A howl, a vile, monotonous howl, a dull, rusty needle penetrated my sleepy brain. I sat up abruptly, without opening my eyes, and started fumbling with my hand under the bench. The first shoe was found at once, the second, apparently, had flown somewhere in the corner. There was no time to search, and I ran out into the street barefoot.
The icy frozen mud dug into my heels with sharp lumps and finally woke me up. It was dusky outside, though the horizon was already turning orange. "It must be five in the morning. Or nine," I thought. I didn't have a watch-no one in our village had a watch-but we tried to measure time by hours and minutes out of habit. What's the point though - in any case, the air-raid alarm would wake us up in the morning, and in the evening everyone would go to bed when the sun went down and it got dark. The alarm went off, and I groped my way into my halfway house. I would not be able to sleep anyway, I had to find my noodles, eat nettle chowder, and get ready for work.
Yes, yes, that's right, to work! I'm one of the lucky ones who got a job. I mean how to get a job - on the party line. Back in the early twenties, I enlisted in the Young Guard, where I served the great leader and the Motherland faithfully. I fought the fifth resistant column , wrote denunciations on unscrupulous citizens, and so on. And as a result, now, in 2028, the party remembered my former merits and recommended me to the chairman of the village council as a loyal, his man, who should be employed by the party line. Chairman Semenych took me as his assistant and gave me a huge salary - 15 billion rubles per month! This is a lot of money by our standards - just six months is enough time to buy a pair of Chinese sneakers or a new tee shirt. In general, my business has been on the upswing lately. What do I do at work? Nothing - Semenych put me in charge of the diggers. It's a boring job: you follow men and women all day long and watch them digging up soil, carrying it on a wheelbarrow and dumping it into 20-ton containers.
Where does the soil go, you ask? I don't know. Nobody knows. One day, one smart guy asked Semenych, where do these containers go? To which Semenych replied, "What the fuck do you care?" - Then Semenych took out his cudgel and hit the wise guy between the horns. No one asked Semenych what and where, but rumor has it that the land is being exported to China.
Who cares what and where? The main thing is that there is work - thanks to the leader for that. Back in the dashing twenties, he promised to create 20 million jobs, but he failed then - at that time there was a great bloody war for the Russian's peace in Syria and Ukraine. The decaying West in those harsh years tried in every way to destroy Russia, because the Western fags cannot live peacefully while we Russians are free to breathe our Orthodox air.
Ah, the times... And you could once breathe with your chest full, but now you can't. Take a deep breath and you'll cough. The air has become filthy. Sometimes it's all right, but other times the east wind brings the stink - it hurts your eyes. Semenych says it's the goddamn Finches poisoning us, but one crazy oldtimer, who wandered into our village last fall, said that there's a Chinese factory thirty days away to the east, which smelts some heavy metals. But Semenych mocked him and whipped him with a whip. Well, the oldtimer died. But whether he was telling the truth or not, nobody knows. Thirty days on foot is an insanely long time, it's not one pair of wicker booties you'll wear out before you get there.
I'm distracted by my booze-boosting thoughts... It is probably true what Semenych says - it is time to go to church in the district center, otherwise demons take over my mind, and I begin to question things that initially should not be questioned.
So our great leader in 2025 kept his promise and gave us twenty million jobs so that everyone who was suffering and poor could earn a slice of bread and a nice nutritious shit on a shingle. Some of them, like us, are carting around dirt in containers and others are digging metal where there used to be a dump site in the city. In general, everybody is busy.
While I was indulging in demonic thoughts and questioning the ideals of our perfect world order, the sun peeked out from behind the horizon, and rays of light penetrated through the muddy glass of the window, illuminating the soilen walls of my dwelling and the straw mattress on the bench. A boot was peeking out from under the bench, and I bent sharply and grabbed it, put it on the bench, and began to wrap the damp wrappings around my foot.
Boots... Oh, they're expensive! But without them in this weather you'll wipe your feet with blood on the frozen mud, there's no way out, and you may get two billions, but you'll have to buy sandals. Or go to the woods yourself, cut and weave. Yeah, easy to say, but the license for the collection of balsa cost 40 billion and is valid for only 2 weeks, so it is cheaper to buy balsa booties. There was one clever one here, named Fedka, who decided to just go to the edge of the forest and cut balsa, without a license - for free, so to speak. So he was spotted by Chinese drones in two minutes, and five minutes later a group of Chinese gamekeepers wrapped up the flippers and dragged him into the woods. I don't know what the gamekeepers did to him, but no one ever saw Fedka again. Rumor has it that the Chinese skin poachers alive for their forest, and someone says that they don't skin them at all, but take them to fly larvae farms, where they put them to sleep and process them into nutritious mincemeat that they use to hatch their maggots. The fly larvae farm is not far from us, only three days away, if the boots are comfortable and the shoes are strong, but if you are barefoot, then you can limp for five days... But what am I saying?
Anyway, Fedka went to the forest to steal balsa, and he was caught by the Chinese and punished in his own way, the Chinese way. Maybe we ate Fedka afterwards, because the bread we are given on coupons is made from maggot’s flour, and maggots are grown in the fly larvae farm, which is three days away if you walk in comfortable sandals.
Booties buy more profitable, well, at least safer, the more we as patriots simply must support domestic producers. But I dream of Chinese sneakers! I have been dreaming for a long time, but I do not tell anyone so as not to jinx them, because you cannot tell your secret dreams to anyone - demons can hear and jinx them, then go to church, put candles to ward off demons. And one candle costs as much as two hundred million. And you have to put them at least five, if you come to church. Oh, my little Russian Orthodox Church... I have to go to church on Easter and light a candle for our great leader. As soon as I get my paycheck, I'll go and buy the biggest candle I can get, for eight hundred million! If you go out at dawn you'll be in the district center by nightfall, the main thing is to be there before dark, because in the district center when it's dark, there's a curfew - the Cockssux can catch you hanging about and beat you to death with their clogs.
And I also dream about a woolen coat, but all winter I was freezing in a leaky jacket, which I inherited from my great-grandfather - it was my fault, idiot, last year I lost all the coupons for deadwood in the cards to Semenych. This year, as soon as I get coupons, I will run to the woods to collect deadwood.
While I was thinking and thinking, my feet brought me to the center of the village, where the villagers were already gathering for the morning inspection. It is a tradition in Russia to hold a morning check, where they count those who died during the night or ran away, so as not to cook for them and not to transfer the food. Well, and report to the district center, because if someone escaped from the village, the district center must send a detachment of Cockssux in pursuit, so that they caught a runaway and for the edification of others flogged with rifles on the main square of the settlement.
Today, thank God, nobody died or escaped, so Semenych counted everyone twice and said in a resounding voice:
- Dear, residents of the village of Verkhneye Skolenostanovo (the Uptown of Kneestandinguppers)! Tomorrow we have a great holiday - the Great Victory Day of our ancestors in the Great Patriotic War! Tomorrow you, the glorious descendants of our great grandfathers, will receive your holiday 100 grams of vodka and a holiday food ration of 125 grams of bread from the Leningrad blockade. But we, as true patriots, are obliged to make a present to our great victorious leader and, in accordance with Decree No. 279, raise the norm of production from 10 to 14 containers of rich soil. So now we all work without a lunch break and finish the working day an hour later.
But Semenych was wrong - for an hour, for two, or even for 75 - only Semenych has a watch, so we are going to work until the sun goes down, because you cannot put much with a shovel in a cart in the dark.
- Work, work! What the fuck are you doing catching flies with your fuckin' muzzles? Shovels in your teeth and in the field, or I'll cut your rations! - Yelled Semenych, then turned to me and said: - Hey, you! Stay where you are, there's a market!
Semenych always called me " Hey-you"; in principle, he always called everyone "Hey-you," and you have to figure out where he was looking, if he was looking at you, then you were Hey-you, and if he was looking at a crow, then the crow was Hey-you.
Anyway, I stood up, and Semenych came closer, breathed on me with his delicious, appetizing breath, and continued:
- I'll give you a letter, hide it deep down so that even the Cockssux at the checkpoints won't find it, give you two days leave, and you'll rush on a ferry to the district center to the deputy there. Tell him it's from me, give him the letter, get the box, and come back quickly. You got it?
Of course I got it, but I told Semenych:
- "Semenych, why the fuck are you bullshitting me? What century do you live in? You've got electricity at home, and you've got a scrambler. Your deputy's got all that too, so why the fuck would I do that?
- I can't write on the yokelnet, it's a secret thing, and the yokelnet can be hacked by the feds, and they can listen to the special communications. You're a clever scrapper, you know it all too well. Do you want NATO soldiers to crush you?
- No," I said, "I don't.
- So that's it, pack up and go. I'll give you 500 million roubles for a business trip. You'll have a great meal in the district center - you can buy good sharpshooting without coupons there in the Russcrapersellieshop.
Of course, I was happy about the money, but my mood was spoiled by the fact that I would miss today's "News with Dmitry Siсkelove," which the loudspeaker on the pole in the center of the village broadcasts every day at noon. We, all residents of Verkhnyaya Skolenostanovo, run to the center at lunchtime every day, after a quick balmy drink, not to miss a single word from our loudspeaker pole.
One of the radio programs broadcast over loudspeakers in central squares.
“From the Skrepetzky Informbureau”
Today, tw<radio transmission interrupted by interference> twentieth year near Moscow at the range to destroy uncertified contraband, our Orthodox bulldozers in an unequal battle defeated 7 tons of Nazi cheese, 12 tons of Polish interventionist apples, 4 tons of phallic German kilbasa and 16 GDR gooses that threatened our stability, our great power economy and our leader personally."