He dreamed a dream: he was a teenager, at his stepfather’s dacha in Sosenki, standing at the gate and looking out at the street. Vitka, Keras, and Gera were walking down the street toward him. They were supposed to go together to the Salarevsky dump. The guys were approaching. They held sticks for poking around in the garbage. His stick stood next to the fence. He picked it up and walked toward them. They walked quickly and happily down the street. It was early in the morning, midsummer, the weather dry and cool. He was enjoying himself and his step was light. They came to the dump. It was enormous, stretching to the very horizon.
“We’re going to go through and turn it up from south to north,” said Karas. “There are turbines in there.”
They picked through the garbage. Borenboim sank in to his waist. Sank even lower. There was an underground vault. An intolerable stench. The heavy, sticky trash quivered like quicksand. Borenboim cried out in fear.
“Don’t be chicken,” Gera giggled, grabbing him by the feet.
“These are positive catacombs,” Vitka explained. “This is where the parent accelerators live.”
People walked through the catacombs. Odd, fearsome machines passed by.
“I have to find the computer dough, then at home I’ll make traveling boots for super-powered diesel locomotives,” Borenboim thought to himself. He kept picking through the trash.
All sorts of objects turned up. Suddenly Karas and Gera broke through a wall with their sticks. A glooming din emerged from the opening. “It’s the turbines,” Borenboim realized. He looked into the opening and saw a huge cave with bluish turbines rising in the center. They produced a dismal roar: smoke spread from them, stinging the eyes.
“Let’s get out of here before we’re squashed!” Vitka advised.
They ran along a twisting path, getting bogged down in sticky, squelching garbage. Borenboim bumped into a piece of computer dough. A silvery-lilac color, it smelled like gasoline and lilac. He pulled the dough from the heaps of trash.
“Mold it in the form, or else it will come unsoldered,” said Karas.
Suddenly, a rat jumped out of the computer dough.
“Bastard, he ate the computer program!” Vitka shouted.
Vitka, Gera, and Karas began to beat the rat with their sticks. Its gray body shook with the blows, and it squeaked pitifully. Borenboim looked at the rat. He felt its palpitating heart. It was a tender little bundle which sent waves of the subtlest vibrations across the whole world, sublime waves of love. And the most remarkable thing—they were in no way connected to the death throes and the horror of the dying rat, they existed all by themselves. They penetrated Borenboim’s body. His heart contracted from a powerful attack of tenderness, joy, and delight. He pushed the guys aside and lifted the bloody rat. He bent over it and sobbed. The rat’s moist eyes closed. Its heart quivered, sending its last farewell waves of love. Borenboim caught them with his heart. He understood the language of hearts. It was untranslatable. Sublime. Borenboim sobbed from happiness and pity. The rat’s heart shuddered for the last time. And stopped: FOREVER! The horror of losing this tiny heart seized Borenboim. He pressed the little body to his chest. He sobbed aloud, as he had in childhood. Sobbed helplessly on and on.
—Vladimir Sorokin, Ice