The Armband The Armband
i
Illustration by Kazimierz Wiśniak
Fiction

The Armband

Joanna Rudniańska
Reading
time 10 minutes

It’s the end of 1939. Six-year-old Helena is living in the Praga district of Warsaw, next to the orangeade and beer factory owned by her dad. His best, most-trusted employee is a man called Kamil. There are three religious buildings nearby: a Catholic church, a synagogue and an Orthodox church. Helena thinks that Praga is protected by three Gods. Time will reveal how wrong she was. An excerpt from the book Kotka Brygidy [Brygida’s Cat], whose author, Joanna Rudniańska, has won the International Janusz Korczak Prize.

But the war changed Kamil most of all. The war turned Kamil into a Jew.

One morning, Helena saw Kamil through her bedroom window. He was walking towards the factory. In the middle of the courtyard, he stopped and looked around him, like someone who has suddenly found themselves in an unfamiliar place. And then Helena noticed the white armband on the sleeve of his brown overcoat. There was something on the armband, some kind of symbol or inscription, but Helena couldn’t see what it was.

She got dressed and went down to the kitchen for breakfast. Mum was sitting at the table, and she was smoking. That was strange too, because Mum

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The Hunt The Hunt
i
Drawing by Marek Raczkowski
Fiction

The Hunt

Stanisław Lem’s Unknown Story
Stanisław Lem

Racing across mountains and remote backwoods, a solitary figure is on the run from a team of heavily armed hunters. Will he manage to get away? This translation by Antonia Lloyd-Jones was specially commissioned to coincide with the first publication in “Przekrój” Quarterly of this previously unknown story by the great master of science fiction.

He’d run about a mile by now, but wasn’t even hot yet. The pine trees were sparser here. Their tall trunks shot up vertically, at a sharp angle to the sloping hillside veiled in gloom, out of which he could hear, now softer, now louder, the rushing of a stream. Or maybe a river. He wasn’t familiar with this area. He didn’t know where he was running to. He was just running. For a while now he hadn’t seen any blackish traces of bonfires at the small clearings he’d passed, or scraps of coloured packaging, trodden into the grass, drenched by the rain and then dried by the sun over and over again. It looked as if no one ever came out here, because there weren’t any roads, and the vistas on view from the open spaces weren’t interesting. There was forest everywhere, with green splashes of beech trees, then a darker and darker colour towards the peaks; the only thing that showed white against it were the insides of snapped tree trunks. The wind had toppled them, or they’d fallen from old age. Whenever they blocked his path, he focused his eyesight keenly to see if it was worth the effort of jumping over, or if it might be better to push his way underneath, between the dry, broom-like branches.

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