All at the same moment:
Superintendent Durman lit his cigar.
The anarchist Varanov lit the fuse.
Libuše Hedbávná bent her head at an unusual angle, suddenly resembling a little lightning-struck birch tree.
Emperor Maximilian placed a moth in a killing jar. It had drunk up so many of his horse’s tears that it could not even fly.
While leafing through a book, Canon Oul cut himself on the paper.
In a giddy twist of cosmic energy, without a father or mother, the Lord was born of an ordinary human. No star was blazing above his cradle and he was not brought any kings’ gifts.
He did not feel comfortable in his body, which was tired and run down. He lacked all sympathy, because he had not known the love of parents or innocent children’s games, but had come into being old and surly.
And in the background of all this the sun was setting. A bottle of champagne was the first to explode, followed by the bomb.
That is how it all began.
Lament of the boiled water
Inventing a cheap, safe and totally efficient means of preventing conception during sexual intercourse. Then instead of reflecting, people will rather copulate whenever they feel like it, regardless of the consequences, like animals and just as amenable. Physical pleasure that is inexpensive and always available will corrode traditional morals and substitute for spiritual pleasures. Who will want to get to heaven by the thorny path of virtue when he can easily fornicate himself there several times a day?
(Alchemical tasks of the Ordo Novi Ordinus Order)
His maid always had two lovers – that was her only principle. Of course, these gentlemen did not know of each other…
Just now they were a soldier and a chimney-sweep.
When the soldier was on leave, she would meet up with him on the path to the market in a dense thicket at the bottom of Petřín, just next to the Újezd barracks, where without further ado he shagged her as she leant against a tree, while the bayonet swinging from the belt of his uniform rhythmically slapped her meaty backside, which satisfied her more than the act itself.
The chimney-sweep came down from the roof to the ground, where washing was hanging out. Because he was always covered in soot, and there was no time at all to wash, she kept a home-sewn, white cotton diving suit for him behind a joist, which except for four apertures sealed up his entire body together with his brush on his back. When her dear chimney-sweep put it on and did up the row of buttons at the back, only his eyes, ears and genitals could be seen, while all the dirt stayed nicely inside.
Then both lovers’ sperm waged endless wars on the way to her vagina and womb and each time the whips cut each other up before they managed to get to the egg, so that when the maid went to sleep of an evening in her closet, hundreds of millions of foiled semi-souls and unbeings, which had had the opportunity but not the luck to achieve existence, weltered out from her womb towards the stars through the little window open ajar; and the astral planes trembled beneath their desperate lament. At a time when the only contraception in use was an oiled fish bladder or raw lamb’s gut, and when it was a superhuman task just to get the slippery membrane on, this was ingeniously simple contraception, which the maid did not actually have the least idea about.
It was after midnight when the Lord knocked on the closet door.
“Boil me some water. I need lots of hot water.”
“Do you mean you need it hot or you need lots of water, Lord?“
“Very well, I’m on my way, Lord.“
She obediently got up, and in just her night gown poured water into the stove water tank and made a fire beneath it. In the cold of the night her nipples stood to attention, but her Lord did not notice. Or he pretended not to notice. Or he noticed, but he wasn’t interested.
At last the water came to a boil and she was able to go back to bed.
With a pail of hot water the Lord went down into the cellar, where overshadowed by an enormous stoneware barrel of sauerkraut he unlocked a tiny iron-studded door that only he had the key to, and he just managed to squeeze through.
Behind the door another steep, narrow stairway led down into a low but broad Romanesque crypt. Its shallow grey-white argillite vaults were supported by two rows of thick sandstone columns, coiled around by carved monsters from long-forgotten legends. Mould covering the bleak walls and caustic salt efflorescence illuminated the dark weight of the rock.
All those who knew of the crypt were long dead. Years ago the Lord had discovered it when he leant against what he thought to be a wall and fell in through the rotten doorway. He carefully repaired it and then used it as a secret workroom.
There was much blood here now. There was also bone, flesh and other mess, but above all blood. Blood on the floor, blood on the walls, blood on the ceiling, even blood in such unexpected places as inside the petals of a dry rose bookmarking a breviary, on the rear side of a mirror hanging on the wall, and dried into the fibres between the teeth of a comb. And he had to clean it all up himself, because that silly maid would not understand the exalted nature of his mission and would shop him to the police as well.
Or, heaven forbid, she’d want a pay rise.
When it was all clean the Lord prayed fervently and after a long time he again felt at peace and rest. All the instruments lay perfectly sharpened, polished and lined up in geometical shapes. The letter had been sealed and dispatched.
Now there was nothing for it but to wait for the reply.
(Translated by Melvyn Clarke, source: Prague Literary Agency)