gaponenko. Our history is interwoven with sufferings and struggles, yet I would like our national anthem not to speak of enemies perishing like dew in the sun, but only of our desire, that we imagine our future in friendship and fair cooperation with the surrounding nations.

    I'm not combative, I'm rather a peaceful creature by my very nature. I think that everyone has a place under the sun: Ukrainians and Russians alike.  It is not important what was, but to start from what is, what could be. We exchange grievances, this is what we have to live with- I don't like the cult of grievances. Why drown in the unjust wounds of the past? Of course, we have to learn from our past, from the mutual harm: the Holodomor is painful for us, it's annoying that our leaders barely spoke our language, that pro-Russians occupied the greasy key positions, that they embezzled the public wealth, that foreigners from overseas are slowly buying up the whole country. Our centuries-long struggle with the Russians, the Soviets, the Turks, the Poles, the Lithuanians, who knows with whom, is sad, but I've had enough, I can't take it any longer: let there be reconciliation at last. Let's start afresh, let all nations, brought here by history, live together in peace in our finally independent homeland, let all flowers bloom. Let the only cornerstone be who and what kind of person you are, and nothing else. These are the principles worth fighting for. If any kind of fight makes sense, then this would! If the French and the Germans and the English and the Irish could make peace with each other, or even cooperate, why are we not able to do the same?

    My grandfather is very old, but he still has personal memories of the Holodomor. He was a child at the time. His father, took his family up into the mountains, built a hut with a single ax, plundered the nest of the bird, trapped the squirrel, gathered and dried mushrooms, set a net for the fish, even caught the deer, and so survived the famine that destroyed millions. "Learn from Robinson, Vova, get to know the forest, it will support and protect you, no matter what comes your way," grandfather used to say, "it will benefit you!"
     However, I am a city dweller and will remain so. When I tell him about my modern, European principles of social organisation, he just looks at me from under his shaggy, grey eyebrows. He waits patiently for me to run out of arguments, breath, and indignant gesticulations, and then slowly speaks. He says I'm idealistic and naive and utopian, like the Soviets were back then. And I'm gullible, like the Soviets were at their time, but that's all right, because I'm young, inexperienced, a dreamer, so that's fine, I'll just come to my senses. He also says that I have not yet felt the diversity of the world. "Let me start from this," he says: "there are and have been and will be in the world exploited muzhiks, overworked factory workers, paunchy landlords and their courts, idle bachelors and cruel soldiers, arrogant bureaucrats bent on controlling self-propelled processes, speculator and robber, industrious and idle, exacting and filthy, scoundrel and self-sacrificing, foolish and brilliant, Russian and Ukrainian, and eight or ten thousand nations, all rolled into two hundred nation-states, each with a different interest and a different will. Now, here: let me deal fairly with this multitude of creatures!"
    But I'm still European, I want, I want to belong there, I'm fed up with corruption, with civil war events raging in the eastern provinces, with learning that bears no fruit. I'm fed up, because my guts are hanging out. I'm working hard to save up a few tiny hryvnias, so that my Russian boss can buy a new, stolen BMW to go with his tired Alfa Romeo.
    My nature is pensive and meditative, Raskolnikov nature. I'm taller and thinner than average, a bit lanky and muscular, the kind of person who will never get fat, but who - according to my readings - is prone to schizophrenia. My neck is long and sloping forward. My arms are long too. When I listen, I lean forward and rest my elbows on my knees, clasp my hands, and listen without blinking.
    My mouth is wide, Dunya's is narrow and thick, her lips are thick all the way down, not even thinning towards the edges, so Dunya's expression is stern, as if she were pursed, always annoyed or angry at the world, but she's not. Her mouth is just plain narrow and fleshy, like Monica Bellucci's, but even narrower than hers: the width is barely exceeds the distance between the two inner eyelids. My mouth is almost as wide as the vertical line through my outer eyelid, yet I don't look like I'm smiling all the time.
    Dunya, my dear love, is a Russian-born, classic blonde Slavic beauty. We met for the first time during the events of Euromaidan. If that Maidan hadn't happened, we wouldn't be happy together now. I don't even know whether to be grateful to Yanukovych or wish him to hell.
    It all started with the passing of the dictatorship law, although my grandfather said that the complexity of causes and effects is always lost in the mists of time, and it is useless to search for them. In trouble, the causes and beginnings are only questioned by those eternal malcontents and critics who, when faced with a problem, look for the culprit instead of the question "What can be done now?", to present themselves in the role of the knight of justice, instead of personally lifting a finger. Those "take it or leave it" types.

    I got there on the 20th, in the morning. The temperature must have been around minus twenty degrees, mist was coming out of our mouths when we got off the train and sang “The wide Dyeper crying and whining”, encouraging each other. Along the way, armed checkpoints had to be avoided, but I finally arrived, taking the lower Instituckaja Street with its side alleys, near the square. The southeastern, rubble-covered end of the street was deserted, while at the other end, closer to the square, protesters hunched over, shields held in front of them, were retreating down the left side of the Try Kota dune-side towards the Millennium Bridge.
    At that time, they were already shooting, some people were hunting the protesters from an ambush, but now they were also shooting at me. Along the top of the slope, in groups of four or five, uniformed men pushed forward, taking turns firing in front of them. You couldn't see at whom, and you could only hope that it wasn't live ammunition. A loudspeaker boomed from the Independence Square, asking for help in a frightened voice: "Urgent ambulance to the podium, for resuscitation, boys! We need four ambulances to Maidan, boys! We need as many ambulances as possible to the square, to the podium, boys!", his voice filled the air, it could be heard all the way to the moon, the sound of the echoing shots did not drown it out either.
    From the street, the crowd retreated towards the bridge leading to the square. On the bridge two demonstrators built a barricade out of tyres. One of them threw a Molotov cocktail into it, and it immediately burst into flames. The thick black smoke was pushed down by the wind, a bird flew over the Maidan, almost touching the gilded angel in a plaid robe.
    The crowd around the clock behind the bridge suddenly fled, some under the bridge, some running backwards. "Watch out, boys, there are two or three snipers hunting us, probably from the Ukraine Hotel," the loudspeaker said. It all sounded like a morbid broadcast from The Hunger Games.

    The bridge was already in full blaze and billowing smoke when I saw the first hunted corpse. It looked like a rag doll, with its arms hanging down.
    He was dragged backwards by his collar by a figure in a blue jacket and orange helmet, his shield clumsily held in front of him; it seemed that shield wouldn't have protected him even from an air rifle shot. Three protestors were behind them, protecting them with their shields, all retreating hastily, leaving bloody footprints on the frozen cobbles. A fourth helper grabbed one arm of the corpse, the one in the blue jacket the other, two of them dragged him further, so they were making more progress. "Drag and drop", drummed in my head. Drag and drop, drag and drop…

    Where are they shooting from, people!? Who are firing at us, my God!? Is this Berkut ? Don't shoot brother, let us live!

    Everywhere, behind shields and tree trunks,you could see targets crouching or hunched over. A crouching figure just leaned back, jerked, and didn't move anymore, his shield fell on him, a pool of blood spurted out from under him. "Ambulance, boys, send as many ambulances as possible to the podium, boys!", the loudspeaker rattled over the echoing crackle of gunfire. Sonic and smoke grenades exploded, acrid smoke made breathing difficult, Molotov cocktails flared, fleeing people fell, more and more rag dolls were dragged, more and more blood puddles froze on the cobblestones, I curled up and started gagging. Suddenly a cool hand touched my forehead, a warm palm holded my head.

    "Okay, it's okay!" said a young female voice. "Are you hit?" – she asked. "Let's go under the bridge!" she said, and she was already dragging me towards the bridge.
    "I don't think so," I said. "I'm fine, just the sight of blood makes me sick" I whined, leaning my back against the cold foot of the bridge. A tracer bullet bounced off one of the lampposts.
    She showed only her eyes, her violet-warm eyes. Her face was wrapped in a knitted, fluffy scarf, not even her nose was visible from under it. Her knitted cap was pulled down to her eyebrows: she was half a head shorter than me, a violet-eyed samurai fairy. As she spoke, mist rose from her bright scarf. This light outfit is just the best target, I thought. How does a young girl get here? – I thought. Only my sister, Ludmilla, is missing here, I thought.

    "Have some tea!" - she handed me a quarter-liter bottle of cola. "I'm going to help with the wounded!" - she said and hurried off.
    "Wait, your tea!" I shouted after her, but she gestured for it to stay with me. - "What is your name?" – I shouted after her. At least she would have showed me her face, I thought.

    We found each other five years later. Until then, only her voice and the color of her eyes appeared in my dreams.

    At dusk, the Maidan had fallen silent, standing in ruins and sooty ashes as if torn apart by a raging, fire-breathing King-Kong, when only God's restless brother-creatures were displaying the product of their blindness. The Berkut and the uniformed men swept away. The angel from on high, defender of our independence, looked down dispassionately on the last of the smoldering barricades and the saddened square, smoking with anti-Russian hatred.
    The grieving crowd, behind the pillar, gathered in front of the burnt-out building designated as a first aid station. There was a line of bodies sprawled on the ground, the crackling of gunfire replaced by the sobbing and wailing of mothers and wives, the twilight gleaming in the tear-stained eyes of men, fists dug into clenched palms, the acrid stench of death and burnt tyres filling the air.

     Five years have passed, and only the voice and the color of the mysterious girl's eyes have appeared in my dreams.

    A lot has happened in the world since then: we have passed the language law, Crimea has fallen into the hands of the Russians, war is raging on the eastern border of our country, a civilian airliner has crashed into our country, maybe we shot it down, maybe not, maybe on purpose, maybe not.

    The following year, the most unfortunate part of the world suddenly rose, as if on cue, and ever since then crowds have been flocking to the rainbow-bright West. In some places, they are greeted by stunning cheers, in other places, nations are torn apart by them. The business model of the human trafficking network organized by unknown forces has been thriving ever since.
    We hear of marching black-uniformed people terrorising our minorities, we may have even burnt down a church to escape our wrath. We may be the most naturally wealthy and now independent country in the world, yet poverty is rife and more and more of our most vital citizens are migrating west in search of a better living.  Something is up, folks! This is not good!

    Five years have passed, and only the voice and color of the mysterious girl's eyes have appeared in my dreams. In the meantime, I graduated from IT college, hunched over English textbooks, stayed up all night in front of websites, flowchart algorithms swirling around in my head, yet the balance of my personal bank account was dwindling

    I was sitting on a bench on the promenade in front of the harbor, leaning forward, knees bent, hands clasped. It was late April. I had been staring at the sluggish barge making its way up the Dnieper, at the cranes lined up in the harbor, resembling giant marabous, at the swallows zigzagging in the cloudless sky. It was dusk, the breeze was drifting with the scent of lily of the valley and the smell of the fermentation of the river, the sounds of harbor life woven through the silence, when someone sat down beside me, put his hand on my palm.

    "How are you boy, did you survive? Are you still sick from the blood?" – she said to me, I immediately recognized her voice.
    "Is that you?" – I was almost breathless.

    I imagined her face, her stature many times, – I completely failed. Only the color of the violet-warm eyes was faithfully preserved in my memory and since then I know: my imagination is worthless, but it will always be easy to recall the surprise and the shiver running through my body, the natural immediacy of the warmth of her hands. She smiled, her forehead was high, her sizzling, beautiful oatmeal-blond hair clinging low on her almost parallel temples, her thick eyebrows also leaning back long, and the line of her jaw resembled the curve of a wide-open boomerang.

    She was smiling the whole time! She smiled at me so beautifully, she looked into my eyes... Maybe Eva Mendes has such big, slightly protruding teeth. I was confused.

    Dunya, my Dunya is Russian: her name is Avdotya Romanovna.  No matter what anyone says, I don't care even if she's Russian a hundred times! Whatever happens, as long as I live and die, I won't care that she is Russian. We are young, Adam and Eve, man and woman, a woman at her best, so I will go through with what he has called out to Adam, to provide for my Eve, with my sweat, a warm home. 

    Dunya's shoulders are broad, her waist is narrow, the curve of her hips and the silk of her skin are the miracle of creation itself, and at the climax of our lovemaking, the clasp of her intertwining thighs, volcanoes of fire erupt. At such times, I feel that I don't want to live anymore: everything that is worth living for has already been given to me. 

    We are in our third year of living in Hungary, in a small town with a long, unpronounceable name. I work there for an American mobile phone manufacturing company as an IT engineer. I speak acceptable English and of course Russian, so they hired me easily, they even gave me a small service apartment. We could have made a living at home, but I got fed up with Kherson and Ukraine. I still love Ukraine and my hometown, Kherson, I will always love it, but often, more and more often, I thought, this cannot go on like this. It hurts me to leave the land of my ancestors, but I have only one life and an everlasting homesickness.

    We were on our way to England with Dunya, we wanted to put down roots there, but somehow we got stuck here in Hungary, or more precisely, here is where the COVID kept us.

    Dunya found the absence harder to bear than I did. Her work was also more exhausting: she worked standing on the line for 12 hours, followed by 24 hours of rest. Due to exhaustion, she almost slept through the day after the shift, waking up in a daze, with a pain in her back and legs. Fortunately, the Hungarian doctor and I could easily communicate in English: Dunya complained, I translated. I felt the sympathy of the doctor: she listened attentively, asked questions to the point, examined her, explained the causes and what to do, although she mostly just recommended rest. Then we could also communicate on Messenger, it was a big relief for us. I wrote a complaint, I asked a question, she answered shortly or called me, she helped us. What else does the stranded patient need? God bless her!

    One evening, when Dunya's shift was about to start, she just lay there, unable to get up. Every part of her body, even her skin, hurt, she said. As I caressed her head, I could feel that she was hot, even though the bed was shivering with cold. I measured a fever of nearly forty degrees, gave her antipyretics, rubbed her, “Everything will be fine”, I whispered in her ear. Eight hundred people die every day in Italy, I thought. “Are you out of breath? I asked, she nodded, coughing heavily, burning with fever, her eyes smoldering. I called our doctor, she answered immediately. I should keep the fever under thirty-eight degrees, I should give her a drink a lot, she said in a calm voice. Rub it on if you need to, she added.

    The next day, paramedics dressed in spacesuits rang the bell, stuck a long stick up our noses, deep into my brain, I was only afraid for Dunya. Then the doctor phoned: “We have COVID, how are we feeling?” “Dunya is sick, she is dying, but I’m about to be sick right now”, I said. In Italy there are dead people lying even in the hospital corridors, I thought, sweating. “We are young and strong, we will make it”, said the doctor. “Liquid, metamizole, below thirty-eight degrees”, she said. “Keep her tongue wet, watch her tongue”, she said. “Keep calm”, she said. Physically, I am calm, but not calm enough.” If there's blood in the sputum, if there is a shortage of air, if the cough is untractable, call me at any time”, she said. “Bloody?” - I asked. “Unfortunately, it is possible”, she said. “You are young and strong, you will overcome it! Just keep calm!” - she said. “I'm physically calm, by my nature, but not calm enough.”

    Dunya suffered for five days, barely ate anything. “No problem”, the doctor said, “just drink a lot, sweets and vitamins”. On the morning of the sixth day, I barely measured above thirty-seven degrees, she was hungry, she said...

    If the relief had really been a stone falling from my heart, I think it would have crushed my leg. It would have had to be amputated, and I would have been condemned to limping for the rest of my life.

    It took her weeks to regain her strength. She couldn't smell for half a year, but she's back to her old self again: she Skypes with her family in Russian in the evenings. There are not enough vaccines at home, she says, even if there were, the population would not break down the door.

    I'm behind with work: let's go on with home office! I would teach her English, but she doesn't want to. They should learn Russian, she says. Otherwise, I speak to her in Russian, she speaks to me in Ukrainian.

    For me, it was quite easy: a slight increase in temperature, a little cough, yes: my long limbs, they hurt quite a bit, but only for a few days. Compared to Dunya, my bad days were just a piece of cake.

    Prosaic weeks and months followed, we were glad to have survived, glad to be protected.

    Dunya is a little bit absent-minded, but her mind and heart are in the right place. She cooked me borsch and holodec, sought out the Ukrainians working in the city, and we got together. It was as if she was rubbing the wounds of my homesickness.

    I was often annoyed by her absent-mindedness, but you couldn't be angry with her. She cooked borsch, laid the table nicely, we sat down to eat. I was drooling as I watched her eating.

    "Taste mine!" I said to her, irritatably. She gazed at me with those warm eyes, took a spoonful of mine, tasted it, her face stretched.

    "Same," she wondered.

    "I still can't eat!" - I said.

    "What for?"

    "Because you didn't give me a fucking spoon!"

    "Ha, ha!" Really!   

    Then I got a much better offer, almost middle management, and we moved to Western Hungary. I earned a lot, sent it home regularly, and the balance of my bank account increased. We should have a child, Dunya said. OK, I said, let's try!

    Lately, when I'm in the shower, when I'm spreading the shower gel on myself, and the scented balm is foaming up every available part of my body, I get horrible visions. I think about what would happen if a disaster suddenly erupted, like a cluster-headed glider missile crashing into my house. A smart bomb that would have the creative intelligence of the engineers who designed the weapon and the scrupulous exactitude of the builders. I'm thinking of a cruise missile that could easily evade the vigilance of air defenses, which would smash unstoppably into its target. No, I don't mean the latest version, a smart grenade capable of tracking a moving target, I'd be content with what was developed just to destroy stationary targets. If it exploded on impact, the shockwave would, first of all, hit the wall, and the world would immediately collapse, the film would be torn. What’s next? That would depend on how much the house would collapse on me, bricks and walls and ceiling and such things. If I was lucky, even after hours or days, I would still come to my senses, shivering, lime-flavored plaster in my mouth, deaf silence in my ears, empty space in my mind, and my body would be covered with a fine, crispy layer of plaster.

    What happened to me, where am I? I would ask myself awkwardly, and then I try to get up. Why can't I feel my left foot, why can't I hear the sound of my teeth chattering, why can't I hear the thud of debris falling from my head and shoulders? I would ask myself. I would stare dumbfounded at the frozen, black streaks of blood on my ankles, take a test limp, and then another, and then another.

    Slowly the feeling and strength would return to my legs, well that's reassuring, I must have been lying down that's why they were numb, I think, it would get better, lucky it's summer I would think. I'd be thirsty, but I'd rather be cold, or I don't know what else is wrong with me, death knows, or my gut knows, it's not important now, I think I'm alive, that's the point, I think.

    I'd see my towel, I'd throw it over me,  my towel would be scratchy, at least I'd have to shake the debris off, it doesn't matter now. While walking, my thighs would be sticky and scratchy, my armpits would be scratchy and my neck would be scratchy: yes, scratchy, as I moved, the plaster-glaze that had dried on my body would just crunch.  I would grope my way to my splintered wardrobe, as I tugged at my winter coat, a protruding spike would tear the layer of paint dried on my forearm, my warm blood would run down it.

    I would shiver and hide in my winter coat, Oh my God, where is Dunya? I would finally ask myself. I would look around the the ruined, draughty room and look at the sky through the torn ceiling. It was about to rain, I'd realize, and then back, I would see Dunya: sitting on our bed among the brick piles, curled up, arms resting on her shaking knees, staring into the void.

    What happened, Dunya? I would ask in a whisper. My voice would not be heard, my tongue and throat would be scratched. What happened, Dunya? I would try to shout,

    The vision fades, the warm, slick spray of water caresses my skin. I start at my head, then I pour it on my shoulders, then my armpits, my groin, I linger there, then I reach back, point the showerhead at my waist, turn the water up to hot, hold it for a long time, the warmth feels good on my waist; the drain swirls and swallows the dripping, bubbling juice. Tomorrow, I can have the same vision again, with ever sharper colors, ever more precise details, and ever more real feelings.

    War has broken out! Putin has invaded my country, and I'm hanging around here, while the Russians are killing my people at home.

    I kept hanging around on the internet, the news was about Bucha. Dunya was silent, the circles under her eyes deepened. Her lips tightened, she limped to work, slept all day, didn't even look for hers.

    "What do you expect from me?" she asked with tears in her eyes. "I wasn't even there!" she then added. "You think it was good for me that for centuries we could manage our affairs in my mother tongue, everything, and then when I spoke Russian in the shop or in the office, they looked at me like a bloody rag! What do you think of the fact that they called me a Russian bitch? Where was my justice? What should I have done better?" I looked at myself, kneeling on my knees, fingers crossed.

    "And then, if you have already punished us with your glorious language laws, take the Poles, Lithuanians, Hungarians, and Romanians under the same umbrella. You are not yet mature enough to have your own country! What do you think the Russians think about what they did to their own people in Donbass? It's a wonder it's been tolerated so far!" - I wanted to cover my ears so as not to hear.

    "Now you were the strong ones, the avengers! Are you out for revenge? On me or my family? For how long? How long must you do this? After Gorbachev, everyone thought that we would finally reconcile with each other... We were all fed up, we were all happy, we were all waiting for things to get better. Wasn't it a nice gesture from.  And you, and NATO, where you are so eager to go, what gesture have you come up with? Your beloved NATO has surrounded the whole of Russia with cluster-headed missiles, and they just laughed at the Russians when they asked them not to do it, because that wasn't what it was about! After ninety, what was the point of fucking NATO anyway? Why couldn't it have been agreed and dismantled? And now you are playing the saint, oh, aggressor. Why? What would you do if your neighbors were collecting trained venomous snakes in their backyards? Because you are sovereign, you can do what you want. And the Russians don't care about their safety? So there you are: peace!"

    "You're asking what should they have done, should I have known?  Well, collaborate, man! We've got a lot of global disasters on our hands, and even this COVID! Isn't that why we should get together and figure out what we can do, collectively, so that we don't all go for it?! Don't the Russians have enough scientists, and that profiteering, deceitful and selfish America, not to mention sneaky, flat-faced China? Let them get together and wonder whether it is worth having any more children on this broken Earth, and then you can moralise to me on their knees."

    Mine are being killed at home, I was confused. It was late summer, when I got home, I volunteered. I was sent to a training camp, training all day long for 10-12 hours, I never thought that the Kalashnikov would hit back so hard. I was mostly given IT tasks related to American heavy weapons. In the evenings, on the Internet, I could sometimes talk to Dunya. I spoke to her in Ukrainian, and she answered in the same way, her voice was sad and she spoke very little, only in basic sentences.

    By mid-November we had recaptured Cherson, and were firing triumphal volleys into the air, even though we were running out of ammunition.

   We walked the ruined streets, the devastation was indescribable: the horror of the burnt-out mountains of rubble, the pain of the gaping, wall-less facades of the blasted buildings, the angry sadness of the balconies about to be torn down, the howling of stray dogs with thin bones, burning eyes and tucked tails.

    He was standing in front of a shot-up block of flats, ready to collapse, with his back to me, like a statue, motionless. I barely knew the uniforms, "Comrade, he must have lived here”, I thought,”but as I approached him, I glanced the white-blue-red stripe on his left arm and I fired. I fired out of reflex and anger, at the first live target of my life.

    He spun, caught his shoulder in a tumble, the world screamed, blood gushing from his shoulder-gripping fingers. My sergeant stood over him with his legs apart, a nice shot, he said, watching him twitch. With slow movements, he unlocked his machine gun; first he shot him in the left foot, then in the right leg, then in the thigh, then in the chest, even though the young soldier, with his remarkably narrow lips, was no longer moving. He stared, mouth agape, lifeless, at the flock of crows circling in the November sky.

    The sergeant, stepping away from the steaming pool of blood crawling towards his boot, leaned over the corpse, rummaged in his pockets for a while, pulled out a bloody leather pad, slowly unzipped it.

    "Vladimir Romanov, Private," he said, spitting out with hatred. - "We're not taking any prisoners," he said.

    "The bastard was preparing for a wedding, let him not rest even in his grave! - he said, pointing to a photograph."

    The photograph showed a boy with violet eyes, a narrow mouth, smiling with protruding teeth, putting a ring on the finger of my sister, Ludmilla Piatkina. That Latin American actress has such big teeth, I thought. I can't remember her name now.

    In my recurring dreams, huge celestial vehicles appear over our city, just a few hundred meters from the roofs of the block of flats. Slowly and silently they roll out, slowly, like cigarette smoke in still air. They cover the sky, the landscape below them darkens, and from their shiny, mercurial bodies, various tubular, twisting, flashing structures stretch towards the ground.
Groups of alarmed men stare up in petrified horror, others throw themselves to the ground with their hands clasped behind their backs. "We ask the public to keep calm!" a thunderous warning voice fills the space, then beams of light shoot from the structures of the marching vehicles onto the buildings; a golf course-sized, city-quarter-sized, black, smoking blur remains where the impacts occurred.


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