Thursday, November 19, 2015


The roseleaves flutter, pouring his hands, face, clothes, the roseleaves cover all around him. Rosy, white, crimson,  they
He feels like catching them, feeling their queer tenderness on his skin, fluttering and whirling along with them, throwing them up -- as though it all will be always. As though it all was always. As though the whole world was made for him, and he for the world. And the world goes round whirlling along with him.
‘Porphyro! Do you like the flowers?’ Running out of the spectral rain of the fragrant roseleaves, he felt like taking a hand of a stranger in his to feel a glow and realize impossibility to understand. ‘They are beautiful, aren’t they?’
‘Yes, Lysander, the flowers of your mother are beautiful.’
‘But they are not hers! They are the world’s. They are yours. And mine.’ A touch to the face -- he runs with fingers over the cheek, plays the hair, takes the hand in his. ‘Come along, Porphyro, I’ll show you they are ours.’
At rare moments like this, Porphyro’s brown eyes become a teeny bit warmer, a teeny bit closer, and Lysander believes that another moment Porphyro comes to believe that the flowers are theirs. And the sky is theirs. And the world is theirs. And they are the world’s, and not the Empress Flavia’s, despite she is the Empire itself.
‘Porphyro, do you think I can endear anybody?’
‘I think yes, Lysander.’
‘If I’ll be able to escape from the Empress? If I’ll be able to save myself to remain for ever one?’
‘You will, if you wish.’ 
‘Will I be happy with the one who I endear? With the one who will endear me?’
‘Yes, Lysander, it will be so.’ 
Another touch to the cheek. ‘Thank you, Porphyro. Thank you for your belief…
A heap of leaves flatly flies about
between those who feel certain
that they know a truth about me.
Through the foliage…’
Lysander disregarded the words, which Favorinus addressed to him lately. The man’s chief claim to fame was his awesome oracles. The men like Favorinus did not live long. Lysander disregarded his cousins’ laughter, and he noticed neither the surprised-contemptuous eyes of the courtiers nor the puzzled talks of the tutors. He merely saw the light. On the night. In his own eyes. In the eyes of others, if the light was there. But the light was not there largely. There was only emptiness, odd, compelling, which was not within him. Was that not enough? 
Everyone around him talked of something. Cornelius Fronto with his ornate style (Lysander had nearly forgotten those names: Ulpii, Aelii) and everyone was perturbed about the same delicate circumstance; everyone would like to find that little boy sooner than the Emperor would do it. But nothing had changed to Lysander, unless his birthday crept up to, every month, every day, every minute. Lysander was looking at himself in a mirror and he understood more and more clearly: soon he would be no more. And nobody would have time to endear him. And he would not have time to endear anybody. Everything at the damned ceremony would be smashed to smithereens -- and he would be no more. But the story of the Aelii gave him a chance to escape, survive, remain for ever one -- to be alive. Lysander should seize the chance. As soon as the hunt for the young Aurelius had begun, Lysander and Porphyro escaped from the Palace. But only Lysander knew that they escaped. For the Empress, they just departed to Baiae. The chance should be seized -- and this instant he might remember of it no longer, putting it out of his head, going on living to see the light…
Today he again, as it used to be long ago, feels free. He has done something, and the damnation has quieted down. Again he does not know what he has ahead of him, he does not know his tomorrow. That’s great. True, the uncertainty is an extraordinary feeling. It’s like some cold somewhere deep in one’s heart, the cold of a beginning panic. But he felt able to manage with it. He knows: a wind is with him again, which is so good. Let the stone jungles of the Great City be around him, but his old friend is with him again. The dark-haired, statuesque boy, he has come, he has responded to Lysander’s call. Both of them know the sense of freedom, the sense of absolute danger, when they must draw up, ready to do anything, when red flags and loud cries of hunters could be beyond the next hill. Let it be. He’s ready today. As for in the future – all’s on the scales of the Fates. May his scale outweigh.

the end of the excerpt
Read more in the novel

Sunday, October 04, 2015

gothic fun

The Black Obelisk for Evil Empire

Gothic fun. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Moreover, someone’s confrontation to KGB as a gothic fun. Read the report.
19 September, 2015. A city in Russia. By night. Something surrealistic. A lot of tough men wearing dark jackets with corpses in arms, tilted forwards, are fussing about the city on the night. It’s local undertakers’ offices began fighting with ROC (Russian Orthodox Church) which is a branch of KGB, in Russia, nowadays.
The story began in 2010, when the square of ground, next to the building of the regional Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination, was allotted to the Eparchy of ROC for free using and construction of a “small shrine”. True, the clerics built the shrine, but they built an edifice in addition -– the hall for parting “Ascension” -- which looked like an undertaker’s office. This object of capital construction, ROC registered the square of ground as their property and enthusiastically started fighting with rivals.
The Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination was sandwiched between buildings of the local Hospital and Scientific Research Institute. Initially the Hospital forbade undertakers to use the territory of the Hospital for carrying dead bodies. After the Hall “Ascension” was built, the Bureau became partitioned off from the civilized world, because ROC’s Hall “Ascension” blocked access to the Bureau’s mortuary.
So, the Bureau is sandwiched between the Hospital and the new building of the privileged undertaker’s office that refused to let the Bureau the servitude. The Hospital states that this kind of activity with dead bodies is a bad influence on inhabitants, and the funeral mafia of the “Ascension” asks 5000 roubles for each transportation – in other words, for each carrying a dead body through its own territory. The Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination is a conveyor working day and night, the work cannot be stopped, which plays into the hands of the bandits wearing funeral garments, who seek to earn by this.
Now, on the night of 19 September, 2015, the Mortuary is besieged. The riotous undertakers are about to take the “Ascension” by assault. Fussing about with corpses in arms, they look uncanny, but everything looks uncanny on the night, and they are going to camp out.
Funeral vehicle drivers came unstuck. They are to bring dead bodies to medical examiners of the Bureau and take dead bodies away to funerals. On the night, they have an especially large “lot of goods”: about 40 dead bodies are to be taken from the Mortuary of the Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination and about 20 dead bodies are to be brought to. But fences and security guard there are on all sides. Undertakers on foot with stretchers in hands are forbidden to enter too. By 20:00, at the entrance to the territory of the Hall “Ascension”, 3 hearses come and block the gates.
All 3 contain dead bodies. 10 hearses more are parked in nearby yards and on sides of the street. About 50 tough men who earn on transport operations with corpses gather in a mob in front of the security cabin. From the Hall “Ascension”, 5 men of the security guard come up to the fence and the cabin. A woman wants to get her relative’s dead body, which she is to get from the Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination, but she is stopped by a man who introduces himself as the chief of the “Ascension” security.
Indignant, undertakers are noisy, bridling at and trying the strength of the fence; the security men sullenly snarl at them; the dead humans are silent and stinking. The point is that some undertakers’ offices are unable to deliver dead bodies to the mortuary of the Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination over the last several days because of the conflict. No refrigerators; the corpses are decomposing in the cars. The air is stinky.
Besides the undertakers, there are relatives of the deceased in the mob at the entrance to the territory of the “Ascension”. One woman came to get her late mother’s dead body for taking it to a funeral.
While everyone mobs and quarrels at the “Ascension”, the gumptious woman and her friends get over the fence to the territory of Eye Microsurgery; next, she climbs over into the territory of the Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination, where she gets the dead body of her late mother. She and her friends with the dead body in hands come out through the besieged entrance. The security guard of the “Ascension” never stops her; now, the dead body is placed in a car and taken away.
Seeing the security men are impossible to be talked into, the mob of undertakers divides into groups. Some of them are on duty at the entrance, not allowing the security men to relax. Some go to buy hot coffee. Coffee for everyone. The undertakers make fun by saying that it’s time to camp out and create their own maidan. There are representatives of different undertakers’ offices in the mob, rivals, but in the face of the common enemy, these semi-criminal looking men, yesterday rivals, are quick to league together.
While the mob has coffee, a wizard works on the numerous video cameras on posts along the perimeter inside the territory of the “Ascension”. The reliable God for reliable clients.
From time to time, representatives of undertakers’ offices move aside to hold a conference – developing a common strategy. No sense of being lost or losing heart, in the mob. All those present are sure that they will deliver their dead load, tonight, and get what they are to get. No one has any doubts about that. Discussed variants are various: from bribery to assault. This last is discussed openly and in earnest – so much that the policemen, who hear this, feel ill at ease.
The policemen are 5, 2 men of traffic police, 5 security men of the “Ascension”, who are uncertain about their wish to fight. Аnd they have 50 tough hot undertakers, who look like sad troublemakers who used to be in conflict with the law more than once.
But the mob of undertakers is thinning out, for the talks round into a plan. Most of the cars go away and begin circling the area of the city. In search of a trapdoor. The rest undertakers remain waiting, having coffee and distracting police and security guard of the “Ascension”.
By 23:00, at the entrance to the territory of the “Ascension” there are only 3 hearses, those blocking the entrance. Undertakers say in undertones: a trapdoor is found! To be more exact, the trapdoor is hand-made on the side of a street between the Hospital and Eye Microsurgery.
The trapdoor opens into the Hospital’s territory, where there is a parking lot with barrier. As some undertakers said afterwards, in the still of the night, one of the hearses managed to slip under the barrier, going after a car. According to others, the drivers simply raised the barrier and drove into the territory of the Hospital, where they found the gates – which got broken for some reason – and went to the desired Mortuary of medical examiners.
After these actions, the security guard of the Hospital decides that the lesser evil is to give corridor for the undertakers. True, the security guard has called several cars of a private security company, but it looks like it’s for their own security. The men of the private security company don’t hasten to fight with the groups of hot undertakers; they merely remain to look after the hotness. Meanwhile, at a distance of a couple of meters, the unloading and loading of the hearses is in full swing.
The handling looks like this. A hearse stops nearby the barrier and is quickly unloaded, with dead bodies being placed on the ground. The crew of the hearse quickly place the bodies on stretchers or tarpaulin, often two dead bodies at the same time. Next, the undertakers take their cargo and run. The distance from the barrier to the Mortuary is a kilometer – in the dark, on the uneven, bumpy road, with a corpse in hands.
Some of undertakers manage to enter the territory by their own cars. Hearses cannot be let in, but the Land Rover is allowed to do it. 4 dead bodies are placed in the car and taken away from the Mortuary. But the most of dead bodies do this journey by stretchers in hands of walking undertakers. The dead body bearers pant, on the move, mutter curses, stumble in the dark, but they don’t let a corpse out.
The dead bodies are sorted out on the move — on the ground. A moment more and the dead bodies are taken away: some to the Mortuary, some to cars. A heap of black bags on the ground at the desired chambers below ground. Some of the bags are carried to the Mortuary; some from the Mortuary. Some of the black bags are ready for packing dead bodies which will be mourned at funerals, tonight, in case if undertakers manage to deliver the bodies. Deliver it, get it, take it, and run. Mutual aid between undertakers: the yesterday rivals friendly help each other to carry dead bodies tonight. They say that the main point is not to confuse corpses and hearses. Fighting with the mafia of ROC.
Next day, the trapdoor is blocked by soldiers in the territory of the Hospital. Soldiers guard all doors and holes that can let undertakers in. Soldiers lock up the gates, which were available a day ago. A lot of policemen came to the area to keep order. By night, the surroundings of the regional Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination is filled with hearses again.
The ranks of undertakers have decreased in number since last night. From 50 to 20. Reconnoitring the terrain and comparing the strength, men of undertakers’ offices renounce the use of force — too many policemen. Then, undertakers decide to do it otherwise.
To representatives of the “Ascension”, they say, “You don’t allow us to carry dead bodies through your territory? Do it yourselves.” With that, at 21:00, they place the first dead body at the gates.
This turn confuse the security men as well as the policemen on duty who watch from afar. They use their mobiles to ask their bosses. Using the hesitation in the ranks of policemen and the “Ascension” security guard, undertakers take the second corpse out of the hearse and place it nearby the first. Next, the undertakers thrust both corpses underneath the gates to the territory of the “Ascension”. Proper documents are in each of the black bags with corpses. The “Ascension” security men are offered to carry the dead bodies to the Bureau of Forensic Medical Examination. But the men refuse.  
The bags with corpses prevent cars from entering the territory of the “Ascension”. Policemen don’t let thrust the third corps in the gates. The policemen want to take bosses of the transport operations to the police office. As their collaborators told afterwards, one of the detained was imputed rebellion against police. Now, unloading dead bodies at the gates of the “Ascension” is stopped. To the gates of the “Ascension”, a van is sent. The policemen put 13 detained men of undertakers’ offices in the van. Only 2 of the men are let go, because the two show their identity cards. All the rest are taken into custody till their identity is determined.
By 23:00, a group of policemen arrive upon the scene – they came to register 2 dead bodies at the gates. After examination and photographing, the corpses are placed in a hearse of the “Ascension”. The dead humans’ lot remained obscure, but they reached the mortuary, most probably. Thus, the next night confrontation comes to an end. Depressed, the undertakers depart, muttering curses. Policemen leave the scene too.
Some say that ROC is not guilty, and that merchants are those who have built up all the area. But the cadastral map, on open access, reads the purpose the square of ground was marked out for. The Eparchy asked the land for construction of a shrine with a hall for parting. “In fact, they have a real undertaker’s office. I never saw parishioners coming to the Hall Ascension,” the head of the city administration said.