Martin Vopěnka: Pátý rozměr (The Fifth Dimension)
Translated by Hana Sklenková
On June 21st, at eleven a.m. I’m sitting on a boulder in front of the bunker and letting my eyes slide over the surrounding slopes – over their orange, ochre, pink and grey curves that are my calming security. Today the little white clouds are sown across the sky more densely than before. It makes the horizon look further away. From time to time their shadows run over the valley.
And then it happens. A wave of evil; a flash of darkness; a whiplash of pain. Invisible, indescribable, yet clearly perceptible. The shock is so intense it hurls me into anxiety. For I know it is happening right now and I can’t change it.
They’re tying Veronika to a large sacrificial boulder. Earlier they have slyly looped a rope around her wrists, and now they’re pulling on it. They have climbing spikes. And they wedge them into a crack between two rocks. I scramble to my feet but stand motionless, somewhat paralysed by what I see. My fingers curl unconsciously around the pendant with the cross and dove in my pocket. The bearded man – like some high priest – has donned a black hood. He has a knife in his hand. She struggles and cries out. But she’s still not certain if this is real. Perhaps it’s just a game:
‘Guys, don’t be silly! That’s enough.’
Her legs are still free. She tries to jerk upwards, to dislodge the spikes. The two guys grab her feet, and slip more loops around them. They pull with all their strength, panting heavily – the air is thin here and they’re not used to it. They pull with their last strength; they’re almost collapsing. Finally the spikes snap into place. The battle is over; they have her now. They bend over with their hands on their knees and take deep breaths. She’s exhausted too and can’t catch her breath. Relaxed, the priest inclines his knife and starts cutting her clothes into pieces. He does it with a morbid thoroughness. The slashed jumpers and t-shirts she’s lying on he pulls out from under her back, in pieces. It’s freezing and windy.
The high priest is in no hurry. It takes whole minutes before she’s completely naked. Then he straightens up above her. I stand – I stand unmoving. Unlike them, I’m trying to keep my breathing low. I’m hardly breathing at all. The high priest speaks – he’s trying to project an elevated dignity but suddenly it is clear that he has none at all: ‘We bring you this sacrifice,’ he stretches his hands up to the sun, ‘so that your power returns to us. Come back to us, Sun, and look on the pleasures of life, to which we invite you.’ No, it doesn’t sound genuine. Only the victim on the boulder is real.
The high priest seems to be urging his companions to do something. But they are fidgeting in a strange way: ‘Nah, I can’t right now, mate,’ the small one apologises. ‘I can barely catch my breath. It’s not on here.’
‘Guys, don’t be silly,’ begs whimpering Veronika. ‘Let me go. It hurts.’
‘Seriously, ruler, no can do,’ the other guy protests as well.
‘The Sun is waiting for his banquet,’ the high priest, who has been addressed as a ruler, insists. And he raises the knife.
The mountains in my line of vision grow dark and red. Blackness. A roar in my head.