Stories in the humorous-fantastic genre. The world of the future, which comes to us first in the form of fantasy, and then in reality.
Finally I reached his shack, the walls of which seemed to have grown into the ground, with an entrance on one side and a window on the other. I knocked on the sheet of corrugated tin that covered the entrance. This is how guests usually announce their arrival, but instead of doors there was a hole.
– Who is this? – Someone's voice was heard.
–Can I come see you for a minute?
– What's happened? – asked the man in the booth.
– I want to examine you. How are you feeling?
– I'm not complaining. Everything is fine. He is healthy.
“But at least be careful so I can listen to you.” Or let me come in.
– Go your way and leave me alone!
– nothing will come of it. My duty brought me here. I need to examine you.
– And I protest against violence! Where is your vaunted freedom of speech and action? And you also claim that everyone uses it like air?
– Yes, but such an understanding of freedom presupposes a certain degree of consciousness.
“Our ancestors protested against violence by going on hunger strikes in prisons. Now is a different time, and I am declaring a silence strike in protest!
– Listen, sir! Society respects our decision to return to nature. You can enjoy all the benefits of civilization, but if you want to sleep on mats, that’s your business! Please give up everything that culture gives to society – both spiritual and material benefits. But we still need to respect certain laws, if not social ones, then at least those inherent in human nature. After all, you have to remain human in this too. Can you hear me?
Silence. There is no sound coming from the cabin. The gentleman in the booth went on strike.
“I assure you that I respect your decision to live in poverty and hide from society in order to indulge in reflection, like the ancient philosophers.” But I'm the new hygienist in your area, and I have to take care of you like everyone else. Can you hear me?
“Well, okay,” I thought, “if you don’t want to do it the good way, then we’ll do it the bad way.”
“I have no more time, dear sir,” I said loudly, “I’m leaving, but I’ll be back tomorrow.” I hope you'll be smarter by then.
Trying to make as much noise as possible, I walked away, but sat down behind the nearest bush and began to carefully watch the booth.
About twenty minutes later this gentleman's head stuck out of the window. The head looked around carefully, and soon the gentleman himself came out of the booth. He was wearing trousers – they must have been white at one time – and a black sweater that had collected all the surrounding dirt. The gentleman stood up, holding up his trousers. Bending down, he ran a few steps down the slope and dived into the dense thicket. Nobody saw him, but he didn’t see anyone either. I took advantage of this and climbed into the booth. There was straw on the floor, covered with a torn blanket.
A couple of minutes later the gentleman himself returned. When he saw me, he swore loudly. It was impossible to stand up there, so he knelt down next to me:
– Why are you breaking into my house? Who invited you here?
I looked around. There wasn't even a nail on the slanted walls. In the corner there was only a shovel with a broken handle.
– Are you afraid that I will steal your jewelry? What are you doing here? Did you hate the whole world? Did someone offend you?
– I'm tired of you! Get out! I want to be alone!
“You can stay alone,” I began meaningfully, “but you must not arouse discontent.” My advice to you is to return to people, become a human again. Show me your feet – it's time to plant peas between your toes!
He tucked both legs under him and said nothing. I softened my tone:
– I suggest you move to one of the small villas. It's quiet there, like in a forest under the snow. If you hate furniture, you can throw it away or chop it up as you see fit. A few steps from the house there is a babbling stream – it can replace a bath or shower. You will have soap and a stiff washcloth to give you a good wash, and of course, a toothbrush! And pasta that smells like herbs. I'll make you a different person!
“Well, you’re laughing at me,” said the gentleman. “I’ve been living here for a long time, I have my rights and responsibilities, so why don’t you leave me alone?” After all, I don’t bother anyone, I spend my days like a hardworking beetle. I'm not beautiful, but I'm useful. What do I need your toothpaste for other than to stain my teeth? If I could give you advice, I would say: “Stop all this fuss and come to me. Build a beautiful booth next to mine and don’t give a damn about everything.”
This gentleman began to persuade me to follow him! I have to exchange my life for a Robinsonade, which represents not just a primitive existence, but, you see, an intense struggle of eternal human wisdom and cunning with the elements. This latter-day Diogenes and his philosophy tried to propagate me! It only took a few theses to, as it seemed to me, destroy his beliefs in half, like a worm, these two halves in half and so on, but it was all in vain. Each part lived its own life, wriggled, asserted its primitivism, mocked civilization.
“You no longer represent the human race, but a tribe of disgusting know-it-alls.” You have created some kind of monstrous automatic paradise on your planet. You distanced yourself from nature, subjugated it, forced it to work until self-destruction, you broke it, raped it with your discoveries. When this was not enough for you, you invented a new nature in your laboratories, artificial, chemical and machine, contrary to the goals and will of nature itself. It must be surrounded by mystery, for the distant future centuries are threatened by an omnipotent man, whose brain and hands will create even more terrible things, because these hands will no longer belong to man.
I answered Mr. Thinker that he himself had lost his human form and his words made no sense. The future person will develop harmoniously. And besides, he forgot about other worlds, about new planets that we discover during space flights and to which our spaceships descend. It would be very sad if only one sun always shone above the head of humanity and another star never rose. If people were always doomed to tinker only with their Earth, remake, improve – only it! But, fortunately, the human spirit, his hands and thoughts have found new, unexplored areas of application on distant planets. You will know happiness when you meet it, but you need to know grief in advance, before it enters your life, this is the only way to defend yourself from it.
I wanted to clarify this thought, but the gentleman, as if not hearing me, continued to mutter his own:
“Today you all don’t even remember what these feelings are – heaviness, fatigue, pain, you don’t know how pleasant physical work is. The greatest pleasures are not available to you – to taste black bread after a long hunger strike, to taste a sip of water after a long journey, to fall asleep exhausted from hard work. You are sissies who equate yourselves to gods! We have not yet been born, but everything is already prepared for you. Schools are being built faster than new students can grow up, you have hospitals, but there are few patients in them. Your gyms, playgrounds, stadiums are so big that they will never be filled, you have so many art galleries, so many concert halls, so many theaters that you are tired, fed up, brain poisoning has begun. And no one ever knows where to stop.
What could I say to this? That a person will remain a person, and people will remain people until they lose everything human. His words – whatever he says – are a eulogy for our times. He rejects excesses and prosperity, but who knows whether his current rejection of all goods and voluntary starvation is not the result of yesterday's satiety?
Everything in the world is now perfectly organized, and harmony reigns in it. Each person resembles the pipe of a giant organ playing a symphony about life on Earth. And if a false note sounds during this performance, which is not surprising, since there are billions of pipes, then he is one of those cracked pipes.
The whole world is currently sterile. The streets, for example, are watered with foam, which is then washed away by artificial rain. Houses sparkle with bright colors, but white predominates, a symbol of purity and health! An army of hygienists has risen to fight against those who defile cleanliness.
“And you,” I told him, “are one of them.” I can't allow this! I must fight you as a champion of anti-aesthetic norms.
“Oh, you are a wonderful dreamer,” said the gentleman, noticeably offended, “know that dirt will never disappear from the face of the Earth, because every speck of dust is, in fact, a particle of our planet.”
“Oh, you piece of the planet,” I answered in the same tone, “if these specks of dust accumulate under your nails, this is already dirt, and it needs to be removed with water and a brush! By the way, come on. My sense of smell refuses to perceive such strange smells.
“Nobody invited you here,” the gentleman answered, but he got out. – If you, in addition to a long nose, also had an imagination, you would have noticed a blooming apple tree in the place where you climbed and which irritates you so much.
– Don't remind me of flowering trees! I was angry.
“For your information, I made all the trees around me angry!” I did this to improve the soil structure. This entire garden is the result of many years of research into the problem associated with artificial fertilizers. If you were to walk up the hill with me, you would find that the higher you go, the older the trees become. On each trunk there is a plate with data – how much nitrogen-phosphate fertilizers and how much peat were used to feed the tree. Do you see a row of pegs hammered in last fall? This is the border of my garden. You probably already guessed that these are the places of future landings. Below I sow, above I harvest. I treat the birds with cherries, and the surrounding boys with pears. However, I need to make sure that they fear me a little.
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