The New Colony

Grzegorz Wróblewski

Illustration by Naï Zakharia

(Earth/ Right Next to You/ Always) 


  Thank you for saying yes!

LARSEN:  Yes, thank you!

MR CLEAVES:  The pleasure’s all mine.

MOTHER:  May you reap your reward one day.

MR CLEAVES:  I’m doing it for the greater good.

LARSEN:  Thank you, we’re so grateful.

MR CLEAVES:  Not at all, not at all.

MOTHER:  You may well have said no.

LARSEN:  Or selected someone else.

MOTHER:  I wouldn’t know how to go on living.

LARSEN:  And I would go to ruin.

MOTHER:  He’d drive himself nuts.

LARSEN:  I’d drive myself nuts, for sure.

MOTHER:  But you said yes.

LARSEN:  Thank you, again.

MR CLEAVES:  But remember, I have no expectations.

LARSEN:  You’re doing it for the greater good.

MR CLEAVES:  That’s correct.

LARSEN:  I will always think of you fondly.

MOTHER:  May you reap your reward one day.

MR CLEAVES:  All right, why don’t we start.

LARSEN:  I must admit I’m feeling a bit unwell.

MOTHER:  You’ve never had character.

LARSEN:  I must admit I’m scared.

MOTHER:  Oh, I’m so ashamed.

MR CLEAVES:  Don’t be. These are normal symptoms.

MOTHER:  No, really, he makes me feel ashamed.

LARSEN:  I’m scared.

MR CLEAVES:  Try thinking of something extraordinary.

MOTHER:  Think of flying saucers.

LARSEN:  I’m trying, but . . . I’m scared, all the same.

MOTHER:  Or hamsters.

MR CLEAVES:  Fortunately, it’s not going to take long.

MOTHER:  Did you hear? It’s not going to take long.

MR CLEAVES:  The methods have been perfected.

LARSEN:  I hope so.

MOTHER:  Otherwise he’d drive himself nuts.

MR CLEAVES:  Let’s start.

LARSEN:  I thought it was already over and done with.

MOTHER:  You’ll start a new life.

MR CLEAVES:  I’m actually in the midst of the process.

MOTHER:  He’s in the midst of the process.

MR CLEAVES:  I’m getting there now.

MOTHER:  He’s getting there now.

MR CLEAVES:  I’m almost done.

LARSEN:  Are you done?

MR CLEAVES:  I’m done.

MOTHER:  It’s done.

MR CLEAVES:  It has been a success.

MOTHER:  Well? . . . 

LARSEN:  Not bad, I’d say.

MOTHER:  Do you recognize me?

LARSEN:  There was no reason to be scared.

MR CLEAVES:  I don’t expect remuneration at all.

LARSEN:  And so . . . I haven’t gone to ruin.

MOTHER:  There’s a whole new life ahead of you.

LARSEN:  But I thought it was all over and done with?


LARSEN:  This time you’re dealing with someone special.

DELUZHYN:  Everybody says so.

LARSEN:  You’re dealing with me.

DELUZHYN:  And you, with me.

LARSEN:  I’m sure you’re in for quite a surprise.

DELUZHYN:  We’ll see.

LARSEN:  Can I be honest with you?

DELUZHYN:  Go ahead.

LARSEN:  Speaking without symbols?

DELUZHYN:  Be as direct as you like.

LARSEN:  Why me?

DELUZHYN:  I’m sorry, but that’s how it is.

LARSEN:  Unavoidably?

DELUZHYN:  Unavoidably, as you very well know.

LARSEN:  It’s routine to you, isn’t it.

DELUZHYN:  Call it experience.

LARSEN:  Coldness.

DELUZHYN:  Expertise.

LARSEN:  Did they have to send you?

DELUZHYN:  I’m sure they have their reasons.

LARSEN:  Why not someone more understanding.

DELUZHYN:  Things would be even more complicated.

LARSEN:  Looks like I have no choice.

DELUZHYN:  I’m sorry, but that’s how it is.

LARSEN:  Give me just a moment to make the decision.

DELUZHYN:  OK, but it’s not like it’s going to change a thing.

LARSEN:  Someone more sympathetic.

DELUZHYN:  Especially in a place like this.

LARSEN:  Stop putting words in my mouth.

DELUZHYN:  OK, make your decision yourself.

LARSEN:  Should I close my eyes?

DELUZHYN:  I don’t mind either way.

LARSEN:  Coldness, as I said.

DELUZHYN:  The important thing is you hear me.

LARSEN:  Well, then . . . 

DELUZHYN:  Take your time.

LARSEN:  I’m going to ask you a question.

DELUZHYN:  That’s what I’m here for.

LARSEN:  Remember, you’re dealing with someone special.

DELUZHYN:  Everybody says so.

LARSEN:  So here’s my question.

DELUZHYN:  I’m all ears.

LARSEN:  Well . . . 

DELUZHYN:  I’m sorry, but that’s how it is.

LARSEN:  So my question is . . . 

DELUZHYN:  Take your time.

LARSEN:  Where am I, exactly?

DELUZHYN:  There you go.

LARSEN:  Did I do well?

DELUZHYN:  Congratulations.

LARSEN:  Shall I ask again?

DELUZHYN:  Please do.

LARSEN:  Where am I, exactly?

DELUZHYN:  Right next to me.

LARSEN:  Which is where?

DELUZHYN:  Which is here.


MOTHER:  He could have frozen in the head . . . 

MR CLEAVES:  Fixated on a single spot.

MOTHER:  Poor lamb.

MR CLEAVES:  He could have come to a complete halt.

MOTHER:  Staring vacantly into the sky.

MR CLEAVES:  Fixated on a single spot.

MOTHER:  And stayed like that forever.

MR CLEAVES:  Like a statue.

MOTHER:  Or an ice sculpture.

MR CLEAVES:  That’s right. Like an anonymous ice sculpture.

MOTHER:  And then melt. Sink into the ground.

MR CLEAVES:  Without the slightest trace.

MOTHER:  We have prevented it, though.

MR CLEAVES:  We just had to react.

MOTHER:  As his true friends.

MR CLEAVES:  Who care about him.

MOTHER:  And have his best interests at heart.

MR CLEAVES:  The only sensitive ones.

MOTHER:  And decisive!

MR CLEAVES:  There was no time to lose.

MOTHER:  So we had to act quickly.

MR CLEAVES:  On subconscious impulse.

MOTHER:  Non-rationally.

MR CLEAVES:  And yet rationally.

MOTHER:  Rationally, since we didn’t want him to disappear . . . 

MR CLEAVES:  Precisely. We didn’t want to lose sight of him.

MOTHER:  He could have melted.

MR CLEAVES:  Like an utterly anonymous ice sculpture.

MOTHER:  But we have managed to prevent it.

MR CLEAVES:  Although it was a very close shave.

MOTHER:  We saw the danger in time.

MR CLEAVES:  We were quite fortunate.

MOTHER:  As one so rarely is . . . 

MR CLEAVES:  Still, in this case, all went well.

MOTHER:  Normally you’re left with nothing.

MR CLEAVES:  It was virtually a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

MOTHER:  And to think that, of all people, it has happened to us.

MR CLEAVES:  There is something uncanny about it, that’s right.

MOTHER:  A vital sign, that’s true.

MR CLEAVES:  If not for us, he’d have melted like an ice sculpture.

MOTHER:  He’d have been left all alone.

MR CLEAVES:  Like a statue.

MOTHER:  With no friends to care about him.

MR CLEAVES:  Motionless, staring into the sky.

MOTHER:  But luckily, we have prevented it.

MR CLEAVES:  There was no way we would have let it happen.

MOTHER:  Serious willpower was applied.

MR CLEAVES:  Literally, at the eleventh hour.

MOTHER:  Because we acted fast.

MR CLEAVES:  People are quite wrong to wait until the last moment.

MOTHER:  As they discover to their loss. But we took a decision.

MR CLEAVES:  There was no time to be lost.

MOTHER:  And now we can be proud of ourselves.

MR CLEAVES:  Yes, I suppose.

MOTHER:  A sign, right?

MR CLEAVES:  Can’t rule anything out.

MOTHER:  Someone must have wished it, obviously.

MR CLEAVES:  There was no time to lose.

MOTHER:  Should we be proud of ourselves?

MR CLEAVES:  Yes. I suppose.


MR CLEAVES:  Did he fidget?

DELUZHYN:  I’ll steer him. I promise to steer him appropriately.

MR CLEAVES:  Did. He. Fidget.

DELUZHYN:  He didn’t recognize anything.

MR CLEAVES:  He is defeated, as expected.

DELUZHYN:  You can’t be sure.

MR CLEAVES:  Of course one can be sure!

DELUZHYN:  What if he changes over time?

MR CLEAVES:  He has no right to.

DELUZHYN:  He needs to get a chance.

MR CLEAVES:  He has no right to.

DELUZHYN:  He’ll start wondering sooner or later.

MR CLEAVES:  You can’t permit it.

DELUZHYN:  He didn’t fidget much, in fact.

MR CLEAVES:  Typical sign of weakness.

DELUZHYN:  Or concentration.

MR CLEAVES:  Don’t even mention a scary possibility like this.

DELUZHYN:  But he didn’t recognize a thing.

MR CLEAVES:  Make him sit still.

DELUZHYN:  I’ll steer him as appropriate.

MR CLEAVES:  Don’t let me down, do you hear me?

DELUZHYN:  We have to trust each other.

MR CLEAVES:  Never trust anyone.

DELUZHYN:  Anyone? And how about you?

MR CLEAVES:  You must keep no secrets from me.

DELUZHYN:  But really? Not even you?

MR CLEAVES:  Trust has nothing to do with it.

DELUZHYN:  I’ll see to it that he doesn’t realise.

MR CLEAVES:  Remember . . . 

DELUZHYN:  No worries. He didn’t fidget.

MR CLEAVES:  Keep your distance.

DELUZHYN:  Even in moments of weakness, distance.

MR CLEAVES:  There must be no moments of weakness.

DELUZHYN:  Keep my distance.

MR CLEAVES:  Keep your distance.

DELUZHYN:  No rash moves.

MR CLEAVES:  He is defeated.

DELUZHYN:  I’ll see to it.

MR CLEAVES:  He’ll never change. Ever.

DELUZHYN:  Even if he does, then just a little bit.

MR CLEAVES:  Allowing him to change is out of the question.

DELUZHYN:  I’ll keep my distance, always.

MR CLEAVES:  I won’t have him changed, do you hear me?

DELUZHYN:  I’ll see to it.

MR CLEAVES:  And I want no mistakes.

DELUZHYN:  Everything under perfect control.

MR CLEAVES:  It starts to look good to me.

DELUZHYN:  He is defeated.

MR CLEAVES:  And shouldn’t be allowed to find out.

DELUZHYN:  We need to continue.

MR CLEAVES:  To consolidate.

DELUZHYN:  Ideally, press him a bit more.

MR CLEAVES:  Without overdoing it, however.

DELUZHYN:  Keeping my distance?

MR CLEAVES:  As that could trigger a counter-response.

DELUZHYN:  Which would mean trouble.

MR CLEAVES:  And that is out of the question.

DELUZHYN:  Consolidate, consolidate, consolidate.

MR CLEAVES:  Continue and consolidate.

DELUZHYN:  And don’t let him find out.


MOTHER:  Do you like my hand?

LARSEN:  It’s so delicate . . . 

MOTHER:  Oh, so you do like it. Exactly what we had in mind.

LARSEN:  It’s so delicate and soft. And gentle. And so very, very kind.

MOTHER:  I’m proud of you.

LARSEN:  It is also wise.

MOTHER:  Wise? Meaning? . . . How can a hand be wise?

LARSEN:  It is wise, as it is part of your body. And you are very wise, every inch of you.

MOTHER:  I’d never expected things would go so well!

LARSEN:  Is there anything that could have not gone well?

MOTHER:  No, nothing, really. Just bleak thoughts, you know.

LARSEN:  May I kiss it?

MOTHER:  Yes, if you wish. I’m touched. Who could have hoped for so much?

LARSEN:  It tastes fruity, wonderful.

MOTHER:  No wonder, dear. All the best lotions, top-quality beauty products . . . 

LARSEN:  All the best lotions, top-quality beauty products, sweet fruit, delicacies.

MOTHER:  All just for you.

LARSEN:  Now I am touched, too.

MOTHER:  Top quality!

LARSEN:  Thank you so much.

MOTHER:  Whatever for?

LARSEN:  For being here with me. And for your wise hand.

MOTHER:  And this is what it’s going to be from now on . . . Unbelievable.

LARSEN:  For those top-quality beauty products just for me.

MOTHER:  Anything for you. Anything!

LARSEN:  A shiver just went down my spine.

MOTHER:  No violent emotions, please.

LARSEN:  It’s what I felt.

MOTHER:  You could have a relapse.

LARSEN:  What’s a relapse?

MOTHER:  Sorry, a slip of the tongue. It could trigger chronic migraine.

LARSEN:  Something is controlling me.

MOTHER:  We’re together. That’s what counts.

LARSEN:  Something is telling me what to do.

MOTHER:  Oh, stop it!

LARSEN:  Sometimes, something drills through me.

MOTHER:  Kiss the other hand.

LARSEN:  It’s delicious too.

MOTHER:  Just as the first one?

LARSEN:  I’m not quite sure.

MOTHER:  I’d be disappointed.

LARSEN:  It’s not what I meant.

MOTHER:  Well, what did you mean?

LARSEN:  I just wanted to say, even softer and more perfect . . . 

MOTHER:  You mean the other one was worse?

LARSEN:  Holding this one, it’s as if I have forgotten all about the other.

MOTHER:  Short memory. Very short.

LARSEN:  Yes, it’s odd, isn’t it. Voices . . . 

MOTHER:  The main thing is, the attitude’s so uniformly positive.

LARSEN:  Has it ever been otherwise?

MOTHER:  Oh, forget it.

LARSEN:  It has always been soft and perfect.

MOTHER:  They have always been soft and perfect. Repeat!

LARSEN:  They have always been soft and perfect.

MOTHER:  There was no difference.

LARSEN:  There was no difference.

MOTHER:  The best lotions, all just for you.

LARSEN:  The best lotions. For me.

MOTHER:  Are you happy?

LARSEN:  Yes, I’m exceptionally happy today.


LARSEN:  You’ve stopped taking risks, haven’t you?

DELUZHYN:  Take a breath. Go on, a deep breath.

LARSEN:  You’ve stopped looking around?

DELUZHYN:  And again. And one more.

LARSEN:  Maybe you just don’t care, then.

DELUZHYN:  Bingo, that’s it.

LARSEN:  Well, I make different choices.

DELUZHYN:  It’s a matter of imagination.

LARSEN:  There are many exciting possibilities.

DELUZHYN:  Technically, it’s called a limited options range.

LARSEN:  No one’s going to control . . . 

DELUZHYN:  This, too, can be intercepted.

LARSEN:  Oh yeah? So what’s the number I just thought of?

DELUZHYN:  There are only so many digits.

LARSEN:  But their combinations! What was mine? Come on.

DELUZHYN:  It takes up a huge amount of time.

LARSEN:  It gives you a sense of . . . 

DELUZHYN:  It dulls the senses. That’s all it does.

LARSEN:  There’s even a special word for it.

DELUZHYN:  Just another common combination.

LARSEN:  Identity.

DELUZHYN:  And what good is it? You can’t eat it, can you.

LARSEN:  An engine. Not even an engineer: an engine.

DELUZHYN:  Wrinkles.

LARSEN:  Don’t tell me it’s always been like this.

DELUZHYN:  Keep your distance.

LARSEN:  Breathe?

DELUZHYN:  Miles and miles.

LARSEN:  For some specific reason?

DELUZHYN:  Just a combination.

LARSEN:  There must have been a beginning. You never thought about it?

DELUZHYN:  A narrow choice.

LARSEN:  Now, for example.

DELUZHYN:  You’ve only wasted some time. Do you remember your combination?

LARSEN:  I cheated.

DELUZHYN:  Every second counts.

LARSEN:  But I was myself for a moment.

DELUZHYN:  You could have scratched yourself.

LARSEN:  Further divine combinations are being born.

DELUZHYN:  It won’t do. You forgot your point of departure. Remember the original . . . ?

LARSEN:  Combinations so hard to predict . . . 

DELUZHYN:  Which will lead you nowhere.

LARSEN:  But will give me a sense . . . 

DELUZHYN:  Will give you a sense. A sense, that’s all.

LARSEN:  It’s all that matters.

DELUZHYN:  Scratch yourself.

LARSEN:  Combinations so hard to predict . . . 

DELUZHYN:  Still, there’s the question of the beginning.

LARSEN:  Long and winding lines, intricate sequences . . . 

DELUZHYN:  A temple pulsating.

LARSEN:  A fortress.

DELUZHYN:  Wasting precious energy.

LARSEN:  The beginning! But what beginning?

DELUZHYN:  A cage.

LARSEN:  This can give rise to . . . 

DELUZHYN:  Breathe.

LARSEN:  Metastases.

DELUZHYN:  You’ll get winded soon.

LARSEN:  I’m able to concentrate.

DELUZHYN:  Scratch yourself.

translated from the Polish by Agnieszka Pokojska