Aleksandr Volkov: Urfin Juce and His Wooden Army

One night, a violent storm broke out. The locals were convinced it was the result of Urfin Juce’ ill will, and it gave them shivers, as they thought their homes were about to be wiped off the face of the Earth. But nothing of the kind happened. However, when Urfin Juce woke up the next morning and went to inspect his garden, he saw little bright green weeds cropping up on flowerbeds. The storm must have brought the seeds from somewhere, although he never found out what part of the country they had actually come from. “How long has it been since I last pulled weeds out?” Urfin Juce muttered. “And look how they are popping up again. Just wait – I’ll be done with you before the night falls.” Urfin went to the woods to check his traps and spent the entire day there. Secretly from Guam, he snuck in with him a frying pan and some grease, killed a fat rabbit and ate it with appetite. On coming home, Urfin gasped with astonishment, as he saw his garden: the flowerbed was covered with strong plants, bright green, with long pulpy leaves, the plants themselves the size of a human being. “What the hell!” Urfin screamed. “These weeds didn’t waste their time.” He walked up to the flowerbed and tried to pull one of the plants out. It wasn’t that easy. The plant didn’t even move an inch, while Urfin Juce splintered himself with tiny sharp thorns, which covered the trunk and the leaves of the plants. Infuriated, Urfin started to pull the thorns out of his palms, put his leather gloves on, and gave weed-pulling another try, but this time he realized he wasn’t strong enough for them. He then grabbed an axe and started to chop the plants down. “Crack, crack, crack,” the axe was biting into the succulent trunks, as the plants were collapsing on the ground. “There you go!” Urfin Juce yelled out triumphantly. He was fighting with the weeds like they were real alive enemies. When the massacre was over, night fell, and exhausted Urfin went to bed. When he came out of his house the next morning to check on the weeds, his hair rose on his head. When Urfin was outrageously tossing the green leftovers from the weeds around the day before, parts of this green mass hit the fence and the nearby trees; these leftovers had rooted there and had already shaped into young plants. Stricken by the sudden revelation, Juce took his boots off: the soles were green with tiny sprouts. The sprouts were peeping out of the seams of his clothes. The tree stump nearby was also green with offshoots. Juce rushed into the shed, only to acknowledge that the axe handle was also covered with young plants. Urfin sat down on the porch and fell into thoughts. What was he to do? Was he to just leave for good and find another place to settle down?
Translated by Ekaterina Shubnaya, RT


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