"Julia Voznesenskaya . . . [writes] about our life after death, the knowledge of which is kept by the patristic experience and the Tradition of the Orthodox Church." — Olga Golosova
The golden clouds of Paradise were behind us, and we flew for a long time in the blue void.
Then storm clouds began to swirl in front of us, and we entered them as an airplane enters when landing. It seemed to me that the Earth was below us. To the right and to the left, the gloomy mountains overgrown with a dark spruce forest and bare gray peaks flashed by, and we flew into a narrow and deep gorge. It was gloomy and cold inside. The Guardian Angel carefully landed on the rocks, let go of me, folded his wings, and then we went on foot.
We walked, and the rocky ground under our feet went downhill and sank lower and lower, the darkness around us thickened. Wafts of a stinking yellow mist floated towards us.
"Where are we going?" I asked in alarm.
"We're going underground. We will have to pass through the gaps leading to the abysses of Hell. Hold on to me so that you are not carried away into the depths of the underworld. I must bring you to the edge of the area designated for souls with an unsettled fate. There I will part with you, Annushka."
I tightened my grip on the angel's hand. Soon I saw through a gaping entrance to a huge cave through the fog. The poisonous yellow mist oozed from it. Crowded at the entrance were some old acquaintances — demons. Seeing me and the Angel, they screamed and waved their paws, but he shouted menacingly at the demons, and they scrambled to the side.
We entered the cave. An impenetrable darkness reigned there, only the Guardian Angel's own light illuminated our path. Demons darted busily past us, grunting with displeasure, but they did not dare to come close. The cave was so long that its far end was lost in the darkness, the angelic light did not reach there.
An uneven stone vault hung low over us, so that the Angel almost touched it with his head. On the right and on the left passages receded into the distance, some blazed from the inside with a crimson light, from which escaped a suffocating stinking smoke.
The rocky uneven floor sloped gently under our feet. Sometimes we walked down the rough steps carved into the rock. It was getting hotter, darker, and depressing.
The Guardian turned into one of the side passages, and soon I was relieved to notice that the floor under our feet began to rise again, and the air seemed to become clearer. Soon, from the gray patch of light ahead, I realized that we were approaching the exit of the cave.
"Are we going to come out onto the surface soon?"
"Yes. But this is not the earth's surface, it's one of the deserts of hell. Remember: you have to go through it to the end and go to the sea, cross it and there look for a place where souls dwell, who are able to worship the Lord and to pray: there you will find hope. But for this you have to keep on going, and in no case fall into despair and immobility. Try not to lose the ability to think and act."
"So there really is hope for me?"
"Have you forgotten Olga? Didn't she teach you to hope?"
"I don't know now. But I will try, I will remember your words!"
"It will be very difficult, Anna, but you must preserve your memory and thought, and first of all — prayer. Do you still remember how you prayed to the Mother of God?"
"I'm sorry, to whom?"
"To the Mother of God. Her icon hung in your room. Don't you remember anymore?"
"I remember. I told her: 'Good night!' "
"And what did you say before that?
"Nothing!" I was very surprised by the angel's question, I really didn't say anything else when I stood in front of that board in the evening, that had a beautiful Woman drawn on it. I did not know who She was and why I had to talk to that board in the first place.
The Angel fell silent and led me further.
The underground corridor grew wider and wider, and soon we emerged from the ground into the gray twilight light. We stopped at the exit of the cave, and I looked around.
A gloomy and bare desert spread before us. Heavy still clouds hung overhead, gray light barely breaking through them and falling on the rocky plain. In some places bare black rocks stuck out like rotten teeth. Not a bush or a blade of grass was visible anywhere, between the stones the soil was covered with rusty ash, and it smelled of wet dust, ash and sour fumes. A low, dull sound, like the buzzing of a mosquito, floated over the desert.
I wanted to ask the Guardian Angel about something and raised my face to him: large tears were rolling from his radiant eyes. I immediately forgot what I wanted to ask and asked something else:
"Are you crying for me?"
“Yes,” he replied. "Now I must leave you."
"Well, go where you want. Where should I go? There?" I pointed with my hand to the plain that was spread out in front of us.
The Angel again began to speak of the need to maintain prayer and hope. I got a headache. I sat down on a stone and waited for him to be silent. His words ringed annoyingly in his ears, but he spoke indistinctly, and it became more and more difficult to make out what he was saying. I covered my head with my hands and tried not to listen to him, and I myself did not notice how I fell asleep.
When I woke up, this glowing person was still standing in front of me, holding my hand and muttering something. I remembered that we seemed to come here together, but I definitely didn't like him. And why did he become attached to me? And he kept saying something and speaking in his own bird language, as if he had not seen that I did not understand him.
Finally I got tired of it. I quietly took my hand out of his hand and walked away from him towards the black rocks. He was still saying something after me, but I didn’t listen or look around. I wanted to go away, find a quiet place, lie down and sleep. I reached the black rock, sank into the sand and ash at its foot, and closed my eyes.
I think I fell asleep again. In any case, when I woke up, it seemed to me that the gloom around became even thicker. I had to get up and go somewhere, maybe see if there was any housing or road nearby? My body was heavy from sleep and did not obey me well, my legs could hardly obey. Some kind of weakness gripped me from head to toe. It was hard for me to think, too. The buzzing monotonous sound interfered, filling all the space around. My state was like after having a severe flu, and a painful acute anguish ached in my chest, as if a large leech had wound up inside me and was sucking, sucking . . .
I noticed a large rock in the distance with a forked top and I walked towards it, barely dragging my feet along the red stony ground. I don't know how long I walked towards it, but it seemed to me that it was a very long time: at times I lost the sense of time and myself and walked as if in an unconscious state. Then something cleared up in my mind, and once again I saw in front of me the outline of the black two-pronged rock and even tried to accelerate my pace.
Finally I got to the rock and stopped in front of it in confusion: what should I do next?
Once in my youth, I did a little mountaineering, apparently, something remained in my memory, some climbing instincts. I unconsciously outlined cracks and ledges along which one could climb to the top, stood there for a while, and then climbed up. The rock was of volcanic origin, its weathered, spongy surface only seemed convenient for climbing when one was just looking at it. It crumbled in places, and the edges of the cavernous depressions were sharp, like the edges of bottles with a broken throat. Several times stones fell from under my feet, but I myself did not fall even once and safely reached the saddle between the sharp teeth. I straightened up, leaning on one of them, and looked around.
Behind me I saw the terrible height of a stone wall with the open mouth of a cave.
I vaguely recalled that I had been inside that cave and a certain luminous creature, fussy and loud-voiced, had been with me. I didn't want to go back there, and looked the other way. But no matter how much I strained my eyes, I could not see anything except the endless reddish-gray desert with lonely protruding rocks. I outlined one of them as a reference point and, descending from the cliff, went towards it.
Thus I wandered from rock to rock, I don’t know how many days, for a very long time. I did not want to eat, and there was nothing to eat there. I was afraid to sleep, only sometimes I fell from fatigue. I lay for a while not moving or thinking, and then I got up again and stupidly, stubbornly forced myself to go on, but I didn't know where or why.
One day everything changed. The gloomy rocks drew closer and turned into a wall of uncomfortable mountains with narrow foggy gorges between them: cold was coming from the gorges.
"Maybe there is water ahead?" I thought, and I went a little faster.
The cold grew stronger. The drafts from the gorges pierced me through and through, and I almost froze as I kept going, but the dreary buzzing sound that had haunted me for so long was now drowned out by the howling of the wind in the rocks. I chose one of the gorges at random and walked along it.
There was no path, but I could guess that I was walking over the bed of a dry stream. Sharp fragments of lava rocks gave way to rounded boulders. It was not easy to walk on them; I had to jump from stone to stone, and my heavy body would not obey me. I kept falling through the cracks between the stones.
As the dry channel rose, the wind died down, and finally, it stopped completely.
The gorge ended, leading me into a ravine between two dark ridges, peaks extending beyond the clouds.
In absolute silence there lay in front of me a frozen mountain lake, frozen all the way through: even the black boulders at its bottom were visible. On the surface of the ice, I saw many dark figures, which at first I took for large stones scattered on the ice. When I approached the shore, I saw that these were not boulders, but the motionless bodies of people frozen into the ice, thousands and thousands of dead bodies of men and women.
I stood indecisively on the shore, and then carefully descended onto the slippery ice. Closest to me was a young woman; her red dyed hair was pulled back, showing a white ear with a large plastic earring and part of a plump, roughly rouged cheek.
I bent down and touched her shoulder, and to my surprise, she turned her head and looked at me with one eye, around which was blurred mascara and green shadows.
“What's your problem, don't you have enough room?” she asked in a quiet hoarse voice. I saw that her neck was unnaturally elongated, and a deep blue furrow was visible on her neck - a trace from a rope? I tried to lift her, but immediately realized that this was impossible: the entire lower part of her body had turned into ice and melted into one piece with the ice of the lake.
"Don't touch me, go away . . . Move away and lie down. There is enough room for everyone. Lie down and don't think about anything. This is the end of everything. Lie down . . . "
I left her lying there and walked on, examining the figures frozen into the ice. The further I moved away from the coast, the more people I met that were completely turned into ice. But some of them were still able to talk. They opened their eyes, slowly turned their heads and watched me.
Their weak voices rustled like leaves all around me:
"Don't walk here, don't disturb us ... Lie down and sleep ... Stay with us ... It's all over ... Only here is the desired peace ... There's nowhere else to go ..."
Yes, it is good here, there is no howling wind, no nasty, melancholy buzzing. But how is there nowhere else to go? I know that I have to keep going, and I will.
My bare feet were already freezing. Tearing them away from the ice, I turned to the shore. The voices around me rustled in disappointment:
"You're leaving . . . in vain . . . Come . . . back."
Having gotten out onto the shore, I went to the wall of black rocks. I did not remember what side I had entered the lake on, and I didn’t care where I went, but I had to get away from this lake. Even my sleepy, frozen mind was aware of this.
I trudged along the black wall of ugly rocks, looking for a way out. I fancied there was some movement on the lake. Looking around, I saw two strange huge boulders appearing on the ice. They moved from body to body, and after they passed there was only empty ice. It seemed to me that they were heading in my direction, and something in their movement seemed to be threatening to me. I stood and tried to understand the threat, and they crawled towards me. Soon they became visible in every detail: they were two monstrous slugs of dark ice with ugly fish faces and bulging unblinking eyes. Crawling over the bodies of people frozen into the ice, they absorbed them and became thicker and thicker.
I couldn't run, but I didn't want to stand still either. I turned away from them and walked towards the rocks, no longer slowing down. To move faster, I began to wave my arms as I walked. I didn’t look back, but I heard an icy rustle behind me, exactly the same as when a sled goes along a river — thin, cracking ice.
There was no time to look for the gorge I came through, and I turned into the first one I could distinguish among the rocky peaks.
I was lucky: as soon as I turned the corner, I saw a wide dirt road going down quite steeply. Soon I left the cold breath of the lake behind and it became easier to walk.
After a while, I began to come across lonely travelers. Their faces were sleepy, and their eyes were empty, like broken windows. They walked with their heads bowed and dragging their feet, silently bypassing me, diligently avoiding meeting my eyes. Only one of them stopped and asked:
"How far away is the Lake of Despair?"
I replied that I was just coming from there and that it was not worth going there — it was a dangerous and bad place.
"Stupid! You don't know WHERE we're coming from!" and he wandered on.
After some time, I again came out onto the plain. I was leaving the cliffs behind and in the distance there was a black ribbon, like a wet asphalt highway, and a lot of people bustling around could be seen. I quickened my pace, and soon the dirt road approached the road under construction. It was not covered with asphalt, but with rough hewn tiles of black lava.
People who looked like worn-out prisoners were building this road. Some cut square black tiles with hammers and chisels, others dragged them on a stretcher to the road, and still others laid them down and hammered them into the road with large hammers. Hammers struck, stones thrown down from the stretcher rumbled, and rude, commanding shouts came from those who were looking after the work.
"Where does this road go?" I asked the builders.
"To the Lake of Despair."
"And where does it come from?"
"From the Lake of Despair."
I waved my hand at those idiots and went down the road.
Walking on smooth tiles was, of course, easier than walking on stones and sand with ash.
For many days no one met me, no one caught up with me, and the entire time I was completely alone.
Finally, in the distance, I once more saw people bustling about at the end of the black road that ended right at the desert: as before, some were dragging stones on a stretcher, others were laying them down, and to the side they were cutting stone tiles with chisels and hammers.
"Where does this road go?" I asked.
“To the Lake of Despair,” was the answer.
Are they building a ring road, or what? I didn't have any desire to go to the Lake of Despair, but one couldn't get anywhere else along this road. It annoyed me so much that I wanted to pick up stones and throw them at the stupid builders until they grew wiser and learned to answer the questions of smart people. I restrained myself because there were more of them.
But I figured out how to outsmart everyone.
I went back until I was almost in the middle of the road, where there were no builders and no one could see me, and then I turned off it and went straight through the desert, as I had gone before - from one protruding rock to another.
It was the right decision. I walked for a long time, for several days, it seemed to me, but then one day on the horizon I saw low gray buildings like barracks and hurried to them. It was a real barracks town, stretching across the entire width of the steppe.
Approaching its outskirts, I saw many low wells made of rough stone and remembered that I hadn’t drank water or washed myself for a long time. I went up to one of them, but when it was a few steps away, a hand flashed over the edge of the well, and a stone flew at me. I barely dodged it.
Approaching the next well carefully, I shouted from a distance:
"Hey! Is there anybody here?"
Instead of an answer, stones were thrown at me again: apparently, the inhabitant of the well had a whole arsenal of cobblestones inside, he threw them incessantly.
"Stop throwing stones, do you hear? I don't need anything from you, I just want to ask . . . "
The stones flew more often, and one of them hit me in the leg. I felt severe pain, and looking at my bruised lower leg, I saw that a black spot had appeared at the site of the blow. I hastened to get away.
Passing the other wells at a safe distance, I noticed that their inhabitants were watching me, carefully sticking their heads above the walls of their shelters.
I went to the first barracks in the city.
They were made of gray stone, without windows, with holes instead of doors ... They seemed ridiculous to me, because they had no roofs.
But still, they had walls. You could hide in there from something terrible outside. I wanted to find shelter in one of the barracks, but they were all overcrowded. There were some very unkind people living in them, they drove me away from everywhere.
"Go! Go away! There's no room!" they shouted at me. I asked to come in and cried, but no one took pity on me or let me in.
Having lost hope of entering, I leaned against the outer wall of the first barrack I came across and closed my eyes. It was good at least to feel some kind of shelter behind my back after my long wanderings on the empty plain. And I fell asleep.
Someone huge and ferocious roared over my head in a wild voice. I woke up in horror. It was only later that I found out that it was not a beast or a demon, but an ordinary call to work.
Dark men and women began to crawl out of the barracks. Then angry men appeared, they looked like bosses. They had iron clubs in their hands. They started shouting and driving everyone into columns.
"Why are you sitting here?"
I did not notice that one of the chiefs had come up to me from behind the barracks. Before I could get up, he hit me on the shoulder with a club.
"Come on, come on, move!"
"I'm not from here ..."
"Whaaat?! I'll show you 'not from here'! Come on, join the column! Quiiiiickly!"
He also hit me on the back with his stick.
I decided that I had to obey and get in line. Actually, I should have run away from there as soon as possible. I realized that I was in some kind of zone or camp. How I knew this word, I could not remember, but I knew that in the zone some people work and are called "prisoners", while others who command them are called "bosses." There are also "guards" with truncheons. That is the wrong name, because they do not guard the prisoners, but just watch them so that they do not run away. But I'll run away anyway . . .
I stood in line, which the guard had pointed out to me with a truncheon. On command, the column of us moved along the camp lanes to the exit from the city.
I realized that they were driving us to work, and I was delighted. Work is when you do something, whatever you are told, and then you get something for it. For example, food or clothing. You don't need to think at work. The person in charge thinks. It's hard to think at all, it gives me a headache. But I have to do it, or I will be done for. When you think, thoughts come to mind. From thoughts you can learn how to act so that you don't get beaten.
They drove us to the construction of the road.
The road is where people walk and drive. I was paired with a fat woman and given a stretcher. We carried the stone tiles. The woman swore at me, but I didn't understand why. After all, I tried very hard to work well, because I thought that they would give me something for it.
The guards used sticks to painfully beat those who were lazy. They had sticks with hooks, and these hooks tore pieces of meat out of people. I didn’t want this to happen to me, so when a security guard was close, I would say to the woman: “Let's try to work well so that they don't beat us!” But she just walked behind me the whole time and pushed me in the back with the stretcher.
She thought that I was stupid and didn't know that she was the one pushing me in the back, but I figured it out. She was lazy and angry. But I put up with everything so that the guards would think that we are good and work well.
We also had a break for rest, called a "smoke break". Why it was called that, I did not know, because no one here smoked. Smoking is when delicious smoke comes out of one's mouth.
We stopped working when the horn blew. We were lined up in a column and taken to the city. I was very lucky: I was herded into the barrack with everyone else. I sat down in a corner so as not to disturb anyone and so that I would not be kicked out into the street again. But I still managed to get in the way, because they pushed me and told me to move. Here, everyone always interfered with everyone. A man walked up and down the barracks and kept stepping on my feet. I pulled them under me so that they wouldn't get stepped on.
Everything was almost quite good now.
I had a permanent job and a place to live.
I was also beaten, of course, but not as often as the others. At first it was very painful and scary when a piece of your body was being torn out with a hook. Then I saw that my skin was growing back again, and I stopped being so afraid. One can get used to pain.
I tried to talk to people, but no one talked here, they only swore. Still, I listened to all the swearing, and I managed to learn everything about our city.
This city and, in general, this whole world are ruled by the "masters". They are not like us. They are different. Very scary. They sometimes appear over the road or over the barracks, and then everything calms down. People cover their heads with their hands and throw themselves to the ground. Everyone is afraid that they will be caught today. The masters never attacked me. I always hid well: I did not fall to the ground, but stood facing the wall and closed my eyes. So they never saw me!
The masters are very greedy. They do not give us food or drink. But the masters themselves eat.
They eat us. If you are lucky, they will only tear off a piece. And if you are not lucky, they will gobble you up without a trace.
If a person is getting eaten, he screams, while the rest stand around and look. They are no longer afraid, because the masters usually eat only one person at a time.
In addition to the masters, guests also arrive in the city. They are good. They are big white birds, who bring bread and throw it to us. Then everyone rushes and the scramble begins. Whoever got the bread tries to save it, so that it lasts longer. They run away and eat it on the sidelines. This bread, probably, is very tasty and healthful. Whoever eats it walks around so cheerfully, and his whole body brightens. The others envy and hate him. Then he snaps and again becomes like everyone else.
And this is how we build the road: First, we lay the slabs in one direction, and then we go to the other end of the road. There is a completely different, easier job over there. On that end, we take out the road. We break the slabs with sledgehammers, put the fragments on a stretcher and carry them far into the desert. Then everything changes places: we begin building the road at this end, and dismantling it at that end. It's a good job, it never ends. It's boring without work.
During our work, we are commanded by the senior soul-eaters. They are just like us, only darker and thicker. They are fat because they have also learned to eat us. The masters will gnaw someone, and leave the leftovers to the seniors.
That's why the senior soul-eaters love the masters, and are not afraid of them. When the masters arrive, the soul-eaters are always happy and run to meet them. Some seniors eventually swell and turn black so that they themselves become like the masters, and not like people.
The people quarrel and fight among themselves all the time. Sometimes they get so angry that they grab each other's body with their teeth. Some quarrel on purpose in order to tear off a piece of another in a fight and devour it. Over time, they become soul-eaters. Not seniors, but wild ones.
Wild soul-eaters do not work and do not live in barracks. They gather in flocks and prowl the city and the desert. If they meet a lone soul, they will immediately attack and tear it to pieces.
That is why you have to be with everyone all the time, so you don't get eaten.
By chance I learned a very important thing:
All people are divided into two types: those who eat others, and those who are eaten by others. I belong to the second. Once, while working, the masters devoured a soul over the road. A piece fell at my feet. I looked at it and turned away. But my partner rushed to it, grabbed it, and ate it. She became very angry with me and said that others would eat me anyway. Well, let them eat me. I can't eat that. Now, if only a piece of that bread falls from the sky! But nobody gives me bread. I have never tasted a bite, I just heard how it smells. It smells very good, like the sun.
Some souls don't want to live with all the other people. They quit their jobs and leave the city. But these are not soul-eaters; they themselves are afraid of soul-eaters. They build themselves a barrack for one person and live in it. I saw those when I approached the city. They threw a stone at me then. It hurt.
Life is boring. There are many people, and they are all evil.
Nobody gives me bread. I am often beaten and bitten. They will probably eat me up soon. I heard that there is a place where no one shouts, quarrels, or eats each other. It is some kind of lake. I wish I could find out the way there!
It happened during work. The senior soul-eater had just ordered us to rest. My partner and I put the stretcher on the ground. She lay down, and I stood nearby and looked at the sky, for no particular reason. Then a large white bird appeared.
It made a circle above us, and suddenly a large white round piece of bread fell at my feet! I looked around. Everyone was asleep. Then I carefully picked up the bread and began to eat it. How delicious it was! It was warm and smelled of the sun. But I managed to eat only the edge. It was a pity I had to hurry! Before I had time to swallow the chewed bite, my partner woke up and pounced on me screaming. She snatched the bread out of my hands and threw it aside. “This is poison!" She shouted. "Don't you dare to breed an infection here! "
I wanted to pick up my bread, but the others had already pounced on it, and soon not a piece was left of my bread - they grabbed everything. I burst into tears of resentment: it was my bread!
But the next day the white bird flew in again, and again dropped my bread. I grabbed it and ran away from the road, fell on the sand, covered it with my body and managed to eat it all without a trace.
From that moment on, everything began to change in my life. The main thing is that I myself began to change. My head cleared, and my strength increased. I began to think and even remember. Before that, I could only think about what was in front of my eyes. If I didn’t look at a person, then it was as if he didn’t live for me. And now I remembered a lot of things that I had forgotten. And I did not always live in this city. I did not always build and destroy this road.
I remembered that I had been walking for a long time in the desert, because I had to go somewhere.
The white bird began to bring me this wonderful white bread every day. It not only cleared my mind, but I myself began to brighten. That was very good. I noticed that soul-eaters do not like to eat light bodies.
My partner noticed that I was becoming brighter.
She began to spit at me and swear at me with bad words. Then she got so angry that she dropped the stretcher and left. I never saw her again. Instead, they gave me another partner.
He was long, thin, and had huge protruding ears. I called him Lop-Eared. He was not offended. He whined all the time: "I feel bad ... I feel very bad ... I have it the worst of anyone . . . " But he was not angry. He watched with envy as I ate my bread, but he never took a piece away. He had no strength, and he worked badly. In order for him to carry the stretcher with me, I had to load it with two fewer plates than my former partner and I had carried. But it was easy to work with him. I tried not to be noticed by our soul-eating chiefs.
But they, of course, eventually saw it, and they announced that Lop-Eared would soon be eaten. I got scared for him and began to think, how could I help him? I didn't want a new partner.
I decided to feed Lop-Eared a little. When the white bird dropped the bread to me again, I gave it to Lop-Eared. I stood next to him, and while he was eating, I drove away the others.
He ate all the bread without a trace and looked at me questioningly.
"There isn't anymore. There will be more later."
He turned away and silently walked towards our stretcher. He didn't even say thank you.
When we were already carrying the last stretcher with slabs that day, I sensed danger and quietly looked around. Two senior soul-eating guards stood to the side and looked at us, talking about something.
"You!" One of them jabbed a club at me. "Leave the stretcher and go line up."
"You stay where you are!" Lop-Eared obediently stayed.
"Throw down the stretcher and run to the line!" I whispered to him. He looked at me, blinked his bulging eyes, and with a squeal rushed to the line that was forming. He managed to blend in with the crowd.
The soul-eaters got furious and pounced on me, brandishing their clubs. They beat me and tore my body with iron hooks. I tried to protect at least my head with my hands. They began to kick and trample me with their feet, and I soon ceased to remember myself.
When I woke up, I heard Lop-Eared's desperate cry:
"I won't let you have her! Get out of here, you dogs! I will not let you eat her! She is good!"
Opening my eyes, I saw that Lop-Eared was standing over me. In his hands he was holding a handle from our stretcher, and he was driving the wild soul-eaters away from me with it. I realized that the camp soul-eaters disdained to eat me and left me to lie on the road, and now the wild ones were running for the carrion. How good it was of Lop-Eared not to abandon me! But now we will have to answer for the broken stretcher. They will beat us.
I raised myself up, and then the soul-eaters saw that I was inedible for them — during this time my body had become too light, because of the heavenly bread. Lop-Eared reached out his hand and helped me up. The soul-eaters retreated. Sitting not far from us, they raised their heads and howled.
"You have become alive again, how good!" Lop-Eared said, and he stroked my shoulder with a skinny hand. "Let's go to the camp as soon as possible. Maybe they will still let us into the barracks. It's scary here."
"We will not return to any camp or barracks! We're leaving here. Take your stick with you — it will come in handy on the road."
Lop-Eared howled like a hungry soul-eater.
"Why are you howling?"
"Then go back alone. I'm leaving!"
I picked up what was left of our stretcher and began to demolish it. Building materials were needed for what I had in mind. It is a pity that the barracks took the tools to the camp after work. The lop-eared guy did not think to help me. He stood, watching my work and blinking.
With the stretcher broken into planks, I lifted it up on my shoulder. I turned and walked decisively towards the hermit village. A heartbreaking howl and whimpering rang out behind me. I knew that I would return if Lop-Eared did not follow me, but I really didn't want to!
I walked without looking back, but I heard that his whining did not lag far behind me. After a while, I paused so that he could catch up with me. Otherwise, he would still be afraid to walk alone, and would turn back towards the barracks.
He came up to me and took my hand. With his other hand, he dragged a stick along the ground.
"Let's go back to camp!"
Ugh! I squeezed his hand tighter and pulled him along.
We approached the first stone wells. Stones flew out of there, and the people cried out: “Go away! Everything is taken here! " Well, fine. We'll build our own shelter, even better than theirs.
We went through the whole hermitage and went out into the open desert. I found a suitable rock, near which there was enough debris on the ground, and threw off my burden.
"We'll live here!" I told Lop-Eared.
"Why are you scared, silly?"
"They will come. They will eat us."
"Don't be afraid, they won't eat you with me around!" I patted him on the shoulder with a patronizing air. “We’ll build a nice house, and they won’t get to us. Now start bringing stones, and choose the bigger ones!"
There was no need to teach him how to carry stones. He learned that in the camp. He even knew how to select flat pieces that fit comfortably on top of each other. It was very important that they fit snugly. Our house must be strong enough to withstand any attack. There is danger everywhere!
Source: Мои посмертные приключения (Russian)
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