The hero of the story finds himself in a car accident, is on the other side of death, but continues his journey — under strange circumstances and with an unusual conductor

At first Vladimir saw something unimaginable. At a distance of an outstretched hand in front of him in the air hung a small … how can I call it … with difficulty finding the right words, Vladimir thought: «a flock of dragonflies.» The dragonflies surrounded Vladimir in an instant and began to peck him vigorously. It was very strange, in addition to the fact that it just hurt: dragonflies were large, heavy, with beaks like birds — smaller in size, but sharp. However, Vladimir did not think about it.

He managed, albeit with difficulty, to rise to his feet. With one hand he fought off dragonflies, the other tried to fill the shirt that had knocked out of his trousers; the blood appeared on her with bright strokes.

The blood was on the asphalt. Nearby there was a car with a slightly crushed hood and a grid of cracks on the windshield. The driver twitched in the cabin and still could not open the jammed door.

Suddenly all sounds ceased, including the screams of an unknown woman and the howling of police sirens. The silence lasted one instant and was so sudden that Vladimir heard the distant, coming from the fields, the buzz of high-voltage lines. The first gawkers began to appear; they braked, approached the curb, were interested. Vladimir felt uneasy. The accursed dragonflies aggravated the situation, not allowing to step and step.

Having mastered the shirt, he began to thrash the insects with his fists to the right and to the left, clearing his way to the sidewalk. People looked at the blood on the asphalt; on the broken windscreen; to the driver who managed to get out and was sitting next to his auto — budget family Renault.

The dragonflies finally fell behind Vladimir. They lost their way back in the pack and disappeared in a single instant in the landscape, as if they were not there.

Vladimir felt cold and began to button up his jacket; here it was found out that two buttons were torn off meat, and in general the jacket was pretty shabby. Vladimir looked around. Passers-by ignored him; now all crowded near the car and looked at something. The understanding of what could be there gradually penetrated into his consciousness, forcing him to act: Vladimir went to the nearest houses to leave the courtyards away from this place, from this situation, which he called to himself «the point of the break of daytime dreams.» It sounded somehow vysprenno, but to reflect on the accuracy and beauty of the wording now did not make sense; all the usual things are left behind.

No one pursued him, and this caused him a fit of chaotic, little puppy joy. Vladimir laughed softly. After walking a couple of blocks, he suddenly felt an acute desire to sit on a bench in the courtyard; something imperceptibly childish was in this desire, and if there was a wooden mushroom with a sandbox in the yard, Vladimir would undoubtedly prefer them. It was a little embarrassing that a local old resident was already sitting on the bench, the only one in the courtyard; people ceased to cause any interest, rather, light disgust and rejection. Fortunately, the old man paid no attention to him. After sitting for about ten minutes, Vladimir was about to leave, when suddenly the old man began to say:

«The Lord is almighty … what do I need … these tortures … Did I deserve … Did I live in a loose way, unjustly …»

He gradually raised his voice; passers-by, looking at him, smirking, and their smiles were superior, as if they were involved in secret knowledge. Vladimir felt that he had something to do with them: they were no longer people in the usual sense, they experienced «a break in daytime dreams,» as Vladimir might have said; each in his own circumstances. This yard was probably one of many points where their trajectories intersected. Vladimir got up and went quietly farther to the high-rise spire above the roofs.

«When it’s over!» The old man was almost shouting. «When you let me, like everyone else! .. Why am I like an old dog … sick … save me!» Do not hold it! Let’s go! ..

Soon his cries died down. Vladimir moved from one courtyard to another when the road to him was suddenly blocked by a ravine. Its slopes were overgrown with thick grass, and far below — to the very bottom — there was ice. The bottom of the ravine, however, was not visible, it was obscured by fog. Ice sparkled in the rays of the setting sun. Vladimir looked at the glare and reflections, on the patterns that were born from cracks on the ice … catching himself on the thought that to see now has become much better than before, or rather, in a completely different way, as if the space under the power of his gaze has disintegrated, and distant things attracted to him, as attracted by a magnet, iron shavings.

And then he saw the boy. He was completely inconspicuous, this boy, and if Vladimir were asked to describe his appearance, he would only spread his hands and said that such boys are many on the winter roller coaster, and perhaps would have added that he had in his arms usual children’s sledge.

«Hey, uncle,» the boy called out, «you just let it go!»

They began to descend and soon reached the ice. Vladimir sat in the sledge; he somehow immediately realized that he should continue the journey on his own.

«And a coin?» The boy asked suddenly.

«What kind of coin?» — I thought rather than told Vladimir out loud.

«Like what?» The boy was surprised. — All you need to explain, but I have time to spare! Yes, you pasharte in your pockets, there is probably lying around.

Indeed, the coin was found. It was an old pre-reform ruble, it is not known how it turned out in the back pocket of trousers.

— Will it do? Thought Vladimir, examining the ruble.

— It’s good! Rejoiced the boy. «Below you will like it: there are all kinds of animals, strange locks, many interesting things. You just do not jump out of the rut. There’s ice everywhere, I’m like a knee of a ditch!

The boy raised the floor of his coat, pulled up his trouser leg. On his knee was a fresh bruise.

«You went on for a long time,» he said to Vladimir, smiling. «I’m already freezing!» Oh, my mother is calling …

Vladimir heard a distant, jerky sound, like a string burst in the sky.

The boy pushed the sled down, in a broad rut. The skids piled up the walls, clinked, creaked, and the sled, picking up the course, rolled. The wind rustled in my ears, the cold clung to the hands and face with hooks, the rut was wriggling like a huge frozen worm, the sled rolled faster and faster. The only thing Vladimir feared now was to fly out of the sled at full speed or lose track.

When the sled dived into a thick fog, Vladimir stopped worrying, the road went straight and straight, there was nothing to see. It was as if a little warmer. A long melody began to play in my head, Vladimir began to whistle … Soon the sled creaked (probably someone sprinkled ice in this place with sand) and stopped. Vladimir arrived.

Everything around him sparkled and blinded his eyes. The sun was hanging on a sparkling white thread, which leave airplanes in the sky. There were no meeting people, probably he arrived too early. Well, it does not matter, decided Vladimir, you can take a walk, look around …

* * *

When he climbed the sloping slope (there were many flat, like knocked-down hills), someone from afar waved to him. Vladimir several times waved back and ran down, bogged down in the soft snow; such snow as here, he saw only in his childhood, in a small town town — when you kick a snowdrift with his foot, and he will break into a myriad of small shining snowflakes, and you can catch them with your mouth, and make snowballs, and crawl through the snow, and play hockey up to the moment when they call you home, and there, on the threshold, they brush a frozen breeze from their cap and coat, to the last ice, although there is not, the last one can be hidden in your mouth and rolled so that it softly she tinkled on her teeth until she melted.

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