I propose to readers, the first chapter of the novel “Crossroads”, by Lev Kliot. If there is interest - all chapters will be published, by chapter per week. Enjoy reading.
The novel tells about a group of talented young people who have developed a unique computer game, where everyone can feel in the place of another person, investigate a crime, immerse themselves in amazing adventures ... The game allows you to think about difficult issues of choice, morality, his future. But how will Crossroads affect their creators? ..
An old Volkswagen Beetle rolled along the road number 383 from Beersheba to Jerusalem.
In the salon with seats, covered with blue artificial leather, in difficult, almost acrobatic poses, there are seven thin student bodies.
The car belonged to Ilya Cohen for a year, and during this time he and his friends traveled all over Israel. A small country, even for such an unpretentious, weak and small car, like this thirty-year-old "Beetle"! With a metallic red painted body and silver wings, he nevertheless was a very pretty car, well-groomed and fully appropriate to its original task: to deliver Ilya from the university hostel to the educational campus. This happiness happened - buying a car - after his father’s visit to Israel. Together they made a forty-five-minute journey from the university to the dormitory in forty-degree heat, while his father filmed this journey on the rare Hitachi video camera in those days — a large one with a full-size VHS tape and a very good lens. He stopped, sometimes came back to find the best angle for shooting.
“You are not listening to me in vain,” Illya carried in a backpack over his shoulder several notebooks and a bottle of water. As an old-timer, he taught dad:
- In Israel, you have to drink all the time, especially in the Negev.
But he laughed off:
- I have been in places more abruptly: in the deserts between the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya, sometimes I had to spend all day without water - and nothing.
But when they got to the hostel, he fully felt what real dehydration is. After that, he decided to buy Ilya a car, but simpler, so as not to arouse hostility and envy in the student community. In those years, the car, owned by someone from the inhabitants of the hostel, was rare. But in the end there wasn’t even any dislike about it: this community with an enthusiastic squeal was crammed into a small “Bug”, as well as at that time, when on one of the Fridays they decided to ride to “Lifts” - the territory long abandoned by the Arab people villages near the western outskirts of Jerusalem — and spend the night there in a tent by the fire.
The nights were getting cold by the end of November, and the fire was kindled not only for the creation of a special atmosphere of unity, such a thrill of a friendly elbow stirring the mind, or for revelations under a sip of mulled wine cooked and cooked right here in the pot over the fire flame, but also for the elementary desire to warm up. The autumn rain, which they hooked from a huge black cloud hanging over Tel Aviv, changed the wildly bright sun of Beer Sheva and flooded the windshield with cold jets. The janitors of the old "Bug" did not cope with their task, working with interruptions or even stopping for a while.
- Ilyukha, or we will stop and wait out the rain, or you will arrange a mass grave for us!
- Pip your tongue! - Sergey Igel shouted to Smolkin, trapped in the backseat between his friends.
He lowered the glass of the front passenger door and, leaning out half the hull, reached out with a rubber scraper to the middle of the windshield covered with water, cleaning it. He periodically repeated this operation, giving the driver the opportunity to follow the road. The detailed guy was Seryozha, laconic, calm, at first glance even sluggish. But as soon as he was on the beach to lose clothes, when looking at his muscular, without a single fat body, this impression disappeared from everyone.
Once, in a parking lot in front of the hostel, Ilya was approached by a guy, a Georgian Jew, undergraduate Gocha Anukayev. With him were two girls, all slightly dazed. The guy had notoriety and diligently supported this glory. It was rumored that he was connected with the crime, had the appropriate support and from this he behaved self-confidently, and in those cases when he was denied something, he was brazenly “with hitting”.
- Hello, bratello! We don’t have enough cars, so you’re going to Tel Aviv to plump you on your colorful lively skyline and grab another three. It will be fun, I promise you! - So he turned to Ilya, with whom he had never been acquainted.
In response to Ilyushkino: “There are not enough machines — take a taxi, and we have other plans with the guys,” he approached close to him and started a familiar song:
- Yes, you know who I am? It's better to be friends with me and sometimes provide services, otherwise ...
On this “other”, Ilya quite loudly suggested Gocha to use three well-known letters. And then Anukaev, a strong guy, a head taller than Ilyushka, portrayed something like kung-fu, intending, obviously, to inflict dare on him to insult the kid with irreparable physical damage. At that moment, Sergey appeared between them in an amazing, silent and lightning-fast manner, and at the same second Gocha buried his large, curved nose to his lips. Igel lifted him, patted his cheeks, rousing himself, and whispered softly in his ear:
- You leave and never come back!
And Gocha, obediently shook his head, walked along, accompanied by the stunned girls in the darkness of the Israeli night.
Later, in response to the insistent requests of friends to explain this situation, Seryoga told about his high rank in Krav Maga, which he had been studying with at the age of ten. This is not a sport, and children are not taught this, but he was lucky with his mentor, his uncle. On his T-shirt, which he occasionally wore, the emblem "instructor" glowed. No one paid any attention to her before, and she testified about the level of mastery comparable to the level of the black belt in other martial arts schools.
When they arrived at the Elevator, the rain ended, and the crew of the Beetle managed to set up two tents without interference. Led this operation, along with Danik Shevinsky and Sergey Igel, the most active of them - Dima Halperin. Sasha Smolkin was engaged in pyrotechnics, it was necessary to kindle wet branches and several stored dry logs on the still damp ground. Two girls - Ada Walshonok and Smolkin's girlfriend, Tanya Becker - unpacked bags of food: pickled meat, vegetables, flatbread, hummus, drinks - and began to string the marinade-soaked pieces on skewers. Igor Beller, the unquestioned authority in the field of alcohol-containing substances, conjured over the ingredients of the masterpiece he created - mulled wine a la Beller.
This place, among abandoned peasant shacks, grass and bushes on the right side of the road on the way from Jerusalem, has long been chosen by homeless travelers, hippies and other isolated people - a sort of vegetarian fronda of civilization order. Ilya and his friends did not attend the Lift often, but they treated this event more seriously than just a picnic. Reinforcing the imagination with hot mulled wine, highly intellectual studioios with their advanced ideas, presentiments of extraordinary discoveries, unexpected, original, talked fervently, but somehow it happened that they didn’t allow a hubbub and even developed a certain order: they assigned a sequence for statements to each of the company. Sometimes they were two or three prepared storytellers, and this time one said Ilya.
Ada, wiping her hands from the pickled skin of the pickle, glanced at Ilya, who, as a driver who had driven the car for three hours in difficult weather conditions, was allowed to rest, which he used, gazing arrogantly at fussing friends from a comfortable folding chair.
- You are the main broadcaster today!
She said this in a slightly irritated tone, offended that her eyes remained unnoticed by him. Active, athletic girl, recently she began to pay special attention to Ilya. Then he takes to sew him a button off, then bring a piece of cake, which has learned to bake in an electric oven. Ilya noticed these views, but he was worried that Ada violated neutrality in their established team of young men who, like one, were not indifferent to this dark-haired and self-confident beauty. And then, that evening he had another serious task.
He was going to tell a story that had troubled him for many years, and he developed a whole theory in his head that was supposed to impress his listeners. It was necessary to provoke such a reaction in them, in which his idea would find followers among them. These guys, his friends, students of the programming department of Beer-Sheva University, are very smart, maybe one of the smartest and most trained in this field in the whole world. Here Ilya, lowering the pathos of his own thoughts, added: “Of course, out of many of the same clever people, but, nevertheless, only thousands are at this level of penetration into the methodology of teaching this complex, still fairly new, science, only thousands of billions people!". He understood that he would not find the best fellow travelers in achieving his ambitious plans. Therefore, he so seriously pondered how to present his child’s history in general and the philosophical ideas that arose on its basis for their applied use.
He was allowed to speak after the first portion of roasted meat was eaten and the first mug of flavored mulled wine, dressed with cinnamon, cloves, orange peels and lemon, was drunk.
- Set us on the topic! Why cook our wide open souls? - Smolkin colorfully expressed a general desire to hear something exciting.
Despite the fact that Ilyushka was one of the brightest visionaries and dreamers of their close-knit team, he received the nickname Swedish for his steady calmness and classical European appearance.
- It will be a story from my childhood, a story about how in our life we find ourselves in situations where some chance, error or discrepancy between our expectations and reality lead us to a new sense of the world around us. Then we find ourselves at a crossroads with a multitude of directions, from where we unexpectedly turn off onto a road about which we had no idea before. And this other way changes our life, our inner world perception. I will tell this story so that you think that the algorithm of random events could be tamed, create a system in which a person is not destiny, and we and our programs would offer the opportunity to be at such an intersection and consciously choose our own path, and even better, be able to make this choice several times.
- We are intrigued! Come on, Ilyukha, about childhood. Smolkin poured a mug of spiced drink into Ilyushkin.
Cohen told, plunging into the memories, and his detachment produced a magnetic effect on the listeners.Next chapter