By Yuri Shymanovsky.
Translated from Russian by Glen Evans.

The Host
"...I've been here in the forest for just a few days,
but I think I'm already going crazy.
I will record each event so as to not lose myself
This story started a few years ago, when we came here,
my friends and I. Not many places on Earth remain so
beautiful, wild and untouched. Far away from populated
areas, this forest was virginally savage. Even the
animals are not afraid of people. My friends had a
helicopter, and as it was a holiday, we took a big
pack of vodka and decided to go into the forest as far
as the fuel allowed us.
And we found this place.
But the most interesting part is - there was a cabin
here, in the middle of the forest! Who built it and
when? We didn't know, and we didn't care. We drank a
But before we left I was washing my face in the small
river next to the cabin and I found a few native gold
I did not say a word about it to my friends, but
decided to come back.
Now I'm here. With me is a huge mongrel dog named
Gosha. He could be a star in the movie 'The Hound of
the Baskervilles" for sure! I'm afraid of nothing when
he's by my side.
Well, the place is unusual, and even looks mysterious.
Picture it: forest covered territory down about two
hundred meters. There is some kind of valley about two
kilometers long and one-and-half kilometers wide. The
trees are only on the lowest part, plain and smooth.
And it surrounded by bright white abrupt acclivities.
The only way that you can get here is via the south
end of the gorge. There are a few waterfalls; a creek
channeling the water into a small river that goes
along the base of the valley. It leaves the valley in
the north through a very narrow canyon. I don't know
if a human can go this way. I'll check some day.
Probably here the climate is much warmer than above.
No wind comes in, and the bright white walls
surrounding the valley, cast back the sunlight like a
reflector, concentrating the heat in the middle. This
is why the forest here looks like a jungle.
Near the center of the valley is a big, football field
sized glade. Here, next to the river, are three old
cedars. They probably grew from the same pinecone.
And beneath them is that strange cabin, built with
stones without any adhesive. Just one small opening,
some kind of window, and the entry. I can't figure out
how old it is. Maybe - twenty, or two hundred or even
thousands of years.
The first day, forgetting everything, I rushed with
Gosha to get the gold.
However, I forgot the place where I found the gold! No
wonder, after such drinking, and it was a few years
ago... Oh well, I'm a free person and I have the
entire summer ahead.
I just have to carefully check out the whole river.
It's about two kilometers long.
This day I was making my new home more comfortable.
I made a new one-pitched roof with thin logs, and
covered it with cedar branches.
I constructed a door with poles and lashed it with
pieces of a leather belt.
Great job! From inside I managed a small hook with
some wire for a lock. Just in case as nobody's around.
I covered the window with polyethylene pellicle.
Inside I made a fluffy pile of hay for sleeping. Made
a small table, dragged in two small tree trunks for
chairs. Now it is evening, and I am writing in my
diary with candlelight. Behind the cabin my dinner is
cooking on the fire. Gosha is out, probably hunting.
"It's the next day and I'm continuing my records.
Yesterday an event happened, that alarmed and even
scared me.
About midnight when Gosha and I had our supper, I
heard a distant human shout.
I thought I'd just imagined it, as there's no reason
for a person to be here. But Gosha sprang up, and
roared a little. It means he heard it also.
For a long time I couldn't fall asleep. Who could it
possibly be? Why did he scream like that? It was
certainly a human voice. Maybe someone fell into the
cliff in the darkness?
In the morning I took my shotgun, and with Gosha went
to the place from where I thought the cry sounded.
Soon I realized that making my way through such a
jungle is a task that is very fatiguing and probably
pointless. If someone really fell from above yesterday
why should I care? It was his own fault - why did he
wander into the darkness?
The whole day I spent searching the river, but I
didn't find any gold. However, I'm positive it should
be there. The bottom of the river is quartz sand, and
the gold is next to quartz. I read about it. I just
need to find it. The brinks look similar all river
long. I can't recall the exact place.
I went home tired and wet. I caught some fish with my
shirt. I don't know their name, but they're delicious
and there's a lot here.
"It's evening now. Another day has passed.
Strange. Yesterday, during our supper, I heard the cry
again. However it seemed much closer now. It's the
voice of a human being for sure, but very odd. It was
an awful howl. Gosha sprang up and barked. I shouted
at him, and heard intensively. I think I heard someone
making his way through the forest, but these sounds
were gone, and only crickets were chirping in the
I hurriedly splashed the water on the fire, bringing
it down just in case. It became cold and dark around
Now I'm sure that I'm not alone in the valley. I don't
know what he's doing here, and how our neighborhood
would finish.
In the cabin I was afraid to close my eyes. It seemed
to me as something cryptic and horrible is getting
close in the darkness, and walks around my shelter.
Gosha was all alert as well. Sometimes he was still,
listening, sometimes he started to roar. When it was
almost morning I drunk some pure alcohol, and was
finally able to have a restless sleep. In the morning
I awoke tired and angry.
After the breakfast, as usual Gosha and I went on our
search along the river. I was trying to drive away
some stupid thoughts. I caught myself looking not for
the gold, but for clues of the stranger's presence.
Sometimes I was sure someone was staring at me from
the bushes. In such moments I was still, listening
intently. Of course I didn't find any gold.
"Next day, I'm writing again.
Yesterday, when dark fell, I locked myself with my dog
inside the cabin, and waited without any light,
holding the shotgun. Something was telling me, today
the strange nighttime journey would continue. I was
right. Involuntarily I fell asleep, and was awoken
when Gosha pressed himself to my legs, whimpering and
trembling all over.
The dog was scared half to death. And at the same
time, to my horror, I clearly heard very heavy but
careful steps. Someone huge was slinking toward my
home. The steps faded, I glanced at the window, and my
hair stood on end. As I said before, I covered the
window with polyethylene pellicle. There was a full
moon and on the screen I saw a shadow! Someone peeped
into the window. And that silhouette was... My God! It
was some hairy mug with long donkey like ears.
At that moment a wild shriek broke the silence, and
the echo repeated it many times. The shadow rushed
aside and disappeared. Then I heard steps again, but
this time they were hurrying away, then something like
the chatter of horses' hoofs sounded, and they were
In the fallen silence I could only hear the chirp of
the crickets and beats of my pounding heart. The
shotgun almost fell from my shaking hands, and the
whimpering dog was still pressing himself to my legs.
I spent the rest of the night in the same position -
cringing in the corner, afraid to move a limb. I swore
that in the morning I'll take my stuff and get out of
this damned place.
When the sun was up, and the birds' voices sounded I
felt myself in some safety and decided to take a
little sleep before going. I threw down the whole mug
of pure alcohol and passed out.
I woke up in the afternoon, but didn't change my
plans. I have to get out of here. My head was cracking
after the drink. I staggered to the river, knelt and
eagerly started to drink.
And at that moment I saw a gold nugget. It was the
same size and shape as an egg. As I gazed at the
weighty yellowish piece I suddenly made another
decision. I wouldn't leave. By the way, why was I so
Tonight I will wait for this thing. It will come for
sure. But I won't wait in the cabin. I'll hide in the
tall grass on the glade. When it comes, it will have a
couple of steel bullets, 12 mm caliber, right in its
head. You can put down a rhinoceros with such a load.
If it's an animal - its pelt will decorate my home. If
it's human - it will be his own fault, why did he
organize such a stupid spectacle. No court will charge
me for that.
But if it is some kind of demon... Well, nothing to do
then. He'll get you anywhere.
I'm finishing now, it's getting dark. I'll go to check
my shotgun."
This strange diary was found in a thin school exercise
book inside a cabin in the middle of the forest. Also
here were a rucksack, axe, flashlight, some dishes and
blankets, set in order.
Obviously no one had touched them for many years.
Without doubt the owner planned to be back shortly,
but was gone forever. Next to the cabin on the glade a
human skeleton had been found. The skull was smashed,
empty used cartridges were all around a shotgun with
its butt crushed. Evidently the man was killed with
it. As plain as day he shot a few times before it had
happened. Beside, in the thick tall grass, a skeleton
of an enormous dog was found.

 (C)    *** JES 1999***      Yuri Shymanovsky 

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