Suddenly a helicopter comes down and spooks the animals away! You look inside the helicopter and see your trusty old narrator, the narrator you so callously betrayed... A tear comes to your eye as you ponder your cruelty and perhaps the beast which lives within us all. You must shoulder your pride... Do you want to get on the helicopter..?\n\n[[> Yes... I want to get on the helicopter... Please... Thank you.... Ahh....|Delivery]]\n\nLet's get on board the helicopter and fly off to the wonderful land of Mashkin.
Anyway, yes, as speaker number three said, clearly a letter was in order to the central committee. I have hear a copy of the very letter [boos, derisive yells] I said I HAVE HEAR A COPY OF THE *VERY LETTER*, AS CERTIFIED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF MASHKIN STUDIES AT TZARIN TECH [catcalls, questions pertaining to the health of my poor sainted mother] which verifies this is the exact letter which was sent. Note the coffee stains. We can deduce from this that Mashkin was worried, as who else would drink coffee unless they were worried? Alternately the central committee was worried and Mashkin was strong. This would prove to be borne out by the events of '21, but let us continue.\n\nDEAR QUISLINGS,\n\nTHE FEATHERED COBRA\n WAITS IN BEAUTIFUL AUTUMN HYACINTH\n TO EAT HEN YOUNG.\n\nHA HA HA HA HA!\nSincerely, Mashkin\n\n- and this was the letter. At this point in time Mashkin was fond of coaching his threats in the form of cryptic epigrams, a habit he picked up from the East. Later, he would discard this device in favour of simply drawing a skull and crossbones on the napkin nearest to hand. Note also the reference to the hyacinth, Mashkin's favourite foodstuff. Nevertheless it's clear that he was worried, as such a letter, with connotations which we have already discussed (see Chapter 2), would have represented a clear challenge to his authority... A question: Is it worth sketching here for the reader the precise boundaries of Mashkin's authority>\n\n[[>YES!!!!!!!!!!!!|Authority]]\n\n[[>NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!|Delivery]]
Ho ho ho! So, Mashkin went to the police, you say... A most interesting revisionist hypothesis... Mashkin, who all his days referred to the police quite openly as quislings (at a time when it was not fashionable to do so!)... I see, so this is what you believe, hmm... Well, go ahead, please, it's clear that I'm no longer competent in the telling of this story, I who felt my expertise was so clear, but no, you're right, that's how it is, the infallible truth, most certainly, we should begin the tale again under the basis of this important new information.\n\nMASHKIN GOES TO THE POLICE: One day Mashkin goes into the police station because he recieves the letter.\n\nMASHKIN: (hearty voice) Hello, my name is Mashkin, I am a law abiding citizen, I go to the police with all my troubles!\n\nPOLICE: We are the police! We are so glad to help you with the problems of your life.\n\n[[>Mock me if you will! I am privy to information you cannot comprehend. You see, I was a member of the force charged with delivering unto Mashkin the famous "Kriev Decision".|Police2]]
The issue of the letter is an extremely ticklish one and may not come across 100% in translation, where it is perhaps necessary - in the aim of a proper, historically contextualised understanding of the issue - to delicately handle certain issues where some aspect (jarring to the uninitiated reader!) may catch the eye willy-nilly and thus distract from the honest and accurate picture being put forth faithfully by your scribe. Suffice to say that this letter existed in a certain context where it was - at the same time - a generic letter and a highly specific one, a very highly specific, personal type of letter whose contents and intent could - nevertheless! - be guessed immediately from the condition of its arrival as well as the important empirical factors of envelope size, weight, handwriting of the address and whether the arrival falls outside the hours traditionally designated for postal delivary. I cannot possibly make this any clearer. And clear it was to Mashkin! That in fact, without opening the letter - without even looking at the letter - without taking the trouble to go to the mail receptacle - without, in fact, being present at the domicile where the letter was delivered, as he was currently holidaying at the Eastern Palace - suffice it to say - you will permit me a chuckle - Mashkin knew just how to handle such a letter. But how did Mashkin handle the letter? I let you make your guess below.\n\n[[> It's obvious! (this is you speaking) Mashkin took his case to the police.|Police]]\n\n[[> (this is you also) Hold now, you cannot seriously mean to say you believe I am the same person as the imbecile above! This is really too much! Even a child can see that Mashkin would never take his case to the police - the police, whom he has repeatedly denounced as little more than quislings! Come closer, and I'll tell you the true answer.|Truth]]\n\n[[> (similarly, this is you) I would like to declare autonomy from the nitwits above. It's obvious that Mashkin wrote a letter to the Central Committee.|Committee]]
I can hear nothing, only the wolves can hear you now... The black steppe wolves of the north, ravenous for living meat... Perhaps you can hear their fleet paws in the snow...?\n\n[[> I'll be good, I swear it... Let me out... Help...|Beartrap3]]
It is far too late for anything like that. The wolves have arrived in the clearing and are rushing in for the kill. Also eagles to peck at your gizzard are present. As the animals rip you to pieces you think "if only I had shown proper respect to duly constituted authority...."\n\n[[> Help... Mother... I'm coming... Argghh....|Beartrap4]]
YES! Roaring in the door, still astride their wonderful horses - the Cossacks, the Cossacks! Sabres glinting in the morning sun - then swinging down again to chop off a head! Whack! Blood smeared the paintings and rolled down the stairs. One of the most venerable committee members was roasted alive in the ceremonial fireplace while others were keelhauled, dragged shrieking behind by their ankles as the officers raced around the room! Eventually all that remained was a single orderly... Covered head to foot in the blood of his superiors, yet still standing! And clutching an iron-nibbed pen. A superior-looking man (obviously the leader of the group) asked him his name.\n\n"Petri, sir... And as God is my witness, this iron-tipped nib will someday find your heart!"\n\nThe officer merely smiled...\n\n[[> It was Mashkin, of course...|Cossacks2]]\n\n...And tipped his magnificent crown towards the young clerk. "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" he cryptically declaimed, in perhaps his most well-known saying.\n\n[[> Mashkin is so noble... Please tell me more about Mashkin...|Description]]\n\n
Great! Wow! Terrific! Sensational! Amazing! Tremendous! Holy smokes! Watch that fur fly!\n\n[[Help! Don't tickle!|Fight3]]\n\n[[I have you, you luddite!|Fight3]]\n\n[[What's in this room?|Fight3]]\n\n[[Ow! My finger!|Fight3]]\n\n[[(smashing noises)|Fight3]]\n\n[[(whooping noises)|Fight3]]\n\n[[(BIG HORRIBLE CRASH oh no auntie em's china plates :( )|Fight3]]\n\n[[When I get you, I'll... I'll... I don't know...|Fight3]]\n\n[[Yaahhh!!|Fight3]]\n
[[>Help! You've got my legs! This page doesn't go anywhere! Yaaahhhh!!|Truth2]]\n\nLook at that! All bent up like a pretzel - HE'S learned! Let's continue with the tale.\n\n[[>Notice I am sitting here very attentively with my both arms crossed.|Committee]]
Mashkin's authority extended to the following topics:\n\n- Schools\n\n- Roads\n\n- Noisy Bears\n\n- Moral issues\n\n- Riffraff\n\n- Granite\n\n- Machinery\n\nThus, Mashkin's domain.\n\n[[> All of this is quite well known and can be found in any book. I do not see why you are giving yourself airs over such simple information such as, excuse me, the merest schoolchild could recite....|Beartrap]]
Oh dear reader! This is the part of the story where YOU control the action! Mashkin vs the Military League, a no-holds-barred throwdown with the world as the court. Death-mad dirt dogs on a roadtrip to nowhere! No quarter asked - and none given! Select an action from the combat simulator!\n\n[[Aghh!|Fight2]]\n\n[[Oof!|Fight2]]\n\n[[Take that, you-|Fight2]]\n\n[[Help! Mother!|Fight2]]\n\n[[Yelp yelp yelp|Fight2]]\n\n[[SPROINGGG! Boffo!|Fight2]]\n\n[[My eye! My eye!|Fight2]]\n\n[[Surely there's some other way to settle our differences...|Fight2]]\n\n[[WHAM!|Fight2]]
Well, Mashkin finished writing his letter, and from historical evidence - added to what we know via archeological research and first-person accounts of the period - it seems highly probable that he also put the letter in the envelope and mailed it at some point. In point of fact, Mashkin did put the letter into the envelope, but contra the recieved wisdom he did not send it himself but rather entrusted the task to an urchin, who he regarded, with his famous beady stare, as he put the envelope in the pillar-box, and came back...\n"Excellent work" he told the youth. "You will surely go far in this life, little... Vladimir Ilych Lenin..." And in point of fact, Mashkin's prophecy was to prove right on both counts.\n\nOn the way home Mashkin also met and prophesied great deeds for the young Josef Stalin, Leon Trotsky, M. Molotov, Anna Akhmatova, and the 1980 Olympic weightlifting team. I mention this solely to prove the nigh-magical capacities for foresight in Mashkin, and to demonstrate the continuing relevance of his vision in our current situation.\n\nAnyway, the political ramifications of Mashkin's letter should be obvious. No sooner was the letter read out than the door was smashed right off its hinge!\n\n[[> Cossacks!!!!|Cossacks]]
MASHKIN SEES IT THROUGH: At a certain point in time the events I'm relating began to take place. They concern Mashkin, more on whom later. Now I'm going to tell you the style of this report. The report is done in the modern style and leaves no stone unturned in the hunt for the truth. Every peripheral detail is present and accounted for with verification from the proper authorities. Yet do not think this shall be a catalogue of minutae! The attentive reader will note how each detail is very sneakily employed - truthfully arranged yet always drawing the eye, if you will, towards the panoramic outlook - to gain the truthful picture of the circumstances within and without. To make a long story short, one day Mashkin recieved a letter.\n\n[[> Yes, I place myself entirely in your hands - it's clear to me that you've seen the case from every angle and thought through every nuance! But what about this letter?|Intro2]]
Well, Mashkin was in the officer's den with his cronies again - cleaning out some poor recruit! I tell you, it's a mystery why they let that man out onto the streets! The chief went up all a-quiver and Mashkin fixed him with a beady stare....\n\n[[>Yes, his deadly snare...|Description]]\n\nMashkin shouted What's all this! and the chief muttered It's a letter, Mashkin, a letter from the central agency, which forbids you formally from referring to us as quislings any more... Well, Mashkin went white as a sheet. The chief had scored an important political victory that day! Two weeks later he committed suicide with an icepick and threw himself from a second storey window. Mashkin had seen it through again.
I am intrigued... Pray continue with what you are saying.\n\n[[> As you say Mashkin was well known in this period for referring to policemen as quislings and this was in all the papers. Oh, what a dark, a dreary time of life! My washerwoman hurled filth on me from high windows as I went to work, and the children on the street would pull on my cloak. In addition that big bully Rotsenko made me put on a big red Q for Quisling and I was so embarrassed!!! None of the policemen could get dates and it was decided to petition the commissioner. Well, he turned bright white, let me tell you - him and his big badge! Yet he also had been squeezed from above about the travesty and, like toothpaste, erupted from his watchful cavity to besmirch the world at large. I was tasked with going with him as he made the fateful move towards Mashin...|Police3]]\n\nThis is most interesting, do not let me stop you. You may take the podium for the interlude. I'm quite comfy down here at the bottom of the page.
[[>The truth is this: (raising lips to cocked ear) PPPPTTTTT!|Truth2]]\n\nNow hold on! Really, this is too much! Is there any reverance yet accorded to humanism in these dark times? Would Goethe, etc? I'd better go on with my story.
That does it! Suddenly a beartrap closes on your foot! You are left alone in the forest to die. Game over. Collect 15 points from dispensary.\n\n[[> No, please...|Beartrap2]]
I'm glad they took each other out! That was getting too confusing. I don't like this type of writing. I'd better start all over from the beginning.\n\nOnce there was a boy named Mashkin who was very popular and strong. One time he got a letter but he succeeded in sorting the issue. He just got out there and sorted it. You see, Mashkin was different to the likes of you and me! Well, he sorted the issue with dignity and wiliness. That's it, he thought, I sorted the issue, I played the cards that were dealt to me, I played the game, and ultimately, the issue was sorted. Mashkin enjoyed these little soliloquies of his and would always embark upon one at the completion of an enterprise. That's it, he'd say, I did X, I did Y, I took it on the chin like a man, and now - the issue is sorted. In the completion of these little speeches Mashkin would slap the palms of his hands together as if removing dust from his gloves. That's just the kind of man he was! He shook the dust from his hands and he went home.\nOn his way home Mashkin was in very high spirits. He saw a peasant by the roadside and stopped to have some fun. Look at this! he said, and pulled a large gold coin out of his pocket. Appearing to blow on it, he made the coin disappear. What do you think of that? The peasant said nothing but opened his mouth and stuck out his big tongue. An enormous and beautiful ruby was perched on the end of it exactly like a songbird. When Mashkin saw this, he executed a cartwheel and feel over dead on the spot. Five days later, he was up and about again.
Years later, the young clerk did actually make a lunge at Mashkin while the latter was engaged otherwise at a book signing. As luck would have it, the iron tip went into Mashkin's wallet and ended up scratching a forgotten lottery card which turned out to be a big winner. Mashkin made a huge amount of money and, in a grand gesture of conciliation towards the clerk, broke both his legs.
Perhaps the time has come to give a brief overview of Mashkin's physical appearance. Mashkin was only four feet tall and covered in blue hair. Yet this was not the most curious thing about him. For one thing, he had a certain distinctive way of looking at objects. Now, by no means imagine this detail to be trivial! For it was no mere cataract, but rather an expression of his being. It was a certain way of peering... Hum... A certain highly noticeable feature which was perhaps yet not visible to most.... For a start, a certain contortion of the features and upper neck... Well, the final output was that Mashkin would seem to keep a certain intellectual and visceral distance from an object, from looking at it, you understand, while in actual fact the situation was... he was close enough to grab it by the nose! God help the poor fool who would get grabbed by the nose by a Mashkin! \nA funny anecdote will serve to exemplify the issue. There was once a point where Count Tolstoi was exhibiting some paintings at his big house. Mashkin was present. However, he astounded all the company by not even sparing the pictures the briefest of glances.\n"Mashkin, what's wrong? Look at the pictures."\n"Leave me alone, Count," Mashkin replied, "I'm fine."\nYet some months later, inside the butcher's shop, Mashkin was observed secretly peering at the paintings with an expression of great enjoyment while in conversation with two women. From this, he gained a reputation for wiliness.\n\n[[Mashkin's looking well, his fur is very lustrous, the TV deal obviously is working out for him -- what's that behind him? Mashkin, watch out! |Fight]]\n\n