I arrived with The Hare at a large recreational park central to a city with a large, frightened population. It was too early for many to be out in force, and morning joggers tend to give oversized talking animals a wide berth.
“Dmitri!” I shouted, “…how the devil are you? Have the lunatics taken over the Asylum like you said they would?”
I helped The Hare to get up onto the park bench where Dmitri sat. It was cold, and while his shaggy fur could withstand the lightly-falling snow, we could see his breath as well as we could smell it.
Dmitri chewed on a bone, and began to speak. The Hare looked curiously at him, the dog smiled like only a dog can, then The Hare flopped to his side, to cuddle his warm dogsbody, which was made even cosier by the lingering vapours of some cheap, paint-stripping Vodka.
“Well, Pyotr, my friend. Perhaps the Devil has my Soul, and is now satisfied. It is a curious thing to see Beelzebub at peace. How are you? And your…Rabbit?”
The Hare was insulted, jerked his head away from Dmitri’s side.
“This is my travelling companion, who goes by the name of the The Hare”
“I see. And you two, I hear, are studying for the Accreditation? What a great honour that is. I imagine, as students of the Art and Science of Pyrology and Sleep, you have no trouble with this cold”
“That we don’t Dmitri”
“How are you finding it?”
“It is tough. Who’d have thought that the simple elements of Fire and Sleep would be so complicated? But listen, the module in Fire takes care of itself, as long as you do whatever it is you do with energy and enthusiasm. But to have energy, what must you do?”
We spoke in unison; “Sleep.”
He laughed under his breath.
“Get those bags from under your eyes, and you’d be a model student. And follow the example of…” he coughed, “…Old Dog Dmitri. Stay away from the alchohol.”
The Hare laughed.
Dmitri continued; “You’ll have no problem. I couldn’t write for sushki, but you? A good writer must be able to dream, but also have a sense of responsibity, akin to that of the nuclear scientist. The darkest days of my life were when I lost faith in my own people – that was when I lost any notion of my responsibility as a human, and I took to drink and idly chewing these bones. My publishers have refused to take on my next project. I even got the citations wrong. I have seen so much suffering Peter, and it is true – many great writers have suffered – but I wish this for you, I pray you do not suffer, espeicially over something as silly as Fire and Sleep. Indeed, I fear the world is yet to wake you. But that will be your lesson. Why must you have this “Hare”?
The Hare and I gazed at each other, with wonder, and yet some discomfort at being forced to consider something we never thought we would.
“Is he introducing you to the world, or insulating you from it? Forgive me, I have seen so many Devils in my time that I no longer can tell one from an Angel. Perhaps it is your destiny to always live someone else’s bothersome epic .”
“He is a friend, I said.”
“And he can conjure visions?”
“Not conjure. See.”
“I have heard this before, from a student under my tutorage. How long will this last? Until the World becomes a Vision?”
“You are drunk”
“No, I am not. My vocabulary…and my English..fourth language, you know. Still impeccable.”
“Well, then you are an egotist.”
“Broadcast it to the World why don’t you?!? Where is the World? Could you point to it on a map? Not anymore!”
“My friend and I are leaving. Farewell, “Dmiti the Mongrel”, there’ll be no more “windows” in my schedule.”
The Hare jumped off the bench sharply, and followed.