The Death

by Sasha Krugosvetov

The Death

On that hot, southern night, only the moon, which indifferently looked down from the sky, seemed cold. Ruslan was then in his mid-twenties. On his way to a seaside resort town of Alupka, he spent the night at his uncle Timur’s house.

Ruslan could not sleep for a long time. Undressed as he was, yet still coated with sticky sweat, he went out to the open veranda in search of fresh air. He noticed Uncle Timur’s wife (Ruslan’s aunt by marriage). This swarthy, thin woman of about fifty stood in a lightweight robe by the veranda fencing. Apparently, she was tormented by the heat, too.

She turned to Ruslan and said, “Come closer. Even closer.” The woman opened her robe, revealing her sharp breasts with brown nipples and her dark pubic mound. She threw her arms around Ruslan’s neck and sat down on the wooden top railing of the fencing. She said imperiously, “Take me.”

It was impossible to refuse. Ruslan put his arms around her flexible waist under her robe and entered her. The woman began to moan in a low voice, “More, more, stronger.” They moved to Ruslan’s room. “More, more, stronger, stronger.” It seemed the hot night would never end. “More, more.” Sweat ran down them in streams. Their bed and their hair were wet. She had scratched his shoulders with her nails and bitten his lips. When would this sweet torture stop?

Ruslan felt as if he was no longer himself, but only the remnants of his body shell that was obediently fulfilling everything this woman wanted. He felt as if he was almost gone, flown somewhere and almost dead. It was like the end of everything, as if there would be no tenderness, no happiness, no love, no favorite books. The night and darkness had displaced everything out of his life, leaving only this demonic woman.

Why was she not afraid that her husband would enter the room? Probably, she knew, knew for sure, that there was no way he would enter.

“More, more.” How long did it last? She uttered a long, agonized moan and collapsed onto the bed. Then she got up, moving like a somnambulist, almost without opening her eyes. She picked up the robe that she had thrown in the corner, flung it over her shoulders and floated into the blue night. The open flaps of her robe fluttered in the air like bat’s wings. Not even turning her head, she said coldly, “Pick up your underpants from the veranda floor, Nephew.” There was no kiss, no tender or even kind words at parting.

Ruslan felt downtrodden. There was no love, not even appetency in the thing that had just happened. She took him like a sex machine. She would get the same result if she took a donkey or a handsome Great Dane dog.

In the morning, his uncle’s wife cooked breakfast. All three of them ate and didn’t talk much. Then Ruslan left for the seaside town. He never saw them again—neither Timur nor his wife.

At that time, many years ago, Ruslan thought he had gone beyond the limits and violated all fundamental norms of decency. Now, he saw it quite differently. It was not a woman who came to him that night. He was visited by death—the soulless, cruel death that was habitually doing its job. It came not to get him—just to warn. To make him understand what death really was and on which road he, Ruslan, would come to his end.

Translated from Russian by Maxim Sviridenkov.

About the author

Sasha Krugosvetov

Sasha Krugosvetov is the pen name of Lev Lapkin, a Russian writer and scientist. Born in 1941, he worked in science research and began to write fiction in the early 2010s. For his books, he was awarded several prizes at the International Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, “RosCon” (including 2014 Alisa Award for the best children’s fantasy book, 2015 Silver RosCon Award for the best short story book and 2019 Gold RosCon Award for the best novel), the International Adam Mickiewicz Medal (Moscow/Warsaw, 2015) and other prestigious Russian literary awards. He lives in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

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