Mikhail Krasnyansky

The Three Lives of One Soul or The New Exodus

1. The Blind Man and His Guide

About 150 years ago people were hauling a giant piece of rock from some faraway place to a capital of certain country. The rock was to be a part of some monument to a tsar or emperor. The rock had been traveling to this capital for several years—We can see hundreds of horses harnessed with thick ropes pulling huge wooden rollers made of trees so thick it would take there a lot of men to lock their arms around the treebut even those didn’t last long, cracking and breaking under the enormous weight. Thousands of soldiers and common folks move this huge rock a tiny distance amidst the sounds of loud commands, miserable whining of animals and screeching of rollers. One can see here and there carcasses of dead horses sticking out of mud of the surroundings marshes. People die too from injuries, typhus, from impossible life...

Somewhere along the way was created a "Station" which followed the giant stone where people could heal wounds, get some rest and get drunk until unconsciousness.

One day a blind old man with a young boy - his guide - came to this Station. The blind man played his instrument and sang, with the boy following. They were sad songs they sang. They were treated well: they were allowed to have a warm room free of charge and the food was free too in appreciation of old man's singing. What else could one possibly want from life? Several days passed and the blind man got sick and could not play and sing anymore. His guide tried to play and sing those sad songs by himself alone. Only he was not the blind old man - he was a young boy and with good eyesight too for that matter. So people did not give him food and warm lodging. They went to bed hungry and frozen that day. The old man could not sleep anticipating that he will die very soon and he cried for the boy whom he loved so much and whom he will leave soon among this cruel world, among starvation, cold and eventual soon death…But what could he do?

Suddenly a revelation visited upon him. He was a blind man, wasn't he? This condition always provided him with food, roof over the head and kept him away from many misfortunes common in the lives of folks with good eyes. The old man made a decision. He gathered all the strength that was left in him he picked a knife from his knapsack and ever so quietly, as only a blind could, he crawled to the sleeping boy. The boy was not asleep either and he was crying about the old blind man. When he saw the old man with a knife he ran out from the shed into the rainy night screaming in horror. The blind man tried to follow the boy imploring him to come back. There was a very rough terrain over there - marshland, ravines, and trees torn off the ground - any moment the blind man could perish. Over the years the boy developed a habit to protect the old man. He could not abandon the blind old man and run away. So, he kept a safe distance of two or three yards. Meanwhile the blind man was suddenly near the very edge of the ravine. When he began to fall down, the boy instinctively grabbed him. At this moment, the blind man holding on to the boy have put the knife against the boy's eyes. The boy understood.

“Don't do it! Spare my eyes!” the boy cried in horror.

“You shall die of starvation, cold, and human cruelty if you have your sight! Be blind and you will always have food and shelter.”

“I want to see!” the boy cried. The old man wouldn’t budge. “What do you want to see - this horrible, senseless life around us? Why are they pulling that stone? Where to?” he yelled. “What are all these people and horses dying for? What is the point? Is that what you want to see?”

We can again see torches throwing bleary light upon multitudes of people, horses, ropes around the giant chunk of rock. And the incessant rain pouring all over the around.

“I want to see! I want to live that life and I have no other life! I just want to!” the boy desperately kept on yelling…

2. The Line

There was an enormous Line, with no end in sight, and no one knew what it was they were waiting for. There were all kinds of people on that line—white and black and yellow—and they spoke all kinds of languages too. On the closer end of it, the one you could see, there were only young people, guys and girls. A beautiful girl came and asked who is last in line, and then a handsome young man followed her.

“You last in line?” he asked.

“Yep,” said the girl.

“So what’s my number going to be?”

As she told him, he nodded, pulled out a pen and jotted the number down right on the palm of his hand: 6.836.216.770.

“So what’s your story?” he asked.

“Oh, I just finished high school. You?”

“I am in college. College of Music.”

“You like music, eh?”

“Always have, for as long as I can remember. You know, in my previous life, I was a guide for a blind musician. I often see parts of it in my dreams.”

Without further ado, the young man started singing. The song was old and sad—the very song he remembered the blind old man sing in his past life. In the meanwhile, the strange Line kept moving. They were passing the woods and the mountains, yellow deserts and green farms, railroads and airports, cities and towns, hotels and whorehouses, cafes and restaurants, manufacturing plants and hospitals, etc. As they moved, some folks on the Line would stay behind, going to work in a factory, or entering a movie theater where they showed a war being fought on the screen. Some took a break to have a cola and a sandwich, some went for a beer and a smoke. At the same time, others would emerge from those cafes, and movie theaters, and factories and join the Line. Occasionally, some “outsiders” would come and join, who apparently did not belong on that fairly respectable Line. There was this bedraggled woman, begging, with a child who didn’t quite look normal. The child would begin screaming every now and then, and the woman would hit him, hard. Then there was an unkempt, bearded man who played a fiddle, buck naked. After a while, he threw the fiddle on the ground and peed on it. Then, there came a young woman who pulled her skirt up and squatted right next to a group of men, spreading her legs. Under that skirt, she had no underwear. The men stared, swallowing hard. The show over, the woman got up, lowered her skirt and stuck her hand out, hat in hand. They threw her a few coins. Indifferent, she picked them up and moved further up the Line.

“You know if this Line to take long?” asked the girl.

“Some say a lot of,” sighed the young man. “Like, perhaps, all your life…”

“And what purpose, may I ask, does all of this serve?” the girl sighed.

“Who are you even asking?” The young man was suddenly angry. “That’s how everyone has always lived, and still does. We are no different.”

“What if I want to live a different life?” asked the girl.

“No one is going to let you!”

“Who is going to stop me? Who?!”

At that moment, some man, much further ahead of them, among the sands, jumped out of the Line and began running away. People from Line tried to stop him, but he broke free. He ran and then walked for a long time across the desert, trying to get as far from the line as he could. However, eventually, a military helicopter caught up with him, and as the machine hovered above the man, someone inside it threw a rope down with a noose at the end. The next moment, the helicopter shot upward, the lifeless body dangling below. As the helicopter flew slowly above the line, they could see the man’s blue tongue sticking out, his dead eyes bulging. The crowd cheers and jeers that and spits on the corpse.

“Death to the traitor!” they shouted.

“Oh, my God!” the girl gasped. “It looks like someone got himself hanged there!”

The young man put his arm around her, turning the girl away from the sorry sight. “It is their deals. Stay out of it,” he whispered into her ear.

Finally, the young man decided to go along the line to check what it was people were waiting there for, and if the Line ever will end anywhere. That was a bold move all right, and dangerous, too, because once he stepped out of line and began moving ahead, some military helicopters appeared, circling above him. But he never strayed too far from the Line and kept his eyes on the whirly-birds at all times, ducking and burying himself in the sand when one of them came too low or too close. Moving along the line he saw see that people in line are getting older and older. Thus, he eventually managed to reach the end of the line—only to find that what was there: the special camera where folk's souls separated from the bodies and flew away to heaven. All the people at the end of the line are very old and sick men and women willingly entering to camera because their hard lives came to a natural end.

The young man tries and tries to persuade them not to go to camera but they ask him: “Where else would we go?” He cannot answer their question. But he did not know how to answer that, so after a while he simply turned around and began walking back to his initial place on the line. As he moved to backwards, he tried telling everyone what he had seen. The young man shouts that their obedience is senseless that their submission is a way to self-destruction: bloody wars and terrorist attacks, millions of starving adults and children, , hard work and poverty for billions people, poisoning of the environment, endless confrontations of world leaders… "Seek the meaning of life inside yourselves then you will not need the Line". People did not believe him or they were afraid to listen him. And the military helicopters continued to hunt him down.

Meanwhile we see the following development in the Line. There appeared the young man’s handmade miniature portraits. They were passed along discretely from one person to another, and sometimes even sold. So were his stories and poems, and some were even reading them. Then, one of the helicopters finally managed to catch the young man in the open and throw a noose over his neck. Except he was now no longer a young man, but simply the Man, weathered and bearded. As the helicopter gained altitude, the Line could see the Man soaring above, but there was no helicopter and no rope. Man was simply floating, above the Line, moving further away and higher. Everyone in the Line dropped to their knees and raised their hands to the levitating body.

“Verily, verily you say unto us!” they cried. "Amen, amen! Hosanna!"

At that moment, more military helicopters appeared and a battery of antiaircraft missiles too, and they all opened fire on the Man. But the bullets and missiles did the Man no harm, simply passing through as he kept rising. And now the entire Line, from one end to the other, as long as the eye could see, was kneeling, their hands reaching upward, up, and up despite of the deafening and frightening shooting and the roar of helicopters. Fear left the Line!

3. The Beach Keeper

One can see a huge, endless beach, but for some reason, there is no ocean. There are people on the beach. Some sunbathe, some play ball, some eat or drink. A small section has been taken over by nudists, some of which are getting their naked bodies painted by colors. There is an improvised orchestra playing. And there is a handsome, tall, bearded man in a dark suit walking among the beachgoers. He is the only person around who has any clothes on. As semi-nuked and nuked folks sit and lie in their chairs under their umbrellas, he is picking up discarded empty beer cans, water bottles and juice containers, and taking them to the trash bin. He is the Beach Keeper. Many young women try to strike a conversation with this strange yet attractive man. Some offer him drinks, others suggest he take his clothes off and join them sunbathing. Some offer alcohol and even sex, but the Beach Keeper always declines.

“But why?” ask the women.

“Well, you see, any external temptation, such as tasty food, alcohol, sex, gambling, drugs, even money, urges one to cross the line between pleasure and self-destruction. That’s why you are totally dependent on the external world. You are its slaves—but I am not. I am free.”

One of the women seems to be really curious and tries to engage the man in an “intellectual” conversation. It seems she is succeeding at it too.

“So, have you found this meaning of life for yourself?” she smiles at the Beach Guardian.

“The meaning of life, ma’am, is in life itself. The soul is first, then the mind, and then, at the very end, the body.”

“So what did you do before coming to work here?”

“I was a guide for a blind musician in one of my past lives (he sings a few bars from the old familiar song). In my other life after that I was a dissident. And in this present life I came to Earth as a Messenger. That’s what I am.”

“So why doesn’t your God teach people how to, oh, I don’t know, free themselves of all their diseases?”

“You see, ma'am, God does not teach how to cure diseases. He teaches us how to live with them.”

The woman is delighted with the answer and struggles to keep up the conversation.

“I enjoy traveling. And you?”

“Oh, absolutely, ma’am. I went around this whole world and many more other universes.”

At this moment, a huge truck appears, pulling a humongous luxury yacht behind. The driver brakes and leans out the window.

“Hey, how much further to the ocean? I need Pier 6.”

“Well, we’ve never had any ocean here to begin with. It’s at least five hundred miles out there.”

The truck starts moving again. People give way to the truck in a hurry trying to save their things from being ruined. They pull out of the way the chairs, the umbrellas, and other things. Then, suddenly, some naked guy, his body intricately painted, climbs aboard the yacht. When the driver sees him in his sideway mirror, he leans out and yells at him. But the guy disappears inside the yacht and doesn't come back up. Little by little, others begin following suit, and before long, the entire gathering is setup there, luxuriating aboard the slowly crawling yacht, with or without their scant bathing suits. Even the little orchestra is there, playing ever more enthusiastically than before. Yay, they are all going to the ocean!

The only person left on the suddenly empty beach is the Beach Keeper. He is running after the truck, calling them all back. He shouts there is no need to go so far away to have fun, to be happy, to have serenity or for anything else; that one cannot run away from himself; that it is all within us - all it takes is to look inside oneself; that joy and love are given to us all from God. “You live in fruitless vanity, satisfying your instincts and lusts” he warned.

“Come back! I will help you!” he keeps yelling, but it doesn’t look like anyone is listening. Everyone wants the ocean and new pleasures.

Then the woman who spoke to him the longest back at the beach climbs down and slowly walks back to the Beach Keeper. Before long, she is followed by a few others—a dozen or two, perhaps — and they all assemble around the Beach Keeper. The rest of the beachgoers (there are hundreds of them) continue on their way to the ocean aboard the yacht, pulled by the truck. The Beach Keeper turns his back on the yacht and the truck and leads his small flock away, deep into the sands.

And where will this new Exodus take them?...


It is a short opinion about my story from office of Chicago firm which cooperated with Hollywood (I lived then in Ukraine and story was sent to Chicago by my son living in the USA):