A guest has arrived at the old village.

Passing through the silent alleyways in silence, interrupted by the barking dogs, illuminated by the inner lights of simple houses. The strays charge at the car circling endlessly, snarling, until a shout interrupts them coming from one of the open windows between the sounds of maddened folk music, which sounds like delirious moaning and guttural cursing. The driver looks around and sees dogs foaming at the mouth glaring at him through the window, their eyes glowing, fangs clicking against the window.

The driver seems indifferent. Smashing the horn, he hits something and, without a care for the sudden bump, looks around, searching for one old, worn out house.

As he passes through narrow, winding corridors that end in nowhere, a village stream, a wall, he looks up and sees the destination. A house on a small hill, higher than the rest, peeking through the bushes in the distance.

Reversing, he plots the course and leaves behind the frightened, half-starved mutts behind him, looking at their huddled, elongated forms in the rearview mirror. Then one of the dogs starts howling at the moon and all disappear into the thick village grass.


The house on the small hill is glowing as well; one can hear subdued voices within and see the old orange hue blasting away the dark outside. The guest parks his car in the driveway, in front of the rusted, metal gates, and honks the horn a couple of times.

Hearing the distant sounds, he honks again, then pulls out a phone, dialing a number. Toot-toot…nobody answers.

He exits the vehicle, and at the same time, the door of the house opens, and a small child peeks out. The driver smiles, and waves. The child stares first, then scuttles away.

And then another figure appears, behind the child now pointing at the driver, and a booming, harsh voice is heard, like a low rumbling.

“You finally came!” shouted the man, now rushing to the gate.

“Is this how you treat a guest, Pokhorovich?” said the driver, leaning on his door frame, amused. The man is opening the gate now, cursing some slang and hitting the rusted lock. Finally, the door opens, and the man exclaims: “Come in, come in!”

The guest goes back to his seat and slowly drives in the yard as the man gives signals. Finally, turning off the ignition, he opens the car door, exits, and is crushed in the hands of the man that is now hugging him.

“Pokhorovich! Ah, what a good day! You’re late, late!”

“Dmitrov, you’re crushing me,” said Pokhorovich.

“Ah, sorry, sorry. But to see the legendary Pokhorovich, in the flesh, after some ten years! Ah, we must drink, drink! Come, tell me all inside; we have a full night ahead!

“Ah, wait, let me take out the presents first, they’re in the back.”

“What presents?! Who cares! Come in, come in—Igor! Igor!—Where is that little shit? Igor! Get over here!” yells the man around, until a small child is seen running through the dark yard from the house.

“Igor, meet Aleksey Pokhorovich, my old friend. There is stuff in the back; take it out and bring it in the house—if you break it…” The man gestures menacingly. The child stares, rolling eyes, giggling.

“Look at this useless idiot son…anyway, come in! Ah, wait, I need to lock the gate! Fucking dogs; I swear, we never get a moment’s peace here. Something about animal abuse, so we can’t just poison them, they’re all over the place.”

“Leonid, calm down for a second. Let me take the presents in and then we will…”—No, no, no,” interrupts the man, “on my name of Leonid Milanov, you are my guest and your word is law. So just relax, enjoy my hospitality…okay, the gate is closed! Now, come in! Ah, my old friend! Heh!

Aleksey Pokhorovich gives up arguing, pats the kid on the head, and starts following Leonid Milanov inside the house. Looking around as he is guided in, he notices the yellow, clear moon and smiles. It is a rather good night.


“Aleksey Pokhorovich! Ah, my eyes don’t deceive me! Ten years, ten—years! Where have you been all these years, why never a call? Have you forgotten your old friend?” starts droning Leonid Milanov, fat, balding, and pudgy, a village man, simple and crude. And very loud.

“I tried, I did, but it was not the time to come back.” says Aleksey.

“Ah, right, right. It is a long flight. So, how is America?”

“Not bad.”

“Just that, not bad? Come on—spill the beans…women, money, cars! Heh! Did you ride horses in, in…what was the place…Texas?”

“No, why would I ride horses? I went there to study on an exchange program anyway. And what is with all the dogs around here?

“Pfft, studying in America…still stupid, I see. I told you, they’re all around, just barking, snarling, fighting…people raised them in the towns around, and since they don’t wanna off them, they just let them go so they wander around these parts. What can I say; this place is still terrible.”

“It’s still home.”

“Hah, home! Home! Well, true, it is home…and how is it over there? You settled? What do you do?”

“It’s…complicated. A little bit like, you know, back then…”

“The wars?”

“Not really, but…close. The place changed. Politics. The Middle East. Gas prices…jobs. I was lucky; I got an astronomy degree and somehow became a teacher.”

“You? You? A teacher?”

“Yep. I mean, it’s a small town in Montana, and I teach mathematics or geography or whatever, but it’s nice.”

Both men are excited and often interrupt and add to sentences, not noticing the small child of around eight or nine dragging stuff inside, placing it on the floor, until a loud thud interrupts them and Milanov shouts “Igor! What did I say? Don’t break anything!”

“Relax,” says Pokhorovich.

“Ah, no, no, no. I need to discipline him! He is always running around, breaking stuff, getting into trouble…I always get calls from his teacher, some old crone going ‘Mister Leonid, your child is never paying attention…’”

“It’s those years; we were the same.”

“True, true… Igor! What are you dragging so long for?”

Leonid Milanov stands up, grumbling, goes outside, and sees his son Igor huffing, swallowing big puffs of air, hits the kid on the head, he goes “Ow! Dad!,” and he tells him to go inside the house.

Aleksey Pokhorovich smiles at the kid, who glares at him and goes outside on the house porch, telling his friend:

“It’s a telescope. The old good ones, Iskra. For the kid.”

“Why would you get something so expensive for that brat? Oh, no, friend, I…I can’t accept this.”

“Well, good, since it’s not for you. It’s for your kid, Igor, right?”

“Really?!” hears the child, staring at Pokhorovich, who nods, and the child starts jumping around, screaming until it is interrupted by his enraged father yelling: “Shut up! What is this behavior?! Don’t embarrass me! In the house, now!”

“But, Dad…!” whines the child.

“Okay, okay,” interrupts Pokhorovich.

“The two of you are just the same. Hmmm…let’s unpack it here and let the kid look at the moon while we go and talk.

“Aleksey, this is still too much!” says Milanov.

“It’s just an old telescope; don’t worry about it. Look—there is good moonlight, the house lights are on…when the kid gets bored, we’ll just pack it up, then you can sell it, throw it, whatever. By the way, that thing is valuable, you know.”

Fine, fine, fine! I can’t win against you. How do we unpack it?”

“I’ll show you…first, we pull out the parts…”

Leonid and Aleksey are chatting under the moonlight, placing the parts on the porch while the child is looking anxiously at the parts, occasionally asking what is this or that, to which the big, thin stranger answers and his old man gives warning signs with his eyes not to bother them.

“And…done! This wheel is for the focus, this is for the image clearing. Here, kid, play around!

“Wow! Dad, can I play?!” screams the child, to which Leonid responds, screaming back, “What did he say? Play, play, play, all you do is play! Whatever! Just don’t bother us while we are drinking!”

As the fat man goes inside, followed by the guest, the child smiles for the first time and looks at the strange contraption, intrigued. Pokhorovich turns around, looks at it, reminded of his youth, and goes in. Soon, laughter is heard inside, but the child, first amazed by looking at the endless void, grows bored, then starts shaking.


“…And then it went boom!” yells Milanov, shaking from laughter.

“How can a cow explode?” slurs Pokhorovich, confused.

“The kids two streets afar fed it a live grenade! That old fart Yussuf nearly had a heart attack! They say he fainted! Fainted!

“This place is still crazy, of course he fainted!” yells Pokhorovich dramatically.

“That’s not it, the kids—”Milanov giggles like a toddler“—yelled ‘Allahu akbar!’ at him way over there; ah, the bastards! From two fields across! And then Yussuf’s son came and started chasing them and fell face first—in cow shit! Cow shit!”


“Yeah! Crazy stuff! Well, we figured which kids did it, but apparently their mothers were beating them while trying not to laugh! Now everyone says, ‘Old Yussuf has special cows, they practically explode in your mouth!’ Haha!”

As the two men were chatting, they did not notice that the door was closed and young Igor, pale and silent, was trying to call them, mumbling something.
Pokhorovich started talking about all the places he visited and how big the place is, that you can fit a hundred, a thousand of their homelands inside and still have room to spare. Milanov listened, fascinated about muscle cars and gun shows, space launches and Vegas casinos.

The child, staring at his father, gathered up his courage, and stuttered:


“Incredible! You know, I always wondered how such a big place can be one country…”


“Right, right! And it is just—nothing compares to Sierra Nevada! Just amazing! The nature there is different; it is so imposing. Death Valley is…”


“Ah? Igor? What is it?” Finally noticing the child, standing to the side, the men stopped drinking, waiting.

“The sky is screaming,” says the child, eyes shut.

“What? Is that a riddle? The sky is screaming?” Milanov mumbles into his chin, confused, eyes wandering.

“No!” the child yells. “It’s from that thing—”he points at Pokhorovich“—that mister bought. I look through the hole and there was a scream.

Aleksey Pokhorovich and Leonid Milanov looked at each other and burst into laughter. The child, now red in the face, started yelling: “It’s true, it’s true, Dad! The mister’s machine, there was a big thing, and, and—a small thing! And there was all this screaming! I am not lying!”

Leonid Milanov fell off his chair while Aleksey Pokhorovich stood up, swaying, looked at the kid and said:

“Well, let’s go and see them, kiddo. Those screaming planets.”


It was pitch black in the void. No sound existed; no “it” ever formed “itself.” It was ancient, eternal, known but not comprehended. Aleksey Pokhorovich studied it for a decade yet considered himself a novice in its arcane secrets. The void, the great unknown, space.

And now, it was screaming.

“What a strange sound…” mumbled Aleksey Pokhorovich as he stared into the abyss. The sound was similar yet distinct to screaming, the way certain animals have guttural screeching reminding you of a crying toddler. This was the same, yet…reversed. As if it was screaming—backwards.

A high tone, followed by a low humming, thin, membranous popping, and garbled whizzing of…sounds which are not sounds but aftereffects of…something.

“Let me hear, let me hear.” said Leonid Milanov, staring at the telescope, at first looking around, moving it to this part and that, then going: “Wow! It really is screaming!” Aleksey Pokhorovich stared at the night sky confused, with a hand on his chin, mumbling some strange theorems, talking about “wave frequency,” “ring formation,” “the impossibility of hearing,” looking up there while the child stared triumphantly at the confused adults.

“Did you buy this from a fucking witch, Aleksey?” mumbles Leonid amused, focused on the sounds.

“What witch, you idiot? I bought it in the capital, some antique shop, what was it called…Al-Azif Science and Curiosities Centre, right, that’s it.”

“Sounds stupid.”

“Just shut up and look at the pretty stars. Hmm…if I recall, there was some old guy selling all kinds of weird stuff. Like, really weird stuff—snow-catchers and books on the occult, stuff like that.

“Right, so a witch, then.”

“What fucking witches, Leonid! Fuck! Just some useless old guy which somehow had one of the last Iskra models; that thing is an antique, antique! Designed in 1991! The very last Soviet model!”

“Good, so it is cursed by the Soviets too, heh.”

“It’s not cursed. It’s just a telescope.”

“What is that sound then…? Look.” Milanov straightens up and points to his ears—now, there is no sound. It’s the telescope.

Aleksey has a theory, and shoves aside Milanov hurriedly while mumbling:

“Move away, I need to hear more; this is very strange. Does the sound focus somewhere closer?” he says, fiddling with the focus wheel.

“Up there.” Milanov points, yawning, at some obscure direction. “Hmm, that is quite a strange place.”

“Where’s that?”

“Way out, the very corner of our galaxy; it’s Andromeda.”


“This is a simple telescope, there is no way it can see that far…it was made for simple stargazing and moon observation. How strange…it’s like the lenses are focusing them?”

“Whatever. You got swindled. Don’t go into shady shops here, idiot; how did you even get a degree? C’mon, let’s go inside; you too, Igor.”

“I did not lie, see!” yells the child.

“Yes, yes. Now, let’s go in. Aleksey, are you coming?”

“Give me a few minutes. I need to hear this thing a bit more…”

“Alright. I’ll go and put the kid to sleep. You can sleep in the guest room; it’s upstairs.”


“Are you listening?”


“He’s not listening. C’mon Igor, time to sleep.”

As Leonid Milanov went inside, Aleksey Pokhorovich stared, his mind turning. A frequency?

Yet the sound kept going, more frenetic, almost emotional, and hysterical. Crashing up and down, left and right across the dark void, tracked by the old telescope until it lodged itself deep into the skull, the skin, the gut. Aleksey Pokhorovich felt disgusted, wronged, enraged…and afraid. Terrified. The sound from beyond was unlike anything he heard. The hums were replaced by buzzing and Pokhorovich felt a thin sensation of something wriggling in his ear lobe, until a high-pitched tone started pulsing in his brain.

Now shaking from some unknown, deep terror, he straightened up, somber and serious. His ears were bleeding.


Aleksey Pokhorovich was floating in an endless abyss of nothing, comprehending only himself, from himself, unto himself into infinity…first he was gaseous and vibrating, splitting apart, churning and consuming, and it felt good to consume, to increase the tremors.

This comprehension carried on for unknown eons…occasionally something would brush past itself, but how can there be anything but itself? This brushing would produce great formations of drifting energy which he devoured…absorbed into a bigger, more expansive version of himself, it…it called himself him and him called itself it…splitting into countless smaller vibrations which now were the same yet different.

Sometimes the countless eons of churning would be interrupted by a piercing unknown which scattered his self apart, until it started dreaming of a form…a vast, starry dust moved erratically, carried on cosmic movements coming from afar, pulling in all directions.

The dust started swirling, vibrating faster and faster until the dawning of it came unto itself…and it started folding inward, creating arcane pathways of…of…luminal contagion of existence contrasting itself with the great non-contagion. It glowed…

For countless eons more, it folded as Aleksey felt this unfolding, sensing in pathways beyond all notions…until “it” came. “It.”

It came as an unknown curiosity as it observed itself. It was beginning to fold into himself, and the luminescence was thinking. It came from afar, the unknown curiosity, as it folded, observing. It did not know how it could sense an unknown curiosity, but it was there…

As time moved on, time became known…the unknown curiosity was still arriving—it was always arriving—the distance of stars meant nothing to it, and it felt its first emotion; it felt fear.

Himself, as he started knowing, started to fold faster and hastened, and the small vibrations became colorful, with different properties, even rebelling against himself, as if his own form was forming a will unlike it. Yet it was too late.

It came from afar. And started consuming.

It screamed for the first time; Himself was disappearing, vibrations shattered by an unknown hum which made Himself feel a certain…unknown.

All across its surface, tendrils of unknown things latched on and it thrashed violently, seeking to drift somewhere else; as its vibrations started collapsing into the deafening noise of maddened existence, it glimpsed, somewhere far, in the distant corner, unreachable, a presence which was infinitely small and colorful, but alive and another Himself.

Focusing all of Himself on that distant sense, it gazed through the abyss of starlight and started screaming into the void as it started fading back into an endless abyss, but an abyss of a different kind, an abyss of an unknown curiosity.

And even after the stars dimmed, its maddened pain never ceasing, the tendrils digesting its vibrations which scream in a haze of unbecoming, the unknown visitor gazes upon that which Himself is gazing, and drags the luminal one with him, serving as a beacon to a great, unknown beyond…


“Aleksey, wake up. Wake up!” yelled Leonid Milanov.

His eyelids heavy, barely opened.


“Wait; first, drink some water.” Leonid took a glass cup and poured it into the throat of the stargazer.


“Much better. Thank you.”

“Alright. Rest a little, then come down. We need to talk.”

Pokhorovich was hazy, confused, with a splitting headache from all the alcohol consumed last night. And that dream…was he a star? Or something else entirely?

As he went down, he saw Leonid sitting on his chair, pouring something and drinking it, frowning all the time.

“Hangover medicine. Hits like a truck, damn…”

“Give me some.”

“First, go and wash yourself. You look like roadkill.”

“Sure, sure…”

“Alexey! Just…hurry back.”


He was greeted by a pale, slightly-glowing man in the mirror with the sides of his throat covered in blood. Blinking, his confusion was replaced by pain in his brain until it subsided. Looking back, what was he doing? He will have to wash the blood Himself.

The glow was just sweat, it seems. What a strange day…he focused his hearing and there it was…tremors. Like his ears kept hearing background noise which was not there before.

After washing up, he stared at the mirror. Aleksey Pokhorovich…

Interrupted by a loud crashing, he flinched, turning, and saw Leonid Milanov staring at him, yelling:

“Did I not say come immediately?!”

“I was just washing up.”

“You were in here for four hours!”


“Whatever! Come on!” Leonid dragged him to the room, placed him on the chair, and sat opposite him.

“How are you feeling?” asked Milanov.

“Tired…I drank too much.”

“Anything else?”

“Nothing…I had a strange dream…”

“Right. That dream…were you a star?

“How did you know…?”

“Focus! Were you a star?!”

“Yes! Stop shouting! God, my ears hurt…”

“And, were you eaten?”

“Yes…what is it?”

“I had it too. The dream. Now, tell me: where did you get that telescope?

“I already told you; the, uh, Science and Curiosities Centre…

“There is no such place.”


“In the capital? No such place. Where did you get it?”

“I…I don’t know…can’t remember…”

“First, drink this. Then—get that thing away from here, you hear?”

“But it’s your present…”

“Fuck your present! I should call a fucking priest for that shit! Did you bring some spy weapon from America? Huh? Some forgotten brainwave project?! That thing is fucking cursed, I tell you! Who the fuck sold it to you?!”

“I don’t know, stop shouting, God!”

“Get rid of it!”




The telescope was moved to Aleksey Pokhorovich’s old, dilapidated house which was kept in fine condition by the neighbors a few streets away. Placed in the attic, it looked at the sky.

Aleksey would stare through it for hours, gazing into the abyss. Time seemed to become irrelevant, as if some great revelation was coming.

The dreams became frequent and disturbing, until Pokhorovich stopped sleeping entirely, hiding in his attic, gazing at the sky, listening in to the sounds. The sounds in his ears were…there. They nestled.

The telescope, he was certain, would move to a certain location when he was not watching, as if it had a mind of its own. Slowly, effortlessly, it was moved by the gentle summer breezes, swaying until the wind died down and it dropped dead, like a hammer, to some unknown location through which Pokhorovich would glimpse impossible un-realities…

Maddening places of scale so vast and profound he felt his existence dissipating and his brain turning into stew. It was turning into stew as he felt it slowly being devoured by an unknown sentiment, as he was certain now that his body displayed a certain luminescence…and the first, alien thoughts intruded into him, not thoughts but something…higher.

And terrifying.


A thing has arrived at the old village.

Passing through the silenced alleyways, it prowls, scaring away the mutts who all disappeared from the region. Aleksey Pokhorovich once went and visited his old friend, but he was not home.

He found a strange puddle of goo, like gelatin, all around the house. One on the chair, another near the rusted gate. But he could not fully recall Himself when they went or when they will come back. The house glowed, too, but not from any electricity anymore. It glowed like it glows itself, and Pokhorovich felt disturbed, asking questions of mad meaning…

The villagers fear the thing from the attic which glows in the night, and tremors are sensed all around as the whole place starts reporting that time, it appears, is disappearing. There are no more sounds of barking and no music is heard in any direction, and all voices seem distant…

And in the attic of the old house can be seen a telescope always swaying peeking through the window into the void, glowing.

And up there in the skies, villagers speak in hushed whispers of omens from beyond.