Аннотация: Haldor Volcano The Moon Outside My Window (Satirical Novel) Part 3 Translated from the Russian by Alec Vagapov
The Moon Outside My Window
(36) The Island of Mutants
Sailing close to the shore I took all I needed and pulled the boat out onto the sand. I hid it in the thick bushes of the exotic forest.
There were monkeys crying, and up in the night sky large bats flew around flashing with burning green eyes.
I gathered some brushwood and made a fire on the sandy shore. I had supper by the fire and, fearing the unexpected attacks of wild animals, could not fall asleep till morning.
But in the end I somehow did fall asleep, and my fire went out. When I woke up I saw a man of about 35 years of age. He was tall and broad-shouldered, black-haired and snub-nosed, with thick lips and slant eyes. He had striped clothes on and had a harpoon with a sharp head in his hand.
Apprehending the danger, I got up. But speaking in Russian he set me at ease:
- Don't be afraid. I won't do wrong to you.
- Are you Russian? - I asked in surprise
- No, - he said - we speak Russian but we are not Russians. My name is Ibn Yamin.
He stretched his hand to me to get acquainted.
- I am Mukhameddin - I said shaking his hand.
- Nice to meet you
- Nice to meet you, too, I said smiling.
We continued our conversation in a friendly atmosphere. When I told him briefly about myself and my occupation Ibn Yamin warned me that I should by no means tell the islanders about it. The matter was that by the decree of Boshmutant, the ruler of the island of mutants and nits, medicine was forbidden on the island. He who dared cure mutants and nits would be executed, without investigation and trial, with a bat, to spare a bullet. For being healthy for the mutants and nits was a disgrace and equaled to genocide. Should a mutant recover, he or she would be sentenced to death and tied to a tree of shame with ropes, smeared with pitch and burnt alive.
Ibn Yamin turned out to be a nice man. We made friends very quickly. I helped him drive fish in the lagoon where my new friend usually caught it with his sharp harpoon. After lunch we went to the village where Ibn Yamin lived. He told me many interesting things, and later I wrote everything down in my diary.
Ibn Yamin's ancestors at one time arrived at this island in search of peace, fleeing from persecution on the part of Kargarangs. It was an exotic island where the ocean waves ground the coastal rocks licking them with their huge tongues, where hundreds of thousands of birds left their nests flying in the wet wind and crying altogether, where green tropical forests perpetually rustled with soft fluttering or crackling sounds, where flocks of yellow and green parrots settled snugly and comfortably in their nests, where the noise of tropical rain and cries of monkeys resounded in the air coming from distant woods, where wild bananas grew and where Ibn Yamin's ancestors had lived a long time building roads and houses, hunting wild animals and fishing by the Ocean shores. But one day hordes of mutants and nits arrived at the island shores on ships.
Heroically defending the island from the invaders Ibn Yamin's ancestors had lost many courageous warriors.
In an unequal battle the mutants and nits had won a victory over the healthy people and besieged the island declaring it "an island mutants and nips". They gave it the name of "Zhimland". Its capital was the village of Lattakhoch. The ruler of the island was the Monarch by the name of Boshmutant, the chief mutant with his chief executioner Shishmutant. The Monarch"s wife was Yoshmutant, which meant young mutant. The astounding thing about it was the fact that some healthy people wanted to become mutants or at least nits. To win the favor of the Monarch Boshmutant they married off their young and healthy daughters to aged mutants and nits. Some people had even undergone a plastic surgery in order to look like mutants and nits. But the security services disclosed the trick accusing them of violating the law of Zhimland. The pseudo-mutants were arrested on the same day and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.
The mutants and nits worshiped the idol Grekhbatta The leader of that religious group was Brigbattal Blokholov. Every night, opening his book of perversion in the shrine "Cakes Brothel", the sinful Father prayed his confession, beginning with the name of the idol. That's what he said in particular:
"My dear stray children, our book of perversion says that every member of our faith should commit at least one sin a day. Then he will go to the paradise Durman located on the ocean shore where dirty prostitutes, souteneurs, homosexuals, androgynes, alcoholics and drug addicts render their intimated services to parishioners. There are a sauna with a swimming pool and a casino for gambling there. And he who does anybody good is in for it. He will right off get to hell which is under the residence of His Majesty Boshmutant.
Ibn Yamin met Brigbattal Blokholov when his father Kukhikan, defending the oppressed healthy people, had broken the rules and had to go the Cakes Brothel Shrine where he was marked with Satan's hot star and given absolution from the good he"d done. But it didn't help anyway. Six months later Ibn Yakhim Kukhikan" father had exceeded the bounds of the law again criticizing strongly the police of Boshmutant and was arrested and convicted of a crime. The criminal case was taken to the Supreme Court. The hearing had lasted a long time, and finally the court passed the sentence on his attempt to overthrow the constitutional regime and condemned him to death. To see with his own eyes that he had got rid of his main opponent, Boshmutant attended the the execution ceremony near Garbage Mountain.
As Garbage Mountain was a sightseeing of Zhimland big ceremonies were arranged there such as executions. Ibn Yamin was not allowed to see his father. Rattling with shackles and chains the latter proudly went up to the scaffold. They took the shackles off his hands and feet and put him on the scaffold placing his right foot into a wooden casing witch they filled with concrete. While the judge was reading the verdict the concrete of the highest quality hardened and dried up. Then, by Boshmutant's order, Ibn Yamin's father was thrown into the ocean to be eaten up by sharks. The mutants and nits made merry while the healthy people cried in silence. Ibn Yamin, too, shed tears, cursing angrily Boshmutant's regime. He clenched his fists so strongly that one could hear his bones crunch.
After the tragic death of his father Ibn yamin was left alone. His mother married the middle school teacher of Dog"s Language and Literature by the name of Kamish Leila Kunji Mol Sulak. It was still a mystery to him why on earth Ibn Yamin should have married that man and what she had found in that thin creature, with a long neck and a bird"s head. But that was his mom"s right, so to say.
Thus the teacher of Dog"s Language and Literature with a strange name became Ibn Ymin's father in law.
To forget it all, Ibn Ymin was looking at the dark window of the wooden house which his father and he had built from logs some time before.
It was dark outside, and it was raining heavily. Ibn Yamin was engrossed in thought again listening to the sound of rain. Like other people, he loved his father. He was not only his father but also a friend of his. They used to go fishing in the opens sea together rowing amidst the autumn clouds of fog. When father cast the net with all his might like a Texas cowboy throws a lasso on a wild horse" neck, it flew up so beautifully! A spectacular sight it was indeed! Particularly when they pulled out the net out of water with fish Ibn Yamin would forget about the world around for a while. His heart would be filled with such a joy, a joy beyond compare!
And now his dear and near father was probably lying on the bottom of the ocean. His body might have already been eaten up by sharks...
. What a good man his father was! Could he ever forget how he and father cut big trees with a sharp axe in the wood, how splinters dispersed flying in all directions and how nice the bark and the wet dust of trees smelled in the wood! How the trees fell frightening the parrots whose multicolored feathers glittered in the sun!
Up to that day the rattle of fallen trees and the cries of parrots lingered in his memory.
Sipping coffee, Ibn Yamin wistfully looked out of the window. It was raining cats and dogs in darkness.
Suddenly somebody knocked at the door frightening Ibn Ibn Yamin. There was another knock. He got up cautiously without tearing his eyes off the window. He raised the lantern and went up to the window. He saw the contour of a man with a pale face flash in the window. When he heard a voice from outside the window he felt a nervous tremor in his backbone. It was a voice very similar to his father"s.
- Sunny, open the door. I am your father. I am back. Don't be afraid. I will explain it to you now. You see, I never told you and never showed it to you. My foot which the mutants had concreted was artificial, that is plastic. You see.. Well... how should I explain it...
Now my fear had disappeared turning into joy. Ibn Yamin nearly dropped his lantern for joy. Leaving the lantern on the table he opened the window quickly and stretched his hand to his father. The latter climbed into the house through he window, and hugging each other they cried and laughed happily. Then Ibn Yamid helped his father to take change his clothes. When his father had warmed himself up with a cup of coffee wrapping himself in the blanket Ibn Yamin put his arms round his shoulders and said:
- Thank God, you are alive. When you, like a ghost, looked into the window I got terribly scared. Oh, my Lord, how could you walk with your plastic foot all this time? I didn't know it was artificial. What had happened to it?
- Well, sunny, there was in incident.
He looked at his bad foot which he had made a month before. Then he told his story:
One day Boshmutant arranged a bloody competition, a shark fight, at the main amphitheatre of Zhimland. An artificial water reservoir had been built on that occasion on the ocean shore at the foot of the high rocks. The pool was filled with blue ocean water mixed with blood to attract sharks, and the bloody show began. Hundreds of gladiators became preys of the blood-thirsty sharks. But they fought to the end dying with dignity. May they rest in peace. The mutants and nits, with Boshmutant at the head, enjoyed these dramatic scenes.
Now it was my turn to fight. I jumped into the water where sharks swam around furrowing the surface with their dorsal fins. Taking the harpoon in my hands I attacked the sharks. I killed one very quickly. But it took rather a long time to fight the next one. It bit off my right foot. Despite the burning pain I continued fighting the shark. Taking my chance, I hit it with all my might piercing its belly. It tossed about for a while and then turned over with it its belly up. So I had won. But this victory cost me much. When the gangrene had begun the newcomer from the Island of Durdabon Monsieur Lord Mr. Baron de Chanell amputated my foot. The mutants later killed him for treating the children of mutants and nits.
-Well, well, - said Ibn Yamin looking proudly at his father. The latter fell silent. Then he asked:
- Sunny, what about your mom? Where is she?
Instead of giving the answer, Ibn Yahim frowned hanging his head.
-Why don't you answer? Where is she? In hospital, is she? Why do you keep silent? Is she ill? That's what I thought. Poor creature, she was worrying about me. I thought she had left for your granny's. Tell me, is she in hospital? It was entirely my fault. She loves me more than life. Do you hear? We should tell her as quickly as possible about my arrival from the other world before she committed suicide in despair...
- She is gone - Ibn Yamin said interrupting his father.
- Gone? Where to?
- Just gone.
- How come? That can't be. Maybe, someone had hurt her? Was she hurt?
- You see, father, it's I am embarrassed to tell you about it. Well, you know, she got married.
On hearing that Ibn Yamin's father opened his mouth like a fish having a feed in an aquarium.
- Come on! What are you talking about? - he said getting up.
- Yes, father, it's true. She married the teacher if Dog"s Language and Literature. His name is Kamish Leila Kunji Mol Sulak.
- Really? - said the father standing like a statue in a cemetery.
- Yes - said Ibn Yamin. To console his father, he hugged him saying:
- Don't worry. The main thing is that you are safe and sound. To be honest, she is not to blame, after all. Maybe she married that idiot to forget about your death.
The father sat down in the armchair and lit a cigarette letting the smoke out through the wide nostrils of his nose looking like a red pepper. Then he turned sharply to his son:
- And you looked at it through your fingers?
- You see, father, she is not a sister of mine, after all, how could I tell mom what to do? I did tell her that it was not good to marry after father"s recent execution. She wouldn't listen to me. What was I supposed to do in that situation?
- There was no reply to Ibn Yamin's question. Father and son were looking out into the night window. They could hear the noise of the tropical heavy shower still coming from outside.
(37) The Bubble Newspaper "Khandun"
When Ibn Yamin awoke his father had been gone. He must have left taking offence with Ibn Yamin's mom for marrying the teacher of Dog"s Language and Literature Kamish Leila Kunji Mol Sulak. Ibn Yamin's heart sank. He dressed quickly and made his way to Garbage Mountain. The road was slippery after the night rain. The morning was cold. Some distance away from the ocean islands with canes rustling in the wide winds there were flocks of pelicans flying around. On the way to the Brothel Cakes Shrine he encounted Brigbattal Blokholov. "May you fall ill, as often as possible, Your Damnation" - Ibn Yahim said greeting him in a mutant's way..
- Oh, my stray son, I curse you for ever and a day - Brigbattal Blokholov replied. Then he went on:
- You have stopped attending our shrine of late. Maybe, you have a good reason for that? But in that case you should have called me on my burial phone. My phone number is easy to remember: it's 666.
By all means, Your Damnation! I will call you. - said Ibn Yamin.
I said good bye to Brigbattal and made my way down the street to the place where the poet by the name of Hurdranjahjotshanfajzkarmahkvarabidzhanlmashur lived. He, too, thought Ibn Yamin to be his faithful friend. The poet was not in. The friends went out into the street to look for Ibn Yamin's father. But he wasn't to be found anywhere. Ibn Yahim was upset. Hurdranjahjotshanfajzkarmahkvarabidzhanlmashur tried to console him:
- Don't worry. Be happy that your father is alive. He will come back in the evening.
When they saw a donkey coming up to them they greeted him. Otherwise they would be done for, because donkeys were sacred animals and in good favor on the island. Beating or abusing them was a serious crime. He who abused a donkey or a pig faced a torturous death by suffocation with a plastic bag put on his head. The donkey and pigs had even office cars and drivers. And though they did nothing but harm to healthy people the state allocated huge sums of money for them from the state budget. In other words, they got a big salary, plus free clothes and food. The animals wearing a black suit, a hat and a tie had also accord inviolability. If a donkey kicked a healthy person the latter was to accept it as "a mother"s kiss". If a pig trampled one"s garden it was regarded as a sign of a good harvest in the coming year. The donkey's excrements were dried in special drying chambers and then granulated, packed and sold at the market as tea. It was in high demand with mutants and nits. The donkey's urine was a raw material for producing perfume for ladies and eau-de-Cologne for men.
After long anthropological research work the scientists of Zhimland were convinced that all mutants had descended from donkeys and pigs and not from monkeys. Occasionally, a pig would get into a hall of the conservatoire and let out a loud badly smelling gas. Those sitting in the hall applauded throwing flowers and rosebuds to the pig and crying delightfully, tears in their eyes:
- Bravo, Maestro! Bravo!
Then they stood applauding for a long time. One mutant woman got up on the stage and kissed the pig. A crowd of mutants rushed to the pig and pushing one another started asking it for an autograph. The pig was not willing to give autographs, while Ibn Yamin and Hurdranjahjotshanfajzkarmahkvarabidzhanlmashur, standing aside watched the donkey go away. The animal made its way to Garbage Mountain where a sanatorium for animals had been built. There came a mutant boy selling bubble newspapers printed on air-balloons. To read the paper one had to puff it up, so that the small letters and pictures would enlarge and could be read. Hurdranjahjotshanfajzkarmahkvarabidzhanlmashur bought one copy of it and started inflating it. When the balloon paper had grown big enough he started reading it. The paper had nothing in it except for a small announcement. Hurdranjahjotshanfajzkarmahkvarabidzhanlmashur read it aloud.
"A big puff up competition in inflating the government newspaper Khadun is to take place at the Central Stadium today. The newspaper will be printed on condoms. The competition will be attended by His Damnation Boshmutant, his wife Yoshmutant and their son Miralay. The prizes will be presented personally by the esteemed Monarch".
The friends looked at one another, thought a little and made up their minds to go and watch the unusual competition. When they arrived at the stadium there were no vacant seats there.
Boshmutant sat in a high throne, smiling like a shark. He was guarded by men in civilian clothes armed with catapults with telescopic sights. Their pockets, filled with cut and poisoned
When Boshmutant waved his hand the band stopped playing, and the competition began. A thick deputy with a big backside came out to the ring. He was presented with a copy of condom newspaper which he was to blow. Before getting down to work the deputy carefully massaged his lips. Then he bowed to Boshmutant, kissed the flag of Zhimland made of foot-rag and started puffing up the condom newspaper. The newspaper carrying Bosh mutant's photograph was growing second by second along with the article praising him to the skies. For lack of air and due to tension the deputy turned red in the face. The jury watched him carefully. It took the deputy an hour to blow the newspaper. It was expanding along with Boshmutant's photograph and an article of appraisal. It seemed that the deputy would fly off any minute. Boshmunant opened his mouth with surprise. Suddenly, an extraordinary thing happened, quite unexpectedly. The deputy let the condom-newspaper Khandun out of his mouth. Releasing the gas, the newspaper flew at a high speed over the people, hit Boshmutant's mouth and got stuck in his throat.
(38) The Elixir of Life
As the saying goes "troubles never come alone". After the funny story that had happened at the Central Stadium Boshmutant's son Muraley fell ill. He constantly gritted his teeth clenching them strongly. To prevent him from chewing his tongue, the royal footmen stuck into his mouth all sorts of rags, towels, bed-sheets and curtains. Cutting them to pieces, Prince Miralay was continuously chewing mattresses, mats and slippers emptying the court wardrobes. Boshmutant had nothing to do but sign an odd decree on a new tax which said that all healthy citizens of Zhimland were to hand over to the state their clothes, carpets (if they had them), mattresses, bed-clothes, curtains, socks, mosquito nets and all.
After the decree had been released the citizens of Zhimland started delivering all sorts of thing indicated in it. The Royal servants would untiringly put all those things into Prince Miralay's mouth. Like a grinding machine, he would day and night crush all the rags and things like swimming trunks, knickers and socks of healthy people. But it was impossible to save Prince Miralay's life in that way. Considering the worsening state of health of his son Boshmutant declared the state of emergency on the whole territory of Zhimland.
The Parliament had set up a special Commission and worked out a plan on Miralay's salvation. Soon afterwards, another decree was issued by Boshmutant. It said that to prepare the elixir of life for Price Miralay from people"s tears every citizen of Zhimland was to hand over tears of grief and suffering to the state.
The tears of joy and happiness had a poisonous effect, therefore the men at the reception point only accepted tears of grief and sorrow. The decree did not apply to mutants, nits and hogs.
The accumulated tears of healthy people were to be frozen and kept in underground store-houses. The ice was to be used for making lollipops and ice-cream.
On the first day when the tears had been accumulated Boshmutants"s scientists prepared the elixir of life and presented it cautiously to the Monarch. Before giving it to his son the latter told the Health Minister to take a gulp of it to test it. Holding the bottle in his hand, the Minister stirred it up and drank. He smacked his lips to show how good the elixir was. Seeing that, Prince Miralay grabbed the bottle off the Minister"s hand and emptied it at once. After that Prince Miralay's state of health began to improve.
Boshmutant was beyond himself with joy. In a burst of generosity he signed and announced another decree. The "historic document" ran as follows:
1. Each drop of bitter tears shall be taken under control, and everything should be done to prevent the tears, that is the strategic material the country needs, from being smuggled abroad. The tears shall be taken to the state warehouse in refrigerators guarded by snipers.
2. The vicious plans of the people"s enemies shall be nipped in the bud, and to prevent Prince Miralay's elixir from being spoilt by them, they should not be given a chance to add the tears of joy and happiness to the tears of grief and sorrow.
Humorists shall be the first to be drowned in the ocean, leaving alone the jokers. Secondly, a tough censorship shall be imposed, so that poets and writers might only write sentimental works and composers only funeral marches. The singers, too, shall sing songs arousing compassion. The sculptors and artists shall create pieces of art on beggars and stray orphans living in cellars swarming with rats. Film producers shall not be allowed to shoot comedies. In their documentaries about people taken ill with aids, fowl plague and schizophrenia they shall only show tragic scenes of life.
Right after the release of the decree all humorists of Zhimland were arrested and drowned in the ocean with their hands and feet bound and with heavy stones hung up to their necks. By Boshmutant's order the funniest humorist Zhibai Zhibai was hanged by the neck on the mast of an abandoned ship. When Zhibai Zhibai"s body started decomposing flocks of birds of pray covered the sky over Zhimland.
I hate to describe the way the birds picked the eyes of the humorist before healthy people"s eyes and tore out his skin and guts along with pieces of his clothes turning him within half an hour into a white bare skeleton.
His body was now hanging like a souvenir on the mast in the blowing wind. His bare scull was looking at the people as if he were laughing with his mouth wide open.
(39) The Man with a Heavy Suitcase
After supper Ibn Yamin switched on the TV set. The TV station in Zhimland had only one channel called "The Paradise News". It showed the TV address of the mutant journalist Gabigay Nairang. Before speaking he bowed low to Bushmant's portrait and said:
- To begin with, I"d like to say: Glory to my dear wise Mister Boshmutant! Secondly, I do not agree with the decisions of the administration of The Guinness Book of Records. They hate our achievements. That's why they never enter our record-holders in their book of records. For example, they ignore Mansur Kashe Katnet Bugaz, the son of our nit deputy Rizan Kazzab. He was head of the collective farm growing bananas for Boshmutant and his family. Mansur Kashe Katnet Bugaz was unable to move, eat and use the toilet without someone to support him. Yet he managed the farm. As a full-fledged nit he dreamed about glorifying his father and himself among mutants, donkeys and pigs. To achieve the high result poor Mansur Kashe Katnet Bugaz every day attended a massage session where a whole team of masseurs rubbed down his backside. He wanted to set a world record in the nomination of "The Nit with the Biggest Ass in the World". He would have his ass massaged even on the coldest winter days. When getting into the car part of his body, for lack of space, it would always stick out of the window. The result was that he had fallen ill and taken to hospital. And...
Gabigay Nairang took out his lady's handkerchief and began to cry:
-Sorry, but when I start talking about our great record holder Mansur Kashe Katnet Bugaz
I cannot help shedding bitter tears...
- Oh what a big ass he had! - he continued. It hung down his back like a rucksack. You should see his wide trousers! When they put them on him and make him sit down in a soft armchair his pants would bulde at the seams. After he had died a heroic death his big ass became the issue of controversy among various institutions. Some wanted to have him embalmed, others suggested that he should be kept in the vacuum of a mausoleum under glass, still others wanted to mummy him and sell to the colonial museum of Amsterdam. The funeral procedure was, of course, extravagant as well. The ablution required two hundred and eighty nine and a half liters of water. The most extraordinary incident occurred outside the cemetery. During the burial the Mansur Kashe Katnet Bugaz"s heavy coffin was accidentally dropped. You should see the dust it had raised then!
The peasants who saw the dust from afar thought with fear that it was a nuclear bomb explosion and or something. The greatest difficulties occurred during the burial of the corpse. When the coffin was being lowered into the grave with a crane the big bum of the departed man showing itself from the coffin got stuck. The grave diggers didn't take that into account, and the corpse remained hanging in the air for two hours. Suddenly, the steel rope broke off, and the coffin fell down from height making a huge hole in the ground.
As a result many people were late for work, and showed displeasure. Some healthy people were happy. They buried quickly our famous record holder as a national hero.
His big bum formed a hill in the middle of a cotton field.
The measures to be taken for perpetuating the memory of Mansur Kashe Katnet Bugaz were also at a deadlock. One artist, a nit, for example, began to paint the picture in memory of Mansur Kashe Katnet Bugaz but, unfortunately, he was unable to fit in the most strategic part of the late man's body, that is, his huge backside. The artist explained to the mutant journalists that in order to paint the portrait in full he needed a lot of money to buy a canvas, oil-paints, a fillet and a tablet. The most tragic thing occurred when mounting the memorial monument which the sculptors had made of bronze. It so happened that the sculptors had miscalculated the weight of the large tonnage of the hero"s backside, and, as a consequence, the monument fell down bump on our editor"s bike which was bound to the foundation with a chain, to prevent it from being stolen by delinquents. The bike had been taken on lease by the shortish editor from his neighbor, a souteneur. Since the editor"s legs were too short he could only ride some bicycles. The editor"s driver Nigmat grieved most over the case because he had usually taken the editor on that bicycle and used it to earn some money on the side.
Now the editor has to go to work on foot. But we realize that art requires sacrifice. So on behalf of all mutants and nits I demand that the administration of The Guinness Book of Records should enter in the book the name of our fellow countryman Mansur Kashe Katnet Bugaz in the nomination of "The Nit with the Biggest Backside".
As he was finishing the letter Gabigay Nairang began to cry again. Ibn Yamin switched off the TV set.
(40) The Gamayun Birds
In the western part of Zhimland by the ocean shores they had found a mysterious egg weighing one kilogram. The ornithologists had recently started carrying out research there. Nobody knew what animal or bird the egg belonged to. Some said it was the egg of an ostrich. Others vigorously denied it because ostriches didn't live on the island of mutants. To find out the truth the scientists sent the egg to the village of Lattakhoch, the capital of Zhimland. Boshmutant himself was interested in the egg.
The ornithologists set up a camp on the ocean shore and joined the scientist in research work taking under control the place where the mysterious egg had been found. They redoubled their vigilance over the part of the sky from where the bird could fly in and lay the egg. The ornithologists vowed solemnly that when they caught the bird they would give it as a gift to Boshmutant on the occasion of Independence Day. They resided on the ocean shore in disguised tents and continued their observation. A month had passed, and now an egg was hatched in the specially made incubator. When he saw it Boshmutant was happy like nobody else. The chicken of the size of a partridge, with a long neck, and looking like a peacock, was the object of universal attention. The scientists unanimously concluded that it was the chicken of Phoenix that is the bird of happiness Gamayun . It was a good sign they said, that life in Zhimland would now prosper like never before.
The next day Boshmutant got the good about the arrival of two birds, possibly Gamayuns, up in the sky which had been kept under observation by ornithologists.
Boshmutant ordered all branches of power to build observation posts for him and his family in all the places where the birds had been seen. The authorities did as they had been told. Then Boshmutant and his family attended the unforeseen Festival of Ornithologists. Boshmuant, armed with white binoculars, watched the flight of the birds. The birds of happiness had beautiful feathers and long tails which rustled in flight. A crowd of people gathered on the square. Protecting their eyes from the sharp rays of the sun they watched the flight of the unique
legendary birds. Presently, two more birds appeared in the horizon. Wishing to set up a firm under the name of "Happiness" Boshmutant shouted to the ornithologists to catch those Gamayuns. They explained that to entrap the birds they needed a chicken. Boshmutant gave his consent.
The ornithologists placed Gamayun's bound chicken on the pasture. The discontented little Gamayun resisted picking the hands of the researchers, opening its mouth wide, pulling out its tongue and croaking. On hearing its cry, the long tailed birds flying over the people responded. They started flying low, like crazy, at a high speed. Now "fresh forces" had arrived, and the whole sky was covered with long tailed birds, raising the wind behind. There were so many gamayuns up there that people lost balance from giddiness. It was dark now. Against a dark background the birds" eyes were sparkling red and yellow. Then the birds got angry and started bombarding the people with their droppings and picking their eyes. Boshmutant's head and his clothes were all white from bird"s excrements. The umbrella, which Bushmutant's footmen had set up to protect the boss, bent and broke off. People dispersed in panic. But sliding on the birds" excrements they slid like on skates and fell down. Boshmutant's guard, armed with catapults, did their best to protect their boss who cried:
- Shoo! Shoo! Help! These are birds of Misfortune! Arrest all ornithologists immediately! Oh-oo-oh! He now fell down, now got up, his clothes, his hair, his face and hands were covered with chicken manure, and he looked as if he"d dropped his head into a cake. His guards could hardly take him away. People ran home. With their eyes bleeding, the long tailed gamayuns chased them all the way. They were flying around all night till the following morning. When it had quieted down people went out groaning and gasping. The whole of Zhimland was littered with poultry droppings five inches thick. It looked as if snow had fallen. People were cleaning the streets and roofs as if from snow.
($!) The Crumpled Letter
At the following session of Parliament many mutant deputies spoke praising Boshmutant and proposed an amendment to the Constitution granting a life term of power to Boshmutant. Then they nominated Marshal Cats, the adopted son of Boshmutant, for the Commander of Telepathic Communication. Before the voting the deputies gave the floor to Marshal Cats who said as follows, in particular:
- Esteemed mutants and nits! It is common knowledge that I am Sir Boshmutant's adopted son. Nobody knows who my parents actually are! But it doesn't matter. I definitely know that I am a pure-blooded descendant of donkeys. If somebody doubts it, I can prove it.
Saying this Marshal Cats stretched out his neck and closing his eyes started braying like an ass. Then he continued:
- According to the witnesses, when I was born my parents wrapped me in a red rag with the slogan "Children are our future!" written on it (incidentally, this slogan is still kept at the local museum of Zhimland). So they wrapped me up and threw me into a garbage can. At that moment a she-dog was walking around in search of food. It licked me all over and instinctively I found her nipples. She breast-fed me and took me to her place where she had six puppies. I lived with them in a haystack along with my half-blooded brethren. It's true that sometimes we would gnaw at one another for the nipples. Then a writer, or a journalist, wrote a thick novel about me entitled "Son of a Bitch". So I became a sort of a little hero arousing compassion among the public. The rumors about me reached the ears of Boshmutant who took me on and became my adoptive father. He gave me the name of Cats which can be decoded as Commander of Amazing Telepathic System. You see how enterprising and far-sighted our Boshmutant is! What a prophecy! Even that Frenchman, what do you call him... Adam de Michel Nostradamus could not foresee it!
The mutants sitting in the hall stood up like one applauding him: "Bravo! Bravo! Viva, Commandant!
After a long storm of applause the mutants and nits sat down, and Marshal Cats continued:
As a direct ancestor of great donkeys, a pure-blooded mutant and son of a bitch, I am grateful to you for appointing me to this high position. My mission and the task of my army consist primarily in building prisons in the air where the thoughts of healthy people will be decaying. The second task is to fix transmitter-chips into the skulls of new-born healthy babies so that we might be able to constantly read their minds.
To collect taxes for the roads that the healthy people use, we must install speedometers on their feet.
The fourth task is to install counters in the respiratory tract of healthy people so that we could see how many cubic meters of air they consume for breathing. I think that working along this line we will win your confidence which we now receive on credit.
Ibn Yamin did not want to watch that comedy, so he switched off the TV set and went out into the street. It was gloomy outside. A cold ocean wind was blowing from the North. The drizzling rain was knocking on his open umbrella. He walked down the street jumping over the pools which reflected the shadows of wistful trees and houses. Near the brown house with overshadowed windows where the authorities try healthy people he encountered Brigbattal Blokholov.
- Bad Afternoon, Your Damnation, - said Inb Yamin.
- Ah, yeah, may you be cursed! Damn you, my prodigal son! Where are you off to on this rainy day?
- I am going to work, Your Damnation! Where else can I go?
- Really? May you catch an HIV, my prodigal son! Do you remember that we are having a Boshmutant election? Whom you are going to vote for, I wonder?
- Well, well, I declare, Your Damnation! Whom else can I vote for if there is no other nominee except Boshmutant?
- Ye-ee-s, yes, you are right my prodigal son. Ok , bye!
- Bye! - replied Ibn Yamin and walked on down the side-walk.
When he reached the prison a stone wrapped in paper flew by. He looked to see where the paper had flown from and saw a man standing beyond a barbed wire fence and holding on to the
window bars. Dressed in a uniform, he was pale and thin. Ibn Yamin understood what it was and picked up the paper which had fallen down with a stone near him. He hid the paper and walked on. It was still raining. When he arrived at the fish-factory he dropped in at the smoking-room where workers smoked self-made cigarettes, that is, tobacco rolled in paper.
He sat down on a bench and began to read the prisoner"s letter. The latter turned out to be Gabigay Nairang, a journalist and reporter of the bubble newspaper Khandun which was printed on condoms. The journalist had changed in prison to such an extent that even Ibn Yahim did not recognize him. He skipped through the letter:
"I ask the man that picks up this letter not to throw it away. I want the whole wide world to know that I am suffering.
I used to be Bushmutant's favorite journalist. But some misunderstanding occurred. It was like this. When my esteemed Boshmutant visited the unfriendly state of Kargarangs he took me along with him, as a newspaper reporter. After the plane had landed at the airport he gave an interview to journalists while I stood by his side putting everything down. I kept writing while Boshmutant spoke nonstop. In exclusive interviews and at press conferences Boshmutant was always the only one to speak while other just listened. I was untiringly writing down all he said. Once I stopped writing to give my fingers some relief. Suddenly Boshmutant looked at me in such a way that my heart went pit-a-pat. I resumed writing. I didn't know what I was writing, but I kept writing with my hands trembling like those of an alcoholic holding a glass of vodka. Well, how do you like it? I had used up my note-book. But it was forbidden to stop writing. Then I started writing on the cover of the note-book Alas! Everything comes to an end in this world! The cover was also used up now. I told myself to take an extraordinary measure, that is, to begin to write on my shirt, my vest, then on my face, my hands, my chest and my belly. But our Boshmutant kept on talking.
After the press-conference I said that I was ill and left for home. When I arrived home my own children did not recognize me. My daughter said:
- Who are you, uncle? Father is not in. He and Boshmutant left for distant lands by plane.
- What are you talking about, daughter, - I said - It's me, your dad and journalist Gabigay Nairang!
My daughter ran away. Soon my wife came out, pan in hand.
- Help! People, help! - she cried - they want to kill us!
- Why are you crying, Sapangul? - I said - It's me, you husband Gabigay!
But she wouldn't listen. She called the militia.
- Hello? Is it militia? Come quickly! A maniac has intruded into my house! He has all his body tattooed! Yes, yes! Put down: 666 Satanic Street, Apt. 13. Be quick!
I was at a loss. Now the operative group arrived as if they had been waiting for me.
- Comrade militiamen, I am Boshmutant's favourite journalist. Don't you recognize me? Please, let me go!
But they twisted my arms putting plastic handcuffs on me, and one of them said to my wife:
- Well, thank you for cooperation, sister. You have helped us a lot. We"ve been in quest for him. At last we have caught him. He is a dangerous criminal under the nickname of "journalist" who escaped from a high security prison camp. Thank you again.
- Not at all - my wife said - come into the sitting-room. I will treat you to tea.
- No, thank you - one of the cops said - we have many things to do. We"ll come to see you some other time, ok?
They stuck me into the car and left.
And now I am here doing time. Only healthy people are kept here. They don't like mutants and nits. As for Boshmutant, they just hate him. Last night a negotiator came to the cell. My cellmates acquainted me with the facts. At clarifying the case it became clear that I was not the dangerous criminal under the nickname of "journalist" that had escaped from prison.
They had pushed me into the corner and said: "from now on your place will be there near the lavatory". So, please, take this letter to the editorial office of the bubble newspaper "Khandun", printed on condoms, before these disgusting healthy people killed me".
When I had finished reading the letter I was lost in thought. Then I threw the letter into the garbage can by the puddle and went away.
(42) The Odd Election
. The election campaign began on the island. The healthy part of the population of Zhimland hoped that the election would be democratic for once, that is, representatives of healthy people would also be nominated for presidency. But that didn't happen. Speaking on TV Boshmutant said that the people of Zhimland were not yet prepared for democracy, and for that reason, with the help of a referendum, he had prolonged his mutant leader"s credentials for the 150th time. And, in spite of that, he told the newspaper reporters that when agreeing to nominate again, he had made up his mind to sacrifice himself.
After his speech an old man with a white beard said as follows:
- Dear mutants and nits, I want Boshmutant to be our lifelong president in the better world as well. I want him to rule our country eternally, for ever!
The old man cried standing for he was in the grip of deep emotion. Suddenly, he made a sharp gesture, and his glued beard came off. He turned out to be a young actor from "Latta Khoch Theatre of Comedy and Satire.
The next day the Central Election Committee spread strange voting ballots all over Zhimland. On seeing them the healthy part of the population got surprised. The ballots were printed on toilet paper. Moreover, they had to be thrown into W.C. pans instead of voting- boxes.
Early in the morning, before TV cameras and fake journalists, Boshmutant and his wife Yoshmutant entered the voting room, i.e. the main toilet of Lattakhoch District and dropped the ballots in a pointed manner into the toilet pan. After that all people of Zhimland entered the toilets and dropped their voting ballots into WC pans. Due to the clogging up of the cloacae the disgusting medley (I beg your pardon) came up to the surface. Half an hour later all that stinking muck (I beg your pardon again) flooded all flats and started leaking out of windows.
For shortage of pure oxygen people began to put on gas-masks meant to be used during the war. It was slippery in the streets. People didn't run but slid on the muck, as if on ice. When the level of the liquid dung rose sharply people began to swim in it. Ibn Yahim, too, swam in the dirt. Hoping to save their skin cows and dogs also swam around. Free swimming was out of question. It was obstructed with sofas, cupboards, lockers, mattresses that were also floating around in the streets.
Some active people walked on stilts like storks walking around in search of food. Towards noon Brigbattal Blokholov had arrived to Ibn Yamin's side on a small couch, rowing with a piece of board. He stretched his hand to Ibn Yahim and said
- Give me your hand, my prodigal son.
Ibn Yahim took Brigbattal"s hand and got out of the muck.
- Well, damn you, Mr. Brigbattal - he said cleaning his clothes from the dirt with a stick.
- Those were elections, really, my prodigal son! - Brigbattal Blokholov smiled.
- Well, I never! - Ibn Yamin replied as he went on cleaning his clothes with a stick.
After that they sailed on sitting on the sofa. On that day many electors had drowned in the muck.
Speaking on TV after the election Boshmutant, addressing the audience, said:
- I have told a thousand times that our people are not yet ready for democracy. There"s the result. You have made certain now what consequences democracy involves. Well, look how many people have died! What are they guilty of? Who will be responsible for their death? It's an irreplaceable loss for us. It's the bourgeois who have thought up democracy in order to occupy our country without waging a war and suffering losses. I assure you, my dear fellow countrymen, that we have proper ways and means to defend you from democracy. For once I will be a life long President! It's my patriotic duty before our Motherland.
Saying this Boshmutant kissed the flag of Zhimland made of foot-rag and, winking cunningly, finished his speech.
(43) The Iron People
When I woke up I realized that after the long reading of uncle Mukhiddin's diary I had fallen asleep sitting on the chair with my hand on the table.
I had a strange dream. I saw myself swim through the thick fog in a wooden boat, across the endless ocean, splashing the water with the oars. I had rowed a long time, before I reached a fabulous island. I bound my boat to a palm tree growing on the sandy shore. It was quiet there, not counting the hue and cry of birds and the sound of the ocean surf.
Admiring the island"s landscapes I walked along the sandy shore and suddenly saw an iron man with his nose broken. I stopped. The iron man stared at me in surprise with his eyes blinking and casting a green light. Then he turned round and ran off rattling like a tin plate which the peasants strike with a stick during the solar eclipse. The sound gradually faded. I climbed a tree to see where the iron man had gone. He was running back now along with other robots. There were many of them. A whole gang. Hoping to hide from them I jumped down. But it was too late. They ran up close to me. The one with a broken nose cried:
- There he is, our God Almighty! He must have heard our prayers and arrived.
The robots bowed submissively and lay down on the ground.
- Pardon us, oh Lord! - shouted they in chorus.
Now oneof them raised his head and said:
- Oh God, you have arrived at last. We"ve been waiting for you for such a long time! We knew you would come!
I stood in fear and trembling not knowing what to do. Then, pulling myself together, I said:
- What are you talking about? I am not in the least a god! Are you crazy? I am an ordinary man! A human cannot be God. Don't worship a human being. It's a big sin!
- No, - said the robot - we know well that we were created by man, hence he is our God. Don't reject us! When you left us our power unit broke. We are short of oil and spare parts. To make things still worse, the epidemic "rust" has broken out. So many robots have died from this plague. You see, we are all rusty. God, help us, for pity's sake! I am leader of the robot tribe here.
- I understand you. But I will say it again, I am not God! I am an ordinary man! Here is my passport which says that I am really a man, and my name is Al Kizim. My surname is Kashak. There you are, look and see, if you don't believe me.
I showed them my pass.
- Oh lord, don't say that - the tribe leader said - what I told you about the suffering of our community is only part of the trouble! Due to lack of energy our army has lost its defensive capacity. The aliens have broken our army's resistance, and now and then they kidnap our fellow countrymen as metal waste and compress them with a press-machine. They have captured thousands of robots, and this outrage is going on up to now! Kargarangs deceitfully make us work for them in mines. We work from morning till night extracting uranium for 6-12 volts of energy. What can we do? We want to live, after all. God, have mercy upon us! Give us your blessing!
I thought a little and then said:
- All right, I will help you fix your power supply unit. But don't call me God.
- Agreed! Oh Lord! - they shouted.
I raise my hand to quiet the excited crowd. When the noise ceased I said:
- After I restore the power supply unit you will be independent and stop working in pits. The radioactive uranium is bad for your health! If you don't stop worshipping man, if you don't get rid of the nasty habit of bootlicking and if you don't learn how to control the power supply there will be no democracy in your community!
At this point someone in the crowd raised his hand and asked in a loud voice:
- Oh, our Lord, may I ask you a question?
- Yes, please but don't call me "our lord", ok?
- OK and what is democracy, if it is not a secret?
- Ah, that's a delicate question - I answered. Democracy, how should I explain it to you... It's a society where robots live like one friendly family regardless of economy and production, no matter if it is made of pig-iron or tin. In a democratic society all robots are equal. Democracy is...
No sooner had I said it than a robot with a cubic head shouted from the crowd:
- Don't listen to him! He is lying! Corrosion is not because of uranium, it's because we have to wash ourselves! Our enemy number one is water! We shouldn't wash! I am sure he will start building bath-houses on our island tomorrow so that all our generation may die from corrosion! That's entirely his fault! Had he made us of a more solid metal we wouldn't have suffered so much! He has deliberately made us of tin having saved silver and gold! It's humiliation, and mockery, brothers! Don't believe this crook! We shall work in pits extracting uranium in excess of the plan and helping our friendly people of Kargarang! My dear fellow countrymen, beat this god! Kill him!
- That's right! Beat him! Kill the god! - cried another robot with a round ball-shaped head.
I cried in panic:
- Don't beat me! I am not God!
Presently, one robot attacked me. I assumed a fighting stance like a karate fighter and started moving with light bounding skips. Then I shouted "ki -ya-a-a" and kicked the one who had attacked me. His tin backside rattled as he fell down. His head sparkled. It was a short circuit, I figured. I looked and saw his eyes fuse like a pair of burnt out electric light bulbs. On seeing this one of the robots said:
- Our vicious god has kicked Talarsus Tongatar in the backside killing him. Poor Tongatar!
We will avenge you! Beat him! Beat this god!
The angry crowd of robots attacked me like an assault squadron. At this point, thank God, I woke up and couldn't come round for a long time. I looked at the watch. It was 24:00. The moon was shining outside my window.
(44) The Balloon Flight
Before opening his bakery our master Zhavatokhun-aka had long worked as a design engineer and flew on dirigibles, balloons and hang-gliders. In spring on his initiative we made a huge air-balloon and prepared for the flight. Zhavatokhun-aka was the commander of the expedition, Sunnatillo and Ummatillo were appointed navigators and I was the flight engineer.
At last the take-off hour had come, and exchanging our good-byes with those who had come to see us off we got into the basket of the balloon. The master gave orders to unhook the balloon from the anchor. The balloon took off carrying the basket where we had settled ourselves. The basked was swaying from side to side. We looked like little kittens in a bag. At first we were a little afraid. Then we gradually recovered. We even started looking down. It was beautiful! The people standing on the ground looked like ants, and the houses appeared as small as little boxes. The roads were floating by like white snakes sunk in greenery. The green hills and fields now looked like a square, now like a parallelepiped, now like some other figures of divine Geometry. It was a lovely view! We flew all day long admiring the bird's eye view of the scenery. Although it was the summer time the air had become ice cold by evening, so we had to put on warm clothes. At night the earth was no longer visible, and the sky was covered with twinkling stars that glistened like the diamonds of Great Genghis Khan's treasure which for centuries mankind has been vainly trying to find in the deserts of Mongolia. The moon had not yet risen. When it did rise I felt like sleeping for I was tired. I dreamed that Babat and I went to see our eldest son who served in the army. When we arrived at the garrison and asked the commander about the whereabouts of our son, private Sunnatov, the officer said:
- Your son is presently at the village of Duraley where an auction is held.
When we arrived there the auction was in full swing. It was an unusual auction. The inhabitants who needed man power were offered soldiers for sale. A bold officer, with an ash-gray mustache was conducting the auction. His assistant was a squint-eyed lieutenant without eye-lashes. The bold officer stood next to a swarthy undersized soldier. As we looked carefully we recognized our son, poor Arabboy!
- Look, Ladies and Gentlemen, what remarkable muscles he has! It's a machine not a human! He can do anything; even dig, within an hour, a foundation ditch for toilets up to four- three meters deep. In other words, come people, it's very simple! The starting price is 2 roubles! Two rubles, 1... Two rubles, 2! Aha, there you are! The price is rising very fast! Three rubles...To exploit the soldier for one day and night the price is, I believe, very reasonable, Ladies and Gentlemen! 3 rubles and a half!...
- I couldn't bare it any longer and shouted:
. - I say, officer, I give 5 rubles!
When he heard it the officer had his face flashed like an electric light, and he announced proudly:
That's all, Ladies and Gentlemen, the soldier is sold! It's gone by auction for five rubles! Congratulations, mister winner!
He said it hammering the ploughshare hanging from the mulberry tree.
I paid the money and we took our son away. Arabboy ran towards us crying:
- Mom! Daddy!
He wept wiping his tears with his helmet. Babat, too was crying. We hugged our son and made our way to the dried up trees, near a lonely small shanty, to rent a flat for the night, so that we could be with our son, see him as much as we wanted and give him a treat.
We went up to the house standing amidst the dried up trees and called the owner. After a while the door made of decaying boards opened, and a short man of about sixty years of age came out. He was thin, stooping and with long arms like those of an orangutan. Looking like a turtle in the face, he had a pallid skin, large bulging eyes with no lashes, and his head, covered with fiery hair, was much too small.
As I greeted him I said:
- Sorry for troubling you. You see, our son is in the army now. We came to see him. He was given a day's leave. Could you please provide us with a room for the night? We"ll pay the rent...
Without saying a word, the ash-gray haired man with a little head showed us the room for us to stay. As we walked to the room I noticed that this man with a pale face and pallid lips had bony sharp nailed fingers resembling bamboo.
Without paying attention to him any more we had supper and sat chatting until we got tired. At midnight our son fell asleep. Babat sat by his side stroking his hair.
I went out into the yard. The moon was now slowly rising from the East, like the shield of an antique warrior that had fallen like a hero in a fierce battle for the freedom of his Motherland. It shined illuminating quietly the lonely small shanty with the yard overgrown with wilted blackthorn. It was dumb all around. I saw the man with a little head and a big moth sitting under a dried up tree. The long shadows of the branches tinted the gloomy landscape with a depressing tone.
I walked up to the master and sat down next to him in silence. His face appeared still more livid by the moon light. He sat mutely, looking at the moon. I asked him with caution:
- Pardon me for asking, what is your name?
The man answered without tearing away from the moon:
- Mirzajallad Mirza-Executioner in Russian or just Mirza the Killer in English. On hearing such a name I got scared.
-Oh, sorry, for goodness sake! - he said.
- You reside alone here, don't you? Aren't you afraid of living all on your own in such a place?
- Well, I get on all right. I don't complain. I do the farming. In spring I sow two hectares of land, and autumn is the harvest time. I gather 45 centner from a hectare.
- Do you grow cotton?
- No-oo-o, noting of the kind.
- Oh, I see. It's wheat that you are growing, isn't it?
- No, I am growing hashish and poppy. There is a little mill with a laboratory in the cellar. I make opium, heroin and marihuana for that matter. Besides, I do some small craftwork. I have orders. The customers bring photos along with the money. As a matter of fact, I kill people for money. I"ve got a fixed schedule. I kill all indiscriminately, and I don't care, as long as they pay me. I have several bank accounts. So I can do the killing even by cashless settlement. I have killed one man by agreement based on bartering. To avoid miscalculation, I save the cut off ears of my victims. I kill a man, you know, and cut his ear. Then I dry it up carefully stringing them like a garland. The dried-up ears crackle like mushrooms being fried in a pan.