Collection of mysticism

Бесплатный фрагмент - Collection of mysticism

+ author’s biography including essays about books

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When I opened my eyes and looked around, it took me a while to figure out where I was. My face and hands were stinging from the injury. When I came to myself, I realized that I was in a hospital room. There were four beds in the ward, two of which were vacant my neighbor was opposite me. Remembering recent events, I could not make up the whole picture. I could not believe what I saw. Alternatively, was it a terrible dream? Alternatively, just hallucinations from the cold? The last thing I remember is that I was alone in an unfamiliar area; it was like an icy plain, a blizzard was circling around, and a beautiful woman was standing in front of me and mercilessly laughing at me. I closed my eyes and began to remember what had happened to me.

Various episodes surfaced in my memories, in one of which I remember the kingdom of the underworld. I was standing in a clearing covered with moss; it looked like an age-old jungle. There was a fire burning in the clearing, little men were running around the fire and squeaking disgustingly, they looked more like a bat. An old woman was standing near the fire; she was saying something and throwing wood on the fire. She looked like a beggar, covered with an old decrepit blanket, her body was covered with terrible scars, and her breasts hung down to her stomach. I pressed myself against an oak tree and watched the whole picture, not understanding how I got here. It was like a Sabbath. These evil spirits did not seem to notice me, and I did not want them to notice me. At the same time, it seemed to me that they were pretending not to notice me. The old woman glanced in my direction from time to time and poured some ashes into the fire. I was shaking all over from what was happening, and I just wanted to disappear from this place. Not even to run, but to disappear. I was afraid to move, so that no one would notice me. Suddenly, the fire suddenly went out, the little demons ran screaming. The whole picture disappeared and a blizzard rose. The clearing, covered with moss, turned into a winter garden. I stood huddled against the oak tree, not understanding what was happening, and it became even scarier for me. I began to shake from the cold, and my soul was shaking with icy fear. The blizzard began to subside, and turned into a damn beautiful, fatal, insidious woman. At the same moment, the winter garden and all its inhabitants disappeared, and I found myself alone with this woman on an icy plain. Then my visions were mixed up, and I leaned back on the pillow with my eyes closed.

I fell into a deep sleep, hoping to see and remember who this woman was once again. Her beauty threw me off balance. I woke up in deep disappointment. I did not dream anything. The only joy was that I was able to get out of bed, and even hang my legs off the bed. The face and hands made themselves felt less. After examining the ward, this time more carefully, it seemed quite cozy to me. The walls are cream-colored. Bright windows and pleasant curtains created a homely atmosphere. Taking a deep breath, I looked towards the front door, it immediately opened, and I shuddered. My neighbor came in, I immediately remembered him when I saw him for the first time. I have a good visual memory.

The neighbor greeted me affably. — From the timid? He said these words in jest, and I did not know what to answer. I could not tell what I had experienced. Moreover, was it a reality?

— Yes, no. Just thinking. I realized that my neighbor is simple, with a heightened sense of humor. We talked with him a little bit, and we did not even get to know each other. I went out into the corridor and walked around a bit, stood by the window. It was a fierce winter outside the window, and another picture presented itself to me.

I remembered that I tried to escape from the clearing, to find shelter, but a blizzard caught me and carried me away. She took it away like some kind of kitten. I could not understand if this really happens. I remembered that I was actually flying. I was even ashamed to mention it to someone. I returned to the ward, began to remember how it all started, where I am, and how I got here.

Returning to the ward, I sat down on my bed. My neighbor across the street was doing a crossword puzzle. After asking me the answer to one of the questions, he got a question instead. — How did I end up here?

— Two friends brought you. I think you fell asleep on the street and frostbitten your limbs. That is all I know.

— And how long ago?

— Tonight.

It made me feel better that it was not a week. Memory was returning. I got into my nightstand, and found a cell phone, though discharged, documents and some money. After having dinner with a neighbor, I joined him to solve a crossword puzzle. A nurse came into the room and smeared my hands and face with some kind of cream. Then she left, slamming the door.

— This is an evil person. Tomorrow the good one will come, the neighbor said with an ironic smile. Smiling back, I began to get ready for bed. — Why are you so scared? All somewhat intimidated? Who offended you here?

— No. I replied dryly.

— What is your name?

— Victor.

— My name is Vova. Tell me what happened. Maybe I can help.

I wanted so much to tell everything to the first person I met, but I was afraid that they would laugh at me. In addition, I could not. Instead, I asked a new friend for a charger. Turning on the phone, I quickly wrote a letter to my sister, forgetting about the time difference. The next day my friends came to me and told me how they had saved me.

When I returned to my room, I literally bumped into Vova. –Did they do that to you?» I realized that Vova would not let his friends offend, and would not leave me alone. I sat down on the edge of the bed and, not knowing how to begin, began my story.

I flew to Norilsk to visit my grandmother’s grave. This year she had an anniversary of ten years. Our grandmother lived in Norilsk all her life, and my sister and I only occasionally flew with my mother to visit my grandmother. Sometimes Grandma came to visit us. My sister could not fly with me because she has two children. I still have childhood friends in Norilsk, with whom I played when I flew to my grandmother. They welcomed me with joy, and I stayed with them.

Remembering my grandmother, my friends and I laughed at the stories she told me as a child. These stories were like fiction, but my grandmother assured me that it was true. When I arrived at the cemetery, I started looking for my grandmother’s grave and got lost. My friends stayed at home. I corresponded with my sister on the Internet; she helped me to look for her grave. Then I failed. I remember exactly that I was standing near an abandoned grave, the earth split into two parts, and I fell into the abyss. It seemed to me that I had fallen into hell, but it must be hot in hell, and I ended up in an ice cave. From my heat, there were vapors until I began to be covered with an icy crust. I decided I was dead. Grandma’s spirit took me away. She must have been offended that I did not find her grave. I got up and went to look for a way out. I walked through the snow tunnel as if through a maze that did not end. My legs gave way and I fell.

I woke up in a clearing covered with moss. I told my friend about the fire, and everything that happened in the clearing, and how I saw the woman. Then I fell and woke up in the same place by an abandoned unmarked grave. Deciding that I was freezing, I began to look for a way out. The weather for this time of year was quite calm, windless, and the minus was not big. Seeing the exit, I purposefully headed towards it, deciding to go to the grave tomorrow. Suddenly a blizzard came and caught me. This time I found myself in an ice palace. The palace was huge, and everything in it was made of ice. The first thing that caught my eye was the little men who were running around the campfire. Moreover, even these little men were covered with ice. In addition, even an old woman with a sagging chest stood like an ice statue, holding some shamanic objects in her hands. I decided I was just crazy. Mrs. Snowstorm threw her icy gaze at me. Then it turned into a pile of snowflakes, and I found myself again in a clearing covered with moss. I stood by the oak tree, holding on to it tightly with my hands, hoping that the blizzard would not be able to carry me away. She was not here, there was no one? I began to look around, I was shaking with fear, not knowing where I was, and I tried to find my way home, and went through the bushes. This incomprehensible area reminded me of the ancient wilds, something like from a fairy tale about the Lukomorye. These strange plants, labyrinths, moss, elves and all that. My friend was listening to me, and I did not know if he believed me or not.

— «It’s all like a fairy tale, of course,» he said in a quite serious voice, but I believe you. We got up and went out to smoke. On my return, my friend asked me to continue the story. The lights went out in the hospital a long time ago, and we were lying in our beds.

I was mentally transported to the place where I got lost, looking for a way out of the clearing. Then, when I managed to get out of the bushes, I began to look around, and realized that I was lost. Not knowing what to do, I wanted to call my friends, but to my surprise, I did not have a phone or documents. I remembered perfectly well that all these things were always with me, I left the house with them. I corresponded with my sister. I panicked and went wherever I could. I was walking along the path, and I found myself in a green tunnel of moss, it was a maze. It was dark in this realm. it is an underground realm! Walking by touch, my legs did not obey me and were giving way all the time. Leaning against the moss wall, I closed my eyes and fell asleep. I woke up already at the cemetery late in the evening; my friends met me to my joy. I was so glad to see them, even though I could not tell them anything. I just said I was lost, even though they already knew it.

After sitting with friends for a while, I went to my room, or rather my friend’s room. It was his late grandmother’s apartment, and the furniture was inherited. I was lying in bed and thinking about what had happened. I was very much frozen, and I could not understand why I was shaking, from the cold or from the fear, I had experienced. Friends did not understand anything. They thought I was just scared of walking around the cemetery, especially late at night. I wanted to sleep very much, and I was afraid to close my eyes, fear pierced my soul. There was a strong wind outside the window, it was howling, and that made it even scarier. A street lamp was shining through the window, and I was looking at the shadow of snowflakes on the wall. Old creaky furniture and a relic of the day created the interior of Count Dracula’s castle. I smiled to myself, wished my sister good night, as always forgetting about the time zone, and closed my eyes.

As soon as I closed my eyes and relaxed for a moment, a shadow immediately ran along the wall. I shuddered involuntarily. My heart started pounding. I opened my eyes and looked with fear at the wall, which was illuminated by a street lamp. I already knew that anything could happen and involuntarily tensed up. The figure of a beautiful woman flashed across the wall, and disappeared. Now I knew I was not alone in this room. I could not call for help for fear that I would be considered crazy. Nervous overexertion gave me a headache and I got ready for further actions, at this time my room was slowly covered with ice. All the walls, floor, ceiling were covered, a beautiful pattern appeared on the window, and the front door was frozen solid. My room became like an ice cave, and despite this, I did not feel cold, I did not feel anything but panic fear. My sofa, on which I was just trying to fall asleep, turned into an ice bench. I prepared myself for my fate. What will happen next, and what does this woman want from me? Who is she?

A whirlwind of large snowflakes formed in the room, they circled, and turned into a strict old woman, this is not the old woman who humanized by the fire, it was completely different. She darted her gaze at me, and I recognized in that gaze that formidable beautiful woman who was chasing me. For a moment, my fear disappeared, and I stopped being afraid. I wanted to ask who she was, but I was waiting for the first, her further actions. She walked past me tapping her staff on the icy floor and flew out the window in the form of a blizzard. My room has regained its former appearance. Everything became the same as it was. In addition, as if nothing had happened.

I was sitting on the sofa with my legs pressed to my chest, I wanted to smoke madly, but I did not want to show myself to my friends. I leaned back on the sofa, closed my eyes and relaxed for a minute, forgetting about what had happened. These supernatural phenomena drew me in, and I became interested in them. I waited for further developments. The fear still did not leave me, but I got up from the sofa and went out to my friends to smoke.

I plucked up the courage and decided to tell my sister everything. After looking at the time, I decided not to postpone everything until the morning. To my surprise, my sister immediately answered me. She calmed me down in every possible way and asked me to tell about each new incident. Her explanation for my stories was that I violated the chambers of a strict dark Goddess. She asked me to remember every wrong word, every gesture, and all my conversations. She also asked not to go alone to the cemetery, as well as to drink as little as possible and return as soon as possible.

My friend listened to me with interest, asked me to continue, but I was tired. I had a terrible headache, I wanted to sleep, and I fell asleep. In the morning, the nurse treated my burns received from the cold, and after breakfast, my neighbor asked me to continue the story. It was difficult for me to remember everything that happened, there were gaps in my memory, and I remembered in parts. Mentally returning to the places where I happened to visit.

— Vova, tell me, are you really interested in this story?

— You are kidding! You happened to see the Goddess of the Slavic Pantheon! I myself am a little fond of this topic. Now, after meeting you. I am already starting to really believe it.

— «I don’t believe it myself. I did not believe it until now. Now, just like you, I am starting. My sister is obsessed with it. She helped me get out of the underworld. He says I have been in Mara’s arms! My friend smiled back with his ironic smile.

— And what were the consequences?

— Next. In the morning, after drinking coffee with friends, we decided to go to my grandmother’s grave together. My friends decided to accompany me so that I would not get lost in the cold like last time. We walked along the road and laughed loudly at the stories that my grandmother told me as a child. When I reached the place, I stood by the grave remembering my childhood. My days spent with my grandmother, and those funny stories that she told my sister and me. My friends stood aside and waited for me. I looked around, looking for the abandoned grave near which I got lost. I could not find her, and I had to leave with nothing. Although my goal seemed to have been achieved, but I did not get what I wanted. It is time to fly away. However, I did not want to. I could not explain the reason to my friends, only my sister knew it. She insisted on my departure. The ticket was purchased, departure the next day. I only had one night left, and I did not want to lose it. Mysticism pulled me in, and I wanted to find out who this woman was.

— It was our last dinner. We had a good time with friends, and after saying good night, I went to the room reserved for me. I closed the door behind me and sighed heavily. To my surprise, I was looking forward to her appearance. I sat down on the edge of the sofa and waited. It was a dark polar night outside the window. It was November outside. I looked at the light from the lantern and admired the beauty of the snowflakes that swirled in this light. I knew that this woman could appear anywhere and from anywhere. Therefore, without wasting time in vain, I checked all my things collected for tomorrow, got ready for bed and went to bed.

— I closed my eyes and began to recall all the events that had happened to me over the past three days. I did as my sister told me; I remembered everything from the moment of arrival until tonight. My goal was my grandmother’s grave. My grandmother was a pagan. When my sister and I were little, she read us fairy tales, and told us entertaining stories, legends about the gods. I never believed in it, and I did not really listen. Our parents were against these legends. However, my sister loved these stories, and believed with her grandmother in these gods. We grew up, my sister continues to believe in these myths, but I do not. Sometimes we have controversial questions about this.

— What city are you from?

— We were born here in Norilsk, then moved to live in Voronezh, and my grandmother stayed in this city. This is her hometown. My childhood was spent in the city of Norilsk.

— I remember one of the legends about the gods, my grandmother told my sister and me about Mara Maren. How could I have known then that I would meet her? — She will turn the whole fur coat inside out for you. Grandma was talking. — Everything inside. This is the woman of the kingdom of Navi. Her possessions lie beyond the black river, across which the Kalinov Bridge is spanned, guarded by a three-headed Serpent. The Great Lady Madder loves to rest in her icy Palaces in the far north of the Earth. Her reign time is winter. When all nature is asleep. Madder does not like when her peace is disturbed. When the awakening comes, and the Earth begins to revive after hibernation, the reign of Madder ends. Moreover, she goes to her chambers. I was silent for a minute and noticed how my neighbor was listening to me attentively.

— And then, what happened then?

— Later. Remembering everything from the beginning. We were going to fly with my sister, but we did not find anyone to take care of the children. She brings them up alone, and I help her. We decided that I would fly alone, and on the day of departure she saw me off, protected me like a mother. My sister is older than I am and has always taken care of me. It was not for nothing that she asked me to remember everything I said, what I laughed at. Because before the flight we remembered grandmother’s fairy tales, had a good evening with her children. When I arrived here, my friends and I were laughing at the same fairy tales; perhaps this was the reason for my adventures. We laughed at them even when we went to the cemetery. Then I dreamed of seeing the image of this woman again. I have been looking forward to this moment. At that time, I could not even think that this was the goddess of the Slavic Pantheon. At first, I thought it was hallucinations from the cold, or from excess alcohol. Then I decided that it was the grandmother’s spirit that took me away or I would go crazy. I did not know who to tell all this to, and it was only after talking with my sister that I realized that I was entering another world, another dimension. In addition, I do not even get there, but they take me away and bring me back. However, why? I myself became interested, and I began to wait for our meeting with her. Our conversation was interrupted by a doctor’s visit. Then we went to lunch, after lunch we lay down on the bed, and I continued my story.

— When I went to bed, I was full of hopes that she would come again, or rather fly in the form of snowflakes. However, my hopes were not fulfilled. In addition, I fell into a deep, deep sleep. In my dream, I dreamed of a clearing, bats dancing by the fire, I wanted to approach them, and I took a decisive step towards them. There was dampness underfoot; the air was heavy because of the large amount of moss. I was able to see these trolls; they looked like little devils with bat wings. These creatures had no heels, and their pointed ears gave a funny look. These creatures were clearly having fun, their squeaking sounded disgusting, the fire was not burning with a natural flame; something had obviously been thrown into it. The appearance of a nasty old woman did not spoil the fun, but rather intensified it. The old woman began to prepare some kind of drink on the fire. She uttered incomprehensible words, poured some mixtures into the pot. The liquid in the pot bubbled, and gave off an unpleasant smell to the whole neighborhood. Along with this smell, the fog began to come. At first, it was a thin puff of smoke, and then the fog began to thicken and turned into thick dark smoke. Because of this smoke, nothing was visible. Taking advantage of this moment, I came closer. Hoping that no one sees me, I stood in front of the fire, trying to look into the pot. The liquid in it looked like red wine. The old woman looked at me and did not say a word. The ritual was over, the fog continued to advance. The little men ran screaming somewhere, and I followed them at a brisk pace, not seeing where I was going. I walked, not knowing what I was stepping on, there was dampness under my feet, and branches of bushes fell into my face. The only thing I looked at was the little infuriates, it seemed to me they knew where to go.

The fog began to clear, and I began to look around. It was no longer a clearing covered with moss, but more like an autumn abandoned forest. All the trees and shrubs were leafless. The sky was not visible, it was not there as such, and there was a black haze. It was a cold autumn, and the air was wet and cold. A cold shiver ran through my body, and I began to shake from the cold. Wet, yellowed leaves rustled underfoot.

I noticed that one of the devils had strayed from his own and stuck in the bush. I decided to help him get out, and squatted down for this. The imp was scared of me, and I felt funny. Barely suppressing a smile, I picked it up, and it turned out to be not so nasty. I continued to shake from the cold, and I held him with trembling hands. The imp tried to escape; I squeezed him even harder and asked: — where am I?

— On the threshold of the Navi world. The imp squeaked in a childish voice.

— Where is everyone going?

— You need to get across the Kalinov Bridge faster. The holiday is coming soon.

— Which one?

— At Mara Madder’s ball. She is coming into her own soon. She holds a celebration in her honor every year. Nevertheless, she has a limited number of guests. If you are not invited, then it is better not to show yourself in her eyes. Run away from here. She will punish you.

The more I was removed from her, the closer I wanted to be to her.

— How do I get to the party? In addition, I squeezed him even harder. This creature was smaller than my palm. He began to beep loudly and attract attention. I let him go and he flew away. All I had to do was not noticeably follow everyone.

The souls of the dead began to join our small company. They were ghosts with light transparent eyes. They flew after the devils, I realized that they were meeting guests and escorting them to the place. I began not to have time to follow these evil spirits, and strengthened my step. Souls continued to fly up and join, but there were not many of them yet. I remembered the words that the bat had squeaked to me that the number of guests was limited.

The flying company made an abrupt stop, and I took a breath. Looking around, we found ourselves on the edge of the forest; there was a large stump in the middle. An old woman stood next to him and poured out the same red drink that was brewed in another clearing. The drink was poured into the skulls, surprisingly it was hot, and everyone who received it stood in a circle. At first, the ghosts got up, as I understood by seniority, they stood in a circle holding the skulls. Then the bats, they rather protected the guests. Thus, a double circle was formed around this stump. I really wanted to drink this drink. I was shaking from the cold, despite walking fast. I felt weakness in my body, I felt my strength leaving me, and I fell into unconsciousness. The sight of this old woman was so terrible, I was afraid to approach her. My mouth was dry and all I wanted was a sip of water.

The inhabitants of the clearing continued their journey, first the besyat, followed by the dead souls. There were more than a hundred of them. The old woman was the last to set off. All the guests and their escorts took the skulls with them. The old woman left her medicine here, and I was waiting for her to leave. As soon as she left, I ran up to the stump. There was a surprisingly hot drink left in the pot. Despite the terrible smell, I took a big sip. Immediately after drinking, I felt strong, and the cold left me. All I needed was to catch up with my own. I already considered them my own, despite the fact that I am a living person; I was in the other world. I completely forgot that at any moment, I could return to the world of the living, and to my surprise, I did not want to do that at all. These devils became my friends, even though they did not know about it. If I had told anyone at work about this, I would have been immediately sent to a mental hospital. I did not think about it, the only thing I thought about was how to get to the holiday.

I did not notice how I ran to the right place at the right time. I did not feel any pain or fatigue, I did not want to sleep or eat. For a minute, I thought I was a ghost too. The number of guests increased, and the speed of the hike decreased. The most real magic rose before my eyes. The dead trees that had shed their leaves and prepared for winter came to life and bowed their gnarled branches in front of the guests. Snakes and lizards crawled under their feet, bowing their heads before the flying souls of the dead. The foliage that had fallen under his feet was fluttering, although there was no wind here initially. We slowly continued to walk; I still tried not to be noticed, although it is hardly possible if in this otherworldly world the dead nature comes to life.

The procession is over. We stopped at the riverbank. A bridge was thrown across the river. The river, as well as the bridge, were of large size. Looking around, I saw around me many living, or rather dead creatures. These are the souls of people, also animals, birds, trees. Everyone froze and stood motionless. I was afraid to move, but I tried to see what was happening on the other side. I remembered my sister’s words about Mara Marena, as well as my late grandmother, who spoke about the Kalinov Bridge, the Currant River. — Madder’s possessions lie beyond the black Currant River, separating Reality and Nav. The Kalinov Bridge is spanned across this river, which is guarded by a Three-Headed Snake.

I remembered these words, and began to understand where I am. The guests separated. On my right hand stood the dead souls who accompanied the devils. All the evil spirits are on my left. These are all the same devils, goblins, kikimores, mermaids, trolls, as well as the dark spirits of the Slavic pantheon. I hid behind a tree, hoping that no one could see me. No one paid attention to me, everyone was looking at the bridge. I looked back and saw a huge number of ghosts. For some reason, no one accompanied these souls, and they stayed away. There were few animals; I could not understand what they were doing here. I also noticed the Kalinov Bridge. The crowd of people became animated and began to slowly move forward. The procession was led by souls accompanied by evil spirits. It was very slow. I did not know who to go with or how to get there. I decided to go the very last, I wanted to see this ceremony, how and what would happen. I completely forgot about the fear, and about the fact that I am not an invited guest here.

I climbed a tree and watched what was happening. The crowd slowly moved forward. The deceased souls formed pairs with the same devils, a large column was formed, and they held a skull in their hands. The view from above was terrifying. The fog began to come again, and because of it it became worse to see. I saw everything. As the souls walked across the bridge, a three-headed Serpent met them at the other end of the bridge, and they disappeared somewhere, but I could not see where. The column gradually advanced, and it became smaller. I started to feel cold, and I got chills.

When the last souls had passed and the bridge was empty, a strange man came out on the bridge and descended to this shore. He looked like a hermit, his image fully corresponded to a human, and at the same time, he was somewhat similar to a goblin. Having examined his image closer, I saw in this man a noble elder. I wonder who he is. In addition, what is he doing in this place?

— This is the god Veles. I shuddered. One of the ghosts was talking to me. They could move through the air, but I did not know they could talk. These ghosts were asexual, they looked like transparent cellophane bags, and they had no legs, hair, shapes. Judging by the voice, a man was talking to me. The ghost approached me, and stayed close.

When Velez came closer, the trolls parted, and the animals bowed their heads. Velez said something to them in an incomprehensible language and the animals went back. Then Velez slowly left. In addition, behind him, the trolls began to march.

— This is the guardian god of the forest. He is also the master of the kingdom of Navi, along with Mara Marena, Chernobog and Koshchei, the husband of Mara Marena. This is their underground world. Veles thanked the dead animals for helping him protect the forest and its inhabitants. The animals returned to the world of Reality, only anew. If you want to go to Mara’s ball, then you need to go with the trolls. After they pass, the road will be closed. She will not let anyone else in.

— How do you know?

— We come here every year to honor the great goddess, but alas, we are not allowed access. All these souls once angered her very much, and she does not invite us to her holiday. All souls of former sorcerers, magicians and sorcerers who, when they tried to establish contact with her, were very angry. She also does not like lazy people, and those who once did not keep their promise. She severely punishes these people.

— And who are the souls who left accompanied?

— These are the guests of honor. These ones were able to establish contact with her. These souls were very lucky. She always patronized them. My chills were getting worse, and it was getting harder for me. If you once had a problem with her, then it is better to appease her, otherwise you will not be able to. The ghost fell silent and looked at me with kind sad eyes.

— Why did you come up to me?

— I can see right through you. I am a former magician. I also know another secret, but I do not know whether to tell it to you or not.

— If you have started, then tell me.

— That old woman who shamanila by the fire, whom you saw for the first time. It is your grandmother. Mara made her house cleaner, she, she…

Then my dream ended and I woke up. I fell silent. My story is over. My interlocutor listened to me attentively, without interrupting. I was always alarmed by the fact that my interlocutor was looking at me very carefully. He wanted to say something and was silent. The strangest thing was that he believed me. Does he really believe that too? I did not doze off for long. After dinner, we walked down the corridor with him and got ready for bed. As soon as we lay down in bed, Vova asked me to continue my story.

I woke up sweating and shaking violently. To my surprise, I immediately got my bearings where I was, and immediately remembered about the plane ticket. I realized that I was in hell; I was transported from hell to hell. My hell was that I needed to get there urgently, and I did not know how. Friends came into the room and brought me good news. It turns out that I had a fever all night, and they called an ambulance for me. The doctor gave me an injection, and I slept until morning. They handed over my ticket without me, and they decided to keep me until my recovery. That was the best news for me.

I called my sister and told her everything. Everything is as it was. To my surprise, she believed me, and together we thought about how I could get there. There was very little time left. As soon as the trolls cross the bridge, there will be no access, and I will not be able to get to the holiday. My sister told me that Mara would celebrate the holiday in her ice palaces.

— What is the reason for this holiday?

— Mara Madder is a sign of winter; it comes into its own on 25 November. Her time is winter. In addition, her rights end with the arrival of spring, when they burn the effigy of winter. She is afraid of the sun. Today is the day of winter; it comes into its own.

— What do you and I need to do to help our grandmother?

— I do not know myself. Can somehow appease her. To perform the rite.

— I think I also made her angry at something. In addition, I, too, will have to be punished. Only I am still alive.

— Don’t worry, brother, I will think of something. Keep me posted on everything that is going on. I mentally said goodbye to my sister and came to my friends in the kitchen.

I drank a cup of coffee, the fever increased. The clock showed exactly seven in the morning. I calculated the time zone. My thoughts were in hell. I wonder if there is a time zone there, and what is the countdown there.

— What are you thinking about?

— How can he think of anything in this state? Let us give him medicine instead.

— What is it?

— What the doctor ordered while you were sleeping.

A friend brought me medicine, and I drank it. I have not eaten for more than a day, and I did not feel like it. I wanted to smoke, but I did not have the strength to go out on the balcony or the landing. My friend took a step to meet me, and opened the window.

— Smoke. He said. In addition, he got a cigarette for himself and me. A friend sitting over a cup of coffee laughed at us.

— That is what your grandmother’s fairy tales have brought you to. They even started smoking indoors. Are you not afraid that the Snow Queen will fly in here now and take you away! I was standing, and subconsciously waiting for this moment when she would fly through the window. I needed it. We finished our cigarettes in silence, the medicine began to take effect, and a friend went to the window to close it. As soon as he closed it and we sat down at the table, the kitchen began to be covered with ice. Despite the open door to the corridor, only the kitchen room was covered with ice. Ice covered everything: curtains, windows, chandelier, and every little thing that was in this room. It happened quickly enough; I was already ready for it and was not particularly afraid. My two friends had a hard time, and I was afraid for them and their lives, too. The ice continued to crackle, and its thickness reached a large size.

— What the hell! My friend dropped the cup from his hands, and it froze in the air along with the spilled liquid. I noticed one of them had a trembling lower lip. However, I could not say a word to them. For a moment everything froze, we all froze, an abyss opened up in front of us and we fell into it. We landed in a clearing where I once drank a miraculous drink. The pot was empty. Looking around, I did not see anyone. I was looking for the inhabitants of this world to continue my journey. I completely forgot about my friends, but I should have thought about them.

— Where are we? What is happening? Listen, you are at home here! Explain.

— We are in hell with you! I said joyfully!

— What?

— Well, or to put it culturally in the realm of darkness. Moreover, I need to get to the party.

— What? Explain again?

— I do not know how to explain all this myself, but this is my second time here. In addition, today is a holiday for one of the Slavic goddesses, and I need to save my grandmother.

— I understand everything. Do not go on. It is just that you infected us with a virus, and the three of us went crazy. Now we will all come to our senses, and that is it. No more holidays.

— It makes sense. I also hold this point of view. It is just a glitch. It is necessary to listen less to fairy tales about goddesses.

My friends turned away from me and went in the opposite direction. I already knew where I was and realized that I needed to go in the opposite direction. I wanted to run after us, but stopped. They also got up, not knowing where to go. This place has become so scary and cold that I was scared myself. Winter was coming into its own, and it was palpable.

— What are you going to do?

— I will go further, I know where. I did not know what to do with them. Take them with you or leave them here. A spirit came for me.

— Hurry up. There is very little time.

— What should I do with them?

— Let them wait here. We will escort them back. Now run as hard as you can. I was running, and I forgot about fatigue. When I reached the bridge, I saw the trolls leaving. Stopping, I asked the spirit to tell me about my grandmother.

— Your grandmother once, in her youth, resorted to the help of the great goddess Mara. Nevertheless, later, she stopped honoring her, worshipping her, and did not fulfill her promise. The goddess was angry with her, and made her house cleaner. In addition, you incurred her wrath by behaving improperly at the cemetery and laughing at Mara herself. She heard everything.

— And from where do you know all this?

— Do not forget that I am dead, but clairvoyant. Now go.

— And how can I help my grandmother?

— You will find out for yourself. Go faster. A three-headed serpent guarded the bridge. He rose into the air and spread his wings. The horror took my breath away, and I felt myself losing strength. I ran across the bridge and felt my knees tremble, and the bridge was wobbling under my feet. As soon as I found myself on the other side, I saw emptiness. The plain stretched before me. I expected to see something more, something different. The plain was endless. I did not know where to go next and stood waiting.

After taking a few steps forward, I saw how the picture changed its screensaver. Everything was different here. It was like a well-maintained park that had prepared for winter. Everything was well cleaned here, the trees are well maintained, and there are even benches for relaxing. Street lamps illuminated the dark space. I went to wander around this park in the hope of meeting at least someone in this dark world. I could not figure out where everyone had gone, because I was running with the trolls. How it all happened. Where should I look for them? Looking around, I realized that this park, like the plain, has neither beginning nor end. I walked along the asphalt path in the hope that it would lead me wherever.

The park turned into a forest in an instant. It was a green clearing, on which a house covered with moss stood among the trees. Here everything was deserted and abandoned, and no one seemed to live. I wanted to go to the house, but an invisible force pushed me away. I made another attempt and was thrown back again. I completely forgot about my fear, and that I am alive among the dead. I did not know who I was anymore.

I stood still and looked at the house. Suddenly everything went dark and another picture appeared in the dim light. It was like a billboard that changes the screensavers. A dark abandoned house appeared in front of me. It looked like a haunted house, but no one seemed to live in it, as in the previous one. This picture was like a nightmare. Everything was dark and creepy here. Dark bony trees moved their bony branches. A palisade surrounded the house and skulls were planted on it through one. There was cold ground underfoot and not a drop of greenery, unlike the previous house. This time I was scared, and I did not dare to step forward, but on the contrary stepped back and bumped into old rotten boards and fell. I was sitting waiting for someone to come out of this house. However, there was a deathly silence and I got up. I am tired. I desperately wanted to stop this nightmare, but it dragged me in, and I did not know how to end it.

I stood and waited for what would happen next. Silence won, and I went ahead. It was even scarier ahead; the picture changed its screensaver. There was a stone castle in front of me. The fence of this castle was also made of a stockade, only a skull was impaled on each stake. The railings in this castle were made entirely of skulls. It was dark enough and fog began to set in. Terror seized me and I wanted to run away from here. I began to miss my friends and even the spirit who initiated me into these secrets. The doors and windows were closed. It looks like no one lives in these houses, I thought to myself. I wonder what kind of houses these are, and who lives in them? The castle was made of stone, unlike the two previous houses. Skeletons stood at the entrance gate like two faithful guards. On the very edge of the roof sat a black raven, and stared at me intently. This made me even more scared, I no longer wanted to continue on my way, I wanted to wake up as soon as possible, but I did not know how to do it. The mist enveloped the whole neighborhood, nothing was visible and I did not know where to go next. Clouds of dark gray smoke obscured everything around. I began to look around. Someone suddenly touched my shoulder, and I flinched. It was my friend.

— We finally found you! It is a creepy place! What do you think? I was quite surprised to see them here.

— We have been looking for you for a long time. My friends came accompanied by my new ghost friend. — Your friend helped us find you. I was excited to see my friends. My fear disappeared and I wanted to continue on my way.

— We decided to go with you to the end. Did you hear that you are going to the party? I smiled cordially in response, as a sign of agreement.

— How did you find me?

— We ran after you across the bridge. The snake obviously did not like it, and we had to run as fast as we could. When we caught up with you, you suddenly disappeared and there was an empty meadow in front of us. Then we found ourselves in a clearing near a house covered with moss. It turns out that this is the house of Veles himself. He guards the vestibules of the Navi world and appears here occasionally.

— Where does such knowledge come from?

— It was your friend the ghost who enlightened us! Then the picture changed dramatically, and we saw an abandoned house. The picture is not pleasant. We wanted to go home so much. This is the home of Chernobog, the master of this world. It seems that the gods do not live in their homes, but live somewhere else. I wonder if there is a lot of badness here. How much longer do we have to walk?

— And who lives in this castle?

— This is the abode of Koshchei the immortal. This is Mara Marena’s husband. In addition, that abandoned house is the house of his father Chernobog. Koschei loves skulls and bones. He collects them and decorates his abode with them. Chernobog also has a son, Viy, but he does not go to the festival, and it is better not to see him. We have done the main way. Soon the ice palaces of Mary Madder will appear before us. Now all the main gods have gone to the festival, with the exception of some.

— How do we get to the holiday?

— They are waiting for you there. You were allowed to get here, but I do not even know about your friends. It is dangerous for them to stay here. They may not come back. I looked at them with regret. My conscience tormented me. I did not know how to help them anymore. My only goal was to save my late grandmother, and instead I dragged my friends with me. Now there are three of them.

— Let’s go further. The Spirit led us along, and we found ourselves on the edge of a cliff. The cliff was made of stone; there was an abyss under his feet. Stones rained down from the edge and fell into the abyss. On the other side of the cliff, ice Palaces could be seen. There was a huge distance between us. It seemed that this Hall was somewhere on the other side of the world, perhaps even in the sky.

— «These gods cannot live in heaven. They are terrified of the light. This is what kills them. They are inhabitants of darkness. They are darkness themselves. I looked at him, and he actually sees everyone through, despite the fact that he is transparent.

— How do we get there?

— It is complicated. I have never been able to do it myself. It started snowing, and light snowflakes were swirling in the air.

After making several passes from side to side, I noticed a transparent bridge. It was barely noticeable, made as if from water, barely frozen water.

— Here it is. Look, the bridge. This is the transition to the ice Palaces. My friends came up to me briskly. — Who is the first? I asked happily. To my surprise, one of my friends took a decisive step. The bridge swayed. Despite our general fear, he continued on his way. We followed him. After taking a few steps, I looked back. Stones were falling from the cliff. Nothing could be seen from behind, everything was shrouded in darkness. Bony tree branches could be traced among the haze. The snowfall intensified and the wind began to blow. The bridge became lighter and more transparent and seemed about to melt.

— The main sign of Mary is frozen water. Said the spirit, flying over us. If the bridge melts, I will not be able to help you.

— And what will happen to us? We are already in hell! I tried to joke, but I was not laughing myself. The bridge melted, and we fell into the abyss.

We woke up in the cemetery, near an unmarked grave. Friends frantically looked around. I was laughing at them; I knew how they were feeling right now.

— I hope we dreamed it. Alternatively, just a glitch. Come quickly from here. We walked from the cemetery at an accelerated pace. We were wearing the clothes in which we left the apartment. There was a heavy snowstorm outside. Almost nothing was visible.

— Let’s remember how we got here. I suggested it. We need to get back. At least for me.

— You need to. You come back. What did I forget there? It is too early for me. My friend was screaming furiously.

— You had fun when you laughed at her. I objected. Now you want to leave.

— Lets not quarrel. We need to remember everything from the very beginning. We were all laughing, and we all ended up in that place. Now we need to fix it all.

— I agree. I answered. One of the friends reluctantly agreed. — It all started with my grandmother’s grave. That is where I fell into the abyss for the first time. We need to find the grandmother’s grave.

We went through the cemetery in search of a grave. Despite the severe frost and blizzard, we did not feel cold. We walked for about an hour and found ourselves in the same place near an abandoned grave.

— And then what? How long are we going to walk here?

— Stop whining. Go home alone. Vitka and I are staying. One of them abruptly headed for the exit. Although I did not know where the exit was anymore. His figure was receding, and because of the blizzard, he was no longer visible. After standing for a few seconds, we went back to search for the grave.

— I roughly remember where she is, this is where we found you the first time. We went in the direction of relying on the memory of a friend. When I reached the grave, I stepped over the fence. The grave was covered with snow, and I was standing almost knee-deep in snow.

— I wish Grandma would help us. I thought to myself. As soon as I thought about it, I immediately found myself on the other side of the cliff. I was standing on the edge and stones were falling from it as well as on the opposite side. The view from this cliff was the complete opposite of the other. It was like heaven and hell. The view of the ice Palaces was a beautiful sight. It was a white palace sprinkled with fine silver sand that stretched out on a beautiful ice island. The view of Nav was dim and gloomy. It looked like an abandoned shed overgrown with cobwebs, in which the windows were clogged and the light never penetrated there, although it really was. Even the air there was a gloomy color. It was always damp, cold and dark there. The mist enveloped the opposite shore and it was hard to see.

I stood and looked at Nav, and abruptly looked back from a touch on my shoulder. My friend was here too. — The meeting place cannot be changed! He said happily. — I repeated everything after myself and ended up here. Your grandmother helped. I smiled back. We turned to face the ice palace. It seemed to us that he was far enough away from us. His appearance was terribly beautiful. It was as if he was carved out of thin glass. A thin carved border gave a particularly refined look to this building. The steps were just as thin and it was scary to step on them.

We went forward in order to get closer to the palace, but the more we went forward, the further away from it we became. I stopped in exhaustion. — When will it all end?

— Soon. I looked around and saw my ghost friend, and next to him our friend who had left the cemetery.

— You have already done the main way. You are going the wrong way, so you are moving away. I will bring you to the end. Then I do not know what will happen. It seemed to me that the spirit sighed heavily, but he could not do it and I felt sorry for him. I saw the sadness in his eyes and did not dare ask what he was sad about.

— «You don’t want to know that. You will see for yourself soon. We continued on our way and the palace began to approach. When we reached the steps, we stopped. The Spirit looked at me. — Go on alone. Maybe I will not see you again. With these words, he disappeared.

After standing for a while, we began to climb the elegant staircase. We walked as if enchanted; everyone was looking at the beauty of the castle. From the inside, the castle was no less beautiful than from the outside. Everything here was made of ice. Luxury was present in everything. The mistress of the palace had a delicate and elegant taste. Thin and icy lace decorated the walls of the palace, and thin and icy incisors were present wherever possible. The ceilings were undoubtedly high, they could almost be said not to exist. There were ice vaults decorated with snow patterns.

— That is what I understand the taste!

— Quiet. Do not draw attention. We passed, if we say it in our language, the foyer, and entered a narrow corridor. We spent so much time on the icy floor and did not feel the cold. After passing through a narrow corridor, we found ourselves at the entrance to the central hall. In front of us were trolls, and in front of them were the same dead souls and their escorts. Souls and devils were having a nice conversation about something; they were still holding skulls in their hands. The trolls stood idly apart from them.

— I wonder why the trolls are not in business.

— Do not attract attention. We were the last ones standing, and tried to hide behind a column. For some reason, these characters initially did not pay attention to us. The only inhabitant of this world who stared at me intently is my grandmother. I was looking for her with my eyes, but for some reason I did not see her anywhere.

— The most important thing is that we got here.

— That is for sure.

The doors opened, and souls and their accompanying persons began to slowly enter the hall. They came in a slow column, like on the Kalinov Bridge, in pairs. I stood on tiptoe to see something, but I could not. As we progressed, we also progressed, and became closer to the central hall. The column passed, the trolls remained, and they went in pairs. As soon as they passed, it was our turn and we froze. I did not dare to take the first step. I leaned against the doorway and began to carefully examine what was going on inside.

Inside there was a huge hall with massive columns that supported the arches of the palace. The hall was huge and empty. The tall windows were covered with delicate lace patterns. There were four thrones in the hall. Two stood side by side, the other two were on the sides not far from each other.

The host of the holiday was sitting next to her husband Koshchei. Her face was deathly pale and insanely beautiful. Her eyes were constantly changing color from bright blue to black. Her long hair of a bright black color hung down to her waist, and a crown of silver was decorated with precious stones.

Her husband never took his eyes off her. He was a thin, terribly scary and bony villain. His small eyes glowed with malice and greed. He greedily looked at everyone around him with his hateful gaze. Mara herself was very beautifully dressed for the holiday; she was wearing a beautiful festive dress. Her husband looked stingy enough for the holiday, and nothing seemed to connect the two people. A huge number of skulls distinguished this villain. Even his throne was paved with skulls made of ice. His crown was decorated with skulls. I realized that this villain is obsessed with turtles.

On Koshchei’s right hand was his father Chernobog. He was an old, decrepit old man, very unpleasant in appearance. He was wearing a black robe and I could not see his face.

On the right hand of Mara was Velez. He was a pleasant old man, more like a forester. In appearance, he had no place in this company.

In the center of the hall, there were souls one by one with little devils. They formed a circle. Trolls decorated the walls with their ridiculous appearance. I tried to find the old grandmother, but she did not catch my eye.

— Well, it turns out I came here for nothing?

— What do you want to say?

— «I don’t see her anywhere.

— Who?

— His late grandmother.

— «What does she look like?»

— When I saw her, she was an ugly old woman who was shamanizing by the fire. Her appearance is simply terrible.

— Let’s try to find her together. As far as I know, they can all change their image here, as they like.

— Yes, everyone except her. She is a servant here. She needs to be saved. One of the friends leaned against another opening and tried to climb higher to see what was happening inside.

— I think I see her.

— What does she look like?

— Standing in the very ring of the hall, all in rags and holding some sort of sieve in his hands.

— That is her. Did she guess me wrong?

— Maybe she just cannot come to you. She cannot.

— «You’re right. How will we proceed?

— «I don’t know.

— Probably, when the holiday begins, we will merge with the crowd and try to approach her.

— Good idea. What will happen to us if this snow queen enchants us? Will it cover with a crust of ice? Alternatively, whatever.

— Yes, I agree too. As a child, I listened to fairy tales about Koshchei, but I did not know that he existed. In addition, I heard that the great wizard, magician and sorcerer. He is immortal. And, how will we be saved?

— I understand you. However, you got here with me, just like me. Therefore, staying here is already a danger. We are in hell. However, we have every chance to get out of here.

— How, if it is not a secret?

— I do not know myself. I am sure that my grandmother knows about it for sure.

— «You’re right. It is necessary to save the grandmother, and she will solve all the problems.

— It is a pity that our friend ghost has left us.

— Yes, it is a pity. He has helped us well enough.

There was a deathly silence in the hall, and everyone froze in anticipation of something special. I was staring intently at the center and for some reason I did not see anyone. How my friend could see something there. Looking back, I saw that the palace was not standing still, but moving through the air.

— How is this possible?

— What are you talking about?

— Look back.

— Oh, my God. When it all stops. How are we going to get out of here?

— Where are we anyway? Underground or in the sky?

— «I don’t know. We walked away from the hall and walked down a narrow corridor, since we came here. When we reached the steps, we looked down. We were actually floating through the air. The view from the top was quite beautiful. The icy mountains, the snowy plains, it all seemed so small. The air was icy and my feet stuck to the steps. The air was clear and transparent, and a blizzard was blowing below.

— How is this possible? I am scared to imagine what she might do to us when she gets to us.

— Do you think he will get there?

— And you think she does not know that the three of us are here. In addition, how do you think we all got here? By her grace.

We went back to continue watching the holiday that had not yet begun. The corridor was crowded with people in the flesh. They appeared out of nowhere and stood up waiting. There were not a large number of them, and they continued to appear. We froze in amazement.

— «My God, they’re corpses. This was actually the case. The corridor was crowded with living corpses.

— What are you doing here? In addition, who are you? I asked this question so boldly, forgetting that I am still alive.

— We are servants of Mara Marena. Every year we are called here from our chambers to serve at the feast. We are the ones who are not worthy of the light. Now we live in a world of darkness. In addition, those who are now in the hall, they are honored with these ice palaces of the goddess herself. They have the right to stay there with her until spring.

— Why before the onset of spring?

— In the spring, the great goddess ends her rights to rule on earth, and she retires here to her Palaces. In addition, she prefers to be here alone with her husband. These spirits arrive every year for the holiday, and every year they become more and more, but not by much. Not everyone manages to make friends with her. In addition, we are just servants. I learned useful information, and it became easier for me.

— What will you do?

— You will see.

With these words, I finished my story. My listener did not miss a single word. The room was dark. It was already late at night. However, I knew that my friend was listening to me carefully. A blizzard was howling outside the window, and a lantern shone dimly. This picture reminded me of the window in my friend’s room when the room I was in was covered with ice. I remembered with horror everything I had experienced. Although I did not regret it. I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

Early in the morning, my neighbor greeted me and imploringly asked me to continue my story.

— Tell me. I said seriously. Do you really believe that?

— Yes, I do. In addition, I will soon provide you with physical evidence that this is true.

— OK. I will continue my story after breakfast.

— I will be sorry to part with you. He said with bitterness in his voice. I do not even know what you are going to do next. However, you had better not come back here anymore. My friend’s words scared me. I could not imagine what he meant. However, he said them seriously enough. After breakfast, I continued my story.


The gods greeted each other and took their places. The hall was empty, it was very dark and there was a deathly silence. This silence did not bode well. The hall was huge, and it seemed to me that it would be heard even if a snowflake fell. That is what happened. First, a fire lit up on the suspended chandelier, which was swinging, and then a whirlwind of snowflakes began. Again, there was a deathly silence. The fire went out. Only the outlines of the gods were visible.

The same old woman appeared, her appearance was still terrible. My friends were surprised to see her.

— Is it really your grandmother?

— Yes. I replied dryly.

The old woman began to build a fire. She brought dry brushwood, and tried to set it on fire, but she could not do anything. The brushwood was too cold and saturated with moisture. This process took time, and everyone silently waited for the result. The fire began to flare up and went out. Mara was amused by this, and she sat silently and smiled, I could see a grin in her eyes. The fire went out before it had time to ignite. The old woman bent down to light it again. Bat, she was thrown away by an invisible force, and with such force that she hit the ice wall, but immediately stood up briskly and looked in the direction of the gods. No one moved, everyone was looking at the extinguished fire. Mara laughed, it amused her. The flame broke out, of course. In addition, it flared up like a pioneer bonfire. The appearance of this flame was not natural, more like an artificial one. While the flame was burning, I wanted to get to my grandmother, but my friends stopped me.

— It’s not time yet. Wait.

— She’s right here, she can hear me.

— «She’s not the only one who’ll hear you. I listened to my friend and stayed where I was.

Then the souls flew away and took seats for the guests. Devils teamed up with trolls. The chandelier made of ice began to sway, the flame of the fire burned evenly. Nothing-foreshadowed trouble. Gradually, one by one, the dead who were standing next to us began to disappear. It was not known where they had gone. The cold hall turned into a taiga, it was the summer time of the year. The thickets parted by themselves, forming a flat clearing. The fire continued to burn, all the evil spirits began to come out of the thickets, ghouls, goblins, demons, there were so many of them that I could not see them and even find out which of them, who. They all climbed out of the darkness, came up and bowed to Mara. This ritual did not last long. When all this was over, and they disappeared, dark gods began to come out into the clearing, who had a direct connection with the dark world and expressed their respect to Mara. Mara received them kindly, and they went back to the depths of the taiga. The flames of the bonfire subsided. It illuminated the holiday. Then the taiga parted, forming an abyss, and the whole picture collapsed, and the hall took on its former appearance, and the same lighting, the chandelier continued to sway. Then one of the dead men appeared and removed the remains of the fire, after which he disappeared along with the remains.

It was the turn of the invited guests, they lined up in pairs, devils and trolls did not part. They flew up to the gods and gave them the skulls they came with. It was more of a gift for Koshchei. He decorated his home and even furniture with them. After these events, it was the turn of her favorite guests. She accepted them generously. The pile of skulls disappeared, at the snap of two fingers of their owner. The servants brought tables and chairs for dead souls to sit at them, only in human form. They took the form of sitting down at the table, and did it by seniority. First the male elders sat down, then the female ones. Only then, in the order of dying, the bodies and souls mixed up and sat down as they had to. The sight of these bodies spoke for itself. It looks like they died a long time ago, and are already used to being in the dark. They did not pretend to be anything more, they liked their existence. Their eyes shone with a transparent light, and the shell around their eyes betrayed the absence of life. Their bony fingers were like skeletal bones, their hair was lifeless, and they were not breathing. They were just sitting at the table.

The guests took their seats and sat waiting for something. We continued to watch. An old woman appeared, she appeared out of thin air and splashes of frozen water scattered in different directions. In her hands, she held the pot from which I managed to drink the magic drink. The servants carried wooden cups, one dead man carried a tray with dishes, and another poured this drink and distributed them to the guests. There were several of them, and they did their job quickly. One of them made a mistake and was immediately deleted. The scattered like flakes of snow, and in his place was another. Then all the servants quickly disappeared.

— How are you going to save her if she appears and disappears? It can turn into flakes of snow at any moment.

— Yes, you are right. I do not know myself anymore. Can I approach Mara herself?

— «What are you going to tell her?»

— Let him take me, and let the grandmother go.

— You are stupid! Why. You still have your whole life ahead of you; you are only twenty-five.

— I know. Bat, it is also my fault that she is suffering.

— I do not think so. It is her fault that you are here being alive. She told you fairy tales. Our argument was interrupted by a third.

— Quiet. Do not collect troubles. We are already in hell. Her husband will also make skulls out of us. Let us wait. Maybe the grandmother actually knows something. We must wait for the moment.

— «You’re right.

The guests were sitting peacefully at the tables; the hosts of the holiday were talking about something among themselves, or even not talking, but exchanging glances. The house cleaner collected the empty dishes from the guests and disappeared. Trolls came out into the hall and began their single dance. They were dancing something beautiful, trying to please the guests, something like a ballet. In my opinion, this ball was nothing special. I had more idea how to do my job faster and get away from here. I looked away and thought for a second, closing my eyes. As soon as I did that, I heard a sharp sound. It was like a creak. I looked into the hall. Guests, devils and tables, everything was cleaned. The guests took their seats as before. Devils and trolls were sitting in their places. The tables disappeared.

Mara Marena was standing in the middle of the hall. She stood tall and began to change her appearance. Her hair looked like the sun, it was golden, a light beautiful dress complemented the image of spring. Having taken the form of summer, the color of her hair remained the same golden, and she was even more beautiful. In autumn, she looked like a decrepit old woman in old clothes and a hump on her back, and with the arrival of winter, she turned into a young beautiful woman. Her beauty was fatal. I could not get enough of her. Her hair was decorated with a crown with precious stones; her gaze was stern and proud. She was a great goddess.

The festive hall changed its beauty with her. It all started in spring, despite the time of year there has never been light here. The light was a bonfire on which people burned an effigy of spring. At that moment, Mara wrinkled her face and clenched her hands into fists. This picture ended abruptly.

Then summer came. The picture changed its screensavers the way I had seen it before when I came here and saw the abandoned dwellings of the gods. It was dark enough here for the summer season, and the black sun served as the light. Spring and summer left quickly enough, but autumn was delayed. It was a damp and cold picture. There was a dark and gloomy street in the hall. Gray wooden houses stood in an abandoned state. There was no light in them and the street was illuminated by a lantern. It was drizzling outside, but no one felt it from those present, the rain did not touch them. The trees stood like gnarled guards.

The picture began to slowly change its screensaver. The water began to freeze gradually, turning into icicles. The raindrops turned into flakes of snow and a blizzard began. Mara was coming into her own. The blizzard rose stronger and stronger until it turned into a tornado and abruptly stopped. After the stop, the picture disappeared, and the inhabitants of the hall, all except the gods, were covered with ice. All the servants, devils, trolls and guests in human form. They all turned into ice statues. This picture has already surfaced before my eyes. I remember this moment well. My grandmother was standing in a half-bent state and held a shaman’s tambourine in her hands. The Winter Palace was fabulously beautiful, as was its owner. Winter frowned. Mara has come into her own.

I finished my story. A doctor came into the room and interrupted him. The doctor was doing his rounds. He said rather sad words for me. My friend should be discharged soon. I had already become attached to him and I did not want to part with him. In addition, after the experience I was afraid to stay in the ward alone. The doctor left the room. There has been no talk about my discharge yet.

— Don’t be sad. We will meet again, you will see. I took a deep breath in response. How quickly you can get used to a person, I thought. I was sad because so many things happened to me in such a short period, I met a person, now everything is ending, and we will have to part. What a pity. Alternatively, maybe I really dreamed everything and nothing happened. I thought and went out into the corridor.

— Where are you going?

— Just to walk. Walk to the bathroom, I joked.

— Let’s go together. My friend never let me go alone, and I did not even think about why. We walked down the corridor, drank coffee, and I continued my story.

The inhabitants of the castle assumed their former forms. Many guests disappeared, turning into splashes of snow. So they got rid of unnecessary guests. Everything took its former form. The ice thawed a little and became much warmer, although no one felt the cold. Mara threw her gaze at my grandmother, and she turned into a young girl. Beautiful enough for her age and position, but no one could compare with Mara. The girl straightened up to her full height and carefully looked in the direction of Mara. No one dared to look her in the eye.

A moment later, the castle disappeared, and we found ourselves in the winter garden. Everything took its former form, only instead of the old woman there was a girl standing and shamanizing by the fire. The guests separated, the trolls and devils separated from the spirits and lived by themselves. Only the chosen guests remained, and this final part of the holiday was for them. They were facing each other and they were separated by fire. Only the chosen guests remained, and this final part of the holiday was dedicated to them. The gods sat invariably, as they sat originally in the castle. Koschei, did not take his eyes off his wife, he admired her beauty. His eyes glittered greedily; his bony fingers fingered the handle of the throne, lined with skulls. Mara looked with her icy eyes at the fire; her gaze was cold and ruthless, and still changed color.

The old girl was still brewing a miraculous drink; it was already the third pot. My friends and I were standing under a tree and continued to watch what was happening.

— You should have approached her in the castle. However, it will not work out here. See how it turned out.

— I see.

— Then she will disappear and that is it.

— We need to catch the moment, as soon as the moment succeeds, I will immediately use it.

— We all believe in you.

The effect of the drink was beginning to end, and we began to feel cold.

— Do you feel the same as me?

— You will not believe it, but yes! Same as you.

— She is brewing a new potion. If you drink it, then the action will last.

— And how will we do it?

— Let’s hope for a miracle.

The girl continued to cook and shamanize at the same time. In addition, every time the shamanic words intensified, she became older. First, it was a girl, then a girl-woman, then a young woman, and so gradually, she turned back into a poor old woman. She stood hunched over by the fire and continued to brew a potion.

The drink was ready. The old woman poured it into the same wooden cups and distributed it to the servants. They drank and assumed human form. Then the servants carried it to the others. First to souls, then to demons and trolls. Everything went smoothly. I saw how the drink remained in the pot. Fumes were coming from it. After drinking the drink, the Sabbath began. Demons, trolls and souls were having fun. The old woman and the servants stood aside, they could not take part. The fun was in full swing. In addition, I decided that this was a chance and I should take it.

We walked around the tall fir trees, the holiday remained ahead. After walking a little forward, I got as close as possible to the grandmother. The three of us were shaking from the cold. She had her back to us. I plucked up the courage and called her in a low voice. She heard me from the first call, but did not dare to look back. I realized this and waited. She exchanged a glance with one of the servants. This dead man sneaked into our Christmas trees and brought a cup of drink. We drank it one for three, forgetting that we were drinking from the hands of a dead man. The gods were watching the Sabbath and did not notice what was happening. The fire was blazing with a bright flame and we were not visible. The old woman took a few steps back and without turning to face us began a dialogue.

— Why are there three of you here?

— We do not know ourselves. A friend replied.

— Well, he is fine, and what are you doing here? With three, it will be more difficult.

— «Don’t they know we’re here?»

— I think they know; only the three of you will be more difficult to save.

— How to understand?

— It means that he died alone and dragged his tail behind him. You should not be here.

— And what should I do now?

— Rescue drowning people.

The potion began to work, and we felt a surge of strength and stopped feeling cold.

— You have been here too long; you have already spent too much time. It is time for you to get back. In addition, in order not to get into the court again, you need to close the passage to the other world. It is an unmarked grave. You need to make it personalized, install an obelisk and a fence. In addition, no more going to the cemetery at this time of year. It is better in spring or summer. This grave has taken away many lonely souls. I will try to send you back. However, this Koschei is a powerful sorcerer. No, matter how he enchanted you.

I looked around. We were in a beautiful garden. It was night all around, snow and a bonfire lit up the clearing. I had no idea where I could go or run away here. Devils and trolls were having fun; this holiday was to their liking. The souls stood aside and watched the fun. They adopted the image of ghosts; probably it was more convenient for them. The celebration was in full swing.

— Actually, we came to save you. I said firmly. Grandma could not stand it and looked around.

— Have you come to save a dead soul? My place is here. I am already dead. However, you need to run away from here; otherwise you will find yourself in my place.

— I have been thinking about it. She did not see our faces and talked to the Christmas trees. Turning away from us, she resumed her former pose.

— Do you want to take my place? In addition, where do you want to send me?

— In the bright Iriy.

— What he wanted. Who will let me in there? In addition, how long have you known about Iriy?

— My sister told me. You can get there. You can be saved. You were just stolen by dark forces.

— It is. But…

Our conversation was interrupted, and she walked away from us.

— What are the next steps?

— We are waiting for her. We do not have enough support. We need our supporter.

— Find supporters in hell. It sounds ridiculous. If this is blurted out there at the top, then we will find supporters elsewhere.

— I have been thinking about it too. My grandmother took her place by the fire and began to throw firewood into the fire.

— If she throws firewood, then the Sabbath is not over yet.

— «It doesn’t look like it.

After taking a few steps back, she said she knew the way to another dimension. However, if they think of us, we will stay here forever as servants. We agreed to take the risk.

The three of us began to crawl through the snow in the direction indicated by the grandmother. She assured us that she would catch up with us when they got rid of her and she would not be needed. Our path was as follows: first, we had to disappear from sight. Then go to a certain place, from this place go through a snow tunnel, it was the most dangerous way, then go to another dimension through an ice bridge, this is the threshold of Navi. The bridge should be laid out because winter has come and the water has frozen, this bridge was intended for guests leaving the holiday. On the other side we had to go through the same houses, there we had to go through a green tunnel and go out to an oak tree, and there the grandmother had to take us to our world of the living. After hearing the information, I became unsure of myself. Remembering what I have already been through and I will have to go through it again. The scariest thing for me was that it was all in vain. It was impossible to save my grandmother, and I was responsible for my friends.

I made my way with a heavy heart. I did not want to leave her. I could not even hug my grandmother. My friends understood the reason for my sadness and tried to comfort me.

— Don’t be sad, she promised to catch up with us, so she will catch up. It was the only consolation, and it warmed my soul in this icy world.

The gods were too busy celebrating. Mara was having fun playing with the blizzard. Koschei sculpted skull figures out of snow, respectively, not by himself, but with the help of magic. He was amused by it, and he was carried away with it. This was the most favorable period for escape. The old gods were thinking about something of their own and focused on the fire. They were not interested in the holiday, and they were bored watching the dancing evil spirits, ghosts joined this evil spirits and the heat began. The ghost servants stood further away from the fire, and made a circle of fencing, thereby emphasizing their insignificance.

The snow tunnel actually turned out to be the most difficult. We walked through it like a maze. It has been a long way. Coming out of it, it seemed to us that we had not been walking for so long. We reached the bridge and waited for my grandmother.

— It seems to me that we need to run across as soon as possible.

— Me too.

— I do not. I will be waiting for her. I am only here for her.

— If she finds out about it, you will not live.

— I do not care.

— Let’s go together, one of the friends suggested to the other.

— I think we should go together. If we wait, the bridge may melt, and we will not get to the other side in any way, unless Mara herself carries us. Your grandmother can disappear and reappear. She will find us that is a fact. Let us go together. I hesitated, but an inner voice told me to go, and I went.

We ran across the bridge and looked back. The view was even more beautiful than before. Winter has come into its own and the ice has strengthened. Now nothing was falling, everything was covered with ice. The bridge was paved and it was not scary to walk on it as we walked for the first time. He was strong and handsome. I was a little sad that I did not watch the holiday to the end, and I wonder how it will end.

My friends were walking from side to side and waiting for further action. Then we had to go and pass four houses.

— Who remembers how to walk, I jokingly asked.

— I remember. We looked around and saw our ghost friend. We were so happy to see him that we wanted to hug him, forgetting that he was a ghost.

— «You’ll have that opportunity soon,» he said jokingly. I was looking forward to seeing this soul in the flesh.

We followed the flying package, accelerating our pace each time. I looked around, remembering the places I had walked once. With the arrival of winter, everything has changed, I thought.

— It is not with the arrival of winter. These are still the halls of Mara. When we come to the world of Navi, everything is different there.

— Yes, but everything has become much more beautiful. The Spirit said nothing, and we quickened our pace. I fell silent, and so did my neighbor. Silence reigned in the ward. — Next will be the most interesting.

— I get it. So let us smoke and take a break. I am tired. For the first time in all this time, my neighbor said that he was tired. It seemed strange to me, but I did not argue, and we went out. On time after lunch sleep, he asked how I would get home.

— Will you fly alone? Or will your sister come for you?

— Of course. I will fly alone.

— Will your friends accompany you?

— Yes. Of course they do. Nothing has changed. It is all over and the danger is over. My friend sighed heavily, and I continued the story.

We approached the houses and Koshchei’s house stood in front of us. Nothing has changed; it is as if we never left. We tried to leave as soon as possible. His house was very creepy. Each time the places became scarier, and the more we moved away from the snow palaces, the more the horror and dampness overtook us. When I reached Velez’s house, I breathed a sigh of relief.

The hardest part was over. I remembered the path we had left to go, and it seemed easy to me. It was a green tunnel and we were waiting for a meeting with grandma. Passing by the house, I tried to look into the windows, out of curiosity, hoping to see something interesting. It was impossible, the house was so protected that it was simply impossible to look through these windows.

When we reached the tunnel, we stopped and looked at the way we had done. It was a long way that was left behind. I felt uneasy, and began to shake with excitement. I felt the danger, and began to doubt that I would see my grandmother again. I took the first step and dived into the tunnel, followed by the footsteps of friends. There was a deathly silence. No one said a word. I looked at our friend the ghost; he was hiding his eyes from me all the time. Although he had nothing but his eyes. I wanted to ask what was wrong, but I knew he already knew what I was thinking.

The entrance to the tunnel disappeared, and we were in darkness. I took my friend’s hand and asked if he felt the same as me? The green tunnel turned icy. I felt him well, there was no doubt, and he was all made of ice.

— Do you think so too? I asked again, so as not to doubt.

— We think so too. There is no doubt. We are in the ice. There is only one question, is it a green tunnel or have we been moved to a snowy one.

It is hard.

— I was scared. Moreover, I did not know what to do. — What suggestions? I asked in a whisper.

— Let’s move on. It will be visible there in the clearing. We continued on our way with the hope of salvation.

— Your chance of salvation is not great, and my fate has long been sealed. Our friend spoke softly. I felt sorry for him, and I did not know how to help him. Our journey through the tunnel was ending, and the closer the exit got, the scarier it was for me.

Coming out of the tunnel, I straightened up to my full height and saw her. She stood and looked at me with her icy gaze. I wanted to sink through the ground, but I was already underground. Her icy gaze pierced my soul, and I felt like Kai, kidnapped by the snow queen. Deep down, this queen charmed me, and I did not want to part with her. On the contrary, I wanted to talk to her, stay with her for longer. But I felt like her slave and trembled before her.

My friends came out of the tunnel and froze in confusion. They did not know how to behave. They moved aside, and I joined them, taking a few steps back. Our ghost friend managed to hide, and we did not give him away. We realized that no one had thought of him. I also realized that he has a plan in his head for our universal salvation.

The whole clearing was covered with ice. As when icicles hung from green trees, my grandmother was also covered with ice. The ice on the moss created a thickness and looked massive. I realized that she had brought her grandmother here to settle accounts with me, and I did not know where to start. I wanted to speak first, but I did not dare. I was ready to give my life to free my grandmother’s soul and be close to this goddess, to be her slave forever. I looked resolutely in her direction and plucked up the courage to say the first words.

— Take me to your place. That is the first thing I said. I wanted to say something completely different, but out of fear, that is what came out of me. In response, Mara laughed angrily and began to circle in the air. We stood there and were afraid to move. There was an ice statue of my grandmother in front of us, and we were afraid to be like her.

— What should we do now? A friend who panicked all the time said this.

— I will try to persuade her. She will pick me up and let you go.

— I do not think she needs it.

— It seems to me that she does not need you. She needs my grandmother and me.

— Do you mind staying here along the way! I understand that!

— Which is noticeable. I said without denial.

— Yes, indeed. It is all written on your forehead. Your grandmother was talking about an oak tree. This is the transition to our world of the living. Maybe you will distract her, and we will take out your grandmother and run away ourselves.

— How do you imagine all this? This soul needs to be conducted. I do not know what is going to happen.

The storm subsided and snow quietly fell on the ground, and we began to wait for the attack. The oak tree was not far from us and we just had to run to it. But I didn’t know what to do in order to be there, at the top. Only the grandmother knew about it. It turned out to be a vicious circle. Moreover, I fell into despair. I sat down on my knees and began to sob. My helplessness was killing me. Tears started rolling down my face, one, two, and three. They were dripping, and I heard the ice cracking. The crunch of ice made me look up. The ice began to break and fragments scattered everywhere.

This event greatly enraged the dark goddess, and she began to rush viciously. — There is no place for tears, love and kindness here. Mara threw her evil look at me, a blizzard flew at me with it, but she quickly calmed down and disappeared. The ice continued to fly apart and we had to protect our face with our hands. His crunching cut the hearing, and together with the face, we had to squat down and cover our ears.

When everything was quiet, we stood up and there was a terrible picture in front of us. We were in the same green clearing, and there were fragments of ice on it. I noticed an oak tree, it stood as before, the same green and strong, forever young, I thought. To my surprise, my grandmother came up to us, already without fear. I took it as a good sign.

— Isn’t it dangerous for you to walk around the realm of the dead like this? I asked jokingly.

«The danger is over.

— You are wrong. We looked around and saw a ghost. All the most interesting things are ahead.

I finished my story, leaned back and fell silent.

— «So that’s the thing. Said my neighbor.

— In what? What do you mean?

— I did not tell you. Moreover, the doctors do not really care, but you had better find out now.

— What?

— Come with me.

— Where to?

— You said that fragments of ice were flying.

— Yes, I did.

— You also said whether I believe you. I told you that yes, I do. Therefore, we do not have a mirror in our room, but you should see it. I do not even know how to tell you about it. In addition, we got up and left the ward.

We went into the men’s room and went to the mirror. My friend took me to the mirror, and I did not look at my reflection boldly, for the first time in all these days.

— All these days I have been trying to shield you from this, but I will be discharged soon, it is time to see.

The main character from the horror movie was looking at me in the reflection. My face was scarred and its color was bright red. For some reason. The scars were long healed, there were many of them. I looked like a monster. In addition to all this, my head was like a gray harrier. I felt like an elderly freak, in my twenty-five. I stood silently by the mirror. My friend Vova stood aside and was silent. In the reflection, I saw this man’s tears welling up looking at me. I was pleased with his friendly love for me. The dead pause continued, and I sank into despondency, looking into my eyes in the reflection. — How could something happen in such a short period of time that not everyone would believe it? — For what? I thought. I hit the mirror with my fist and stepped aside.

— Let’s smoke. Suggested Vova. I gladly agreed and it became easier for me. We returned to the ward. The thought that my neighbor would be discharged tomorrow made me sad.

— Don’t be sad. We will definitely meet again. I looked at him sadly. My thoughts occupied my scars on my face. I could not understand why I did not feel them. My face just burned from the resulting cold. I have not washed for so many days; maybe that is why I did not feel them. My face was smeared with some kind of cream, and it gave me relief. I plucked up the courage and touched the scar. To my surprise, my face felt smooth to the touch. How is this possible? I ran both hands over my face and felt nothing. I got out of bed and went out. Going to the toilet, I went to the mirror and looked at myself closely. What a freak I am. I was terrible. But running my hands over my face, I didn’t even feel burns.

— It is strange I do not feel these scars. Maybe they were a long time ago, and I do not remember.

— I do not think so. You need to remember everything to the end. When you were brought here, your scars were fresh.

— Maybe it was not scars, but a severe burn that burst.

«I couldn’t have been mistaken. I do not know how to explain it all myself, but maybe it is not over yet and there will be a sequel. In any case, you will have to get out of here, out of this city, and I will personally control it. I hope that you will be safer there in your city. Her territory is here all year round. Now she is a full-fledged host, now is her time. We both fell silent and looked out the window. It was bitterly cold outside the window. A street lamp illuminated the street and snowflakes could be seen circling. This street darkness reminded me of the darkness in which I had been for so long. It was warm in the ward, and it gave me peace and protection. I looked at my hands and was surprised. They no longer bothered me and there was no trace of what had happened on them.

— How can I? So fast?

— What do you mean?

— My hands. They do not bother me anymore, and there are no marks on them. When I woke up, I could not bend my fingers. I remember that.

— I remember that too. That is why I decided to help you. Your condition was terrible. And I thought you had been beaten up and wanted to sort it out. Nevertheless, you recovered so quickly that I am surprised myself.

— This is actually a mystery going on. I felt uneasy at heart. Moreover, suddenly again I have to go through what I have already experienced. I was attacked by fear and I became afraid to be alone.

— It is possible that yes. You need to tell me everything to the end, and then it will be easier for me to send you home to your sister. You will be under guardianship there. There was still time before dinner, and I continued my story.

We stayed in the clearing and waited for the decision that my grandmother would make. — To make the transition from this world to another, you need to go to the oak tree and wait for the effect of the drink to end. As soon as it ends at this very moment, you will need to hold on to the oak tree, and you yourself will be transported to the world of the living. As soon as you are transported, you will need to immediately install a monument and a fence on this grave. If you do not do it in the shortest possible time, then history will repeat itself.

— And in whose name to order a monument? My grandmother looked in the direction of the ghost.

— Ask him. This is his grave. I was stunned. All this time we were protected by a soul from an unnamed grave. What magic.

We headed towards the oak tree. The effect of the drink was going to end very soon. There was a very short distance left and a snow wall grew up in front of us. I immediately realized whose tricks they were and touched the wall with my hand. The snow was soft as a blanket. We took a decisive step and walked through the wall knowing that it would do nothing. Another wall grew up in front of us and turned into an avalanche of snow rolling down on us, we had to run in the opposite direction, and our oak tree was moving away from us. We ran fast and made a stop. Looking back, we saw that the avalanche remained in place, and our oak tree went out of sight. In response, we heard malicious laughter. This laughter shook the trees.

Nature remained cold in autumn. The clearing ahead remained the same green. Moreover, the snow gave all this an inexplicable fact. One of the friends who had already made such an attempt decided to repeat it again; he took and ran ahead, deciding that he would thereby achieve his goal. Maybe he was right. He disappeared from view and I felt sorry for him.

— What will happen to him?

— I do not know.

I noticed that my grandmother became nervous, and realized that it was bad. My ghost friend looked at me with chagrin.

— We can only help with the transition, and we do not have such powers to fight it. Only sunlight is against her. But that’s not possible. Therefore, these worlds are divided into dark and light. I sighed regretfully.

— Let’s try again. Suddenly it turned out, and we headed towards the oak tree. Nothing interfered with our campaign. The departed friend was not in sight. And we didn’t know his fate.

An oak tree appeared on the horizon, we had a hope to get there without incident, and we accelerated our pace. The friend was still not in sight, and we decided that he had entered the world of the living.

— «Is it just me, or has she really left us alone?»

— The Sabbath is not over yet. In addition, she is getting ready to ferry the guests over the bridge. Very soon she will appear. We need to hurry. I was worried about the question why my grandmother cannot be the same ghost as others.

— Because your grandmother is not exiled like us, and is not an honored guest. She is chosen as an intimate servant. The grandmother cast an unhappy glance in the direction of the ghost. The effect of the drink was ending, I felt it and so did my friend.

— Soon there will be guests here, and then we will not be well. The oak tree was a few steps away, and we could be at home any minute.

— And why should the guests be here? Are not they the inhabitants of this world?

— Inhabitants. It is just that the procession for the holiday always starts from this place. We should be lucky and they will not end up here.

We reached the oak tree. There were a few minutes left before the end. I had a chill and felt weak. My friend leaned against an oak tree and fell asleep.

— I wonder where our friend is.

— He is already in his apartment.

— At least one good news.

Trolls arrived and surrounded the tree. All the others came for them, including the ghosts who were not allowed to attend the holiday.

— It is going to be hot now.

— I told you to save yourself. Moreover, you decided to save me.

— Don’t worry; I know the fate of your soul. The spoken words revived my grandmother, and she straightened up to her full height.

The ghosts from among the invited guests came as close as possible. Their presence made it creepy enough. The demons were sitting in the trees and watching what was happening.

— Have they come to fight with us?

— I do not know myself.

— «Are we really that dangerous?»

— Most likely, Mara Marena wants to have fun. The holiday is over, and there is not enough entertainment.

— We also just disturbed her peace.

— And that is right.

— What will happen to us?

— Everything will be fine. Our friend the ghost uttered these words with such confidence that it made me feel better and I was sure of him.

A horde of evil spirits surrounded us from all sides, and I felt helpless. I just had to wait for my fate. Although the words — «that everything will be fine» planted hope in me. Our company was separated in a split second. Everyone turned out to be alone. In addition, I did not know who was where. Pain pierced my heart. At that moment, I wanted to die. Even though I was already dead. I was in hell, and I did not know how to get out of here. I did not achieve what I wanted, and I was separated from the souls close to me.

I was on some kind of ice field. I was alone and there were snowy plains all around. I did not see anything but snowfields. Moreover, I started shaking from the cold. The effect of the drink was losing its power and there was no one to help me. I did not think about myself, most of all I wanted to live out these minutes in the company of my entourage. I felt like I was dying. I fell face first into the snow and fell into unconsciousness. I woke up from blows to the face. Opening my eyes, I saw two unfamiliar people in front of me. I did not immediately understand where I was, looked around, and saw an ice field. Consciousness began to return to me. These two gave me a small vial, saying that my grandmother had given it to me. I remembered everything and quickly came to my senses. We had to go back urgently. There was a war between the dark forces near the oak tree.

— Who are you?

— We are the souls who were not allowed to the celebration. Soon our time will end, and we will become ghosts. And while it has not expired, we need to urgently return to the place. We are the ones who were rejected by Mara Marena and we came to your defense. You and your friend. We will help you to return, and we will help you to ease the fate of your grandmother. In return, you and your friends will block this entrance to the underworld. Many souls were stolen through this magical passage.

— Where are we now?

— Not far. It is all a trick of the eye. You and your grandmother are left here in this underground world. Your friends have abandoned you. They are now at home in the apartment.

— Are you a psychic too?

— Almost. There are no ordinary mortals on this holiday. Everyone here has supernatural powers.

— So what is going on there now?

— Now our rejected souls are trying to help you and your grandmother. Your drink will not last long, no one knows about it. Therefore, we need to go as soon as possible. In addition, there we will help you.

— I remember for sure that everyone got here through the Kalinov Bridge.

— That is right. But everyone here is dead, and you are not. So go quickly. Soon everyone will leave here, including your grandmother. Moreover, you will stay. Moreover, we will not know your fate. We quickened our pace and in an instant found ourselves in a clearing.

There was a war between ghosts in the clearing. Little demons and bats did not participate in it. They took the position of the audience. For them, it was a continuation of the holiday. There were no gods in sight; I knew they were here somewhere, watching what was happening. I was looking for my grandmother, looking from side to side.

— Don’t fuss. It is too early. I looked around and saw my friend. Mara is hiding her. When she gives it to you, you will need to move to another world in the shortest minutes. You do not have to hide. They will find you anyway. The ghosts were fighting each for their place. There was hatred between them for each other. There was no point in this rebellion; everyone will take his or her place later anyway.

— But what about the grandmother?

— And your grandmother. I remembered my friend’s words again, «that everything will be fine.» His words came true and completely relied on him.

In an instant, everything stopped and everyone lined up in a row. Everyone lined up in the order in which they came to the holiday. Souls accompanied by evil spirits. Then the trolls, followed by the servants. A view of the Kalinov Bridge opened and a very slow procession began. Everything happened here in a matter of seconds. The pictures changed their screensavers as if someone was flipping through a book. There was nothing to plan or think about, everything changed every second.

The view of the Kalinov Bridge was clearly visible, but not to the end. I remembered this episode as I watched this procession from the other side of the bridge. Moreover, he remembered the three-headed serpent. I asked my ghost friend, «Why are we here?» If the oak tree is still there, on the other side of the bridge.

— It does not matter. They are about to move from the halls to their abode, and you need to get to yours. The oak tree will remain in its place. You do not need to get into their abode.

— I did not understand anything. But he silently agreed.

The trolls began their march, and behind them stood a huge regiment of souls. The souls were indignant. They were not happy with the outcome, but they had no choice but to walk in silence. Each of them looked back and looked in my direction. Maybe they did not want to help me as much as they wanted to save themselves. Deep down, I felt sorry for them.

— Don’t forget that this is a resident of evil. There is no one to feel sorry for. I looked at the ghost. Maybe he is right, I thought. It was the turn of the souls, and they were the last to complete this procession. I understood that I would have to say goodbye to my friend now. It made me sad.

— Don’t be sad. Now the most interesting thing will begin. He never lied, and I believed him. The souls were finishing their procession, and my friend disappeared. The picture changed its screensaver, as it was. And, I was left alone. I was in the same clearing where I had already been several times. At the place where the fire once burned, there was a smooth green cover. Everything was bare and empty. Even the green foliage did not save me from the fear of loneliness. There had just been a continuation of the Sabbath, and now I was standing alone and I had no one to lean on.

I saw my grandmother and ran up to her. But it turned out to be a vision. I heard hysterical laughter and realized that she was laughing at me. I began to look around looking for her with my eyes. Silence surrounded me. I could not stand it and called her.

— Mara. Come out. Show yourself to my eyes. In response, I heard the echoes of my own echo. –Are you afraid of me?» After the spoken words, she appeared before me in all her glory. I looked at her and I was not afraid. I have lost all my fear. I already had nothing to lose. She came up to me in a tight and I felt the icy cold that came from her. Not daring to touch her, I raised my head and looked into her eyes. Knowing that no one dares to do this, I did it. Mara did not expect such a turn of events turned into snow and began to rush around the clearing. I did not know why I had angered her so much, but she did not like it. Perhaps the only explanation for this was that I was not afraid of her, but on the contrary, I wanted to be closer to her, and her beauty fascinated me. Forgetting about my fear, I stood rooted to the spot and watched the snowflakes. I completely forgot about my grandmother.

This event distracted my thoughts for a moment, I completely forgot where I was, and that Mara has a jealous husband-a magician. And the fact that I will soon run out of the effect of the drink and about the safety of the grandmother. I was waiting for her to act, but she turned into a blizzard and disappeared. Koschei appeared instead of her, and at the click of two fingers, he gave me the dead soul of my grandmother. He left her on the green grass and disappeared. She was lying motionless. Although she was already dead, but this time she was dead even in hell. She was at a young age, looking like a young witch, I had already seen her like this at a holiday. Her appearance was like a doll with long black hair. I was afraid to approach her, and even more so to touch her. The effect of the drink was ending, and I began to feel chills. I did not pay attention to it, referring to the stress I suffered. Realizing that she was already dead, I did not know what to do with her.

I remembered the ghost’s words that it was necessary to get to the oak tree. I picked her up and carried her to the tree. She was lighter than a mannequin was. She was really like a doll. I put her under a tree and took her by the hand. Looking at the ass, I saw my real grandmother and I felt sick. I realized that everything was in vain. I did not know if it was she or not. No longer feeling afraid, I went to meet her. Coming closer, the grandmother turned into snowflakes and began to circle with laughter. I sat down on my knees and fell into despair. I had no choice but to leave this world of the dead and go to my dimension. I went to the oak tree, sat down and leaned my back against its trunk, closed my eyes and waited for my fate. My expectation did not justify my hopes; I was still in the same place. Going over my thoughts, I thought that the effect of the drink had ended, or had I already died? Alternatively, has he gone mad? I could not figure out what was wrong with me. Everyone has already disappeared somewhere, I am the only one left. Where am I? In addition, what am I? I did not know what to do.

I ran away from the oak tree, sat down on my knees and began pounding on the grass with my fist. — Where are you all? Tears rolled out of my eyes, one, two, and three. And I started crying. As soon as the tears touched the ground at the same moment, everything was covered with ice, including me. The ice covered my head, and I became an iceman.

— There is no place for tears here. Mara was circling above me like a whirlwind. I did not feel cold, but I felt immured, and I could not move.

Koschei appeared and brought my grandmother. We met her eyes, and I realized that it was she. My grandmother was waiting for the same fate as me. She was also covered with ice. I looked at her and my heart sank. Forgetting that she was dead and did not feel the cold, I treated her as if she was alive. I did not know how to help her and began to remember what this goddess was afraid of. Remembering the words of the ghost, «the only thing that can destroy them is sunlight.» Yes, I thought it is not real. Sunlight does not shine here. «There is no place for tears here.» It dawned on me, tears that is what can save us from it at least for a moment. I tried to cry, but I could not. Tears did not roll out of my eyes. And I didn’t know how to call them. Moreover, I remembered another phrase she said recently — «there is no place for tears, kindness and love.» Love that is what should help. And I screamed with all my might, «Grandma, I love you! I screamed until the ice melted and my grandmother turned into a ghost.

Tears rolled out of my eyes, and touched the ice with which I was covered. The ice collapsed with a crash and ice fragments remained. I ran up to Grandma and hugged her. But she turned out to be a ghost, and I felt the air.

— Don’t fly away. Wait. I will help you. I promised you. My grandmother smiled sweetly and became a ghost, like a cellophane bag. But even of all the cellophane bags present that have been here recently, I would immediately recognize her. — Let’s go quickly to the oak tree. I tried to drag her away, but it was in vain. I could not have physical contact with her. I took decisive steps towards the oak tree, hoping that she would come with me. Nevertheless, she was not coming. I looked at her pleadingly.

— «We’re not going to make it. Go alone.

— I came for you.

— I know. But go alone before it’s too late. And don’t forget about the grave.

— I remember. But I do not know the name of the deceased. How will I erect a monument?

— Konstantin. My name is Konstantin. I looked around and saw him. How so. You did not leave with everyone.

— As you can see, no. Friends do not leave their friends. You need to hurry along with your grandmother. Otherwise, it is about to start, and even I cannot help you. I have an unmarked grave, and that gives me an advantage. I can disappear for a short time. However, not at all.

I looked pleadingly at my grandmother. She made hesitant movements in my direction. As soon as she made them, an earthquake immediately began. The clearing began to shudder.

— Your tears will not help you. You will all stay here forever. It is here, even without its place here. We have completely lost our fear. The three of us froze in fear. My heart was jumping out of my chest, and it seemed to me that I could hear it pounding.

— What now? I whispered faintly.

— You look like your friend who was always whining. I told you everything would be fine. I looked up hopefully, hoping to see the sky and pray. Yes, yes, to pray. For the first time in my life, I wanted to do it, but the sky was not visible, instead there was darkness, and the black sun was shining above us. I sat down on my knees and began to pray. I did not even know who or what I believed in anymore. However, I prayed hard.

The earthquake intensified, I felt myself staggering from side to side. I sat and held on to the ground with my hands.

— That is what you made her angry. I have never seen her like this.

— «You should have run when I told you to. You would have been saved.

— «I’m not a coward. I will take you with me.

— You should be proud of your grandson. The grandmother looked in his direction and said nothing.

I felt like my strength was leaving me, and I was about to pass out. I was familiar with this state. I have already studied it during my stay in the underworld. I understood that I was going to fall into unconsciousness and then it would be too late.

— We need to distract her. Let him crawl to the tree, I heard him say these words to my grandmother. They both went to the oak tree and wrapped their arms around it to form a ring. It turned out to be a vicious circle. This enraged Mara and she went there herself, in person.

— What are you doing here? What do you think I cannot handle you? A gang of servants. You will serve me until the end of your days. Her eyes were sparkling, and she directed the blizzard towards the oak tree. Nevertheless, to my surprise, the oak could not freeze. I was amazed by what was happening. How is this possible? There is a defense against her charms.

It turned into a blizzard and began to circle over them. I took advantage of this and approached them. They took me into their ring, and I began to wait for a wonderful return home. The ghost looked at the grandmother, and she looked at him approvingly. They opened their hands, and I stayed. As soon as they moved away from the oak tree, Mara threw my grandmother away and she fell to the icy floor. Everything was covered with ice again, except the oak. She was lying on the bare ice. Her soul regained the body of a young girl. She lay still.

— It is time. The ghost shouted. Take it and bring it here. I picked her up and went. Mara attempted to make me fall. But I resisted, and held my burden tightly. The appearance of Koshchei caused me panic. I realized that I could not cope. — You can handle it. Bring it faster.

Mara cast an evil glance in the direction of her husband. — I will deal with them myself. These are my uninvited guests. Koschei disappeared, and I quickened my pace. I did not have time to reach it and dropped it at the feet of the magic tree. I knelt down next to her, took her icy hand and began to kiss her.

— I miss your fairy tales so much. I said, and a tear rolled out of my eye. As soon as this happened, the body of my young grandmother began to disperse into microparticles of light and disappear. She seemed to evaporate. — What is going on?

— Your grandmother is leaving this world. And goes into another dimension. You saved her, just as if you dreamed! Congratulations!

— What will happen to her?

— Well, either she will get into the bright Iriy, or be born again. Mara was furious. In addition, she walked towards me. — Hug the oak tree and think about the good.

— And you?

— I will take your grandmother’s place.

— How do you understand this?

— It means that I am staying here instead of your grandmother. I will serve Mara. In addition, you will seal the entrance to the underworld. Moreover, everything will stop.

— I cannot leave you here. You are my friend now.

— You cannot save all the inhabitants of the kingdom of darkness. It is impossible. Go. You have been here too long. Your goal has been achieved. Your friends were not supposed to be here. You have done many things. It is time for you, there’s no time left at all. Goodbye.

I hugged the tree like the first time I was here. In addition, at that moment, a tear rolled out of my eye. However, she was no longer there, but here in this world. — It turns out that love actually saves the world. In addition, the kingdom of darkness is the kingdom of darkness, and there is no place for love and tears.

— Maybe it is. But your tears have melted even the underworld. See how it happens.

— I myself was surprised that tears can help grief. Maybe it is something else, not tears. She was furious when her tears touched the ice.

— Maybe it is from the heat. If the tears are sincere, then they are hot, and the underworld is beating with warmth and light. Tears drown the ice. What happened then?

— Then I found myself in the same place in the cemetery. I was half-naked, and I started freezing instantly. It was bitterly cold outside. I ran to get warm. I was haunted by the thought that she could overtake me and I would go back to hell. I ran out of the cemetery and went to meet the cars. I tried to stop the ride, but they all drove by thinking I was crazy. One of the cars stopped, and I explained everything by saying that I was not a local and got lost in the cemetery. They gave me a ride to my friend’s house, and I went into the apartment.

— Did your friends recognize you right away?

— They did not say anything. And I didn’t feel anything. It is possible that nothing happened. Our meeting with Mara was not the last.

— How not the last?

— All the most interesting things will be ahead. My friend looked at me with surprise. We went out into the corridor to walk and smoke, although it was forbidden. But everyone who could not do without cigarettes did it. — My friends will install a fence and a monument tomorrow. And the passage for the living to the world of the dead will be closed. When I crossed the threshold of the apartment, I did not know what to say to my friends. I did not know if it was true or not. Alternatively, I am actually frozen and lost. To be honest, remembering those events, I remember that I was tired. I am tired of running around the cemetery, the underworld and thinking is it true or not.

— And we wanted to go look for you. Just don’t know where? In the cemetery? On the other hand, to hell! These words were uttered with such a laugh that I was not pleased. From their ridicule, I realized that it was all true.

— We were lucky. Our souls were not cleaned up.

— Don’t get excited ahead of time. First, you need to close the passage, and then rejoice.

— That is right.

They were saying these words, and I flopped down on the sofa and closed my eyes. The warmth relaxed my body, and I fell asleep in a sitting position. My hands and face were burning, my head hurt terribly, maybe from the cold, or maybe from nervous overexertion. I slept in this position for several hours. When I woke up, I came to my friends in the kitchen.

— Tell me how it is in hell without us!

— I would not be so happy if I were you. Remember how you got there. You were sitting here laughing, and the kitchen was covered with ice.

— He is right. Get it over with. It will be calmer this way. There was silence in the kitchen. — I hope this was your last visit to your grandmother.

— Grandma is no more. I managed to save her soul.

— Tell me, how did you do it? What was there without us? I told my friends everything that happened. About how the ghosts tried to help me, how I was an ice statue. And about how our ghost friend took my grandmother’s place. — Yes, your grandmother was lucky. God rest her soul.

— Don’t say that.

— Why?

— «I don’t even know where she is anymore. In Paradise or relocated. And how to remember her now after what I saw.

— Yes, a difficult question.

— «I’ll talk to my sister about that. She should know.

— What now?

— «I don’t know. I need to talk to my sister.

At that time, I still did not understand what had happened. And most importantly, I understood that I had nothing to do here. I did everything I could and everything that was required of me. All I had to do was get on a plane and fly home. But I didn’t want to do it, and I couldn’t tell my sister or my friends about it. She held me, Mara. Her gaze burned my soul with cold. I was ready to do anything just to see her again. It was my dream.

I told my sister everything, she listened to me attentively, I listened to lectures about how I put my life and the lives of friends in danger. She earnestly asked me to come back as soon as possible. It was dangerous for me to stay here. She did not need my friends, and I was the cause of all the troubles. I understood this and did not argue with her. A plane ticket was taken. For tomorrow. History repeated itself.

— The main thing is that nothing happens during these days!

— Do not collect troubles on our heads. He will fly away, and you and I will stay.

— Don’t swear! It is over.

— It is not yet known. I saw one of my friends nervous. Moreover, his depression was transmitted to me. — What did your sister say?

— You are not in any danger. All the danger is on me. However, do not provoke an angry goddess.

I fell silent. My friend listened to me attentively. — So why these scars on the face.

— I do not want to talk about them now. It is a scary story. Maybe a little later. We returned to the ward. Everything in the ward was gloomy and dim. I did not feel well and I did not have the strength to speak. It seemed to me that I had spent an eternity in this ward, which would never end, without knowing why. These three nights spent here in conversation with a stranger passed like a flash, I did not want to part with him and therefore did not want tomorrow to come. Tomorrow he will be gone, I thought, and a pain pierced my heart. I closed my eyes remembering what I had already told and strained my memory to remember what was left to relive.

My friend Vladimir was such a good person. He never got into my soul, but he saw what was going on inside me. He understood the person and could pick up the keys to him. I liked that trait in him. He is also ready to come to the rescue at any moment, go to investigate, stand up for protection. He reminded me of my friend from the underworld, who was always there until my last minute there, he even sacrificed himself, realizing that he would die anyway. This is true friendship.

Today was my last night with a friend. In the morning, he will be gone, and that night I told him about my last night in Norilsk. — The ticket was bought. It remains to survive the night. Everything was the same as last time. I had a bad feeling. I was shaking from the inside. The fear did not leave me. And despite these fears, I didn’t want to leave. I was thinking of an action plan to stay for a few days and see her again. I did not lose hope that maybe she would still want to see me herself, to take revenge on me for what I had done. But no, I felt that there was no and I would have to look for her myself.

My mind was telling me what would happen if you got to her. You are going to stay there forever. I understood that. And what happens if I don’t see her again? It will be the pain of the blow. I am the one who is going to be healed for all eternity. I am going to live like hell because I did not get there again and did not see her. The only way to get there is to go right now to the cemetery to that yet unnamed grave and wait for the dimension between the worlds to come. Then I will not be able to do it anymore. I no longer thought about my sister, about tickets, about myself. The only thing I was sorry for was that I did not have time to say goodbye to my sister, knowing that I would not see her again. But I didn’t have time to think. I waited until my friends were asleep, dressed warmly and left the apartment.


It was a polar night outside. My face felt cold, I inhaled the cold air and felt my lungs wheezing. This climate was not good for me and from the constant swinging through the icy air it made itself felt, I got the flu and felt bad. I visually remembered the route along which we were driving with friends by car. It was not so close. I was discouraged and continued on my way hoping to find a passing car. After walking a few blocks, I turned onto the next street and walked along the night windows. Flakes of snow were slowly falling on my head, and I took it as a sign from above, it gave me hope that I had a chance to see her again.

It was time for dinner; it was our last dinner with a neighbor. We shared a meal with him in a friendly way, sitting pleasantly in the common dining room. There was a deathly silence in the ward. He was packing his things, I sat and stared at one point and did not break the silence.

— What are you thinking about?

— That everything will end soon. I will return to my circles, and everything will be as if nothing ever happened.

— How is that so? This cannot be happening. After what you have been through, everything will be different for you.

— How? Explain?

— Your life will change. Worldview, environment.

— And it seems to me that the opposite is true. The friends who went through hell with me will stay here, you are also here, the person to whom I opened my soul, and my friend is a ghost, about whom I cannot tell anyone, has already disappeared forever. It hurts.

— Well, the past always hurts. Therefore, it is not worth remembering, and coming back. And we, your friends, we will meet again. We will come to you ourselves. In addition, do not think about bringing, you still have your whole life ahead of you. This relic needs to be experienced and it will become easier.

My friend calmed me down. We went out to smoke, leaving the door open. A blizzard howled outside the window. That howl did not affect me so much anymore. I was thinking more about going home. I wanted to leave here tomorrow with Vova, I was afraid to be alone. The sudden slam of the door made me jump.

— What is wrong with you?

— Nothing.

— «I can see you’re scared.

— «I don’t know what came over me. I looked out into the corridor and saw that the door to our room was closed. — Who closed it?

— A draft.

— Why is there a draft here? They do not open the windows at this time of year. Especially here, in this department. My friend looked at me warily. He did not say anything. I noticed that he himself was not at ease.

— Let’s go from here. We returned to the ward. Strong tea helped me to relax, and I forgot myself a little. Night was falling, and we got ready for bed. Everything went as usual, today we did not turn off the lights, but decided to spend the night without sleeping, and this was our last conversation, my last story about how I found myself alone with her.

I walked along a deserted street straining my ears to hear the sound of a passing car. The weakness in my body from the flu took away my strength, my legs gave way, and I no longer had the strength to walk. Fortunately, for me, I saw the headlights, the engine died down muted. I looked around and saw a taxi. I was lucky. I came closer and asked if he was busy.

— Sit down. I heard the nervous voice of the taxi driver. The car door slammed, and we drove off. We arrived at the address I indicated, and the taxi sped off at breakneck speed in the opposite direction. I was alone again, only this time in the cemetery.

I was waiting for I do not know what, realizing that if I take a step now, it will be impossible to cancel this action. Why am I doing this? I asked myself this question without knowing the answer to it. After standing for a minute, I took a decisive step. As soon as my foot set foot on the territory of the cemetery, I immediately felt that I was already mechanically not here. Although in fact I was still at the entrance, but my intuition suggested something else. I could smell Navi. It scared me, but I was not afraid. The very fact that I have already spoken here means that my soul is already there.

Grave, I purposefully headed to the unmarked grave, deciding that it was no longer worth going to my grandmother’s grave. The cemetery itself is a creepy place, but at night, especially in the north, it is much scarier here. I remembered all the scary pictures from horror movies, and realized that it was scary to walk through a cemetery at night. Although if you put aside fears, the only thing I was afraid of was getting lost and not finding that grave.

That night was the worst nightmare of my life. Nothing can scare me anymore, after what I went through last night. This whole world of Navi, ball, and Sabbath, it’s not that compared to what I experienced. I roughly remembered the route and stuck to it. I was sure that I was going the right way, and I even met familiar graves. I did not notice how the cemetery was enveloped in darkness. It was a black fog. Perhaps this is because it was a polar night outside. Stopping for a second, I looked around and realized that I did not understand where I was going. Nothing was visible. The cemetery was shrouded in black haze and its appearance was similar to medieval times. Everything was so old, not well groomed, abandoned, and snowdrifts disappeared from under my feet. I immediately realized that she was somewhere nearby. It made me happy, because that is exactly what I wanted.

Modern cemetery fences have disappeared, there was none at all? I realized that I would not find that grave anymore, and I did not need it anymore. I was found and so. Not knowing what to do next, I set off, I was wondering where I was. Of course I was afraid, but the more I was afraid, the more I was stuck in this black world. I came here voluntarily, against my reason. In addition, I had nothing left to lose. After walking through several graves, I realized that I could not get away from here. I lost my bearings. There was no inscription with a name on any of the tombstones. It was hopeless. I decided to go back to where I came from, maybe it would be better this way, I thought. Feeling my pockets with my hands, I found neither documents nor money. This was the final sign that I was already in another dimension.

— What is next? I asked aloud.

— «This cemetery will be your grave. I heard an angry voice.

— I am already dead thanks to you.

The fog abruptly dissipated, a strong snowstorm caught me, and I was circling in the air. Then she abruptly threw me away, and I hit my head on a stone obelisk. I barely got up and waited for further attacks.

— What is next? She did not show her face. Although I have already seen him several times.

Then the most terrible thing began. The cemetery has adopted the summer season. The uprising of the dead has begun. Coffins were lifted from the graves, the lid of the coffin was opened, some long-buried dead coffin crumbled, and they got out of it. They got up and came out of the coffin like zombies. They were all wearing a white shirt to their feet; their deadness was emphasized by the color of their skin and the dip of their eyes and dark circles under their eyes. They did it all at the same time, coffins jumped out of the graves, the lid of the coffin flapped and fell to the ground, and I involuntarily shuddered. Their thin, nasty and bony fingers were disgusting. This whole picture came up so suddenly that I did not expect it.

I did not know where to run. And there was nowhere to go, there was a cemetery all around, the black sun and I was left alone with a horde of the dead. For a second I thought she was just scaring me. But when they all came at me and began to pull their hands towards me, I realized that this was not a joke. I was not afraid to die, but not at the hands of zombies. It was disgusting for me. I wanted to die fighting with her, for her, with her. To die in her arms. I was ready to go for it. The horde of the dead disgusted me and I wanted to get rid of them. I did not have anything that could save me. No daylight, no crowing of roosters, only a miracle, it remained to hope for a miracle.

I crossed my fingers for luck and began to run, I ran as fast as I could, forgetting about my illness and indisposition. The dead were running after me, but not as fast as I was. It surprised me. I stopped and looked around. I was surrounded from all sides. All the dead have risen.

— It is yours. I heard a ruthless voice. I forgot about being a gentleman and shouted,

— come out one on one. The earth shook. There was silence. I heard one of the coffin lids fall. Mara appeared before me.

— How dare you compete with me? This time her appearance was scary. She looked like a witch from Viya. — What are you going to do to me? I stood there like a boy. I had nothing to say in response. She glared at me angrily and without saying anything, disappeared into thin air.

It is over. The dead left, they lay down in their coffins covering themselves with a lid and the coffin itself disappeared. All this happened in a matter of minutes. When closing the lid, it slammed as well as when opening; I did not have time to watch what was happening. And I was left alone again and waited for my fate.

The picture changed the screensaver again, and I ended up where I was originally, only for some reason knee-deep in a snowdrift. My phone was at my place along with the money and documents. For a minute, it seemed to me that Mara had left me alone. I decided that she could not scare me and she was not interested in me anymore. It was dark at night. I turned on the flashlight on my phone and started shining. My hands were red and shaking from the cold. I decided to find that grave at all costs and get into the world of Navi. I was shining a flashlight around trying to figure out where I was. There were fences and graves all around, deathly silence. It seemed to me that the slightest sound could scare me. But nothing broke the silence. The wind and snow intensified and for me it was already a sign. During these days spent here, I began to consider the wind and snow as something paranormal. If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it. I went in a direction that seemed familiar to me. Having illuminated the familiar nameless cross with a flashlight, I took a decisive step towards it and fell into a snowdrift.

I was up to my waist in a snowdrift. Then I began to sink even deeper and I was sucked in. I woke up in complete darkness and cramped. I began to feel around, trying to figure out where I was. I did not understand right away. It was hard for me to breathe, and then there was not enough oxygen at all. I could not stand it and started calling for help. However, no one came to help. I realized that I was in a wooden coffin. I experienced a terrible horror, being there, a lump rose to my throat and tears of resentment choked me. I was helpless again. And no one heard me again. Mara, she played with me like some kind of kitten. I was her entertainment. Every time I was left in, a hopeless situation and she laughed, gave me oxygen, and then blocked it again. I thought it would never end. Moreover, when it was all over, I was looking for an excuse to repeat it again.

This stay in the coffin humiliated me, and I lost interest in this woman. I wanted to get home as soon as possible before it was too late. I felt myself and felt the phone and everything else. The battery was running out, probably from the cold. I turned on the flashlight. It gave me more strength. If the phone is here, then I am here. I had an incentive, if I am here, then I need to run away from here, and I decided to get out so that it would not become. I was wondering where am I? In the grave or on the surface? My mind was sound and I was happy about it. I started knocking with my hands and feet, and realized that the coffin lid was not firmly closed. I began to knock with all my might and threw it off. I sat down and caught my breath. Then I quickly got out of this horror. Grave was in a freshly dug grave, in the same cemetery, and next to the same unmarked grave.

— «This is your grave. I heard the words through hysterical laughter. The laughter was harsh, rude and mocking. My hatred for this woman grew more and more. There is no trace of my first impressions. I no longer felt for her what I felt for the first time. Those moments melted away. I ran to the exit, hoping to escape. But I forgot that Mara is a natural element herself.

My next test was that I ended up in the underworld with the devils. A blizzard picked me up and transported me to another dimension.

— This is your new world. Meet me. She said with malice. Your soul does not belong to you. Very soon, you will settle here for good.

I looked around me and saw that I was in hell. The devils rejoiced at the sight of me. They danced. I had no joy from what I saw, I was tired, and my eyes went out. I wanted to fall through, disappear through the ground, but I was already underground. I started all this myself, and I regretted it very much. I realized that I could not get out. My only salvation was my friends, but I did not really count on them, they might not have time to save me. I saw my grave with my own eyes, and it was true.

— «But they saved you.»

— Yes, but for how long? I know I am already dead. My soul does not belong to me. She is there. I made this mess myself. There was a void in my eyes. I could smell death. I wanted peace, but I could no longer find it, knowing in advance, what awaits me after death.

My friend looked at me with bitterness in his eyes. The lights were on in our room, and it looked like a cell. In which two monks were sitting and one confessed sins to the other.

— Practice. Mara shouted. In addition, she left me alone with these demons.

I sat down on the ground and put my face in my hands. I understood that my situation was hopeless, those creatures like the ghost, the grandmother, and not all the others were no longer there. There is no one to save me anymore.

Moreover, I was waiting for my fate again. I wanted so much to see my ghost, who once took my grandmother’s place.

— Very soon, you will take this place. An angry voice shouted. She did not show herself, but she was always there. I remembered the words of my grandmother, «she will turn your whole soul inside out.» «Oh, and she’ll wear you out.» These words are etched in my memory. Now, after so many years, these words have come true.

I fell silent; it was about midnight on the clock. — There is still a whole night ahead.

— Yes, and you have something to tell me.

— That is for sure. We crept quietly down the corridor to smoke. I peeked through the half-open door so that the nurse on duty would not notice us.

— What are you looking for there?

— I am looking so that we will not be noticed.

— Calm down. We are not really needed here. Moreover, especially this sister. Another one will come tomorrow, that is another matter.

I looked out again and noticed how the lights went out in our ward. My face changed, and Vovan noticed it.

— What happened?

— The light went out.

— So he was not there. There is no light in the entire corridor.

— There is no light in our ward.

— So the light bulb burned out. Do not worry. This is not mysticism. You are just nervous overexertion. Today I will be discharged, and tomorrow I will come for you. I promise you. I will arrange with the doctor and take you away from here. The words of a friend calmed me down, and I myself believed that the light bulb had burned out.

We returned to the dark room and the lights came on again. — Don’t worry. It happens with light bulbs.

— «I know that. My friend was cheering me on. But I already knew she was here. She came to take my soul. — It is all over today. My friends will install a fence and a monument today. And the entrance will be closed.

— This is good news. Then you have nothing to worry about at all. I continued my story.

The devils were bothering me. In addition, I no longer paid attention to them. I did not care. Indifference set in. My flesh felt being underground, the air was heavy, I had a terrible headache, and the touch of devils made me sick. I remembered how I once saved one of them. I would not do that now. I stood up to my full height, looking with my eyes for at least the slightest clue, at least something that could help me. It was the same clearing and the oak, everything was the same, but there was not the same drink. I wondered if I could go back upstairs without him. I ran up to the oak tree, the devils were dragging me by the sleeve, and I was pushing them away. I hugged the oak tree tightly and with a feeling of remorse for what I had done, I thought about returning home.

When I opened my eyes, I saw the old picture again — I was in the cemetery. The underworld is a cemetery. That is all I have seen in the last few days. I groped for my phone, and sent a message to my friends that I was at the cemetery and I was dying. Deep down I hoped for salvation, but in fact, my case was hopeless. She hugged me tightly in her arms. I went to the exit, no longer hoping to get out. My hopes were confirmed, the exit was blocked. I was hitting an invisible glass. I ran away and hit my face on it. My attempts were in vain. I realized that I was under invisible arrest.

— What should I do? I thought. The idea came to my head to find the grave of my grandmother and ask her for help, and suddenly. I thought, and went in search of a grave. I walked confidently, already knowing the way. Here they are familiar graves. I was walking around the garden meeting acquaintances. Every familiar grave pleased me. And it was killing me. I was reproaching myself. — How could I bring myself to such a state?

Snow covered the entire cemetery, and only in some places, relatives cleared the graves of the deceased. Here it is, my grandmother’s native grave. It was in an abandoned state, I did not even clean the snow. There was no one to take care of her, the fence was rusty, and so was the cheap obelisk. I stepped over the fence and came close to the monument. I also noticed how the shadow of a beautiful woman flashed by, it was noticeable from a dim lantern located far from the cemetery. I shuddered at the thought that she was somewhere nearby. I did not want to have anything to do with her and closed the fence in the hope that I protected myself.

— Oh, if only I could take it all back. I thought. As soon as I thought about it, I immediately found myself in a clearing covered with moss, and my friend was standing on it. I was so glad to see him that I even wanted to hug him.

— So we met! He said joyfully. I will help you escape, but for this, you will strictly follow my instructions. Break at least one, take my place, or next to me. I agreed without hesitation.

— «You’ll eat this powder first. Then you will go straight from here to the airport, and you will fly to your home, you will move from home to warmer climes, where there is no snow, there it will not reach you. If you do not, then no one will save you. This powder will make you invisible. Its effect does not last long. While she is looking for you, you will have to hide, it is better to go to the airport right away. If you delay, then your friends will suffer too. With the dawn it will be more difficult for her, try to stay in the sun as long as possible.

The ghost’s words cheered me up. I was sure that I would succeed. I swallowed the magic powder and quickly ran to the tree. I was able to quickly transfer from one world to another. I found myself at the gate; I just had to get out. — Thanks, friend. I said to myself and took a step forward. I did not pay attention to myself. Forgetting about the potion I had taken, my thoughts were at home. The only thing I noticed was that no one was following me. I had already moved away and looked back. The cemetery was left behind. No one was following me, and I began to examine myself. Their hands, feet, clothes. I did not notice any changes and continued on my way. I understood that I could not walk, but I could not find a car at this time in this place. My heartbeat increased, and I ran, hoping to run out of here into a crowded part of the city.

After making a stop, I felt myself, found my passport, ticket and phone, and breathed a sigh of relief. Opposite me was a 24-hour pavilion with artificial flowers. I went into it to warm up and realized that I was not visible. I liked it, and I got into the role. After standing for a while, I went outside and wanted to continue my way; fortunately, a car drove up and stopped at the store. The driver got out without closing the door. It was good for me. I saw my salvation. — That is the luck. I thought as I got into the backseat. The door carelessly slammed and attracted the driver’s attention. He looked for a long time, decided that it was a draft, and went into the store.

I looked around and realized that the family was in mourning and a man had come for a wreath. The driver was already walking back, carrying a wreath. I realized that I would get out of here quickly. The door opened and the wreath was next to me. He terrified me. It would be better if he did not exist. -«It’s nothing,» I consoled myself. But the feeling of anxiety did not leave me. We were driving fast; I would even say we were speeding. I leaned back in my seat and relaxed. I have already heard the noise of the plane in which I will fly, and peace has come to my heart. The weather helped me, the blizzard stopped, the wind died down and nothing prevented my return.

Now I reproach myself for what I did then. I made a mistake. I remember the words of the ghost, which he said to me before my departure from the world of Navi. — Don’t make a mistake. If you make even one mistake, you will take my place.

My mistake was that I took out my phone and texted my friends that I was going to the airport. If I had not done that, then nothing would have happened. The driver was stunned by what he saw and let go of the steering wheel, braking sharply, he looked back. Now I understand how he felt at that moment. For him, it was an unexpected shock in the middle of the night with a funeral wreath in the backseat. I tried to hide the phone and scared him even more. The phone was put away. The driver jumped out of the car and began to make the sign of the cross over himself. Calming down a little, he opened the back door and carefully examined the interior. Then he opened the second door and looked at everything from the other side. I froze and sat without breathing. Closing both doors, he got behind the wheel, made the sign of the cross and drove on.

— I imagined it. He said. — It is necessary to go to the cemetery less at night. — That is exactly what I thought.

We were flying at breakneck speed. I was afraid to move. Outside the window, I saw a blizzard chasing us. She looked like a hurricane, or even a tornado. Paranormal phenomenon. The driver said.

— This is mysticism. I thought, and realized that it was behind me. Now I will drag the driver with me.

The car overturned several times. I do not know the fate of the driver, but mine is in store for me.

— Don’t boil ahead of time. I will decide everything. I saw how Vova confidently behaves. He did not know that everything had already been decided. I would like his confidence even for a minute. I heard someone’s footsteps in the corridor, and looking at the door, I saw a shadow flash under it. I realized that he had not seen anything and did not say anything.

— «I’ll pick you up from here tomorrow. I think nothing will happen to you in one day.

— «I think so too,» I replied indifferently.

— Well, well done.

We went out to smoke. The time was about five in the morning. We smoked in silence. Everyone did it nervously. This nervousness irritated even more. Upon returning to the ward, we brewed strong tea. A nurse came to us and made a remark. We quietly closed the door behind her and continued the tea party. At this tea party, I told him everything to the end.

When our car overturned, the windows flew in different directions and damaged my face. This hurricane swept away everything in its path and caused great damage. Possibly even fatal. Cars overturned, windows flew out of shops, bus stops overturned. Until I got out of the car. When I got out, I was not visible, and I realized it. I could barely stand on my feet and I was swaying from side to side. She would not have noticed me if it was not for my phone. It rang. In addition, she heard the bell ring. That call ruined my soul and me.

— Your friends are waiting for you at the cemetery! She shouted with a roar. That is where you belong. She picked me up and carried me away. I was spinning in this blizzard like a top. I no longer felt myself, the pain, the cold. I was just sick with hunger and swirled in this tornado. I flew over houses, destroyed shops, and felt like a snowflake, a grain of sand in this whirlwind. At last, the wind died down, and I found myself with her on an icy plain. It was our last meeting with her.

There was an ice field all around me. The wind died down. The ice was slippery. This field was without beginning and without end. It was infinity. I did not feel the cold and the pain from the scars on my face. She was circling over me and laughing loudly.

— So we met. Did you dream about it? Isn’t that right?

I was silent in response. Along with the silence, I experienced indifference. She stopped circling, stopped and turned into a beautiful woman. Such as, I saw then in my room. Her image remained in my memory. She walked slowly towards me and came close to me. My breath caught in my throat, and an internal tremor went through my whole body. Her beauty dazzled me, but I continued to hate her. This hatred negated everything, all my admiration for this woman. Her husband will never forgive me for what I did. I have incurred his wrath. He appeared in front of me on an ice throne. Next to him was my ice statue.

— Very soon you will decorate my garden. He said sarcastically and disappeared. I fell silent.

— And then what happened?

— «I don’t know myself. From that moment on, I have a black hole in my memory. I try to remember and nothing comes out. I remember waking up in this room. However, the fact remains. I will have to answer for that.

— Yes. I did not know you had such a problem. This is serious. Vova thought about it. Dawn was breaking outside the window. The night passed unnoticed, and with it our days. I did not notice how they flew by. I heard a commotion in the corridor. The nurse was engaged in cleaning, the nurse woke up patients for procedures. — You looked into her eyes, and no one dares to do that. — You touched her! How dare you do that? It cannot be fixed. Even I am not sure of myself anymore. And I don’t know if I can help you. But I will do my best for this.

A new day was coming, but I was not sure that I would live it to the end. My friend was vigorously packing his bag. I was not happy about the new day, and I wanted to spend these days again with this new friend. I was afraid to be alone.

— «It’s too early. I will not be leaving here until tonight. You will just have to survive the night. My friend tried to persuade me like a little child. — Why don’t your friends come to you?

— They have business, or they are afraid. They also experienced some part of the nightmare with me. They also install an obelisk. They found out the name quite recently when they came to me. And I do not know why, maybe there is another reason to top it off, I said. I lay down on the pillow and closed my eyes. — I would like to bring everything back. I lay there and dreamed about how I was flying home. I was remembering my past, my happy days. I realized how I did not have time to live my happy life.

— What can be the case when a friend is in such a state, and it is their fault that you are here? They brought trouble on you, and they did not look after you well. If they had behaved with dignity, they would not have brought her wrath on your head.

My friend’s words brought me to my senses. However, I did not know how to fix it all. — You know, you are right, but I will have to answer.

— You answered in full. In addition, your torment is over. We drank coffee and met the dawn.

I looked at Vova’s thoughtful face. He was not as confident as he used to be, and he did not want to go home.

— Listen, I will stay with you until the hospital closes. I hope nothing happens to you overnight. Moreover, early in the morning, as soon as the hospital opens, I will come for you.

It became easier for me to make such a decision, and I did not relax for a long time. My friend acted nobly, trying to protect an unfamiliar person. After all, he could have suffered from me, along with me.

— That is how I happened to meet someone like you in my life! He said these words with such enthusiasm that I felt uncomfortable. What is wrong with me?

— Don’t you understand? You are the chosen one. You were chosen, and you were able to get into the other world. Not everyone succeeds.

— Yes, but it’s better not to get there. It is impossible to get out of there. This world sucks in like a whirlpool.

— «But you and your friends got out.

— My friends do. I am not sure. She is here. I saw her. My friend tensed, and said nothing. On the contrary, he began to look closely at everything.

— You tell me about the slightest suspicion. Ok? I made it clear in agreement. I was calmer from the fact that someone believes me.

— Thanks, friend. I said these words with sincerity. In addition, my friend gave me a friendly nod in response.

The doctor came and confirmed my friend’s discharge. After examining me, he was very surprised that I began to look so good in such a short time.

— This cannot be happening. Where are your scars? It’s magic. We need to call the manager.

I did not notice my changes and went to the mirror. In the reflection, I saw a perfect face, without the slightest damage. The gray hair was gone, only a glimmer remained. — How is this possible? I touched my face with my hands; I was young and beautiful as before. It was another sign. The head was waiting for me in the ward. She examined me carefully.

— I do not understand anything. How is this possible? With injuries like yours, this does not happen. We need to create a consultation immediately. The doctor came out. We were left alone.

— Listen, I do not like your appearance either. I think I will stay with you until tomorrow.

— How is that possible?

— I will hide. Everyone will leave. In addition, I will stay in the ward. The only thing is that today is the evil sister. She will flit around, but I will figure something out. I have the right to be here until five.

— I will be glad if you stay. And tomorrow? What should I do tomorrow? You see, they want to create a consultation; they will not let me go so quickly.

— You need to buy a ticket and get out. You have a passport. Forget about things and everything else. Let us buy a ticket. This was my third attempt to escape. We went online and booked a ticket for tomorrow. It remains to survive another crazy night. I informed my sister that this time I would definitely fly home. My sister was waiting for me. I felt how much she needed me and it made my heart heavy.

It was lunchtime, and we left the ward. The hallway was busy. There were new arrivals. I looked at these people as living beings. I have not been out for a long time, and I have not been in mass gatherings of people. I was tired of it and at the same time, I felt that I was among the living. It was very important to me. Vovan was animatedly telling me about a woman with big buttocks in a funny robe. A flirtation ensued between them, and he clearly did not want to leave this institution anymore. It was funny to watch them. They were clearly worth each other.

— These are the forms! He kept repeating. I was amused by his phrases, and a smile appeared on my face. I laughed heartily.

We returned to the ward, and this room made us sad. This ward has ceased to be a refuge. We both wanted to get out of here.

— Let’s go to the corridor!

— Come on!

As soon as we stepped towards the door, our ward was covered with ice. Ice covered everything, walls, floor, ceiling, interior, and the front door.

— It is for me.

— I get it. Now what?

— I do not know myself. My friend ran to the door and started calling for help.

— Help.

The door opened, and the ward took on the appearance as if nothing had happened. Everything happened every second. My friend and I were standing there looking ridiculous. A nurse with a medical bandage on her face opened the door. She did not look me in the eye, but I could see that she was angry with the two of us.

— What is going on here? You two are running around the hallway. Now you are yelling. It is a quiet hour now. She slammed the door, and I heard her quick footsteps.

— I told you she was evil.

— But she saved us.

— That is for sure.

We were still standing in disbelief. — And now what?

— Let’s get out of here into the corridor. It is safer there.

— «Now I’ve dragged you along with me.

— This is who is dragging whom. A friend jokingly said. I did not attach much importance to these words. — We should have survived the night.

— Do you think that it is all over, I will fly away, and everything will be chocolate? No. Do not support me as if I am dying. I am actually dying, and it is going to be over soon. You saw it. What are you going to tell me?

Vladimir stood at a loss, not knowing what to say to my outburst of emotions. — I believe that we will succeed. You have a chance to escape.

We went out into the corridor and breathed a sigh of relief. We had the feeling that we had escaped from prison. I was a little surprised that my friend was not scared, and did not react in any way to what he saw. I got the impression that this was not the first time for him, and I began to be afraid of him from that moment. My intuition told me that it was time to stop trusting him. I gave no sign of my premonition and kept the mask on. The corridor was lively, despite the sleepy hour. Vova was looking for a new patient with curvy shapes. He sat down on the windowsill and waited for her appearance.

Time passed slowly. It was still light outside and I was looking at the excitement created by people running about their business. I leaned my forehead against the glass and closed my eyes. In a short moment, I remembered my whole life, starting from my childhood, and up to today. I remembered how I flew here to my grandmother, and she read the very fairy tales that came to life and turned my life into a nightmare. I loved coming here, I loved playing with my friends who were in hell with me, and they managed to get out. I remembered my last dinner with my sister and I wanted to go back there, to the life, I did not live. I was so drawn to the past. And here I am, and I do not know how long I have left to live? What if I actually have a chance to escape? I thought, and began to imagine this salvation, my return, dinner with my sister, a beer bar with friends. I did not have a girlfriend, and I would like to have one, but I never made an effort to create a relationship. I had a taste for life, and I wanted to live.

— Let’s go for a walk. I am tired of sitting and waiting. We walked down the corridor, went in for a smoke. — Well, are you ready for a new life?

«Which one?» Beyond the grave? To be honest, I do not know. I used to dream about it, now I do not. I have changed my mind, I said with a grin. My friend also said this question with a grin. In addition, I did not like his smile. He just started to annoy me, maybe from nervous overexertion, maybe I was just tired and I rather wanted to get out of here. I felt that something was wrong here.

— I was just asking. I do not know what kind of life awaits you in the future. I am not a psychic. I hope for your best outcome.

— Thank you. I said nervously, finishing my cigarette.

— You cannot smoke here. That voice sounded familiar to me. Alternatively, maybe I really just overextended myself. I saw an angry nurse running towards us and shouting angrily.

— She will not leave us alone.

— That is for sure. Let us go to the ward.

— «Are you sure?»

— Yes. I am sure. We went into the ward and closed the door. I sat down on the bed; my friend walked around the room and said that he needed to go out into the corridor. There is that woman in the funny robe. I wanted to go out with him, but I did not dare, I did not want to be superfluous. I was surprised that he left me alone. This has never happened before. — So my friend betrayed me, I thought. Alternatively, just fight, it is more logical. Coward. I thought. Although he may be right, he should not risk, much less his life. My friend went out and I was left alone. I could hear his footsteps receding as my heartbeat increased. I got out of bed and went to the window. Watching the darkness fall.

— Here comes the night, although it is not yet five o’clock.

— «You’re right. A nurse came into the room and took off the bandage. Our eyes met, and I fell senseless.

His sister’s tear-stained eyes looked at me. I saw in them pain, trust, naivety, and purity of soul. If I admit it, I was ashamed to lie to this man. But I had to do it.

— Tell me; tell me everything as it was. How did he die? Why? How did my brother die? Under what circumstances. I did not know how to start. And most importantly, I didn’t know how to finish my story.

I started from the moment when he was brought in at night in a terrible state. — His face was ugly, and I thought he was cut with a knife. We became friends, and he told me everything from the very beginning, how it all started, to the last moment. Then we became friends, and he told me everything from the very beginning, how it all started, to the last moment. He told me a lot. It took three days. He mentioned you very often; he was very worried that he could not see you. His sister was sitting in a helpless state, and I could not comfort her.

— You should definitely tell me everything. I need to know.

— I will not argue. I will definitely fulfill your request. I did not save my friend, but I got a chance to take care of his sister.

— I will be very grateful to you. He did not tell me anything about you.

— I probably did not have time. On the other hand, just did not have the energy and time.

We were sitting in the visitors’ room, and just at that time, his friends came up. They were not looking at me in a friendly way, and I knew why. I pointed at my sister with my eyes. They understood everything and translated the topic.

— We have not been able to establish the data of Konstantin, and the grave is still not closed. The data is not reliable.

— How so. He told me that name himself. I remember that. The sister got excited and sat back down on the chair. — What now? She began to sob. «That’s why he’s gone. His soul was taken away. In addition, the morgue said it was a stroke. It is not a stroke. This is different.

The friends stood in silence. — They could not say otherwise. It is a stroke. He just suffered a lot. I was freezing too much, and now. He also had a constant headache from nervous overexertion.

— Yes, I remember that too. I could not stand it and asked Vladimir, «How did you end up in the hospital at that time?» In this room? In addition, what really happened?

— I stayed to protect him, but I went out, and the nurse came in and he was already lying dead. It is a stroke.

— Something does not add up.

— Stop talking about it. I need to bury my brother. And to honor his memory.

— There is already a ready-made grave in the cemetery. When we were busy for an unnamed grave, and found out about its outcome, we also made a fuss. There is already a ready-made grave; it is next to the nameless one.

— Wow, what a coincidence. Vova sat in silence and did not delve into the conversation. The friends who came drilled him with their eyes. The sister did not understand what the matter was. — We have to go. We need to take the body from the morgue and bury it.

— Rely on us. We will arrange everything. We will not abandon you. One of her friends took her by the arm and led her. We all set off together.

— Oh, my little brother, he could not fly away. What a sad fate he has.

— Yes, to buy a ticket three times and not fly out, it is really fate. If he had not run away that night, then maybe nothing would have happened.

— Who knows? Maybe it is really fate. We all fell silent and reached the morgue.

— Vova, will you go with us to the end, or will you leave us?

— I will leave you later. Now I will go to the end.

— How can I find you? I want to hear his whole story. I do not know everything.

— You do not know only the latest events. I will find you and tell you everything I know. One of my friends was looking at me from under his forehead, and he almost attacked me with his fists I gave no sign, and stood aside. I did not like this story myself, but I could not change anything about it.

The body was taken out of the morgue and taken to the funeral service in the house of God. There was a deathly silence at the funeral service, Vova, for some reason of his own, did not enter the temple. -«My God, what’s wrong with his face?» He was cut with a knife?

— We do not know. Only he knows about it. And pointed in the direction of Vova. — What about the nameless grave now? Only your brother knew the full details of the deceased. He communicated with him in the kingdom of darkness. The sister was tearful and did not really understand what she was talking about.

— It is too early for her to think about it now. Do not touch her.

— No, you are wrong. This passage needs to be closed urgently. If we had done it earlier, it would have been better.

— «They’re right. We need to make an effort and do it right. Vladimir listened to the conversation and stood with a dissatisfied look. Why does my brother look so awful? He is like an elderly battered wanderer. His face and hands took on the same appearance as on the first day in the hospital. His hair was gray. His sister could not understand why, and I could not tell her. — I will not leave here until I erect a monument to my brother.

— You need to get out of here. A friend blurted out. You have small children. Think about them. She will clean you up, too, and we will do everything ourselves. Do not worry. Friends stood up for their sister. I was standing on the sidelines. The sister hesitated. She understood the problem.

— «You’re right. But I have nothing to do with it. She must not touch me.

— We do not know. Therefore, it is better not to take risks. Alternatively, do it in the summer. The nurse sighed heavily.

— I have a feeling that this grave was dug for my brother a long time ago.

— We have the same feeling. But we don’t know. We have not seen her. So many times, they came here, put up a fence. She definitely wasn’t there.

— That’s weird.

— «You’re right. But I have nothing to do with it. She must not touch me.

— We do not know. Therefore, it is better not to take risks. On the other hand, do it in the summer. The nurse sighed heavily.

— I have a feeling that this grave was dug for my brother a long time ago.

— We have the same feeling. But we don’t know. We have not seen her. So many times, they came here, put up a fence. She definitely wasn’t there.

— That’s weird.

— And now what? Will this passage remain open? My brother told me so much about him. I know the danger of this grave. And who will be next? Me? Or one of you? Vladimir stood silently and listened to the dialogue.

— In the course of this question concerns only the three of us. The sister looked at us questioningly. She guessed something, but did not show it. The funeral was over, and we left the cemetery for a memorial lunch in a cafe.

There was a deathly silence at the table, no one dared to break the silence. The sister sat in silence and stared at one point. Victor’s friend and I looked at each other with hateful eyes. I understood his condition, and did not dare to resist his emotions.

— What a ridiculous death my brother has. For what? The sister came out to talk on the phone. The three of us stayed together and broke the silence.

— Tell me how it was.

— She took it. He committed an unforgivable act by touching her. This could not be done in any case. Friends were peacefully silent, and I was waiting for the next question.

— And who are you?

— «You don’t want to know.

— You had better answer it.

— «You can’t do anything to me. I am already dead. I am a resident of Navi. I am immortal. I have moved into this beautiful body and will leave this terrible city. With these words, I got up and left the table.

My sister stayed with Victor’s friends. — When do you plan to leave?

— I do not know. Her voice was gone and she did not have the strength to speak. — Tomorrow it is necessary to go to the cemetery, and then fly.

— It can be done in one day, departure in the evening.

— I want to stay here a little longer.

— It does not make sense. You need to fly. It is dangerous to stay here. Moreover, that grave is not safe.

— He is right. Fly away. We will do everything without you. Their voice sounded convincing that she could not disagree.

— «You’ve convinced me. In the morning, I will go to the cemetery, and in the evening, I will fly away.

— And that is right. We will accompany you to the end. After a short pause, she asked why we dislike his new friend.

— Because it is dark. It is immediately visible. He is smelly.

— I noticed too, there is something wrong here.

— I really wanted to talk to him.

— It is not worth it. Do not collect troubles on your head. Your brother is beyond help. He is dark. That is for sure. The nurse reluctantly leaned back in her chair.

— «I don’t know myself anymore. Maybe it is not worth it. It all happened so fast. I did not expect such a result from this story. On the other hand, we just did not take this adventure seriously. I do not believe there is not one. Her voice was gone and she was wheezing.

— No one took this story seriously. But it happened, and the result is deplorable. Let us take you to the hotel, and tomorrow we will go to the cemetery together. My sister readily agreed, and we left the cafe.

Early in the morning, the car drove up to the hotel. We quickly found a fresh grave of the deceased. My sister stood motionless, and we turned from side to side trying to remember what we had experienced. I froze for a moment.

— What happened?

— Look over there.

— «Where is she?» The sister involuntarily shuddered.

— What happened?

There was no trace of the unmarked grave.

— Where did she go?

— Mysticism continues. I am scared.

— Let’s get out of here. In addition, I headed for the exit.

— Wait. We need to figure it out. We need to go to funeral services. They should know.

— I am afraid. This is not normal. It is a sign. I am leaving this town. It is the city’s fault. It is always winter here. A friend had a tantrum.

— Let’s go together. I am coming with you. This also concerns me.

We politely said goodbye to the fresh grave of a friend, and left the cemetery. In the funeral services, we were told that there were official relatives at this grave, and they decided to reburial it in another city. They had an official permit on hand.

— How is this possible? That is so fast.

— When there are credentials and an official document, everything happens quickly. These words sounded in such a tone that we did not dare to object.

— And what, everything was cleaned up so quickly? And the cross? And the fence?

— What is there to clean up? There is nothing to clean up there? This woman was clearly not suitable for funeral services. And we went out into the street in silence. There were a few hours left before the trip to the airport, we accompanied my sister to the hotel, had coffee with her, and agreed that we would pick her up and take her to the airport.

— That is the nightmare over! We all smiled with relief. No grave, no problem.

— That is for sure. And we will personally install a fence for our friend. We left. The nurse went up to her room.

I found Victor’s sister at the hotel and arranged a meeting for us.

— How good that you came.

— This is our last meeting. You wanted to ask me for details about your brother.

— Yes it is. I looked into the eyes of this girl and did not dare to lie to her. For a moment, I wanted to become her close friend, but I knew that it was impossible.

— What did you want to know?

— The last thing he told me about was the ball. Then he bought a ticket, I was waiting for him, came to the airport to meet him, but he did not arrive. We lost contact, and I find out that he is in the hospital. For a moment, I felt what she felt. And I felt sorry for her. — I just need to know what happened next. What happened? I know there was something. But what? Tell me. You can tell me.

— I know I can trust you. Victor told me everything in detail, as well as the fact that he told you everything. I will tell you what happened. We were sitting at a table in a hotel cafe. And she was waiting for my story.

— Your brother was a wonderful man. He loved you very much. And I blamed myself for not being able to take care of you. Yet, he could not. He could not resist the dark forces, and this force dragged him down. She dragged him to the bottom, and he will not be able to get out of there. He told me how he had been in Mara’s arms. She dragged him away, and whirled in her circle.

— How’s that?

— «He saw his grave with his own eyes. He was lying in his own coffin. He experienced all this while still alive. His sister sat and stared at one point. She did not say a word, so I continued. He went to the cemetery at night in search of her. He was in love with her. He wanted to find her, and he found her. He was in hell. He was with the devils. And none of this would have happened if he hadn’t made a fatal mistake.

— Which one?

He touched her. My sister listened to me with amazement. She understood what I said and understood the whole point of my story. — He was the only one who dared to look into her eyes, and it ruined him. She dragged him to the bottom.

— I understand you. You do not have to continue. She said dryly. We sat in silence. I did not dare interrupt our meeting first. — And who are you? And how do you know all this?

— I am the one who took the place of your grandmother with him. The sister was stunned. So that means…

— Yes. This is true. Now this place is his.

The meeting was over. The girl went to the landing and sat in the airplane seat.


After a while, the whole story was forgotten. In addition, remembered with fear. Those who were eyewitnesses and saw everything with their own eyes were even afraid to mention what they saw, so as not to bring trouble upon themselves. Everyone remembered it in silence, and could not believe what had happened. This story did not fit into my head, and everyone was sorry for the departed friend who so absurdly left this world of the living. Everyone was silent about it, but every breath of wind, a blizzard of snowflakes, and a change in weather conditions did not let them forget. Everyone would like to see a person dear to him or her who has passed away.

The only person who was not afraid to investigate this case was Victor’s sister. She was waiting for the summer to send the children to the camp and fully investigate. Victor’s friend occasionally wrote to her, he casually asked how she was doing. And he didn’t write a word about his late friend. He was afraid to touch a sore subject, and even more, he did not want to bring trouble on the sister of the deceased. Sometimes he asked about the weather. In addition, for fear of looking ridiculous, he stopped the correspondence. My sister treated this correspondence so coldly. She meant nothing to her; she needed this friend as a weapon, nothing more. Moreover, she kept in touch with him. She blamed herself for letting her brother go to the autonomous okrug at this time of year, knowing that he was unable to take care of himself. But she blamed his friends even more for the fact that they were directly involved in what happened. Her head, heart and thoughts were busy with revenge. The illusion settled in her head that she would be able to rescue her brother, and his friend would take his place. She believed that he left by accident, and he could be returned, swapped, as had already happened with their grandmother. This thought did not leave her, and she did not think about anything else. She constantly reread the messages he wrote to her during his stay in Norilsk. She kept them as an important document confirming his innocence, and the saddest thing was that she could not tell anyone about it. It was all so unreal, and she understood her brother when he asked her if she believed him. Now she understood his inner state, but he was no longer there, and this pain from injustice was suffocating her. She felt herself fading away, and waited for her hour, the hour of retribution.

The feeling of revenge settled in Natalia with the arrival of spring. When the heat came, and the snow began to melt. Mourning has passed, winter has passed with it, and the feeling of fear has left her. Instead, she did not notice how she became obsessed and every time before going to bed, when the children fell asleep, she imagined everything that her brother described to her. She firmly decided for herself that she would get there to the kingdom of Navi, not knowing how, but she would get there and see everything that he described to her in his letters.

One day one of my friends started a conversation on this topic. — I wonder how our friend is now.

— You are interested, you go and see. I do not want to go back there and go through all the things I have already gone through. I want to forget everything and not touch this topic anymore. These words were uttered with such aggression that Sasha even began to doubt that his interlocutor was grieving for a departed friend.

— Okay, fine. We will not touch on this topic anymore. But do not forget that it was you who became the source of this adventure. It all started with you. These words sounded like a reproach. And the so-called friend changed his face.

— What do you want to say?

— You do not want to touch this topic, so live with it. I will not say anything more. With these words, Sasha got up and left the table. Left alone, Sergei plunged into his thoughts. He himself could not understand why he was considered a cause of disagreement. What did I do? Why me? He did not like the whole story, and especially the fact that everyone blamed him. He did not consider himself guilty, did not want to be responsible for it. He considered this story a misunderstanding, and did not want to be involved in it. Sometimes the idea of selling his apartment, giving up everything and moving further away from this story settled in his head. Nevertheless, he believed that everything had calmed down and there was nothing to worry about. Subconsciously, he felt a sense of fear, rather than a sense of guilt, suddenly history would repeat itself, and with it, the horror he had experienced. What then? Who will be next? He firmly decided for himself that if he did not move out of this city, then he would never find peace.

Sasha was a closer friend and he, like the deceased’s sister, had no peace. He did not tell anyone about it, but he also wanted revenge. He did not know how, but he was ready for it. The feeling of revenge clouded his mind, and became stronger every day. Along with the feeling of revenge, which he carefully concealed, there was a feeling of love for the sister of his best dough, which he hid no less carefully than the feeling of revenge. This feeling woke up in him as soon as he saw her, at that moment he had not realized it yet. After she left home, the friend realized that he was hopelessly in love and harbored the hope that they would certainly meet again. He was afraid to admit it to her, because not much time had passed since mourning. He was also afraid of being rejected and looking ridiculous in front of a woman like her. He wanted to pick up the keys to her and become the one that every man dreams of being.

One day Sasha wrote a message asking how she was doing, and in between wrote, «What is not justice, how he regrets that his friend left this world in a timely manner, and left unjustly. He received a reply to this message very quickly.

— I think so too! You agree with me, so I have an ally.

After receiving an answer to this message, my heart began to beat furiously, and my legs gave way. First, we switched to you, it meant a lot to me. Secondly, I became her ally, so we have a common goal, and I have a chance to get closer to her. I was willing to do anything to get close to her. I was like a faithful dog, ready to do her any errand, just to prove my loyalty and devotion to her. Besides, I really wanted to avenge my friend. I could only wait for the mistress of my heart to give the first order, and I would carry it out.

Natasha, having received a signal that her gun was ready for battle, was waiting in the wings. She was waiting for the summer to send the children to the camp, and she had already thought everything out. She decided to act just like her brother. Go to the cemetery, find the very grave that was reburied. She decided that this was how she would get into the realm of the dead. Forgetting that summer is almost here, and the grave has been gone for a long time.

The day of departure was approaching. Unaware that Sasha harbors feelings for her and not just harbors, she thought that he was just as obsessed with revenge as she was, she asked where she could stay, since she was unable to pay for a hotel. Their correspondence has intensified since the day they had a common idea. Alexander, who did not dare to settle this woman at home, rented an apartment for her and gave it to his, in which he does not live. Natalia gladly accepted such an invitation, and without even thinking, she was obsessed with revenge, and completely trusted her brother’s friend.

On one of the beautiful summer days, the plane left Voronezh airport and landed in Novorossiysk. Alexander had been waiting for this day all this time, and could not believe that this day had come. Their friend, on the contrary, could not understand this arrival, and was not happy. He felt the danger, he was shaking with fear from the inside, and he wanted to run further as fast as possible. He had already found a buyer for his apartment, quit his job and was waiting in the wings. Everyone was waiting in the wings, but not everyone had the same desires.

— Why will she come?

— To her brother’s grave.

— «These graves are nothing but trouble. Her brother’s fate is not enough for her. Is she not afraid to fly here?

— Why are you so worried?

— I am not worried. I am afraid. You know, I am scared. Understand me. Alexander saw the panic in his friend’s eyes, and he felt sorry for him, he understood him.

— Don’t worry, I will not leave you. You are leaving this town soon. There are two or three days left, and you will fly away.

— I do not know. Sergei said with sadness in his voice. Alexander felt sorry for the poor person who was so nervous about this story. Maybe he is not to blame for anything. He thought, coming out of the entrance. Well, just think, I laughed at a fairy tale, with whom it does not happen. And not everyone is so stress-resistant, he did not survive this shock so easily, and I didn’t even think about it. I was on my way to the airport to meet Natasha and for some reason I was thinking about Sergei. About his shock, about his stress. Maybe he is right to leave this city. With these thoughts, I arrived at the airport. My heart was pounding wildly, from the fact that I would see her again.

Natalia came so close to me, unaware of my feelings, that I could barely restrain myself. She got off with a light greeting, and we left the airport. Despite the mourning she had to go through, she looked good. I brought her to her apartment, while we were driving she was silent all the time, and I did not try to break the silence. Even her silence was precious to me, I knew what she was thinking and that was enough. I brought her to her home and left her alone, deciding not to bother her with my guardianship. I took care of her arrival in advance by buying groceries and cooking some food. Natalia was extremely surprised by such hospitality, but she took everything for granted, and I was very pleased that she accepts my care. We agreed to meet tomorrow morning and talk about everything.

In the morning I came to her, she looked quite fresh. I looked at her furtively, afraid to attract attention. She was looking out of the window and already her whole being was there in the realm of darkness. — Do you think there is a chance to save him?

Despite the fact that we were both obsessed with revenge, we had different concepts about this word. I understood that my friend was dead, and his body was at rest. I just wanted his soul to find peace, to punish the guilty. I could not tell her that he would not be with us anymore; I put it off for later and turned the conversation around.

— We will do our best. I will do everything that depends on me. I am waiting for your orders, and I rely on you in everything. Natalia broke into a wide smile and her eyes sparkled. I liked this sign and I had a chance to win her heart.

Natalia did not consider Alexander as a candidate for a husband. She was glad of such a reception, he eased her difficulties and was ready for anything, and that was what she needed.

— To begin with, we need to go to the cemetery and see what is what. Grave grave of my brother in what condition and in what condition is the unmarked grave. Then we need to figure out how to get into the world of Navi. If it does not work out, then we need to find Victor, he knows how. Just where to look for him?

— «I’m going to have to disappoint you a little. This Victor, I have been following him for some time, he left Russia, and now lives in a warm country. It is just as if he said.

Natalia’s eyes widened in surprise. — He talked about warm lands, but I did not think it would be another country. Now what?

— Now everything is on its own. We will think, try, and do. In addition, you and I will succeed. Natalia smiled sweetly and plunged into her thoughts again.

After finishing our coffee, we arrived at the cemetery, where Sergey was waiting for us. He politely greeted me and said that this was his last visit to the cemetery, and that, out of respect for a friend, after tomorrow he was flying to live in another city. Natalia looked at him sideways. I could tell by her look that she disliked him, but she was politely silent. We headed to the grave without feeling fear, as it was in winter. It was summer now, it was warm and bright, and nothing spoke of the horror that we once experienced. The grave was not so well maintained, but everything was in order. Everything was as I promised his sister on the day of her departure. From the nameless grave, there was only one plain, just an empty place. My sister looked at this place with sadness, and we left the cemetery.

— And now what?

— Nothing. It does not matter to you. You are flying away anyway. Fly. You did not want to talk about it anymore.

— Yes, you are right. Goodbye. With these words, Sergey got into the car and drove away.

— What does all this mean?

— Nothing. It is just that he and I have not been getting along for a long time. Do not pay attention.

She did not say anything. But I realized that she understood everything.

— What are we going to do now? She asked me a question, and I was at a loss myself.

— I do not know. You and your brother have more experience in this matter. Therefore, I will completely and completely trust you.

— Okay, then we will come here at night, and we will act according to my brother’s method.

— Okay, then let us go from here, have a coffee and I will take you to your place.

We were drinking coffee, and I was furtively looking at my friend’s sister, afraid to show my feelings for her. His sister thought of nothing but her brother. — I wish I could find that Victor now, how I could have been so mistaken in him. I must have been out of my mind at the time. For some reason, I considered him our friend.

— It is worth forgetting about it. We will do without him. What are you planning to do all day? I would like to show you the city. She reacted so coldly to my invitation, and yet she accepted it. After finishing my coffee, I arranged a small tour of the city for Natalia.

Evening was coming, and I casually offered to have dinner in a small cafe. She accepted this offer with pleasure, thereby giving me pleasure. Every moment I spent with her was precious to me. We sat in silence waiting for the order.

— Aren’t you afraid to go to the cemetery at night?

— No. I will be scared if it does not work out.

— Me too.

After dinner, I drove her to the apartment, saying that I would pick her up around eleven o’clock. Exactly at midnight, we came to the cemetery. We came to the place where there was an unmarked grave. After standing there for a while, Natasha went to her brother’s grave. I followed her in silence. She sat down on a bench and waited, leaning her face on her palms. I stood aside and watched. The moonlight illuminated her face, and I admired her beauty. Exactly an hour has passed since we were in this place. I did not dare break the silence and stood rooted to the spot. Finally, she got up and headed for the exit without looking back.

— Where are you going?

— Home. She replied sharply.

— What happened?

— Don’t you see, it is all for nothing. It is all nonsense. Everything that happened, it had to happen, and we cannot fix anything.

— Maybe you are right. But we still have time and something may work out.

— Let’s go home. I want to sleep. I accompanied her to the apartment, and not daring to ask if she was afraid to spend the night alone, I left after standing for a while.

In the morning, we went to see off our friend Sergei. We may have seen him for the last time. Sergei looked me over. We managed to talk in private.

— What do you think I do not see anything? Why did you contact her? Run away from her, from this city, run further from here. They will drag you away, too. Winter will come and what will you do? I grinned back.

— I will figure it out.

We headed for the landing. And at the last moment he turned around and said a few words.

— And if you really want to go to hell, then remember how we ended up there. We need to go to the grandmother’s grave. With these words, he went to the landing and we did not see him again.

After standing for a while, I broke the silence, «and he’s right. So, what is on Grandma’s grave? She smiled sweetly, «yes, at midnight!

At midnight, we arrived at the cemetery again. This time I was leading her to the grave, we stepped over the fence. Natasha carefully examined the photo of her grandmother. — I came to her for the first time. I was silent and did not say anything in response. It seemed to me that I was about to end up in hell. In a clearing covered with moss. I was remembering all the things I had to go through. And while I was remembering, I didn’t notice how I ended up in this clearing covered with moss. Everything was just as if it used to be when I was here for the first time. I looked around sharply, wanting to see my beloved next to me.

— I am here. I breathed a sigh of relief.

She was looking around as if she was trying to see something.

— What are you looking for?

— Nothing. Just looking. It is exactly as he told me. He described to me in detail each of his visits here. — Now we need to find him, no matter what.

We began our march through the underworld. Deep down, I did not really want to do all this anymore. Her, his sister occupied all my thoughts, feelings, and desires. I wanted to confess my love to her as soon as possible and get the desired answer, but I saw that it was too early, and I continued my walk with her through the underworld.

— It is so deaf here. I have a feeling that no one lives here. Does not inhabit.

— Me too. What should we do?

— If we got here, then we have a chance, it is worth a walk. I think we will definitely run into someone. When I was here, it was completely different. There was magic here. Witchcraft. Now is probably just not the time.

— Not the time. Exactly. Now is not the time. I got it this is not Mara’s time. Its summer and she is not in her rights. Therefore, we can walk here in vain.

— No. If we got here, then it is not for nothing. I did not notice myself how I objected to her, and to my surprise, she did not say anything in response. Let us move on. We went on, and the clearing led us to the same abandoned forest. I remembered how I once drank a drink here, prepared by his grandmother. My sister looked at me questioningly, and I nodded my head in agreement. We went on without asking each other unnecessary questions. Our journey turned out to be a long one and eventually we came to the bridge that I once crossed with her brother. This time I looked at her, and she looked at me. I took her hand, and she did not push mine away. A shiver ran through my whole body and I started shaking.

Despite the fact that we were in the underworld, we did not feel cold, maybe I was shaking from touching Natalia’s hand, but her hands were hot. The bridge was still guarded by the same three-headed serpent. And as soon as we stepped on it, we found ourselves in the cemetery, on the grave of our late grandmother.

Dawn was coming, and we headed for the exit. We looked at each other and understood each other by the look. Getting into the car, we breathed a sigh of relief and headed to Natasha’s apartment. This time we had coffee in her apartment, and she did not mind my presence. Oh, if only she knew about my feelings for her. I made my way to her on tiptoe, as if to the most cherished desire, and every day I got closer.

— I understand that we only have time from midnight to dawn. So we will run tonight!

— I agree! Let us run, and then let us run! Natasha smiled happily and went into the bathroom without saying a word. I was looking forward to her return. She came out of the bathroom and offered me a shower. I did not expect such an offer and delicately declined.

— You must be tired. If you want to stay here. After all, you will drive a place. I wanted to stay so much, but I did not dare, and I did not even refuse. I hardly left this apartment, promising to call and come to dinner together in the evening. She promised to cook dinner, and I was looking forward to the evening.

I arrived at the appointed time, having bought dessert for tea on the way. We had a great dinner and started dessert. During the tea party, I casually asked her what she was going to do when she got home.

— Nothing. Continue to raise children. I have two children. I will get back to my life. To my work. I will just calm down and my brother’s soul will be avenged.

— What is avenged in your concept?

— I have to meet him and find out everything. If this mysticism happened to him, then something is wrong. If there is an opportunity to find out and fix everything, then it should be done.

— I agree with you. I think so too. We bumped into each other with tea and, having finished, headed for the exit.

We ran to the cemetery as if it was our meeting place. We did everything together, as if we were twins. I loved it, and I wanted so much to know how she felt about me. Stepping over the grave fence in due time, we immediately found ourselves in the same clearing. As soon as we got there, we got to our feet and ran. When we reached the bridge, we made an abrupt stop and looked at each other, took a decisive step onto the bridge and ran forward, gaining speed. To our surprise, the snake did not pay attention to us, perhaps we did not pose a danger to him, or were welcome guests. After running across the bridge, we stopped and looked back. It was not like before, and it was not like a few minutes ago.

Nothing was visible. A thick and dark fog covered everything that was left behind. There was nothing to see ahead either. We could only wait. After waiting a bit, we continued on our way without looking. We did not know where we were going, so I took her hand. I did not feel that she was worried. It seemed to me that I was more worried than she was. I was remembering a route that we were following now. And I was uneasy, there should have been abandoned houses here. Only no one lived in them in winter, and in summer, it was not known what was going on in these houses.

— Are you sure you want to continue on your way?

— Yes, I do.

— Do you know that we may not come back?

— Where does this information come from?

— Here, not far away, there is a dwelling of Koshchei himself. Do not laugh, but it is true.

— And how long is this dwelling nearby?

— I do not know, but somewhere here. And it looks scary.

We made a stop, and froze in anticipation. The fog abruptly disappeared, and we found ourselves inside a room. After a quick look around, I realized that this is Koshchei’s dwelling. Quickly taking Natasha by the hand, I wanted to hold her, as close to me as possible, but it did not work out. She just stayed close.

— I know where I am. Do not protect me.

I felt uncomfortable with my actions, and I did not relax my hand freely, but she did not let go of mine and it turned out that I was under her care. Koshchei’s dwelling resembled an abandoned treasury. It was like an underground crypt, where mostly skulls were located. The exterior of this dwelling did not correspond to the interior. These skulls were lying on the chests, the chests were closed, and it looked like they were being guarded, but it is not known from whom. This darkness and the smell of damp earth created an already depressing atmosphere. The owner himself was not in sight, but my heart had a premonition of something wrong. From the look of it, I realized that this is a storage room, and the main chambers are further away.

— I wonder why we are here.

— They want to decorate the chests with us. What is not clear?

— If we are here, then he knows that we are here.

— It makes sense.

— Yes, but that is not why I came here. I need my brother.

— It makes sense. How do we get out of here?

— It is time for us to wake up already. Why is everything so difficult? How do we find him?

— «I don’t know. We resolutely stepped forward, hoping to find a way out. The door was locked, and I was seized with horror, I realized that we were trapped. I did not like this turn of events at all, and I already regretted contributing to these events. I was no longer interested in revenge, my beloved’s life was dear to me, it was a pity that she did not know about it.

Natalia began to knock on the door in desperation. The door was so thick that it seemed to me that no one could hear us from outside. It was completely dark, and Natasha herself snuggled up to me this time. — I do not want to die like this, no one will know about me, no one will find me, and I will not see my brother.

— «I don’t think you’re going to die. And your brother will find us himself.

— Do you think so?

— I am sure of it. There is also magic here. It was like that. Now when we were here with your brother, your grandmother found us and saved us. I managed to calm her down, even though I was scared myself. After sitting here for a decent amount of time, I realized that we would not get to the top as before, probably, the period simply did not work here. We were captured by Koshchei.

We stood pressed against the door in the hope that the door would open. And so our expectations were met, the door opened, and we found ourselves in another room, it was like a guest room. Clean and barely light, the black sun that shone through the windows created the lighting. This light was catching up with an icy fear. Natalia and I were standing with our backs pressed against each other and holding hands.

— What a love! I shuddered at the sound of that vile voice. It is the worst thing I have ever heard in my life. — The prey came by itself! I did not have to wait long. And I didn’t have to work! Your skulls will be a gorgeous attribute for my palace in the Halls. First, you will serve me. With these words, he snapped two fingers, and we found ourselves in the ice palace, the very one in which the ball was held. Natasha curiously began to examine the walls of the palace. It seemed to me that she was not even scared. I was afraid to let go of her hand, it seemed to me that as soon as I let go of it, I would immediately lose it.

The palace was just as icy. Like that day. It was empty, and this emptiness was terrifying. I remembered myself looking at this ball through a crowd of ghosts, and then I was not as scared as I am now. Now I was standing in the center of the hall, as the main character. — Well, at least someone would show up. I said in a barely audible voice. I was afraid to even breathe. I began to understand what my friend was going through at that moment. My beloved was silent; her eyes were dull and sad. I did not know how to help her.

— Lets run away from here. I did not expect to hear this from her.

— How?

— I do not know how. But our stay here is pointless. If we do not find him, then accordingly we may not return.

— It makes sense. What are the options for escape?

— First let us go to the exit, and then we will see.

We headed for the exit, and nothing prevented us. We went down the steps. We headed in the direction I remembered.

— That is weird. I remember for sure that our grandmother said that Mara Marena spends the summer in her halls, and in winter comes into her own and rules where she wants. Why is there no one here?

— I am interested in another question. I have a suspicion that now is not the time and perhaps there is no ice bridge to cross to the other side. If there is not one. We will stay here until either winter or forever. These words horrified my interlocutor. She was weaker than her brother was. Or her brother was so in love with this goddess that he was ready for anything. While I was thinking about this topic, we actually reached the place where the bridge should have been, but it was not there. White silence surrounded us. And we realized that we were trapped.

— What now? I said faintly.

— Let’s go back to the palace. Let us wait for further developments. Someone, but has to show up, or I will call them myself. I liked her determination, and I was proud of my companion.

Мы вернулись во дворец, но там уже было все не так, когда мы покинули его. Был накрыт обед, а ее брат подавал на стол. Я не мог разглядеть чем питаются боги, посуда была слишком старомодная, но это было что-то необычное. Само то, что он здесь, решило все наши проблемы. Наташа оживилась и хотела пройти в зал. Я остановил ее, еле удержав.

— It is crazy to go to them during lunch. Let us wait.

— What? They will then disappear.

— Do you think they do not know we are here? We still have everything ahead of us. This will be known when we get out of here.

— «You’re right. With bitterness in her voice, she said. Let us watch. Vladimir did not leave the table, and served with such joy that his sister was not clever. –I did not know he was really so obsessed with this kingdom. He wrote to me in messages that he was bewitched by this goddess, but not enough to settle here and serve her. I didn’t lafe his words seriously.

— Yes, I did not expect it either. He took your grandmother’s place.

— Maybe we came here for nothing. I do not think I can get him out of here.

— Let’s at least just talk, and he should help us get out. Natasha silently agreed.

We were waiting for the end of dinner, but as soon as it was over, they disappeared, along with the table and all the contents.

— How is this possible? We waited in vain. As soon as we said that, we found ourselves in another room. It was a guest room where everything was ready for the arrival of guests. Sofa, piano, table and drinks. Only we were not the guests, we were made into servants, and we had to serve and clean up the glasses we had drunk. For the slightest mistake, we could be severely punished, we had every chance not to return back, or we could simply serve as an ice decoration of this castle. We came to take revenge, but it turned out that we were the object of revenge. Our only hope was her brother.

Mara Marena herself was not in the spirit, and she was terribly angry about little things. Perhaps it was due to the time of year. Koshchei had all the powers. He was in charge of everything; Mara was not interested in that. Her beauty remained unchanged. She was still beautiful, and a little sad. Koschei was having fun in full; he mocked uninvited guests, and guests who were once captured. It seemed to him that there were not enough of us, and he invited two more ghosts for fun. As soon as they arrived, they immediately started playing the piano. Natasha tried to catch her brother’s eye, but he made it clear that she would not do it again. I was reassured by this gesture, and I was waiting for action from him.

We stood aside with a tray in our hands, not daring to put it on the next table. — I am tired. Not daring to say that I was too, I did not know how to help Natalia. I made a decisive gesture, and putting down my tray, I took her tray in my hands.

— What a decisive gesture. That’s what love means. With these words, my beloved turned into an ice statue. I did not have time to come to my senses as all this happened. Koschei said all this in such an icy and nasty tone, goosebumps ran through me, and I did not know how to save her. I approached her with a tray and tried to examine her face. She was covered in ice, but I could feel her breathing, see the life in her eyes.

Let her go. Take me; send her home, I will stay here instead of her.

— A good offer. I like it. Let us see what you mean to her. With these words, I found myself in her place with a tray in my hands. Natasha took on the same image as if nothing had happened. She came up to me with her eyes full of horror. I was wondering if she had heard the last words or not. Now I myself was covered with ice, I was terribly cold, the ice burned my skin and it seemed to me that I could not hear anything, but no, I clearly heard every word.

— Let him go. I came here for my brother; he has nothing to do here.

— That is right. But, he will stay here. If you do not need him, let him serve me. You should not have come here.

These words hurt me so much that I could not stand it and started crying. Tears instantly melted the ice that covered me, and I found myself upstairs in my apartment. I didn’t have time to understand how all this happened, why was I here alone? I leaned back on the sofa and began to remember everything that happened again, closing my eyes. I instantly fell asleep. I woke up about an hour later with renewed vigor. I remembered all the details that were connected with this incomprehensible story; I remembered how my friend’s tears more than once helped him out in the kingdom of darkness. Now that I had a weapon, I decided at all costs to return my beloved here to the world of the living.

We stayed in the Navi world for exactly a day. It was exactly six hours until midnight and I had time to clean up and get to my destination. My car stayed there at the city cemetery, I took a shower, drank coffee and a sandwich, called a taxi and left.

I walked so fast that I went far from the right grave. Noticing this, I began to return and did not notice how I plunged into the fog. This fog filled me with wild horror, the thought flashed through my head that I might suffer the same fate as my friend. His last agony began just like that, with the fog in the cemetery. I remember all the details that he managed to tell us. I slowed down and stopped, I did not see any point in going any further, as the fog was not dissipating. There was still time before midnight and I decided to wait. I was shaking all over with fear, although I knew that I still had everything ahead of me.

The thoughts in my head would not let me rest. How is my Natasha? And where is she now? How and where will I look for her? I was getting more and more scared. In addition, I decided to go towards the exit. The fog was not that thick, and by all indications, it was just a weather condition. To make sure of this, I decided to go out on the driveway and see what was happening there. The fog was everywhere, I felt calm. I quickly ran to the grave that connected us with the other world and found myself at the cliff on the other side of which the ice palace was clearly visible. Seeing this, I sat down in unconsciousness. Well, how so? What should I do? I squatted down and tears choked me, knowing that they would only make my situation worse. I realized that I could not get there like this; it was to wait until winter. I did not have that much time, and I was desperate.

— Yes, it is not easy for you. Looking back, I saw a flying package. I was so happy to think that my problem was solved. That this package will solve all my problems. — Help me.

— What?

— Help me get there.

— You want me to solve your problems, so that I would have problems later.

— Sorry, but no. I know your problem. It is not solvable. Almost not solvable. But I can’t help you.

— And who can?

— If only the gods themselves decide to do it. Then they will take you to their place, or give you a hint how to get there. I will not be able to take my head off later if I help you. Although I do not have it anyway. The ghost smiled maliciously and flew away.

I was alone again. My hopes were not fulfilled, and I did not know what to do. Friend, help me out, I thought to myself. I sighed heavily and walked to the edge of the cliff. I looked down and thought what could be there if I was already underground. My foot accidentally slipped and I fell into the abyss. I fell with such fear, and with the same fear, I found myself in the palace. I wanted to take Natasha away from here as soon as possible and run away with her and her children to warmer climes, as Viktor and Sergey did. I already knew what to do, as soon as I found her, I would shed tears and we would end up with her in my apartment. I will tell her everything, about my feelings, about my intentions, that that apartment is not mine and I love her. While I was thinking about it, the winter palace became summer, and I found myself in the thicket of the forest. This was not part of my plans, and I was a little confused. — Ah, these traps, I thought and began to look around. These wilds annoyed me, I did not really want to walk through them, but I got up and went ahead, there was not even a path here, and everything else was accompanied by fog. Having studied Mara as a weather condition, I realized that the fog is she, and she accompanies me. I wanted to know why.

— Will you find out soon? I heard an unpleasant female voice, just as unpleasant as her husband’s did. A shiver ran through my body, and I waited for my fate. I also, like Natalia, did not want to die like this, where no one would know where I was and what was wrong with me. Remembering the fate of my friend, I well-remembered that my friend was guided by feelings and an insane interest in this world. But unlike me, he wanted to stay here, and I didn’t. I did not want to stay here, and I did not have such fanaticism for these Slavic gods I did not believe in their existence until I encountered them in person. I was standing there thinking about it, and she appeared in front of me. It was a beautiful woman in a black guise. One face was visible. Her black eyes looked at me questioningly. –Why did you come here?

— To save his woman. I answered without hesitation. She grinned, and said nothing in response.

— You will have to work hard. Maybe you will get it. These words instilled fear in me, and I did not freely agree, looking at her, I had to agree with her in order to get my own. She looked at me from high up and disappeared, as suddenly as she appeared. I was left alone among these thickets, and waited for my fate.

The fog disappeared. There were not clear outlines of trees around me. It seemed to me that this forest was painted. I began to look around and fell into a green tunnel, I immediately recognized him, and this tunnel was all covered with moss. I was groping in the hope of getting out of it as soon as possible, finally it ended, I went out and two steps away from me was the entrance to the ice tunnel, I realized that I needed to enter it and I entered. He ice tunnel turned out to be slippery, I fell twice, and when the descent began, I sat down and drove like an ice slide. This adventure ended and when I went outside I looked at the black sun, it shone so dimly that I wanted to howl looking at it. I was standing on an icy plain, all alone, however, as always. The only thing I was thinking about right now was she, how she was there. This plain reminded me of a desert, only icy. I had no choice but to wait for the next appearance of the goddess of these halls. I did not feel cold, although I was dressed in summer. My jeans got wet when I went down the icy descent, and created an unpleasant feeling.

The blizzard rose suddenly, and she appeared in front of me again, this time in a white guise with bright blue eyes. She was so beautiful that I forgot about everything and almost touched her. But at the right moment, I remembered the most important mistake of my friend, and abruptly lowered my hand. At that moment, I was able to understand what he experienced at that moment; I am practically experiencing what he experienced.

— Are you ready? Come with me. I took a step towards her. She disappeared into thin air and turned into a blizzard. She immediately picked me up, and I flew with her. At that moment, I realized what I would have to go through, the same as my late friend. We were in the palace. I saw Natasha. She was wearing a black long dress and a black scarf on her head. She looked at me with sad tear-stained eyes and did not say a word. I wanted to go to her, but I could not. An invisible force threw me away, and I heard an evil laugh.

— It is not that simple!

I got to my feet and saw Natasha walking towards the exit of the palace, followed by the souls of the deceased. She became a servant for the ghosts.

— Do you want to save her?

— I want to.

— You were stronger than your late friend was. Go after them. I followed the ghosts and Natasha, hoping to cross paths with her and say a word. No matter how hard I tried to approach her, I could not do anything.

— She is not allowed to talk to you. The spirit whispered softly. If this gets out, she will stay here forever. I shuddered. The spirit flew away from me with lightning speed, and no longer flew up. I accepted what was happening and waited for the right moment. I just needed to get close to her in order to leave these limits and never come back here. Occasionally, she would turn around to look at me. But she didn’t look into my eyes anymore, and her looks were so fleeting, and her eyes were full of sadness. I wanted to hug her so much that I could barely restrain myself.

We have finally arrived. — Where are we? I whispered softly.

— This is the infield of the palace. This is a place for insignificant people like us. We live here.

— And what should we do?

— You are nothing. In addition, your friend will help us clean up the territory for the winter. Everything should be clean here. This garden is especially beautiful in winter. It is always snowing here. These are ice palaces. In the garden, there was not significant garbage, brushwood from a burnt fire, some sawdust, branches from a Christmas tree. Perhaps it was garbage from some holiday, or a ritual not long ago, but I also understood that all this was removed at the click of two fingers, and now it was actually a service, or, more simply, humiliation for such uninvited guests like us.

I sighed heavily, and wanted to join the cleaning, but one of the ghosts stopped me, saying that she would separate us, and we would not see each other again. I sighed even harder. What should I do? I thought. There must be some way out. Yes, it was much easier last time.

— Last time, you were not so in love. I looked around, I recognized that ghost by his eyes when I fell into the abyss. — Love works wonders.

— Tell me, what should I do?

— I would like to, but I cannot. The punishment is too severe. The spirit circled over me and disappeared.

— It looks like everyone here is mocking me. I got angry and knocked over a decrepit wooden table on which there were wooden dishes. One of the cups flew off, a small part of the remaining contents poured out on Natasha, and she suddenly disappeared. I was dumbfounded, and my legs gave way. She disappeared, of course. Suddenly someone took my hand and squeezed it tightly. I realized it was she. Warmth ran through my body, and I instantly found peace.

— Go ahead. She said softly. I began to leave unnoticeably. With joy, I listened to her in everything, forgetting about the consequences, and the little things that needed to be thought through. My unexpected joy failed me. We have come to the precipice where we have all gotten into so much trouble. In addition, I completely forgot that the effect of this drink ends quickly, and Natasha became visible. I was confused, took her hand.

— I will not let you go.

— I am not leaving without my brother. He can be saved.

— How?

— He will inhabit someone else’s body, but he will be like Victor.

— It is an interesting idea. Your suggestions?

— We need to go back and be with him.

— I understand you. But I also understand that this is possible only when winter comes. When it will be possible to approach the oak tree. Only then, and now are you ready to spend all this time here? And your children? Do you want to live here? To save him. His salvation is not a hundred percent result. In addition, you asked him if he wanted to go back. If I knew how he tried to get here. You should have seen him. My words stung her. Moreover, she sat down on her knees.

— Let him personally tell me what he wants.

— OK. I will support you. What are we going back to? The sister reluctantly agreed. And we went to the palace. As soon as we took the first step, the ice cracked and we were at a distance from each other.

— «You two, you’ll stay here forever. Forever! With these words, the ice began to crack, and we had to run faster than we could. We ran into the palace as if we were at home. Natasha ran faster. She was in front. I was behind. As soon as we were inside, the walls of the palace began to shake, and icicles began to fall on us. It was like an earthquake. The palace shuddered and began to sway from side to side. We fell and began to roll on the icy floor, and the icicles continued to fall. It seemed to me that this crash would never end. Only when the ice block fell on Natasha, and she fell senseless, only then the crash stopped.

This ice block had pierced her head, and the floor was stained with blood. I sat on my knees next to her, taking her hand and began to cry. My tears began to drown the ice, fragments began to fly, and we both disappeared. We ended up in my kitchen, in the same position in which we left the ice palaces. Natasha was sitting on the floor, her eyes darting from side to side. — Where am I?

— At my house.

— I cannot explain to you how right now, but when you come to your senses, I will explain everything to you. You have noticed that we are coming back here now, not to the cemetery. I wonder what this is connected with, with the time of year, or with the fact that there is no grave now.

— I already do not know myself. She got to her feet and staggered over to the sofa. Her head and face, oddly enough, were fine. Everything that happened there stayed there. All the injuries, mutilations, and even frostbite here had no power. — Let’s have coffee!

Her words sounded so inspiring. For me, they were so valuable that I did not even have time to give an answer; I began to prepare this miraculous drink. I looked at her furtively and was afraid to arouse suspicion.

— You started making this drink so quickly! What is the matter with you?

— Nothing. It is just that I also want coffee so much, that is why I am in such a hurry. I was so nervous that I did not know what to say.

— What are you thinking about?

— Yes, that is it. About the little things. We spend so much time in this underground world, and life is boiling outside the window. There are also beautiful places in our city where you can take a walk. I am daydreaming. I served coffee to Natasha, and went to the window. I leaned my forehead against the glass and closed my eyes. I did not see how she looked at me. She did not say anything in response.

— I am going back there anyway. Let him say what he wants to stay or come back. Then I will not go there anymore.

— OK. Whatever you say. Let us finish our coffee and go. There is already a lot of time. Natasha sadly finished her coffee. And barely audibly put the glass on the table. I called a taxi, and sat in the car next to her looking ahead. I was cold to her. I decided to help her as promised, and when everything is over, and then I will open up to her and what answer she will give me, that is what I will accept. The car drove up to the right place. My car was parked on the side of the road, and I completely forgot about it. We went to this cemetery as if it was our daily route. We got so used to it that we did not give special honors.

Natasha stepped over the fence and took my hand herself. — Come on, this will be our last visit to this kingdom. I was surprised by her word, and silently agreed. We immediately found ourselves in a beautiful ice palace.

— Oh! They came! Two doves! We have been waiting for you! Koschei gloated over us, and I wanted to deal with him– — This is your last visit to us! This time you will no longer leave the limits of the Navi world. With these words, he put us in prison.

The dungeon was dark, damp and cold. — What will happen to us now?

— Perhaps we will be forever banished guests here.

Natasha sat next to me with her chin pressed to her chest and was silent. I do not know what she was thinking, but I was hoping for a miracle. I did not believe until the end that the end had come. I do not know how long we have been sitting here, maybe a day. I lost track of time. Natasha has been silent until now, her silence annoyed me. And I was silent in response. Light footsteps broke the silence. I immediately perked up, and Natasha sat motionless. If it was footsteps, then it was a person, not a ghost or Koshchei himself. I heard movements and footsteps quickly retreated, and silence fell again. So we sat for about another day. And I began to feel hungry. My limbs went numb, and I got up and started pacing around the room. I walked by touch, not knowing where I was stepping. I realized that we were in some kind of storeroom where there were only barrels and chests. I tried to open one of the chests, but it was useless, in the end, I came across one of the skulls and threw it with all my strength against the wall. I sat down on the trunk in despair and choked with anger. At that moment, I heard human footsteps again and froze. In response, I heard silence again, I wanted to knock on the door, but I did not see where it was. The door began to open with great care. Together we ran to the exit. Vova met us and made it clear with a gesture that we were silent.

We came out of the dungeon and looked around. He gestured for us to go outside. He did everything quickly and silently. As soon as we came out, I realized that we were in Koshchei’s yard. He quickly led us to the direction of the exit from Navi. He was walking so fast, as if he was flying, and we could not keep up with him.

— Hurry up! Faster! He shouted irritably. We realized that he was not happy with us. –You should not have come here. Hearing these words, Natasha and I put on a mourning silence. — Here it is, this bridge, and then yourself, I cannot go any further. And, after a pause, he said, «be happy. With that, he disappeared.

— What does all this mean? What do his words mean? Natasha looked at me in disbelief. I understood what he meant. And I was happy to receive such a blessing.

— Nothing! Our journey was not useless!

— How to understand?

— He made it clear that he is happy and wishes us happiness. Natasha reluctantly headed for the exit. It remains to cross the bridge and walk to the oak tree. We ran with all our might. After running across the bridge, we stopped and took a breather, then went at a brisk pace. Our goal was close, there were a few meters left, and we walked hand in hand and ended up in the cemetery.


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