Aleksei Lukyanov


Ever read The Lord of the Rings? I knew it! You look like a reader, you have that kind of face. Remember they had a race in there – the Ents? Tree people, all of them male, who had lost their women. Oh, yes, you know what I’m talking about. So alright, then, listen to my story all the way through, and you’ll catch on. You’ll understand that I couldn’t have done any different.

It all started during the next-to-last recess, when Fedka Proshin said, “Yo, dudes, after school don’t leave. Meet me at the monkey bars. Got something for ya.”

Fedka never just shot off his mouth for nothing, so all through fifth and sixth period we were all, like, on pins and needles, wondering what it was he’d gotten wind of that it couldn’t wait, that we just had to get together after school on Monday and not Friday, as usual. No matter how much we poked Fedka, how much we pleaded with him to at least drop us a hint what the deal was, he wouldn’t crack. It was pretty obvious another rumble was brewing between us and B class – lately they’d been getting uppity.

But it all turned out way more interesting than that.

After school, we went out on to the playground, crossed the sports field and squatted down by the parallel bars. Fedka looked around to make sure we were alone, then said in a low voice, “Trefilov’s a fag.”

There was this silence that came down all of a sudden, so loud it rang in our ears.

“You’re fucking with us,” said Tolyan, when the silence had started to drag on too long.

“I shit you not.”

Zheka and I looked at each other. If any of our teachers was least likely to be a homo, it was Sergei Igorich. He was taller than anyone, he had the widest shoulders, with enormous hands all covered in blisters, burns and cuts. Those big hands could just as easily handle flasks and test tubes during chemistry as they could lathes and carpentry tools in vocational class, and – way cooler – a knife in self-defense class.

“Fuck you guys,” I said. “How many hundreds’a times have we gone to the pool with him, taken showers all together there? If he was a butt-fucker, he would’ve gotten a hard-on around us.”

“Shut up, Kolyan,” my brother cut me off. “Let him talk.”

Fedka’s nostrils were already flaring up, which meant an agro for sure, so Zheka was right to stop me. Nobody had it in him to get into a throw-down with Fedka, not even Tokha, the strongest fighter in our class. Fedka rumbled with no rules, he could just hit you in the balls, bite, tear half of your hair out. Word was, they’d transferred him to our school after something really bad happened – like, Fedka had killed some dude in a fight by accident or something.

Fedka said this Uncle Gosha, some guy from his dad’s work, had come from Siberia for a visit. Of course, they spent half the day getting wasted, but Fedka’s dad, knowing that his son had to get up at 7:30 in the morning, gave the order for lights-out at 23:00 hours, like he was going by a schedule. During the night, Fedka had to go to the bathroom, and when he was making his way back to bed, he heard them talking in his dad’s room. He listened in. The grown-ups were talking all hush-hush, real-soft-like, but Fedka could make out that they were talking about some homo. Uncle Gosha was saying that this queer’s picture right away looked real familiar to him, and he remembered that his puss was plastered all over Krasnoyarsk –“extremely dangerous, homosexual, and child molester,” a whole mess of “aggravated” and “most wanted.” Dad was quiet for a long time, then he told Uncle Gosha to stuff a cork in it ‘til they got it all figured out.

“So why’d you think they were talking about Trefilov?” Zheka asked.

“‘Cuz I asked. In the morning when Dad was shaving, I woke up his buddy real quiet-like and got it out of him. But, it’s a fucking secret.”

It didn’t look like Fedka was shitting us. But maybe Fedka’s dad’s buddy was. Who knew anyway who our head teacher could look like? In our own class we had a good example of how you could mix up two people: Tokha and Tolyan.

They weren’t even brothers, but the face recognition software had trouble telling them apart all the time – they had almost exactly the same scars on the left side of their faces, Tokha’s from a dog bite, and Tolyan’s from a loose round in shop that flew up and hit him in the mug. The school security system mixed them up them all the time, and here we thought it was so smart. It could even pick me apart from Zheka, even though we’re twins.

“Your Dad’s right. Don’t be fucking with this shit, not ‘til it gets figured out,” said Zheka.

“What, you don’t know how they’re gonna figure it out?” Fedka looked at each of us, one by one. “They’ll drag us in, and ask us if he touched us, if he said anything bad to us.”

“Well, he didn’t touch and he didn’t say,” said Tokha, like a dumbass. “What’s the big freaking deal, dudes?”

“Shut up,” we said, all together-like.

Fedka really did have a point. A commission would come to the school, and they’d start fucking with us, working us over, like, “What, you’re covering for him? You’re faggots, too, huh?” We knew all about that little game, we’d already been through it. Two years ago they were sniffing out a child molester in another school near here. Two dudes gave it up right away, another one got his ass totally ripped open for not, like, testifying against the guy. That dude ended up OD-ing on pills. He did leave a note, though, where he got the teach off the hook – saying it was all lies, and he wrote down all the real rapists’ names. Those dudes fell apart right away in the interrogation, saying they had thought he was a homo. Everybody got splashed with shit, they disbanded the school. And here we only had two more years to go, then the army – and then that’s it, freedom! Why the fuck would we wanna go spoil it all for? Why’d Fedka have to go to the bathroom that night? He should have just pissed himself, the fucking idiot.

“So what do you think we oughta do?” Zheka asked Fedka.

Аt first Fedka was just mumbling something or other, all confused, but then suddenly he perked up and came out with a creative solution. The dudes all backed away from him right away.

“Proshin, are you totally fucking nuts?” asked Tokha.

“What else are we gonna do? Look, if my dad figures it out, then what? There’s gonna be a commission and investigation anyway.”

“And if Igorich isn’t a fag? How’re you gonna find out?”

“It’s all the fucking same to me. I’m never going in the same room with him again anyway.”

“Shit, Proshin, use your head!” Zheka barked at him. “Even if you did get the drop on him, how are you gonna explain why? There’ll be an investigation, they’ll be trying to figure out what the fucking deal was with this teacher that got killed, and who killed him. They’ll connect the dots to you right away, and once they do that, they’ll break you, make you talk even faster. But before any of that shit even happens, Trefilov is just gonna squash you with his thumb. How do you think you’re even gonna handle him?”

“My dad’s buddy is leaving the day after tomorrow. I’ll talk to him. He’ll take care of fucking Trefilov.”

We moved back from Fedka even more. Basically, it was one against all. But that didn’t scare him.

“What the fuck, dudes? What if it turns out he really is a fucking fag, don’t you see this shit will stick to us the rest of our lives? I guarantee you, some lowlife’ll turn up and blab all about it.”

“Right. Like your Uncle Gosha. Fuck, Proshin, you turned out to be a real dick. Аnd I thought you were an okay dude.”

“Say it again, what’d you call me?

“Fuck off, Proshin,” said Tokha. “We don’t give a fuck about your sports rank. We’ll beat the shit out of you, all of us together, before you can get a peep out.”

“They … they’ll fucking rake you all through the coals!” Fedka started going psycho. “What’re you, wearing his colors, that you keep covering for him?”

“If we’re wearing his colors, then what’re you doing? Don’t forget Trefilov made you his sweet little teacher’s pet in wrestling.”

“You faggots!” Fedka jumped up. “Just fucking try telling that to anybody and see what happens!”

“Fuck off.”

Fedka left, we stayed behind. What we were supposed to do now – nobody knew. However big of an asshole Proshin was, he still got us all real worried. What if Trefilov really was a homo? Maybe he was doing his dirty little business somewhere, on the side, maybe he was even getting his rocks off with one of us, or someone we knew.

“Short version, just be cool,” said Zheka.

He wasn’t the toughest or the smartest in the class, but people respected him, because he never pissed himself and never said stupid random shit. Even though we were twins, Zheka always acted older. I didn’t complain. I didn’t want to be older. All that crap was gonna happen anyway, all by itself – the fuck’s the point of running ahead of the train, like our dad always said. Dad, by the way, saw Zheka as higher up the totem pole, too, and talked about house stuff with him all the time, no problem.

“What if this fuckhead really does waste Igorich?” asked Tokha.

“He doesn’t have the balls. He’ll just graduate first, then start talking shit about Trefilov.”

That sounded about right, too – Fedka was just barely hanging on in school, and mostly thanks to Sergei Igorich. Proshin had a lot of talent in sports and wrestling. He brought up our stats in all the competitions, and because of the good results, the school got extra money from the government. But in academics, Fedka couldn’t’ve been doing worse. If something wasn’t working out, he’d rip up his notebook, throw his pen at the teacher, slam his fist on the desk. Most of the teachers only put up with this because Sergei Igorich stood up for Proshin. If it wasn’t for our head teacher, Fedka wouldn’t have a chance. Which only made his plan look dumber – only a total idiot would pick a fight with the only teacher who supported him.

The talk over, everybody went home.

All the way back from school, Zheka and I didn’t say a word. And only when we got home, he started pawing me all over right there in the hall. We fell to the floor, practically crawling on all fours to my room, stripping each other’s clothes off the whole time, not even putting on any porno – we did just fine without it.

Just don’t be thinking that we were, like, homos and all that. Zheka and I both got off on chick porn (the only kind we ever saw), we had our walls all covered with posters of naked girls. Him and me had our favorite movie stars to jerk off to. But every once in a while we’d feel this urge, this fear of being alone, it was too much – being together was the only way out. Sometimes we did it at night, all worried, listening for sounds in the apartment – did Dad wake up? did he hear us? But he was always just snoring and didn’t hear squat.

And then, yeah, of course, we were ashamed. We couldn’t even look each other in the eye, other people maybe thought we’d had a fight. It wasn’t like that. Zheka and I were tight. It’s just that our hearts were breaking, ‘cause we could only show our, like, tenderness like faggots. But we didn’t wanna use that doll we kept in a special closet, that we could have used any time. A doll’s not a person. So what if you can use all its holes however you want, without it talking back? It won’t breathe on your neck, it won’t squeeze you like it’s terrified of losing you. And we didn’t have a maid, either.

It wasn’t cheap to keep a maid. Constant training, a separate room, monitoring bracelet, cosmetic surgery, medicines, clothes, make-up. Plus it was risky. It happened that sometimes the training didn’t take, and the maid just went nuts. Well, anyway, you already know all about that now, so I don’t think I need to explain it.

After our togetherness we scoured the deck, like we were getting rid of crime evidence. Bed sheets, clothes – to the laundry; then me with a vacuum and Zheka with a mop and rag – we went through every room, opened the windows wide to air out the apartment. I was thinking how to help Sergei Igorich. Zheka was too, but not quite in the same way. After the clean-up I took a shower, washing myself good. When I came out of the bathroom, Zheka was peeling potatoes in the kitchen.

“We gotta call,” he said.


“The police.”

“Are you fucking nuts?” I was stunned.

Zheka didn’t get mad. He didn’t even turn around to look at me. He just kept standing there by the sink, carefully taking a thin little ribbon off а spud.

“Shut your mouth and listen,” he went on. “It’s 100 percent that all our dudes are snitching right now to their rents about Fedka and his fucking Uncle. If their rents aren’t idiots, they’re already calling the cops. And if Trefilov really is an ass-fucker, and we don’t call, it could turn out bad for us. They’ll be asking, “How come you’re the only ones who didn’t call?”, they’ll start investigating us …What the fuck do we need all that for?”

“But you were the one who –”

“Kolyan, if we don’t do this, we’re fucked, okay? And Dad’s fucked, too. We gotta …”

“I get it, I’m not an idiot,” I snapped. “Just do it without me.”

“If that’s how you want. Will you finish these potatoes? I need to take a shower too.”

I took his place.

“Just don’t get mad. We gotta do it.”


There was the sound of water running in the shower. I was peeling potatoes and thinking. Of course Zheka was right. On TV and the social networks, they were always talking about dudes our age who had disappeared, and about, like, unidentified bodies. You could wake us up in the middle of the night, we could bang out the rules for how to behave with strangers for you, with no mistakes. We didn’t just have the rules memorized, we followed them. But still, every six months, every year, here and there, some dudes would disappear. Trefilov could’ve turned out to be a pedophile with a really good cover.

But I didn’t believe that.

“Zheka, I’m done,” I yelled. “We need bread.”

“Money’s on the nightstand,” I heard him through the noise of the water.

That was the last time I heard his voice.

Don’t think I wasn’t scared. I’d never felt more scared in my life, not even later, when everything turned out much worse. I had that feeling like you’re being watched, around every corner I saw Fedka Proshin’s ugly face, I thought every stranger walking by was that Uncle Gosha from Siberia that I didn’t even know. A couple times I almost turned back, but I knew that if I didn’t do now what I had decided, then Zheka would do it, and something really bad might happen to him. Plus, I knew that it might break him. It’s true that of the two of us he was more serious and confident, but I was more patient and, like, methodical.

I still stopped at the store on the way and bought a rye-and-wheat loaf, mostly just to calm myself down. The smell of freshly-baked bread always made me feel better, and on the way to Trefilov’s I sniffed the loaf all over.

We had been over to Sergei Trefilov’s place a few times. We visited him when he was sick, dropped by to wish him happy birthday, and brought him our work when we didn’t turn it in on time at school. His one-room apartment was all spartan. The only luxury was his maid Sasha. Sasha was our sex instructor, too; she taught us how to use a woman’s body to get the most pleasure. Sasha wasn’t beautiful, but she really really knew how to use her body. There was always was a long line in front of her office, and she would do five people at a time. But of course in Trefilov’s apartment she belonged only to him, and Sergei Igorich always locked her out on the balcony when we would come for a visit.

When I was getting to Trefilov’s place, I felt a new wave of fear come over me. Maybe, like deep inside I was already feeling how it would all turn out, but – to just cut the shit for a second – I wasn’t afraid of the consequences, but that Sergei Igorich really would turn out to be a homo, and caught in a corner, he’d do something really bad to me. He had told us himself in wrestling about stuff like that that had happened, and kept saying that none of us, no matter what, should ever get into a car or go to an apartment of someone we didn’t know.

A few more times, I sniffed in the smell of the bread, which was getting cold. Then I went into his building, walked up to the third floor, and felt the doorbell sink it as I rang it. You could hear steps on the other side of the door.

“Who’s there?” asked Trefilov.

“Sergei Igorich, it’s me, Nagorskikh.”

“Kolya? Has something happened?”

“I need to talk to you. It’s very important.”

“Kolya, I can’t just now, I’m not alone. Could you give me a call?”

“We can’t really talk about this on the phone. I’ll be quick.”

Why didn’t I guess right away? If Trefilov was talking to me through the door, it had to mean something was up. I could have just said whatever, like I’m not coming to first period tomorrow ‘cause I had to go for a fluorography, or ask him for the name the knife for martial arts class I should buy at the sporting goods store.

But I didn’t catch his signal and kept ringing. Trefilov had to open the door. I didn’t like the look on his face – all strained, red, his hair all messed up, like right after a hard sparring.

“May I come in?”

“No. Tell me, but quickly …”

“Sergei Igorich, Proshin has it in his head that you’re … well … you know, one of those …”

He didn’t have time to put his finger on his lips, or even to shush me – I heard this loud, piercing noise and it smelled of ozone all of a sudden. Trefilov’s eyes rolled up, and he fell. I didn’t get to move a muscle either before something sharp got jabbed into my neck, someone hit me hard, and my legs went soft under me … Somebody grabbed me and hauled me into Trefilov’s apartment.

When I woke up, I was duct-taped to an office chair. Some man I didn’t know was leaning over me.

“So who are you?” he asked.

“Nikolai Nagorskikh, eighth grade, regular high school number seven, head instructor Sergei Igorich Trefilov.”

“Why’d you come here?”

“To warn the head teacher about somebody planning to kill him. Please, sir, at home they’re probably wondering where I am …”

“We’ll take care of that. Where’d you get the information about the plan to kill him?”

“Fedka Proshin said he’d do it.”

“Why didn’t you call the police?”

“I didn’t think about it, I was in a hurry.”

The man looked up to somewhere behind me, then back at me again.

“And why did this Fedka of yours all of a sudden decide to kill his head teacher?”

“‘Cause he’s an idiot,” I said, and I wasn’t lying at all.

“You should’ve reported him to the school administration.”

“I …”

Somebody boxed my ears – not hard, but it still hurt.

“Kid, it looks to me like there’s something you don’t understand. How come nobody from your class came to warn the teacher, and instead called the police right away – but you did the opposite?”

“I was in a hurry …”

Another hit. Tears spurted from my eyes.

“Tell me, did you know that Trefilov was a fugitive from law?”



“I didn’t know, that’s just what Fedka said!” I said, through tears and snot.

“What kind of relationship do you have with Trefilov?”


“Don’t hit me! He’s my teacher.”


“I repeat the question: what kind of relationship –”

“He’s my teacher!”

Bam. Bam. Bam again. Something started leaking out of my ears. The man raised his hand, like to say that’s enough.

“I repeat the question. Think before you –”

“He’s my teacher!” I yelled, my voice breaking into a shriek.

I hunched up, expecting another blow, but there was nothing this time.

“OK. Let’s say you’re telling the truth. Who put it in your head to warn Trefilov?”

“Nobody, I thought of it myself …”

The interrogation lasted ‘til night. I told them everything the way it was, that Trefilov was a good teacher, that everybody respected him, and that nobody knew anything and couldn’t know anything. They knocked out nearly all my teeth, ripped out a couple’a nails, kept asking me about some gay underground, if I liked taking it up the ass, and what was my grade in sex lab. I told them the truth: I didn’t know, I didn’t like it, I got an A.

Later on they peeled me off the armchair and threw me into a corner, where Sergei Igorich and his maid Sasha were huddled together. Obviously the cops were waiting to see if anybody else would show up. Me, I just prayed that Zheka had called about Trefilov right after I left. I hope he did. But whatever happened, I have no way of checking.

While they were waiting, the three that organized the trap – the man that had been interrogating me and two others – took turns fucking Sasha the maid. Trefilov kept trying to get up, but the cops would easily knock him back down with their tasers. Sasha took ‘em on without a peep, one by one and all three together. Sergei Igorich quietly cried.

When it got totally dark outside – at our latitude that happens no earlier than 11 in April – we heard brakes screeching to a stop outside the windows, below.

“So, Paramonov,” said the one who had been interrogating me, “let’s pack up the three of them.”

“Leave the kid alone, you bastards,” said Trefilov.

“Article 121, Section 3, Clause 1,” said the cop. “Hey, kid, were you a good student? You know what that article says?”

“‘Aiding, abetting, and harboring those suspected of sodomy is punishable by life imprisonment or surgical castration,’” I answered.


They gagged up our mouths with some kind of rubber plugs, pulled these thick black cloth sacks over our heads, and led us out of the apartment. Riding in the car I wondered which one should I pick: life sentence or castration? Well, you don’t need me to tell you I didn’t really have much of a choice.

What happened to me in the general prisoners’ cell, I won’t say – you yourself know real good what all goes down in there. No, don’t look away – I forgave everybody for everything a long time ago. When you think about it, those people were all afraid of me a lot more than I hated them.

They kept at me for about a week, and then when I was all in despair and stuck my head in the shitter to kill myself, they saved me and sent me to a hospital, to a private room. When I felt a little better, and my tongue lost the shit-taste, and my nose lost the shit-smell, they dressed me up in regular clothes and took me to an interrogation. Though of course, it wasn’t exactly an interrogation. It was an office all done up in stucco, and some old investigator was waiting for me.

“Have a seat, Nagorskikh,” he said.

When I sat down, he pushed forward a jar of hard candy on the table.

“Have some!”

Those sweethearts had knocked out all my teeth, but I took the candy and shoved it up against the inside of my cheek. I don’t like putting these words together, but how else are you gonna say it.

“It looks like you’ve had it pretty hard the last few days?”

I didn’t say anything. No point answering rhetorical questions.

The investigator understood that, too, so he continued:

“According to your personal file, you were a good student in all subjects. What do you know about the Big Blitz?”

That was a trick question. “Big Blitz” was a Western term, it hadn’t taken in our country. Lisping, I rehashed for him what I knew from history class. The wave of female mortality that had swept through the whole planet fifteen years ago and killed off ninety-nine and nine tenths percent of the women on Earth was explained by a mutation of the human microbiome caused by anomalous solar activity that had happened about six months before the tragedy.

That’s how all the Western homos explained the disaster. Our scientists proved a long time ago that it was a virus outbreak from secret NATO labs. The homos had wanted only for Russian women to die, but they miscalculated – almost all the women on the planet fell victim to the virus. Only two or three million were left in the whole world. But unfortunately, those lost forever the ability to give birth, so the problem of natural reproduction for the human population is still unresolved. My brother and me, my classmates, and millions of my generation were the last ones born the natural way. But we didn’t know our mothers – they died pretty much right after we were born.

“You are a diligent student,” the investigator complimented me. “But do you know why those few thousand women survived?”

Obviously, young and naïve as I was then, I didn’t know why.

“It so happens that they weren’t women in the full sense of the word. They were transsexuals. Born male, they felt trapped in an alien body, and only after their sex-reassignment surgery did they become what they are now. Now do you understand?”

The investigator looked at me like I was supposed to guess what comes next. And I did – just like I had guessed that Sasha the maid wasn’t a maid, but a butler. And guessed why, exactly, Dad hadn’t wanted to hire them.

“No,” I said.

“But why not? It’s been established, transsexuals get as much pleasure from sexual contact as men. There’s nothing unnatural in that – you’ll just become a woman, that’s all.

“And will I have to wear a tracking bracelet?”

“In the incarceration camp you’ll wear a tracking neck collar. And you won’t be getting any pleasure from sexual contact, as you most likely have had a chance to experience. In any case, I’m not here to offer you a choice.”

He took out a sheet of paper from his brief and read out loud:

“‘By decision of the closed court hearing, Nagorskikh, Nikolai Olegovich is found guilty of committing a felony as defined by Article 121, Section 3, Clause 1, and is sentenced to surgical castration. The verdict is final and not subject to appeal.’”

He didn’t expect such a quick reaction from me. I jumped from my chair and wrapped my hands around the investigator’s throat. Too bad, I didn’t have a chance to commit at least a few felonies on him before the guard rushed in and treated me to the tender mercies of his stun gun.

They took me back to the common cell and the nightmare started again. They beat and raped me for two more weeks, ‘til I felt a complete apathy to whatever was happening to my body. I was jerking off two convicts, sucking off a third one, and spreading my cheeks for a fourth one, and I didn’t feel anything. Just physical exhaustion. It’s that easy – believe me, it’s not worth the trouble to look at me like I’m some kinda monster.

Fourteen days later they transferred me, all used up physically and emotionally, back to the hospital. There they fattened me up and started getting me ready for the surgery. I was getting the female hormones with my food; how I moved and how I talked started getting softer and smoother. I can’t say it bothered me. I just gave up. So when they put me on a gurney and rolled me down to the operating room, I didn’t fight it. And so now you see here in front of you what you see.

I had to undergo multiple surgeries – nobody turns into a woman overnight. Genital reconstruction, hormonal therapy, and a few plastic surgeries to make the face more feminine. When I had almost become a woman, I got silicone breast implants. That’s what the client wanted and ordered.

They trained us in a secret school. We future housemaids and sex instructors were custom-made, that’s why a lot of the time classes were one-on-one. We only went through sex and humiliation together.

“You chicks listen up,” our commander Rostislav would say. (We didn’t know his last name because we didn’t need to know.) “In the near future you will be free – released to atone for your crimes with hard but noble labor. Every one of you will have an employer who’ll feed and clothe you, and maintain your appearance in whatever way he prefers. Don’t delude yourselves that “love will come with time.” Get it into your skulls once and for all: you’re just a household appliance whose function is to fuck and to do the menial dirty work. It’s possible that your boss won’t give you the dirty work to do and will just fuck you, or the other way around. He might worship you like a goddess, or treat you like dirt and beat the shit out of you – that’s his sacred right. Because when you set foot on the path of vice, you lost your humanity. Remember that in the future. It’ll make it a lot easier for you to live.”

He was right: if you don’t think about what’s happened to you, how you wound up in this situation, and just do your job – life becomes easy and simple. I would think back on Sasha the housemaid, her professionalism and a certain degree of freedom she enjoyed as a result of it. She could walk all around town and all the men would give her the eye. She got presents for the 8th of March, International Women’s Day. She could wear whatever clothes she wanted, and even go to resorts for summer vacations. Of course, she still had to deal with all the problems that come with men by herself, too.

By the way, later on I learned the story of Sasha and Sergei Igorich. Their real names were Vitya and Roma, and they were in love. No, they weren’t fags. They really loved each other. They got caught in their student dorm. Vitya was arrested, but Roma got away. He looked for Vitya a long time, faked his documents, and criss-crossed the whole country back and forth, ‘til he found out that the big government quota that year was for high school sex instructors. That’s how Roma (now going by Sergei Igorich) found Vitya (now Sasha). They even got married, but right then that fucking Uncle Gosha from Siberia spoiled their game.

Anyway, let’s get back to our talk. Some housemaids lucked out: they’d get married, own property, become equal to their husbands, and after his death they could take charge of his estate, and have a kid – their husband’s clone. But they never forgot that all of this was ephemeral. Because they weren’t really women, just despicable homos, whose sole reason for existence was to fuck and do menial jobs.

They taught us how to please a man. They taught us how to submit, how to swallow our pride, which by then was gone, anyway. But like Rostislav used to say, “Submission is a muscle. If you don’t keep using it, you lose it fast.”

He was right about that, too. They’d recommend you send your housemaid every six months to a refresher camp, where she’d be humiliated, beaten, and raped – submission training. If a boss thought his maid was already submissive enough, he was risking his life – sometimes, maybe even more than his life. I can see you know what I mean.

My boss, the one who paid for the sex-change surgery, has a very high social status. He needs me for entertainment purposes. He’ll use me regularly himself, but then also he’ll slip me into the beds of people like you – potential business partners. As a, like, sign of trust and good will. Yeah, you guessed it: the orgy today was put on by my boss. Don’t worry – I’m a real pro. Admit it, you did like it. I could tell!

Believe me, even now I’d keep on honestly fulfilling my work obligations, but the boss hasn’t sent me to a refresher camp for three years already. Of course, that’s to my credit. The fact is, I’ve never really been submitting, I’ve just been faking it. I’ll let you in on a little secret: my boss, he’s not even a homo, but he really likes that feeling of domination. During the orgies, I’ll usually toss some sleepers into people’s drinks, and as soon as my lay falls asleep, the boss’ll come in and have his way with you. Oh, calm down – so what? He had you. He uses lubricants and rubbers. His lays can’t report him, ‘cause then they themselves would fall under theArticle, and that’d mean property confiscation and castration. It ain’t worth getting so worked up about! After all, you had me, and you liked it. Come on: more submission!

There he is, lying on top of your buddy with his pants down. You know what he likes to say? “Look around, keep in mind: someone might fuck you from behind.” You don’t think it’s funny? I think it’s hilarious. This little saying helped me to come to grips with why everybody’s so scared of faggots. Because, like, for you, sex is something one-sided; you don’t give of yourself, you take. No, no, hear me out – I need to tell this to somebody. OK, fine, go ahead and screw him so you can settle down. You’re right, it’s only fair. Yeah, I know, you can’t feel anything below the waist. That’s ‘cause of the anesthetics. Here, I’ll help you.

So how was it? Yeah, I think it’s disgusting, too. Like, aesthetically speaking, I haven’t cared for a long time who’s fucking who. As long as there’s love there. I knew you wouldn’t get it. But truth is, it’s all real simple. Listen, listen, I’ve almost said everything I have to say. And the door’s locked, and you can’t walk anyway.

I studied history. Do you know how it went down? Like, how they died, all those women? Of course you don’t – you’re the same age as me, after all. Nobody talks about it, ‘cause it turns out they all have blood on their hands.

The virus brought on an acute attack of misogyny in everybody – in men, and women, and children. In just about 24 hours, the Earth turned into a huge slaughterhouse. They used everything, whatever was at hand. Women were strangled, poisoned, hanged, cut, chopped, and beaten to death … Yeah, when I found out about that, my face probably looked just like yours right now. But over these last fifteen years, the men forgot all about it. Hey, what’s done is done. Why beat yourself up about it? They just forgave themselves – easy as that.

Of course, after the mass slaughter, when the female pheromones stopped circulating in the air (see, that’s what was causing all the hate), afterwards everybody saw what had happened. And they freaked, they were pulling out their hair – what were they gonna do now? And it wasn’t even about demographics – reproduction of the species, they took care’a that right away, with cloning.

The problem was just: no women. Who was gonna raise children now, and how? What was gonna happen to families when the children born from women grew up? And the most important thing – who’re we gonna fuck? In the West, no problem: everybody there’s a butt-fucker, so they didn’t have anything new to get used to, but what about us? In our country, faggotry’s all about sin and hellfire. And now? Are you kidding me? I gotta spread my asshole for some shit-licker with a moustache?

They tried to clone women, but the damn virus couldn’t be cured. The cloned female organisms right away made the men all crazy mad again, and they killed ‘em all. And there weren’t enough synthetic women to go around. So how were they gonna get out of this shit? Nobody just wants to wank off to porno; everybody wants, like, warmth, togetherness. Well, forget togetherness! Everybody’s forgotten about that.

Believe it or not, there was a time when we made women into goddesses. Then we did a 180 – and didn’t even think of them as people. Then women started to win back for themselves the right to be equal with men. But men don’t want equality. To be equal with someone means not just taking, but giving back, too. Men aren’t down for giving back. Giving back is weakness. When women saw the men’s strategy for what it was – just taking and taking – that’s when we had the cataclysm, and after that only half of humanity was left. It was, like, a challenge from nature. Just like the Ents, we had our wives taken away, and we just got left here to fend for ourselves. What do the Entwives have to do with anything? Good question. What do you think: sooner or later, would the stronger Ents have come up with the idea of fucking the other Ents, the weaker ones? If they did, then they would’ve fucked each other all the way down to our level, to people.

Ah, you just now noticed that my hands are all bloody? Thanks, that means my story was a real page-turner. Look over here! Do you know what’s in this bowl? The object of pride and self-identity of every man here. I amputated ‘em, every last one. Don’t worry, I studied the procedure carefully, and practiced a long time. I didn’t do any harm to your friends’ health, or my boss’. I sterilized all the instruments, the incisions are all iced, so the doctors’ll save everybody’s life. For me it’s really, really important that you live. Oh, don’t move, please. I might nick your femoral artery and you’ll bleed to death. You all’re gonna make ten amazing women – beautiful, smart, young – every man’s dream. And I’m sure you won’t submit – you’ll pass on my message.

All done. Good boy! Hear that? There’s the sirens. They’re for you. I forgot to say, the boss really valued my opinion. He invited you all based on my recommendation. And why not? All former classmates, all successful people – exactly the kind of partners he needs. He really liked to film his adventures. I reconfigured the tech a little bit, though, so it was broadcasting live on his official channel, so the whole world saw the orgy in HD, beginning to end. And your little adventure, too. Article 121, Section 1. Though I guess I already carried out the sentence for the crime.

Forgive me, Zheka. Try not to think about what’s coming up as, like, a punishment. Think of it more like a new experience.

I love you. Not like a homo. For real.

ALEXEI LUKYANOV (born 1976, Bryansk) is an intriguing representative of the new generation of fantasy writers. Since his literary debut in 2000, he has been widely published in leading literary magazines and book series. His innovative writing, sharp satire, and outstanding imagination have been recognized by the Pushkin Prize, awarded in 2006 for his short story “The Petrograd Savior”, and the Bronze Snail Award, for his novella Deep Drilling in 2010. He is a two time finalist for Russia’s Debut Prize.

About the Translators:

VERONICA MUSKHELI was born and raised in Russia but immigrated to the US at the age of twenty. For many years she was a researcher in a heart biology lab. But then she switched from biological bodies to cultural. Currently, Veronica is writing her dissertation on Russian female folklore and Russian contemporary literature at the University of Washington in Seattle, which involves translating a variety of texts from Russian into English.

JOSÉ ALANIZ, associate professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Department of Comparative Literature (adjunct) at the University of Washington – Seattle, authored Komiks: Comic Art in Russia in 2010 and Death, Disability and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond in 2014 (both published by the University Press of Mississippi). His translations from Russian have appeared in Glas.