The Disarmament Race


In one of the Russian domains (Space of Love) lived a happy family – a husband, wife and two children: a boy; Konstantin, who was eight, and a little five-year-old girl named Dasha.  Their father was considered one of the most talented computer-programmers in Russia. His study at home contained several state-of-the-art computers on which he compiled programmes for a government military agency. Sometimes he would linger at his computers well into the evening hours, completely absorbed in his work.

The other members of the family, accustomed to gathering in the evenings, headed for his study, where each busied themselves with their own activities. The wife sat in a comfortable armchair and sewed. Their son read or drew sketches of the landscapes of the new settlements. Only five-year-old Dasha would not always find herself an activity to her liking, in which case she would curl up in a chair with a good view of everyone else, and spend a long time carefully observing each member of the family. Occasionally she would close her eyes, and her face would show a whole range of emotions.

On what seemed to be a fairly routine evening the family had gathered in the father’s study as usual, each one busy in their own way. The study door was open, which meant that they could hear the cuckooing of an old-fashioned mechanical cuckoo clock on the wall of the children’s room next door. Usually it would sound off only during the daytime hours, but now it was already evening. So, the father glanced up from his work and stared at the door, while the other family members gave an astonished look in the same direction. All except for little Dasha, who simply sat in her chair, her eyes closed, apparently oblivious to everything. A smile – first barely noticeable, then quite evident – crept across her lips. All at once the clock cuckooed a second time, as though someone standing in the children’s room had 1noved the hands forward to announce the next hour. Ivan Nikiforovich, as the father of the household was called, turned his swivel chair in his son’s direction and said: “Kostia, please go see if you can fix the clock or at least stop it. We’ve had it a long time, that gift of Grandfather’s. Strange how it got broken like that … Strange … See if you can do something about it, Kostia.”

The children were always obedient. Not out of fear of punishment – in fact, they were never punished. Kostia and Dasha loved and respected their parents. They got the highest pleasure out of doing something together or carrying out their parent’s wishes. Upon hearing his father’s request, Kostia at once rose from his seat, but, to his mother’s and father’s surprise, did not head for the children’s room. Instead, he just stood and stared at his younger sister sitting in the armchair with her eyes closed. Then once again they heard a cuckooing from the next room. But Kostia still stood there and stared, his eyes fixed on his sister.

Galina, their mother, looked concernedly at her son, who remained rooted to the spot. All at once, she got up and cried out in fright: “Kostia… Kostia, what’s the matter with you?”

The eight-year-old boy turned to his mother, wondering what she was frightened about, and replied: “Everything’s fine with me, Mama. I wanted to do as Papa asked, but I can’t.”

“Why not? Are you unable to move? You’re unable to go to your room?”

“I can move,” replied Kostia, waving his arms about and stamping his feet on the spot to prove it, “but there’s no point in my going to our room – she’s here and she’s stronger.”

“Who’s here? Who’s stronger?” Mother started getting more and more upset.

“Dasha,” Kostia replied, pointing to his younger sister sitting in the armchair, her eyes closed and with a smile on her face. “She’s the one who’s been moving the hands forward. I tried to put them back in place, but I can’t do it when she”

“What are you talking about, Kostienka?” Mother interrupted. “You and Dashenka are both here with us – I can see you. How can you two be here and at the same time move the clock hands in the other room?”

“Well yes, we’re here,” answered Kostia, “but our thoughts are in the other room, where the clock is. Only her thought is stronger. That’s why the clock keeps cuckooing – her thought is speeding up the hands. She’s been playing a lot of tricks like that lately. I told her not to. I knew it might upset you, but Dasha doesn’t care. All she has to do is fall into a state of contemplation, and she starts thinking up something.”

“What is Dasha contemplating on?” Ivan Nikiforovich broke into the conversation. ”And Kostia, why didn’t you say anything about this earlier?”

“You yourself can see how she’s contemplating. The clock hands aren’t important – she’s just amusing herself. I can move the hands too when nobody’s interfering. Only I can’t contemplate like Dasha. When she’s in a state of contemplation like that there’s no way anyone can counteract her thought.”

“What is she contemplating on? Do you know, Kostia?”

“Sorry. Why don’t you ask her yourself? I’ll stop her contemplating on before she thinks up anything else.”

Kostia went over to the chair his sister was sitting in and said distinctly in a louder than normal voice: “Dasha, stop thinking! If you don’t stop, I shan’t speak to you for a whole day. And besides, you’ve frightened Mama.”

With a flutter of her eyelashes the little girl surveyed everyone present in the room with an observing glance and, as though literally waking up, jumped up from her chair and hung her head apologetically. The cuckooing stopped, and for a while the study was enveloped in complete silence – a silence eventually broken by little Dasha’s apologising voice. She raised her head, looked at her Mama and Papa with her sparkling, tender eyes and said: “Mamochka, Papochka, forgive me for frightening you. But I had to … I just had to finish thinking it through – this thought I had. Now I can’t help but think it through. I’ll be thinking it through tomorrow too, when I’ve had a rest.” The girl’s lips trembled, it seemed just as though she were about to break into tears, but she continued: “You, Kostia, can refuse to talk with me if you like, but I’ll go on contemplating it all the same, until I think it through.”

“Come to me, daughter dear,” said Ivan Nikiforovich, trying to act restrained. He held out his arms to his daughter, ready to embrace her.

Dasha rushed toward her father, jumped up on his knees and put her little arms around his neck, pressed her cheek briefly against his, then jumped down and stood beside him, bending her head down to him.

Ivan Nikiforovich for some reason had a hard time hiding his emotion. He began telling his daughter: “Don’t worry, Dashenka! Mama will no longer get frightened when you contemplate. Just tell us what you’re thinking about. What is so important to think through and why do the clock hands move forward so fast when you’re thinking?”

“You see, Papochka, I want to make everything that’s nice even bigger in time, and everything that’s bad tiny and unnoticeable. Or even … I want to think it through so that the hands skip over the bad things and they aren’t there any more.”

“But what is nice and what is bad doesn’t depend on the clock hands, Dashenka.”

“It doesn’t depend on the hands, Papochka. I realise that. But I move them along so’s I can feel the time. The cuckoo counts off the speed of my thinking, because I have to get it done in time … That’s why I move the hands.”

“How do you do that, Dashenka?”

“It’s simple. I picture the hands of the clock out of the corner of my thought, then I think they should go faster – and they go faster when I start thinking fast.”

“What do you want to achieve, daughter dear, by speeding up time? What don’t you like about the present time?”

“I like it. I realise now that time isn’t to blame. It’s people themselves who spoil their time. You, Papochka, are so often at your computer and then you go away for a long time. You, Papochka, spoil the time when you go away.”

“Me? Spoil it? How so?”

“We have a good time when we’re all together. When we’re together we have very good minutes and hours, even days. Everything around is joyful. Do you remember, Papochka, when the apple tree began to bloom just a little? You and Mama saw the first buds and you took Mama in your arms and twirled around. And Mamochka laughed so brightly that everything around was joyful with us – the leaves on the trees, and the little birds too. And I didn’t feel sore at all about your twirling Mama around in your arms instead of me, because I love our Mamochka very much. I was so happy with that time, just like everyone else.

“But then a different time came. I realise now that it was you, Papochka, who made it different. You went away from us for a very long time. Baby apples had even begun to appear on the apple tree. But still you didn’t come home. And Mamochka went up to the apple tree and stood there all by herself. But there was nobody there to twirl her around, and she didn’t laugh brightly, and nothing around had anything to be joyful about. And Mamochka has quite a different smile on her face when you’re not around. It’s a sad smile. And that is a bad time.”

Dasha spoke quickly and excitedly. All at once she seemed to choke on something inside her, and then burst out: “You shouldn’t make it bad when it is good … Time … Papochka!”

“Dasha … You’re right about one thing … Of course … But you don’t know everything about the times we’re all in. The times we live in … ” Ivan Nikiforovich spoke disconnectedly.

He was feeling tense. Somehow, he needed to explain how necessary it was for him to go away. To explain it in such a way that his little daughter could understand. Finding no better alternative, he began telling her about his work, showing her rocket models and schematics on the computer.

“You see, Dashenka. Of course, it’s good for us here. And it’s good for those who live in our neighbourhood too. But there are other places, other countries in the world. And they’ve got a lot of weapons, all sorts of them… To protect our splendid garden, and the gardens and the houses of your friends, sometimes Papa has to go away. Our country must also have a lot of up-to-date weapons to defend itself.

“But recently … Dashenka … You see, recently in another country, not ours, they came up with a new kind of weapon. For the time being it is stronger than ours. Look here, on the screen, Dashenka!”

And Ivan Nikiforovich gave a tap on the keyboard, and the image of a strange kind of 1nissile appeared on the screen.

“Look, Dashenka. This is a large missile, and it holds fifty-six smaller missiles. The large rocket takes off at Man’s command and heads for its assigned target, to destroy everything living there. This missile is very hard to shoot down. When any object approaches it, an on-board computer kicks in and sends out one of the smaller missiles to destroy the object.”

“The smaller missiles can travel faster than the big one, since when they’re launched they can use the inertia speed of the larger missile. To shoot down just one such monster, we need to send fifty-seven missiles out against it.”

“The country producing this so-called ‘cassette’ missile has only three working models at the 1noment. They have been carefully concealed in various places, in shafts deep underground, but it only takes a single radio-transmitted command to launch them. A small group of terrorists are already blackmailing a number of countries, threatening to wreak havoc on them. So, you see, Dashenka, I have to decode the programme of the cassette missile’s on-board computer.”

Ivan Nikiforovich got up and walked around the room. He continued talking rapidly, getting more and more absorbed in his thoughts about the programme, seemingly oblivious to his little girl standing beside the computer. Ivan Nikiforovich quickly went over to the monitor showing the external image of the missile, gave a tap on the keyboard, and the screen showed a schematic of the missile’s fuel supply system, then one of the targeting radar devices, and then, once more, an overall image. Even as he was switching the screen images, Ivan Nikiforovich was no longer paying any attention to his dear little daughter. He kept reasoning aloud: “They have obviously equipped each of the smaller missiles with a targeting radar device. Of course, that would apply to every single one. But there can’t be any difference in the programmes. The programmes have to be identical…”

All at once one of the other computers emitted an alarm sound, demanding immediate attention. Ivan Nikiforovich quickly turned to the respective monitor and froze in his seat. The screen showed a blinking text message: “EMERGENCY ALERT… EMERGENCY ALERT … ” Ivan Nikiforovich gave a quick tap on the keyboard, and an image of a man in a military uniform appeared on the screen.

“What’s happened?” Ivan Nikiforovich asked him.

“Three unusual explosions have been recorded,” responded the man. “The whole defence complex has been put on Emergency Alert. Explosions of lesser magnitude are continuing. There’s been an earthquake in Africa. No body’s offered any explanations. According to international information exchange networks all military blocs on the planet have been ordered to high alert. Still no determination where the attack originated from. The explosions are continuing and we’re trying to shed light on the situation. All personnel have been ordered to set about analysing the situation.”

The officer on the screen spoke in a clipped, military fashion. At the end, his voice was already betraying signs of concern: “Explosions continuing, Ivan Nikiforovich, explosions continuing. I’m signing off…”

The officer’s image disappeared from the screen. Ivan Nikiforovich, however, continued to stare at the darkened monitor, intensely absorbed in thought. Slowly and pensively he turned in the direction of his chair, where Dasha was still standing as before.

All at once an incredible conjecture made him shudder. He saw how his little daughter, her eyes screwed up and unblinking, was staring at the screen showing the image of the modern missile. Suddenly her little body gave a start. Then, letting out a sigh of relief, she hit the ‘ENTER’ button on the keyboard.

When the image of the new missile appeared, she screwed up her eyes again and began staring intently at the monitor.

Ivan Nikiforovich stood as though paralysed, incapable of budging from the spot, feverishly asking himself – though only in his thoughts – the same question over and over again: Could she have set off the explosions? Set them off by her thought, because she doesn’t like the bombs? Did she blow them up.? Could that be true? How? 

He wanted to stop his daughter and called out to her. But he did not have the strength to speak very loudly; and could only whisper:

“Dasha, Dashenka, my dear daughter, stop it!”

Kostia, who had observed the whole scene, quickly got up from his seat, ran over to his sister, gave her a little pat on her bottom and began talking at a rapid pace: “Now; Dashka, you’ve gone and upset Papa this time. Now I shan’t speak to you for two whole days one day for Mama, the other for Papa. Do you hear? Do you hear what I’m saying? You’ve frightened them!”

Gradually emerging from her state of concentration, Dasha turned to her brother and let her face resume its normal appearance as she looked him pleadingly and apologetically in the eye. Kostia noticed Dasha’s eyes were filling with tears.

Putting his hand on her shoulder, he spoke to her with a less severe tone than before.

“Okay; I got carried away about not talking to you, but you’ll have to tie your own hair ribbon in the mornings. You’re not so little any more, you know.”

And telling her not to think about crying, he embraced her tenderly. The little girl nuzzled her face up against her brother’s chest, her shoulders trembling, as she sorrowfully repeated: “I’ve gone and frightened them again. I’m a very naughty girl. I wanted to do the best I possibly could, but I’ve gone and frightened them.”

Galina came over to the children, squatted down beside them and began stroking Dasha’s head. The girl threw her arms around her mother’s neck and sobbed quietly.

“How does she do it, Kostia? How?” Ivan Nikiforovich asked his son as he slowly came to himself.

“The same way that she moves the hands of the clock, Papa,” replied Kostia.

“But the clock is right here, while the missiles are long ways away; and their location is classified as ‘top secret’.”

“Papa, it doesn’t matter to Dasha where they’re located. All she needs to see is the outward appearance of the object.”

“But the explosions … In order to set them off, the circuits have to be connected. Quite a few circuits at that. There are safety mechanisms, codes … ”

“But Papa, Dasha’s able to go through all the circuits until a connection is made. Before, it took her a long time to do that, maybe fifteen minutes, but lately she’s got it down to a minute and a half”


“Yes, Papa, only not with missiles. That was the way we played. After she started moving the clock hands forward, I showed her my old electric car I used to love riding in when I was little. You see, Papa, I opened the bonnet and asked her to connect the headlamp wires together, since it was hard for me to get at them myself. She did it. And when she asked to take it for a drive, I told her she was still too young and wouldn’t be able to brake properly; or even switch on the motor. But then when she kept insisting, I gave in. I explained how to switch the motor on, but Dasha did it all her own way.”

“I tell you, Papa, Dasha simply sat down behind the wheel and took off without switching on anything. She thought she was switching it on, but I could see that she wasn’t doing anything with her hands. Or rather, she was switching it on, but she did it mentally. Besides, Papa, she’s made friends with microbes. They obey her.”

“With microbes?! What microbes?”

“With the ones that are very prolific, that live everywhere, all around us and inside us. We can’t see them, but they’re there. Do you remember, Papa, over on the edge of our domain, in the forest, there used to be the remains of two metallic posts sticking out of the ground? They belonged to an old high-voltage electricity line.”

“I remember them. What of them?”

“They were rusty, resting on concrete foundations. One day when Dasha and I went mushroom-picking, she noticed these remains, said what a bad thing they were, that they weren’t allowing the berries and mushrooms to grow on that spot. Then she said: “You should eat them up very, very fast!”

“And .. .?”

“And a couple of days later those rusty remains and the concrete foundations were gone. There was only bare earth there, without grass, at least for now. The microbes had eaten the metal and the concrete.”

“But why – oh why, Kostia, didn’t you tell me earlier about everything that was going on with Dasha?”

“I was afraid, Papa.”

“Afraid of what?”

“I was reading up on history … In the recent past people with unusual abilities have been subject to forced isolation. I wanted to tell you and Mama all about it, but I couldn’t find the right words so that you’d understand and believe … ”

“Kostia, you know we always believe you. Besides, you could show us. Or rather, ask Dasha to demonstrate her ability, only with something harmless.”

“That’s not what I was afraid of, Papa. Of course, she could show you.” Kostia fell silent, and when he spoke again, his voice was emotional. “Papa, I love you and Mama … And even though I’m strict with Dashenka sometimes, I love her very much, too. She is kind. Dasha is good to everything around her. She wouldn’t even hurt a little bug. Nor would they hurt her. She went up to a bee-hive one day; sat right down by the hive entrance and watched. She watched how they flew. The bees … A lot of bees crawled over her arms and legs and even over her cheeks, but they didn’t sting her. She held out her hand to the bees buzzing around her – they landed on it and left something there. Afterward she licked the palm of her hand and laughed. She’s kind, Papa.”

“Calm yourself, Kostia. Don’t worry. Let’s calmly examine what’s going on here. Yes, we have to think about it calmly … Dasha is still a child. She’s blown up several state-of-the-art missile complexes. She could start a world war. A terrible war. But even without a war… Say she looked through some pictures showing not only enemy missiles, but our own … Say she started detonating all the missiles in all the countries that have them, the world would be on the verge of a global catastrophe! Hundreds of millions of human lives could be lost!”

“I too love our little Dasha. But millions!… I need some advice. We must find a way out. But for now – I simply don’t know… Dashenka needs to be isolated somehow. Somehow … Yeah … Maybe she needs to be put to sleep for a while.

Maybe … But what’s the solution? How can we possibly find a way out?”

“Papa, Papa … Hold on. Maybe … maybe it’s possible to eliminate all the deadly missiles she doesn’t like from the whole face of the Earth?”

“Eliminate? But… We’d need a multilateral agreement. From all the military blocs. Yeah … But there’s no way we can get one quickly. If we can get one at all. In the meantime …”

Ivan Nikiforovich gave a sudden start and rushed over to his computer, where the monitor still showed the image of a missile, which Dasha was prevented from destroying. He switched off the monitor, then sat down at his communications computer and began to transmit the following text:

To: Headquarters.

The following memo should be transmitted at once to all military

blocs and international news media. The series of missile complex

explosions was caused by bacteria capable of connecting circuits.

These bacteria are controllable. It will be necessary to destroy

all images of any live ammunition. All images!!! From the most

minute bullet to the most modern missile complex. The location of

the explodable object is immaterial to the controller of the bacteria,

who only needs to see its shape in an image. 

Ivan Nikiforovich looked at Dasha, who by this time was smiling and having a lively conversation with her Mama. He then added the following text: 

The location of the installation controlling the explosions is unknown.

Finally, Ivan Nikiforovich encoded the transmission and despatched it to headquarters.

The next morning there was an emergency meeting of Russia’s Security Council. A security detachment was posted to stand guard around the community where Ivan Nikiforovich’s domain was situated. The security personnel dressed as road-repair workers, so as not to draw attention to themselves. They pretended to be ‘building’ a five-kilometre-long road around the perimeter of the community (working on all five kilometres at once), maintaining round-the-clock shifts.

Video cameras were set up in Ivan Nikiforovich’s domain which followed every move of little Dasha’s life. The video images were transmitted to a central monitoring station resembling a launch-site mission control. The video monitors were manned in shifts by dozens of specialists – including psychologists and military personnel – ready to issue the required orders in case of an emergency situation. The psychologists used special communications devices to give a constant stream of recommendations to Dasha’s parents on how to distract her, whatever way they could, and keep her from falling into a state of contemplation again.

The Russian government put out an international statement – which many people thought strange – to the effect that in Russia there were forces capable of blowing up any type of live ammunition, no matter where it was located in the world. These forces, it said, were not entirely under the control of the Russian government, although negotiations were underway.

The extraordinary nature of this statement called for some kind of confirmation to back it up. At an international council meeting it was decided to prepare a series of unusual-looking projectiles, mounted in square casings. Each country participating in the experiment took twenty such projectiles and hid them in various places on their respective territories.

“Why did they make the projectiles with square casings? Why couldn’t they have just used ordinary ones?” I asked Anastasia.

“They were afraid, Vladimir, that not only all the existing projectiles in the world might explode, but that all the bullets in police and army pistols might get blown up as well, wherever there were guns with live ammunition.”

“Yes, of course … And how did the square-projectile experiment go?”

Calling his daughter into his study; Ivan Nikiforovich showed her a photo of a square projectile and asked her to blow them up.

Dasha took a look at the photo and said: “I love you very much, Papochka, but there is no way can do what you ask.”

“Why?” asked Ivan Nikiforovich in amazement.

“Because it won’t work with me.”

“What do you mean, Dashenka? It worked before – you blew up a whole series of modern missiles, and now it won’t work?”

“You know, back then I was really upset, Papochka. I didn’t want you to go away, or to spend so many hours in front of your computer. When you’re at your computer, you don’t talk with anyone and you’re not doing anything that’s interesting. But now well, you’re with us all the time. You’ve become very good, Papochka, and I can’t make any more explosions.”

At this point Ivan Nikiforovich realised that Dasha was unable to blow up the square projectiles because she didn’t understand the purpose of the explosion -what it was for. Ivan Nikiforovich started nervously pacing back and forth, feverishly searching for possible solutions and trying to convince Dasha to do something. But even as he was talking to his daughter, it seemed as though he were mainly reasoning it out for himself.

“It won’t work… No, it won’t… Pity. Wars have been around for thousands of years. While wars have ended between some countries, others have begun fighting. Millions of people have perished, and they are still perishing today.

Tremendous resources are being wasted on armaments … And here finally is an opportunity to stop this endless disaster scenario, but alas …” Ivan Nikiforovich looked at Dasha sitting in the chair.

His daughter’s face was composed. She watched with interest as he walked about the room, constantly talking. But she was not fascinated by what he was actually saying. She did not have a full comprehension of what wars meant, what resources her father was talking about and who was wasting them.

She was immersed in her own thoughts: Why is Papa so agitated, walking back and forth amidst these computers which don’t show any affection and don’t give us any energy? Why doesn’t he want to go out into the garden, where the trees are in bloom and the birds are singing, where every blade of grass and every branch of a tree caresses the whole body with something invisible? That’s where Mama and Kostia are right now. I only wish Papa would finish his boring conversation and the two of us could go together to the garden. Mama and Kostia will be so happy to see us. Mama will smile, and Kostia promised yesterday he would tell me about how to touch a faraway star by putting your hand on a stone or a flower: Kostia always keeps his promises …

“Dashenka, are you bored listening to me? You don’t understand what I’ve been saying? You’re thinking about something else?”

“I’ve been thinking, Papochka: why are we here, and not in the garden, where they’re waiting for us?”

Ivan Nikiforovich realised that he had to speak to his daughter sincerely and in specific terms. So, he took a different tack.

“Dashenka, when you blew up the missiles by looking at their image, they wanted you to test that ability once more. Or rather, to show the whole world Russia’s ability to destroy all the ammunition on the planet. Then there won’t be any point in making it any more. It would be senseless and dangerous. As for the ammunition already existing, the people themselves will destroy it. A global disarmament will begin. The square projectiles were made especially so that you could show your ability without killing anyone. Blow them up, Dashenka!”

“I can’t do that anymore, Papochka.”

“Why? Earlier you could, now you can’t?”

“I promised myself I would never blow up anything again. And now that I’ve made that promise, I don’t have the ability to do it anymore.”

“You can’t? But why did you make such a promise to yourself?”

“Kostia showed me some pictures from a book of his – pictures of parts of bodies strewn all over after an explosion. He showed me how people are frightened by explosions, how trees fall and die from explosions – and so I promised myself”

“Dashenka, does that mean you’ll never be able to now? Just once more … Just once. You see these square projectiles … ”

Ivan Nikiforovich again held out the photo of a square projectile for his daughter to see.

“They were specially made for this experiment and are hidden away in secluded places in various countries. There are no people around, or anywhere near them. Everyone’s waiting to see whether they’ll explode or not. Blow them up, daughter dear! That won’t be breaking your promise. Nobody will perish. On the contrary…”

Dasha again looked at the photo indifferently and calmly replied:

“Even if I go back on my promise, these projectiles still won’t explode, Papochka.”

“But why not?”

“Because you’ve been talking for so very long, Papochka. When I first looked at the photo, I couldn’t stand these horrid things right off. They’re ugly, and now”

“Now what? Dashenka – what?”

“Please forgive me, Papochka, but you went on talking for so long after you showed me the picture, that by now they’ve been almost all eaten up.”

“Eaten up? What’s been eaten up?”

“Those square projectiles. They’re almost all eaten up. As soon as they realised I couldn’t stand the projectiles, they got into action and began to eat them up very fast.”

“Who are they?”

“You know, the ‘little ones’. They are everywhere around us and inside us. They are good. Kostia calls them bacteria, or micro-organisms, but I’ve got my own name for them, a better name – I call them my ‘little ones’, my ‘goodies’. They like that name better. I play with them sometimes. People pay hardly any attention to them, but they always try to do good for everyone. When Man is joyful – they feel good too from the joyful energy; when Man is angry or hurts something living – a lot of them perish. Others rush in to replace them.

But sometimes the others don’t manage to replace the ones that have died, and Man’s body becomes ill.”

“But you are here, Dashenka. And the projectiles are far away in various countries, hidden underground. How is it possible for – well, for those ‘little ones’ of yours in other lands – to find out so quickly about what you desire?”

“You see, they tell everything to each other very fast along a chain, a lot faster than the electrons run in your computer.”

“Computer … Communications … That’s it… I’ll check it all now video cameras have been set up around all the projectiles on our territory. It’ll just take a moment.”

Ivan Nikiforovich turned to his communications monitor, which was showing a picture of a square projectile. Or rather, what remained of a projectile. The casing was rusty and full of holes, while the warhead was lying to one side, significantly reduced in size. Ivan Nikiforovich switched to another camera, and then another, but the same thing was happening to all the projectiles. Now the screen showed an image of a man in military uniform.

“Hello, Ivan Nikiforovich. You’ve seen it all yourself by now.”

“What conclusions has the Council come to?” asked Ivan Nikiforovich.

“The Council members have divided into groups and are currently in consultation. Our security forces are trying to work out supplementary measures to ensure the object’s safety.”

“I’ll thank you not to call my daughter an object.”

“You’re nervous, Ivan Nikiforovich. That is not permissible under the circumstances. In ten minutes you’ll be getting a visit from a panel of experts, comprising prominent specialists – psychologists, biologists, radio-electronic engineers. They’re already on their way: I want you to set up an interview for them with your daughter. Prepare her ahead of time.”

“What opinion is the majority of the Council inclined to favour?”

“At the moment they are leaning toward totally isolating your family within the confines of your domain. You need to immediately remove all technical pictures from your daughter’s sight. Stay close to her and try to follow her every move.”

Upon arriving at Ivan Nikiforovich domain, the panel of experts sent by the Russian Security Council engaged little Dasha in a lengthy conversation. After the child had been patiently answering all the adults’ questions for about an hour and a half, everyone, including the observers following the interview on the huge video monitors at the Security Council’s communications centre, were suddenly thrown into a state of utter bewilderment when the door of Ivan Nikiforovich’s study opened and in walked Dasha’s brother Kostia, carrying the cuckoo clock which was now cuckooing incessantly: Kostia put the clock down on the table. The hands showed eleven o’clock, but no sooner had the mechanical bird given the requisite number of cuckoos than the big hand on the clock quickly traced a full circle around the clock face and the cuckooing began all over again. Those present were amazed at this strange operation of the clock, alternating their silent gaze between the clock and Dasha.

“Oh!” all at once Dasha exclaimed. “I quite forgot. I have to go on a very important errand. That’s my friend Verunka turning the clock hands. That was our arrangement, just in case I forgot. I have to go.”

Two guards blocked the door of the study.

“What might you have forgotten, Dashenka?” Ivan Nikiforovich asked his daughter.

“I might have forgotten to go to the domain where my friend Verunka lives and stroke her little flower and water it. And it really misses being caressed. It loves people to look at it tenderly.”

“But it’s not your flower,” observed Ivan Nikiforovich.

“Why can’t your friend stroke it herself? Her own flower?”

“Papochka, you see, Verunka’s gone visiting with her parents?”

“Where’s she gone visiting to?”

“Somewhere in Siberia.”

From all around the room whispered exclamations could be heard:

“She’s not alone!”; “What kind of abilities does her friend have?!”; “She’s not alone!”; “How many of them are there?!”; “How can we tell who they are?!”; “We need to take measures immediately regarding every child like that!”

But all the exclaiming ceased directly an elderly grey-haired gentleman rose from his seat at the side of the room. This man had the most senior title and position of all, and not just in relation to those present in Ivan Nikiforovich’s study. He was the chairman of Russia’s Security Council. Everyone turned to him in reverent silence.

The elderly fellow looked at Dasha sitting in her little wooden chair, and a tear rolled down his cheek. Then he slowly went over to Dasha and knelt down on one knee in front of her, holding out his hand to her. Dasha rose and took a step to one side. Holding the frilled hem of her dress, she made a curtsy; and put her little hand in his huge palm.

The elderly man looked at her for some time. Then, bowing his head, he kissed Dasha’s hand in respect, saying:

“Please forgive us, little goddess!”

“My name is Dasha,” the girl answered.

“Yes, of course, your name is Dasha. Tell us, Dasha, what will prevail on our Earth?”

The little girl looked into the elderly man’s face in surprise, bent closer to him and with the palm of her hand carefully wiped away the tear from his cheek, then touched his moustache with her finger. Then she turned to her brother and said:

“Kostienka, you also promised to help me talk with the lilies on Verunka’s pond. Remember you promised?”

“I do remember,” Kostia replied.

“Then let’s go.”

“Let’s go.”

In the doorway; having already passed by the guards which had stepped aside as she approached, Dasha turned in the direction of the elderly fellow still standing on one knee, smiled at him and stated confidently: “On the Earth shall prevail… Good shall prevail!”

Six hours later, speaking before an expanded session of Russia’s Security Council, the elderly chairman said: 

“Everything in the world is relative. Relative to our generation, those in the new generation may seem to us to be like gods. It is not up to them to align themselves with us, but for us to align ourselves with them. The entire military might of the planet with its unique technological achievements has proved itself powerless before a single little girl of the new generation. And our job, our duty, our obligation to the new generation is simply to clear away the garbage. We must make every effort to rid the Earth of any kind of armaments. Our technological achievements and discoveries, embodied in the most modern and, it seemed to us, unique military complexes, proved nothing more than useless scrap in the face of the new generation. And we must clear it away.”



An international congress was held, with delegates from the security councils of the military blocs of various countries and continents, to work out a plan for the emergency conversion of military hardware and ammunition. Scientists from different parts of the world exchanged their expertise. Psychologists kept appearing in the media in an effort to head off panic among a population possessing a considerable variety of firearms. Panic had broken out after news of the Russian phenomenon had been leaked to the media, and the facts had become somewhat distorted.

A number of Western news sources were reporting that Russia had launched an emergency programme to convert all the ammunition on its territory, and at a designated hour would be blowing up the ammunition reserves held by other nations, destroying a large part of their population in the process. People began disposing of their firearms and ammunition in rivers or burying them in wasteland sites, since the official conversion centres could not keep up with the demand.

Heavy fines were levied for unauthorised conversion. And even the fact that independent ‘brokerage firms’ started charging huge sums for each bullet or shell they accepted did not deter the flood of people wishing to escape from something that threatened the lives of whole families. People living in cities situated in the proximity of military bases demanded the authorities immediately get rid of all military facilities. But the arms industry; which had now been reoriented toward the conversion of the very products it had previously manufactured, was working to the limits of its capacity.

In many Western countries the press began circulating a flurry of rumours to the effect that Russia was threatening the world with disaster. The world was not in a position to free itself from its accumulation of armaments so quickly, and even though conversion plants were operating at full tilt, it was impossible for them to destroy in a few months a stock of arms that had been accumulating over decades.

Accusations were made that the Russian government had known for some time about the existence of children with unusual abilities, and that it had long been preparing for the conversion of deadly weapons. To back up this claim, it was noted that the Russian government had been buying up and dismantling ecologically unsound enterprises – not just on its own soil but in neighbouring countries as well. And that if Russia could become the first to rid its territory of explosive armaments, it would also be able to destroy nations that were lagging behind in the disarmament race.

All sorts of destructive scenarios of an impending world disaster and its consequences were deliberately exaggerated in the media. This was quite advantageous for companies involved in conversion, escalating the price of their services. Anyone handing in bullets from a handgun, for example, was obliged to pay twenty dollars for each bullet. Unauthorised burial or disposal of a weapon was treated as a criminal act. Another source of panic was the lack of proposals for any real defence against the abilities which had come to light in certain Russian children.

The Russian President then took what seemed to all to be a desperate and ill-conceived action: he decided to go live before the world’s TV cameras in the company of children with extraordinary abilities. And on the appointed day and hour practically the whole planet gathered in front of their TV sets to hear what the Russian President had to say.

In advance of the broadcast many factories stopped, stores closed, streets emptied – all eyes were focused on Russia. The President wanted to calm people’s fears and show the whole world that the newly-emerging generation of young Russians were not bloodthirsty monsters, but kind, ordinary children, whom there was no reason to fear.

To appear even more convincing, the President asked his advisers to invite thirty children with extraordinary abilities to the Kremlin, proposing to remain alone with these children in his office during the broadcast. All this was carried out as he requested.

”And what did the Russian President have to say to the world?”

I asked Anastasia.

“If you like, you can watch this scene for yourself and listen to what he said, Vladimir.”

“I’d like that very much.”

“So, take a look and see.”

The Russian President stood on a small podium next to his desk. On either side of the podium sat children of varying ages, from about three to ten years old. On the opposite side of the room were arrayed a group of correspondents and a flock of TV cameras. The President began speaking.

“Ladies and gentlemen! My fellow-citizens! I have specially invited these children to meet you. As you can see, I am with them here alone, with no bodyguards or psychologists or parents. These children are not monsters, as some Western media are attempting to portray them. You can see for yourselves that these are just ordinary children. There are no signs of aggressiveness in their faces or actions. Some of their abilities we regard as unusual. But are they really? It is quite possible that the abilities which have begun to reveal themselves in the rising generation are entirely normal for the human individual. Our own creations, on the other hand, may turn out to be inimical to human existence. The human commonwealth has created a communications system and military potential capable of fomenting global disaster.

“Peaceful negotiations between states possessing the greatest military potential have gone on for centuries, yet the arms race has still not ceased. Today we have a real opportunity to do away with this endless destructive process. Today the countries in the most advantageous position are those that do not have a concentration of deadly weapons on their territories.

“We tend to think of such a situation as unnatural. But let us ponder the question of why, on the other hand, the production of life-destroying weapons which now threaten whole nations, has ever seemed natural to the human commonwealth, and why such a conviction is so deeply rooted in our consciousness.

“The children of the new generation have changed our priorities, causing us to take steps in the opposite direction – namely, disarmament. The fear and panic and feverish activity surrounding this process are largely due to a misrepresentation of the facts. The Russian government has been accused of knowing for a long time about the extraordinary abilities of children in our country. Such accusations are unfounded. Up until now a huge military potential has been present on Russian soil, and we, like many other countries, are doing the best we can to effect its conversion.

“The Russian government has been accused of not taking sufficient measures to identify all children with extraordinary abilities and to isolate them – in other words, to force them into a state of narcosis until the disarmament process is complete. But that is a step the Russian govern1nent is not about to undertake.

The children of Russia are equal citizens of our country.

”And let us not overlook the question of why people might desire to isolate those who reject murderous weapons instead of those who manufacture them! The Russian govern1nent is taking measures to prevent spontaneous emotional outbursts in the children that might possibly transmit a signal and blow up any kind of armaments they didn’t like.”

“All Russian television channels have completely banned films showing murderous weapons. All toy guns have been destroyed. Parents are constantly minding their children in a bid to head off any negative reactions. Russia -”

The President broke off his speech abruptly. A tow-headed boy of about five rose from his seat and approached one of the video camera tripods. At first, he just examined the screws on the tripod, but when he touched them with his hand, the camera-operator stepped back in fright and hid behind the row of correspondents. The President rushed over to the boy, took him by the hand and led him to the chair where he had been meekly sitting before, admonishing him along the way: “Would you please sit there quietly until I finish.”

But he could not continue with his speech. Two boys, about three or four years of age, were now standing at the communications console, fiddling with the equipment. The children who had been sitting quietly right from the start of the President’s speech were now wandering all over the office, each one looking into whatever they liked. Only the older children – and they were few in number – still sat quietly in their seats, their eyes focused on the correspondents and the TV cameras.

One of them was a little girl with ribbons in her braids. I realised right off who it was. It was Dasha, the one who had blown up the missile complexes. She was not behaving childishly, but attentively and intelligently sizing up the situation, observing the reaction of the correspondents.

People all over the world with their eyes glued to their TV sets caught a glimpse of the rather distraught face of the Russian President. He surveyed the children now dispersed around the room. Seeing two boys fiddling with the government communications console, he glanced over at the door, on the other side of which his assistants, along with the parents of the invited children, were waiting, but he did not call on anyone for help. Excusing himself for the interruption, he rushed over to the boys who were already in the process of pulling one of the telephones off the desk, seized them one under each arm and told them: “Look, these are not toys!”

One of the boys looked over and saw his chum hanging from the President’s other arm and burst out laughing. The second boy managed to reach out and give a tug on the President’s necktie, uttering the word Toys!

“That’s what you think, but they are not toys,” the President responded.

“Toys!” the smiling lad cheerfully repeated.

The President noticed several other youngsters, evidently attracted by the sounds and the flashing coloured lights, approach the console and start fingering the telephone receivers. After setting the two fidgeters down on the floor, he rushed over to the console, pressed one of the buttons and said: “Cut all communications to my office immediately.”

Next, he quickly laid out on his desk a number of blank sheets of paper. On each one he put a pencil or pen, turned to the children clustering around the desk and said: “Here you are. You can draw whatever you like. Start drawing, and later we’ll decide all together who’s come up with the best picture.”

All the children gathered around the desk and began taking paper and pen or pencil in hand. To those who were not tall enough to reach the desk, the President offered chairs, either seating or standing the littlest ones on the chairs.

Satisfied that he had succeeded in occupying the children’s attention with drawing, the President once more went over to the podium, smiled to the television viewers, took a deep breath, and was about to go on with his speech. But to no avail. A little boy came up to him and began tugging on his trousers.

“What is it? What do you want?”; “Pee … ” said the boy.; “What?”; “Pee … “; “Pee, pee? You mean you want to go to the bathroom?”

And once more the President’s gaze turned toward the door leading out of his office.

The door opened, and immediately two of his assistants or bodyguards rushed toward him. One of the men, who had a sombre and rather tense expression on his face, bent down and took the little boy’s hand. But the boy, still clinging to the President’s trouser leg, wriggled free, shaking his hand loose from the grip of the sombre-looking man attempting to take him out of the office. He held up his hand to the other men approaching a gesture of protest which caught them completely off guard. Once more the boy raised his head, looking up to the President from below. Tugging on his trouser-leg, he repeated the word pee and began to crouch down just a little.

“This isn’t the right time for your ‘pee’,” said the President. “Not only that, but you’re being pernickety too.”

At that point the President picked up the boy in his arms, excused himself to the media representatives and headed out of the office, saying in passing: “We’ll be right back.”

In hundreds of millions of homes people watched as the TV cameras switched back and forth between the children playing, drawing and chatting with each other – and, more often than not, the now-deserted presidential podium.

And then little Dasha rose from her seat. Dragging a chair over to the podium, she climbed up on it, looked at the correspondents and then directly into the lenses of the TV cameras focused on her. She straightened the ribbons in her braids and began to speak. 

“My name is Dasha. And our Uncle President – he’s a good chap. He’ll be back in a moment. He’ll come back and tell you everything. He’s just a little anxious right now. But he’ll be able to tell everyone how life is going to be good everywhere you look on the Earth. And that nobody need be afraid of us. My brother Kostia told me how people are afraid of us children because I blew up some big new missiles. But it wasn’t that I wanted to blow them up. I just wanted my Papa not to go away for such a long time and for him not to think so much about these missiles. Or look at them so much. He should look at Mama instead. She’s much better than any missile. And she likes it when Papa looks at her and talks with her. But when he goes away for a long time or looks at the missiles, Mama’s sad. And I don’t want Mama to be sad.

“Kostia, my brother, is very clever and intelligent, and Kostienka told me that I’ve frightened a lot of people. I shan’t blow up anything else. It’s quite boring, really. There are other things to do that are much more important and interesting.

They bring joy to everyone.

“You take care of dismantling the 1nissiles yourselves. See to it that nobody ever blows them up. And please don’t be afraid of us.

“Do come visit us.  All of you. We’ll give you living water to drink. My Mama told me how people here used to live. They kept so very busy building all kinds of plants and factories and got so carried away that before they knew it there was no more living water. The water had become dirty. And water was something you could only buy in bottles in stores. But the water in the bottles was dead, suffocated, and people began to get sick. That was how it used to be, but there’s no way I can imagine how people could possibly dirty the water that they themselves drank. But Papa said that even now on the Earth there are whole countries where there is no clean-living water, and that people in these countries are dying from painful diseases. And there are no tasty apples or berries in these countries – everything living is sick, and the people eat sick things and feel wretched.

“Do come visit us, all of you come. And we’ll treat you to healthy apples and tomatoes and pears and berries. When you’ve tried them and go back home, you’ll say to yourselves: ‘Don’t do dirty things, it’s better to live clean!’ Then later when everything’s clean in your country, we’ll come visit you and bring you presents.”

The President, who by this time had come back, still holding the little boy in his arms, stood in the doorway and listened to Dasha’s speech. When she finished, he walked over to the podium. With the little one still comfortably nestled in his arn1s, he echoed Dasha’s words:

“Yes, of course … Do come, really; we have treatments for the body here. But that’s not the main thing. We all need to gain a better understanding of ourselves and our purpose. We really have to understand that. Otherwise we’ll be swept off the face of the Earth like garbage. We’ve got to get together and clear away all this dirt we ourselves have brought forth.

“Thank you all for your attention.”

The scene in the President’s office faded. And Anastasia’s voice continued: “It is difficult to say whether it was the President’s or Dasha’s speech that had the greater effect on the viewers watching this live broadcast from Russia. But people were no longer inclined to believe the rumours that had been spread about Russia’s aggressiveness. People wanted to live, and live a happy life – they believed that a happy life was possible. After the live broadcast from the Kremlin the numbers of people wanting to visit Russia or even live there increased dramatically. And upon coming back home from Russia these visitors could no longer live the way they did before. A new conscious awareness was sparked in each individual, like the first ray of the Sun at the dawn of a new day.”


Excerpt from the book “Who Are We?” by Vladimir Megre