Marek Huberath: Yoo Retoont, Sneogg. Ay Noo

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Marek Huberath Yoo Retoont, Sneogg. Ay Noo
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    Yoo Retoont, Sneogg. Ay Noo
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    PIASA Books
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    Фантастика и фэнтези / на английском языке
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    New York
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Yoo Retoont, Sneogg. Ay Noo: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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“From Poland we have ‘Yoo Retoont, Sneogg. Ay Noo.’ by Marek S. Huberath, a story of monsters and mutants in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, which does a remarkable job of humanizing its characters while never shying away from their deformations.” From , 2007

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Marek S. Huberath


Translated from the Polish by Michael Kandel


On the floor, several bright spots formed a row. Snorg liked to watch them move slowly across the dull tiles. The spots of light were different from the glow that suffused the Room. He had discovered some time ago that the source of this light was the small windows near the ceiling. He liked to lie on the floor so the spots would warm him. He wanted to do this now. He tried to move his arms but managed only to fall helplessly off the bed.

“Dags…,” he hissed between clenched teeth. He couldn’t move his numb jaw. “Dags…,” he repeated with an effort.

One of the Dagses turned his head from the viewscreen-in reaction probably to the thud of the body instead of to Snorg’s voice. Moosy was humming some tune the whole time, making little yawps for the words. The Dags with a few quick jerks pulled his way to Snorg and slapped him in the face, hard. Both Dagses had strong arms. They didn’t use their undeveloped legs much.

“Pa… pa…,” stammered the Dags, making rhythmic motions with his shoulders to say that Snorg would be able to move his arms in a minute. He started hooking the tangle of wires to Snorg. The other Dags also came, pulling himself, and gave Snorg’s hair a yank. The yank hurt, but pain was what Snorg wanted.

“My head… head…” A pounding in his skull. “Good… good.”

The second Dags then poked a finger in Snorg’s eye. Snorg twisted his head away and roared. The first Dags beat at the second Dags, until the second Dags rolled away. Snorg’s eye brimmed with tears, so he couldn’t see if the first Dags was attaching all the electrodes right. But he didn’t worry, because the Dags usually did. He imagined the Dags attaching the wires of the machine, imagined him cocking his head comically as he worked. Both Dagses had eyes set so wide apart, they had to cock their heads.

“Tavegner!… Want to hear a story?” That was Piecky’s smooth, resonant voice. Snorg admired the way Piecky talked. He could make out every word, although his lack of external ears limited his hearing. Piecky was answered by a loud gurgle. Tavegner still couldn’t move. He announced his presence only by gurgling. Had he stood up, he would have been the tallest of them, taller than Tib or Aspe. Tib only stood, so she was the tallest.

“I might be taller than Tib, if I could stand,” Snorg thought.

He was pleased that today he had feeling in his entire head. The pain was a service provided him daily by the Dagses.

“Piecky, shut up!” shouted Moosy. “You can tell him the story later… I’m singing now.”

Snorg’s hands were numb, like pieces of wood, but they moved according to his will. He tore himself free of the tangle of wires and tubes. He pinched his arm. There was no feeling. “At least I can move it,” he thought. He inspected the cuts and bruises on his body. Most were healing. But he had two new cuts from his last fall off the bed. Cuts were Snorg’s curse: a moment of inattention, and he could blunder into something and break his skin without knowing it. He was constantly afraid that he wouldn’t notice a cut in time and it would get infected. He crawled to the viewscreen. Tib stood nearby, rigid, while one of the Dagses was trying to pull her clothes off from the bottom.

“Who dresses her?” Snorg wondered. Every day the Dagses did the same thing, and every day, in the morning, Tib was dressed again.

Finally Tib’s gray gown fell to the floor, and the Dags started to climb up her leg.

Snorg watched to see. What happened was what always happened: the little Dags got nowhere. When he was high enough, Tib simply scissored her legs shut. The Dags, resigned, went and squatted in front of the viewscreen and stared open-mouthed at it.

“She’s not that stupid,” thought Snorg. “She always closes her legs in time…”

Tib was a woman-only lately had Snorg realized this. She looked very much like the women the viewscreen showed during the lessons.

“Her hips maybe are a little narrow, and she’s too tall, but everything else is in place…” Until now he had thought of her as furniture, a motionless decoration of the Room. She seemed even taller from the floor. Someday he would like to talk to her. Tib was the only person in the Room he had been unable to communicate with. Even Tavegner, who lay like a mound of meat and couldn’t utter a word, had interesting things to tell. You conversed with him by the trick of having yes be one gurgle and no two. Tavegner filled almost half the Room, and for a long time everyone thought he was like Tib. It was Piecky who figured out how to talk with him. Before that, the Dagses discovered that Tavegner responded to jabs, because they liked to lounge on his immense, soft, warm body. Clever Piecky worked out the way for Tavegner to gurgle yes for the letter of the alphabet he wanted and to gurgle twice to end a word. Everyone would gather around to listen. Snorg would bring the box that held Piecky, and the Dagses would drag Moosy. All together they would spell out letter by letter.

“I am Tavegner,” Tavegner said. Then he told them a number of things. He told them he liked it when the Dagses lounged on him, he thanked Piecky, and he asked them to move him a little so he could see the viewscreen better. But lately Tavegner had become lazy: he preferred to be given simple yes-or-no questions.

Snorg moved himself to Piecky.

“Piecky, are you a man or a woman?” he asked and began to unwrap the sheet.

“Stop that, damn it, Snorg… It doesn’t matter what I am.” Piecky’s small body twisted, but Snorg unwrapped it all the way. Then he wrapped it up again.

“You don’t have anything,” he said.

“What did you think, stupid?” Piecky sneered. “The Dagses would have found out long ago if I had…”

Piecky’s head was beautiful. It was larger even than Snorg’s and formed better even than the heads of the people on the viewscreen.

“You have a beautiful head, Piecky,” said Snorg, to put him in a better humor. Piecky actually blushed at that.

“I know,” he replied. “And yours is ugly, but normally formed, all in all, except for the ears… I’m the brains here and will be around long after they’ve put you all away.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Nothing… I need the sucker now.”

Snorg pulled out the wall tube for excrement, plugged it into Piecky, and left him. The viewscreen was showing trees, a lot of trees. They were pretty, colorful, and moved gracefully. Snorg had never seen trees but dreamed of sleeping in one. He imagined branches arranged around him to make a soft, warm bed. The viewscreen always showed pretty things: spreading landscapes, people shaped correctly. He learned a lot of useful information.

Snorg felt regret that he wasn’t pretty like the people he saw on the viewscreen who engaged in all kinds of complicated activities. From the perspective of the floor and his physical shortcomings, those people seemed perfection. It was his fault he was the way he was instead of like them, though he didn’t know why it was his fault. Watching the viewscreen, he forgot everything. With his eyes he absorbed the scenes and facts that flowed from it. He saw things that had never been in the Room, things that would have remained unknown to him forever without the viewscreen. A woman appeared. She stood unmoving. She was a model to demonstrate the proportions of a correctly formed woman. Near the viewscreen, Tib stood unmoving and watched with glassy eyes. Snorg compared her with the woman on the viewscreen. Tib was bald, which made her head different from the head of the woman on the viewscreen, but when Snorg tried to picture hair on Tib’s head, the comparison wasn’t so bad. Tib had delicate ears, which stood out a little and were translucent. Snorg envied her those ears. On the viewscreen, lines appeared, showing the correct proportions. Snorg crawled to Tib to measure her proportions with a string. Not only did she have both arms of equal length, and both legs equal, but also her arms were shorter than her legs, and even in the smallest details Tib’s build agreed with the build of the model. To measure her head in proportion to the rest of her body, he got up on his knees and stretched his arms as high as he could. Everything was right.

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