“It’s like taking a step toward a mathematical model of karma – in this world, no one laughs at the word ‘karma’ anymore…” – THE PLACE OF QUARANTINE
I put my pencil on the table – carefully, soundlessly. Silence hangs in the room for several long minutes.
“It’s funny,” Nestor says at last, without the slightest hint of a smile. “I see you’ve believed me right away, without even questioning what I’ve said. Yet many do question it – even those whose minds are far less critical than yours. Many think it’s all been made up, like in a children’s fairy tale. Maybe it’s just me you believe? Am I such an authority figure for you? All right, only joking… I understand you, scientist to scientist: it’s impossible to argue with statistical confirmation. Well, admit it, are you stunned? Do you want another bathroom break? It won’t help: I am stunned too – to this day. Despite all the time we’ve had to think about it here!”
“The task was to reach into people’s heads with an invisible hand and take control of the process…” – THE PLACE OF QUARANTINE
At first, the biologists got excited – it seemed their eyes had been opened. The parameters of the electromagnetic waves really did change from stimulus to stimulus. The brain reacted differently not only, say, to smells and photographs, but also to different smells and different photographs, while identical stimuli, in contrast, led to similar reactions, to similar charts and images on the screen…
“The cornerstone change of the paradigm before Einstein was beyond the power of the human mind – or maybe simply before him, no one had been feeling with such passion? Passion protected him from the horror of looking into the bottomless depths…” – THE PLACE OF QUARANTINE
It was me who used the word “passion,” and Gunter agreed with it. We became comrades-in-arms on that day; it marked the moment of our solidarity.
“This is no joke – out there you no longer exist. It’s all over – finita, forever, amen. You’ll remember soon enough, trust me…” – THE PLACE OF QUARANTINE
“You died back there,” she says quietly. “It is better to accept it; there’s no hidden agenda. I know this all sounds crazy but…”
To me, it doesn’t sound like anything. A complete absurdity, the dissonance of harmonics in the unbearably sharp copper sound. And – a premonition waiting nearby.
“Never tamper with love!” – SEMMANT
Everything was overturned; the flat looked like a ruined animal lair. I don’t know what Lidia was searching for, but she had made a concerted effort. Maybe she was just working off anger, venting her roiling rage.
The computer, thankfully, was still on. However, the monitor had been turned off, and a message was drawn on it in lipstick: “I’ll always have my eye on you!” I didn’t care; I wasn’t afraid of her. Only one thing concerned me: how was Semmant doing?
“All the wickedness maturing in her soul is not able to mar her image….” – SEMMANT
My secret surveillance took on new meaning; I was fixated on women more than ever before. None escaped my field of vision – dazzling beauties and plain girls-next-door, socialites and carefree faeries, mothers of families laden with concerns, and office bitches with sharp, icy eyes. Each one, it seemed, was driven by her own motivations: career, children, envy and the admiration of friends. But the softest ray, as if on its own, was born inside and would pierce through the clouds. Despite complexes and prohibitions, disappointments and social pressure. I had only to try to capture it, to break it up into its elementary components. To generalize it and turn it into an abstract image.
“Men fell for her, flocking like corpulent moths to her wicked glow and silent call…” – A SIMPLE SOUL
“The desire for fire and passion quickly returned, but they proved elusive despite her cheerful disposition and energetic search. As a result, Elizaveta’s personal life was reduced to compromise and a quest to satisfy her lust. This held its own brand of passion: risky and shameless, with a sharp, musky aftertaste. Her outward detachment would give way to a surge of stormy intensity; she seemed to break free of her cage, growing unrestrained and insatiable. It had little to do with crude sensuality; the nature of these whirlwinds that tossed her about was much deeper and subtler. Elizaveta had no name for it, but with a bit of work, she could convince herself it was the energy of love.
“Let your cheeks be salty only from the ocean spray…” – SEMMANT
The circus was touring the thermal pools then, entertaining fat cats with ailing livers. My girl did not dance there anymore; she’d suddenly grown up and run off with some Romanian officer. I bore her no ill will and wished her the best, for somehow I knew: wings are just not meant to last. As for Simon, he remained true to his top hat with the stars and his tattered black tailcoat. His trade implied a certain erudition, and he knew about the phenomenon of Indigo. Once he heard about me, his ears pricked up. My father took notice, and for the first time he began to think I might finally be of some use. After draining the entire bottle, they decided to make me a whiz kid in the circus. Simon convinced my father that the talent for doing quick calculations, if I was found to possess the ability, was all the rage now and could bring in good money. I think that was his best trick ever.
“He wanted desperately to seize the tantalizing essence: why? The rustle and smell of the essence were somewhere here, but he knew it would not yield itself up…” – A SIMPLE SOUL
“So, what’s up? How are you?” she asked with a yawn. “Come on, speak up fast. I’m a little busy here.” In the background some smooth jazz was playing, and men’s voices could be heard. Frank felt his heart would rip out of his chest and fly into the abyss.
“Olga,” he uttered, “please, will you marry me?”
She was silent a long time, then mumbled, “Hang on,” and yelled in frustration at someone close by, “Bug off, will you! This doesn’t concern you!” Then she sighed and said tenderly and warmly, “Frankie, you’re still such a child. Go home. It’s better for you there – much, much better, trust me.”
“I don’t know what cry she shouted at the sky over the frost-covered Taiga; whether she wished her father’s death, where she is now, or what became of her…” – SEMMANT
Once I finished off the next automatic trader, I cut the project short and declared I was leaving. Lucco was inconsolable and promised me the moon, but my interest in him had already dissipated. To his credit, he gave me a solid bonus and very nearly shed a tear when we parted ways at the airport.
I explained my departure with personal reasons – and quite by happenstance, one of the twins, whom I had forgotten to think about, appeared out of nowhere to announce she could not live without me. I was cold and somewhat rude, having not forgiven her for the Marseille saga, but she endured it and spent a few months with me – as far as I know, she didn’t cheat on me even once. We probably would have kept living together – and then everything might have turned out differently – but her cruel Siberian father tracked us down on the seacoast of Spain, and simply took her by force while I was playing tennis two steps from the house.