A Trap for a Thought-Form

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Playing Another Reality. M.A. Bulgakov award

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                    A TRAP for a THOUGHT-FORM

                    a philosophical & mystical thriller

        in the “PLAYING ANOTHER REALITY” series,

the winner of the following literary competitions and awards:

                                “MASTER” 2020

                          after М. А. BULGAKOV

                          (Moscow City Organization

                     of the Union of Writers of Russia

                 together with NP “Literary Republic”)

                     “The LOOKING GLASS” 2022

                            after Lewis CARROLL

                      (Open Literary Club “Response”)


           “Don’t multiply the entities beyond necessity…”


English edition №2

The original:

“Ловушка для Мыслеформы”, ISBN 978-5-0056-0905-2, M.: — Izdatelskie resheniya, 2023.

The bilingual edition:

“Ловушка для Мыслеформы / A Trap for a Thought-Form”, ISBN 978-5-0056-6062-6, 2023.

Amazon.com, Litres.ru, Ozon.ru, Aliexpress, Wildberries, etc.

Presentation of the book at Bulgakov House:




The Trap in brief

“Alchemical novel = Practicum of Secret Knowledge + Love in the mystical context of a puzzle plot on the verge of a detective story and even madness that keeps you in suspense until the last line…”

“Aren’t you the Magician yet? This book is for you! Forty wise and feasible tasks presented by Alice during the breaks of each chapter are a true wish-fulfillment marathon and a step-by-step guide to create your Happy Universe!”

“‘Is it bad to say what you feel?’ An amazing story of overcoming the fear of Love gives birth to the very Great Feeling, that prolongs life of both people and ghosts!”

“I was wandering inside a crystal with multifaceted mirrors, which reflected not so much the characters as myself. It’s an exciting feeling of touching Another Reality, an opportunity to look at life from unusual angles and to recode the future.”

“Does any creation of God have freedom of choice? Is the scenario rigidly fixed? Where do the glitches in the Matrix come from and how to surprise it? Does Love always defeat Death?

In the mysterious interweaving of realities, the author, as usual, in an accessible and concise way talks about the complex, however, each reader will find in the book exactly what he is ready to discover.”


This mystical story began when my great-grandfather, Viktor Ivanovich Glinsky-Safronov, listed on Wikipedia for his contribution to musical literature and culture, met the already famous writer Mikhail Bulgakov at the Bolshoi Theater, where they both served the arts.

In the evenings, they used to return home together and often visited each other, since they lived nearby. My great-grandfather’s apartment, where I was born and lived as a child, is located in a house on Sadovo-Triumfalnaya street, right next to the Mayakovskaya metro station, practically on Tverskaya street, 3—5 minutes from the “bad flat” where Bulgakov lived.

I don’t know whether the mystique was passed on to me from my great-grandfather or his friend, the writer, or from my grandmother and her sisters with unambiguous names Margarita and Gella (yes, Gella, “whose beauty was spoiled only by a scar on her neck”), because they repeatedly visited Bulgakov thanks to their father, but in my life, and, as a result, in the autobiographical poetry and novels about Another Reality, you can easily find brooms, star solitaire, spells to summon spirits and howling ghosts, Fridays the 13th, the Cat, and, in fact, Woland and Master.

However, my name was Alice, my Cat was Lunar, my Master was not a writer, but the Magician, and my Woland materialized not on the Patriarch’s Ponds, but in a cafe on Rublyovka. That period of my life now seems to be a vague past, which may never have happened, but…

…In September 2020, after going through the actually existing and functioning Portal (!) during a tour of the Bulgakov House Museum and Theater, the Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia and the Non-commercial Partnership “Literary Republic”, represented by Olga Boyarinova, agreed with the director of the Bulgakov House, Natalia Sklyarova, to hold a series of literary parties, at which I had the honor to make presentations of books by members of the Union of Writers of Russia, as well as to hold the Open Microphone competitions.

Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our parties were postponed until winter. We started finally, and our first night in the magical Mansion transferred the guests to Another Reality…

Do you think that the story I am going to tell you now is just a fairy tale, and no Portals really exist?

Well! Take a tour of Bulgakov House and wait for miracles!

Alexandra Kryuchkova,

Honored Writer

of the Moscow Сity Organization

of the Union of Writers of Russia,

laureate of international literary awards


The magazine “LITERARY MOSCOW” / “Moskva literaturnaya” No.2, 2022

ISBN 978-5-7949-0970-8, the Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia, NP “Literary Republic”, 2022 — 100 pages.

V. Shiltzyn, “Bulgakov award ‘Master’ 2020”

On June 15, 2021, the Great Hall of the Central House of Writers hosted the annual summing up and awarding ceremony for the winners of the literary competitions of the Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia together with the NP “Literary Republic”, although that time, due to the pandemic, the results were summed up for two years at once, 2019 and 2020. Of particular interest was the “Master” award after M.A. Bulgakov, since the competition had been announced in 2020 for the first time.

The winner of the competition “Master” after M. Bulgakov for 2020, awarded with a name plated statuette, became Alexandra Kryuchkova, poet and honored writer of the Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia, host of a literary salon in the museum & theater Bulgakov House, author of the cycle of poems “To Woland” and the laconic novel “A Trap for a Thought-Form”.

The action of the novel takes place exactly in the Bulgakov House, where, judging by the intriguing annotation, during the breaks between presentations, Alice, the main character, who is not reflected in the mirrors, holds a magical workshop on the fulfillment of wishes and on the construction of one’s own Happy Reality.

Is the novel as simple as it seems at first glance?

Variations based on the ancient Greek myth of Pygmalion and the revived Galatea were born in world literature more than once. Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde, and Alexey Tolstoy, and Daniil Andreev took up the case. The latter explained in detail in his novel “Rose of the World” how Cervantes’ Don Quixote could acquire an independent consciousness in order to live and act in the Heaven Synclite not as a literary hero, but as a real person.

However, none of the famous authors has yet approached the idea of incarnating a character from the point of view of the literary hero himself. In this sense, Alexandra Kryuchkova’s book “A Trap for a Thought-Form” is absolutely innovative. This is a real breakthrough in the field of knowledge of the human spirit! Before the eyes of the reader, the character becomes a personality, independent of the script.

The enchanting brevity of the novel speaks of a rare talent — to fit a wise depth in a few words.

From the first lines you can see the author’s handwriting, which cannot be confused with any other. In fact, Alexandra Kryuchkova managed to create her own new language in prose, and this achievement is comparable to the new language that Joseph Brodsky painfully gave birth to in poetry. Alexandra uses textual possibilities in a peculiar way, thanks to which the narrative is saturated with symbols that carry a hidden meaning unknown to an unprepared reader. The most important for the author details of landscapes, significant figures and objects are invariably indicated with a capital letter.

“I’m catching stars at the Dark Tower. It looks like your Tower…”

The novel is built on dialogues, brief and unusually powerful, filled with a secret, mystical meaning.

“You remind me of that man, so…”

“The sorcerer?” Roman asked.

“The Magician,” I clarified, mentally staying in the Other Reality in search of my gloves. “We are going to give a performance on the 14th of February. I want you to play him.”

“Whatever you want,” Roman smiled… “What is the role?”

“You will come to me out of the Mirror every night. Until you take me away from here…”

The use of the author’s text in the review is inevitable, but I have to restrain myself so as not to quote the entire work.

For a thorough dive in the Universe of Alexandra Kryuchkova, one should read her other novels in the same “Playing Another Reality” series, much more voluminous, for example, “The Book of Secret Knowledge” and “Confession of a Ghost” about the Matrix of Time Space. Only then, having comprehended the depth of the author’s inner world, one will see that everything in the “Trap” is not just for fun, and some characters have a serious background, a literary fate, image, multiplied by hundreds of reflections in the mirrors of the author’s gaze, even if at first it’s not clear, what kind of people are these? Why are they designated as functions and often have no names at all?

Don’t rush, reader! All riddles will be solved when the puzzle is completed. Alexandra masterfully arranges intrigue!

The action of the novel is structurally planned and concentrated around the main character. In the museum, which at the same time is a gathering place for quite real, associated with literature, “impure souls”, the atmosphere of impending villainy is ripening more and more clearly, and the Blizzard invariably reigns around. Its endless whirling creates an atmosphere of frozen Time.

“Tell me, will this Blizzard ever end?” I asked devastated.

“So do you love spring after all?” he smiled with difficulty, remaining sad.

“Will it end, this Blizzard?!” I asked him again.

The Guardian hugged me and began to rock me slowly from side to side, whispering softly,

“The Blizzard will lull you, Alice, lull you like a mother, end and start again, end and start again, it will circle us endlessly, in its magical dance, because it is — yes, yes, it is the Blizzard! — that can help us survive Death…”

The vivid emotion of the novel resonates with the reader’s feelings when the situation becomes unresolvable. Alice experiences a natural fear of being unable to reach to people in order to get answers to those existential questions that are never answered by anyone, and if one tries to answer, the answers leave room for doubts and uncertainty.

“Everyone sees and gets what he wants, or what he is ready / expects / assumes from his experience / on the basis of acquired knowledge to see or receive, Alice!” Roman said sadly.

“Then how can we understand that we are not ghosts, if in the world of ghosts I can’t pass through the wall, since I consider both myself and the wall to be physically material, while the ghost who understands that he is a ghost will pass through the same wall?”

“Quite right,” said Roman. “For the same reason, in the material world, a true magician, being absolutely sure that a miracle will happen after pronouncing certain words of a spell, will perform a miracle, or rather, ALLOW THE MIRACLE TO HAPPEN. And a common man does not. He doesn’t anticipate, doesn’t expect, doesn’t want or is not ready to…”

“Everyone sees and gets what he… These adjacent worlds are the Kingdom of solid Crooked Mirrors, Roman. ‘There’ looks like ‘here’. And ‘here’ looks like ‘There’. But there must be, must be some difference between the Worlds!!! It can’t help existing!!!”

The throwing quest of the main character’s soul for self-determination and, consequently, for an answer to the question of her destiny, grow with terrible force in order to fall like a tsunami in the final on frozen Time, because:

“… everyone at a certain point in time needs to decide whether one is alive or dead, and what one really is…”

An unexpected outcome is accompanied by a wise message to the future:

“…Pass this book to someone who is not the Magician yet!”

And I wish you read this book!

Vadim Shiltzyn,

member of the Union of Writers of Russia,

laureate of literary awards

The newspaper “LITERARY NEWS” (“Literaturnye Izvestia”) No. 7 (193), 2021



N. Abrashina, “Not Love Temptation, or a Trap by Lucifer”

In 2021, the museum-theatre Bulgakov House in Moscow hosted the literary party “Another Reality” with the presentation of the novel “A Trap for a Thought-Form” by Alexandra Kryuchkova, poet and mystic writer, the manager of the literary salon of the Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia, held exactly in the Bulgakov House during the literary season 2020—2021.

The “Trap” is non-standard reading! An amazing story of overcoming the fear of Love gives birth to the very Great Feeling, that prolongs life of both people and ghosts!

The place of action is the Bulgakov House in Moscow, and at the same time it is Another Reality, the Subtle World. The reader needs to follow the plot so carefully that the Blizzard of events, characters and their dialogues doesn’t overshadow the thread of the narrative, which is very delicate and requires serious reflection.

It’s no coincidence that Vladimir Georgievich Boyarinov, Chairman of the Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia, congratulating the author on the release of the book and addressing readers, said,

“Of course, I won’t tell you the plot of this story, because it is wrapped very, very tightly! Only someone who is not afraid of this ‘Trap’ and will open the cover after all, and will not let it slam shut, as it could happen, unravel it. The book is in the ‘Playing Another Reality’ series, isn’t it? ‘Won’t we play too much?’ the reader asks, opening this guidebook… into the realm of the mysterious, into the realm of the unknown, into the realm of the puzzling plot, where the protagonist differs from the heroes of Oscar Wilde, Paolo Coelho, Alexey Tolstoy, Bernard Shaw, who were conjuring and shamanizing there, too, but calmed down. It’s too early for us to think about sad things, so everyone who, in general, is interested in something new, the unknown, and who wants to make discoveries, for God’s sake, read and extract for yourself some kind of love for the word, love of discovery, love of what we don’t know and will never know, without opening the first page and not having read to the last!”

Forty lessons of magic on creating a Happy Reality by Alice, the main character, is a real guide for the self-improvement of every soul, compiled in the spirit of Christian commandments concerning love for one’s neighbor, repentance and forgiveness, mutual assistance and humility.

“It’s important to wish good to your enemies absolutely sincerely, as to yourself.”

“Help at least one person a month… As much as you can, in whatever way you can. Free of charge. Don’t make it public.”

“Learn to see God in all you meet, even in a stone.”

“…Write a letter to the Creator about everything… being aware that He knows better in Heaven what will benefit a particular soul, and what will be harmful…”

It is really important for Alice to…

“ask everyone to forgive you… and forgive each of them”,

“move your ‘Self’ in the second place during conversation, having recognized that the other person’s ‘Self’ is no less important to God than yours”,

“reveal in each being, sent to you on the Path, something it can be praised for.”

And how life-affirming are the words of the main character, completely disappointed in life and decided to step into Death,

“Imagine that your life will continue after your leaving the physical body, because, having fulfilled your current mission on Earth, you will definitely take on the solution of some new tasks of the Universe.”

Yes, Alice is looking for the Portal to the Other Reality, where her friend, the Ghost, resides, because she “no longer had the strength to stay in our Reality”. She constantly wraps herself in furs, as if hiding from the surrounding reality, she feels uncomfortable in this world. Alice is tired of loneliness, she didn’t manage to meet “a strong male shoulder”,

“…I wanted so much to create my own little world with him and me, and a fireplace, and coffee, and a blanket, and the Moon Cat, and in that world I would read us bedtime tales, and no Blizzard outside the window would be able to keep us apart…”

At the same time, tired to death, Alice finds the strength to help an even weaker person, Pasha, who, overcoming his fear of refusal in reciprocity, told her “the most important words”, adding, “Is it bad to say what you feel?” To help Pasha, Alice asks directly the Creator.

The very fact that the only obstacle on the way to the Portal to the Other World (in fact, to Death, that is, to the early departure from Life) is its gloomy Guardian, “once a story happened to the Guardian that changed his Consciousness,” “the Guardian who imagined himself to be God…” (a direct reference to Lucifer), is overwhelming. Describing the Guardian, the author doesn’t hide his impure nature: he constantly hits the table with his fist, throws objects at the wall, barks, his eyes sparkle, “there were devilish lights in his eyes”. Finally, when a representative of “the Winged World” appears, the Guardian exclaims,

“What has their secret messenger to do in our vicious monastery?”

And finally, he admits,

“My Mansion was created for Impure Souls, not for divine gifts!”

Entering into verbal fights with the Guardian, similar to the struggle of a troubled soul with Devil the Tempter, Alice realizes they have something in common, and it’s the fear of Love, because “it’s easier and safer to remain at the level of a dream than trying to realize the dream”. And then Alice asks the Guardian the key question, as if mirroring it on herself,

“Tell me, honestly, what do you fear more: Death or Love?”

By the way, all the characters of this book “reflect” each other, like mirrors!

The Guardian denies Love (which means God, because God is Love), trying to offer Alice his artificially created immortality in exchange for her refusal to believe in Love (i.e., in God),

“The only real thing in the world is Death, Alice! Death conquers all, always!”

“Death defeated Love… It’s a pity that Koschey has already arrived, another singer of your dead Love, who pretends to be the Immortal.”

Alice doesn’t give up,

“Your phrase is mirrored, everyone finds the own meaning.”

However, does Love always defeat Death?

A non-standard chain of events puts Alice in front of a global question, “Who am I?” It is logical to assume that she is just the ghost of the real Alice killed by the Guardian, but at this turning point, reminding of V. Bryusov’s poem “Escape” about the main character’s awakening from sleep, the broken pattern provokes chaos from which a “New and definitely Happy Universe” is created.

The attitude of the author to her colleagues-writers is curious:

“…in fact, all writers are magicians”,

“All people are crazy in their own way, especially Creators, such as writers — they are engaged in real magic, the magic of the Word. The most talented are the craziest ones.”

“It was the destination: the soul descended to Earth in order to write about Solon.”

“A book is a separate world, too, isn’t it? And the author is its creator, such a little god, right?”

“After all, in the beginning was the Word.”

In conclusion, I’ll quote the most powerful, in my opinion, thought of this book. It’s about the meaning of… creativity? — no, the meaning of the true Creator’s life.

“Can true magicians create worlds? Yes, definitely. But these worlds are worthy absolutely nothing if there is neither Love inside, nor the one for whom you create them, with whom you wander there, discovering something new and wonderful — feelings, emotions, knowledge, with whom you share joys and sorrows…

If the Magician’s world belongs only to himself and doesn’t intersect at any point with the world of a kindred soul, it is doomed to destruction…”

Nina A. Abrashina,

member of the Union of Writers of Russia,

writer and doctor

The magazine “ZINZIVER” No.1 (127), 2022

Magazines’ Hall “Gorky media”




T. Trubnikova, “An UnScary/Scary Fairy Tale”

In January 2022, in honor of the 190th anniversary of the English writer Lewis Carroll (1832—1898), the head of the Open Literary Club (Moscow), Lyudmila Vyacheslavovna Koroleva, member of the Union of Writers of Russia, established the literary public award “The Looking-Glass”, the first winner of which became the book “A Trap for a Thought-Form” by Alexandra Kryuchkova.

The “Trap” is a real fairy tale for adults! Fearless scary! However, it’s known to everybody that adults need fairy tales more than children, and love them stronger. In general, people tend to strive for the unknown, mystery, secrets. Such aspiration is as archaic as stories after hunting, around the campfire in prehistoric times. The entire text of the “Trap” is riddled with mystery.

The main character Alice — a lady, but in fact still a girl, because all people are children — holds literary parties in M.A. Bulgakov’s “bad flat”, recreated in the museum-theater Bulgakov House (Moscow, B. Sadovaya street, 10, 302 Bis), where a Portal to the Other Reality is located. Next door to the studio of the artist Georges Yakulov, where Sergey Yesenin and the brilliant dancer Isadora Duncan got acquainted. A well courtyard, a slice of the Moscow sky above. Loud steps. That air preserved the voices of all those who lived there, and who simply passed by, because nothing disappears without a trace!

Alice associates writers, heroes of the parties, with fairy-tale characters and various “impure souls” (let’s quote the Guardian of the Portal, “the Impurities, are they from not pure writing or not pure hearing?”): Witch, Kikimora, Flower Fairy, Syrinx Bird, Waterman, Werewolf, Arachne; and some are named in accordance with the Tarot cards: the King of Swords, the Page of Cups. No wonder the last night in the Mansion is advertised as the Ball of Impurities. Or… of Death?

Death lives in all scary fairy tales. Alice tries to talk Death off, distract it, recode herself towards Life. It’s like the Last Dance, the Last Fight of the Master. Every Master is entitled to the final triumph. If the Master is real, he can prolong his last fight. Not forever, alas. Bulgakov continued it for more than ten years, Yesenin had been tearing the “Black Man” poem from himself for two and a half.

The literary parties in the book are strung one on top of the other, like beads of bloody and frozen — in the Blizzard! — rowan berries on a thread. Does the thread really break at the end by the inevitability of Death? Do the 40 literary nights end up in a passage to the Other Reality? The souls spend the same number of days after Death on Earth. Is it a sacred number? The author constantly refers to numbers. Everything around is permeated by them. But can you play with numbers? Why does Alice have 44 dresses? It would be logical to mirror 40, however, “In numerology 4 means ‘Death’, but 44 is 4 plus 4, or 8, and this is already a sign of infinity, that for me personally means ‘Love’…”

So if the parties are like beads, should the reader be bored? No! To the monotony of the Blizzard’s songs, lulling the mind, mysterious events occur both in the Mansion and in the reader’s soul.

We get to the School of Magicians for the seminar “How to become the Magician”. Forty wise and feasible tasks that Alice presents during the breaks of each chapter are a true wish-fulfillment marathon and a step-by-step guide to create your Happy Universe! The “breaking the pattern” technique seems to me very interesting! Therefore… aren’t you the Magician yet? This book is for you! In general, the whole “Trap” is Alchemy = Practicum of Secret Knowledge + Love in the mystical context of a puzzle plot on the verge of a detective story and even madness that keeps you in suspense until the last line…

Alice is reflecting, trying to understand: why does she seem not to live indeed? Isn’t she already dead? It is an interesting trick of the author to turn reality over, presenting the illusory one neither like a dream, nor like death, but vice versa…

Does any creation of the Creator have freedom of choice, or is the scenario rigidly fixed? Where do the glitches in the Matrix come from and how to surprise it? Does Love always defeat Death? And an almost rhetorical question with a reference to the World of Ideas of the philosopher Plato… Can a thought-form die? Can it be the Co-Creator of all things? Isn’t the independent life of a thought-form a heresy, a rebellion against the Creator?

In the mysterious interweaving of realities, Alexandra Kryuchkova, as usual, in an accessible and concise way talks about the complex, but each reader will find in the book exactly what he is ready to discover…

Any fairy tale pays tribute to reality. In the “Trap” there is a mysterious, quite thinking, huge talkative Cat, a kind of Bulgakov’s one. I saw him in the Bulgakov House, and I confirm, the Honorable Mister the Puss is really huge! And the Portal to the Other World, which is the fireplace, awakened in me the image of a Russian stove! Maybe the Guardian of the Portal is the Baba Yaga?

The final scene on the bridge of Eternity with the possibility of choosing the future is associated with a fork in the road, “If you go to the left, you will lose your horse; if you go to the right, you will lose your life; if you go straight, you will be alive and forget yourself.”

However, the scary fairy tale is actually non-scary — no matter how much I tried to get frightened in the course of the story, I couldn’t! And not just because the book is in the “Playing (!) Another Reality” series. The very flow of the narrative screamed with every letter in every line: everything is going to be okay!

There is also a smell of Cinderella: dresses, the anticipation of a miracle at the Ball, etc. However, Alice is in search not so much of a prince as of answers to everybody’s basic questions.

And yet, “A Trap for a Thought-Form” is closer to “Alice in Wonderland” by L. Carroll. Alice and the Cheshire Cat, also speaking and fabulous, like Bulgakov’s Cat, wise in his madness and uttering, “Life is serious. But not much…”

If to be very serious, the “Trap”, the winner of the competitions “Master” after M. Bulgakov (the Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia, 2020) and “The Looking Glass” after L. Carroll (Open Literary Club, 2022), is hunting for those who lack magic in their lives. It is light, kind, fabulous. Written by the Master of the Word. It’s so nice to spend time with this book over a cup of tea, wrapped in a cozy blanket and smiling at the Cat, that always smiles you back!

Tatyana Trubnikova,

member of the Union of Writers of Russia,

laureate of literary awards

The magazine “ZINZIVER” No.1 (127), 2022

Magazines’ Hall “Gorky media”




I. Antonova, “The Looking-Glass” 2022

Unique book! I confess I’ve never read anything like that! An exciting plot of this amazing story, the end of which is unpredictable, reminded me of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”. Alice, the main character of the “Trap”, being unreflected in the Giant Mirror of a mysterious Mansion, is looking for a Portal to Other Reality in order to find mutual love. However, instead of a rabbit, the “Trap” contains the Honorable Mister the Puss, because the action takes place in the museum-theater Bulgakov House (in Moscow), and the Cat in the “Trap” is precisely Bulgakov’s, not a Cheshire one. The funny and the scary are both in one bottle there, and that’s a joy! I was wandering inside a crystal with multifaceted mirrors, which reflected dreams and reality, good and evil, people and puppets, and, by the way, not so much the characters as myself. It’s an exciting feeling of touching Another Reality, an opportunity to look at life from unusual angles and to recode the future. The book is so concise and multifaceted! All the characters are perfectly visualizing by the reader, each has its own inimitable way of speaking. Just listen to the lovesick Pasha with his incorrigible accent! To recreate such a phantasmagoria requires great skill of a real Master, the hand of the Magician, and Alexandra once again brilliantly demonstrated her talent. The grateful reader fearlessly follows her into the Looking Glass — through the labyrinth of fantasy into the Other Reality.

Irina Antonova,

member of the Union of Writers of Russia,

Vice Chief Editor of the “Istoki” almanac

The magazine “LITERARY MOSCOW” / “Moskva literaturnaya” No.2, 2022 (ISBN 978-5-7949-0970-8)

G. Arshinov, “Labyrinth of Mysteries”

The literary work of Alexandra Andreevna Kryuchkova is a separate phenomenon that will make itself known more than once and has long been waiting for a grateful researcher. I think that followers will certainly be found as well, and they will move along the already beaten path, some of them will discover their own Rabbit Hole, but not every Alice will have the courage to dive into it recklessly!

Tsvetaeva’s tragic intensity, Akhmatova’s Attic style and Alexandra’s inimitable handwriting are woven into one inseparable pattern of words, rhythms, reminiscent of a Labyrinth.

“Follow me, reader!” I want to exclaim after Mikhail Bulgakov. Enter the world of this book! Try to pass its Labyrinth! There, on the way, amazing secrets are hidden, which you still have to get to. However, it’s not as easy as it seems. A mystery, even the one, having slightly shown up to you, for some reason slips away again, but it irresistibly attracts you farther and deeper… Try to catch up and unravel it! Then, after the seemingly revealed secret, another one arises. New meanings and associations are woven into another intricate pattern. And your soul becomes involved in an amazing and exciting Game. You involuntarily become a part of the Game. And magical events begin to happen in your life…

Alexandra’s Moon Cat, which lives in her poetry (“The Moon Cat” book) and prose (the novel “Confession of a Ghost” and the thriller “A Trap for a Thought-Form” in the “Playing Another Reality” series), in my opinion, will take its place in the line and cavalcade of the famous mysterious cats of world literature! I am sure, the feline worlds of Hoffmann, Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe, Bulgakov, Natsume Soseki and the world of the aforementioned Moon Cat are by no means alien to each other. “You and I are so different,” but all the listed above literary cats are one warm bunch. And the charming Trickster with a browning and primus, and the mocking Cheshire, and the impudent Yamato, and the clever Pluto, and the philistine Murr, who has his own views on life, and “our one, our” the Moon Cat, according to Bulgakov’s apt statement, “will certainly make agreement with each other.”

And, perhaps, by prior agreement, they deign to “lift the curtain by the edge” (Vladimir Vysotsky, songs for the audio performance “Alice in Wonderland”), that is, lift the veil of Mystery, for you personally as well. Just turn the first page of Alexandra Kryuchkova’s book and… start reading.

You want your life to become an exciting Game, don’t you?

Gunnar Arshinov,

member of the Union of Writers of Russia,

laureate of literary awards

The newspaper “POETOGRAD” No. 1 (397), 2022, G. Arshinov, “Phenomena of Alexandra Kryuchkova’s literary work is Labyrinth of mysteries!”




The author expresses her great gratitude

to all the characters and prototypes of the novel,


                 Alexander Lons,

                 Konstantin Bely,

                 Sergey Arshinov,

                 Boris Mikhin,

                 Ivan Borisov,

                 Grigory Samoilik,

                 Vitaly Volkov,

                 Boris Krasilnikov,

                 Natalya Sklyarova,

                 Alexey Beklemishev,

                 Roman Tyapugin,

                 Vladimir Morozov,

                 Ekaterina Kordyukova,

                 Irina Antonova,

as well as:

Ray, Pasha, Wanderer,

my son Andrey, our cat Josephine

and everybody else!


                                I dedicate my book

                                 to every reader!

                                 As well as to:

my great-grandfather Viktor Glinsky-Safronov

and his friend, the writer Mikhail A. Bulgakov,

the Bulgakov House in Moscow and its inhabitants,

including the Honorable Mister the Puss,

the Moscow City Organization

of the Union of Writers of Russia,

and all of my thought-forms’ prototypes!


A few years before

I stood by the sea, with my back pressed against the Dark Tower, looking up into the black starry sky. In August, the stars used to fall there. I wanted to catch one of them to make a wish (the most common one, for mutual love), when suddenly the phone rang.

“Hello, Alice,” Ray called me, as usual, from an unidentified number.

“Hi,” I said softly, being afraid he was only a dream.

“How are you? Where are you now?”

“I’m catching stars at the Dark Tower. It looks like your Tower. I wish you were here with me now…”

“Don’t forget I am a ghost…”

And I woke up…


“You remind me of that man, so…”

“The sorcerer?” Roman asked.

“The Magician,” I clarified, being mentally in the Other Reality in search of my gloves. “We are going to give a performance on the 14th of February. I want you to play him.”

“Whatever you want,” Roman smiled.

Probably he admired me in some field and somehow, silently and somewhere in the depths of his soul. However, there was an invisible inner connection between us, which he probably did not feel. Roman reminded me of Ray…

“What is the role?”

“You will come to me out of the Mirror every night. Until you take me away from here…”


“As usual? Seafood salad or chicken?” asked Pasha smiling. He was a good-natured boy, waiter in a restaurant on the seashore by the Dark Tower, and he spoke my language a little bit.

“Yesterday I had chicken, so today bring me salad, please.”

I glanced at my watch — “Almost midnight!” — but I wasn’t alone in the restaurant. However, it was always calm there, and I’d never got afraid to return home late. Or rather, to the house where I used to live in summer.

“Okay. And coffee from me. Want, my girl?”

I didn’t scold Pasha for addressing me as “his girl”, and I left one euro for tea. How many years had I been coming there? And always, with the exception of joint evenings with Dimitra, my friend, a local resident, I dined at that restaurant.


Gloves… the black ones…

“Where did they come from?”

The Guardian of the Portal recorded their appearance in his diary. He loved numbers, dates. They were symbols. As well as the gloves.

The Guardian sighed, carefully took the ladies’ gloves in one hand and the antique lantern in the other, left the Portal for the room, and then descended into the Dungeon to hide his find in the gloomy dressing table of the pantry.

“Has she come back?”


A year before

Some boxes of shoes… I opened them one by one and took out three pairs of brand-new orange sandals. A man approached me. I could clearly see his figure, but his face was foggy… I embraced the stranger and… I woke up.

“A man with a small belly appeared in my dream last night…”

“I’m losing weight! Review the dream! Probably he is already without a belly!”

“When are you coming back?”

“All flights are cancelled! The borders are closed! I’ve got tickets for August, but I’m not sure. Thank God I’m alive and okay…”

“How long have you believed in God?” I thought sarcastically and involuntarily remembered Ray, and then, for some reason, Roman. So stealthily the Autumn used to creep up on me and, as usual, caused bouts of nostalgia.


“Where does Your Majesty wish to stroll?” asked the King of Swords.

Like all “Kings”, he was married, as for the suit of “Swords”, he was a military man, and for some reason the military men were fond of me. Sometimes he walked me culturally in the city.

“Take me to the Mansion,” I answered suddenly.

“Maybe it’s better…”

“To the Mansion!” I kept insisting.

The rain was mixed with the evening mist. We turned into the courtyard, and I was ready to open the desired Door to my left, but the King of Swords didn’t allow me that.

“It’s the wrong door. You need the Right one.”

I needed the Left Door! I no longer had the strength to stay in our Reality… completely alone… useless…

However, I obediently opened the Right one.

“Not now. Or not with him?”

I slowly climbed the stairs, went inside and floated along the corridor to the kitchen and then into the room, absorbing not sounds, but memories, kept by the walls of any space.

My grandmother, my father’s mother, with her sister and father, my great-grandfather, often visited his friend, the Writer, in that flat.

There were two museums in the Mansion. One was behind the Right door, the other was behind the Left door.

I didn’t hear a word of what the obviously superfluous tour guide was saying. I fell there — to my grannies — in their Time, to drown out the pain and to suppress another bout of nostalgia…


Six months before

The Guardian of the Portal exhaled — finally, his diary was published in a human way. In every sense of the word. He opened the book to a random page and landed on “The Gloves”.

“She will be back! Yes! Yes! She’s about to show up here!”


May holidays

The magic name popped up on the phone.

“If you knew how glad I am to hear from you…”

He reminded me too much of Ray, and I smiled — something warm and fluffy touched my heart. Roman was an invisible (and perhaps the only) thread connecting me with the already irrevocable.

“I recalled my Soviet past today,” it sounded like a sudden insertion into a business conversation on an off-business day.

“Did you have it?” I smiled again and reached for the Tarot cards.

“I’ve read your book ‘Confession of a Ghost’ about the Matrix, as I promised. Remember?”

“Really?!” I took out my cards.

“Back then, yes… I went on vacation and took the book with me.”

I got “The Knight of Cups” and…

“How do you like it?”

“I recognized everyone! ‘The Emperor’ and ‘The Sorcerer’. Sorry, ‘The Magician’! You write in such a way that…”

“But you are not there, are you?” I asked with a sad smile, looking at the cards: “The Knight of Cups” and… “The Magician”!

“In your book or in your Matrix?” Roman chuckled and confessed, “To be honest, in magic I feel like quite a child!”

“Would you like to become Him?..”


The Guardian of the Portal should have taken that important step a long time ago, leaving the old Mansion and walking only a few houses to the House of Literature, where… Where what? Or who? He was called to bring his book. The Guardian didn’t know why. It would be worth clarifying, although he understood that it was necessary. However, was he waiting for… the right date? A number? A symbol? What was he waiting for?



Since last autumn, when the King of Swords allowed me to open the Right Door of the Mansion, I had been forcing myself to go back to open the Left one, because the main city Portal of transition to Another Reality was hidden right behind it. I was too tired, bored and tormented by a premonition of something that must definitely happen as soon as I opened THAT DOOR. What exactly?

“Alice, you shouldn’t enter that Mansion. It’s dangerous! Do you want me to show you the place where…” а familiar poet, once the Page of Cups, offered suddenly.

“I need to go to the Mansion. I have to open the Door on the Left,” I pleaded, looking into his eyes pitifully.

“Well, then… tomorrow?”

“Yes, tomorrow, please!”

At the same moment the poet cried out and turned me around to face the house, on the facade of which there was a gigantic portrait of the Writer from that Mansion.

“Nearby Alice there is only mysticism… It’s a sign!”

However, it started to rain “tomorrow”, and the trip to the Mansion was postponed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, the Left Door was attracting me stronger and stronger. From time to time, I was sent strange people — writers who asked me to arrange literary parties in the Mansion, as a great opportunity to combine the desired with my direct work, but because of the epidemic, the Mansion was closed for a long time…


Repeatedly I tried to return to that sweet dream about three pairs of orange sandals, to find there the man with a small belly and a foggy face, with whom I felt happy.

In vain, I always found myself in the past, where Roman appeared sitting next to me on my right. There were a lot of people there.

“If not for the age difference,” I looked at him almost jokingly and sighed.

“What’s the difference?” he immediately interrupted me. “There is no difference!”

“I would have fallen head over heels in love with you,” I finished my sentence.

How many times did I say goodbye to him? Even in my dreams I could not allow myself anything… I didn’t want to hurt, maybe. One or both of us?

However, in a little while my Sun would have set in the last, the 12th sector of the Astrological Clock of life. The sector of all the Secret and Unrevealed, symbolically called the Mystical Mansion or the Mysterious Island, the Portal to Another Reality. It would barely get out of there, my Sun…



“Who are you?” I asked when another Autumn crept up on me with another strange man who had come to the Union of Writers to submit his book for a competition.

The man introduced himself, whispering something in addition as quietly as passwords.

I glanced at him briefly without remembering either his first or last name, and I didn’t even catch what he whispered, because he reminded me of Roman and Ray at the same time.

“A glitch in the Matrix!” the thought flashed through my mind.

“Did you bring us the book?” I decided to clarify.

“No… Yes… But…”

“Alice, haven’t you heard?” my colleague suddenly interrupted my thoughts, tugging at the sleeve of my dress and adding distinctly in a mysterious voice, “This man is from your Old Mansion!!!”

“Are you… really from that Mansion!?” I asked, not believing my ears.

“Yes,” the man nodded calmly. “I’ve been working there, behind the Left Door, since the very beginning. Come to visit us this Sunday! And I will give you my book for the competition. I forgot to take it with me.”


The day before

It was very cold. I was already leaving the store when the saleswoman ran up to me, holding out the package.

“This is a gift for you!” she said mysteriously.

I opened the package and saw a gray scarf. I took it out and twisted it in my hands. A noose… I was too tired, and my Sun was already on the threshold of the 12th

I put the scarf back.

Having arrived home, I opened the package again, but along with the scarf I found…


the black ones…


The Beginning,

in which there was a Word…

and not only

Yes, there was a Word in the Beginning, and that Word was “Gloves”, and also it was very cold, the right time for them to appear. Though, all I wanted to do that day was to stay at home and bask under a plaid by the fireplace with the Moon Cat and a book about ghosts, because the idea of going to the Mansion suddenly made me scared. Yes, I was scared of what would finally happen.

However, with a heavy sigh, I forced myself out of bed, grabbed the 9th edition of my “Book of Secret Knowledge” alias “The Book of White and Black Magic”, the first novel in the “Playing Another Reality” series, and resolutely headed for the Portal.

With a sinking heart, I pulled the Left Door towards me and took a step inside.

There were many people there, pacing back and forth without noticing me. No one asked my entrance ticket, although the entrance wasn’t free of charge.

I floated to the coffee shop and sat down at a table next to a sprawling giant black cat. The Cat scanned me carefully and greeted me, meanwhile people came and went away, paying no attention to us at all in the place where the Past and the Present — and the Future? — were merging together.

“Do I no longer exist among all these people?”

Suddenly, the man, who had invited me to come in, appeared next to me.

I stood up and touched his hand. He turned around. I silently looked into his eyes. Unlike other people, he noticed me (as, indeed, the Cat) and said hello. I held out my book. The man read the title and shuddered involuntarily.

“This is my gift for the Museum,” I explained. “And the book of poems, ‘The Moon Cat’, is for you.”

I was in a hurry to leave my mark before everyone, including that man, would stop noticing me.

He disappeared and reappeared with his book, handing it to me. I opened the book to a random page, and the title of the story caught my eye, “The GLOVES that fell from the Sky”. I shuddered, too.

We sat at a table across from each other. In silence. He got my “Magic” and “The Moon Cat”, and I got his “Gloves”. He worked in the Mansion as Guardian of the Portal. Definitely, all these people around existed in some other dimension, where there were neither me nor the Guardian, who still reminded me of Roman and Ray.

I returned “the Gloves” to the author, asking him to sign it for me.

“Hmm… today is a magical date,” writing it under the dedication, the Guardian said either to me or to himself. Dates and numbers had some meaning to him.

“Has SHE come back?!” the Guardian’s mind raced.

“Show me the Mansion, please!” I asked him mentally.

The Guardian stood up from the table and held out his hand to me. Having grabbed an antique lantern along the way, we slowly descended into the Dungeon, and I felt more and more strongly that the Portal was there, and I would find it for sure!

“To the right is the Theater, where our performances take place,” the Guardian looked at me with genuine interest, “but I prefer to show you something… unusual. You see, extremely strange stories constantly happen in this Mansion. Perhaps you help me to reveal the meaning of one of them!”

The Guardian took out a bunch of keys, opened the door to the secret pantry on the left side of the corridor and put the lantern on a small antique dressing table with a mirror and some drawers.

“In the left one…” the Guardian whispered mysteriously, letting me know with a look that I could open the box myself, which I did, but it turned out to be absolutely… empty, and for some reason that fact alarmed the Guardian.

He rummaged through the pantry for a long time, scanning it up and down with the lantern, his eyes, and hands. In vain.

Then I took out of my bag and silently handed to him…

…the GLOVES…

Chapter 1. DEVIL’S TRILL

It was the first of the forty literary parties of the Union of Writers I was to hold in the legendary Mansion, behind the Left Door, where the Portal to Another Reality still operated in the 21st century. The presentations had been agreed back in September, however, the epidemic caused a time shift — we waited for the start of mass vaccination in order to obtain permits for cultural events. So Autumn imperceptibly disappeared from the scene, giving way to Winter.

“Hello, the Queen!” the Guardian of the Portal called out to me as I went up to the inner cafe. There, in the museum hall, combined with a coffee shop, our forty parties would be hold.

Yes, some people jokingly, and some mockingly, called me “the Queen”. Once I won the “King of Poets” tournament, similar to Igor Severyanin in the Silver Age, a century before ours, and on my father’s side (his grandmother and grandfather, the Writer’s friend, owned some mansions in the city center, however, taken away in their time) I was practically a princess, but “here and now” I was interested in a completely different thing — the local Portal…

Each literary party traditionally (once upon a time I had hold similar events in other places) consisted of two parts: presentation of a contemporary poet / writer book and, after a smoke break for autograph session and familiarity, the Open Microphone for guests. Actually, everybody flocked to the Open Mic like moths to the light, and without it one could hardly count on the presence of masses in the first part of “le ballet de la Merlaison”, because in the 20s of the 21st century, almost every person on Earth learned letters and wrote something, but there were almost no readers left.


I opened our first party at the Mansion introducing a mysterious writer with a collection of stories titled “The Devil’s Trill”, in which the characters actively changed souls and bodies, got stuck between our and Other Worlds, summoned the Devil, and, quite possibly, already beyond the stories, made love spells in cemeteries in thirst for human mutual love, and, not getting it, they reveled in blood, turning into vampires…

While I was revealing the author’s identity, asking tricky questions to the guests and to the author herself, acting as a bridge-guide (however, even children would immediately guess that the writer was a real Witch, not a fake one, in fact, all writers are magicians), the Guardian of the Portal was silently watching me from behind the counter of the already dormant cafe, located directly opposite the stage. The main museum rooms, which we had no official access to, were sighing behind the curtains to the right of the stage, and the Giant Mirror stared at us from the left.

“It’s funny!” I thought, glancing at the Guardian. “He recognized ‘my’ Gloves…”

“It’s funny!” the Guardian thought. “She brought me ‘those’ Gloves…”

On the stage, in addition to me and the Witch, there was a chair, occupied by the local black Cat of enormous size. I was sure he pretended to be snoozing, meanwhile in fact…

“So, did you really practice magic?” the question came from the audience.

“Well…” the Witch gave up, “I should confess! Yes, I graduated from the School of Magicians!”

“Did you practice the transmigration of souls, as in your story?”

“No!” she was embarrassed.

“Is it true that it is easier to settle spirits in the intoxicated people?”

“Does the Season of Sand exist only for Evil Spirits?”

“Have you ever been to the Other World?”

I sighed, remembering Ray, and closed my eyes. Then I opened them again… And…

“No! That can’t be true!!!”

Instantly forgetting about the sharing of spirits and the exchange of souls, I stared at a painfully familiar man: right in front of me, at the cafe counter, to the left of the Guard, appeared… Roman.

Everything that happened next seemed like a dream. I remembered only I announced the break, and the guests of the party pounced first on the writer, who had obviously managed to bewitch them getting the opportunity not to gift, but to sell “The Devil’s Trill” with a personal autograph, and then on the Cat, dozing on the chair…

They all remained in some other dimension.

Across from me there was a man who reminded me of Ray, but I was afraid to approach him, as if he might easily disappear, just as Ray had gone once, disappearing in the Other Reality.

“Are all the writers of the Union in league with the Devil?” the Guardian suddenly snapped me out of my stupor.

“An unaffordable luxury!” I said in response for some reason, while I kept looking at Roman, who kept looking at me from the back of the hall.

“When do you plan to…” the Guardian didn’t finish the question.

“As soon as possible!” I cut him off with a look and forced myself to go up to Roman.

He smiled. There was something strange about his smile. Already known to me, but quite probably unknown to him. I turned my gaze to the table, inviting him to sit down.

And so we found ourselves across from each other at a tiny table of the coffee space nearby the bookcase, which contained also my “Book of Black and White Magic”.

In the reigning uproar of the break, there was suddenly a deafening silence. For two of us.

We fell out of context, scanning each other with eyes. Outwardly, Roman hadn’t changed at all, although we hadn’t seen each other for… how many years?

“Happy New Year!” I breathed out and thought, “How did you end up here, darling?”

“You called me, darling, and I came!” Roman uttered obvious nonsense, in my opinion, unexpectedly and unconditionally switching to ‘darling’ (perhaps mirroring my mental appeal to him), and then, nodding at the bookcase, he calmly added, “You will teach me magic, Alice.”

I looked at him and understood nothing.

“How could he know that I am here? Oh, yes… I said on TV I would hold literary parties in the Mansion. Roman watched that show, and the Museum posted invitation on their website. But why didn’t he call? Didn’t write me via WhatsApp? Didn’t make an appointment somewhere else? In an ordinary cafe? Didn’t invite me for a walk in the park or down the same Tverskaya to the Kremlin, if he really wanted to see me? And why on earth did he suddenly decide to do magic?!”

“I told you, I’m just a child in magic,” Roman quoted himself. “It’s the perfect place to learn such arts, isn’t it? The time is the best, Christmas time. I’ve even got a magic notebook. And a pen. To record your lectures. So, do you agree?”

His palms hovered in the air right above mine.

From overexertion or stuffiness in the tiny space of the museum, I began to feel dizzy, and I instantly removed my hands from the table and squeezed my head with them.

The bell rang, the break was over. Or was it the Devil’s trill?

The Guardian of the Portal gave me a sign.

“Sorry, Roman!” I resolutely got up from the table.

“Give me some home task!” Roman stopped me. “And I’ll disappear. Did I buy the notebook for nothing?!”

“Well, okay…” I sighed. “Write it down…”

Task No. 1. PLAN for 12 MONTHS

…Imagine that you have only 12 months left in our Reality. Make a plan: what do you want to do here before the transition to the Other Reality, so that you won’t regret anything later. And write it down, month by month…

When I returned to the stage for the announcement of the Open Mic, Roman had disappeared. The Guardian of the Portal and the Cat replaced him at “our” table.


After returning home, I wandered around the apartment like a zombie, periodically grabbing the phone to call or write to Roman, as I had done to Ray, solely at the call of my soul. I didn’t think Roman would be surprised, but I was terribly afraid of men, especially the ones I liked.

Yes, nonsense! Over the years, the more I liked a man, the more I feared him. I was afraid to do something wrong (to say, to write, to look…), of not being liked and, as a result, of losing the one I could easily communicate for some other questions with.

I hid my feelings so deep to let them be unknown to the man, in order to avoid the pain from another loss of hope, when he would say something like, “It’s nice! But you’re too late. All the seats were taken long ago!”

I wanted a man to be a leader, to take my hand and lead me somewhere far away. Even in such case I would be scared that he would say, “I love you!”, I would believe him, and next day he would take his words back, “Me? You? What else love?” And then…

“What’s the point of that reasoning now? 39 nights, and I’m free!”

Of course, I didn’t call or write anything to Roman, so I turned off the light and went to bed. However, as I tossed from side to side in search of oblivion, I suddenly noticed a message on my phone. I glanced at my watch, it was past midnight. Automatic notification from a social network informed me of the birthday of Pasha, that waiter boy from the Greek restaurant near the Dark Tower.

We had known each other for years, but he “befriended” me online last autumn, if my memory served me right.

I automatically typed “Happy Birthday” in his timeline, without even an exclamation mark and any wishes, when I suddenly drew attention to the current date and got stunned, because it was Ray’s date of birth! The year was different, of course, Ray was older than me, and Pasha was just a boy.

“Hi, my girl! How u?” I received an instant response in a private chat, filled with Latin letters in my language.

“Ok, and you?”

“Viber? Whatsup? Want 2 call u.”

I took a deep breath in and out. Without asking stupid questions, despite the fact that in all those years we had nothing in common, except seafood salad, chicken and coffee, I gave him my number. And just a couple of minutes later I got the following.

“Miss u. Much much, true say!”

I got out of bed, turned on the night light, took Tarot cards and pulled out two at random… “The Devil” and “The Knight of Cups”!

“Are you writing this to me?”

“U Alice yes. Why? I call u?”

He didn’t wait for my answer and called. I dropped it.

“Sorry, I’m sleeping. Have a good night!”

I wrote that and immediately switched off the phone.

The Matrix was fundamentally buggy.

I went to the table by the window and wondered what I would do if I had 12 months left instead of 39 nights.

Chapter 2. ZIGZAGS of LIFE

I came to the Mansion a little earlier to look for the Portal. The Giant Mirror next to the stage was definitely a portal, too, but not the main one. All portals differed, and if you were about to leave…

“‘Zigzags of Life’! Isn’t it too trivial a title for the book of Baba Yaga?” a familiar voice came from behind me. “Do you make presentation of another witch today?”

“Hello, Guardian!” I smiled. “You guessed it right! By the way, the sounds ‘z’ and ‘g’ create vibrations to remove the soul out of the body, they are used by some dream hackers.”

The guests were already gathering in the hall, but they all seemed to notice neither me nor the Guardian, sitting at the table next to me. The Guardian, on the contrary, had been watching me and the guests with genuine interest, until he gave his verdict.

“What a hell of Impurity one can meet in the Writers’ Union!”

“Let me tell you a terrible secret: there are a lot of dark spirits or impurities everywhere!”

After drinking half a cup of double espresso with milk, I warmed up and emerged out of my sleepy state.

“I came earlier in order to…”

“I know,” the Guardian nodded, “but I can’t help you.”

“It’s not this portal, you are guarding here, is it?” I whispered, glancing towards the Giant Mirror.

The Guardian nodded in agreement, “Not the Mirror!”

I finished my coffee and looked at the clock. There were still about ten minutes left before the presentation, and I slipped into the corridor that led to the Dungeon. However, having sailed to the dead end and back, I realized that there were portals at every turn in the Mansion, including the large stage of the local Theater and the pantry, where the materialized gloves had disappeared. Even the ordinary walls inside the Dungeon corridor were portals as well. But it was too “cold” there for the most powerful one.

For some reason, I associated the Dungeon with the book title, “Zigzags of Life”, existing within the Labyrinth of Destiny, into which each of us had descended from Heaven and was looking for a way out, just as I descended into the Dungeon in search of my Portal.

I returned to the half-cafe half-Mirror hall. The Guardian had drawn the curtains, limiting our literary space. I stepped onto the stage and invited a charming old woman in her ninth decade, still actively practicing magic in her life, when suddenly… Yes, it was hard to believe! — at a table in the back of the hall appeared… Roman.

That morning I woke up with a clear thought, he was a dream. He hadn’t come to the Mansion. It was just a trick of my agonizing Consciousness, in every possible way resisting the decision to slip away into the Other Reality during the last, the 40th party in the Mansion. Clinging to life, Consciousness created a phantom from my past that could soften my heart to rewrite the life script. I even dreamed about Roman that night, even with a small belly, like in the very dream I felt happy of having finally found him.

However, he appeared again. Roman. My non-existent romance. He smiled watching me on the stage with interest.

When I reached the break for the autograph session of the Ninth decade, I sailed up to him.

“I’ve dreamed about you today,” I whispered, not adding “darling” from fear.

“Perhaps we all are dreams of each other, but this is not a reason to lose darlings. Besides, I did your home task and made a plan for the next 12 months. What does your plan consist of, Alice? I hope you didn’t forget to include my name as well. At least as your student?”

I silently scanned Roman and couldn’t understand what was wrong. Wrong in the whole story: the sudden snowfall of Roman and Pasha’s puzzles. Why? What for? I couldn’t allow myself…

“Okay, Alice, silence is a sign of agreement,” Roman smiled. “Do you know what impressed me in the most charming Baba Yaga of today?”

“How easily did she fly onto the stage?”

“With what ease, joy, tenderness, and without any complexes, she recalled a magical night with her lover in their years. How old was she then? The Witch with ‘The Devil’s Trill’ looked half her age! However, as you correctly noted at the presentation, age for her, judging by the book, is a sore point, as well as the age difference between…”

I went cold and couldn’t utter a word.

“So what’s the next task, Master?”

At that moment, a heavy hand landed on my shoulder. I turned around and saw the King of Swords.

“Do you mind if I walk you home after the Open Mic?” he asked.

I rashly glanced at Roman with the look that gives away any girl. However, Roman just smiled like saying, “I can’t stay here that long.”

“Okay,” I replied to the King of Swords, and his heavy hand immediately disappeared from my shoulder.

“Do you like him?” Roman asked silently.

“The King of Swords never becomes the King of Cups!”

The Guardian rang the bell, and the break was over.

“You asked me about the next task,” I returned to the ground. “Audit your swamp!”


…Make an inventory of all things and objects, including clothes, souvenirs, other people’s gifts, books, magazines, photographs and even files on your electronic device — basically, of everything in your space.

The space should be filled with living energy working for you. Every object has a unique energy, but perhaps some of them have already fulfilled their purpose, and some are not yours at all. Review each item. What feelings does it evoke in you? Decide whether there is a place for it in your world here and now. If it causes negative emotions or none at all, this is not yours, say “thank you” and part with it without regret, with joy. Since the world doesn’t tolerate emptiness, something new will definitely replace the old…

The task is to open your door for the Future…

I went onto the stage and announced the Open Mic. The Cat was already sitting in Roman’s place.


I returned home and looked around my swamp.

“Should I sort things out on the weekend? Maybe. To take half to church. Two literary parties have already passed, and the 40th is just around the corner. I will spend the 40th and breathe out: freedom! F-R-E-E-D-O-M!

The 38 evenings left are enough, of course, to find the main Portal in the Mansion. It can’t sneak away from me! The Guardian has no right to prompt, but the Mansion is not the Winter Palace, it’s quite tiny. And nothing would keep me here anymore. Nothing and no one!”


“Hi, my girl. How u?”

“It’s 2 a.m.”



“Like u much but u so distance. Me 4 u how?.. If want. How u want?”

“What’s happened with you, Pasha? Why did you suddenly remember me? What for? I am older than you. You are such a beautiful, kind boy… Forget!”

“Understand. Problem age only? No nerves! 4 me no difference u older. I like u much. Many years like. Feel good with u. Will love always. No leave u. Never. True say 2 u. I call?”

He called me, but I dropped it. What was going on looked like the delirium of a madman. I got out of bed, reached the Tarot cards in the darkness, turned on the nightlight.

Incredible! “The Knight of Cups”, “The Magician” and “The Devil” again! They haunted me. But…

“Now… what for?”

Chapter 3. SINNER

“Funny poster!” the Guardian whispered softly as he helped me remove my furs. “Is it true that the author is a prankster?”

“You didn’t read the poster carefully. His book is called ‘The Sinner’! Anyway, I haven’t tried.”

Leaving my cup of coffee on the table, almost forever registered for me, I ducked into the next room of the museum. The Guardian followed me.

“Here is a box for letters to the Creator,” he said.

“And the postbox at the door outside?”

“Yes, there is the second one.”

“I sent him my poems. Many years ago, Natasha Nikiforova invited me to the action of the ‘Evening Moscow’ TV to read poetry on the Ponds. It was the similar blizzard as today. The verses I had read, I dropped into the postbox at the Door to the Mansion. I had no pen with me, so I sent poetry instead of a letter.”

The Guardian took a pen and a paper notepad out of his pocket.

“Write it now,” he suddenly whispered, coming close to me.

“Everything has already been decided,” I answered categorically, hanging in thought, “Now what for?”

For some reason, I wanted to hug the Guardian, but I stood like an idol. And he hugged me.

“Here it is!!!” I suddenly felt something and took a step aside. “The Portal is here, isn’t it?”

The Guardian chuckled, but he had no time to answer, because the door to the room opened slightly, and the Cat appeared on the threshold.

“Meow?!” he said in surprise.

I left the room without writing anything to the Creator.


The Sinner stood embarrassed on the stage, as if in front of Christ. The hall was crowded with women. While the hero of the party was reciting poems, perceived as a divine revelation in advance, the women, in their dreams, already wrapped their arms around his neck and whispered all sorts of tenderness in his ears…

I returned to my table. Roman emerged from the crowd slyly smiling, and I heard his thoughts in my mind.

“How is your swamp doing, Alice? Did you throw away a lot of stuff?”


Roman sat down next to me and held out his hand. I cautiously held out mine in response. He looked at me, stroking the lines on my palm and probably changing something in them.

“Tell me, Alice, is this a magic place?”

“Yes, sure.”

“Should it somehow stir up the reality of whoever comes in contact with it?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Do you still want to leave?”

I withdrew my hand with a thought, “How does he know why I am here?”

“In your previous novel, you have already left the world,” having read my thoughts, Roman answered in the same mental way. “So, hasn’t your reality changed?”

“What do you mean?” I asked to clarify.

“Maybe what… or maybe whom,” I heard in response.

“I hope your next home task is… to sin?” Roman grinned aloud, nodding at the Sinner. “By the way, what swamp is he from?”

“The task is to repent,” I sighed. “He works in a school.”

“Sinners work in schools. Indeed, where else would they work? Why didn’t I guess it myself! Why to repent, Alice? Do you think those people who hurt others, and you in particular, really repented?”

“Leave it.”

“But they hurt you! Even deadly. Which of them ended up asking for forgiveness? No one? Ah-ah-ah! It’s not fair, is it?”

“Up there…”

“In Heaven?” Roman grinned venomously, reminding me of Ray. “And what did they do there, in Heaven, for you, so clean and bright? Have your offenders been punished? Was the balance of the Forces restored? Maybe they changed your life for the better? What kind of repentance are we talking about? Your abusers got their share of highs and continue to get maximum of Life! And you are dreaming of Death!”

I abruptly got up from the table, but immediately collided with…

“It’s time to announce the Open Mic,” the Guardian said.

“Yes, give me a second,” I nodded and turned to Roman. “They will never become true magicians. Write it down in your notebook. Did you buy it for nothing?”


…Start remembering your life from the very beginning, where you remember it from. The first person that will come to your mind is most likely your mother…

Go over your personal history for each person with whom you have come in contact in life, from your acquaintance to its completion or to the present moment, if you are still in contact, try to remember everything…

Ask to forgive you for what:

* you remember, and you feel uneasy at heart,

* you don’t remember, or maybe you don’t even know, but a person might have been inadvertently offended by you…

You must mentally relive your life anew, with each of those who were sent to you from Above. There was nothing accidental even in fleeting people. They and you, and each of us, are Teacher and Student at the same time.

Ask everyone to forgive you preferably verbally, by calling or meeting, if these people are alive… or mentally… You can write a letter in your magic notebook as well.

At the end of the work, you will face the most difficult thing — to forgive each of them. To forgive and let go forever without any emotions, except gratitude, so that later, remembering the person, nothing would shudder in your soul or would respond with pain.

Otherwise, you won’t be able to become what you really are, the Magician.


Having returned home, I lit the candles and began to scroll through my life, checking myself for the task I had given to Roman that evening, whether anyone could make me feel uneasy on the edge of leaving.

“How u, my girl?” a message appeared on the phone.

“Thank you, I am okay.”

“I come 2 u. Want?”

“Right now?!”

“Want 2 see u. U? Yes or not? Tell true. I come. No know when but not problem 2 come. When can fly, I come. I see Internet — fly cancelled. Borders closed. All closed. I come & go coffee with u! Tell u want 2. Yes?”

Chapter 4. DAMN MILL

“Is another witch coming here from ‘The Damn Mill’? ” a familiar voice came from behind.

“You guessed it wrong,” I turned around and smiled to the Guardian. “We have swamp hellcats on the menu tonight!”

“How many at once? Straight from the swamps? Coffee?”

“Well, a few, I think, but the most important is their Master, and yes, from the swamp, and yes, double espresso with milk, please!” I sat down at a table in the cafe. “The swamp is real, you can be sure of that. I’ve got a whole basket of cranberries. The author bears the ominous stamp of Saturn at XII. Don’t bother, if you are not aware of the interpretations. Probably, judging by the verses, we are facing a partial reincarnation of the early Alexander Blok. By the way, our hero saves people.”

“In the swamp? From the swamp hellcats?” the Guardian grinned, handing me coffee.

“Perhaps,” I replied evasively.

“And why ‘The Damn Mill’?”

“Ask him yourself. He would have won the Blok Prize, if not for his Saturn at XII.”

“Does he write really well?”

“Relatively not bad.”

“Is he damn swampy in love with you?” the Guardian looked into my eyes with curiosity.

“How old are you?” I asked, changing the subject.

“Does it matter? I don’t care,” he answered in such a way that I shuddered, remembering Pasha’s words.

The Guardian turned out to be the same age as Roman, and, compared to Pasha, practically the same age as me. Maybe I paid too much attention to it.

I finished my coffee. The Guardian glanced at the bottom of my cup, in the thick of it…

“What do you see there?” I asked.

“A portal,” he whispered in my ear and laughed.


I welcomed the guests and called on the stage to the Giant Mirror the gloomiest personality among the poets of our time, the author of “The Damn Mill”, who then recited his swamp-gothic poems, mixing them with talks to the guests.

Suddenly, the light in the hall — already gloomy, either due to not enough bright light, or in the light of the darkest verses and emanations of Saturn at XII — went out. The Guardian of the Portal instantly lit an antique candle lantern and asked the guests not to worry, since such phenomena with electricity was the most common one in anomalous zones, for that reason there were candlesticks on each table. After just a couple of minutes, their light illuminated the space, and the party went on.

The Guardian disappeared backstage to deal with the electricity, or rather, with the spirits that were pranking with it. I noticed Roman sitting at my table which had a candle light, too. Romance!

Saturn at XII couldn’t help but notice whom I kept glancing at during the presentation, and, instead of chatting with the hellcats during the break, he headed straight for me.

“Alice, what are you doing tonight?” he asked gloomily as I landed at my table by Roman.

“Meditation,” I breathed it out and looked at Roman the way the girls did, giving a man the right to correct them in case…

However, Roman was watching Saturn at XII and me with interest, clearly not intending to interfere.

“Would you like to meditate with me?” the Master of the swamp hellcats did not give up.

“In the swamp?” flashed through my head.

“Don’t you like swamps?” I heard Roman’s voice in my mind.

“It depends on whose swamp and with whom to meditate,” I answered Roman, catching and immediately cutting myself off at the thought that…

“Sorry, I meditate alone only.”

Probably, Saturn would never have left Roman and me alone, if not for a flock of hellcats who flew up to the hero of the party for an autograph, while dreaming of moving to his swamps for a permanent residence.

“Were you able to forgive everyone?” Roman asked, bringing me back to yesterday’s task.

I knew exactly who he meant from the swamp in which we had met, however, since I had no desire to discuss my Past with Roman, I avoided answering.

“Are we talking about me now?”

For a moment, I even thought, “Why? Why don’t I want to chat with Roman about the Past, that he already knows, in part, being a witness to it? Maybe because the Past, that made us met, separated us as well, preventing me to approach him? Or because I suddenly, just for a moment, wished to see Roman in my Future? In the very one, which in 36 nights — or how many of them left? – doesn’t exist anymore!.. Stop all this nonsense!” I interrupted the flow of daring thoughts so as not to get lost in worthless fantasies.

“Didn’t you say yesterday,” Roman suddenly put his arm around my shoulder, pulling me to him and moving to a whisper, “that every person is Teacher and Student at the same time? In some way, you are certainly Master for me, but in some way, perhaps, my Student as well. No?”

The electric light came back as suddenly as it had gone away.

I pulled away from Roman abruptly.

The Guardian appeared from behind the black curtain and blew out the antique lantern, however, the candles on the guests’ tables kept burning for a long time.

“The next task is one of the easiest.”


…Remember at least 50 people who have influenced your destiny. They can be not only parents, but also writers, not only kind people, but those who offended you. The important is that thanks to these people some positive changes took place in you and / or your life.

Make a list of these people, and then mentally turn to everyone and thank, from the bottom of your heart, sincerely, even those who hurt you. They were sent to you from Above and exclusively for the good. However, sometimes it is possible to understand this only many years later. Or, how Sergey Yesenin wisely formulated, “You cannot see a face to face, you can see great things at a distance.”

The Guardian of the Portal approached me and defiantly rang the bell. The break was over. I went onto the stage and announced the Open Mic. The Cat materialized in Roman’s place.


“Why u not want I call u?”

“It’s night.”

“Want see u face. See u. No fly. Cancelled. I want u… Translation: I want to hug and kiss you everywhere… Want?”

“Stop, Pasha…”

“No! I want u! Many years u near I wanted… I saw u not can touch u. I like u much much much! U beautiful. But u distance! U not want?.. Yes or no?.. Tell me true! Tell u want so 2!”

“I am tired. I want to sleep.”

“I want 2 sleep with u! I want u much much much! Translation: I want you. Is it bad to say what you feel? Tell me what I’m wrong about?


I flew into the Mansion five minutes before the fixed time of our literary party, but the Blizzard was delaying the guests.

“Hello!” the Guardian, as usual, graciously relieved me of the snow-powdered furs and handed them over to the hanger. “Who are you going to introduce to the public today? The cryptic book title on the poster is a real charade! ‘Ucatanagon’, is it about some ‘Cat’? Or is it just something ‘gone’? Another Swampy? Baba Yaga? Or the skeleton of Koschey the Immortal?”

“You won’t believe the truth,” I whispered mysteriously as I walked into the cafe.

“One of the Rainbow?!” mirroring my whisper, the Guardian supposed and followed me to make us coffee.

“No, the Rainbow is still ahead of us! And here… how to explain… The annotation says, it’s like a mystical fantasy about options for the further development of mankind, ruled by Ucatanagon with a certain Ma… However, as you read along, you find the bear having non-standard love with the fox, and then killing it. The bull is engaged in even more unconventional relationship with…”

“S-stop-stop-stop! I see!” the Guardian laughed, handing me a double espresso with milk. “I figured out who the Ucatanagon is!”

“It seems to me that even the author himself didn’t understand who Ucatanagon was, but that doesn’t matter anymore.”

The hall was gradually flooded with guests.

“I look at them,” the Guardian said thoughtfully, “and I think, isn’t it the Ball of…? You know whom I mean…”

“The Ball is scheduled for the 40th night… Tell me, is the Portal located in the postbox room, where letters to the Creator are written?”

“I can’t answer that question,” the Guardian sighed with a shrug.

“I felt it there… Are there other rooms nearby?”

“Yes, there is one next to the postbox room.”

“Could you open it for me? For a couple of minutes, while the guests are gathering…”

We sailed into an adjoining room, where I slowly spun around the table. The walls were full of…

“Would you like me to make an exhibition of your paintings here?” the Guardian suddenly offered.

“How do you know I paint?”

“You gave me your ‘Moon Cat’, there is your painting on the cover, ‘The Girl and the Cat’. And inside the book, there are the same Girl and the Cat, already as drawings. You have a lot of works about the Girl and the Cat. They are very relevant here. So, do you want an exhibition?”

“I think it’s better to gift the rest of that serial paintings to the Mansion. Some have already been sold, some have been donated… I will bring you the paintings on the 40th night as my gift for the Museum. Yes?”

The Guardian didn’t answer. I thought about it, and suddenly, in the silence, I felt that…

“The Portal! Is it HERE?!” I exclaimed in surprise.

The Guardian smiled.

“Listen, it can’t be like that! I felt the Portal there, and now it’s here?!”

The Guardian came up to me and carefully ran his hand through my hair.

“You are very beautiful, Alice…”

The door opened, the Cat appeared on the threshold.


“He seems to be jealous,” the Guardian smiled, and we returned to the hall.


While the Zoo lover was sharing with the guests his vague concepts of the further development of mankind and answered questions, I kept glancing at my table with a lonely cup of coffee bored on it.

I felt… sad…

I admitted to myself that I got used to the appearance of Roman at our literary parties. I was afraid he wouldn’t come again.

During the break, I was back at the table when the door to the hall opened and…

“Hello,” Roman smiled, taking a seat next to me.

“Do you want coffee?” I asked.


“So you’re not a phantom after all!” I exhaled in relief.

“What if you are a phantom, like me, and like your coffee?” I heard in response.

“And like the Guardian? And this house?” I continued my train of thought.

“And like all these guests,” Roman finished it there.

“When are we going to walk through walls?” Roman asked me aloud, sipping his coffee.

“As soon as we become phantoms,” I replied. “First, reset to zero to become wizard. The tasks I give you now, in fact, have to be done with a certain frequency, not just once. These are the rules of magicians’ life. They exist on a par with the rules of ordinary people life, like brushing your teeth, for example.”

“Okay. Have you already thanked everyone mentally?” Roman remembered my previous task.

The bell rang before I could think of a response.

Roman leaned towards me.

“In my opinion, the Guardian is jealous,” he whispered. “The break ends somehow quickly.”

“Write down the task!”


…Make a list of all your possible ill-wishers (of course, there shouldn’t be any, but they inevitably appear from time to time). Even if you have completed the task of repentance and forgiveness, even if you have personally reconciled with everyone, and you have been really (not in words) forgiven, wish everyone from the bottom of your heart exactly what he lacks, and / or what you want to receive for yourself personally, if you don’t know what the ill-wisher needs.

Address your request directly to God or to the Higher Forces. If you want mutual love, wish it to your enemy, ask God himself of mutual love for that person… If you know that someone envies you, because you bought a cottage in the Seychelles, ask the Higher Forces to gift the similar cottage to the envious person. It’s important to wish good to your enemies absolutely sincerely, as to yourself.

In this case, the Mirror Effect is triggered:

* you get what you wish for another person, or

* the negative is removed from what is envied,

* the balance of Forces is restoring,

* the theme of forgiveness is being worked through once more.

The Guardian approached me and defiantly rang the bell again. I cast a parting glance at Roman and went onto the stage to announce the Open Mic.


Having returned home, I thought about my current task.

“What should I wish for my ill-wishers if I disappear forever in 35 nights? I want to find the Portal and leave for Another Reality. I can’t wish the same for them, can I? Let them live, as Roman correctly noted, enjoying life. What do they still wish of not having yet? I have no idea, because, in my opinion, they, unlike me, have absolutely everything and even much more. For such people, one can wish good health only. For another 100 years, or better yet for 1,000!”

I lit a candle and made a list, which turned out to be quite long, if not gigantic. I decided to play it safe and listed everyone I had communicated in my life with and who, in my opinion, had not yet passed into the Other World.

“God, send these people health! Let all their bodies work properly, let them live as long as they need to fulfill their destiny, plus the same amount to enjoy simple human happiness.”

And, barely finishing the phrase, I received a message from Pasha.

“Love u, my girl. Think u. U what think me? Why u not want I call? U were on TV? U win final? U were Museum party, yes? I see u photo Internet. How party was? Good? Tell me how u! I want 2 be with u now. In Museum 2. But no fly… I want 2 live with u. U with me live. Where country u want? I want Germany or Russie. U? Greece no work, difficult… I want open restaurant fish / meat. Why u silent?”

Chapter 6. NOWHERE is NOW HERE

The Guardian met me at the door.

“Frozen?” he asked, having heard the Blizzard howling outside, as I entered the Mansion.

“I like winter,” I smiled.

For some reason, the Guardian froze, looking at me as at a sudden glitch in the Matrix.

“Are you sure you prefer winter to spring?” he asked once more.

“Yes, why? The Blizzard is real magic! Does it matter?” I was surprised.

The Guardian hung my furs on a hanger and followed me into the cafe disappointedly.

“Today you will introduce us a Little Imp, won’t you?” he asked, making coffee for me.

“No, an ordinary old Waterman from ‘Nowhere’.”

“Wow! Is No-where now-here!? Or ‘here and now’?”

“Imagine! He has been looking for Nowhere all his life. Anyway, I think he found it in his book.”

“Then what is he doing here if he has found what he was looking for?” the Guardian got surprised.

“Do you mean the Mansion is visited by only those who are still in search?”

The Guardian brought me coffee.

“You are even cooler than I imagined,” he sighed for some reason.

“Is it bad?”

The Guardian didn’t answer, since the Cat approached us.



The Waterman appeared in the hall without a retinue, swam to the stage and, without ceasing to swim along it in one direction or the other, immersed the guests into a trance with tales about his search for Nowhere all over the globe. From time to time, he took out ancient maps with blurry signs and symbols, but his melodic voice had a much stronger effect on the audience.

I watched the guests evenly nodding their heads in a trance, and at some point they seemed to be… puppets. I closed my eyes, and then opened them and saw… Ray! I screamed and closed my eyes once more. Someone grabbed my arm from the right side of the Giant Mirror. I opened my eyes again and saw the Guardian.

“What’s wrong?” he asked ingratiatingly.

I looked back into the hall, but there was Roman at my table. It was too stuffy there. “Just a mirage…”

“Nothing,” I exhaled, “why?”

The Guardian silently stepped away behind the curtains that separated us from the rest of the Mansion. I announced the break and moved to my table. However, as luck would have it, the Impurities flocked to me with questions!

I dreamed of being alone with Roman, but the Impurities’ flow never stopped, and the Guardian loomed behind the guests in the distance. He was watching me. Silently. Intently. As if the flow between us was something unreal and phantom, and the real ones were the Guardian himself, me and…

I looked at Roman. He was sitting next to me, very close, patiently waiting for…

“I wanted to tell you,” I said mentally, struggling in vain to get away from the Impurities, “there is something wrong here!”

“Who would have doubted!” I heard in reply and looked at the Guardian, who stood at the door still watching me, or us.

“I’m scared,” I confessed to Roman and gently touched his hand for fear he could disappear. However, Roman neither disappeared, nor answered me. I asked still mentally, “Don’t disappear, please!”

“How are you doing in wishing Good to Evil?” Roman asked aloud.

“I hope they heard me yesterday… both here and there…”

The Guardian, apparently tired of standing at the door, approached us. He defiantly took out the bell and, holding it right at the level of my third eye, began to ring it.

The Guardian rang endlessly and so loudly that the small bell in his hand seemed to be transformed into a huge one! The bell was deafened me with its funeral ring, but I could swear, no one else in the hall heard it!

I covered my ears with my hands, the Guardian kept ringing. Roman reached for the bell to stop it in the Guardian’s hands. So did the Cat, who had suddenly jumped on the table and touched the bell with his paw. The Guardian stopped mocking me, turned around and abruptly left the hall. The Cat followed him.

The guests returned to their seats after the break.

“What was that?” I asked Roman silently.

“That’s what is wrong here,” came the meaningful reply.

“Alice,” Roman said aloud, “are you going to make me ‘The Magician’?”

I wasn’t just going to. I really wanted Roman to become Him.

“Then don’t stop, Alice!”

Task No. 6. The BRIDGE of HELP

…Look through everyone you know, both close and distant, to find out who is now harder than you. Perhaps someone needs help, material or spiritual support. Help them. As much as you can, in whatever way you can. Free of charge. Don’t make it public. You have the right to ask them or not to ask a specific question, “How can I help you?” Having asked, listen carefully to the answer. Don’t do anything they don’t ask. Don’t promise what you can’t do. Don’t argue if you think they don’t need that. Just do your best of what they have asked for. Or think of someone else who can help, and become a bridge between them. Help at least one person a month…


“Hi… How Museum party?”

“Thank you, Pasha. Are you lonely?”

“No family. Home. Hard. I job Germany, contract, but all closed.”

“You’re not working right now, are you?”

“Yes, home. Closed.”

“Do you speak German?”

“No. Student. Hard…”

“Do you mean you have a teacher?”

“No, books only.”

“Is Germany better than Greece?”

“Yes. Holidays in Greece. Life in Germany. But now no fly home. No fly in Greece. All closed, airport 2…”

“Can I help you somehow?”

“No. U want marry? We marry. Want? Where u want? Russia? Greece? Germany? Where country? How u want? Church official marry. Good so only. U go 2 church? Believe God? I yes. I come 2 u & we talk. Yes?”

Chapter 7. SHOT in VIENNA

The Blizzard was conjuring outside the window.

“I wanted…” I began, but the Guardian cut me off in mid-sentence.

“To visit once more the rooms, where you felt the Portal!”

“Not today… I wanted to ask you a less formal question,” I breathed out, taking the Guardian by hand as he brought me coffee.

“All ears, my Queen!”

“Have I offended you somehow?”

“You are the most curious creature that…”


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