by Sasha Krugosvetov


A fighter who has gone through dozens of fights has an eye for danger. He feels it. With all his sensory organs. Or maybe he is told about it by other feelings, about which we still know little.

He is sitting on the subway, reading something on the tablet. Passengers enter the train at the station. One of them enters differently. He makes different sounds. Not loud, not harsh, not rustling. The same, but not the same.

The fighter’s brain automatically detects danger. His eyes continue to look at the tablet, but his brain is focused on the sounds of approaching danger, and his lips involuntarily whisper, “Danger is the possibility of circumstances under which matter, field, energy, information, or a combination of them, can thus affect a complex system that they will lead to a deterioration or impossibility of its functioning and development.” The complex system is the fighter. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he is at risk, others are at risk too, but they do not know about it yet. They do not have an eye for…So they can become victims. And what about circumstances? These circumstances make their way through the passengers to get closer to the handrail.

The fighter raises his eyes. He wasn’t wrong. The fighter identifies another fighter at a glance. By his gait and special movements, by his ascetic face and cold look of the wide-open eyes, by his incompletely opened hard palms with well-trained crimson knuckles. The one who entered is not just a fighter, he is looking for conflict, he needs a fight—always, here and now, he needs to take out his accumulated strength and cruelty on someone. He does not even realize it. Maybe nothing will happen. It will only happen if he meets resistance…

Or if he meets someone’s direct gaze—eye to eye. Like all wild animals, he regards a fixed look as a challenge to fight a duel, if you do not withdraw your gaze.

Don’t be afraid of him. If you are brave, if you are a fighter, don’t be afraid of him. He will not hit first. Even if you will speak to him, even if he will speak first… Look at him as if during a fight—direct your gaze to the middle of his chest or just a bit higher. This way you will see more. Do not look into his eyes—he will take it as an offense and your first blow, so you will get hit back.

But if a fight is inevitable, do not delay—go to battle. To go to battle does not mean to strike. Stand up, stand straight and show that you are ready. No need to take up a fighting stance and clench your fists. Be calm like a lake in windless weather, but be ready. If your mood is right, testosterone but not adrenaline will be released into your blood. You will know about it by the special clarity and concentration of your mind.

You will know. And the other one will know too. He will feel it immediately. If you were polite and didn’t offend him, if you didn’t talk down on him, he will smile and say, “Nice to meet you, bro” or “It’s all right, guy,” or he will wave his hand in a friendly way and move on. It means that you did not succumb to the provocation, he tried to inflame the situation, but you didn’t do anything wrong. So he couldn’t do anything against you.

You were not surprised to see the danger. It is not the first time for you. When you go on the tatami mat, as soon as you take up a fighting stance, you know who is against you.

And if it is really dangerous, you feel that there is a strong wall against you—the wall, which most likely cannot be crushed, and you need to be especially careful to save your face at least, but you still have a chance to win if you will be an impeccable warrior and if the god of war will help you.

Ah, that entrancing feeling of danger! Which climbers and parkourists—the flying princes of trampolines, roofs and playgrounds—are seeking and catching. Oh, that famous Damian Walters who even undresses and drinks while he is still in the air after a jump! Motorcycles, parachutes, Formula One cars… Surfing, snowboarding, Alpine skiing, diving to 100 meters without scuba gear, and much more else.

Once I was in a camp on the edge of the Varzob, a swift mountain river in the Pamirs. For three days, I walked along the bank and studied the temperament of the irrepressible, roaring and blustering stream, while licking my chops like the cat that looks at the canary.

In the end, I swam across the river—conquered the wayward mountain beauty. I climbed a rock on the other bank, jumped from there into the rapids and gave myself up to the current, which carried me through the river rolls as if I was riding down a water slide. For some seconds, I enjoyed spray, a rainbow and the roar of waves. Then I swam back to my shore. I was safe and sound—even without bruises or abrasions. Why did I do it? I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t.

Danger! It’s the companion of change, the companion of life.

Where there are no dangers, there is stagnation and swamp. Live with all your heart, breathe deeply! Life gives you challenges every day. You will know about them by feeling an unpleasant flutter in the pit of your stomach or a chill of fear running down your back.

Yes, everything has changed. Throw out the merits of the past, forget your past victories and defeats! Accept the challenge, throw down the gauntlet too! And again—for the hundredth, for the thousandth, for the millionth time—become an impeccable warrior, take your sword and go to battle!

Today, here and now, you must prove your right to be called a human. Solve problems, win, suffer defeats, and find strength for new challenges. Be a human every day, dammit!

Rejoice in danger, the forerunner of trials. Drink this feeling, heady like wine, as if you drink expensive champagne of the best brands. If circumstances challenge you, it means that you are alive, alive, alive!

Go toward danger, Valhalla, the heavenly chamber in Asgard for those who fell in battle, a paradise for valiant warriors, is waiting for you. Fight and win! Win, and then—why do you need Valhalla? The Lord gives you a paradise on Earth every day.

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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