First-class Corona Pandemic Apocalyptic Thriller (2010) “What a fantastic book!”

Here’s another five star review for TWO JOURNEYS, this one is by “St. Louis Cards”. You can find it here at amazon.com: LINK.

Here’s the full text by this reader

Book Review: Two Journeys
Author: Clemens P. Suter
Publisher: BookBuzz/CreateSpace
Publication Date: April 1, 2012 (NetGalley Archive Date: August 30, 2019)
Review Date: August 21, 2019
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.From the blurb:
“During a routine business trip to Tokyo, Alan finds himself to be the sole survivor of a global pandemic. A viral disease wipes away all of humanity… and Alan’s past life. Fearing injury, sickness and hunger, he sets out to travel back to his family in Berlin, straight across Asia and 10,000 miles of hardship and adventure.Suter combines post-apocalyptic elements with an adventurous road novel in this book about a man left alone on earth. The hardships and landscapes (the Gobi desert, Siberia) are described in all ferocity. A few other humans have survived as well, some eager to use the disaster for their own advantage. Electrifying chapters describe the encounter with Somerset, a charming yet psychotic warlord, who is assembling an army to conquer Moscow, if not the entire world.”This is a first-class apocalyptic thriller. I find most self-published books to be absolutely dreadful. The exception is often science fiction/apocalyptic thrillers and other books of this type category.Two Journeys is no exception. What a fantastic book! Better than I expected. It is written in the first person, and I often felt that I was reading a memoir of events that actually happened. Suter’s style is very easy to read; I couldn’t put the book down.

A caveat: it is a fairly long book, 551 pages. It took me 3-4 days on nonstop reading, which is much longer than it usually takes me to read a book.

The character of Alan, the protagonist, is well built, as well as the few other characters encountered during his journey. The plot is perfect; I appreciate how slowly Suter built up the story and all the details of the journey he included. The settings were well written and an important part of the book, as horrifying as they often were.

There were a few mysterious elements that added to the depth of the story.

I highly, highly recommend this book, 5 stars! The author has written a couple of sequels to this book that are available as Kindle books, for only $1.99 each, so I plan to finish out the series.

Humanity has gone a long time without a major pandemic. Outbreaks of viruses such as SARS, corona or influenza (e.g. H2N2 or the Asian Flu H3N2; or bird flu) have occurred again and again. Are we prepared? 

 

Interested in a copy? Get it here: www.clemenssuter.com/books

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Can you REALLY afford NOT to read TWO JOURNEYS? The 2010 novel that predicted the corona pandemic.

Just take a quick look at these 5-star reviews by readers of TWO JOURNEYS. Need we say more? If you like a highly unusual, exiting and thought provoking adventure novel, make sure to get your copy today.

How to get a copy? Just visit your favorite internet store, for instance amazon.com LINK, on iTUNES LINK, or you can even ask your favorite bookstore (anywhere on the globe) to order a copy for you.

Sharon's review

Great review by Sharon, many thanks! The sequel FIELDS OF FIRE is already available today.

Review by an Amazon Customer

The sequel is available in the same store where you got your last copy: FIELDS OF FIRE

“… another survivor is traveling the Armageddon road. Clemens P. Suter’s apocalyptic thriller grabs you in the first couple of pages and never lets go. The reader feels real empathy for the main character’s plight as he begins a seemingly impossible 9,000-mile trip to learn his family’s fate. […] clues are uncovered along the way causing tension to build until we reach the shattering climax. Two Journeys is not to be missed.”– G Dedrick Robinson

Here’s a new Short Story. “Potassium Hydroxide”.

Potassium Hydroxide

Copyright 2020 – Clemens P. Suter

Kim called in the afternoon and apologized. His wife had a toothache and they couldn’t come to dinner. I tried to convince him that at least he himself should join, but he declined adamantly. I was slightly disappointed. Instead of ten we would now be with a smaller circle of eight: Mike and Karen, Prasaad and Prini, Bibi and Bill, and my wife Andrea and me.

I gave the caterer a quick call to adjust the order, which wasn’t an issue. However, Andrea wasn’t pleased, when I told her the news. “I wanted Kim and Paula to be there, they bring balance to the group. Now Mike and Bill may go off on a tangent again, you know how they can highjack the conversation.” I knew what she meant. At the last dinner party, Mike had started to explain that the dust in the average home consists mostly of human skin. As he described it, we humans shed our entire skin every three weeks, more than a gram of skin flakes every day. He and Bill had discussed this unappetizing topic at length, and not to the amusement of the other guests. Or the two would discuss a little-known movie, or a book that nobody had read or ever wanted to read. Kim, with his academic attitude and almost boring personality, had on several occasions brought some necessary grounding to the conversation. He had managed to rescue many an evening; although I doubt that he himself was aware of this.

Nonetheless, it couldn’t be helped. Around came Friday night, eight o’clock, and the guests arrived.

In retrospect the evening was pleasant. The Lebanese food was fine, accompanied by a rather good red from the Domaine du Grand Fontanille. The conversation was OK, touching on politics, art and movies, but without too much flux in topics or the threads becoming too lengthy. We had all known each other for many years, some of us had been neighbors in the past, some friends of friends. Some of us saw each other every few weeks, but on the other hand I hadn’t seen Mike and Karen for months.

Great company. I was rather silent that evening, due to the continuing pressure at work, and an argument with Andrea just before the guests arrived. Both increased my sense of stress, and when I get stressed, I get distracted. In silence I observed the guests as they talked. As always, Mike and Bill were the most talkative; on the other extreme Bibi was very quiet. Bibi never spoke much, but in retrospect I think that this evening she was even more quiet than usual. Prini got a bit tipsy, which, as always, made her slightly cross-eyed.

The conversation moved from current politics (“The new housing bill will quickly turn into a hidden tax bill”), to the crisis in the Middle East (“Christ, it’s been going on for more than 70 fucking years now.”), to space travel (“In 20 years you can buy a ticket to the moon. Sure, they said that 50 years ago too, but…”), and from there, somehow, we landed at death and burial. It reminded me of the dust and skin discussion, and I threw a concerned glance towards my wife. She ignored me. I don’t know who brought up the topic, but Mike had apparently read an article about the ecology of burial, and he used the queue to his benefit: “We have a dramatic crisis on our hands.” He paused for added effect and looked at each of us. The alcohol had started to take effect, so we all just stared back.

“I read an intriguing article, which stated that burial, as we know it, simply isn’t sustainable anymore: due to a dramatic lack of space. Most towns and counties have reached the limits. So, they are ramping up cremation, but that is a blight on the environment… the mercury, you know. From the teeth. And it generates far too much carbon dioxide.”

He paused. Prasaad nodded but didn’t say anything. I guess it was just a polite, confirming gesture and that he hadn’t read the article.

Karen pitched in: “Sounds like an unsolvable problem, then. We can’t start composting bodies, can we?” General laughter from around the table.

“Well…,” said Mike, and I realized that he was on to something, “The article did offer an option that reduces toxic emissions to zero and cuts the carbon dioxide emissions down to 15%.”

“How’s that achieved then?” asked Bill. There was continuous, covert competition between Bill and Mike, and it showed on Bill’s face: he had already made up his mind that Mike’s story was humbug.

“You’ll never guess,” said Mike cleverly.

We all looked at each other, and I could see the brains and alcohol work.

After a few lengthy seconds my wife said, with some finality in her voice: “No, we will never guess.” I assume she was getting worried that an unappealing contest for the best carcass disposal method might be initiated.

“Potassium hydroxide,” said Mike, as if that explained everything.

Bill looked thoughtful. “Isn’t that lye?” he asked. “Didn’t the mafia use that, to get rid of the bodies of their opponents?”

“How does that work then?” inserted Prini.

Mike took a breath, a small smile on his lips. “The corpse is put into a metal pressure vessel, prefilled with a potassium hydroxide solution, which is then heated to above the boiling point of water, at pressure, preventing actual boiling. As a result, the body breaks down into its chemical components.”

Prasaad frowned. “So, no burial anymore? I mean: there won’t be any ashes… just liquid?”

“In the beginning, the mixture is strongly basic. In the end you are left with a green-brown liquid, and soft white bone, which can be crushed easily. You could call this ash, and it can be handed over to the family.”

Karen pulled a face. “And what happens to the liquid?”

“Simple! A valve is opened to allow the liquid to flow into the sewer.”

By now, everybody looked rather solemn. We all imaged our liquefied bodies disappearing into a grate in the floor of a tiled, lab-like room. Bill took a breath to ask a question.

“Desert anyone?” called my wife, as she got up from her chair. There were one or two sighs of relieve. My wife disappeared into the kitchen. I called after her whether she needed help, but she didn’t answer. Prini turned to Bibi and asked about Bibi’s work. The conversation turned to different topics, and in smaller groups. After a while, my wife returned with the mousse-au-chocolat and tarte-aux-pommes, and after the obligatory “ohs!” and “ahs!” we enjoyed desert.

“How does this hydroxide work then,” asked Bibi out of the blue. “Is it like an acid?”

Everybody stared at her.

“Well, no,” said Mike. “Potassium hydroxide is the opposite; it is a base. It accepts hydrogen ions, whereas an acid donates hydrogen ions. That means that a hydroxide is especially suited to destroy organic substances, which abound in hydrocarbons; the hydroxide steals the hydrogen atoms from the complex organic substances. In the end… only the simplest molecules remain. Atoms, if you wait long enough.”

“Does potassium hydroxide have any other uses?” asked Bibi.

“You mean, except from helping the mafia make bodies disappear?” threw Bill into the round, and everybody laughed.

Mike remained impassive: “It is used in cleaning agents, soaps and so on. Perhaps you know the alternative name: caustic potash. You may know sodium hydroxide, its slightly weaker brother.”

“Ah yes,” interjected Karen, “That’s used for unblocking drains.”

“Exactly. Same principle. It eats away the organic compounds: remains of soap, hair, …”

“Coffee?” said my wife, quickly getting up from her seat. Prasaad and Karen got up too and helped clearing the table and preparing the coffee.

Mike and Bill talked about the stock market. Prini had put on her reading glasses and was leafing through a magazine.

Bibi sat staring at Bill.

I caught myself staring at Bibi. She licked her lips every few seconds, and blinked her eyes, as if her thoughts were someplace else altogether.

It was one in the morning when the last of the guests had left. My wife and I spent some time cleaning up the kitchen and sorting the cutlery and plates, which the caterer would pick up in the morning. We were mostly silent.

Later, in our bedroom, I pulled off my trousers and hung them over the back of a chair. “How is Bill and Bibi’s marriage? Any idea?”

Andrea pulled her dress over her head and put it on a hanger. “Quite OK, I would say. Why?”

“I’m not sure. Something about how they interacted tonight. Or how they didn’t interact.”

Andrea was silent as she pulled on her nightgown. “Hm, yes, I see what you mean. Bibi was quite silent, and she certainly didn’t talk a lot with Bill. On the other hand, every marriage goes through its ups and downs. Not as if you kissed me a lot tonight or paid me a lot of attention.”

“Grrr,” I said and crept into bed.

 

Weeks passed by, and all of us went after our own business. Then, one day, I heard Andrea come home. She dropped her shopping bags at the door, ran up the stairs and stepped into my office. “I met Bibi, at the supermarket,” was all she said.

I’ve been working as a private investor from home for many years, managing to strictly separate work and private life during the day, so I didn’t look up immediately from the article that I was reading. “Ah yes?”

“Yes, I did. Bibi. At the supermarket.”

Now I looked at her. She still had her coat on and looked a little flustered. “So what?”

Andrea pursed her mouth. “First she pretended not to have seen me. Then we bumped into each other in one of the isles – and she had to acknowledge my presence.”

I was slightly confused, still partially concentrating on my work. “So, what? Did she act unkind or insulted? Was she sick?”

“Oh no, she acted normal enough… up to a point. We chatted about work and so on, the usual… but then I inquired about Bill. True, it may have been my imagination, but she got a very shifty look and didn’t give a clear answer. Something about him traveling a lot, for his work. Just then I looked into her shopping cart…” She let the sentence dwindle.

“Yes?”

“You remember when they were here, at our dinner party? When Mike started talking about novel ways of burial, the hydroxide story?”

“Ah yes. An unappetizing topic. Sure.”

“Well… she had six containers of DrainEx in her cart!”

“Six?”

Andrea managed to look victorious and determined at the same time. “Six! I checked later, after we said goodbye. I went to the shelf in the store. That is three kilograms of sodium hydroxide. Mister, you can unblock a pretty big drain with that quantity.”

I was quiet for a moment. “OK, so she bought six bottles of the stuff. Perhaps she needed them for the office or for their apartment, some people stockpile stranger things… what are you trying to suggest?”

Andrea looked at me for twenty long seconds.

“I haven’t seen Bill in ages.”

I raised my hand. “Ho, wait. Are you trying to suggest that she has killed Bill and is using sodium hydroxide to dissolve his body? Is that what you are implying? No way. You have no evidence for that. For all we know, Bill may be at home this very moment, sitting on his sofa.”

“You yourself mentioned that their marriage may not be in top shape, after our dinner? And Bibi was behaving really weird, today. I don’t trust it at all.”

I wanted to interject additional push-back about this theory, but I think I saw another emotion passing over her features: one of concern. I kept quiet for a moment and tried to collect my thoughts.

“Ok, here is what we’ll do,” I said finally. “Let’s approach this scientifically. I must finish my work; I have a call in 5 minutes. In the meantime, we can make sure Bill is alive and well. You should do that. Give them a call, under some pretense. Ask for Bill. Then, later, during dinner, we will discuss whether more action is needed – which I am sure there isn’t. Does that sound OK?”

Andrea nodded, and left the room. I returned to my work, which took longer to finish, so we could only reconvene at eight in the evening. I entered the kitchen, having forgotten all about our conversation.

Andrea was sipping on a glass of wine. “He’s not in. I couldn’t reach him.”

I was lost for a few seconds, but then realized she was talking about Bill. “Did you manage to talk with Bibi?”

“Yes, she answered the phone. I claimed that I wanted Bill’s advice about a scientific book to read; you know how he always brags about his scientific library?”

“What did Bibi say?”

“She repeated he was on a business trip. I asked when he would be back.”

“And?”

She threw her hands in the air and hit her hips. “She didn’t commit in any way. I tell you: something fishy is going on.”

Andrea suggested we should involve the police, to which I disagreed. To make a long story short, the two of us entered an extensive argument, which went on until midnight, after which Andrea, quite upset, retired (again) to the guest room.

I had this weird nightmare. I was soaking in the bathtub, a cold beer in my hand. My wife snuck in, and started to pour black granules into the water, from a gigantic black bag. I screamed, and she pulled the plug and I disappeared down the drain. My head wasn’t dissolved yet, so she used a hammer to beat it into the pipe.

Only fight about truly relevant topics with your wife, give in to all the rest, that’s my motto. So, the next morning at 11:00 I found myself, per Andrea’s bidding, in front of the house of Bibi and Bill.

I rang the bell. Their dog started barking, but there was no other reaction. The street was empty. This was a quiet neighborhood, the houses far apart and with high fences. There weren’t many parked cars. I rang the bell again and waited. Finally, Bibi opened the door. She obviously was surprised to see me. “Alan. How are you?”


Did Bibi murder Bill? Find out by reading the full story as eBook ! This mystery is part of Clemens P. Suter’s collection of “Short Stories.” Get a copy at Smashwords (any format for any device), or directly on your device, for example for your Apple deviceAn ever growing set of exciting stories by the master storyteller! Buy it today, download additional stories for FREE as they become available!

Cover_Short_Stories_1

Cover page of “Short Stories”

Collected short stories by the master storyteller! Read about the young man who finds a mysterious tunnel beneath his garden; mysterious goings-on set in a French forest; a robot reporting about its visit to Earth, or the tale of the watermonster from Hockenheim, which kidnapped numerous children: these stories will keep you on the edge of your seat. Clemens P. Suter, established author of visionary SciFi that predicted the corona pandemic in 2010, lets his imagination run wild with stories full of surprise, humor and action.

Two Journeys – get your copy of this exciting corona pandemic adventure by Clemens P. Suter

Two Journeys – the postapocalyptic adventure novel, is available as eBook and Paperback at all stores and outlets.

“I loved this book. I rarely gush like this, but I feel strongly. […] I did not want the book to end, but the ending was incredibly touching and satisfying. Alan is an interesting and inventive human character. I will miss him!” (from the editor)

Get the  Two Journeys paperback or kindle at amazon – also in your country.  Get it on your iPhone through iTunes.

During a routine business trip to Tokyo, Alan finds himself to be the sole survivor of a global Corona pandemic. A viral disease has wiped away all of humanity… and Alan’s past life. Fearing injury, sickness and hunger, he sets out to travel back to his family in Berlin, straight across Asia and 10,000 miles of hardship and adventure.
Suter combines post-apocalyptic elements with an adventurous road novel in this book about a man left alone on earth. The hardships and landscapes are described in all ferocity. A few other humans have survived, some eager to use the disaster for their own advantage. Electrifying chapters describe the encounter with Somerset, a charming yet psychotic warlord, who is assembling an army to conquer Moscow, if not the entire world.

An exciting, haunting book. “This apocalyptic thriller grabs you in the first couple of pages and never lets go.”

“Move over, Cormac McCarthy, another survivor is traveling the Armageddon road. Clemens P. Suter’s apocalyptic thriller grabs you in the first couple of pages and never lets go. The reader feels real empathy for the main character’s plight as he begins a seemingly impossible 9,000-mile trip to learn his family’s fate. The cause of the calamity is mysterious but clues are uncovered along the way causing tension to build until we reach the shattering climax. Two Journeys is not to be missed.” – G. Dedrick Robinson, author of Blood Scourge

“Short message to Roland Emmerich and Quentin Tarantino: This is the story for your next film.” Reader comment at Amazon

“This work of apocalyptic fiction belongs right up there with some of the best in its genre […] I literally could not put it down, it scared me, I talked out loud to it!, I gasped, I cared about the protagonist, and never once — never ONCE — did this book let me down. Read it. I highly recommend it.” Reader comment on Amazon

“I highly recommend this to those who like the genre. […] Save it for when you absolutely need a good and easy diversion to free your mind.” Reader comment at Amazon

“A well written and realistic ‘Last man’ book […]. The pace is quite fast and straight to the point, almost like a movie script and it works. […] I enjoyed the fact that it never flipped out. The language was excellent and easy to read.” Reader comment at Amazon

Get the  Two Journeys paperback or kindle at amazon – also in your country.  Get it on your iPhone through iTunes.

10000 miles across Asia

Two Journeys – a classic adventure story.  Humanity has gone a long time without a major pandemic. Outbreaks of viruses such as SARS, corona or influenza (e.g. H2N2 or the Asian Flu H3N2; or bird flu) have occurred again and again. Are we prepared?

A Short Story – “Doreen” – a Short Story

It was around the time that everybody stopped reading literature and switched to reading crime and mystery, when Samuel S. made his terrible decision. Crime and mystery stories had been around for a hundred years, and the genre had experienced its ups and downs, but around 2017 it became obvious that nobody was going to read anything else anymore. Anybody with anything to communicate had to wrap it into a whodunnit format, or take the risk to be completely and utterly ignored, and this was not just true for authors, but also for any socialite or politician, in fact for any public or private person.

Surely this is my biased view on the subject.

I think I met Samuel S. for the first time at a party. A barbecue at Barry Leon‘s place in San Diego, wasn’t it? An awkward affair, as on the one hand, Ken Griffin has been there, and Ken had formerly been a colleague of ours, but now he was Barry’s boss, as a result of which Barry had danced about all evening like a subservient ballerina, trying to please his new manager. Very awkward to witness. On the other hand, Barry’s buddy had been absent, I have forgotten his name, a colleague who was twenty years Barry’s senior, but who was inseparably connected to him at work, the two were like Siamese twins. On all emails to the one, the other was at least on CC. Being bad at names, I am actually not sure whether it was Barry Leon or Leon Barry, I usually called him Leon in my mind, which might be due to my Spanish heritage. To add even more confusion: did I actually meet Samuel S. at this party at all? Or was it at a similar affair in San Francisco that I had attended around that time? I recall the typical Californian evening light, but not much else. I have attended many such social and business events, in or close to Silicon Valley. We had seen a a hummingbird visiting our barbecue, that I recall with absolute certainty, as Samuel S. provided some pertinent facts about the hummingbird family Trochilidae to enlighten or entertain us. With Samuel S. you could never tell which; infotainment was his forte.

No matter. Samuel S. was short, shorter than I am, but he looked fit and in control of things, which makes it even more shocking that he ultimately arrived at this strange idea of his, with which he firmly shot himself in the foot; figuratively speaking off course, he was far too intelligent to own a gun.

Samuel S. and I developed a good rapport. We agreed on the pros and cons of the current and previous president. And the respective flotuses too. We both found the previous one more attractive. We agreed on Flaubert, Paul Auster’s best book and the beauty of orientalist paintings. Samuel S. was one of few individuals that went by their full first names, which I highly appreciated. Too many Michaels go by the name of Mike, too many Zebedeuses are reduced to Zebs, and too many Josephs are amputated to Joes. However, Samuel S. did read crime and mystery; I once met him in a bar where he dropped his keys, phone and such a sordid paperback onto the table. He also mentioned some popular mystery stories a few times in conversations at parties that we frequented. I won’t hold that against him. Like I said, this was the time when bookstores were virtually bulging with crime and mystery, and people started mistaking Shakespeare for Sherlock Holmes, Berlioz for Poirot and Truman Capote for Al Capone. For all his erudite ways and obvious flirting with intelligentsia and semi-revolutionary political ideas, it came as a surprise when he admitted to have frequented a prostitute. He hinted at this on two or three occasions, and not just to me but in a greater round. It didn’t sound like bravado, and adds some surprising color to his character.

He was married to Doreen, a retired physician and  fifteen years his senior. She was an extraordinary woman, taller than Samuel S., skinny, gray-haired, and I have to say, stunningly beautiful. She had a look that few elderly women carry: you could recognize a much younger Doreen in her face and stature. Some women grow old and simply look old, but others continue to carry a young girl within, if you know what I mean. It’s in their smile and in the spring in their step. Shirley McClain comes to mind, or Michelle Yeoh. But not Charlotte Rampling, not Judy Dench, although they are impressive women in their own right.

Doreen smelled of green tea. Or her perfume did. I don’t drink the stuff, the tea I mean, but I like the fragrance. She didn’t read crime or mystery, I’m happy to say. Befitting, she read books about Buddha, gardening, art and lifestyle, and the occasional novel. Unlike her husband, she didn’t travel much, but had visited India a few times. She enjoyed tending her garden and had a small greenhouse with cacti. I visited her on occasion, in the summertime, during that particular time.

Intellectually, these years were dire straights, and it was hard to find equally minded people for conversation. I was member of a group of half a dozen regulars and ten to fifteen satellites. Frustratingly, populism was on the rise, and people were either talking about perceived crises, ignoring the greatness of their lives, which was shouting into their bloated and stuffed faces – or they were shaking their heads in disbelief at the madness of it all and the way democracy and the environment happily bounced towards the abyss. Or they had already given up on the world altogether; and, you may guess it by now, had turned to reading crime and mystery novels. I had reached a stage where the flood of bad news started to trickle down my skin as if I had been dunked in Teflon. In this light, I found the mere existence of Samuel S. a relief, as he seemed to be less obsessed by current affairs, and could quickly switch a discussion about the devastation of the Amazons to the usage of curare for the hunt by the endogenous people of said delta. And with considerable and generally compelling detail too. He had a fine sense of humor and tended to tell the truth, which was refreshing. He was thus an enrichment of the circle of friends that I was part of, and all our lives might have just continued on and on, had it not been for the silly fact that Samuel S. decided that he wanted to divorce Doreen.

The two hadn’t even been married that long. Samuel S. had been single for most of his life, but Doreen has been married before, to an engineer. She showed me a picture once, of a fat bald guy. I had a hard time imagining them together in one room. She had three children from that marriage, all three had left home and were wandering the globe. In New Jersey. Samuel S. didn’t have any children of his own.

One afternoon, out of the blue, he told me about his plan. He would leave Doreen and start anew. Usually, he was a suave, confident person, but now his eyes flickered nervously and his tongue darted over his lips. He talked on and on, I couldn’t get a word in sideways. He didn’t give any clear reason, at least not in any way that was obvious to me, and I didn’t dare ask. At the end he was exhausted and frustrated, which surprised me. Most people that separate are at least a bit happy, but not Samuel S.. Afterwards he must have told someone else about his plan too, as the rumor went through our group like wildfire. In contrast to what some may say, the rumor didn’t come from me, let me assure you. The foolish man, I had the impression that he wanted us, yes: me, to guess what the underlying reason was. I was in the dark, and said so to anyone who asked. As if life is one of these stupid mystery story where we have to collect clues to come to some cheap thrill or fulfillment or insight. Whatever.

Strangely enough, his decision had great effect on the dynamics of our circle. Over the following weeks, changes started to occur, and for some reason they impacted me a great deal. Was it because I had introduced Samuel S. into our group? In any case, I started to notice that I was excluded from invites, or sidelined during conversation. On one or two occasions, people even turned their backs to me, or didn’t greet me.

To be honest, by that time I couldn’t really be bothered, as I had in the preceding weeks, become rather close with an individual that I highly respected. A person where everything just felt right. Yes, I had found love. I had been in relationships on and off, but none had stuck. Yes, I am a picky person, also when it comes to finding a partner, and I was therefore very happy indeed that I had met someone whom I really could trust. It felt as if we were like yin and yang. And the beauty of it all was that my counterpart felt exactly the same way. I could thus happily continue with my job during the daytime, while looking forward to slightly secretive nightly encounters, as we had decided to take our budding relationship step by step.

I hadn’t seen Samuel S. for weeks, when one evening he called and asked whether I would be interested in having a drink. I hesitated. I had already started to move on. Things that happened that year were now part of the past. But for old times sake I agreed.

We met in a coffee place of Main, where they serve a hundred types of latte, and a bookshelf with used paperbacks, mostly crime and mystery, occupies a corner.

He didn’t look good. His hair was unkempt and he had rings under his eyes. We talked. I asked him whether he still wanted to leave Doreen. I asked: Why? Why Samuel?

He looked down at the table. Can you really be so blind? I told you didn’t I? I did more than hinting. I think I said it to you straight. Why can’t you acknowledge it?

I looked at Samuel S. in absolute confusion. No, I couldn’t understand. What was he talking about?

Samuel, what have you told me?

Oh you fool! He blurted it out, and the other patrons lifted their heads in reaction to his loud voice. Don’t you understand, Susanne? I love you! That’s why I have left Doreen. I love you! Can you be so blind?

I stared at his face in shock. I was speechless. For a full minute my mind seemed to have stopped in its tracks. Then, slowly, I started to recount some of the conversations that I had with Samuel S., and some of the comments our mutual friends had made to me. Finally, the penny dropped. This man, this poor fool, had fallen for me, and in his sophisticated and round-about way, had been completely incapable of telling me straight to my face. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I would have refused him, surely. Ironically, through his confused action he had opened opportunities that he himself wasn’t even aware of.

I got up and looked down at him. His face was contorted by emotion. I said: I’m sorry Samuel. There isn’t anything else that I can add. We are not made for one another.

I walked out without turning back. Yes, this was the time that every bookstore, every internet shop, every library was literally exploding with crime and mystery. I’ve never been a fan. But if it’s mystery that the people want: so be it. And that included, alas, Samuel S.. I drove around for a while and after that I sat in my car at a Walmart, until sunset. Finally, I longed for home and bed and comfort and love. I drove to my place and unlocked the door. I threw my keys on the table in the hallway.

The lights were on.

Is it you? Called Doreen.

Yes love, it’s me.


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Excerpt from Celeterra:

Altijd was wearing a ridiculous pair of tight black trousers, with big translucent yellow rhombs. His shirt seemed to be made out of some shiny crimson acrylic fabric. The buttons were open all the way down to his belly, revealing the scanty hair on his chest. The heels of his green and brown shoes were at least 2 inches high. Vance wondered how he managed to walk in them, let alone use them for dancing.

Vance opened his closet. New items had replaced all the clothing that had been there the morning before. Instead, he found a tight pair of cerulean trousers, with zigzag waves of ginger and pink, a huge white belt of imitation leather with a golden buckle and a shirt of the same material as what Altijd was wearing, but with scarlet and olive stripes. It had big imitation silver buttons. The shoes, on the bottom shelf, had flat soles and big bulges at the toes. The leather was black at the front and white at the heels.

Vance held up the garments, a look of despair on his face. Altijd laughed.

“Don’t worry Vance, you will look as hip as beans! Put it on! No, no, don’t try to put them away – you can’t go out tonight without the right attire.”

Vance closed the door in front of Altijd’s face and slipped into his new clothing, cursing. He looked at himself in the mirror – ridiculous! He was only doing this for his friend, if Altijd had not been waiting for him outside, he would have stayed at home!

Together, they hurried to the party. The tent was already full of people, all dressed as quaint as the two newcomers. There was Samantha, wearing a white Lycra bodysuit, with big red buttons and a purple belt; John (who had broken his neck in a riding accident), dressed in red jeans and a black shirt, with a pink cowboy hat and big knee-high boots. Eric had come in a shiny pair of bronze trousers, apparently made out of plastic foil, on top of which he wore a white shirt printed full with small red snakes.

Das Rheinmonster

DAS RHEINMONSTER

English version here.

Copyright 2020 Clemens P. Suter

„Großvater, Großvater!“ Die beiden Jungen stürmten in die Küche und warfen ihre Schultaschen in die Ecke. Der alte Hans wachte erschrocken auf, seine Pfeife noch im Mund. Schuldbewusst blickte er in Richtung des Holzofens, wo seine Tochter Annie, die Mutter von Hans Junior und dem kleinen Fritz, das Mittagsessen zubereitete. Aber da sie die Kohlsuppe umrührte, hatte sie ihm den Rücken zugedreht und nicht bemerkt, dass er eingeschlafen war.

„Ja, meine Kinder, willkommen zu Hause. Wie war es in der Schule?“

Fritz, der jüngste, war der erste, der Jacke und Schuhe auszog und sich seine Hausschuhe überstreifte. „Großvater, erzähle uns die Geschichte! Die Geschichte vom Monster. Du hast es heute Morgen versprochen!“

Hans Senior lächelte in seinen Bart. Mit Sicherheit hatten die beiden Jungen heute in der Schule nicht viel gelernt. Sie waren zu gespannt, seine Geschichte zu hören. Jetzt kuschelte sich auch Hans Junior an ihn. „Bitte Großvater!“

„Nun…“, sagte der Alte, „es ist noch etwas Zeit bis zum Mittagesse. Da könnte ich wenigstens anfangen. Aber zuerst musst du noch etwas Holz auf die Flammen werfen. Im Zimmer wird es ein bisschen kalt! Und, Fritzi, bring du mir etwas von dem kalten Kaffee. Die Kanne steht direkt neben dem Herd. Und dann kommt her und setzt euch neben mich, jeder auf eine Seite.“

Annie drehte den Kopf zu den dreien: „Habt Ihr mich vergessen?“ Sie lächelte. Die Jungen standen auf, rannten zu ihrer Mutter und küssten sie auf die Wange. Bald prasselte das Feuer im Ofen wieder, und Opa hatte auch seine Tasse Kaffee. Er paffte an seiner Pfeife. „Jetzt lasst mal sehen, wo ich anfange…“

Die Jungen sahen ihn aufmerksam an, ihre Wangen rot von der Winterkälte und Spannung. Die Kerze auf dem Tisch flackerte. „Ah ja,“ begann der alte Mann, „es muss mindestens dreißig, vierzig Jahre her sein…“ Sein Gesicht wurde nachdenklich und ein bisschen traurig, als die Erinnerungen langsam zu ihm zurückkehrten.

Es war ein Dezember gewesen, ein paar Wochen vor Weihnachten. Die Stadt Hockenheim ruhte friedlich in der Ebene des Rheintals. Die Leute gingen ihren Geschäfte nach; Kinder wurden geboren und gingen zur Schule, junge Leute verliebten sich, Paare gründeten Familien und alte Menschen starben. Das Virus, das auf der ganzen Welt so viel Chaos angerichtet hatte, war lange überwunden. Die Wirtschaft hatte sich etwas erholt, und die extremistische Regierung, die der Pandemie gefolgt war, war gestürzt und durch etwas Recht und Ordnung wieder ersetzt worden.

Ja, in Hockenheim war alles in Ordnung. Bis zu jener Nacht. Es war an einem Dienstag, daran konnte sich der alte Hans gut erinnern, da er dienstags immer im alten Kirchengebäude Schach spielte. Er war spät heimgekehrt, und seine Frau war schon ins Bett gegangen. Annie, damals ein kleines Mädchen, schlief friedlich in ihrem Bett. In dem kleinen Flur des Hauses zog Hans seinen nassen Mantel aus. November und Dezember waren sehr regnerisch gewesen und der Kraichbach war weit über sein Ufer getreten. Glücklicherweise hatte sich der Stadtrat vor vielen Jahrzehnten für ein Wassermanagementprojekt entschieden, das sich nun als sehr vorteilhaft erwies. In Wirklichkeit war der Kraichbach ein kleiner, sich schlängelnder Bach, der Wasser aus den Hügeln im Osten sammelte, durch Hockenheim führte und einige Kilometer nordwestlich in den Rhein mündete.

Hans beschloss, vor dem Schlafengehen einen kleinen Schluck Rotwein zu trinken, und hatte gerade eine Kerze angezündet und sein Glas gefüllt, als ein donnerndes Hämmern an der Haustür ertönte. „Das der mi veräbble wird!“ fluchte Hans, als er zur Tür eilte und sie öffnete. Draußen standen sein Nachbar Roland und ein Polizist. Hans sah die beiden erstaunt an. „Was ist los?“ fragte er.

„Folg uns. Schnell!“ sagte der Polizist. Ihre Gesichter waren  blass und ernst  ,ja voller Angst. Er erkannte, dass etwas Schlimmes passiert war. Eilig griff er nach seinem immer noch tropfnassen Mantel und die Kälte des Kleidungsstücks auf seinen Schultern ließ ihn zittern. Oben fing Annie an zu weinen und seine Frau rief etwas.

„Alles in Ordnung, Liebling!“, rief Hans. „Es ist Roland… und ein Polizist. Ich werde bald zurück sein.“ Ohne auf eine Antwort zu warten, trat er aus dem Haus und zog die Tür hinter sich zu. Die beiden Männer waren schon losgelaufen. Sie verließen die Schulstraße, bogen in die Hirschstraße, in die Ottostraße und von dort am Rathaus vorbei in die Marcus-Zeitlerstraße. Mehrere Männer standen vor der Hausnummer 15, Fackeln in den Händen und grimmige Blicke auf ihren Gesichtern. Der Polizist schob sie aus dem Weg, und führte Hans und Roland in ein Zimmer im hinteren Teil des Hauses. Eine Frau, die Hans unbekannt war, saß weinend auf einem Stuhl. Ein Mann, vermutlich ihr Ehemann, stand neben ihr und hielt ihre Hand. Auch er hatte Tränen in den Augen. Der Polizist zeigte auf ein Kinderbett. Er sah Hans an und sagte nur ein Wort, als würde es ausreichen, um die gesamte Situation zu erklären.

„Leer!“

Hans spürte einen Schauer über seinen Rücken laufen. Er wusste jetzt, warum ihn die Männer geholt hatten. Der Bürgermeister war nicht in der Stadt, und Hans war stellvertretender Bürgermeister. Eine ehrenamtliche Rolle ohne Bezahlung, aber in solchen Notfällen mit einigen Verantwortlichkeiten. Er schaute von einem zum anderen und inspizierte das Bett genauer. Offensichtlich hatte hier ein Kind geschlafen, ein Mädchen, wie es aussah. Hans trat zur Terrassentür, die zum Garten führte, und berührte das Glas. Zu seiner Überraschung war die Tür nicht abgeschlossen und schwenkte auf, so dass er und die anderen in den dunklen Garten schauen konnten. Hans sagte nichts und stellte keine Fragen. Stattdessen trat er in den Regen. Der Polizist schaltete seine Taschenlampe ein und folgte ihm. Sie gingen durch das Gras bis sie am Ende des Gartens an eine Wand kamen. Instinktiv beschloss Hans, ihr nach rechts zu folgen, bis zu einer Tür, die ebenfalls nicht verschlossen war. Von dort in einen kleinen Durchgang, dem sie folgten. Nach nur wenigen Schritten zog der Polizist Hans am Ärmel. „Schau“, stieß der Mann knapp aus und zeigte auf den Boden vor ihnen. Dort auf dem roten Sandstein war ein Fußabdruck. Sie bückten sich, um ihn zu inspizieren. Er war so groß wie ein Männerfuß, aber breiter. Die Abdrücke einzelner Zehen waren deutlich sichtbar, aber weit voneinander entfernt und scheinbar durch Häute verbunden. Dieser Fußabdruck glich nicht dem eines Menschen. Er sah aus wie der Abdruck eines riesigen Frosches oder einer Amphibie. In der Gasse hing ein seltsamer Geruch von verschmutztem Flusswasser und Blut. Ein Gefühl der Angst überkam die beiden. Sie überprüften ihre Umgebung auf irgendwelche Bewegungen, aber der Besitzer des Fußabdrucks war nicht zu sehen. Eilig suchten die beiden Männer  den Boden ab, aber sie fanden keine weiteren Fußspuren.

Der Polizist rannte zurück zum Haus, und bald durchsuchten alle verfügbaren Männer die dunkle Stadt bis es im Osten zu dämmern begann. Die Männer hatten das vermisste Mädchen nicht finden können. Aber sie hatten noch einen nassen Fußabdruck und ein Stück vom Nachthemd des Mädchens nahe der Brücke in der Karlsruherstraße gefunden, die den Kraichbach überquerte.

Annie stellte den schweren Topf mit Kohlsuppe auf den Tisch. „Mittagessen“, rief sie und wischte sich eine blonde Haarsträhne aus den Augen. „Hol bitte das Brot, Fritzi.“

Die vier ließen sich nieder und aßen wie immer schweigend. Kein Geschichtenerzählen während der Mahlzeiten! Die beiden Kinder sahen den Großvater erwartungsvoll an. Der alte Mann schlürfte seine Suppe und gab vor, die Jungen zu ignorieren. Nach dem Essen wischte er sich die Semmelbrösel vom Bart und stopfte seine Pfeife. Die Jungen legten noch etwas Holz aufs Feuer und Annie fing an, den Abwasch zu machen und die Kochecke zu putzen.

Am nächsten Tag war die Stadt in Aufruhr. Die Leute trafen sich an Straßenecken und in den zahlreichen Bäckereien und Friseurgeschäften und spekulierten über die Ereignisse der Nacht. Bald waren sich alle einig, dass ein Monster, ein Wassermonster, für die Entführung des Mädchens verantwortlich war. Niemand schien zu glauben, dass das Mädchen noch lebte; viele Hockenheimer betrachteten Optimismus als Ablenkung. Die nassen Fußabdrücke waren ein klares Zeichen dafür, dass etwas aus dem Fluss gekrochen war, der Fluss, der jetzt mit Wasser hochgefüllt war. Der Stadtrat versuchte zusammen mit dem inzwischen zurückgekehrten Bürgermeister die Bevölkerung zu beruhigen, aber ohne Erfolg. Ein Edikt mit einigen einfachen Anweisungen wurde veröffentlicht, einschließlich des Ratschlags nach Sonnenuntergang drinnen zu bleiben und alle Fenster und Türen im Erdgeschoss verschlossen zu halten. Einige begannen sofort diesen Richtlinien zu befolgen. Aber viele entschieden, dass sie unwirksam und sogar unsinnig waren, konnten jedoch keine besseren Maßnahmen anbieten.

Und so verbrachte die Stadt mehrere Tage in Angst. Obwohl die Suche fortgesetzt wurde, fand sich keine weitere Spur des Mädchens. Die Leute wurden skeptischer gegenüber der Theorie, dass ein Wassermonster, dessen Existenz bestenfalls hypothetisch war, tatsächlich der Schuldige gewesen war, und die Wut auf den Stadtrat wuchs. „Ha-noi“, versicherten sie einander, „es ist schwer zu glauben, dass dies ein Monster war. Es war wahrscheinlich ein Perverser, ein Landstreicher von außerhalb der Stadt. Ein Ausländer vielleicht?“

Aber fünf Tage später, tief in der Nacht, wurden die Bewohner der Goethestraße brutal aus dem Schlaf gerissen als ein schrecklicher Schrei durch die Straßen hallte. Als nächstes waren hämmernde Schritte und aufgeregtes Geschrei zu hören als die Nachtwache, die der Bürgermeister hartnäckig gegen den Willen des Stadtrats aufgestellt hatte, zur Szene eilte. Die Männer stießen auf Blutflecken und nasse Fußspuren, die nach Osten führten. Hastig folgten sie  diesen, Schlagstöcke in ihren Händen, durch die Karlsruherstraße, und als sie sich dem Kraichbach näherten, konnten sie in der Ferne eine massive, zusammengekauerte Gestalt sehen. Die Gestalt stieg zur Brücke auf. Gegenüber der uralten Statue des Heiligen Nepomuk, dem Beschützer vor Überschwemmungen und Ertrinken, stand sie einige Sekunden lang an der Brüstung, hob die Arme und warf etwas, das wie ein Bündel weißer Kleider aussah, ins Wasser. Die Gestalt sprang hinterher… und verschwand.

Die Männer der Nachtwache leuchteten mit ihren Lichtern ins schlammige Wasser. Einige Sekunden lang schien sich ein Körper stromabwärts zu bewegen. Was auch immer es war, es blieb unter der Oberfläche und bewegte sich sehr schnell. Im Dunkel der Nacht machte es keinen Sinn, seiner Route zu folgen.

Stattdessen entdeckten sie entsetzt ein mit Blut bedecktes Nachthemd und der blutige Fuß eines kleinen Kindes. Einige der Männer wandten sich ab um sich zu  übergeben. Anscheinend hatte sich die Kreatur vor ihrer Rückkehr in den Fluss für einen Snack entschieden. Auf jeden Fall hatte das Wassermonster von Hockenheim, wie es jetzt offiziell genannt wurde, sein zweites Opfer gefordert.

Danach war in der Stadt Hockenheim nichts mehr wie vorher. Jeden Tag, sobald die Sonne unterging, gingen selbst die Skeptischsten in ihre Häuser und verriegelten ihre Türen. Viele, besonders die Eltern junger Familienvernagelten ihre Fenster. Die Stadt sah aus wie eine Geisterstadt. Dies wurde durch die vielen geschlossenen Geschäfte in der Karlsruherstraße noch verschärft.

Aber das Wassermonster kehrte zurück und schaffte es ein drittes und ein viertes Opfer aus den Häusern zu holen, die nicht gut genug geschützt waren. Die Stadt wurde von einem unsichtbaren, gewaltigen Feind belagert. Es ist fast unnötig zu erwähnen, dass Weihnachten und die Silvesternacht unbemerkt vergingen und in vielen Häusern ohne die traditionelle Weihnachtsgans, Kartoffelsalat und Bockwurst.

Großvater zog an seiner Pfeife. Die Jungen sahen ihn wissbegierig an. „Was geschah als nächstes?“ flüsterte Fritzi.

„Nun“, sagte Hans Senior, „hier kommt Frederick Quicksilber in die Geschichte. Frederick lebte mit seiner Mutter im Osten der Stadt in der Nähe des Friedhofs. Ein unglücklicher Mensch, denn Frederick war ein kleiner Kerl, ein Zwerg.“

„Vater!“ rief Annie aus der Küchenecke, „Du solltest dieses Wort nicht verwenden.“

„Ja, richtig“, sagte Großvater. „Ähm. Lasst es mich so sagen: Frederick war eine Person mit alternativen Körpermaßen… auf minimalistische Weise. Klug und bescheiden war er, der liebe Frederick. Aber seine Bemühungen, die Stadt vor dem Monster zu retten, was er tatsächlich tat, wären ohne die Hilfe dieser unglaublich dicken Frau nicht möglich gewesen.“

„Vater!“ rief Annie erneut.

Das Gesicht des Großvaters wurde rot. „Arschkrott“, sagte er leise und blies aufgeregt Rauch aus seiner Pfeife. „Wie kann ich das sagen… diese Frau hatte auch alternative Körpermaße… aber optimiert in Richtung…“, er brummte, „…aber in Richtung eines maximierten Body-Mass-Index.“

„Warum willst du das alles erwähnen, Vater? Kannst du nicht einfach überspringen, wie sie aussahen?“ fragte Annie.

„Herrgottnochmal! Es ist einfach wichtig für die Geschichte“, grunzte der Großvater und bemühte sich, sich zu beruhigen. „Jedenfalls hieß diese Frau mit dem maximierten Body-Mass-Index Obesia Guirlande. Obesia lebte allein und war vielleicht etwas älter als Frederick. Bis dahin kannten sie sich kaum.“

Eines Tages trank Frederick Kaffee in einem alten Café am Ende der Karlsruher Straße, das unter dem Namen Etcetera geführt wurde – ein Name, der „und andere ähnliche Dinge“ bedeutete. Was diese Gegenstände waren oder welchen sie ähnlich waren, wusste kein Hockenheimer. Obesia betrat das Café und wählte den leeren Tisch neben Frederick aus. Bald kamen sie ins Gespräch. Obesia war beeindruckt von Fredericks Humor und Intelligenz. Natürlich wandte sich ihr Gespräch auch dem Wassermonster zu. Wie alle Hockenheimer diskutierten auch sie die offiziellen Maßnahmen und stimmten den meisten von ihnen nicht zu. Frederick und Obesia trafen sich auch am nächsten Tag und am Tag danach wieder, und zu diesem Zeitpunkt hatte sich in ihren Gedanken der Keim eines Plans entwickelt. Ein Plan, der so gewagt war, dass sie nur mit gedämpften Stimmen darüber sprechen konnten. Die anderen Gäste im Café stupsten sich an, zwinkerten und sagten: „Schau dir nur diese beiden an. Zwei Menschen mit alternativen körperlichen Proportionen, die sich verlieben. Sind sie nicht süß?“ Aber die beiden Verschwörer dachten nicht an Liebe. Inzwischen waren sie überzeugt, dass ihr Plan die schreckliche Kette von Ereignissen stoppen würde.

Ein paar Tage später, an einem Mittwoch Mitte Januar, kurz vor Einbruch der Dunkelheit, hätte eine seltsame Szene jeden Passanten getroffen, der mutig genug war, aus der Stadt in Richtung Rhein zu schlendern. Hier erstreckte sich das flache Land, das der Fluss in Zeiten geschaffen hatte, als er sich noch majestätisch zwischen Odenwald und Pfalz schlängelte, weit und ununterbrochen. Heute folgt der Rhein einem Bett des Ingenieurs Tulla, der den Fluss begradigt hatte um die Navigation zu verbessern und Überschwemmungen zu reduzieren. Der Kraichbach teilt sich an dieser Stelle in zwei Bäche: den Alten Kraichbach und den Kraichbach selbst. Beide fließen in den nahen und doch in der Ebene versteckten Rhein. Die Rheinbrücke und der tausend Jahre alte Speyerer Dom waren nur für diejenigen sichtbar, die auf den Zehenspitzen standen. Späte Vögel überquerten eilig den Himmel, um rechtzeitig für die Nacht ihre Schlafplätze zu erreichen. Die Fledermäuse fehlten noch. Sie würden erst im Frühjahr wiedererscheinen, um ihre hungrigen Bäuche mit dem Überfluss an Flussmücken zu füllen. Wie zu allen Jahreszeiten wehte nur sehr wenig Wind im Rheintal.

Eine Frau von beträchtlicher Statur schlenderte in einem weißen Kleid, das von einem schwarzen Umhang bedeckt war, und auf festen Schuhen, am Wasser entlang. Sie schob einen altmodischen Kinderwagen mit großen Rädern. Die Abdeckung des Kinderwagens war geschlossen, so dass das Kind im Inneren nicht sichtbar war. Es war aber auch niemand unterwegs, die Hockenheimer hatten bereits ihre Türen, Fenster und Fensterläden verriegelt. Sie befanden sich nun in ihren Stuben, spärlich beleuchtet von ein paar Kerzen. Seit der letzten Entführung waren vier Nächte vergangen, und in regelmäßigen Abständen wandten sich die gedämpften Gespräche dem Wassermonster zu, meist gefolgt von energischen Versuchen das Thema zu wechseln.

Die Frau ging nicht in eine bestimmte Richtung. Stattdessen folgte sie einige Minuten dem Fluss in Richtung Rhein, drehte sich dann um und folgte dem Kraichbach bis zum Altwingertweg wieder zurück. Der Kinderwagen war offensichtlich schwer, denn ihre Wangen waren rosig geworden und sie schnaufte als sie weiterging. Dies ging eine ganze Weile so. Um neun Uhr läutete die weit entfernte Glocke der Pfarrkirche St. Georg.

„Wie lange müssen wir so weitermachen?“ flüsterte die Frau.

Überraschenderweise antwortete aus dem Kinderwagen die Stimme eines Mannes. „Das Monster hat immer in den Stunden um Mitternacht angegriffen.“

„Sind wir dann nicht zu früh?“ flüsterte die Frau und ihre Schritte wurden langsamer.

„Nein! Erinnere dich an unsere Theorie. Wenn wir richtig liegen, schwimmt das Wassermonster stromaufwärts vom Rhein, seiner Heimat. Es braucht dann einige Zeit um nach Hockenheim zu schwimmen. Und dann müsste es noch ein Haus finden, in das es eintreten kann, ein Haus, in dem entweder Fenster oder Türen unverschlossen sind. Nein, meine Berechnungen sagen mir, dass es bald durch den Fluss kommen sollte… wenn es heute Abend zuschlagen will.“

„Ha-joh, Frederick, du bist so schlau.“

„Danke, Obesia. Aber ohne dich könnte ich das niemals ausführen! Vielleicht ist es besser, wenn wir jetzt zur zweiten Phase gehen. Was denkst du?“

Obesia sah sich um und stellte den Kinderwagen so nah wie möglich an den Bach. Sie bremste die großen Räder ab und schaffte es nach einigem Fummeln, die Abdeckung abzunehmen. Da war Frederick, ein Kinderkleid aus hellster weißer Baumwolle über seiner normalen Kleidung. Frederick zwinkerte Obesia zu und legte den Finger an die Lippen: „Schhhh!“ Obesia zwinkerte ihm zu und arrangierte sein Kleid so, dass es über die Seiten des Kinderwagens hing. Sie trat zurück und sah sowohl den Bach als auch den Kinderwagen anerkennend an. Dann nahm sie noch einige Anpassungen vor und ging dann, nach einem sanften „Viel Glück!“ zu einer Parkbank, die etwa vierzig Schritte entfernt war. Sie setzte sich und wartete.

Nach dem Regen der letzten Wochen war der Himmel jetzt außergewöhnlich klar. Die Kälte kroch von den Feldern herauf, und die Luftfeuchtigkeit schlug sich auf ihrer Kleidung nieder. Der Mond war aufgegangen. Er schien größer zu sein als sie sich je erinnern konnte. Mit kaltweißem Licht schien er auf die Szene hinunter. Das einzige Geräusch war der Bach, der langsam an ihnen vorbeizog.

Nach einer Weile bemerkte Obesia, dass sie ihre Augen kaum noch offen halten konnte. Sie war eine Frühaufsteherin und folglich war dies weit über ihre übliche Bettzeit hinaus. Um ehrlich zu sein, erwartete sie auch nicht, dass das Monster in der ersten Nacht in der sie Fredericks Plan ausprobierten, auftauchen würde. Es wäre ein zu großer Zufall gewesen. Wie sie besprochen hatten, müssten sie diese Übung wahrscheinlich mehrmals wiederholen und auch an verschiedenen Orten. Trotzdem war der Ort gut gewählt. Wenn das Monster vom Rhein kam und das Wasser als Route benutzte, musste es genau diesen Punkt passieren. Weiter draußen in der Ebene verzweigte sich der Kraichbach in viele Nebenbäche, die sich entweder wiedervereinigten oder direkt in den Rhein mündeten. Obesia tastete unter ihrem Umhang. In den breiten Taschen steckten zwei Hämmer, für jede Hand einen. Würde Frederick sein Messer zur Hand haben? Dumme Frage! Frederick hatte ihr die große Klinge gezeigt und wie flink er damit umging. Nein, obwohl er sich in einer äußerst gefährlichen Position befand, hatte sie keine Angst um den kleinen Mann.

Ein einsamer Reiher ging über ihr vorbei. Etwas muss den Vogel gestört haben, da Reiher normalerweise nach Einbruch der Dunkelheit nicht unterwegs waren. War es ein Fuchs oder eine andere Kreatur gewesen? Langsam nickte Obesia ein und sackte seitlich auf der Parkbank zusammen. Einige Zeit verging.

Plötzlich öffnete Obesia die Augen. Sie schaute geradeaus zum Wasser. Nichts war zu hören, doch etwas hatte sie aus dem Schlaf gerissen. Sie schloss die Augen zu kleinen Schlitzen und blieb zehn, zwanzig, dreißig Sekunden lang reglos sitzen. Dann wurde am Ufer des Flusses eine Form sichtbar. Eine große dunkle Hand kratzte im Gras. Obesia erstarrte vor Angst. Die Hand grub sie sich tiefer in den Boden und der daran befestigte Arm zog einen großen Körper aus dem Wasser. Schließlich tauchte eine starke, tropfende Gestalt am Ufer auf. Sie war höchstens zwanzig Schritte entfernt und zwischen Obesia und ihrem Kinderwagen. Die Gestalt, nackt und dunkelgrün, hatte eine enorme Brust, die von langen, dünnen Beinen getragen wurde. Auch die Arme waren lang und muskulös. Die Kreatur starrte Obesia mit großen blassen Augen an, die unregelmäßig blinzelten. Große Kiemen flatterten auf beiden Seiten des Gesichts.

Das Monster stand still, leicht gebeugt und beobachtete sie schweigend. Nur das Tropfen des Wassers von seiner Haut war zu hören. Obesias Herz schlug schnell. Was wäre, wenn das Monster sie angreifen würde? Sie würde nie genug Zeit haben um die beiden Hämmer aus ihrem Kleid zu ziehen. Wilde und ängstliche Gedanken gingen ihr durch den Kopf…

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