by Boris Dolingo

This boy was brought in the afternoon. Igor Fedotov read the order from the local pediatrician and nodded to the nurse to register the boy.

“What a fulminating case,” the doctor thought.

Indeed, as it’s been pointed in the notice, just one week ago there were no signs of leukemia at all – there was a real hint of surprise by the prompt occurrence and development of the disease in rather laconic words of a local doctor. In general, the case couldn’t be the neglected one – the boy obviously came from a good and wealthy family.

“He’s only eight”, thought Fedotov.

The pale boy was sitting modestly at the edge of a couch in the admission room and slightly dangled his legs. It was obvious that his felt accordingly to the diagnosis made in the polyclinic.

“Well, hero,” Igor patted the boy on the shoulder, “I see you’re unwell? OK, we’ll improve your health if you help us!”

The boy only gave a sigh, and Igor felt another prick of the conscience. 

Indeed, since his university times he hated the manner, in which many doctors loved to talk, especially to the junior patients – that deliberate “good spirit”, as if trying to relief fear, not to say horror, that undoubtedly appeared in children’s little heads, when they got to the hospitals. It’s nonsense, that children do understand nothing, when they are seriously ill, they understand everything better than adults. They just feel and express their fears in different ways – that’s the only difference. 

Long ago Igor had thought, that he himself would never act out that cheerful mutual trust between the patient and the doctor, and – just imagine! – hadn’t even noticed, how he got involved in this “psychotherapeutic” performance: “Well, you, hero – shall we be cured?” Especially, when you understand, that “the hero” has rather poor chances – just in this case it looks like a very silly and petty thing. Anyway, this boy has not too many chances, judging by such dynamics just for one week!

“What’s your name?” asked Igor, stroking the boy on the lowered head, though he had already seen his small patient’s first name and last name.

“Ivan,” the child, at last, raised light-brown eyes and looked at the doctor.

Igor has stretched his hand:

“And I’m Igor, glad to meet you! Now you answer several questions the nurse asks you, she will write it down. And I’ll talk to your dad and mum for a while, OK? We’ll chat more with you later – we have much to talk about. Just let me see…”

The doctor leaned out and touched the boy’s armpits – damn it, the auxiliary lymph nodes were simply huge, indeed!

After stroking the soft hair on the boy’s head once again, Igor went out to the corridor. A man and a woman sprang to their feet from the nearest sitting bench, upholstered with wine-colored leatherette. They moved up to the doctor with a silent question in their eyes.

What is possible to tell the parents of a deadly sick child? Once, when being a student, Igor tried to imagine how he would keep a conversation in such a situation: sympathetically, reservedly and, mainly, without inspiring unrealizable hopes, what is simply inhumane.

Many years after just in situations like this, he often recalled his student thoughts. Recollections were coming up just at the beginning of such conversation, but a second later were disappearing, giving place to more practical questions and, alas, to standard attempts to inspire hope..

He got acquainted with the parents and, to improve the polyclinic diagnosis, wondered, since what time Ivan has started complaining of his health. According to his parents’ words, even a week ago nobody observed any symptoms of illness.

“Generally, he’s always been a very healthy boy,” said his mother, hardly fighting back tears. “We even have escaped all those colds and other ordinary children illnesses. He never was into sports, though has taken up skateboarding recently…” She sniffed. 

The husband put his arms around her shoulders, and the woman buried her head in his breast.

Andrew, the father of the boy, looked into the doctor’s eyes, and Igor had understood this silent question.

“You should not worry too soon,” he said. “It is the specialized children clinic, and we will do our best. Of course, I’ll be honest; I see the disease develop so fast for the first time. An extraordinary case, I’ll make no secret. We’ll do all the analyses once again under more precise methods to exclude mistakes. Principally, I say it again: don’t despair! It’s not the 1980s now, now we have a lot of new medicines and plenty of modern procedures.”   

“Doctor,” Andrew leaned out, “if money is needed for medicines and so on – please, just tell us. I’m not a tycoon, of course, but all that is necessary…”

Igor shook his head: “We are not a regional hospital, thanks God! The Governor patronizes us – we have plenty of medicines and equipment. So don’t worry about anything. You’d better tell me …” 

He asked the parents more about possible symptoms of the disease.

Both unanimously insisted that literally ten days ago Ivan did not complain of anything: neither fatigability, nor rheumatic pain in bones – nothing of the kind! The boy wasn’t pale; there were no bruises or spots on the skin –a normal, active healthy child. And suddenly everything had changed in a flash!

“Damn it,” thought Fedotov, “either the local doctor has missed something or… I really do not know what it is!” The matter was that according to all certificates, the child had undergone a medical examination just two months before in his school, but the school where Ivan studied was prestigious enough not to think that there could be no good doctor there. And there were no complaints indicated there as well.

“Has he ever received any serious traumas? Ivan goes skateboarding, you mentioned. It is traumatic entertainment, anyway.”

The mother turned to the doctor, wiping her eyes with a handkerchief:

“There was nothing like this. Small injuries happened, of course, but serious ones – never, thanks heaven!”

Igor nodded:

“Well, certainly… If there’d been something serious then you would have known. Besides this, nothing unusual had happened?”

“I don’t think so. Though there was one incident…” the father became confused a little.

His wife raised her eyes in surprise:

“Andrew, I do not understand, have you concealed anything from me?!….”

The father shook his head:

“I see that it’s a stupid thing… But in this situation you start to suspect everything…”

The doctor was looking at Andrew, waiting for continuation.

“You see, indeed, somewhere about two weeks ago Ivan struck his head – fell from the skate…”

“And you’ve been silent?!” the wife opened her eyes wide. “How could you?!.. Well, you know what…”

The father pulled his arms apart guiltily, addressing more to Igor than to his wife:

“Ivan asked me not to tell mother about it – he was afraid she would ban him to skate. And he has struck his head not too hard. Though, on his coming back home, he told me that he felt sparks flow in his head…”

“My God, my God!” the mother clasped her palms to the cheeks and stepped away from the husband.

She sat down on the bench, and kept repeating “My God!”

The man looked at the doctor, embarrassed.

“Do you smoke?” Igor asked.

The man nodded.

“Let’s have a smoke over there” suggested the doctor, pointing to the open terrace behind the door in the nearest end of the corridor.

“Masha, we’ll back soon”, said Andrew, hastily.

The men left to the terrace. In spite of the second half of October, the weather was brilliant and dry, and one could feel rather comfortable outdoors even in one doctor’s smock.

Andrew told Igor about the incident with the trauma of his son. Nothing really serious, if not to mention that a couple of days afterwards, the boy began to talk that he was seeing the asteroid.

“He reads a lot, fortunately, and not only sits at the PC,” Andrew was saying. “Knows the terminology as an adult. I simply didn’t tell this to my wife – no need to worry her again! She has droned on at me with this skateboard. And how can the boy live without things like that? We ourselves used to get plenty of bruises, right?..”

Igor nodded in agreement, inhaling the smoke. 

“What is more, the bump was not too big, a small one I would say…”

“I assure you,” assuaged him the doctor, “that if it is just as you tell me, it can’t be the cause of leukemia. I mean serious injuries of the marrow. But what did the boy start to tell you? You mentioned somewhat about asteroid.”

“I say – he has seen the asteroid! As if it flies to the Earth and would fall on it. And he attempts to deflect it aside.”

“Excuse me, what does it mean “the boy has seen the asteroid”? Where? In a telescope?”

Andrew shook his head:

“No, he claimed, that he saw it as if inside himself… And very soon his complaints of the sickness started.” 

Igor nodded slowly and pressed down the cigarette stub in a high-stand ashtray, which stood at the terrace. Everything was clear to him: the whole illness state had provoked these hallucinations.

“Ivan has already been ill,” he said to the boy’s father. “This small injury couldn’t make the situation worse. Though, I think, it is worth making the scull tomogram – what if there is a haematoma, Lord forbid! But it has no connection with the acute blood disease, be sure!”

They returned to the corridor.

“To be blunt,” Igor looked closely to the eyes of both parents, “the situation is not simple. But I tell you once again: don’t panic! In out clinic we successfully treat even more neglected cases. I tell you personally, that I’ll do my best and I think Ivan will go skateboarding again.”

The mother sobbed, but restrained herself, because form the reception room appeared the nurse Kate, holding Ivan by the hand.

“Well, how it is going on?” trying to be a nice Uncle Doc, asked Igor, “Have you made friends with Kate already?”

Ivan nodded and smiled weakly.

“I’m sure you’d like to see the ward where we’ll put your boy?” asked the doctor.

Both parents nodded at once.

“Come on, I’ll show you the way!”

The parents enjoyed the ward – as much as a place like this could be enjoyed by anybody. In any case the conditions in this clinic were really good: the wards were designed for four persons. In every ward there were a WC, a fridge and even a TV held by the bracket for it would be convenient to watch it from any bed. The Regional program of health care was bearing its fruits, not as fast as one would like, but anyway. 

Ivan occupied one of two vacant beds, which were closer to the window. His mother nearly started protesting, but as soon as she made sure that dual-pane windows let no draught in, calmed down. The only bad thing was the depressing sight of the two neighbor boys –twelve and fifteen years old, with bald, as if shaved, heads.

The parents were saying goodbye to the doctor for a long time.

“You see, doctor,” asked the mother, “should I stay here with him?”

“I assure you that it is unnecessary. Ivan is adult enough. We have good nursing staff, so don’t worry.”

The mother only sighed and looked at her husband. He nodded quietly, though one could see that he was beside himself.

“You’d better not come tomorrow,” advised Igor. “or come in the evening. Ivan will spend a lot of time under check-up and we’ll do a lot of analyses. We’ll have to examine him carefully to prescribe the optimum course of treatment.”

The mother has gone out to the hall, but Andrew lingered on and, using an opportunity when there was nobody near them, pulled an envelope out of his pocket.

“Please, Doctor, don’t consider it impolite, but I’d like to ask you to treat our son with best possible attention. Here is a certain sum… Later I’ll be ready to offer some more…”

Igor sighed reproachfully, putting his arms behind his back:

“Hide it! We make no difference of sick children because of the financial status of their parents. That elder boy in the ward – he has a very well-to-do father. And the second guy, he just lives with his mother, a dispatcher from the rail-road. You can see that children are in the same ward and have the same care.

“But Doctor! I know how high the salaries in the hospitals are…”

The doctor smiled ironically:

“Well, here the salaries are higher than in many other hospitals. Of course, you won’t save enough to buy a “Rolls-Roys”… But we treat all the children in the same way – in any case. Their fathers’ money won’t make us treat them better. As well as the absence of that money – to treat worse. If you wish to show your appreciation after the end of treatment – you can do an official transfer to the premium fund of the whole staff. And in the meantime – don’t worry about things like this.”


Igor was on duty today, and closer to the evening dropped in the ward of the newcomer. Ivan was lying and reading a book. His neighbors were watching the TV.

On seeing the familiar doctor, the boy smiled and tried to rise up in bed, though he obviously was feeling unwell. 

“Lie, lie down!” Igor sat at the edge of the chair near the bed. “What are you reading? Wow, “Chronicles of Amber”! Well, and how do you like it?”

Ivan nodded:

“Great, especially the three first ones, really splendid! But later on it has become very far-fetched…”

Igor raised his eyebrow:

“Really? Far-fetched? Well… I would agree. I myself thought the same when I was reading it. OK, so do you enjoy fantasy books and science-fiction?

Ivan nodded. It turned out that he really read a lot – from Strugatsky brothers to Heinlein. He took up reading “Harry Potter” but gave it up – what a load of crap it was, and in general he did not like fantasy, but liked all this stuff about space, starships and different technical gadgets.

“Have you read Sheckly?” asked Igor, and when it turned out that he hadn’t, Igor promised to bring along couple of books.

Ivan’s eyes flashed so brightly, that if it was not for his pale skin, the boy could seem healthy.

They talked for a while about books, and Igor explained to the patient what test they would do the next day. 

“You just don’t be afraid of anything; it won’t be painful. The tests have to be done. We have to know how to treat you the best way. We will surely set you on your feet, as they say. You’ll skate on your board again, be sure!

Ivan sighed.

“And shall I lose my hair… like these boys?” he asked in low voice, leaning to Igor and slightly pointing to his neighbors.

“We’ll see what we’ll see. But it’s not the most important thing, buddy. The essential thing for you is to recover, and hair will grow again. And if somebody laughs at you, tell them they’re fools, exactly!” The Doctor gave a conspiratorial wink.

The nurse entered and took the boys’ temperature with an electronic thermometer.

“OK, guys, good night to you all!” Igor stood up.

Ivan with evident effort also tried to stand up in his bed.

“Lie down, why?” stopped him Igor. 

“I’ll have a little walk, may I?” asked the boy and went out to the corridor with the doctor.

It was empty there, lamps were glowing in the night mode and only at a distance the nurse on duty was writing something at her table.

“Mister Fedotov,” called Ivan, “may I tell you something?” 

“Of course, I’m all ears,” the doctor nodded, looking seriously at the small patient.

“Dad thinks I’ve gone off my head.” The boy smiled just like an adult – bitterly, and twisted his finger near his temple.

“There, why?” Igor expressed being at a loss.

Ivan explained.

“You see, Vic and me used to play like this, long ago: we looked at the sky and imagined that we direct falling stars to us to make a wish.”

“Vic is your friend, as I can guess?”

“Yes, right! And then we started to think out how to turn asteroids by the strength of the thought. This was after we had seen “Armageddon”. We have even invented a title for us – “keepers of the Earth”… And after a while I began to feel them, as if…”

“Them? Who? ..”

“Well, those movements in the Space, those asteroids, planets…”

“And does Vic also manage to feel asteroids?” 

Ivan sighed:

“No, he doesn’t feel them, though he tries to help me. I think it resulted with me when I fell down from my skateboard and struck my head.”

Igor patted him by the shoulder, trying to hide a lenient smile, which above his will was about to curve his lips:

“Well, don’t you think the asteroid takes your energy away?”

“Not it!” objected the boy, “I spend them myself! After all, it’ll be bad for everyone, if it falls down!”

“Undoubtedly,” Igor agreed and asked, “But where does this stone fly from?”

Ivan shrugged his shoulders:

“I don’t know. I feel that it exists and it’s moving towards us.” 

The doctor led the boy to a small sofa, standing in the corridor, made him sit down and sat next to him.

“Listen, Ivan,” he said as seriously as possible, “you read a lot. So, if a huge asteroid flew to the Earth, astronomers would locate it. The humans would take measures to save the Earth. Well, literally as it was in that movie: they would launch a nuclear missile or something like this”.

“But they see nothing!” objected the boy, “I read that the constant observation is carried out only over three percent of the sky! What can astronomers see there?!” 

“Well…” Igor made a helpless gesture: he couldn’t object to it. “All right, but you’d better go to bed now, good night.”

He led the boy, who showed obvious sickness, back to the ward and put him to bed.

Having gone out to the balcony, Igor was smoking for a long time and was watching stars, bright as brilliants – the sky was still clear, although in comparison to the daytime it had grown much colder.

Judging by the tests, the chap has acute lymphoblast leukemia. Its development, of course, can’t be the consequence of not a strong blow on his head, it is excluded, and that’s ridiculous! Most likely, the disease has been overlooked – both by the school doctors (in spite of the school being a rich one), and the parents. But the boy has been running until the last moment – children are children: until they feel ultimately bad, one can’t make them even sit down.

Of course, it’s also possible that a boy has been exposed to radiation somewhere – but where could it happen? It should have been necessary to ask the parents about it, but had it been any suspicion to this, they would have said about it themselves – they are obviously educated people, they would have considered all variants. As a matter of fact, what a dose one should catch or must be irradiated systematically for such a…! No, it is hardly probable.

Shivering with cold, Igor returned to the doctors’ room, turned on the electric kettle, and in the meanwhile sat at the computer and connected to the Net. Having searched through several news sites and in search engines, he’d found no information about possible close approaching of a big asteroid. There was nothing mentioned about the control of only three percent of the sky sphere, though he’d run across such a phrase: “…The absence of the World Astronomical Monitoring System doesn’t allow to track all asteroids in the vicinity of the Earth…That was declared by the chief of the space astrometry department of the Astronomy Institute of the Russian Science Academy Mrs. Lidia Rykhlova.

“M-m-yeah…” muttered Igor and, having stretched himself, sat at the table to fill in case reports.

The kettle had boiled long ago and switched itself off, Igor turned it on again and made tea. He ate a slice of long loaf with a jam and drowsed for a while at the sofa. After that he went to check nurses on duties and, having returned to the doctors’ room, lay down again.

Fortunately, at present in his department there was only one patient in the grave condition – a boy brought from the city’s region. And now Ivan as well – it seemed that the treatment promised to be not so simple.

X X X 

In the morning the round was made by the head of the sub-faculty professor Chizhov. Having read the case report of Ivan Selivanov, he shook his head for a long time.

“Everything is clear,” declared the professor at last. “Firstly: all the tests, as soon as possible, today! Secondly – prepare him for blood transfusion. But I’m sure we won’t escape the radical methods. Search for donors – we will need marrow transplantation, one hundred percent. 

Igor sighed: he knew perfectly well, that the boy won’t escape irradiation or deadly chemotherapy. The marrow transplantation, as it is, isn’t a complicated procedure, but to feed up the boy with cytostatics…

Ivan’s parents rushed to the clinic on the first call and made tests for compatibility. As a matter of fact, Ivan was lucky – his father’s marrow had the same antigens.

“Be ready,” the doctor addressed Ivan’s father. “I suppose, everything will be decided next week. We will transfuse blood to him for the time being, the boy will receive special medicines. After that we’ll make a hemogram – we’ll see the dynamics. If there is no improvement – we’ll have to carry out the advanced course of chemotherapy, and after this – the transplantation of the marrow. 

“Mister Fedotov,” the mother moved forward, is this a heavy operation?”

Igor sighed:

“The transplantation itself isn’t more serious than blood transfusion, for instance. But the chemotherapy is a kind of a thing, of course, I won’t conceal, m-m…is a bad one. But, how you understand, this will be the ultimate measure. Professor Chizhov is a world class specialist. If he suggested this scheme from the very beginning, we’ll have to follow it.”

Blood transfusions were made to Ivan, he lied down droppers. It was easy to see that the boy was getting worse and worse. He did not communicate much with his neighbors, but even read a little.

Igor dropped in Ward 12 several times a day. If there was no other procedure, the boy was lying still with his eyes closed. He even didn’t open books, which the doctor had brought him. Two times his friend Vic, a dark-haired and well-built boy, visited him. Vic was sitting at Ivan’s bed and keeping silence. Only rarely the boys were whispering something to each other.

Frankly speaking, Igor noticed that Vic also seemed not to look very well, but he interpreted that as worries about his friend’s health. 

Having sat at the table, Igor looked through all analyses once again – those from the polyclinics and new ones, done in his department. Hemoglobin, erythrocytes, leucocytes, thrombocytes and so on – were all bad by all the parameters!

On Friday morning at the next conference of professor Chizhov the decision to start the radical cure from the next week was made. On Tuesday they were going to begin an intensive course of chemotherapy and after it to perform the marrow transplantation.

On Saturday Igor was on duty in the department and, as usual, called on the little patient. The neighbors, Kirill and Artyom, were playing “Monopoly” and watching TV at the same time – they were almost all right, in a few days they must be discharged. 

Ivan seemed to be sleeping. When Igor came up to the bed, the boy opened his eyes and smiled with an evident effort. His hair has been cut very short: it began to come out because of all the medicines he was receiving.

The doctor sat at the edge of the bed.

“Well, hero?” he inquired. “How are you?”

“It’s very hard for me,” answered Ivan and added very quietly so that nobody else could hear him: “It’s very huge; it is difficult to turn it aside.”

Igor understood what he was talking about. He bent forward to the boy and asked:

“This asteroid really disturbs to cure you, you know! When will it fly away, damn it?”

Ivan sighed and repeated: 

“It is huge, that’s why it’s difficult. But as soon as it passes by, I’ll recover. I’m trying not to let it fall on the Earth.”

Igor shook his head with denounce.

“Look, do not waste too much strength. Otherwise it’ll be even more difficult to cure you. Are you sure it can fall down?”

“I feel it!” answered the boy, closing his eyes. “Everything will be clear soon, very soon…”

His breath became regular – Ivan fell asleep.

The doctor stood up quietly and, having told the other boys to reduce the volume of the TV, went out.

X X X 

On Monday Ivan was moved to absolutely sterile ward: in the time of suppressing his own marrow, the immunity of the boy would reduce almost to zero and isolation from all possible infections would be needed. 

Before the door of the sterile ward was closed, Ivan called the doctor:

“Uncle Igor, I will read your books later.”

“Of course, later,” doctor Fedotov assured him. “You’ll enjoy them all, I’m sure.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean this”. The boy was breathing heavily. “Everything is just about to be finished, you understand? Just a little bit more…”

For a second, the doctor couldn’t understand, what Ivan wanted to say, but then recollected suddenly:

“Well, certainly, but don’t you worry too much. Tomorrow we will begin the course of treatment with special medicines. They are disgusting, of course, but it is necessary to put up with it. Then your father will come and we’ll transplant his marrow to you, and you will start to recover, I promise.”

“Isn’t it dangerous for Dad – to take the marrow from him?”

“No way, don’t think about it! Those things are not dangerous for adults, if they are in good health. And your father is a healthy man; it will even do some good to him.”

In the corridor Igor was met by Maria, Ivan’s mother, and the doctor strained a little – it had always been easier to deal with fathers than with mothers of his small patients. Igor could not explain why it was so – probably the matter was that the fathers, as men, were more reasonable and thick-skinned. Mothers felt everything more sharply and were more influenced by emotions. But at the moment Maria was looking surprisingly calm.

She said hello, and added, looking just in front of her:

“Mister Fedotov, would you be so kind so as to tell me the whole truth…”

The doctor understood that he’d made a mistake concerning mother’s calm: her nerves were at the last stage of stress.

“Beg you! Tell me – how dangerous are these procedures for the boy?”

“Missis Selivanova!” The doctor made a helpless gesture. “You must understand. Modern methods allow us to minimize all risks. Of course, I would be deceiving you trying to persuade, that a large dose of toxic medicines, killing child’s own marrow, is as good for him as, for example, swimming in the sea. But we do not have choice. Only in this way does the boy get real chance to recover, otherwise…” 

“But isn’t it possible to continue the cure by any sparing methods? Anyway, you’ve been treating Ivan for not so long time yet!”

“M-m… Not entirely like this. We have done five blood transfusions. I don’t want to intimidate you, I understand how you feel, but hemogram still shows sharply negative dynamics. There is even no inhibition of the disease! Believe me: in this situation chemotherapy and marrow transplantation are the only working methods. Professor Chizhov is a high-classed doctor, I would say – of a world level, he knows what to do. 

Maria Selivanova sighed and having muttered “I understand, understand…” suddenly went out quickly.

Igor shook his head and, following the woman, led her to a waiting car.

“Please, pull yourself together,” he said. “Believe me, we’ll do our best!”

Maria nodded:

“I believe you…” and burst out crying.


On Tuesday morning Igor, as usual, was having breakfast in the kitchen alone – his wife and daughter were to leave the house one hour later.

Announcers on TV, as usual, were introducing various news and events. Stirring a lump of sugar in the cap of tea, Igor was thinking about his small patient and listening absent-mindedly to the news.

…And now last news from the “sky office”, declared a cheerful and good tanned TV-presenter. “Yesterday evening, at twenty-one hours thirty-four minutes the Earth missed an asteroid, which, as it turned out, even isn’t included into the astronomers’ catalogues. The guest from Abyss with the diameter of about three kilometers passed our planet at the distance almost four times closer than the Moon is…

The spoon slipped out from Igor’s hand, giving a sharp tinkle on the ceramic tiles of the floor.

…The most surprising is that,” the presenter went on, “the astronomers have noticed the sky rover only at the moment when it had just been crossing the Earth’s orbit. It’s possible to suppose that we all are very lucky again. This confirms one more time the necessity to create the world service of sky observation to prevent… 

Igor was not listening…. He rushed from the kitchen and from the flat, waking up his family. His grey “Lada” took off from the parking lot, squealing by tires – the guards followed him with eyes full with surprise.

On recovering his breath in the doctors’ room, where he met Valentina, the doctor who’d been on duty that night, Igor changed clothes quickly and ran to the sterile ward.

Ivan was already awake. He was reading a book and eating an apple.

“Uncle Igor!” the boy was glad to see him. “What a cool book – “Mind swap”. Thank you for bringing it to me!” 

Igor was looking at the cheeks of the patient, which had visibly turned to pink, and slowly nodded. Then he came up and touched Ivan’s forehead – even by touch he could feel that the temperature was normal. 

“How are you?” he asked, dry in his throat.

“I’m OK, today I’m very fine! I think it’s because they didn’t give me those disgusting medicines yesterday. And one other thing…” The boy lowered his voice as if somebody could hear them in this ward, “It passed by, I feel it. I don’t have to strain more!”

Igor nodded again and stared at the boy: 

“Yes, I heard – the asteroid has really passed by the Earth…”

 “But don’t tell anybody, will you? Even my Dad thinks I’m nuts…” Ivan turned his finger near his temple. “He even hasn’t told Mom about this – she would have taken me to a psychiatrist first, and not to the therapist in the polyclinics.”

“Tight-lipped, to nobody,” promised Igor, stepping back to the door. “Read on, read on, we’ll talk more later.”

“Have you any other good books?”

“Plenty I have! I’ll bring them to you, no doubt…”

He slipped out of the ward and being confused sat at the chair near nurses’ table.

“What’s up, doctor Fedotov?” asked usually smart Galina. “Are you feel not well?”

Igor shook his head:

“No, Galya, no, just vise versa – I’m enormously all right… So, cancel the chemotherapy to this chap: let’s observe slightly more how he will be going on.” 

“What, why?” surprised Galina. “The professor has prescribed…”

The doctor covered girl’s palm with his one:

 “Everything is all right; I will talk to the professor myself. I’m sure the boy is getting better, he’s recovering. What a reason to bump him by adrinoblastin?”

“He’s really better today, indeed!” noticed the nurse. “I’ve looked at him in the morning: cheerful, even reading. Possibly, it is a remission? He will be lucky if he gets over.”

“Surely he will,” Igor nodded already with confidence. “It looks like we are all lucky…”

“And, by the way,” he added as if to himself, “it would be necessary to examine one more boy. So, just in case… What if he’s also the Keeper of the Earth?”

The end

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