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Life Of Three Stones

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Max's Story

Leaving the garden gate, he turned and walked along the fence in the direction of his friend’s house. He barely reached the corner of their garden fence, when he heard Max’s voice. “Why such a hurry? I could wait until the morning.”

“Stop grumbling and let’s go, to drink tea,” said Harry.

“Yes, let’s go! I have something to tell you,” said Max briskly and stood from the pavement.

“I have something to tell you too. Though, it is not very good news,” said Harry with a fading voice.

Teahouse was 15 minutes away on foot from their house and they were already walking for 10 minutes. During this time, they have not said even a word. Harry noticed it when he freed from thoughts about Evelyn and his dad. He checked his phone one more time. There was still nothing. Being tired of this, he put his phone back in the pocket and looked at his friend. Max was walking without taking his eyes off from the phone’s screen.

Having seen this, Harry patted his friend on the back and said: “What are you doing mate?”

After this, Harry expected his friend’s usual response: “Maybe you want to stretch me on the ground and kick me?” However, he said nothing. He was still staring at his phone. He even noticed that Max was reading the news. It was the first time when he interested in news. In spite of this, Harry didn’t say anything and quickened his steps to the already visible Teahouse.

The teahouse was a two-storied building. On the ground floor, there were ordinary wooden tables and chairs for playing backgammon and dominoes. The second floor was much more comfortable. There were glass tables and sofas instead of chairs. Prices were different as well. Because of low prices and the opportunity to play backgammon and dominoes, most people used to sit on the ground floor. However, those, who prefer silence and comfort used to sit on the second floor.

As a rule, Harry and Max used to sit on the first floor. Not only because of the cheap price but also they had a chance to get the latest and the most interesting news from other people.

Finally, reaching the threshold of the Teahouse, Harry moved forward and opened the door with a sign “CLOSE THE DOOR AIR CONDITIONER RUNNING”

As soon as he opened the door, the sound of backgammon, dominoes and arguing people blew to their face like a wind.

Though it was much cooler inside, the smog and the smell of cigarettes made this coolness unnoticeable. The mixture of cigarette smell with a noise, strained Harry’s nerves so tightly that, turning to his friend, said with a suppressed voice, “what do you think about the second floor?”

“I don’t mind,” said Max without taking his eyes off the phone and walked into the teahouse.

“Is a big fan of playing dominoes Max, agreed to go to the upstairs? It is already Max’s third strange behavior during the last 15 minutes,” thought Harry to himself. But he didn’t say anything and followed his friend. He just stopped in the middle of the stairs to say “Mr. Paul please send us one mixed thyme tea,” and then ran upstairs.

Quiet and the cozy second floor was nearly empty. Only two men were sitting at the far end of the hall. It was hard to believe that, it was the second floor of that noisy teahouse.

Sitting and looking at his friend for several minutes, Harry could not endure this state and burst like a bomb. “I wrote a message to Evelyn!”

Malik took his eyes off the phone and looked at Harry for several seconds. “Who? You? You’re not brave enough for that. You haven’t got the guts.”

“You know me, Max. She is not like others. And I don’t want to make a mistake with her.”

Max sat in silence for a few moments and said. “I think it is normal. Moreover, you know that she is not an easy girl. I am sure you will get a message from her,” winked Max, “Ooooor from her father,” and started to laugh aloud.

Harry jumped from his seat and took candy from the candy-bowl to throw it at Max. In turn, Max covered his face with his hands and continuing to laugh said: “Okay, okay, sorry!”

Only after this, Harry put the candy back and sat. “It’s my fault that I tell this kind of thing to loafer like you,” said Harry.

“Don’t be mad. I just tried to play a joke and cheer you up,” said Max and turned to the window, where he looked the forest line, which was hardly visible under the moonlight.

As soon as he did it, his smile and brightness in the eyes faded. He turned into the old man with millions of years and millions of problems.

Noticing it, “You said, you have something to tell me,” said Harry.

“Something?” said Max still looking to the forest.

“Yes, something,” said Harry.

“Oh, yes,” Max’s eyes diminished darker when he remembered what he was going to say. But, he began to speak.

“So, there is...” suddenly Mr. Paul’s son Casey interrupted him, and probably because of the hot handle dropped the teapot on the table. Wincing from sound Max turned to the boy and said angrily. “Put on my head! On my head! Not on the table. Maybe then it will be quieter.”

Being embarrassed by Max’s words, the boy stared at him perplexedly.

Noticing this, Harry smiled and said in a quiet voice “Thank you, Casey, we’ll figure out the rest ourselves.”

Max still angry bent down to take the teapot, but instead, he got burned from the hot handle. Even more irritated by this, mumbling under his lips, he took two napkins and began to tie teapot’s handle with one, and spout of the teapot with the second. Noticing his friend’s puzzled look, Max at last smiled and said: “It prevents dripping.”

The aroma of thyme tea poured into tea-shaped glasses spread through the second floor in a few seconds. It was like a cool breeze on a hot summer day. For Harry and Max drinking the thyme tea was like a ritual and it was inadmissible to drink another tea instead of thyme. Sugar was the best choice for this tea, therefore holding sugar with lips, Harry sucked it with a sip of tea.

“And so my friend, what did you want to tell?” said Harry relaxed after his tea.

Drinking several sips as well, Max leaned toward. Harry did the same.

“It’s already a week I can’t sleep,” said Max.

“I know! That is why you couldn’t pass the last two exams,” said Harry.

“No!” whispered Max, “Something strange is happening. Strange and unusual to understand and believe.”

“Finally, your father decided to wed you and get rid of you?” said Harry smiling.

“Be serious!” said Max severely.

“OK! Sorry, go on!” said, trying to hide his smile.

Max looked around several times and said in a barely audible voice, “The world is falling apart. The end of the world is coming. This is the end!”

Harry looked at his friend with raised eyebrows and burst out with a laugh when he realized, what Max had said. “You are going crazy,” said Harry laughing.

However, Max didn’t smile. He was still looking serious and anxious. Harry noticed it, and hiding his laugh for one more time, leaned toward Max.

Max continued, though not as willingly as before. “Two weeks before, I have stumbled on a strange article on the Internet. At first, I didn’t pay attention. I thought it was just the next advertising trick. But the next day when I saw similar articles on different foreign websites, something had sparkled in me. So, I started to read all these articles and they all were talking about the same thing. Simultaneously seismic activity is occurring in different parts of the world.”

“So what? You know geography better than me, and you know that seismic activity is a normal phenomenon,” said Harry dryly.

“Yes, it is normal when activity occurs in seismically activity zones. But when it happens in low activity zones and even there where it is impossible, then it is not very normal. I have read some scientist’s articles about it. Some of them even wrote that activities started in some places where activities have not been for hundreds of years. Another scientist even said that sounds were coming from underground and they are getting closer. Moreover, the strangest thing is that there is nothing in the news about this. They just present it as an earthquake.”

“There are a lot of similar articles on the internet. And they spread all over with the speed of light,” said Harry drinking a sip of well-brewed thyme tea.

“I don’t believe! I don’t believe! Something strange is happening. I feel it!” said Max.

“So what happens now? What is the reason?” Harry asked though he didn’t believe his friend’s story.

“I don’t know. Nobody knows. People just write what they see. But I am sure. Something terrible is coming,” said Max.

The silence settled between them. Harry didn’t ask any questions. In turn, Max was taciturn as well. The silence broke Max’s phone ringtone. It was so loud that both of them jumped from their seats and Max reluctantly took the phone. “Hello... OK. I know. I’m coming,” said Max on the phone and after hanging up, he turned to Harry “I have to go. We have guests and I don’t even know who they are.”

After a long time, Harry looked at his phone again, but there wasn’t any message from Evelyn and said: “I am coming too.” He took out the money from his wallet and put it under candy-bowl.

It was still noisy when they entered the lower floor. They were at the halfway of the stairs when several voices called them. Voices belonged to their old acquaintances who were sitting at the table near the stairs

“What about dominoes?” Said one of the boys sitting close to the corner.

“I’m sorry guys. I have to go home,” said Max with a fake smile.

“What about you, Harry?” Asked the same person.

At first, Harry wanted to reject the offer, but then he realized how he would be sitting at home waiting for Evelyn’s message and thinking about his father’s behavior, therefore, with a calm voice “I’m staying Max,” said and walked to the table.

It was his day. Harry won all the games and after several victories, standing from the table said, “Well friends, it was nice to play with you, but I have to go home. I just returned today from Beshgala and I’m still tired.”

When he left the teahouse, the stars were not visible as several hours before. They have disappeared and the moon was shining faintly behind the clouds. The weather had changed completely in a few hours. Though the high humidity with hot weather was unpleasant, it was still better than a smoky and noisy teahouse.

Harry looked around at the houses shrouded in darkness for one more time and walked to the home direction. He walked just a few hundred meters from the teahouse when he suddenly saw a silhouette approaching him. He didn’t understand what that was at first glance. Soon he realized from its growling that it was a huge dog.

Ever since his childhood, Harry had a fear of dogs. At the sight of the dog, he had always wanted to run. Staying motionless for a few seconds, he turned and started to walk back. After several steps, he fastened his steps and instinctively switched it into a run. The dog began to bark and chase him.

Though Harry was running quite fast, he couldn’t increase the distance. Dog’s barking and the rustling of paws while running were approaching. Knowing that he won’t be able to reach the teahouse, he turned to the two-story buildings and ran toward the highway. The highway was almost empty. Only some headlights of cars were visible from afar. Running across the road, he hurried to the forest stretching along the highway. Forest was well known by him and he had disappeared between the trees as soon as he entered. Despite the new distance between him and the dog, barking was still behind. He jumped over some bushes, found a tree and climbed on it as fast as possible. In the middle of the tree, he found a comfortable thick branch, sat on it and started to wait.

Harry was in a desperate situation. He could neither go back to the ground nor call somebody for help. He didn’t want the nickname of “Tree climber from a dog.”

Minutes had passed. But the dog was still waiting for him under the tree. Harry was trying not to pay attention to barking and suddenly it happened. Dog’s barking became inaudible. But it wasn’t because of the dog. It was thunder. So loud, like an exploded water tank and after several seconds that water from that imaginable tank reached the tree and the ground. Large raindrops made him and dog wet in a few seconds and after a few minutes, the soaked dog got tired of it ran away.

Now Harry was all alone. Though he was much more relaxed after dog’s leaving, he was aware that it is dangerous to sit on a tree, when it thunders several times in a minute. He quickly went down to the ground, turned to home direction, but then realized that the dog ran in that direction as well. Therefore, he turned to the direction of his and Max’s secret place of their childhood.

It was a cave in the middle of the 200 meters high mountain, which was on the edge of the forest. As a child, when they were alone at home, Harry and Max used to climb to that cave. They even had their own game, like finding cars or rooftops by mentioning only the color.

Harry pulled a phone out of his pocket to inform Max about his plans and lie to his parents that he is going to stay at Max’s place. But the rain covered the phone’s screen with drops in a second, so he decided to do it in the cave. Although many years have passed since his last ascent, he still remembered the way to the cave. A few minutes later, he was on a small ledge in front of the cave. Remembering that he had never been here in the night, he looked at the shining city. City lights at night were as a shawl adorned with gems. For a moment, he forgot about Evelyn, about Max’s stupid story, about his father’s strange behavior and even about the dog, which was chasing him. His thoughts were clean. There were only he and his lovely city.

He found a feeling of peace, and without taking his eyes off the city, he stepped back to the cave. But his peace was cut when he slipped on a wet stone. A sharp pain overwhelmed him in a second and leaning on his elbows, he crawled into the cave.

He wanted to call his friend and parents, but the fall was painful. It was hard to breathe. Thus, he decided to wait a bit more but each passing second Harry felt weaker. Eventually, he closed his eyes.

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