Summary Picnic on the roadside Strugatsky

A. and B. Strugatsky

Roadside Picnic

The action takes place at the end of the XX century. in the town of Harmont, which is located near one of the Visiting Zones. The Visiting Zone – there are only six of them on Earth – this is the place where for a few years before the described events, space aliens landed for several hours, left numerous material traces of their stay. The zone is fenced and carefully guarded, the entrance to the Zone is allowed only by passes and only to employees of the International Institute of Extraterrestrial Cultures. However, desperate guys – they are called stalkers – penetrate the Zone, take out whatever they can find, and sell these unearthly curiosities to the buyers, each of which has a stalker’s name – by analogy with earthly objects: “pin”, “dummy” , “itching”, “carbonated clay”, “black sprays”, etc. Scientists have several hypotheses about the origin of the Visiting Zones: perhaps some extraterrestrial intelligence has thrown containers on the Earth with samples of their material culture; perhaps the aliens are now living in the Zones and are closely studying the earthlings; and perhaps the aliens stopped on Earth on their way to some unknown cosmic goal, and the Zone is like a picnic on the side of the cosmic road, and all these mysterious objects in it are just scattered or lost things in disorder, like after ordinary, earthly picnics on the clearing are traces of the fire, apple sticks, candy wrappers, cans, coins, gasoline stains and the like. aliens and now live in the Zones and closely study the earthlings; and perhaps the aliens stopped on Earth on their way to some unknown cosmic goal, and the Zone is like a picnic on the side of the cosmic road, and all these mysterious objects in it are just scattered or lost things in disorder, like after ordinary, earthly picnics on the clearing are traces of the fire, apple sticks, candy wrappers, cans, coins, gasoline stains and the like. aliens and now live in the Zones and closely study the earthlings; and perhaps the aliens stopped on Earth on their way to some unknown cosmic goal, and the Zone is like a picnic on the side of the cosmic road, and all these mysterious objects in it are just scattered or lost things in disorder, like after ordinary, earthly picnics on the clearing are traces of the fire, apple sticks, candy wrappers, cans, coins, gasoline stains and the like.
Redrik Shuhart, a former stalker and now an employee of the Institute of Extraterrestrial Cultures, works as a laboratory assistant for the young Russian scientist Cyril Panov, who is studying one of the mysterious items found in the Zone – “dummies”. “Dummy” – is two copper discs the size of a tea saucer, between which a distance of centimeters to forty, but neither press them to each other, nor can it be dissolved. Red, who is very fond of Cyril, wants to make him pleasant and suggests going to the Zone for a full “pacifier”, which has “something blue” inside – he saw this during his stalker attacks to the Zone. Wearing special suits, they go to the Zone, and there casually Cyril touches his back with some strange silvery web. Red is worried, but nothing happens. They safely return from the Zone, but after a few hours Cyril dies of a heart attack. Red believes that he is to blame for this death – he has overlooked the web: there are no trifles in the Zone, any trifle can be a mortal danger, and he, a former stalker, knows this perfectly.
A few years later, Redrick Schuhart, resigned from the Institute after the death of Cyril, again becomes a stalker. He is married, and he has a daughter, Maria – Monkey, as he and his wife Guta call her. The children of stalkers are different from other children, and the Monkey is no exception; her face and body are covered with a thick long fur, but otherwise she is an ordinary child: she is naughty, chatting, loves to play with children, and they love her too.
Redrick goes to the Zone with a partner nicknamed Vulture Barbridge, nicknamed so for cruelty to fellow...

stalkers. Burridge can not go back, because his legs hurt: he stepped into the “witch’s jelly”, and his legs became rubbery below his knees – you can tie a knot. The vulture asks Rad not to drop it, promising to tell where in the Zone lies the Golden Ball, fulfilling all desires. Shewhart does not believe him, considering the Golden Ball as the fabrication of superstitious stalkers, but Burbridge assures that the Golden Ball exists and he has already received a lot from him, for example, he has, unlike other stalkers, two normal and, moreover, remarkably beautiful children – Dina and Arthur. Red, who did not believe in the existence of the Golden Ball, nevertheless endures Barbridge from the Zone and takes him to the doctor – a disease specialist, caused by the influence of the Zone. However, Barbridge’s legs can not be saved. Having gone the same day with the prey to the buyers, Red is ambushed, he is arrested and sentenced to several years in prison.
After serving time and going to freedom, he finds a daughter so changed that doctors say that she is already not a person. Not only that she changed outwardly – she already understands almost nothing. To save her daughter, Red goes to the Golden Ball: Barbridge, remembering that Red did not abandon him in the Zone, gives him a card, explains how to find the ball, and wants Red to ask him to get back his legs: “The zone took, The zone will return. ” On the way to the ball you need to overcome a lot of obstacles, which are full of the Zone, but the most terrible thing is the “meat grinder”: one person must be sacrificed for it so that the other can approach the Golden Ball and ask him to fulfill the desire. The vulture explained all this to Red, and even offered one of his people “who does not feel sorry” for the role of “live master key”. However, Redrick takes Arthur, the son of Burbridge, a handsome man begging at the Zone, who desperately asked Rad to take him with him-Arthur guessed that Redrick was going to search for the Golden Ball. Redrick feels sorry for Arthur, but he convinces himself that he has no choice: either this boy or his Monkey. Arthur and Redrick, having passed through all the traps set by the Zone, are at last approaching the ball, and Arthur rushes to him, shouting: “Happiness for all! Give! Happiness! All gather here! Enough of all! Nobody will go offended!” ” And in the same second, the monstrous “meat grinder”, picking it up, twists as the housewives twist their underwear. However, he convinces himself that he has no choice: either this boy or his Monkey. Arthur and Redrick, having passed through all the traps set by the Zone, are at last approaching the ball, and Arthur rushes to him, shouting: “Happiness for all! Give! Happiness! All gather here! Enough of all! Nobody will go offended!” ” And in the same second, the monstrous “meat grinder”, picking it up, twists as the housewives twist their underwear. However, he convinces himself that he has no choice: either this boy or his Monkey. Arthur and Redrick, having passed through all the traps set by the Zone, are at last approaching the ball, and Arthur rushes to him, shouting: “Happiness for all! Give! Happiness! All gather here! Enough of all! Nobody will go offended!” ” And in the same second, the monstrous “meat grinder”, picking it up, twists as the housewives twist their underwear.
Red sits looking at the Golden Ball, and thinks: ask for a daughter, and about what? And with horror he understands that he has no words or thoughts – he has lost everything in his stalker attacks, clashes with guards, the pursuit of money – he needs to feed the family, but he can only go to the Zone and sell strange things to all dark people, who do not know how to dispose of them. And Red understands that he can not think of other words than those that the boy shouted before his death, so unlike his Vulture-father, “Happiness for all, for nothing, and let no one go offended!”


Summary Picnic on the roadside Strugatsky