26 Yuri: Rage and Disgust

Angush was clearly an experienced carpenter. Yuri watched him closely, mentally noting how he used the tools. Over the course of the morning, Angush and Yuri had felled two big pine trees. Yuri was used to physical work, but the constant sawing to clear the branches from the trunk was tiring, even for a resurrected body. The two men worked in silence, content not to talk but to focus on the work in hand. After several hours Angush looked up and Yuri met his eye. They seemed to have had the same thought at the same moment.

With a smile, Angush put down his end of the two-man saw, and Yuri followed suit.

“Let’s take a break.”

Yuri suspected that Angush was hoping to gain the upper hand by being the one to make the suggestion.

“Ok, this way,” gestured Yuri, trying to assert himself.

Angush shrugged and followed Yuri below the tree line and across a small field to a spring. Both men drank from cupped hands and splashed their faces with the cold water that bubbled up from the ground.

“Tell me about yourself,” suggested Angush as he sat on the mossy bank.

Yuri immediately felt uncomfortable.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” Yuri replied, concealing his embarrassment.

“Well, where are you from?”

“Russia. Twenty-first century.”

“What did you do?”

Yuri felt, for the first time, a twinge deep down in his stomach. It was a strange, knotted feeling. How could he describe what he had done? He didn’t want to go into details and tell this new acquaintance about his past.

“I did a lot of things. I did what it took to survive.”

“I see.” 

“And you?” said Yuri, hoping to deflect the conversation.

“I sold the best quality opium in the world,” replied Angush without a moment’s hesitation, making an ‘ok’ sign with both his hands.

“Yeah?” Yuri was suddenly interested.

“Yes. Pakistan, Afghanistan, India.”

“But you’ve got skills, and I reckon you’ve been educated too.”

“That’s true. But I saw an opportunity. My family were rich from the weapons trade. I just saw a way to make even more money. I was able to pay private security to protect me and the trade routes.”

“We sold heroin and cocaine across Eastern Europe, and we sold girls too.” said Yuri, still feeling uncomfortable but not wishing to be outdone.

“Just girls?” asked Angush with a slightly raised eyebrow.

“Sometimes boys.”

“Yes, there was good money to be made from children. We sold some to pimps in Thailand. War orphans. Easy.”

Yuri hadn’t thought about the children he had sold into sexual slavery for a long time. He felt suddenly hot and nauseous as he remembered how they had cried when they were bundled off and sold to strangers.

“Heroin to the West was the best money though,” continued Angush, who seemed almost wistful as he talked about his previous life. “America wasn’t so easy for me, but Europe? No problem.”

Yuri tried to converse with similar ease, but he was surprised at how much he didn’t want to think about his life in the Previous Age.

“I bet you’ve got some stories to tell, seeing as you’re here?” smirked Angush.

“I saw things. I did things. That’s all.” Yuri felt any energy for the conversation draining away as in his mind he saw the faces of frightened children being loaded into lorries bound for brothels in nearby cities.

“I enjoyed the money and I lived a long and happy life,” mused Angush. “And it’s not so bad being here. I like being alive again. Jesus was rather underwhelming though, wasn’t he? Pathetic really.”

Unexpectedly, Yuri found these words jarring. Despite walking out on Jesus, thinking of him now made Yuri feel strangely emotional.

“Underwhelming? How so?”

“Well, he welcomed me and wasn’t unpleasant, but he was – I don’t know… I couldn’t get him to laugh with me, you know?”

“I don’t think I tried,” murmured Yuri, without irony.

“I like to laugh. It feels good not to have a care in the world.”

Yuri was disturbed by Angush. Despite everything Yuri had done, he had never thought of his dealings as amusing. There had been very little happiness in his life and any pleasure had been fleeting and empty. All the suffering he had seen and inflicted on others had been rooted in misery. It was all he knew and looking back now, he realised that he hated his life. But here was a man who seemed to feel no disgust or shame for what he had done. Yuri felt as though a mirror had been held up, and for the first time he genuinely felt hatred for what he saw. Gone was the numbness that had enveloped him in the first jubilee. Here was something new and visceral.

Angush continued. “Isn’t it good to feel so free? Jesus makes everyone alive again, so all’s well that ends well, isn’t that what they say? Turns out it didn’t matter what happened to those snotty-nosed kids, not that it bothered me anyway.”

Yuri felt rage this time – rage toward Angush and a new, searing hatred toward himself. There were images of children in Yuri’s head that made him want to vomit.

“You’re very quiet, Yuri?”

“Well, we weren’t all born with a fucking silver spoon in our mouths. I haven’t felt happy for a single day of my life. I don’t know how you can laugh things off like that. You must be some kind of psychopath.”

Angush laughed in Yuri’s face. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I think you’re jealous because I don’t give a fuck!”

Something in Yuri snapped. The machete that he had used for hacking branches lay on the ground beside him. He grabbed it and before Angush could defend himself, swung the blade into the left side of his head. Angush stumbled to his feet but a forceful push from Yuri sent him backwards into the stream where he lay writhing in the water, his hands clutching at his head.

Yuri turned his back and walked away, his whole body shaking with hatred and revulsion for Angush – and himself.

“Fuck you, Angush, fuck you,” he hissed under his breath, over and over.

Arriving back at his dwelling, Yuri slumped in the chair. His fists were still balled tight and his whole body was tensed. Blood had soaked into his shirt in dark crimson blotches.

‘I’m not like him. I’m better than he is. I’m going to make sure he knows it,’ Yuri thought as he skulked in the growing gloom of the day.

Eventually he became aware of a commotion somewhere not far away. He heard shouts and banging on doors. The sounds drew closer until fists were beating on Yuri’s door. Taking the machete in his hand again, Yuri pulled the door open roughly.

A man stood there. It was clear it was not Angush.

“Let me inside,” he hissed urgently.

Yuri looked the man up and down. “No, get out of my doorway!”

“I think you’ll want to hear what I have to say. I’m not here for Angush.”

Yuri hesitated but then flicked his head and the man followed him inside, keeping a wary eye on the weapon in Yuri’s hand.

“Listen, I know what you did to Angush today. I’m glad about it. I’ve also felt I’d like to kill that man.”


“Angush isn’t like the rest of us. He never had to fight for survival like we did. He boasts about the pain he caused and he doesn’t play fair.”

“It’s true,” said Yuri. “He’s just another rich boy who spent his life playing with his daddy’s money.”

“Many of us here hate him,” said the man, “but no one apart from you has done anything about it. Angush needs to know that we don’t respect his type here. We’ll follow you, Yuri. You just need to say when and where.”

Yuri felt a glow of pride and vindication. “Sit down and tell me your name,” he said, motioning toward a chair.