Several exhalations of life
Peter Sunshine was standing before the Spring of life where somebody had placed a plate with his name on it. The Spring was gradually running dry.
The sensation of seeing the inevitability of one’s own death could not be compared with anything else. Except with death itself.
However, since Peter had never died before, he didn’t have a clear idea what exactly death was. Yet, he felt the ghostly embrace of something that resembled a try for an icy kiss – he had experienced a similar sensation during his granny’s funeral – he remembered the open coffin in the church, all the relatives were supposed to walk by the body of the old woman for a final farewell. Peter had cried the previous night, he didn’t cry at the funeral, but his eyes were misty and watery, one could see the grief in his eyes. He saw everybody touching the dead woman’s hand, while walking past the coffin and realized that he was supposed to do the same. “That’s the proper thing to do!” He didn’t have any idea who had made up this rule, he wondered who could determine what was proper and what wasn’t. He took his courage though; he stopped by his granny’s body and touched her dead hand with his little palm. The icy taste of death pierced his body, at first he felt as if the dead woman would grasp him by the hand that very moment, and drag him right into the coffin with her. He instinctively moved back, he almost toppled down the huge vases full of flowers, placed near the coffin.
Afterwards, all night he saw coffins in his dreams; coffins that were opening and closing. All sorts of dead people were laying in them; people with indistinct faces who were calling him, trying to reach him with their hands in the dark. He was pulling himself back so desperately, that at one moment he fell down from his bed.
Peter Sunshine was only ten years old but he realized he was going to die.
His Spring of life was running dry and he had nowhere to get life-giving water to fill the Spring up. He neither had the strength to do it, nor did he know where to find this life-giving water...
* * *
There, at the foot of the Sunnypeak mountain, Tommy Sunshine didn’t know his brother was going to die. He had the feeling though, that Peter was in great danger, and that he had to hurry up and find him before it was too late.
Tommy set off as Peter had directed him in the dream – he had to pass through nine mountains to reach the tenth one – right at the end of the world. Jack, the Dalmatian was dogging his footsteps, so closely tailed after him, that from a distance, the boy and the dog appeared as one whole.
The older of Sunshine brothers had undertaken his journey to save Peter, but he didn’t have any idea what to expect. He didn’t know what obstacles and dangers he was about to go through. He didn’t know that those nine mountains wouldn’t be the greatest hardship at all. On his way to the tenth mountain he was going to come across creatures no one else had ever seen before. No one before had ever dared to go to the
where the Black man lived. Moreover, he
didn’t know where exactly he was going... Black Castle
* * *
The, in the Springs of life Garden, inside the
Peter was about to faint once again after he had been ravished by the Black
man’s magic chest. He felt his breath
was pushing to exhale out of his mouth, never to return again. He rubbed his
eyes, which were gradually losing images of the surrounding world and kneeled
down by the Spring. He felt dizzy, he
could not keep his balance, so he laid down on the stone flooring between the
Springs and he seemed to have surrendered.
robin bird in his bosom tried to flutter with its wings, and then it grew quiet. Black Castle
A beautiful lady dressed in a purple mantle, standing under an arch on the upper floor, was looking down at Peter who was lying there – unconscious and helpless.
* * *
Wandering through the trails of Sunnypeak mountain, Tommy didn’t have time to rejoice at the two newborn foxes, that had slept well the previous night and, now, were playing in the grass. Neither had he time to watch the lonesome doe that had come to the creek, nor to listen to the bird songs. The mother fox took a careful look at the boy from the bushes, she was calm – the boy had not caused any harm to her cubs.
Now, he had to walk all the long way to reach Peter as soon as possible.
* * *
There, in Sunnytown, a bitter feeling woke Mrs. Sunshine up. She felt as if something pierced her heart, the same sensation one experiences shortly before he gets stricken by heart attack. Elena had been up almost all night, not only because of the black clouds that were threatening the town; Elena just couldn’t accept the fact that another day had passed and the police could still not detect any traces of Peter. Nobody had called or messaged her with a ransom demand; there was no evidence of a sinister crime in the woods, or in the trunk of a car, abandoned in the fields, for example... There was…nothing. This lack of information, the fact she didn’t know what happened to her child was worse than the waiting itself. Nothing terrified her more than the thought that the worst could have happened to her child... the most frightening thought for a parent…
Elena Sunshine quickly washed her face and went to the kitchen. She hadn’t forgotten her daily duties and care for her husband and Tommy, so she decided to make some crispy little patties for breakfast. Mr. Sunshine always got up early in the morning to go to the confectionary first, he came back home every morning at 7.30 and they always had breakfast together – the four of them.
The three of them now… Elena didn’t know where Peter was, she didn’t have any idea whether he had anything for breakfast at all.
She entered the kitchen and took the large glass bowl to whip the eggs in it. She took the bowl with one hand, then she turned to take the white cotton kitchen towel to mop it and… she dropped the bowl.
The glass bowl fell and broke into dozens of pieces on the floor.
There was a note on the table.
“Mom, I’m going out there to save Peter.Don’t you worry, everything is going to be all right. We’ll be back the moment the Sun rises again above Sunnytown. Wait for us. Tommy”.
Elena Sunshine realized that only two people had remained in the house for breakfast. Eating was the last thing though, that would interest her and Mr. Sunshine - that and the following mornings.
Both their sons had taken the roads of destiny. Nobody knew where these roads would lead them, nobody knew how long one should follow these roads to find salvation. If salvation were to be found at all…
* * *
Peter who had collapsed near the Spring of life, was still lying there lifeless. Being only 10, he was a brave boy. He knew how to fight and not to surrender.
The elegant lady, dressed in a crimson mantle, who had been watching him from the second floor of the castle, pushed a brick in the wall and entered in a dark room which in reality wasn’t so dark. There was no light there at all, but all the objects could be clearly seen, because of the thousands of monitors that made the darkness visible. There, on these huge monitors the woman was watching the life of different people – men, women and children, various people who were at their work place, at their homes, at the supermarket, at the cinema hall, visiting their neighbors’, at the hospital, in the maternity ward, or sitting on a bench at a bus stop...
The woman was examining their lives. Some of the monitors died out occasionally, never to start again...
* * *
Tommy had easily got over Sunnypeak and was climbing up the second mountain now. He wasn’t feeling any fatigue, Jack was full of energy too, which made the boy hurry along. He had no time to waste.
The second mountain was a woody one – three different woods covered its slopes – The
Orange wood, the Sheet Iron wood and the Silver wood. These three areas were clearly outlined, as if they
had no common ground – they seemed to
exist essentially. Tommy wondered for
a moment – which of the three was the most frightful one... He didn’t really know what sort of sensation fear was. A coward would not start looking for his brother, who had been kidnapped by a magic black chest. Jack found all of the three forests equally exiting - he would sink into the fallen leaves and play with them,
he would find a stick and gnaw it for fun on their way through the forest. The Dalmation didn’t know that tin and silver are no
good for gnawing at all. He didn’t have the
slightest idea who was lurking behind those trees.
* * *
There, in the Hall of Life, the woman was holding something that looked like a remote control – it was, though, larger and pliable – a sponge-like object. With this remote control the woman managed to control all the cameras that showed the lives of thousands of people. She was able to have a look at all the objects around those people, as well as the other people. She would draw the lens to certain faces so close that you could see the pores of their skins. Then she would blur the images, twisting the cameras, choosing some sudden standpoints towards the Living World.
* * *
Tommy and Jack passed the
Orange wood and made their
way into the Tin wood. The boy told himself he had to look out for dry sticks
or weeds that could cut him. The dog sniffed
around, and not detecting any tasteful smells, lost interest in the wood and
just kept on following Tommy – they were like two silhouettes, merging in one
They were approaching the Silver wood.
Tommy had read piles of books and lots of films about vampires. He knew vampires could be killed only by a silver bullet. And in this forest you could find silver for a load of silver bullets! He only hoped he wouldn’t have to use the silver for this purpose. Moreover, vampires ruled at night, and it was a day in the Silver wood.
The farther they walked from Sunnytown, the clearer they could see the black, cloudy shield that was hanging over the town. With each pace it became lighter and sunnier. Oddly, the clouds had seemingly marked the exact borders of the town and looked like an ugly lid. Only, there was no one there to roll this lid out of the town...
The sky was sunny above the Silver wood, the trees reflected the sunny rays like mirrors – now and then, and all that light was dazzling the boy and his loyal friend – the Dalmatian Jack. The rays were tickling the dog’s nose, making him sneeze. The black spots on his fur didn’t look so black under the sunny rays. Those silvery reflections dazzled Tommy as well, he wasn’t quite sure they were walking in the right direction but ever since they had set out, he had the feeling that he didn’t need to think where he was going. Somebody or something was just guiding them. He just had to confide in his feet – they knew where they were going.
The silver arms of the trees resembled frail and fragile icicles. Nevertheless, the wind scampered among them, making a weird whizz that sounded a bit scary, but Tommy had promised himself that he wouldn’t be afraid of anything.
Jack suddenly stopped and started choking.
Tommy turned round, squatted for a moment and patted the dog’s back.
He drew back immediately, as he felt as if an invisible, ice-cold hand was holding the dog’s throat. Jack couldn’t breathe. Then, in the silvery reflections of the nearby trees, he saw clearly the dog’s breath as it was floating out of the dog’s mouth. The dog’s breath curved up in the air like a cuckoo clock spring that was about to break any moment...
Something was sucking the dog’s breath away.
Tommy had no idea what to do. He started waving his hands around to chase away the invisible assailant, but his arms swung around without direction, making him look like a broken windmill.
* * *
There, in the black castle, Peter was still lying near his spring of life, without showing any signs of being here, within these boundaries, without being aware that his brother had already set out from Sunnytown to come here.
* * *
Jack’s breath was coming out of his mouth like a thin thread. Tommy couldn’t believe that the dog’s life depended on this thread. He was careful not to make a sudden move, or else, he thought, the thread would just tear up...
Tommy didn’t know that the Whispereaters lived in the Silver wood. They were distantly related to the Shapeshifters and the vampires. They were invisible creatures, therefore they would easily take their victims by surprise. The Whispereaters served the Black Man. They had voluntarily offered him to attack the people who were passing through the Silver wood and thus they took some new breathless bodies to the
The Whispereaters were invisible. The elderly people told stories about them – the Whispereaters usually walked barefoot and left no traces. The only sign of their presence was the weird whisper that their miserable victims used to hear seconds before being attacked in the woods. The Whispereaters didn’t smother their victims; they usually sucked their breath out. A whisper that ate human breath… It sounded really scary...
But Tommy was unaware of all these things. He was about to learn the truth in a very little while.
* * *
The elegant lady, dressed in a crimson robe, took the remote control that helped her control the life screens of thousands of people, and left it on a table that was in the corner of the huge hall, then walked away. She stopped for a while at the marble terrace, took a brief look at Peter who was lying on the stones, then walked on, to the right watch tower where the Black man had already been waiting for her.
* * *
Tommy turned sharply around; he had heard some noise from the silver bushes. Jack’s throat was wheezing, his was about to lose his last reserves of breath.
Then, Mother Fox of Sunnytown jumped out of the silver bushes.
She was a grateful vixen; she knew how to appreciate a gesture of kindness. Earlier, while crossing the mountain, Tommy didn’t hurt her children who were playing jauntily in the grass.
The Whispereaters in the Silver wood could be defeated only by a Silver Fox. This one was the right one.
The Fox jumped upon the invisible assailant who had taken Jack, she bit the Whispereater’s hand that was holding the dog. Several drops of blood trickled down on the silver leaves. The creature that was trying to take away the dog’s life lost its invisibility when it was wounded.
Suddenly Tommy and the stressed dog saw a crooked, gnomish creature that had four, instead of two lips. It looked more like an ant-eater if you looked at his muzzle. The whispereater tried to break free from the fox’s bite, but the fox was holding him tight. The mother of the two fox cubs, who weren’t aware they would become exactly like her one day, shook the whispereater. It was a little, gnomish creature and she tossed him towards the nearby silver tree. A silver stick stubbed him right in the heart, his body shrunk and he disappeared for a few seconds. Vampires vanish exactly the same way when you shoot them with a silver bullet, Tommy recalled.
Not only was the Silver Fox a grateful animal, but she was well mannered, too. Tommy was not surprised when she spoke to him in a human language and told him she was sorry she’d come a bit late, because she couldn’t find anybody to take care of her cubs. The Fox told him what sort of creatures the whispereaters were and warned him to be careful, because they never went hunting by themselves. It was quite possible that other whispereaters were stalking in the bushes at that moment...
Meanwhile, Jack was still coughing, which was very unusual for a dog. He even took his paw in front of his mouth, because he too, was a well-mannered dog. The worst had passed though, the Dalmatian was quickly recovering. The whispereater hadn’t taken his breath away, after all.
The vixen was surprised that the whispereater had attacked the dog instead of Tommy. When she mentioned the Black man, whom the whispereaters served, her words convinced the boy they were going in the right direction. The fox was still at a loss, why Jack had been chosen for a victim. She suggested that this dog was a very important dog because these ugly creatures had tried to leave him breathless.
Tommy realized that someone obviously didn’t want the dog in this rescue trip and at that instant he realized how fortunate he was to have Jack.
The vixen escorted them through the Silver wood. They parted and hoped they wouldn’t need her help again. She showed Tommy a short cut to the third mountain and warned them to look out for the itching ants. One bite by these ants could cause a terrible itch on the whole body of the victim.
Then the silver fox disappeared in the Silver wood, she had to go back to her two cubs. They were waiting for her to tell them the good night fairytale about the ugly creatures that sucked human breath...
Tommy and Jack went on ahead. The dog didn’t look so confident in his walk, but he was doing his best to follow the boy closely. The elder of the Sunshine brothers frequently turned back to see if his friend was all right.
* * *
The Black man was standing there, in the right watch tower of the black castle. He was waiting for the lady in the crimson robe to come. A little notebook was lying on the table. If one looked carefully, one would notice the drops of blood on the leather cover of the notebook.
превод: Гергана Бахчисарайцева