The Island of Charon

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Playing Another Reality. Antoine de Saint-Exupery Award

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                           The ISLAND of CHARON

                       a philosophical & mystical thriller

         in the “PLAYING ANOTHER REALITY” series,

the winner of the following literary competitions and awards:

                “OCEAN, WIND, SAND and STARS”

                     after Antoine de Saint-Exupery

                 (Open Literary Club “Response”, 2021)

                          “ANOTHER REALITY”

                after Leonid and Daniil Andreev

      (Creative Center “Clouds of Inspiration”, 2021)

                             “CASE No.” 2021

                 Alfred Hitchcock nomination

(Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia,

                together with “Literary Republic”, 2021)

                       “RUNNING on the WAVES”

                              after Alexander S. Grin

(Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia,

the Museums of A.S. Grin in Feodosia and Stary Krym, 2021)

                  “The BOOK of the 21st CENTURY”

              Antoine de Saint-Exupery nomination

(Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia,

                together with “Literary Republic”, 2021)


“For lovers of non-standard! It is not „business as usual“ here. This story expands the mind. Everyone has the own island, but a look from an Other Reality at the earthly life of mere mortals is a great opportunity to pause and reflect on the present and the eternal…”

“An amazing thriller for a screen adaptation! It begins with the secrets of a mysterious island, where magicians practice Voodoo, the Wish Tree grows and the Portal to other worlds functions. Then the plot smoothly flows into the story of a murder, but the identity of the murderer becomes not so important in the end, because life after death goes on, and you choose which way yourself!”

“The island is a temptation, an exam that everyone has to go through. The book makes you look at your own life differently, and the „second death“ in the cemetery of memories turns everything inside. I am impressed by the ending!”

“It is laconic and philosophically profound! A small wave turns into tsunami and plunges you headlong into the Ocean of the Divine Light through a story about love and death, in which the Creator and his plans on each of us win…”

“The Wish Tree is a trap for one’s sole! I wonder… what three wishes I would make if I were there. Would I be able to solve the riddle of Charon and get off this damned island?”


(“Behind the Scenes of ‘The Island of Charon’”)

In February 2014, suddenly (not by accident, of course, there are no coincidences!) I found myself on the gloomy island of Camotes, lost in the Pacific Ocean, where, as it turned out later, the real healers and magicians live.

I remember me thinking in pitch darkness under the black-book Sky with a billion flickering lanterns, on the shore of the Ocean (really Pacific, it stepped on the shore silently and slowly swallowing it, piece by piece, as a dessert for dinner to the accompaniment of cicadas), “if I were Agatha Christie, I would write my strongest detective story here, and if I were Alfred Hitchcock, I would shoot my scariest thriller!”

However, then, in 2014, only a charming poem knocked on my door (“A lunar lantern is hanging on a palm tree”), further included in my “Island”, which was materialized in the form of a philosophical and mystical story in… seven years. Due to the spirit of the mysterious Camotes, firmly settled in my heart, it sprouted and, gaining strength, branched out, turning into a real Tree of Wishes.

Throughout July 2021, “The Island” was boiling in my mind like a potion in an alchemist’s flask — individual ingredients were merging into a single and magical something. The boiling point reached me on the Full Moon, which happened on Athos on Friday, August 13, 2021, on the eve of the Orthodox holiday of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated in Greece from the 14th to the 15th of August (two weeks earlier than in Russia). It was the midnight between Friday the 13th and Saturday the 14th that collided the Forces of Evil and Good and became fatal for the main characters of “The Island”, Alice and Mark, — instead of love, on the long-awaited first date a horror irony of fate met them.

Yes, I started writing “The Island of Charon” in the Greek village of Ouranoupolis, located on the border of Orthodox Athos, in the house of a beekeeper, where I lived in the summer (just since 2014, the year of my acquaintance with the pagan Camotes) in a small cell overlooking the tiny island of Ammouliani, the former possession of the Athos monastery of Vatopedi. Thus, two Islands appeared in the book, the one still “owned” by the magicians (Camotes) and the one, until recently, owned by the monks (Ammouliani). They create a Portal as a temptation for the souls, tearing between their Lower and Higher Selves not only during life, but also in the afterlife, for the souls, which sooner or later must make their final choice in favor of the Forces of Light or Darkness.

I started writing the book without knowing whether Mark would reach the Athos monks, who would meet Alice in the Other World, which way exactly the fate of my characters would be developed in the Other Reality, whether they would be able to avoid the traps of the Astral and leave the ghostly Island…

Have I been nursing a murder committed by the Forces of Darkness in the territory of the Forces of Light for all these seven years? It sounds scary. But no, of course, this is a mystical journey with elements of philosophy and the inside-out detective.

The reason for this is my habit of looking at Earth and earthly life from the Other Reality, that is, from the Looking Glass, from the Subtle World, located beyond our existence.

“Why?” you ask. I’m interested in looking at everything here from the Outside, from the Sky, not vice versa. It has been interesting since childhood (we all come from our childhood, and mine one is associated with many deaths), so my novels in the series “Playing Another Reality” are an attempt to understand earthly life, going beyond its framework and looking at it from the “Outside”, and at the same time to explore the “Outside”.

Thus, in ordinary detectives everyone is looking for a murderer and sooner or later finds him, and the reason of the murder is usually explained by the author in terms of logic of the human (!) mind, feelings, and emotions (desire for inheritance, revenge, envy, hatred, etc.).

However, in “The Island” the identity of the murderer does not matter much after all (although, of course, it will be revealed to the reader), and the real reason of the murder is unlikely to be correctly established even by the most experienced detective, it is known only to the Creator.

“Why?” you ask me again. Because this story is about something else… It is about the Eternal and the Transient, the Dual Soul and the Divine Spirit, the thirst for Love and its likeness. It is about the search for the Real among phantoms and illusions. About the right of choice and predestination. About the fact that life is a constant movement forward, and about Hope that cannot be lost, even if everything is already behind… because it only seems so!

Alexandra Kryuchkova,

Honored Writer of the Moscow Сity Organization

of the Union of Writers of Russia,

laureate of international literary awards

The magazine “Literary Moscow”/ “Moskva literaturnaya” No. 1, 2022.

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

V. Shiltzyn, “The Little Prince’s Rose of the Universe”

If it were possible to classify literature, then “The Island of Charon” by Alexandra Kryuchkova would be quite logical to put on the same shelf with “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The reverent attitude to the miracle of being and the models of interconnections, built from internal causes and stretched throughout the entire Universe, look similar in these authors, despite the difference in their initial circumstances and diametrically opposite endings.

Those critics who compare the prose of Alexandra Kryuchkova with Daniil Andreev are also right. The multitude of the worlds and parallel universes reflected in his “Rose of the World” could as well include the constructions found in her novel “Confessions of a Ghost” and in the story “The Island of Charon”. The power of logical dependencies, filigreed by Kryuchkova, makes these works no less plausible than the philosophical bestseller of the famous mystic.

Alexandra Kryuchkova’s prose built an invisible bridge between two previously unconnected authors of the past. “The Little Prince” of Exupery took care of the rose, and the universal phenomenon of Daniil Andreev also turned out to be a rose, but for him it was already the “Rose of the World”. Taking up the relay race of generations, Alexandra Kryuchkova invisibly and delicately takes care of the very same rose.

Vadim Shiltzyn,

member of the Union of Writers of Russia,

laureate of literary awards

The newspaper “Poetograd” No. 4 (400), 2022.

B. Mikhin, “A detective fairy tale for adults”

You shouldn’t be sure of anything, because “everyone has their own island here”, although not always it is an island, and not everywhere…

Then, what is “The Island” by Alexandra Kryuchkova?

Is it a fairy tale for adults? — Yes, sure. It is full of romance and sadness of Antoine de Saint-Exupery and of “standing on the edge” from Max Fry.

Is it a mystery detective? — Undoubtedly. We see the classic dramaturgical “slide”, a three-act scheme, and it keeps you in suspense till the end.

Is it a love story? — It’s also true. The emotions hidden beneath the outward calmness of the main character are going wild! Until the last breath and even after it, she is looking for earthly love and cognizes reality (well, or non-reality, as you like) in a not rational, not linear way.

“The Island of Charon” by Alexandra Kryuchkova is variegated and multifaceted, but that’s what makes it so remarkable! Besides, the brightest creative successes usually happen somewhere at the junction, and the genius manifests itself out of standards, going beyond the statistical average.

However, you shouldn’t be sure of anything, because…

…“everyone has their own island here!”

Boris Mikhin,

member of the Union of Writers of Russia,

laureate of literary awards

The newspaper “Poetograd” No. 4 (400), 2022.

E. Tallenika, “Magic captivity”

(“The Magic Captivity of Alexandra Kryuchkova’s Prose”)

I am holding in my hands a philosophical and mystical thriller “The Island of Charon”, which received several literary awards in 2021: “Ocean, Wind, Sand and Stars” after A. de Saint-Exupery (Open Literary Club “Response”), “Another Reality” after Leonid and Daniil Andreev (Creative Center “Clouds of Inspiration”), “Running on the Waves” after A. S. Grin (Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia together with the Museums of A.S. Grin in Feodosia and Stary Krym), “Case No.” 2021 after Alfred Hitchcock and “The Book of the XXI century” in the nomination “Wings” after A. de Saint-Exupery (Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia together with Non-commercial Partnership “Literary Republic”). However, I’ve studied some reviews to decide whether to read it or not.

And I begin reading the book to the music from Christopher Nolan’s film “Interstellar”, which appears almost out of nowhere and sounds like a refrain on that very Island. I recreate the reality of events, because it’s to this music that the reader is about to learn how tender the embrace of even the most horrible death can be.

“Everyone has their own island here…”

The music of the stars and planets places me to the space-time tunnel “Island” — “Island”, one of them is in the Sun Book, and the other one is in the Moon Book. Christopher Nolan with his film crew beneath my windows of the hotel on Tatari Street in Tallinn, 2019, immediately came up to my mind. I was watching the process of making his new film “Tenet” from the inside.

Nolan was focused and serious. He gave the command to start.

And I see Alexandra writing her “Island”:

…The Creator, the Ocean, the Sky, the Wish Tree, the Moon Book and the Sun Book…

Yes, that’s right, like that — with a capital letter and nothing else.

And this is not an artistic technique, but the essence of the author’s values — the system of coordinates of her Universe, in which the main word “Love” turns out to be so impossibly huge and holy that it becomes unpronounceable!

However, it is Love that permeates everything and all around: a randomly met person without anatomical signs, and the Girl looking for her mother in the Ocean, and the Boy, her “little prince”, asking for a lantern not for himself, but for the Girl, because on this Island every wish can be fulfilled by the Wish Tree, and even the barefoot Old Man, who has nothing left but black birds and other people’s memories, the fact that touches me to the core…

This fragile, not too sociable girl-woman with Tsvetaeva’s haircut, who frankly informs that all those, who has sunk into her soul, lie without moving a muscle, and they are YOU yourself (!), manages to achieve by an apparently simple but obviously magical narration a hail of my tears!

It is incomprehensible, but Alexandra Kryuchkova, who has already grown in her literary work to the level of philosophical Thought, penetrating into the depths of the Universe and leading us, readers, step by step along the Stairway to the Sky with each of her books, remains in her soul a naive child, still discovering Love and Peace, Good and Evil, and surprising us with the purity and sincerity of the pronounced, “I WANT!”


I want to visit this Island, too!

The Island with no electricity, Internet, air conditioning, where “our consciousness does not care if something happens only in thoughts or in reality, because the reaction of the body is always the same.”

The Island, where the water from the Lake of Lovers is not usual, not mineral, but dead and not sparkling, because there is simply no other water there, however, you cannot drown in such water, because you can breathe in it!

The Island, where a Philippine fisherman with Athos rosary hacks and glitches my time as if it could have any meaning on the Island of Magicians, because it is always the Full Moon on the clock, and this Time is the best (!), although only for catching Fish with a long nose and shamanic treats, such as blood with milk (!), the potion with a limited shelf life; the main thing is not to fall for the bait of black magicians, who put the spirit of a dead person into a bewitched one…

To sail away!

To sail away from the world where it’s possible to destroy an ancient Gothic church for the sake of a coal mining, to suicide due to unpaid bank interest on a business loan, and it is not considered shameful to steal ideas — if it were someone else’s bag, then — yes… otherwise…

To sail away to the Island, where one’s dreams are memories, from which I would finally find out why “we were ly so afraid of losing each other even before meeting in a new quality, that we put off all conversations for later…”

To the Island, where you’ll hardly be able to answer immediately the question of the Stargazer, “Do you really believe that you ended up here by accident?” But you’ll have an opportunity to think about the meaning of your life, although only until the high tide, creeping as quiet (!) water, like a loving monster, because “The Ocean comes here silently”.

To the Island, from which it is so difficult to disappear, because “everybody has their own ferry”, but it has the right never to come for you, because it does not have any schedule, or rather, it depends solely on you.

To the Island, where you can kill only your own selfish Self, and no theft is possible, because there is nothing to steal there, the most valuable thing is the light… of a lantern, and it is exclusively YOURS…

Of course, both the Island itself and its main characters, existing in reality, have their own beautiful names, but, as for me personally, they are no longer so important, because they would be displaced from memory by an amazing feeling of freedom (!) from the present, the past and the future, which I got while sitting, wrapped my legs in a plaid… or rather, in captivity — yes, in the magic captivity of Alexandra Kryuchkova’s prose.

Elena Tallenika,

member of the Union of Writers of Russia,

laureate of international literary awards

The newspaper “Literary News” (“Literaturnye Izvestia”) No. 11—12 (197—198), 2021.



S. Bersenev, “Another Reality”

(“Alexandra Kryuchkova revealed the secret of Charon”)

I am familiar with the work of the famous Moscow writer Alexandra Kryuchkova not by hearsay. Back in 2012, I was lucky enough to be present at her personal literary evening at the House of the Near Abroad by A. Solzhenitsyn at Taganka, where she looked great in two capacities at once: as a poet and as a songwriter. Her performance inspired me so much that I wrote one of my most significant poems “I say you ‘hello’! ”, quoted in the epigraph Alexandra’s words. Later, in January 2017, at the same House took place a presentation of the grandiose film “Holy Russia” by A. Kulyamin (based on the book “Holy Russia. Voices of Russian poets”), which features the heartfelt poems of A. Kryuchkova as well.

And now, a few years later, when, being the chairman of the jury and head of the Creative Center “Clouds of Inspiration”, I got acquainted with her mystical thriller “The Island of Charon”, submitted to the literary competition “Another Reality” organized in honor of mystical writers Leonid and Daniil Andreev, Alexandra Kryuchkova revealed herself to me in yet another capacity — as a deep and thoughtful prose writer.

The very title of the book makes it clear that we are not going to have a trivial turning over of mundane platitudes, but a journey into painstaking philosophical reflections. From the first pages, we are immersed in that very “Another Reality”, where the earthly life and death of the main character are closely interconnected with invisible otherworldly Forces of Darkness and Light, and the plot unfolds on a mysterious island, where “everything is wrong”, since it is located in the Astral World. But does an afterlife exist in principle? And if so, how is that World organized? What is it “the judgment” of a soul? What price does each of us have to pay for our deeds?

Unresolved tasks and unfinished works, mistakes made during life and affection for earthly things, and even unfulfilled dreams lead the soul to the island, whose lighthouse is the Wish Tree, but “The Wish Tree is a trap…”

And it is no coincidence that the owner of the Island lives in a house in the Cemetery of Memories — the reminiscences of dear to the heart people are haunting the main character.

Can the described by Alexandra Kryuchkova in “The Island…” be exactly like this in reality? We don’t know, but surely, each of us, approaching the last line, asks the same questions, to which the main character is looking for and finds answers. The author openly expresses her opinion on the possibility of cognition the Truth in a dialogue with Charon.

“…everything that surrounds you is an illusion. Only those who can refuse it will discover the Truth.”

“But the only way to understand completely what’s going on here is to go beyond what’s going on. So, theoretically, everyone who is here now needs to leave the Astral World?”

“Correct. The character of the movie will not see the whole movie until he moves himself in the auditorium.”

Unlike most incoherent and far-fetched fantasy, “The Island”, emerged at the intersection of genres (love story, detective, mysticism and philosophy), keeps the reader in suspense from the first to the last page. The search for mutual love leads to the investigation of one’s murder in the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers and ends with unraveling of Charon’s secret to realize the transition of the soul to the next step of the endless staircase to the Sky.

In my opinion, one of the main goals of the book is to convey to the reader the importance of taking responsibility for his own deeds, since each person almost always has the freedom of choice,

“But… pay attention to the fact that the Creator doesn’t act against your will and never deprives anyone of the right to choose.”

...as well as the importance of forgiveness, because the main character accepts the Creator’s plan for her own death and eventually forgives her murderer.

“I don’t wish you any harm… You are right. It was necessary for some reason. Goodbye…”

There is nothing superfluous in the book. All the events and dialogues of the characters are carefully verified and thought out. There is no artificially built-in abstruse, “The Island of Charon” is easy to read, but at the same time it is a serious work that deserves attention no less than similar philosophical works in the field of so-called “Another Reality”, from “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery to “The Rose of the World” by Daniil Andreev.

According to the decision of the jury of the Creative Center “Clouds of Inspiration”, Alexandra Kryuchkova was announced the winner of the “Another Reality” 2021 competition after Leonid and Daniil Andreev. We wish Alexandra inexhaustible creative inspiration and new victories on the Literary Olympus!

Sergei Bersenev,

Honored Writer of the Moscow City Organization

of the Union of Writers of Russia,

Head of the Creative Center “Clouds of Inspiration”,

The newspaper “Literary News” (“Literaturnye Izvestia”)

No. 3 (201), 2022.



I. Antonova, “The Ghost Ship”

I read “The Island of Charon” by Alexandra Kryuchkova in one breath. I am shocked. In my opinion, it is a masterpiece! I haven’t read anything like this before. It is a modern parable with a deep philosophical meaning, hidden behind a transparent, well-balanced form. The author offers her own concept of immortality.

The main characters have something in common with the characters of Alexander Grin, with the little prince of Antoine de Saint-Exupery and with the sad mermaid of Hans Christian Andersen. Assol can be guessed in the protagonist’s features, although, instead of the happy “Scarlet Sails”, she is destined to meet the Ship full of Ghosts.

The boundaries between reality and fantasy are so blurred that the plot twists and turns are impossible to predict! There are no random details in the book, they are all deeply symbolic, and the Greek myths, passed through the heart, gain a second life. Poems are harmoniously interspersed in prose, giving the story a special intimacy. However, the entire text is pure poetry! It seems that a magical film about the worlds of water and sky, love and death is unfolding before your eyes.

Of course, Kryuchkova’s prose deserves the highest praise. Surely, it will be translated into many languages and brilliantly filmed!

Irina Antonova,

member of the Union of Writers of Russia,

laureate of literary awards

The newspaper “Poetograd” No. 4 (400), 2022.



L. Koroleva, “Ocean, wind, sand and stars”

Oh… sea, sea, sea, islands…

The books of Alexander Grin inspired and continue to inspire many poets and writers, and almost every girl dreams of seeing the “Scarlet Sails” on the horizon! The main character of “The Island…” is not an exception, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t often happen in reality that all girls whose fate is initially similar to Assol meet the real Gray, even if he calls himself by this name, being the captain of a ship in fact.

“The Island of Charon” is a temptation, an exam that each of us has to go through. In “The Island” (as well as in “A Trap for a Thought-Form”) Alexandra Kryuchkova is filigree-laconic, much remains behind the scenes, being hidden as the real treasure between the lines. The reader feels an understatement that draws him further and further to explore “The Island” in search of answers and clues to the next charades until in the end he is left alone with… himself, or rather, with his Spirit…

It must be said that the author of “The Island of Charon”, despite the difficult fate, or, perhaps, thanks to it, has an iron will and an extraordinary strength of the Spirit, and she doesn’t only write books, but she has been active in the field of literature for more than 15 years: holds literary evenings and seminars for contemporary poets and writers, organizes collective projects, including foreign ones, helps new authors on their way to recognition, repeatedly serves on the jury. <…>

Since the Open Literature Club “Response” always welcomes and encourages active members of the club, Alexandra got many diplomas of our Club for her contribution to the development of literature and the preservation of cultural traditions, for faithful service to literature and achievements in the field of poetry and prose, for a significant contribution to the development of Russian-Hungarian and other foreign relations in the field of literature and culture, for a significant contribution to the development of book publishing and active creative and organizational activities within the framework of the Year of Literature in the Russian Federation, etc.

However, one of the distinguishing features of Alexandra Kryuchkova’s prose, despite her own positive image in literary circles, is her obvious dislike of “positive” heroes. So, we find out in “The Island” that the main character, on behalf of which the narrative is conducted, although not a witch, is far from being a saint. In an utterly frank conversation with the reader, leafing through her memories and dreams, Alexandra (because all her prose is autobiographical, as she often mentioned at literary evenings) shows us life as it is without embellishing it and, this is important, without judging anyone. Although, in my opinion, the most important thing is not even that. The author takes the reader by hand and leads him away from the Darkness into “the Ocean of the Divine Light” to cleanse the soul of everything “lower and selfish”, to “separate the wheat from the chaff”, so that in the end “The Spirit would absorb worthy to be a part of the Creator.”

The book makes you look at your own life differently and understand yourself, recognize your Higher and Lower Selves. I was personally impressed by the unexpected ending, the “second death” in the Cemetery of Memories turns everything inside…

The “sea” poems in the book as well as the miniature “The Girl and the Sea”, starting the novel, are successfully built into this bright but sad fairy tale, adding refinement to the narrative and allowing the reader to feel the soul of the main character. These works were presented by Kryuchkova to the competition after Alexander Grin “Running on the Waves” 2021, organized by the Moscow City Organization of the Union of Writers of Russia together with the MBUK “Feodosia Literary and Memorial Museum of A. S. Grin” and the House-Museum of A. S. Grin in the town of Stary Сrym (Republic of Crimea). According to the decision of the jury, Alexandra was declared the winner of the competition, and this is no coincidence, because her “Island” is one of the few books that you can read in just a day, getting food for your mind for many years.

It should be noted that Alexandra Kryuchkova is a true master of words, whose prose is not only metaphysical and mystical but also poetic. She repeatedly became the winner and laureate of literary competitions and awards, including those of the Open Literary Club. So, the novel “Guardian Angel” received the “Silver Angel” award 2015 organized in honor of Francoise Sagan, the novel “Confessions of a Ghost”, in my opinion, close to “The Island of Charon” in spirit, got “The Creator of the Worlds” award 2019 after Daniil Andreev, and her bestseller “The Book of Secret Knowledge” (circulation exceeded 10,000 copies) became the winner of the “Magical Realism of the XXI century” competition after Carlos Castaneda and George Gurdjieff in 2020.

However, as for me, “The Island of Charon” is more associated with Exupery, therefore, on behalf of the Open Literary Club “Response”, I am pleased to announce Alexandra Kryuchkova the laureate of the literary award “Ocean, wind, sand and stars” 2021 after Antoine de Saint-Exupery!

Lyudmila Koroleva,

member of the Union of Writers of Russia,

Head of the Open Literary Club “Response”,

laureate of literary awards

The newspaper “Poetograd” No. 3 (399), 2022.



The book in original:

ISBN 978-5-0056-0964-9, 2022. — 224 pages.


The booktrailer:



                           I dedicate my Island

                                    to every reader!

                                 As well as to:

my son Andrey and our cat Josephine,

the prototypes:

Boris, Grigory and Sergey,

my Greek friends:

Dimitra Drosinos and her husband Dimitris,

Nikos Lageris, the beekeeper, and his wife Nikoletta Firai,

my beloved:

Ouranoupolis, a village

on the border of Mount Athos, Greece,

the real Paradise on Earth,

where I wrote this book,

the Islands:

Ammouliani, Greece,

Camotes, the Philippines…

                                   with thanks…


“Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and each one was judged according to his works…” (Rev. 20:13—14)

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection: over them the second death has no power…” (Rev. 20:6)

“Do not pity the victims and do not condemn the executioners, because they don’t exist on Earth by themselves, they unmistakably calculate each other, even being in opposite parts of the planet, and go towards each other all their lives to fulfill the destined for them from Above…”


0.1. The Girl and the Sea



“She used to sit for a long time by the Sea at sunset, the Girl in a pink dress. Lost in thoughts about something, she was gazing into the Sky. There was a Mysterious Land in the clouds, where winged people lived. Lilac castles beckoned her to them, in their quaint gardens fabulous flowers were fragrant and magical birds were singing. The wind carried unusual aromas and echoes of enchanting melodies to the Girl. And she also saw familiar faces there, they smiled and called the Girl to their Heavenly Country, to the City of the Sun. She dreamed of getting to them, but did not know how to do it, because she had no wings.

The Sun was setting into the Sea. Warm waves caressed her legs, singing a quiet kind song that she had heard from her mother when she was still a baby. The Girl looked around, but there was no one on the shore, and she felt completely lonely. The gloomy Rocks did not understand her, because they couldn’t feel anything, however, that was the reason they would never die. The Rocks, as usual, were only watching silently the picture at sunset: the Girl and the Sea.

The Sun was approaching the horizon. The waves were whispering louder and louder. The Magic Country floated away, losing its outlines. The Girl was standing by the Sea, and her tears fell onto the waves, and the Sea became salty…

The seagulls that flew to the seashore in the evening did not find anyone there. The Sun sank behind the horizon, and the Night came. Somewhere far away in the Sky, the seagulls noticed the outlines of an unknown City. They wondered, what kind of City it was, being situated not on Earth, but in the Sky. They had never seen such cities before! And the two most curious seagulls decided to make a flight to the mysterious City, but they had not enough strength to reach it.

And the Girl disappeared. The Rocks no longer saw her there, on the seashore, at sunset. Only the book left by the Girl on the coastal stone reminded them of her existence…”

“Hmmm…” I closed the book and put it aside. The miniature was written by me at the age of twelve, but sometimes I was drawn to read it again. Every time after returning to reality it seemed to me that I remained the little Assol, who still didn’t lose hope for…

I was waiting for his letter… I constantly visited my Internet page to check if he had looked at my last post to him…

Yes, yes, yes… At first completely unconsciously and then purposefully, I began to post more and more expressive pictures, signing them briefly, but with a hidden meaning…

My hands were trembling, I was closing my eyes at seeing his name in the list of viewers — oh, he hadn’t given me even a like! — but I was jumping, I squealed, “You have not forgotten me! You want me! Well, tell me you want me, too!!!”

That day I made a post with a photo of two waves running towards each other, and I signed it, “Meet?!” And…

He commented the photo, answering me in a private chat, “Yes”.

These three letters made me scream at the whole Universe! Yes, I screamed, “I want you, too!”, but after thinking a little, I wrote,

“I want that, too.”

“What do you want?”

“…to see you…”

It was madness! I understood everything, but appealing to reason at such moments was completely useless! Of course, he was not the captain of the ship “Scarlet Sails”, and I mostly felt us the main characters of the movie “Titanic”.

Weren’t you attracted by bad boys/girls?! And did you think at such moments that your “Titanic” was already doomed?! Neither did I, being ready to drown… sometime later… not then…

0.2. The Isle of Black Magicians


The Pacific Ocean

…Water, water, all around is water, and a panic horror seizes me. I try to float to the surface, but for some reason I can’t, and… I am suffocating!

He woke me up. I opened my eyes and saw before me only the boundless starry Sky.

It instantly got dark on that Island.

“The Ocean comes here silently,” Alex said gloomily and held out his hand to me.

I got up from the white sand, just a little bit more and the hide tide would have swallowed me.

Yes, that wild Island of healers and black magicians was really very strange. Completely unlike Paradise, despite the divine names of the bays and the Internet descriptions, Camotes was scaring, but at the same time attracting. You couldn’t see or hear the locals, and it was suspiciously quiet in general. There were neither crowds of tourists on the shore, nor waves in the Ocean. By evening, a part of the Island used to go under water silently so that from the shore to the rock with a staircase, connecting the Ocean with the straw hotel, as my companion had christened it, one could get only by swimming.

“Wait!” I shouted to Alex, who was moving away into the distance.

He turned around. I caught up with him, he took my hand, and we slowly wandered along the Ocean to the beach cafe of a local savage.

“Someday I will come back here,” I said dreamily, sitting down at a wooden table by a shabby umbrella.

“Crazy girl! What do you plan to do here? What the hell is this Paradise? No civilization! Aboriginal savages only! There is even no restaurant, and the only hotel doesn’t accept cards! If I had known where the ferry would take us, I would never have gone! You got me on an adventure! And now we have nothing but wait for the ferry back, which has no schedule at all! If it wants, it sails, but if it doesn’t?”

“However, I really like it here! This Isle is full of magic! There is some hidden secret in it I would be pleased to reveal.”

“The magic theurgy is, at best, a fairy tale for adults, and at worst it’s quackery! And don’t tell me that you believe in the afterlife!”

“And you really don’t?” I chuckled.

“A human being, Alice, is bones and meat! Everything else is from the evil one!”

Chapter 1. The FISHERMAN

1.1. Fishing nets

many years later

…Water, water, all around is water, and a panic horror seizes me. I try to float up to the surface, but for some reason I can’t, and… I am suffocating!

He woke me up. I opened my eyes and saw before me only the boundless starry Sky.

It instantly got dark on that Island.

“The Ocean comes here silently,” said the man grimly and held out his hand to me.

I got up from the white sand, just a little bit more and the hide tide would have swallowed me.


“What’s this? Brrr! Whoo! What a nightmare! The Ocean threw a… fishing net on me?!”

I twitched and squeamishly threw it off.

“Hey!” I shouted to the man, who was moving away into the distance.

He turned around. I ran up to him and…

“Sorry! It seemed to me…”

He smiled. It was a strange feeling that I’d seen him somewhere… before. Probably… A familiar face? Or even a look? Otherwise, nothing special: tall, thin, black-eyed… without distinctive features. In a light shirt and blue shorts, with rosaries on his wrists and a pirate bandana on his head…

“Do you speak English?” I asked the stranger, and he nodded.

We slowly wandered along the Ocean to the beach cafe.

“I was on this Isle once upon a time,” I said. “I happened here accidentally, although… there are no accidents in life. I went on vacation to Cebu, met a compatriot, he spent winters there, and we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. We got on the ferry. We didn’t even know where it was sailing us. But I liked Camotes. There is some mystery in this Island!”

“Have you been dreaming of coming back for all your life?”

“Yes, but not for all my life.”

“So, the man decided not to come back, didn’t he? That’s why you’re sad here all alone. Did you love him?”

“No, we had no affair, although, oddly enough, he felt something for me in his soul,” I smiled. “But did he have a soul? It’s a big question. He reminded me of the main character of the ‘Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens.”

“I haven’t read it.”

“An old man, an avid atheist and former financier. Many people called him a ‘secret millionaire’. He considered himself a brave Robinson, because after retirement he leased a cool apartment in the center of our city, while traveling abroad around Asia: Thailand, Indonesia, Bali, Philippines and so on. He aspired to female companionship. I think he felt very lonely. His parents had died long ago, he’d got a divorce, his only daughter had emigrated to Italy. He certainly lacked love, care and attention. Perhaps, because of the internal conflict ‘I want to, but for my age I can’t’, he became so angry and intolerant towards the opinions of others. Everyone around annoyed him, everything went wrong. By the way, his name was Alex. And what’s your name?”

The man stopped and looked into my eyes.

“Yanis. And yours?”

For some reason, his gaze made me feel uneasy.

“Alice. Is your name a Greek one?” I asked, and Yanis nodded smiling, and I supposed, “So, you moved here from Greece, didn’t you?”


“I often spent my holidays in Greece, on the islands. It’s your cafe on the beach, isn’t it?”

Yanis nodded again and offered to come in for a bite to eat. I sat down at a table, he brought me his fish menu.

“Are you a fisher or just buying fish in the market?”

“I fish myself,” Yanis grinned.

“So, was it your net that the Ocean threw over me!?” I laughed.

“Correct! I set up nets around the Island every night!”

“Isn’t the net too big for fishes? Do you catch mermaids?” I joked and thought that I wasn’t hungry. “Would you bring me some shrimp to try?”

Yanis nodded again, and at the same moment I heard children’s sobs.

1.2. The Girl who was looking for her mother

I turned around and noticed, as if from nowhere, a dark-haired small girl of about five in a translucent pink dress appeared on the shore. She looked out to the Ocean, but no one was near her.

“MU-MM-Y!!!” her heart-rending scream rang out.

I looked at Yanis. His face seemed to get darkened, but he didn’t even move.

I jumped up from the table and ran to the Girl.

“Hey!” I hugged her by the shoulders. “What’s happened?”

The Girl sobbed, repeating just one word “Mom!”, but paying no attention to me.

“What’s about your mom?” I asked. “Where is she? In the Ocean? What’s your name?”

The Girl either did not understand, or did not hear me, she continued to sob. And the Ocean was still quiet and completely empty. Not a soul. Neither in it, nor on the shore. Except us, of course.

I returned to the Yanis’ cafe, but he had disappeared, apparently, he had left for shrimps.

The Ocean had already flooded part of the shore, and I rushed to the stairs by swimming. I climbed up the rock, ran to the reception of the straw hotel and rang the bell, but no one showed up.

“Hey!” I screamed. “Is anybody here? Help! There’s a small girl on the shore! She’s lost her mother!”

But an ominous silence was rising in answer.

I ran back to the stairs.

“Poor Girl! And what if she became food for fishes in this Pacific — from all points of view — Ocean after her mother?! God forbid!”

However, when I got out of water to a piece of the not yet flooded shore, the Girl was nowhere to be seen…

Shocked, I stood on the shore and looked into the Ocean. It continued to swallow the Island silently, when the voice came suddenly from right behind me.


“The Girl…” I whispered in despair.

“She’ll be back!”

Yanis gently touched my hand and led me away.


The Mount grays because of grief…

The curse of witch came true — distress!

The Rocks were talking with Belief

And holding Fairy by her dress.

In soot — her air castle, yard…

The Fairy sighed, she didn’t cry:

“Mama’, remind the Heaven guard

To come for me before I die!”

The Wind was whispering with ash,

The Night was reaching for a song,

“Goodbye, the Sun!” On Earth of trash

The Time was breathing clearly wrong!

The stolen Fairy was all right,

But gloomy Rocks were sad and silent,

“Some Visions cannot sleep at night,

The Sorrow wanders through the Island!”

The clouds covered all the slaves,

The Sky was crying being fault,

And tears were falling on the waves

To make the Sea wake up from salt.

1.3. The Boy who asked for a Lantern

By 10:00 p.m. I became definitely alive. Firstly, the 12-hour time difference between the Island and my country affected. Secondly, during the day it was incredibly hot there and absolutely unbearable to stay out on the Sun.

It seemed that life on the Island had not changed at all over the years, as well as the straw hotel, consisting of small guest houses, in one of which I had spent the night waiting for the ferry to Cebu during my previous visit. But that time, following Alex, I was ready to call the guest house a “hut”.

Thatched roof, bare walls, a small window, a table with a candlestick, a tiny bed and a narrow wardrobe… I had noticed even then there were no light bulbs in the lamps, and so far no one guessed to insert them!

As before, there was no tap for hot water in the shower, although the cold water got warmed naturally under the scorching Sun in some storage tanks outside the house.

And what to say about air conditioners! — I found only an ancient fan in the room, but the electricity in the network had disappeared somewhere.

And more! I double-checked, including the reception, there was still no Internet there.

However, perhaps the charm of the lost in the Ocean Island, the riddle of which I had to solve, was precisely in such wildness and complete isolation from civilization…

Planning my vacation, I decided to explore Camotes thoroughly, because the first time we had had to escape from the Island the very next morning for having no cash. By the way, no cards were still acceptable there.

I stepped out of the hut into the deep darkness and wandered towards the light of a torch burning at the reception like an eternal flame.

In fact, several torches were always available there so that any tourist could take one out if felt like walking around the Island at night.

I got the opportunity to light my path and stepped out the gates to a dirty road, on both sides of which long-legged palm trees towered, piercing the black-book Sky.

Turning to the left, I walked towards the pier, getting used to the darkness. Suddenly a boy jumped out of unknown to me species of the tropical thickets. He seemed to be about seven years old and looked like a homeless grimy beggar, easily found along the streets of big cities. The Boy grabbed my hand and began to beg, shouting out the same word in almost all languages of the world. And that word was…


Understanding nothing, I took a couple of coins out of my pocket and handed them to the Boy.

However, to my greatest surprise, having seen the coins, the beggar squeamishly threw them into the thickets, twisted his finger at his temple giggling, and then he shouted out again,


1.4. The Old Man with black birds

I felt uneasy, but at the same moment I heard someone’s steps from the left. A hunched male figure was approaching us from the pier side, and soon a barefoot, gray-haired Old Man in linen clothes, with a wooden walking stick in one hand and a cage with black birds in the other, stopped nearby.

“Good evening,” I said to break the oppressive silence. “Can I help you somehow?”

The Old Man chuckled and continued to scan me, and the Boy giggled again.

Suddenly, a woman, apparently the boy’s mother, appeared out of nowhere. She bowed deeply to the Old Man, muttered something in the local dialect, then grabbed her son by the arm, and they instantly disappeared into the thickets.

I felt completely uneasy and stood as if paralyzed. I could not move in fear.

“What do you want, my dear Soul?” the Old Man asked distinctly, in an authoritative voice.

My heart began to beat wildly.

The disastrous chaos reigned in my head, but for some reason I thought about the Fisherman. I wanted Yanis to appear right next to me, but I kept silent.

The Old Man, realizing that he was unlikely to wait for my answer, turned around and hobbled further. I looked after him, still unable to recover, as someone’s hand fell on my shoulder, and I screamed in surprise.

“Alice?” I heard a familiar voice, turned back and saw Yanis.

He graciously escorted me “home”, said goodbye and disappeared.

Chapter 2. DEAD WATER

2.1. The Ocean comes silently

…Water… all around me is water… I can’t float up… I have no strength to…

“Damn! This dream has already tortured me!”

I vaguely remembered that always in that dream, in its last frame, I saw a man’s face, although waking up I couldn’t restore it in my memory.

I woke up on the Ocean shore just in time. High tide. Still, it was strange, there were no waves at all there, and the Sun used to fall into the water instantly, giving way to Mrs. Warlock, named Night.

I sat down at a table in Yanis’ cafe.

“How are you, Alice?” he asked. “Have you got enough sleep?”

“Yes, thank you. It’s good you walked me home at night. To be honest, I was a little bit scary. Do black magicians really live here?”

“Yes, all kind of sorcerers, and stargazers, and healers, and alchemists… It’s easier to tell who is not here!” Yanis chuckled.

“And that Old Man with black birds… Who is he?”

“The owner of the Island,” Yanis replied reluctantly.

“The owner?! I would have never thought! Just like a beggar… Does he have a villa here? Or is he content with a hut in your Paradise, too?”

“He lives in the cemetery,” Yanis replied without showing any emotion.

“Where?! Yanis, you’re kidding! Although on the Island of black magic, there is probably no way to exist without black humor… Well, but what about sightseeing here? Tell me, you do know Camotes better than me.”

“It depends on what you want to see.”

“Does everyone see one’s own?” I laughed.

“Why not! However, like everywhere else. What does your tender soul prefer for dinner today? Shrimps, mussels or…?”

“No, no… Only coffee with milk, please!”

Yanis left and was back a couple of minutes later with a cup of cappuccino and a glass of water, and I decided to continue our sweet talk.

“How long have you been here, Yanis?”

“Time is a relative concept,” he answered evasively. “It depends on the way you measure it.”

“So, what would you recommend me to see?”

“Everything!” Yanis smiled.

Suddenly, someone pulled my arm. I turned around and saw… the yesterday’s Boy! The one who looked like a beggar. He dived into my soul with a plaintive look, held out his hand and said the cherished word… “LANTERN!”

I looked at Yanis. He said something in an unknown language to the Boy, and the Boy went away.

“But why ‘lantern’?! ” I exclaimed, because such a strange request had sent my mind into a stupor.

“You shouldn’t be surprised at anything here, on Camotes,” Yanis winked me. “This Island is not like ordinary ones!”

I finished my coffee, thanked Yanis, left a tip and decided to take a walk.

2.2. A Scary Market

That evening, instead of going back to the hotel, I went far along the path that started immediately after Yanis’ cafe and, apparently, led to the village of local residents.

The lights of candles and torches flickered in the darkness, children were rushing back and forth, people in the houses were talking loudly and even singing something. I noticed that many of the natives I met along the path were walking with baskets full of all sorts of things, as if they were returning home from the market. And indeed, behind the village, some market rows were placed…

I was glad to have change in my pocket and decided to treat myself buying something delicious.

However, in the first shop, to which the queue lined up, I found only water.

“Do you want to try?” the seller asked me kindly.

“Is it from your Island? Mineral? Sparkling water?”

“From our Lake!” the salesman clarified with pride. “But it’s neither mineral nor sparkling. It is just dead! Pure dead water without gaz!”

“Dead water?!” I recoiled with a thought in my mind, “One more joker?”

“Have a try!” insisted the seller and handed me a glass.

“Oh, no, thank you! Next time!” I smiled for the sake of decency and proceeded further.

Having passed bats, snakes, cockroaches, spiders, and other creatures cooked in different ways, I stood in line for a man, who was selling coconut cocktails and fresh pomegranate juice. Almost reaching the counter, I suddenly heard exclamations from the crowd.

“Deceiver! The seller is a liar! Don’t trust him!!! It expired yesterday!!!”

An enraged, half-naked woman flew up to the seller with a bottle in her hand and doused the unfortunate man from head to toe with a burgundy-colored liquid.

“It’s not fresh! It’s yesterday’s!!!” she shouted.

The people in the line roared indignantly and instantly evaporated, leaving me tet-a-tet with the seller. As if hypnotized by my own lack of understanding of what was happening there, I approached the counter even closer.

The seller, after wiping his face, gave me an appraising look and…

“It is fresh!” he said, as if nothing had happened. “Fresh blood! The freshest one! I swear by my mom! Smell it! How many liters do you need? With milk or without?”

I recoiled in disbelief, and stars twinkled in my eyes. I began to lose consciousness, but, fortunately, someone caught my arm in time. I opened my eyes.


“Drink it!”

He handed me a wooden mug. I took a sip and immediately came to my senses.

“Dead water?” I joked.

Yanis leaned in to my ear.

“There is no other water here…” he whispered.

2.3. A Giant Ship

I couldn’t fall asleep at night. I left my hut to enjoy the Ocean view from the cliff, directly from the point where the stairs, connecting the hotel with the beach, began.

I stopped at the very edge.

Black starry Sky, in every sense the Pacific Ocean and me…

However, literally in a couple of seconds, I felt a strange, already forgotten there, on the Island, breathing of… the Wind! Yes! Who could imagine, the Wind…

And the Sky instantly changed! The clouds started running across it and so quickly, as if someone had pressed the fast-forward button of a movie. I heard a powerful thunderclap, and the Sky was cut by lightning blades.

I was about to run back to the hut when I suddenly noticed… a Giant Ship! It looked absolutely surreal! It seemed to be brought there by the Wind and quite by accident, from some other era, or even from… another world!

It was raining, but I couldn’t move, gazing at the Ship… It was really gigantic! And so strange, old, with shabby sails, but without any flag or identification marks…

Finally, the Ship entered the bay…

…Oh, no! It was impossible! Passengers began to descend from the Ship straight into the Ocean! How many people were there on board? A hundred? A thousand? But all of them seemed to be ghostly transparent. They were walking on the water surface to the shore and, as soon as they reached it, immediately disappearing!

I hardly forced myself to ran back “home”. I locked the door. Oh, I was sure, if my phone had not been dead for the lack of electricity, and the Internet had been available, the Giant Ship would have made a splash on the network! I wondered if ghostly people would have shown up in the pictures. However, nobody would have believed my words.

“I’ll be back home in a week, and I’ll have to report to the ‘community’ about my journey. Not to forget anything, one needs to start writing everything down in time!”

I lit a candle, since there were plenty of them in the table drawer, took out my notebook and began like this…

“…Water, water, all around is water, and a panic horror seizes me. I try to float up to the surface, but for some reason I can’t, and… I am suffocating…”

Chapter 3. The CAPTAIN of the SHIP

3.1. The Captain

Michael was the captain of a ship. At first. And then he became an important person in political circles. When I got a literary prize at the Central House of Writers, the President awarded him a state one. But Michael was also a creator like me, and, unlike me, he was a genius. Actually, we met each other on the creative wave. And then…

Michael turned each of our meetings into a firework of emotions. He seemed to be trying all the time to prove to me or even to himself, he was the best, no one would be like him. It was certainly pleasant, but not at all necessary, because Michael was already the best, at least for me. Not just damn charming, tall and, as they say, athletic, but also an intelligent and wise person, Michael liked to read a lot, to dress stylishly, to eat delicious food and to be perfumed expensively. When we walked around the city, I envied myself, “What a man I am walking next to!” Actually, we were a wonderful couple, not only outwardly.

Sometimes I wondered why Michael would not find himself a young girl, because I was only seven years younger than him. Once (although we quarreled only twice), I even sent him to… prostitutes, but he calmly replied that it was interesting and pleasant for him to communicate with me, as an intelligent and wise person, and, despite the fact that we were completely different in characters, we had common interests, intellectual and physical compatibility, and prostitutes were a road to nowhere.

Yes, I considered myself a bad lover, but only with Michael I kissed on the lips, such kisses were his know-how, and exceptionally easily and unobtrusively, on his initiative, with my consent, we tried in bed everything and then returned to the traditional classic.

Michael was a leader, and I appreciated it, because, of course, I was an unquestioning dictator at job, but in personal relationship — a submissive clay.

I knew Michael for many years, not only by words, but by deeds, so I could assure you, he was exactly the man that almost all led women were dreaming of. Any of us could feel with him safety like behind a stone wall. He didn’t hide his head in the sand, like an ostrich, but courageously solved every problem.

There’s no subjunctive mood in history, but… Michael was the only man sent to me from Above, whom I would marry immediately, having quite consciously agreed with the fact that…

“MUMMY!!!” it exploded somewhere very close…

“Her cry will even raise the dead from the coffin!” I thought and opened my eyes…

The water was arriving… High tide…

3.2. The Girl, again?!

Water… all around… water…

I sat down on the white sand, moving away from the Ocean advancing on me, and turned back. The Girl. The very same one. She was crying again, standing on the shore and looking into the distance. I went up to her.

“What’s your name? What happened? Where is your mother?” I asked once more.

The Girl whimpered. However, she seemed to understand my words, but she was silent like a partisan. I hit the snow-white sand with my heel, signing my own impotence, and saw Yanis walking towards us.

“Hello, Alice!”

“Hello, Yanis. The child… Something needs to be done with her! We must report to the police! Doesn’t she understand what I’m asking about?! Do you know her? Where does she live? She is clearly not a local aborigine! And what about her mother?!”

Yanis honored me with a strange look, full of deep sadness or even… pain? And it seemed to me again, I had met Yanis before, or maybe, he looked too much like someone else…

“What do you want to eat today?” Yanis asked suddenly, and at first I was taken aback.

“Help the Girl to find her mother! I can’t stand her endless crying!” I screamed.

Yanis put his finger to his mouth, “Shh!”

I stopped talking and suddenly… I found myself in a vacuum silence. I turned around. The Girl was nowhere to be found! I looked at Yanis with horror, but he extended his hand to me, as if nothing had happened.

“Let’s go, Alice…”

“The GIRL!” I shouted even louder.

“She’ll be back…” Yanis answered calmly.

3.3. And once more… the Boy!

I placed myself in Yanis’ cafe, although I didn’t want to eat, having a terrible headache.

Yanis brought me the freshest tropical fruit juice and half a coconut, and then, glancing at the wicker chair in front of me, politely asked, if it was free.

I nodded “yes” to him. He sat down, and we continued our conversation.

“Well, where did you have a rest in Greece, Alice?”

“On the island opposite to Mount Athos.”

“Thassos you mean?”

“No, Ammouliani. Have you ever been to Thassos?”

“No… And how do you like Ammouliani, the island of monks? Not so long ago, it belonged to the monastery of Vatopedi. Did you feel the Spirit of the Holy Mountain? We can say that you lived in the Holy Land!”

“Yes, it’s amazing!” I smiled remembering. “You know, there is a wild sandy beach with Mount Athos view there. The water is so clear and transparent, that even if you swim far away from the shore, you can see the bottom, and it’s not scary to swim there. To be honest, I’m afraid of water.”

“Afraid? Why?”

“I don’t know. Since childhood. I often have the same nightmare about drowning in the sea or in the ocean. That’s why I’m afraid of waves. Fortunately, there are no waves usually in the Ammouliani bay.”

“There are no waves here either,” Yanis chuckled.

“But the Ocean here has lots of algae, and for a kilometer there is no deepness at all! It’s impossible to swim, only to walk! On Ammouliani one makes two steps and doesn’t feel the bottom anymore. And there is no seaweed there! Although I used to swim far from the seashore, I felt like a fish in water! Оr… maybe like a mermaid… I used to stay in water for more than an hour, all alone, or rather, me, the sea and the Holy Mountain… Imagine, nobody else around! By the way, I’m fond of diving and watching fishes!”

While I told Yanis about his Greece, he was smiling, and I was smiling too, diving in my memories.

Many years ago, in some book of a wise person, I discovered an interesting idea,

“Our consciousness does not care if something happens only in thoughts or in reality, because the reaction of the body is always the same”.

And I thought,

“Perhaps the ‘time machine’ is a human thought, and our memories are nothing but the ‘here and now’ reality. So, it is good for our health remembering happy or just pleasant moments…”

Suddenly, someone grabbed my hand. I screamed in surprise, turned around and saw…

…the Boy! The very one…

He held out his hand, looking pitifully into my eyes, and said, “Lantern!”

And at that moment my brain seemed to be completely hacked.

Yanis got up from the table and took the boy by the hand. Speaking in the local dialect, they went towards the village. I thoughtfully followed them with my eyes, but I suddenly remembered my last nightmare — the Giant Ship. When Yanis came back, I decided to share my mysterious dream.

“Yanis, listen! Tonight!”

“You couldn’t fall asleep…”

“Yes, I went out to breathe the Ocean. I was standing on the rock, by the stairs, when suddenly the Wind appeared! It looked like hurricane! The Sky instantly became so scary! Huge clouds were moving back and forth! Lightning, thunder, and it started to rain, or rather, it was a tropical downpour, and a Giant Ship entered the bay! And people on board… I saw through the wall of rain, I swear to you, I saw them descending from the Ship, but straight into the Ocean! And they walked towards the shore on the water surface!!!”

“And how else do people arrive on Camotes, if not by ship or by ferry?” Yanis chuckled. “How did you get here, Alice? By a flying carpet?”

My mind went blank again. I got a glitch in the brain, I perfectly understood that there was no other way to the Island. However, the picture on the internal screen split in two. I saw the old ferry that brought me there with Alex, many years ago, and I also saw…

…water… everywhere… all around me… water… and a panic horror seizes me… I try to float up to the surface, but for some reason I can’t and…

…no, I’m not suffocating! — I see a face of a Man before it, a face, pulsing through the double image on the internal screen — the last thing that flickers in my nightmare…

3.4. Voodoo Procession

It was suspiciously quiet at night with neither wind, nor clouds in the Sky. I took one of the torches from the reception and went for a walk around the gloomy Island, aimed to reach some specific “point”.

I turned towards the pier, as the previous night, and walked for about ten minutes along unknown to me species of shrubs and the long-legged palm trees piercing the black-book starry Sky, when at first the tambourines and then drums roll with chilling chants were heard in the distance.

However, curiosity got the better of fear, and after a couple of minutes I saw a shocking procession of almost naked native magicians with painted faces and feathers on their heads, with frightening jewelry and scaring accessories, with skulls on thin sticks and a huge straw doll on the central thick one. Several people provided the musical accompaniment of the ceremony, manipulating with tambourines and drums, the rest were singing incantations and dancing.

I took a step back, out of the road, to skip the procession and immediately felt someone pulling my dress sleeve, and the already familiar magic word rang in my ears…


“My God!” I exclaimed, turning around. “Look, my dear, I don’t have any lantern! Only a torch, this one!”

I gave it a glance.

The Boy pointed at the Sky in response, but I had no time to think what it meant, because I saw Yanis on the road, wandering towards the pier with fishing nets and gear. The procession of black magicians was moving away.

“Hi,” I breathed out. “Are they Voodoo people?”

“Yes. But you’d better not…”

“Do they really shamanize here, or is it just a game?”

“Really, but…”

“Every night?”


Yanis was too laconic, but I felt that the topic of Voodoo did not excite him, while it would be very curious for me to attend their ritual.

“Where are they going?”

“To the Portal… However, I categorically advise you not to contact them.”

I was about to ask, “Who are you to advise me something?” But I stopped in time, because Yanis, fortunately or unfortunately, was the only one local resident, with whom I could communicate, speaking the same language. I thought, “The voodoo ceremony would wait for me till tomorrow. No one forces me to inform Yanis about my plans and to report to him about their implementation.”

“Okay, Yanis. Let’s say the Portal does exist. But what about… lanterns? Why does the Boy keep asking me for some lantern?”

Strange things happening on the Island didn’t fit into the standard frames of my mind.

“He doesn’t really ask you for a lantern,” Yanis sighed, “but for a light bulb.”

“A light bulb?” I was surprised even more.

“Yes, a light bulb for the lantern. But it is okay also without lantern. A light bulb is enough…”

“What for?” I exclaimed understanding nothing.

“To hang it up on the Tree.”

Apparently, Yanis decided to make fun of me!

“I see… There are no light bulbs even in the hotel! There are no lights on the roads! There is no electricity here at all!”

“But we have a Wish Tree,” Yanis smiled and asked, “What are you dreaming about, Alice?”

I clenched my fingers into a fist because of my powerlessness to understand something.


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