Book 3. The Space of Love (1998)
What hell is
“Old Bible pictures showing the beastly torture of sinners over hot coals, and even the most extreme portrayals of horror-film monsters, pale like children’s innocent fairy-tales in comparison to the hell we went through there on the riverbank!” Alexander exclaimed. “Since the beginning of time mankind has never managed to dream up anything that can compare with it. Ail the Bible images and horror films stop at depicting all the different ways fleshly bodies can be torn apart and dismembered, which is nothing by comparison with real hell.” “But what could be more frightful than the acute torturing of the flesh?” I queried. “What kind of hell did you see?” “Once the blue glow had weakened sufficiently to allow the brownish smoke to rise from the earth and it had enveloped us completely from head to toe, we found ourselves split into two halves.”
“What two halves?”
“Just imagine — I suddenly found myself comprised of two component parts. The first was my body, enveloped in a transparent skin through which I could see all my internal organs — my heart, stomach, intestines, the blood rushing through my veins, along with various other organs. The other part — invisible — consisted of my feelings, my emotions, my mind, my desires, my pain sensibility — in other words, everything about Man that you can’t see.”
“What’s the difference whether the parts are together or separated, as long as it’s still you? What happened to you that was so awful, aside from seeing your skin transparent?”
“The difference turned out to be incredibly significant. The thing is, our bodies began to act on their own, independently of our minds, wills, aspirations or desires. We could observe the actions of our bodies from an external viewpoint, yet our feelings and pain sensibilities remained with our invisible selves, and we were deprived of any ability to influence the actions of our own bodies.”
“Like someone who’s terribly drunk?”
“Drunks don’t see themselves externally, at least not while they’re drunk, whereas we saw and felt everything. Our clarity of consciousness v/as extraordinarily acute. I could see how beautiful the grass, the flowers and the river looked. I could hear the birds singing and the creek burbling away, I could feel the cleanness of the air around me, along with the warmth of the sunbeams. But those bodies... All the transparent bodies standing in our group suddenly trotted down, like a herd of sheep, to a pond formed by the creek.
“The pond resembled a little lake, the water in it was clear and transparent, the bottom was covered with soft sand and beautiful stones. Tiny fish were swimming in it. Our bodies ran down to this splendid little lake and started splashing around in it. They started urinating and defecating in it.
“The water became dirty and clouded, yet our bodies began drinking from it. I saw the dirty, stinking liquid flow through my intestines and into my stomach. I was overcome with a sensation of nausea and revulsion.
“Then under one of the trees by the pond all at once appeared the naked bodies of two women. Their skin was just as transparent as that of our bodies.
“The women’s bodies lay down on the grass under the tree, lolling about and stretching out in the warm sunshine. My body and that of the security captain ran over to the women’s bodies.
“My body began stroking one of the women’s bodies, it felt a responding caress and entered into sexual intercourse with the woman’s body The security captain’s approach was not reciprocated and his body started raping the woman. Then one of the guards came running over and started hitting first my spine and then my head with a rock, but it was I, and not my body, that felt excruciating pain. The guard dragged my body away from the woman’s and started raping her himself.
“Our bodies soon began to grow old and decrepit. It was as though time was accelerating everything. The woman that had just been raped now became pregnant, and through her transparent skin you could see the embryo taking form and enlarging itself in the womb.
“The body of the scientist, Boris Moiseevich, went over to the pregnant woman, and spent some time peering attentively through her transparent skin at the developing embryo. Then all of a sudden he slipped his hand into the woman’s vagina, and began wrenching out the foetus.
“In the meantime, Stanislav’s body was quickly collecting rocks into a pile, then wildly breaking off small trees and using them, along with any other materials he found handy, to construct something resembling a cabin. My body went over to help. When the cabin was just about finished, my body tried to kick Stanislav’s body out of the cabin; he resisted and our bodies started fighting with each other.
“Even though I myself was invisible, I could still feel terrible pain when he started hitting the legs and head of my body. Our fight caught the attention of the other bodies, and they shoved us both out of the cabin, and then started fighting for it amongst themselves. My body became terribly frail and began decomposing before my very eyes. It could no longer walk, and just lay there under a bush, wasting away with a nauseating stench. Worms appeared on my body, and I could feel them crawling all over me, creeping into my internal organs
and eating away at them. I acutely felt them gnawing away at my insides, and awaited the final decomposition of my body to escape from this excruciating torture.
“Then all at once a foetus emerged from the second woman that had been raped. It began to grow right before my eyes. Soon the little fellow stood up and took its first timid step, then another, then it staggered and fell on its bottom. I could feel a painful sensation as it landed, and I realised to my horror that this was my new body and it was doomed to survive — to exist among these abominable, brainless bodies, which were desecrating themselves and everything around.
“I realised that I, who was invisible, would never die and that I was condemned to eternal contemplation and an acute awareness of the nastiness of everything that was going on, experiencing physical and even more terrible pain.
“The same thing was happening with the other bodies. They decayed, decomposed and were born again, and with each new birth our bodies simply switched roles.
“There was hardly any vegetation left around. In its place ugly structures had appeared, and the once pristine pond had been transformed into a stinking cesspool.”
Alexander fell silent. I too felt a sense of revulsion from what he had said, but not pity
“Indeed,” I said, “you all went through a horrible experience, but you vermin had it coming to you. How come you had to latch on to Anastasia? She lives all alone in the taiga, she doesn’t touch anybody doesn’t ask for housing, she doesn’t require a pension or any kind of amenities, so why go interfering with her?” Alexander didn’t give any sign of offence to my verbal attack on him. He simply sighed and responded:
“Lou know, you said we £went through an experience’. But, you see... It may seem hard to believe, but the thing is, I’m not completely out of it. I think those who were in our group, too, haven’t fully come out of it.”
“What do you mean, ‘haven’t fully? Here you are, sitting calmly beside me, poking the ashes in the fire...”
“Yeah, sure I’m sitting here poking the ashes, but that acute awareness of something terrible has stayed with me. It still frightens me. This terrible thing is not just in the past — it is still going with us today, right now. With all of us.”
“Maybe something’s happening with you, but everything’s okay with me and everyone else.”
“But doesn’t it seem to you, Vladimir, that the situation we were in is an exact copy of what mankind is doing today? What we were shown in a microcosm and at an accelerated speed only reflects what’s going on today in the world.”
“It doesn’t seem that way to me, since our skin is not trans-parent and our bodies obey our commands.”
“Maybe someone’s just taking pity on us, not letting us become fully aware of what we have done and are continuing to do. After all, if we were aware of it, if we could see our lives from an external viewpoint, we’d see them exposed, along with all the false teachings which we’ve used through the ages to justify what we are doing. We wouldn’t last, we’d go out of our minds!
“We try to put on a decent front, we try to justify the evil we do by our own so-called ‘insurmountable weaknesses’. We couldn’t resist temptation: we started smoking and drinking, committed murder, then we started going to war to defend some sort of ideals. We started setting off bombs.
“We are weak. That’s the way we see ourselves today We say there are higher powers — they can do everything, they decide everything. But as for us? We hide behind dogmas like that and feel we can get away with any kind of filth we like.
‘And let’s face it, what we do is filth. We all do it, every one of us, only we justify it to ourselves in different ways. But now it is absolutely clear that, as long as my consciousness has not lost its control over my body, I and I alone must take personal
responsibility for all its actions. And Anastasia is right when she says As long as Man is in the flesh...’”
“Don’t go citing Anastasia, smart ass! ‘She is right!’ But you yourself practically had her in the grave. Too bad she didn’t go just a little further and then you would all have lost your marbles completely!”
I was really growing more and more angry at the whole bunch of them, but since Alexander was the only one in front of me, he had to bear the brunt of my anger.
“Just look at your own self,” Alexander replied. “Wasn’t it thanks to you that we were able to get through to Anastasia? And not just us — you think attempts like ours won’t be repeated?
“Whatever possessed you to specify the exact name of your ship, even the name of your captain? Don’t play the documentarian. You could even have changed the name of the river, but you didn’t do it — you didn’t think of it in time. And here you expect others to always know the right thing to do. I got what was coming to me. Now my whole life I will have to keep making sense of that nightmare I witnessed.”
“Tell me, how did it end, that nightmare of yours? How did you get out of it?”
“We would never have been able to come out of it all on our own. It was something we were to go on reliving forever. At least that was the impression each of us had.
‘Anastasia appeared amidst our decomposing and still active bodies. Her skin wasn’t transparent. She was still wearing her old cardigan and long skirt. She tried speaking to our bodies, but they wouldn’t listen. They seemed to be preprogrammed to die and be born again, repeating their actions over and over with only a change of roles.
‘At that point Anastasia started quickly picking up the garbage near one of the structures our bodies had built. She quickly gathered the scattered stones and brush into a
pile with her hands, loosened the earth a little with a stick, touched and fluffed up the grass where we had trampled it, and the little green blades began popping up again — not all, but those that still could. Anastasia carefully straightened the broken trunk of a small tree, about a metre tall: she mashed up some earth in her hands to soften it and then daubed it on the broken part of the tree. She squeezed the tree between her hands, and held it tight for a while. Then, when she carefully took her hands away, the tree remained upright.
‘Anastasia nimbly went on doing what she had to do. She created a small ‘oasis’ on the ground our bodies had trampled, which had been left almost devoid of vegetation. Boris Moiseevich’s body ran over to it, leapt onto the grass and rolled around on it, then jumped up and ran off. A little while later it returned with the body of one of the guards. Together they uprooted the small tree and began dragging stones and sticks to the ‘oasis’, where they attempted to put together yet another ugly-looking plain structure.
‘Anastasia threw up her hands in frustration. She tried talking to them but, as she met no response, she apparently abandoned her efforts at persuasion. After standing for a while in a dither about what to do next, she dropped to her knees, covered her face with her hands, and you could see the hair trembling on her shoulders. Anastasia was crying — crying just like a baby.
‘And almost immediately the bluish glow reappeared, at first barely noticeable. It drove the brownish smoke of our hell into the ground and reunited our bodies and our minds. Only we still weren’t able to move about — but this time it wasn’t from horror, but from a sweet and pleasant languor emanating from the blue glow. The fiery sphere was again circling overhead.
‘Anastasia stretched out her hands toward it. The sphere instantly changed location to within a metre of her face. She
began talking with it, and this time I could distinguish words. Anastasia told the sphere:
“‘Thank you. You are kind. Thank you for your mercy and your love. The people will understand, they will most certainly understand everything, they will understand it in their hearts. Do not ever take your beautiful blue light from the Earth, your light of love.’
‘Anastasia smiled, and a tiny tear rolled down her cheek. From the sphere’s pale-blue membrane hull fiery lightning bolts flew into her face. Carefully and dexterously they picked up the tear on her cheek, glistening in the sun, and ever so delicately, as though it were a priceless gem, held the tear on their fiery tips as they placed it inside the sphere. The sphere gave a shudder, executed a circle around Anastasia, landed momentarily at her feet, then swept upward and dissolved into the blue sky above, leaving everything on the ground the way it was before.
“And there we were, standing where we had been before. The sun was shining, the river was flowing as it had always done, the forest could be seen rising in the distance, and there was Anastasia standing in front of us, right where she had been earlier. We stood there silently taking in everything around us. I was overjoyed by what I saw, and I think the others were, too. Only we weren’t talking — perhaps because of what we had experienced and the natural surroundings which had suddenly become so beautiful to our gaze.” Alexander fell silent, as though he had quite withdrawn into himself. I tried speaking to him:
“Listen, Alexander, maybe everything you told me really didn’t happen that way at all. Maybe Anastasia’s simply able to use some sort of powerful hypnosis? I’ve read that there are many recluses who can do that. So maybe she hypnotised you and showed you a vision?”
“Hypnosis, you say? Did you notice the grey streaks in my hair?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Those grey streaks appeared after this all happened.”
“But you could have got a huge fright under hypnosis, and that caused the grey streaks.”
“Well, if you assume it was hypnosis, then there’s another mystery you’ll have to explain.”
‘And what’s that?”
“The stone and log obstruction in the creek. It’s completely disappeared — the creek runs freely now. But the obstruction was there before our ‘vision’ — everybody saw it — it was there!”
“Okay... That’s something to think about.”
‘Anyway, what difference does it make what happened to us. There’s something more important than that. I’m not the same person I was before — I don’t know how to live now, what I should be studying, or where. After I got home, I burnt a lot of my books written by different so-called sages, ‘wise men’, teachers from various parts of the world. I had quite a decent-sized personal library.”
“What d’you go and do that for? You should have sold them, if you no longer needed them.”
“I couldn’t sell them. I didn’t even think of selling them. Now I have some accounts to settle with those teachers and sages.”
‘And what do you think, Alexander — is it dangerous to communicate with Anastasia? Maybe she really is some kind of anomaly? After all some of the letters I’ve got say that she represents another civilisation. If that’s true, then it’d be dangerous to communicate with her, because you never know what this other civilisation might have in mind.”
“I think just the opposite is true,” Alexander replied. “She has such a feeling and love for the Earth, for everything living and growing on it, that, compared to Anastasia, we look pretty much like vagrant aliens.”
“Then who is she? Can scientists say for sure, once and for all? How did she manage to acquire such a huge mass of information? Where does she have room to store it in her head? Where did she get her mystifying abilities? What about her ray?”
“I think we simply have to go by her words here — she said: ‘I am Man, I am a woman’. As for all that information, I don’t think she stores any of it in her head. I think, rather, that the purity of her thoughts allows her access to the database of the entire Universe. And that her talents derive from this total access to information.
“The Universe loves her, but is wary of us, and that’s why it won’t open itself to us completely. Our thoughts — the thoughts of any Man raised in today’s society — are blocked by stereotypes and conventions, in contrast to her thought, which is completely open and free. That’s why it’s hard for us to explain her mysterious abilities simply by her assertion that she is Man.
“Of course she can perform incredible feats — miracles, in our perception — I know that from personal experience. During our visit one other incident happened which can only be described as a miracle. It’s even more mystifying than what happened with our group. And much grander!”
Alexander uttered these last few words with a certain degree of excitement in his voice. He got up and walked away from the fire into the night. In the twinkling light of the stars and the dusky glow from the smouldering fire I could see the young Siberian lad pacing back and forth. I could hear his brief, excited phrases. Alexander was saying something incomprehensible about science, and psychologists, and some sort of teachings. I got tired of sitting there and listening to his fragmentary utterances. I was dying to hear what kind of ‘grand miracle’ he had seen Anastasia perform.
I tried to calm him down.
“Relax, Alexander, sit down. Tell me more specifically, what grand thing you witnessed?”
Alexander tossed some dry branches onto the fire and sat down again beside it. But I could see he had not fully regained his composure. Out of nervousness, no doubt, he had stirred the smouldering coals so forcefully that the sparks flying upward landed on him and on me, causing us to jump up and away from the fire. When things had quieted down, I began listening to his emotional tale.
“In the space of some twenty minutes,” he began, ‘Anastasia managed to change right before our eyes the physical condition of a little village girl. She did this before our very eyes. And over this period of time she changed not only the little girl’s destiny, but her mother’s too, and even had an effect on the whole outward appearance of this remote Siberian village. And it all happened within the space of twenty minutes or so. The main thing was how she did it — simplicity itself! She...
“How can anyone believe in horoscopes after that?!” Alexander wondered. “I saw it happen! That’s why I burnt my books with all that ‘wise man’ nonsense and all that religious stuff.”
“See,” I countered, “you yourself admit that she performs superhuman miracles, mystical wonders, even if she smashes horoscopes in the process. She makes these things happen all by herself, and then expects to be called a normal human being. If only she’d tried to act half-way normal, but no!... I spoke to her about that, too — I said she should just act like everyone else, then everything will be normal, but it seems she’s not capable of acting like everyone else. Pity! She’s such a kind and beautiful woman, so smart — she can heal people, and she’s borne me a son... But to live with her, the way I’d live with another woman — well, that’s simply impossible. I can’t imagine anybody being able to sleep with her after everything you’ve told me. Nobody could. Everybody needs a
woman, plain and simple, not a far-out eccentric like that. But she herself is to blame for that, what with her mysticism and all.”
“Hold on, Vladimir. Now it’s my turn to tell you something. Just think carefully about what I’m going to say It may seem incredible, but try to understand. Everybody has to understand it! Everybody! Perhaps, together, we can make some sense out of it. Perhaps...
“You see, Vladimir, Anastasia performed this incredible miracle with the little girl, but there was no mystery or magic involved. No sorcery, no shamanistic gimmicks. If you can imagine, she, Anastasia, did this miracle using just simple human words known to everyone. Simple, everyday words, only spoken in the right place at the right time.
“If psychologists were to analyse Anastasia’s conversation with this little village girl, they would realise how psychologically effective it is. Anyone uttering these same words could have achieved a similar effect. But to have these words come to mind at the right time, the sincerity and purity of thought Anastasia spoke of are an absolute requirement.”
“So, it’s not just good enough to memorise the words?”
“We’ve all known them for a long time — that’s not the point. The real question is: what lies behind each of the words we say?”
“Somehow you’re losing me. You’d better tell me the rest of what happened with you there. What words could change people’s physical condition and their whole destinies?”
‘All right. Of course I should explain. Listen.”