M. A. Bulgakov
The action takes place in the USSR in the summer of 1928. Vladimir I. Persikov, Professor of Zoology at the IV State University and Director of the Moscow Zoo Institute, quite unexpectedly makes a scientific discovery of enormous importance: in the eyepiece of the microscope, with a random motion of a mirror and lens, he sees an extraordinary ray – “ray of life” , as the assistant professor privat-docent Petr Stepanovich Ivanov subsequently calls him. Under the influence of this ray, ordinary amoebae behave in a most strange way: a frenzied, overturning all natural-science laws is going on; newly born amoebae furiously attack each other, tear to shreds and swallow; the best and the strongest win, and these best are terrible: twice
With the help of a lens and mirror system, privat-docent Ivanov constructs several chambers in which, in an enlarged view, a similar, but more powerful beam is obtained outside the microscope, and scientists are experimenting with caviar of frogs. Within two days thousands of tadpoles hatch out of the eggs in a day that grow into such evil and voracious frogs, that one half immediately devours another, and the survivors for two days without any ray bring out a new, completely innumerable offspring. Rumors about the experiments of Professor Persikov seep into the press.
At the same time in the country begins a strange, not known to science chicken disease: after becoming infected with this disease, the chicken dies within a few hours. Professor Persikov is a member of the Extraordinary Commission to Combat the Chicken Plague. Nevertheless, in two weeks all the chickens die to the ground in the territory of the Soviet Union.
In the office of Professor Persikov appears Alexander Semenovich Rock, who was just appointed as the head of the demonstration state farm Krasnyi Luch, with a “paper from the Kremlin,” in which the professor is invited to provide the cameras he designed to the disposal of Rocca “to raise chicken farming in the country.” Professor warns Rocca, saying that the properties of the beam are not well understood yet, but Rocc is absolutely sure that everything will be all right and he will quickly bring out the beautiful chickens. The people of Rocca take away three large chambers, leaving the professor his first small camera.
Professor Persikov writes for his experiments from abroad eggs of tropical animals – anacondas, pythons, ostriches, crocodiles. At the same time, Rocc also writes chicken eggs for the revival of the chicken breeding. And the horrible things happen: orders are confused, and a parcel with snake, crocodile and ostrich eggs comes to the Smolensk state farm. Unnoticed, Rock puts extraordinarily large and some strange-looking eggs in the chambers, and immediately all frogs fall silent in the vicinity of the farm, all the birds, including sparrows, fly away and fly away in the neighboring village and the dogs begin to moan in the next village. A few days later, crocodiles and snakes begin to hatch from the eggs. One of the snakes, which grew to an incredible size in the evening, attacks the wife of Rocca Manu, who becomes the first victim of this monstrous misunderstanding. Instantly graying Rock, in front of whom this misfortune occurred, appeared in the department of the GPU, tells of a monstrous incident on the farm, but the staff of the GPU consider his story a fruit of hallucination. However, having arrived at the state farm, they are horrified to see a huge number of giant snakes, as well as crocodiles and ostriches. Both authorized GPU perish.
There are terrible events in the country: artillery fires on the Mozhaisk forest, smashing the crocodile eggs, in the vicinity of Mozhaisk there are battles with ostrich packs, huge hordes of reptiles from the west, south-west and south approach Moscow. Human sacrifices are incalculable. The evacuation of the population from Moscow begins, the city is full of refugees from the Smolensk province, martial law is being introduced in the capital. Poor professor Persikov is dying at the hands of an angry mob who considers him the culprit of all the misfortunes that have struck the country.
On the night of 19 to 20 August, an unexpected and unheard-of frost, reaching – 18 degrees, lasts two days and saves the capital from a terrible invasion. Forests, fields, swamps are covered with colorful eggs, covered with a strange pattern, but already completely harmless: the frost killed the embryos. In the vast spaces of the earth, the innumerable corpses of crocodiles, snakes, ostriches of incredible size are rotting. However, by the spring of 1929 the army was putting everything in order, clearing forests and fields, and burning corpses.
The whole world is still talking and writing about the extraordinary ray and catastrophe for a long time, nevertheless, nobody can get the magic ray again, not excluding privat-docent Ivanov.