............Sea in a droplet, the universe in a star I am,

.............The dust in the long tail of a comet...

...............The whole lot is me, as well as nothing in the void…

.................Where reflection has become the light... I am...

The bright sunbeams subdued by the tinted window glasses flooded the spacious office with light.

The usual sounds of the air conditioner and of the head computer created a routine background both for quiet time and stormy meetings.

It was about noon. Just to observe the formalities I knocked the door and entered the boss’ office.

– Have you summoned me?

–Yes, Robert. Take a seat. There is an urgent job. Of course, a secret one.

The soft armchair gave the feeling of rest, but its low back did not allow indulging in relax entirely. I wonder will I ever have a good night rest? Probably, never... What do we have today? A secret job? Duh!

– Robert, have you heard me?

– Yes, boss. You said we've got a secret job to do. But all our customers want special secrecy, as if the mankind's destiny depends on the resolution of their problems.

– Yes, but this time the business is really serious. One of those who are called VIP-persons turned to us for help. He is diagnosed with a trivial, but unpleasant disease, which he's been trying to get rid of for many years, but all in vain.

– What's the name of that trivial disease?

– Demodicosis.

– Mite?

– Yes, but not entirely a typical one.

– What do you mean?

– The customer regularly takes courses of treatment. Every time after finishing a treatment a control scrape shows a negative result, but some time later symptoms are resumed.

Now, none of the known medicines help. Perhaps, the modern drugs destroyed only larvae, nymphs and living specimens without causing any special harm to eggs.

Or some mutation occurred during the evolution. In general, the mite began active and very fast reproducing and stopped reacting both to any drugs and to the doctors' attempts to relieve the customer from the parasite.

The side effect – is vividly expressed pathology of the cutaneous covering, vasodilatation et cetera.

The location is the nose. The customer holds an important post, he is often seen in public, his photos appear in the printed media, but his nose is so red that even the most skillful makeup fails to conceal it.

– And what about the genetic recreation?

– But it seems that it is the point.

– I didn't get.

– After the customer had taken the first course of the treatment, he duly took a course of the genetic recreation. You may imagine the scientists' astonishment when right after the course the mite was found again.

– In other words, do you want to say that each genetic recreation session restores the mite? But it's impossible. Believe me, the one who used to be a genetic engineer.

– First your former colleagues also shouted: "Impossible!" But now they've put up with it and say something about an "invisible gene".

– "Invisible gene"? But this has been only the assumption so far, enigma undiscovered by science.

– Probably. Who should know better than you? But it's the fact. With each new session of the genetic recreation the parasite is restored either. That's why the customer came to us looking for the way to get rid of this parasite.

– Does he want us to use the nano-laser annihilation of parasites that bred in his nose?

– Exactly.

– But everyone is obliged to take a course of the genetic recreation once in three months. If the course restores the mite, although I can't get how it's possible, therefore it will appear again.

– It means that the customer will come to us again and again.Of course, till the time your former colleagues will have found that notorious “invisible gene” or whatever it is, I don't know.

In any case, Mucklow pins great hopes on us.

– Mucklow? So, are we talking about Mucklow?

– Yes, that's him. Do you have anything against him?

The drowsy mood suddenly disappeared. Mucklow, the man who nominally headed the project I used to work on in the near past. A complete ignoramus in science, but an expert at secret intrigues.

He was very much interested in our finding a notorious gene of evil.

And not at all for removing it once and for all out of the genetic code, thus helping humanity to switch into a new spiral turn of the mankind's spiritual development.

I don't even want to imagine what demands he would make if we had provided him with the information about this gene. The only answer we had for him was: "It doesn't exist". Such was the decision of the whole group. "There is no such gene."

The punishment didn't delay. The project was taken from us and the group was disbanded, some were sent to labs, and some "to the field". Like me, for example.

Now, instead of working on the improvement of the planetary genetic pool, I destroy monsters in adipose strata of wealthy clients.

What heights we could have reached if we had had a possibility to remove the gene of evil out of a person's genome at the youngest age!

The next generation would already have a completely new genome in their blood and wouldn't have known evil at all!

It sounds like a fairy tale... But the genetic recreation also used to be a fairy tale for our ancestors! And now mankind doesn't know what old age is, but, unfortunately, we still know what malice, hatred, envy and cunning are... Just one gene!

As soon as it disappears our world will totally change! And all it's still impossible because of such people like Mucklow!

Because of such ones, who want to get profit of the gene, which the mankind is able to get rid of completely. Because of the monsters with human appearance!

And I have to help one of them to get rid of the parasites greatly bred in his nose!

I have already done a similar job, but only once and it was far from being so complicated. A young lady came to us then. On her smooth, delicate chin there was detected a hole of this parasite.

The lady underwent a course of the treatment and the control scrape showed the negative result. But the lady turned to be persistent and decided to pay an incredible sum for the nano-research. What do we care?

Since customers pay, it doesn't matter to us if they are paranoiacs or not.

I remember gliding in my armored nano-capsule, equipped with a lot of apparatus, across the mite's abandoned hole and thinking that the lady had thrown a huge sum of money down the drain.

And when suddenly an enormous monster, which by some miracle managed to survive after a chemical attack of the modern medicine achievements, dashed towards me from behind the turn I realized that I was wrong accusing the lady of paranoia.

Several eggs survived, and a pregnant female was approaching me at that moment. Err... It was quite a disgusting job.

But I did my best. I cleaned up everything that the medicine had failed to eliminate. Two months later I saw the lady at one of the most expensive health resorts. Judging by her chin I saw that she had forgotten about demodicosis forever.

Honestly speaking, she didn't recognize me. But it is natural. Customers don't see us in our real forms. They don't even see a syringe, so there's no point in discussing if they are able to see an armored nano-capsule with a pilot inside or not.

And I saw the photo of the lady, in whose chin I had to fight against the remaining mites, in the folder on the head computer. With my knowledge and abilities one can get access to almost everything...

– In a nutshell, did you get everything? – the boss' voice reached my thoughts. – You are going be the head of the group of twenty cars.

Operational readiness is number one. Judging by the snaps, you've got a lot of work to do. The beginning of the operation is in an hour. Any questions?

– No, boss.

–Then go, get ready for the operation. Remember, you are a soldier. And no more than four hours later there mustn’t be any of living parasites in Mucklow's nose! Neither larvae nor nymphs nor eggs! Have you understood? None of them!

– – –

A large pearl seashell, wet, fresh from the water, beautifully glittered in the sunbeams. Neither a little fracture nor unsightly scratches marred its wholeness and perfectness.

The scorching sunbeams were sliding over its pearl twists, vaporizing the poured moisture inside its cavities.

The light breeze stroking the tresses of a long-haired girl picked up particles of water evaporating from the pearl surface of the seashell and carried them away to the sky.

With the lapse of time the pink clouds will change their colour as well as their density. Soon they will turn into grey stormy clouds in order to gush forth the accumulated water and shed it over the earth.

The rain streams will start rattling over the tree foliage, flowers and grass, and flowing over the earth they will nourish the soil.

Little streams will turn into the rivers carrying their waters to the seas and oceans and the droplets that vaporized from the surface of the pearl seashell will return there, whence they came from...

The waves were softly rolling onto the shore, caressing the tameless earth again and again. The seagulls’ cries were merging both with the roar of the surf and the screams of the children playing in the water.

The seashell being near the frothy water's edge, which rolled onto the sand from time to time, got almost dried out.

Only one droplet was still glittering on the inner surface of the pink cavity. The large beautiful droplet that had absorbed tens of its matches.

They were rolling down from the rounded sides of the former cover of a shellfish to gather in the last droplet at its depth.

It was sparkling in the rays of the bright sun as if a precious stone shining with all the rainbow colors, not aware of how little time was in store.

As well as of the own wonderful future journey when being turned by the sun into the tiniest particles it will fly away to the heaven...

– Mashenka, come here, under the umbrella! You mustn’t lie so long under the open sun. It's the most dangerous time now!

– Mum, don't hinder me! I'll be coming soon!

– No "soon"! Come here, I'm telling you!

–Well, mum, don't distract me! C'est trés important!

–What can be so important there? Are you again telling your stories?

The pale face of the lady sitting on a wicker chair under a large umbrella slightly flushed. Her interlocutor, who was dressed despite the thirty-degree heat in a three-piece suit, raised in surprise his right eyebrow.

He was sitting near the lady in an adjacent armchair. Having crossed his legs, the man was puffing away a pipe with an air of importance; the look of his expressionless eyes was sliding indifferently over the couples strolling along the seafront.

The light caps of ladies' parasols, being mainly of soft colours, were swaying slowly over the heads of their mistresses. The gentlemen accompanying the ladies took off their hats to greet their acquaintances and put them back after a moment.

The sun scorching, the swimming season being high, but representatives of the highest class, as usual, seemed to be unwilling to undress themselves and show each other their bathing suits.

The most part of the vacationers were just strolling and discussing both political news and the high society gossip.

And only children, as always, were not interested in adults with their tedious and incomprehensible world deprived of all children's joys.

Boys and girls under the care of governesses or mothers hiding under the beach umbrellas were frolicking in the water enjoying freedom and joy, which can be given by splashes of pure water on a hot sunny day...

– What stories, Anastasia Fedorovna?

– Oh, Sergey Alekseevich, you shouldn't pay attention to Mashenka. She is such… an unusual girl. You see, she's got an excessively developed imagination. She imagines that she sees stories in water droplets.

– Stories? Mais il est assez bizarre!

– Oui, mon cher. I completely agree with you. It is very and very strange. But there you are. Mashenka tells such things that are simply hard to believe.

It's doubtless that she makes up her stories, but the words she invents! C’est terrible! If only you could hear them! The tongue refuses to obey.

– So, what kind of words are they? Tell me one of them at least.

– Oh, how could I remember them? The simplest one is “Reflection”... Mashenka says that there exist some other worlds where our “Reflections” live!

– Reflections? Qu'est-ce que cela veut dire?

– How should I know what it means? Such odd fantasies... Dear Lord, save my girl from this strange illness, – she added quietly and made the sign of the cross. – By the way, where is Jannete?

Why isn't she here? – The lady dropped the subject and started looking around in search of the governess.

– You have sent her to a street vendor. She'll be back in a minute.

– So, I'll go and cover Mashenka with the coverlet myself. She can get sunburnt in this sun.

– – –

– Mum, I'm not hot. I've just come from the water.

– All the same, get covered and put on your hat. Or, do you want to be as brown as Dunyashka?

– I am a girl, I am not a young lady. Don’t disturb me, mum. Otherwise, I will miss everything.

– What will you miss?

– Well, mum, don't distract me! I want to know if Robert is going to cope with it!

Anastasia Fedorovna raised her fine eyebrows. But having quickly overcome her fright, which reflected in her eyes, the mother made the sign of the cross above her daughter's head.

With a heavy sigh, she sadly shook her head and with a dignified gait returned to her interlocutor under the umbrella.

Masha did not notice anything. Her glance was riveted on the sparkling and evaporating in the sunbeams droplet, which was getting smaller and smaller.

– – –

The innumerable labyrinths were heaped up with piles of dead bodies and it seemed that there was no end to monsters. And after all, their term of life is just 15 days. How many of them are here?

We've been eliminating these frights for two hours already, and they keep coming preventing us from reaching their eggs. And after all, this is the most vital thing. We have to destroy them all. The larvae, nymphs, and eggs...

– Captain, they are approaching. One is on the left and two are on the right.

– The ones on the right are mine. Well, frights, look out! – My fingers ran over the keyboard and promptly found the target.

The cursor on the laser display first detected one mite, then the other one. Two my shots and Ben's one – and the display shows again a pile of lifeless bodies.

An empty branch of the labyrinth is behind them. We keep going. I wonder, what is waiting for us behind the turn?

But still, why the hell are we helping Mucklow? He is no better than monsters living in his nose. And who knows, what’s gonna be when the new group of scientists provides him with all the information on the gene which he needs so much?

What will be their next assignment? It's quite easy to guess – the return of wars, tortures, slavery... A jump into the abyss of savagery and degradation instead of spiritual development...

– Captain, there are five mites behind the turn going one after another. Should we wait for them here and destroy one at a time?

– No, we shouldn’t. We will move back a bit. There are two side branches near us, which is dangerous. In case they start moving from everywhere we may fail to protect ourselves.

Of course, they can hardly do us any harm, but who knows... I'd better not run risks.

– The side branches are empty for the time present.

– That's good. I'll do destroying and you keep on watching out. Pay all your attention to the side corridors.

–Yes, sir.

Here it is. The first one's shown up. Your end has come, dear. Although, as God is my witness, we ought not to help this Mucklow with his red nose... Well, let's get started...

– – –

– Car 5 calls car 1.

– Car 1 is in contact. Report the situation.

– Our square is cleaned up, sir.

– Great. Pass it through once again and then move to the third square.

– Yes, sir.

– Captain, the nearest corridors are clean. We are approaching the dead end. I see a large accumulation of eggs.

– Great, Ben. At last we’ve found the nasty nest. Let's move toward it slowly, nobody knows what we should expect from them. Their females are completely unpredictable.

– Yes, sir.

So, I suppose we are close to the end. Roger Mucklow due to our work is to get rid of the red nose and he can discover the secret of the ill-fated gene in the near future.

And all this time I will be tormenting myself by the thought that I haven't done my best to stop him. After all, Marie said clearly that Mucklow, no matter what circumstances are, should never know that our research was a success.

Neither he nor others like him. If people use this gene for evil, our civilization will die. We will be simply destroyed by any global cataclysm!

Another shift of the earth’s crust, or an eruption of an underwater volcano, a polarity reversal and... That's it!

Today there is a high civilization and tomorrow is nothing! And we've come to the resolution of our problem as close as possible! We are just in a few steps from it! The knowledge must just get into the good hands!

But instead the tentacles of monsters in human appearance are stretching out towards it! Mary is right, she is certainly right... She is not just smart, she is a clairvoyant. A real one! There are very few people like she.

Why! Not only few! For me she is the one!

What should I do, Mary? What should I do? I love you, Mary, and I love our son Dan too, and I want you to live. I want you to live in a wonderful world that doesn't know any evil...

– – –

– Mashenka! Well, how long should I wait?! Take this seashell and come here under the umbrella! It won't do, sweetheart!

– Mum, don't hinder me!

The sparkling in the sunbeams droplet at the bottom of the pearl seashell was getting smaller and smaller. Masha's eyes were riveted on the wonderful world that she had discovered in the little particle of water.

The girls' consciousness being only rarely returned to the present by her mother's hails was plunging deeper and deeper into the faraway, wonderful and alive world...

– Come on, Robby, do it, – her lips stirring; the gaze of her almond-like hazel eyes fixed on the sparkling droplet. – Think, Robby, you can do it. I know it, I believe in you. You are strong, you can do it...

– – –

"You are strong, Robby, you can do it..." – the recollection surfaced from the depths of my subconsciousness. The amber eyes and the soft, but strong voice.

"You can do it, Robby, I believe in you" – the words Mary always says when she relies on me and believes in me. And indeed, when my wife believes in me, I am able to cope with everything.

As though I stop to be only me and become some symbiosis of Robert and Mary. Being strong and almighty I get engaged in a battle with our urgent problem and win once again...

Mary, my Mary. You are always in my heart, my wise girl... Of course, I will cope with it, I can do it. After all, you believe in me, it means I can do anything. Because I am yours and I am smart...

– Captain, we've arrived. Should I start destroying the eggs?

– Yes, Ben. Let's get started. Car 1 calls car 10, are you on line?

– Car 10 is on line, Captain.

– Report the situation.

– Our square is clean, sir. We are going to the square seven.

– All the cars, attention! From now on car 10 is our coordinator. You are to report the situation to him. Car 10, report me when all the squares are cleaned up.

– Yes, sir.

– Captain, all the eggs are destroyed, – it is Ben.

– Okay, Ben. Let's cross our square over again. Keep your eyes skinned, I have to do something also.

– Yes, sir.

My fingers started running rapidly over the keys in search of the necessary software. Meanwhile, my hands were busy with the habitual operations my thoughts were rushing in my head like the free, tameless wind.

Yes, there can't be another chance like that. It means... It means that Mucklow will become one more person with the genome freed of any evil.

One more, because the first thing we did when we discovered that gene was to delete it from our genomes and disentangle all our DNAs.

We cured the entire group. It turned out that seven out of ten had that gene. As simple as a computer virus set in the software. To get rid of it, we had to identify it first.

As soon as we managed to do it, each of us volunteered to become the first experimental one. Nobody wanted to be a bearer of this “virus” anymore.

– You should know, Mucklow, you are an incredibly lucky man! Honestly speaking, you don't think so for the moment, but you'll get cured soon. Just be patient. There is just a little to do...

– Captain, our square is clean.

– Okay, Ben. Five-minute stop and we are to continue searching the square.

The fingers went on running over the keyboard. The platinum hand of the sonde moved out of the roof of our armored nano-capsule equipped with the apparatus. A moment later the sonde plunged into the ceiling of Maclaw's flesh and blood.

– Biopsy? Are we going to work on genetic engineering now? – For the first time since the operation had started Ben got surprised at what was going on.

– Do what you are told to, Ben. You are a soldier. Remember it.

The boss called me a soldier deliberately «forgetting» what department I was transferred from. I was downgraded!

And Heaven took care of sending Mucklow, the head of the project on detecting of the gene of evil in the human genome, directly into my hands. Thank you, Heaven! Maclaw will also understand soon what a monster he used to be.

As soon as we save him from this illness, with the help of God, everything is gonna be all right...

– – –

The sun kept on scorching mercilessly. The noise of the surf and the screams of the children playing in the water were reaching Masha's ears, but not her consciousness.

She was lying on the sand, her stomach downwards. With her gaze riveted on the pink seashell, her consciousness wandering far away from the surrounding her world and her heart beating in time with Robert's heart.

It seemed as it had lasted for ages. All of a sudden, the motionless droplet of water poured inside the seashell stopped evaporating.

The surface of the droplet began rapidly modifying and a few seconds later there was a transparent, glittering in the sunbeams polyhedral crystal at the bottom of the seashell... The crystal inside of which the life was going on...

– Mashenka! Well, are you coming here, under the umbrella?

– I'm coming, mum!

The child's fingers carefully took out the crystal generated in the seashell. A soft smile lit her rouged by the sun face.

And the light breeze touched her long brown hair and brought the sounds of a distant, but invariably familiar voice... Several words, just a scrap of a poem… or of Life itself...

..............The whole lot is me, as well as nothing in the void…

.................Where reflection has become the light... I am...