The most famous story of Garshin. Not being strictly autobiographical, he nevertheless absorbed the personal experience of the writer, suffering from manic-depressive psychosis and suffered an acute form of the disease in 1880.
A new patient is brought to the provincial psychiatric hospital. He buen, and the doctor can not remove the severity of the attack. He continuously walks from corner to corner of the room, almost does not sleep and, despite the increased nutrition prescribed by the doctor, is losing weight uncontrollably. He realizes that he is in a madhouse. An educated man, he largely retains his intellect and the properties of his soul. He is worried by the abundance of evil in the world. And now, in the hospital, it seems to him that somehow he is at the center of a giant enterprise aimed at the destruction of evil on earth, and that other outstanding people of all ages gathered here are called upon to help him.
Meanwhile, summer comes, patients spend whole days in the garden, cultivating vegetable beds and caring for the flower garden.
Not far from the porch, the patient discovers three poppy bushes of unusually bright crimson color. The hero suddenly imagines that in these flowers all the world’s evil was embodied, that they are so red because they absorbed the innocent blood of mankind, and that his destiny on earth is to destroy the flower and with it all the evil of the world…
He tears off one flower, quickly hides on his chest, and the whole evening begs others not to approach him.
The flower, it seems to him, is poisonous, and even better, this poison will first pass into his chest, then he will hit anyone else… He himself is ready to die, “as an... honest fighter and as the first fighter of humanity, because so far no one did not dare to fight at once with all the evil of the world. “
In the morning the paramedic finds him a little alive, so he wrestled the hero with the poisonous secretions of the red flower…
Three days later he tears the second flower, despite the protester’s protestations, and again hides on his chest, feeling as if from a flower “long, like snake creeping currents wriggles evil. ”
This struggle makes the patient even more exhausted. The doctor, seeing the critical condition of the patient, whose heaviness is aggravated by the incessant walking, orders him to put a straitjacket on him and tie him to the bed.
The patient resists – because he needs to tear down the last flower and destroy the evil. He tries to explain to his watchmen what a danger they all are threatened, if they do not release him, because only he alone in the whole world can conquer the treacherous flower – they themselves will die from one touch to him. The watchman sympathizes with him, but does not pay attention to the patient’s warnings.
Then he decides to deceive the watchfulness of his watchmen. Having pretended to calm down, he waits for the night and then shows miracles of dexterity and ingenuity. He is freed from a straitjacket and a fetter, with a desperate effort bends the iron rod of the window lattice, scrambles along the stone fence. With ragged nails and bloody hands, he finally gets to the last flower.
In the morning they find him dead. The face is calm, light and full of proud happiness. In the stiffened hand is a red flower that fights against evil and carries with it to the grave.