IX Международная независимая литературная Премия «Глаголица»

Машкина Диана Александровна
Возраст: 22 года
Дата рождения: 01.01.2000
Страна: Россия
Художественные переводы
Категория от 14 до 17 лет
Alexander Key «The Incredible Tide» / Александр Кей «Невероятный прилив»

The Incredible Tide, chapter 1 «Survivor»

To a people unknown, of a land long lost –

for surely what is written here has happened before.

It depends upon us alone whether it

is a reflection or a prophecy.

The seabirds, Conan’s only friends, aroused him at dawn by screaming and dropping pebbles on his hut. He crawled out eagerly and raced down to the narrow beach, sure that a school of fish had entered one of his tidal traps. The birds always called him like this when fish had been caught. But the traps, he soon found, were empty — and still the gulls and terns wheeled about him, making a great racket.

What were they trying to tell him?

He turned and ran up the steps to the highest point of his rocky islet, and climbed upon the stone platform he had built long ago. A quick look around showed only emptiness, save for the two smaller islets of the group, dim in the distance on either side. They bounded his world. Beyond them, and all around in the mist-haunted sea, nothing was visible, not even the horizon.

«What do you see, Tikki?» he asked, as a slenderwinged tern circled close, giving quick little twitterings as if trying to speak. «Where is it? Show me!»

The tern brushed his lean cheek with its pinions, wheeled high, and shot away in the direction of the eastern islet. Several of the other birds followed. Conan watched until they were fading specks in the mist. Something was out there, surely, but it was far beyond the islet and invisible from here. A whale? No, a school of whales, most likely. Nothing else could cause such a stir among his friends. There wasn’t anything else in existence that was big enough or unusual enough.

Or was there?

Conan gave a little shake of his tawny head and slumped down on the platform, hugging his knees in sudden misery. To judge from the evidence, there was very little left on the planet but water. As for people, if many remained after what had happened, most of them were probably castaways like himself. In the years since the last fleeing helicopter had crashed in that incredible tide, breaking apart and flinging him alone into the darkness, he hadn’t seen or heard a craft of any kind, air or sea, nor had he even spotted so much as a vapor trail or a gleam of light. Was he the only person left? But of course he wasn’t. He had proof that Lanna was safe…

His mind leaped back to his twelfth birthday, a point in time he couldn’t forget because that was the day he had crawled ashore here. Before that — but it was better not to think of before. He had been Conan of Orme — but Orme no longer existed, nor did any of the Western world. Time started when he was twelve, when, chilled and battered and hardly conscious, he managed to crawl from the sea. He was just Conan then. Conan, a lost and naked creature all alone.

He remembered how horribly cold he felt later, and how hungry, and how it got worse as he huddled against the rocks, wondering what to do. And there wasn’t anything he could do, because there was nothing here. Nothing. Not even a seabird.

How could you stay alive on a barren heap of rocks without food or water or clothes or fuel, or so much as a knife? You couldn’t. To one who had lived always in the comfort of a world of electric buttons where machines did nearly everything, his predicament was utterly hopeless.

He knew he was going to die. And he would have, but for the voice that spoke to him.

«Conan,» the voice said. «Are you blind?»

«No,» he answered, before astonishment froze his tongue.

«Then get on your feet, Conan,» the voice ordered, «and look around you. Use the intelligence you were given. You must grow and learn, for in time others will need your help.»

He couldn’t tell whether the voice came from somewhere near him, or was just in his mind. But it was a voice, startlingly real, and it suddenly made him think of Lanna’s grandfather, who had surprised him once by saying that anyone who had the ears to listen could always hear the advice he needed.

He got unsteadily to his feet and peered about him.

The islet was new. It may have been the highest point of some rocky ridge, now drowned by the cataclysm that had changed the world. Or it may have been new land, upthrust. He couldn’t tell. Nothing grew on it. Nothing. And the shallows around it were too new for shellfish or any sort of marine life. But when the tide went out he found long streamers of seaweed that must have been washed here from a great distance — and in a tidal pool he found a stranded fish.

Conan thought again of the wonderful flavor of that first raw fish. At the time he had no idea how easy it was to make cutting tools merely by smashing a rock, and he tore the fish apart with his teeth and his bare hands, relishing every bit of it. Even the juice was good — certainly it eased his thirst for a while. The seaweed was less satisfying, though he soon learned to like it, and later other and better kinds appeared and took root around the islet. Life here, he remembered, was suddenly a challenge. What had seemed utterly impossible was now possible — if he put all he had, all his wits and energies, into solving each of the problems facing him.

Conan glanced in the direction Tikki had flown, and decided that the whales — he was sure now that whales had been sighted — had gone away. Some of the birds were returning. He sighed and stood up, rubbing his calloused hands over his very lean and very hard body, and thought of what five years had done to himself and to the islet. Some of his earlier problems, like the cistern and the first small hut, had taken tremendous effort. Even so, those efforts seemed like nothing now. For as he grew — and he supposed he must have grown a lot — he’d been forced to even greater toil to rebuild the islet and save it from the battering sea.

Five years. And the voice, after speaking that once, had remained silent. There were moments when he almost doubted that he’d really heard it. Still, though the voice hadn’t actually spoken again, a very curious thing had happened…

It was several weeks after he had finished the first hut. Though he had learned to use a drill and make fire, he was tougher now and seldom needed it for warmth. Fire, with driftwood so scarce, was better saved for those blacker nights that were so hard to face. For the one problem he couldn’t solve was the awfulness of being alone. Entirely alone, and knowing there was no one left, anywhere, who cared about him. Not even Lanna, whom he missed the most.

It was worse that evening, he remembered. A rising wind drove him early into the hut, frightened by the knowledge that a storm was coming. As he struggled to get a fire going, Lanna and her birds were suddenly vivid in his mind. She was a quiet little birdlike person herself, with something about her no one else had — a sort of wisdom, maybe, or an understanding that went far beyond speech. Every wild creature knew it, birds especially. On the beach at home they always flocked to her whenever she called, and she’d taught some of them to do amazing things.

The storm that night was a horror. It brought back everything he wanted to forget, and it reminded him that he’d never see Lanna again. As he crouched by his fire, trembling and trying not to think, a terrible desolation swept over him. At that moment a monstrous sea battered the islet, and he couldn’t help crying out in despair, calling on the voice to speak again and give him help.

The voice remained silent. But suddenly a gust of wind tore aside the curtain of kelp he’d woven for the doorway, and something small and white flew into the hut. It alighted near him by the fire.

It was a seabird — a tern.

He stared at it, incredulous. For an instant he almost believed that Lanna herself, in bird form, had flown here and found him. Then, as the tern moved closer and looked up at him, twittering plaintively as if it knew him, he suddenly caught it up in his hands and cried, «Tikki! It’s you, Tikki! Lanna sent you!»

How he was able immediately to recognize Lanna’s favorite bird, he didn’t know. In the past he’d seldom been able to tell one tern from another. Yet, even before he found the silky band around one leg, made from a single pale hair from a familiar head, he was absolutely certain that the bird was Tikki, and that Lanna had sent it. For hadn’t she always known how things were with him, and when he needed help?

He could almost hear her saying, «Go, Tikki, and find Conan. I know he’s alive somewhere, and all alone. He needs you. Find him and stay with him.»

After that night other birds, mainly gulls, began to arrive at the islet, and gradually he learned to call each of them by name and be counted as a friend. But Tikki’s coming was the miracle that changed everything. Just knowing Lanna was alive somewhere, and thinking of him, would have been enough in itself. But it also meant that she must have reached the safe area that Teacher, her grandfather, had chosen long ago, and that others were there with her. As for himself — so he firmly believed at the time — he had only to stick it out here a few months, and a search craft was bound to come by and spot him.

A few months, Conan thought grimly. After nearly thirty months had gone by, with every day counted by a knot on a string he’d made, it began to dawn on him that people were having to start all over again, with practically nothing. Without power, most machines would be useless. And without materials and special tools, you couldn’t build new ones. As for aircraft, how could you fly without fuel? Where would you find it? Still, with a person like Teacher to show you how…

But suppose Teacher hadn’t survived? The old man never thought of himself.

Conan shook his tawny-yellow hair back from his forehead, sighed, and stood up. He cast a final glance at the eastern islet, saw nothing in the mist beyond it, then started slowly down the steps. His attention went to a precious pile of driftwood he had been saving. The pile, carefully weighted down with rocks to protect it from storms, now consisted of four planks of various sizes, several scrap pieces, a long, crooked log, an old surfboard made of plastic — the most exciting find of the lot — and six small poles.

The problem was to construct a boat from the materials at hand. Not just any kind of boat, but a very special one. It must be large enough and strong enough to carry him safely for several weeks, along with a supply of smoked fish, and water in a collection of bottles that had washed ashore. For if no one was going to rescue him, it was about time that he rescued himself.

The only trouble was, he didn’t know a thing about building a wooden boat. Not a thing. During the long war years, when he’d lived on the coast with Lanna’s people, he’d been around boats enough. But all of them were plastic. He’d never seen a boat made entirely of wood.

Yet putting a wooden one together couldn’t be too difficult. If the primitives had done it, practically without tools, then surely he could do it too.

Usually, as his first task of the day, Conan would circle the islet to see what the tide had brought him. But now, suddenly absorbed in the problem of the boat, he even forgot breakfast as he crouched by a clean-swept area of sand and began drawing plans on it with a sharpened stick. He did not notice that Tikki had returned until he heard the tern’s sharp call overhead.

He glanced up, frowning. «Hey, what’s the matter with you now?»

Tikki swooped close, giving little cries of alarm. The gulls began circling again, screaming. Conan straightened, then went bounding up the steps to the platform.

The sky was lighter now, and streaks of red and gold were gleaming in the east beyond the islet. In this misty corner of the world it was a rare sight to see even a hint of a sunrise. Conan drank it in, enthralled, until he realized this was not what Tikki wanted to show him.

His eyes probed the grayness beyond the islet. Was something moving out there?

Something was moving. It looked like a large vessel, a patrol craft of some sort.

For a moment shock held him rigid. Suddenly he began to tremble, then all at once he was racing down to the narrow beach, shouting and crying and waving his arms wildly.

***

He need not have worried about being passed unnoticed. The vessel was moving slowly in his direction, no doubt attracted by the many retaining walls which gave the islet a fortlike appearance. When it was only a few hundred yards from the beach it dropped anchor and swung into the tide. Now he was able to see it clearly for the first time.

Abruptly the excitement in him died. With widening eyes he studied the squat, gray shape with the crimson pennant that hung limply at the masthead. He swallowed, and a coldness began to creep over him. His own people had never produced such a ship or flown such a flag. But the enemy had.

He was looking at a very old and battered patrol craft of what had once been known as the Peace Union.

With the realization of what could be in store for him, Conan stood clenching his hands in sudden desperation, trying to decide what to do. Had he even guessed in time what was approaching, he might have attempted the long and dangerous swim to the western islet, and hidden behind one of the numerous rocks in the surrounding shoals. But it was too late for that now.

Ugly memories awoke in him. His jaws knotted. The Peace Union! It had gobbled up half the planet when he was a kid, and it was threatening to gobble the other half when catastrophe struck. He had supposed that the incredible tide that had drowned a continent had swept the Peace Union out of existence. But obviously there were survivors. And at least one of their older patrol craft.

What was it doing here? Charting the remaining land areas? His hands shook as he watched gray-clad figures in belted tunics lower a boat and start toward him. Vividly for an instant he saw again the people who had once mattered so much to him — his parents and his small sister, his grandparents and Lanna’s parents, and his best friends at school — all destroyed in a flash by the weapons of the Peace Union. His fists clenched. Abruptly he raised them and started to scream his hate.

But no sound passed his lips.

«Conan,» spoke the voice he had not heard for so long.

He whirled and stared about incredulously, seeing nothing. «Wha—what is it?» he managed to say.

«Calm yourself, Conan,» the voice ordered. «It is time to leave. You have a mission to accomplish.»

When the ship’s boat touched the beach in front of him, Conan was standing motionless with folded arms, outwardly calm. Only his narrowed gray eyes showed the storm within him.

Three men and a woman, all dressed alike in baggy trousers and shapeless tunics, stepped to the beach. The woman, gaunt, gray-haired, and hard-featured, was carrying what seemed to be a medical kit. She was talking even as she left the boat.

«Look at him!» she exclaimed. «I can’t believe it! The picture of health. You there, how long have you been here? Or do you understand me?»

Conan realized she must be the ship’s doctor, and that the bearded man beside her was probably one of the officers.

«I — I understand you,» he replied haltingly. «Your language was taught to me in school. I’ve been here since—since the waters rose.»

«Ah, a Westerner, eh? And you’ve been here since the Change? All alone?»

«Not alone. I have friends.»

«Friends?» snapped the man beside her, whose beard was the heaviest of the three. «What friends? Where are they?»

«Overhead,» Conan told him. «The birds.»

Everyone stared at the flock of screaming seabirds wheeling angrily above them.

«Noisy pests!» muttered the woman. «What’s got into them?»

«They don’t like you. They know how I feel about you.»

«Eh?» growled the man. «What d’you mean? Aren’t you even thankful that you’re being rescued?»

«Should I be?»

«This is no time to be stupidly insolent! Where is your gratitude? If you ever hope to become a citizen of the New Order —»

«The New Order?» Conan interrupted. «Is that another name for the Peace Union?»

«Certainly not! All the survivors of the Change are being reorganized under our banner. The world must be rebuilt. It will take every able-bodied person to do it.»

The man with the heavy beard paused and glanced curiously about the islet. He scowled at Conan. «Now, I want the truth,» he demanded. «You haven’t lived here since the Change—not all alone. That’s impossible.»

«Why do you say it’s impossible?»

«Because it is impossible,» the woman retorted. «Why, this is nothing but a rock pile! You’re entirely too healthy. Briac Roa himself —»

«Quiet, Citizen Doctor,» the man ordered. «I want to question him.»

«Yes, Citizen Captain. But something is obviously wrong here.»

The captain nodded. «And I’ll have the truth. This matter of Briac Roa — ah, you know Briac Roa, young man?»

«I—I know who he is.» Conan faltered. «Of course. Everyone does. Why?»

He was astounded to find four pairs of eyes looking at him intently. The captain said, «There is a rumor that Briac Roa is alive. We have orders to find him.»

«But — I don’t understand. He’s a Westerner. What —»

«It doesn’t matter who or what he was. The New Order needs him. He’s not at the refuge where his people went. So, if he’s not in hiding, he’s a castaway like yourself. He could be anywhere, even here.»

«Then why don’t you look for him?» Conan said coldly.

The captain was already pressing forward, eyes probing the tiers of walls, the cluster of huts behind their protective shield of stonework. The others spread out, searching. In a few minutes they were back where they had started, having twice covered every inch of the islet. All they had found of real interest to them were a few pieces of smoked fish from the storage hut. The captain and the doctor were devouring them eagerly.

«Ah, this is good!» murmured the doctor. «So good! The first I’ve tasted since — since — it was long before the Change.»

«The sea is full of fish,» Conan reminded her. «Doesn’t the New Order allow you to have it?»

«We have it,» growled the captain. «Plenty of fish! We dry it, and even make meal of it. By a fine new process –»

«But we don’t smoke it,» the doctor said a bit wistfully.

«Of course not! Smoking it would be a senseless waste of wood. The New Order doesn’t waste valuable materials.» He pulled a well-cleaned bit of backbone through his teeth, tossed it away, and licked his lips.

Then he looked hard at Conan.

«You still persist in saying you’ve been here ever since the Change, and alone?»

«I told you I had my friends.»

«Nonsense! You’re hiding something. What is it?»

«I don’t know what you’re talking about.»

The captain frowned and glanced at the woman. «What do you think, Citizen Doctor? You saw the wretches we found on the last trip. They had a big island—and they weren’t worth saving.»

«Did — didn’t you save them?» Conan asked.

«What for?» snapped the doctor. «They would have been a burden. The New Order couldn’t have used them. But you —» She paused, then said in a suddenly harsh voice, «We find it very strange that you managed to thrive where others would have died or gone mad. How did you do it?»

Conan shrugged. «I did have some help, of course. Maybe it was a guardian spirit. I never saw him, but I certainly heard his voice —»

«Oh, rot!» the woman interrupted impatiently. «Next you’ll be telling us there’s a God.» She frowned. «It could be your diet. What have you been eating besides fish? Birds?»

«Would you eat your friends?» Conan retorted.

The captain growled, «Take him aboard and do your questioning later. We’ve wasted enough time here.»

Conan started to back away, but the two younger men seized him. He shook them off angrily and sent them both sprawling with a display of strength he had not dreamed he possessed.

«I’ll go with you,» he said. «But not until I’ve told my friends good-by.»

He turned and bounded up the steps to the platform. As the circling birds closed in about him, he raised his hands to them and spoke to each in a voice that was no longer steady. «I—I must leave,» he said. «Maybe, someday, I’ll see you all again. Tikki —»

Suddenly he snatched a curling yellow hair from his tangled mane, and swiftly wrapped and tied it about one of Tikki’s legs.

«Go!» he urged. «Go back to Lanna.»

When the bird finally understood, it rose, circled once, and began flying westward over the sea. Conan swallowed and watched it go, then went grimly down to face his captors.

 

Невероятный прилив, первая глава: «Уцелевший»

Неизвестным людям, давно потерявшим землю –

С уверенностью, что описанное здесь уже случилось.

Зависит от нас, будет это размышлением или пророчеством.

 

Морские птицы, единственные друзья Конана, разбудили его на рассвете, крича и роняя гальку на хижину. Он с нетерпением выполз и рванул к узкому пляжу, уверенный, что в его приливных ловушках полно рыбы. Птицы всегда звали его, когда попадалась рыба. Но ловушки, как он вскоре обнаружил, были пусты – однако чайки и крачки продолжали виться над ним, производя немалый шум.

Что они пытались сказать ему?

Он повернулся и направился к высочайшей точке каменистого островка, взобрался на каменную платформу, которую построил давным-давно. Быстрому осмотру предстали только два островочка, мутно видневшихся вдали по обе стороны. Они ограничивали его мир. За ними, в призрачно-туманном море, ничего не было видно, даже горизонта.

– Что ты видишь, Тикки? – спросил он, так как одна острокрылая крачка подлетела ближе и зачирикала, словно пыталась говорить. – Где это? Покажи!

Крачка прошлась пером по его худой щеке, взмыла ввысь и полетела к восточному островку. Часть птиц последовала за ней. Конан следил за ними, пока они не стали пятнышками в тумане. Что-то было здесь, определенно, но «что-то» было далеко от острова и невидимо с него. Кит? Нет, скорее стая китов. Ничто больше не могло вызвать такой шум среди его друзей. Здесь больше не было ничего достаточного размера или странности.

Или было?

Конан тряхнул рыжеватой головой и плюхнулся на платформу, обняв колени в нахлынувшем отчаянии. Судя по всему, на планете, кроме воды, мало что осталось. Люди, если и выжили после случившегося, скорее всего, влачат такую же отшельническую жизнь, как и он сам. За годы, которые прошли с того дня, когда последний вертолет погиб в невероятном приливе, разлетевшись на части и вышвырнув его одного в темноту, он ни разу не видел и не слышал транспорта, воздушного ли, морского ли, не улавливал даже такой малости, как облачка пара или отблеска света. Он единственный, кто остался? Конечно же – нет. У него были доказательства, что Лана спаслась…

Мысли крутились вокруг двенадцатого дня рождения, который он не мог забыть, потому что именно в тот день его выкинуло сюда. До этого… Лучше не вспоминать, что было до этого. Он был Конаном из Орма, но Орма больше не существовало, как не существовало и всего остального из Западного мира. Все началось, когда ему было двенадцать, когда, продрогший, избитый и почти без сознания, он смог выползти из моря. С тех пор он просто Конан. Конан – потерянное, одинокое и беззащитное создание.

Он помнил, как ему было холодно и голодно, и как становилось еще хуже из-за того, что он жался к камням, гадая, что же делать. А делать-то было нечего, потому что здесь ничего не было. Ничего. Даже птиц.

Как вы сможете выжить на бесплодной кучке камней без еды, воды, одежды, топлива или хотя бы такой роскоши, как нож? Да никак. Тому, кто всю жизнь прожил в комфорте мира электрических кнопок, где практически все делали машины, положение покажется совершенно безнадежным.

Он знал, что умрет. Да и умер бы, если бы не голос, что говорил с ним.

– Конан, – спросил голос, – ты ослеп?

– Нет, – ответил он перед тем, как онеметь от удивления.

– Тогда вставай, Конан, – приказал голос, – и осмотрись. Используй ум, которым ты наделен. Ты должен расти и учиться, потому что однажды людям понадобится твоя помощь.

Он не мог сказать, откуда-то рядом слышался голос или звучал только в его голове. Но это был голос, поразительно реальный, и из-за него сразу вспомнился дедушка Ланы, который удивил его однажды, сказав, что тот, кто имеет уши, всегда услышит совет, в котором нуждается.

Пошатываясь, он поднялся на ноги и огляделся.

Остров был новый. Наверное, это была вершина горного хребта, затопленного катаклизмом, который изменил мир. А может, и новая земля выдавилась. Он не мог сказать. Ничего не росло на нем. Ничего. Отмель была слишком нова для моллюсков и любой другой морской живности. Но, когда прилив сошел, он обнаружил длинные водоросли, принесенные с большого расстояния, а в оставшихся от прилива лужах – рыбу.

Конан снова подумал о прекрасном аромате этой первой сырой рыбы. В то время он не имел ни малейшего представления о том, как легко сделать режущие инструменты из отколотого камня, и рвал рыбу зубами и голыми руками, смакуя каждый ее кусочек. Даже сок был хорош, так как немного утолил жажду. Водоросли понравились меньше, хотя со временем Конан полюбил их, а позже возле островка появились и прижились другие виды, получше. Жизнь здесь, он вспомнил, была вызовом. То, что казалось совершенно невозможным, сейчас было реальностью – ведь он прилагал все свои ум и энергию к решению встающих перед ним проблем.

Конан взглянул в направлении полета Тикки, и решил, что киты – теперь он был уверен, что это были киты – уплыли. Некоторые птицы возвращались. Он вздохнул и встал, растирая мозолистыми руками свое очень худое и мускулистое тело, и подумал, что же пять лет сделали с ним и с островом. В прошлом многие проблемы, вроде цистерны и первой маленькой хижины, требовали громадных усилий. Сейчас же они казались игрушками. Так как он рос – а он не сомневался, что сильно вытянулся – то был вынужден трудиться еще усерднее, чтобы восстановить остров и сохранить его от посягательств моря.

Пять лет. И голос после того разговора хранил молчание. Были моменты, когда Конан сомневался, слышал ли вообще его. Тем не менее, однажды, хоть голос все еще не заговаривал снова, произошла очень любопытная вещь…

Это произошло несколько недель спустя после постройки первой хижины. Он научился сверлением добывать огонь, однако, так как стал выносливее, редко пользовался им для тепла. Огонь, скудный из-за влажных коряг, лучше всего спасал от тех непроглядных ночей, которых он так боялся. Единственной нерешаемой проблемой был ужас одиночества. Абсолютного одиночества и понимания, что здесь нет никого, кто позаботился бы о нем. Даже Ланы, по которой Конан скучал больше всего.

Вечером стало хуже, вспомнил он. Поднявшийся ветер рано загнал его в хижину, напуганного осознанием приближающегося шторма. Пока пытался добыть огонь, в мыслях внезапно, как живая, возникла Лана и птицы. Она и сама была похожа на тихую маленькую птичку, у нее было то, чего не имел никто другой – своего рода мудрость, понимание, которое выходило далеко за рамки речи. Любое дикое создание знало это, особенно птицы. Дома на пляже они всегда слетались к ней по зову, и она научила их делать удивительные вещи.

Ночной шторм был ужасен. Он вернул все, о чем хотелось забыть, и напомнил, что Конан больше никогда не увидит Лану. Когда он присел рядом с огнем, дрожавший и старавшийся не думать, его охватило страшное опустошение. В тот момент чудовищное море атаковало остров, а он не мог сдержать слез в отчаянии, призывая голос поговорить еще раз и помочь.

Голос хранил молчание. Но неожиданно порыв ветра сорвал занавесь из ламинарии в дверном проеме, и что-то маленькое и белое влетело в хижину. Оно село рядом с ним перед огнем.

Это была морская птица – крачка.

Он уставился на нее, пораженный. На мгновение он едва не поверил, что это Лана собственной персоной, в птичьей форме, прилетела и нашла его. Затем, когда крачка придвинулась ближе и взглянула на него, жалобно чирикая, будто они были знакомы, поймал ее и закричал: «Тикки! Это ты, Тикки! Тебя послала Лана!»

Как он моментально распознал любимую птицу Ланы, Конан не знал. В прошлом ему редко удавалось отличить одну крачку от другой. Тем не менее, даже прежде чем нашел шелковистый шнурочек на лапке, сделанный из светлого волоса знакомой головы, был абсолютно уверен, что птицей была Тикки, и что ее послала Лана. Ибо кто, если не она, всегда знал, что с ним, и когда ему нужна помощь?

Он почти слышал ее голос: «Лети, Тикки, и найди Конана. Я знаю, он выжил где-то, и он совсем один. Он нуждается в тебе. Найди его и будь с ним».

После этой ночи другие птицы, в основном чайки, начали прилетать на остров, и постепенно он выучил всех по именам и стал считать друзьями. Прилет Тикки был чудом, поменявшим все. Ему было достаточно одного знания того, что Лана жива и думает о нем. Также это означало, что она должна добраться до безопасного места, которое Учитель, ее дедушка, выбрал давным-давно, и что остальные с ней. Что до него самого – тогда он твердо в это верил – он тут всего на несколько месяцев, а потом его заберет поисковый корабль.

«Несколько месяцев», – угрюмо подумал Конан. Спустя примерно тринадцать месяцев – каждый день был отмечен узлом на сделанной веревке – до него начало доходить, что люди начинают все сначала, практически с нуля. Без энергии большинство машин бесполезны. А без материалов и специальных инструментов новые не построишь. Взять, например, самолет: как летать на нем без топлива? Где его найти? Конечно, если рядом человек вроде Учителя, который покажет вам, как…

Но предположим, что Учитель не выжил? Старик никогда не думал о себе.

Конан убрал со лба рыжеватые волосы, вздохнул и встал. Бросил последний взгляд на восточный островок, ничего не увидел в тумане, а затем начал медленно спускаться. Его внимание обратилось на драгоценную груду коряг, которую он хранил. Груда, заботливо придавленная камнями для защиты от штормов, состояла из четырех различных досок, нескольких обломков, длинного изогнутого бревна, старой пластиковой доски для серфинга – самая блестящая находка – и шести маленьких жердей.

Задача – построить судно из подручных материалов. Даже не лодку, хоть что-то похожее. Оно должно быть достаточно большим и прочным, чтобы безопасно везти его несколько недель вместе с запасом копченой рыбы и воды в наборе бутылок, который прибило к берегу. Если никто не собирается спасать его, он спасет себя сам.

Единственная проблема – Конан не имел ни малейшего понятия, как строить деревянные лодки. Ни малейшего. За долгие военные годы жизни на побережье вместе с Ланой и остальными он повидал достаточно судов. Но все они были из пластика. Он никогда не встречал полностью деревянной лодки. Тем не менее, связать несколько бревен не так уж и сложно. Если уж первобытные люди это делали практически без инструментов, то чем он хуже?

Обычно первой задачей Конана было обходить остров на предмет выкинутых прибоем вещей. Но сейчас, внезапно погрузившись в мысли о лодке, он забыл даже о завтраке, так как присел у полоски чистого песка и начал острой палочкой рисовать план. Он не заметил, как вернулась Тикки, пока не услышал над головой пронзительный крик.

Он поднял глаза, хмурясь: «Ну а сейчас-то с тобой что?» Тикки близко подлетела, издавая короткий сигнал тревоги. Чайки снова начали кружитьс