The novel is a sequel of the novel La Arme Blanche. Gay romance. Contemporary. The story of the English boy of the name of Jocelyn and his foster father is continued. The novel includes: a detective subplot, the detective story which will be developed and finished in the next sequel, a winter tale and poems written by the main adult character, and a story of an Egyptologist.
Now, Part 3, The Shadows Call. A bit from the story of an Egyptologist entitled Day Outlasts Century :
To bed, to bed, all he needed now was a good sleep.
But slumber eluded him. Morpheus had closed the door to his tired mind. He did not know when he fell asleep and when he began to dream; his dreams were so real that he did not feel dreaming. He remembered afterwards how intensive the anxiety he had was... When he was falling asleep, his thoughts lost their distinct contours; as though soaring in a turbid substance, the thoughts turned into obscure visions: a dark silhouette of a man on a roof dissolving with the moon that turned into a cat’s eye, whose sulphur colour brought a mysterious rustling of foliage, which fluently slipped into a colourful butterfly against the blue ceiling, whose wings turned into roseleaves, and fluid aroma flowed out to a pendent mere of attar in which one could see a sunlit garden full of some winsome labiate flowers like in the mirror on the opposite wall where pinks blended with golden hues. Eventually, all visions drifted from his mind as he quickly slipped into a deep sleep, supposedly restful.
Now, dreaming, he saw his new friend Anthony Blanche sitting in a chair with a book in hands. Leonard tried to look at the man attentively, and the man’s features and form transformed into the familiar female form of the goddess. He withdrew, and the image of Anthony Blanche returned. The man seemed to be about to read aloud. Indeed, looking down on the pages of the book, Anthony Blanche began, “From Tales of the Demiurges.”
Another moment Leonard saw other man. The man was middle-aged and naked. “Am I dead?” asked the man.
“You are.” It was other man and his name rose before Leonard’s mind as an iridescent inscription against a dark star-spangled background “Shambumbooklie”.
The naked man asked, “Who are you?”
“Demiurge,” the man of the name Shambumbooklie replied, “One of many,” he nodded examining contents of a thick volume, and he said again, “Dead. Absolutely.”
The naked man shifted from one foot to the other, “What comes next?”
The demiurge Shambumbooklie glanced at the man and lost himself in reading again. “This way now,” Without looking at the man he pointed to an ordinary door, “Or this way.” His index finger turned to the opposite side, pointing to other similar door.
The man asked, “What’s there?”
“Hell,” said Shumbuboocklie, “Or paradise. It depends.”
Hesitating, the naked man shifted his eyes from one door to another, “Where am I to go?”
“Don’t you know, where?” the demiurge raised an eyebrow.
“Well…” the man stopped short in confusion, “Whatever I knew, I am to go somewhere, according to my deeds.”
“Hum…” Shambumbooklie marked the pages with his finger and looked at the man. “According to your deeds?”
“Well yes. How can it be otherwise?”
“All right”, Shambumbooklie opened the book at its beginning and said, “It’s written here that at the age of 12, you helped an old woman to cross a street. Is it truth?”
“Yes, it is,” The man nodded.
“Is the deed good or bad?”
“Good, of course!”
“Let’s have a look…” Shambumbooklie turned the page, “In five minutes the old woman was run over by tram. But for you the old woman and the tram would miss each other, and she would live ten years more. Well?”
The man looked blank.
“Now, there…” Shambumbooklie opened the book at other page, “…at the age of 22, you and a group of your friends participated at the cruel beating of other group of friends.”
“They were the first to attack!” The man jerked his head.
“It’s written it was not so,” objected the demiurge, “By the way, your alcohol intoxication is not an excusing factor. In general, you broke three fingers and a nose of a 16-year-old youth with no reason. Is it good or bad?”
“After the mutilation, the youth could not play violin any more. You ruined his career.”
“I did it by accident,” said the man quietly.
“It goes without saying,” Shambumbooklie nodded, “Apropos, the boy hated the violin from his childhood. After your boisterous meeting, he decided to go for boxing to be able to fight, and then he became a champion. Let’s proceed?” Shambumbooklie turned a few pages more. “Is the rape good or bad?”
“That child became a good doctor and saved hundreds lives. Is it good or bad?”
“Well, I guess…”
“A life of a maniac-serial killer was among the lives. Is it good or bad?”
“And the maniac killed the pregnant woman who could become a mother of a great scientist. Good? Bad?”
“The great scientist--if he was born--should invent a bomb that could burn down half the continent. Bad? Good?”
“But I knew nothing of all this!” the man cried out.
“It goes without saying,” agreed the demiurge, “Or this, for example, page 345… You stepped on a butterfly!”
“What did come of it?”
Without saying a word the demiurge turned the book to the man and pointed with his index finger to a text. The man read it, and his hair moved on his head. “Horrible!” he whispered.
“But if you didn’t smash the butterfly, then look at what would happen.” Shambumbooklie pointed to other paragraph.
The man read it and gulped down jerkily. “It turned out that I saved the world?”
“Yes. Four times. It was when you smashed the butterfly, when you pushed the old man, when you betrayed your comrade and when you stole the purse of your grandmother. Every time the world was on the brink of catastrophe but it got out thanks to you.”
“Ah… as for the brink of catastrophe, it was because of me too?”
“It’s because of you, make no doubt about that. Two times. When you fed a stray cat, and when you saved a drowning man.”
The naked man became weak in the knees, and he sat down on the floor. “I can’t understand anything,” he gave a sob, “All I did in my life… all what I was proud of and what I was ashamed of… all is the wrong way round, all is inside out!”
“That’s why it’s wrong to judge you by your deeds--unless by your intentions, but you are your own judge in this.” Shambumbooklie closed the book with a bang and placed it in the bookcase. “In short, as soon as you come to a decision about a right door, go there. And I have a pile of work to do.”
The naked man lifted his tear-stained face. “But I don’t know which of them opens into hell, which into paradise.”
“It depends on your choice,” Shambumbooklie shut the bookcase.
The demiurge turned round three times, dropped a curtsey, and gave a sweetest wide smile. Black as Negro’s face, the smile trembled in the air, then it got lighter; with the reddish corners of its lips the smile touched the roofs and steeples of the town, descended as a pale mist, and finally it swallowed the town.
Charsky woke, because the lightning flashed, and another moment he heard a deafening thunderbolt. It was thunderstorm outside the window. Remembering where he was, he took breath, and took his mobile out of the pillow, where he slipped it before getting on the bed, and looked at the luminescent figures. It was afternoon. Looking round the dim lit room, he saw everything here was the same as it was when he fell asleep, and only the weather outside the window had changed. He reposed his head on the pillow, closed his eyes, and fell asleep again
Lara Biyuts © 2011
About the book cover. Picture: Wintergarten in the Winter Palace (1840) Artist: Mikhail Antonov (19th century)