The Story of the Poor Baker and the Treasure of Gold.

Here’s a story that I heard many, many years ago. I don’t know the source, perhaps any of you readers know?

A long time ago, a baker living in Warsaw, suffered from a reoccurring dream. Every night the poor man would dream of a great treasure of gold coins, to be found beneath a bridge, in an unknown city. This went on for many weeks, until the baker decided that this couldn’t go on. He packed his bags, with the purpose to locate the bridge and to find the treasure. As his dream only provided the flimsiest of details, he had to search and travel for many weeks, and one day ended up in Prague. Behold: there was the bridge that had plagued his nightly rest.

However, he encountered his next challenge, as the bridge lead to a castle and was heavily guarded. He could neither cross the bridge nor reach the banks of the river beneath it, there were soldiers and policemen everywhere. Impatiently he waited and observed the bridge for several days and nights, and time and time again he came very close to giving up the entire endeavor. However, he decided to stay on, partially because he didn’t want the dream to start reoccurring again, but also as by now he had developed considerable appetite for the gold. So he  decided to stay and wait for a good opportunity to get underneath the bridge.

This opportunity arrived a few days later. One dark and moonless night there was a rainstorm, which became worse and worse, and in the very early morning hours he took his chance. He slid down the banks of the river and found his way through the dark and wet to the bridge.

But alas ! Almost immediately soldiers jumped from the bushes and quickly he was arrested. The men brought the baker to the police station, where he wasn’t treated in a friendly way at all. Without further ado, he was locked up in a cell. Shivering and wet he fell asleep.

The next morning, the sun was shining, and the door of his cell was opened. The arresting officer entered and looked down at the baker.

“Well! I hope you had a good night!”

“As best as possible, my lord.”

“Tell me, what were you doing underneath the bridge? Were you trying to enter the castle illegally? And what for? The judges in Prague are not friendly towards thieves and terrorists! Tell the truth!”

The baker grew pale and decided to tell his story. The officer looked at him with great surprise and started laughing.

“My god, man! You came to Prague because you dreamed a treasure was buried underneath the bridge?! Are you really so stupid to follow dreams?”

The baker looked at the ground in shame. The officer continued: “There is no truth in dreams, every child knows that! I mean, a few days ago I had a very similar dream as yours. I dreamed of an old bakery in Warsaw, I saw it in my dream as clearly as I see you now.” He described the bakery in some detail. “And you know what? I walked into the bakery, and pulled the big iron stove forward, and this huge treasure of gold coins became visible. But does that mean that I am so stupid to travel to Warsaw to dig out this presumed ‘treasure’, whereas I can expect to only find soot and dirt? Certainly not! Now off you go! I will be lenient with you, but only because you are such an ignorant fool.”

The baker quickly left the police station and Prague, and traveled home.

He arrived home late at night. He entered his bakery and with all his strength pulled the old stove forward. And there he found a treasure beyond his wildest dream, a large chest filled with gold coins.

*******************

There are a couple of messages hidden in this tale. The most obvious one being that you “should follow your dreams”. The baker does so, but the guardman obviously not. Another message that I see is that the greatest treasure may be right in front of you, without you knowing. Or that the path to your personal treasure may be crooked and full of hardship. Do you see any additional messages?

Interested in my books: click LINK

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Originally posted 2019-09-21 19:37:00.

Thanks again for all your contributions! #Fundraiser #Unicef #eBooks #Paperbacks

Dear readers of my books, as you recall, I organized a fundraiser, promising to donate triple the royalties of all my book sales! Many thanks to all of you that used the opportunity to buy a book, and in doing so to sponsor UNICEF.

I have chosen to donate the total sum to UNICEF’s fight against the humanitarian crisis in Africa, and have just… sent over for 200€.

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Didn’t have a chance to buy one of my books in February? The crisis in Somalia and bordering countries doesn’t stop today. Please donate to UNICEF today to help our fellow humans.

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Here a short fragment from my novel Two Journeys, illustrating how important we humans are for one another:

One night, the truck stood parked in the middle of the road, a mile past a small hamlet. I had a bonfire going, and the dogs were warming themselves and dozing. It was very quiet, the crackle of the fire the dominant sound.

The sky cleared and stars started to appear. Bats gave chase through the heavens, hunting for the insects that were attracted by the light of the flames.

When the fire finally started to go out and turn into a hot red glow, more and more stars became visible. The Milky Way came out like a highway through the heavens. Far off, a lonely bird called woop-woooop. The moon rose, throwing its metallic light first on the hills and then on the truck and our resting place.

As the fire died out, the cold crept up from the ground. I stood up and for several minutes looked at the deserted landscape and the sky. I recalled a joke that my sons once played on me.

“Dad, where is the Yogurt Puddle?”

“The Yogurt Puddle? What could that be? No idea.”

“It’s the galaxy next to the Milky Way!”

Even now, I chuckled, probably in the same way I had when I’d first heard it.

Again, I looked up at the stars. The world was quiet now, the fire soundless.

There was nobody to hear my laughter. Tears started to fill my eyes, and I had difficulty fighting them back.

Damn, if only they could be here.

TWO JOURNEYS on Apple Books.

Originally posted 2017-04-15 04:39:16.

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…

>>> Willst du das Ende dieser Geschichte lesen? Hol dir eine Kopie für nur 0,99 in einem dieser Buchhandlungen: www.clemenssuter.com/books.

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About this eBook and the author

Find more books by this author here www.clemenssuter.com/books

Subscribe to the website / contact the author: www.clemenssuter.com

More short stories in this collection: Short Stories, an eBook available for ANY device. Simply search for Clemens P. Suter in Apple Books / iTunes or on your Kindle, Nookbook or Tolino.

Copyright 2020

ISBN 9780463703847

Coverphoto by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

Please respect all copyrighted work by this author, do not distribute or share

Any similarity with any individual, living or dead, is coincidental

Short Stories

Originally posted 2020-04-24 10:12:44.

Top Tip. iPhone as an eReader. Read Great Pandemic Adventure eBooks.

All over the globe – get my books on your iPhone or iPad ! Here’s the direct link to my pandemic adventure novels on iTunes.

I have an iPhone myself, and it is a great machine, isn’t it? I like iTunes mostly as a music player. I like its ability to view my music as albums, artists and songs, the searching capabilities are great stuff. The way albums open into color-matched track listings is attractive. And I use the playlist extensively, e.g. I have playlists like “play all music that I love and didn’t skip in the last three years”. These are Smart Playlists, with a breathtaking number of options available for user-created Playlists: it is incredibly powerful – and with thousands of songs, it is a fantastic way to listen to music  that you haven’t listened to for a long time. Things like that make the iPhone a great smartphone. I also like the UI of Now Playing. It is easy to add entire albums or individual tracks, and reorder them. iTunes by itself doesn’t offer the greatest user experience, but well – Ok.

iTunes is undervalued as an eBook store.

I do notice that more & more of my fans are reading my eBooks on their iPhone, and the sales of my books on iTunes are booming, but the functionality of iTunes as a bookstore is meager – when compared to the functionality as a music store. Still the biggest advantage is that if you read eBooks on your iPhone, you need just a single device to enjoy both music and reading – at the same time. I read all my newspapers and books on my iPhone, to tell the truth.

Here’s a great review of TWO JOURNEYS in iTunes.

My books on iTunes.

iTunes Review on Apple Books

Reader comment on iTunes concerning Clemens P. Suter’s TWO JOURNEYS

As eBook or Paperback

Whether you have an iPhone or an iPad; you can get a copy of my books with a few mouse clicks.

Acclaim for TWO JOURNEYS

 “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

More about my books here: www.clemenssuter.com/books

iToons

Clemens P. Suter books on iTunes, iPhone

A snapshot of Fields of Fire can be found here.

Originally posted 2019-09-04 10:32:10.

Dealing with Cabin Fever caused by Corona Pandemic-related Social-Distancing

(Originally posted in March 2020). Ok, so we are now deep in our self-isolation due to the pandemic. Social distancing obviously works (see this Washington Post article), so my wife and I “bolted the house door” and have dramatically limited our excursions into the outside world – like most of our acquaintances here in Germany. Not surprisingly, cabin fever has set in; that dreadful experience when the walls of the house seem to be closing in on you. It is as if breathing becomes more difficult, and the boredom is so stunning that our senses seem to be covered by an all suffocating net. I am pulling the (last) hair from of my head while gnashing my teeth! A quick look at the clock: our self-isolation has been going on for a full TEN hours!

How will we feel in ten DAYS? And what can be done to against cabin fever? I have checked across the internet and collected some ideas.

Cabin fever (also called stir-crazy, stir as in prison) is not a disease as such, but a claustrophobic reaction, resulting in irritability and restlessness, that happens when a person ends up in an isolated or solitary location, or stuck indoors in confined quarters for an extended period of time.

What helps?

  • Going out: even brief interactions with nature are helpful: garden, balcony, or even opening a window. Careful for those dizzy spells caused by a sudden intake of fresh air, you don’t want to drop down the building.
  • Keeping a schedule and regularity, for instance for your meals and activities.
  • Physical activity: indoor sports (push ups, crunches), yoga or breathing exercises. Take a look at this bloke running a marathon in his apartment. If you want to follow his example, do coordinate with your downstairs neighbors.
  • Keeping your mind intellectually occupied. Perhaps try solving an intriguing problem over a longer period of time – like challenging crossword puzzles.
  • Reading (I suggest these pandemic adventure stories).
  • Talking with people; by telephone, or shouting from your balcony. Carefully select the channel, you may not want to share details of your sex life with random passers-by.
  • Shaving
  • Writing (like this blogpost you are reading now).
  • Playing board or card games.
  • Cooking.
  • Creative arts (drawing, painting, singing, dancing). Get inspired by these Italians singing.
  • Can’t sing? Listen to music. Here my favorites.
  • In short: stimulating your mind helps keep you moving forward and reduce feelings of isolation and helplessness.

What doesn’t help?

  • Alcohol.
  • Smoking.
  • Drinking too much coffee or using other stimulants.
  • Sleeping too much (a good nights rest will strengthen your immune system, which in turn will help protect against infection; still, sleeping for long periods is also a symptom of cabin fever).
  • Eating too much. Don’t give in to food cravings.
  • Binge watching or computer gaming. Having that said, I am quite envious of my two millennial sons. After all, millennials know how to survive for weeks in a darkened room, feeding on potato chips and whiskey shots, while staring at a display, without any face-to-face interaction.
  • Try to limit your social media time.
  • Reading or watching too much news.
  • Counting and sorting your rolls of toilet paper.
  • In short: too much of any single activity is definitely detrimental.

Take some time regularly to evaluate how you are coping. Adjust your daily schedule if necessary. And most important of all: keep calm and try to keep a sense of humor. My wife and I are now well into our 11th hour of self-isolation and, at least superficially, still acting like rational, compassionate human beings. If we can cope, so can you :-)

More about the pandemic here.

The Raven (Oil on Canvas with Ocker and Gold. 2020. Clemens P. Suter)

Originally posted 2020-03-17 21:32:00.

FOREST – a Short Story for you to enjoy.

Forest

Copyright 2020, Clemens P. Suter

„Bonjour Max,“ said the man behind the bar. “Salut Pierre,” he answered. It had been raining since daybreak, and Max was happy to be inside and to enjoy a small, hot café. On his way in, he had picked up a newspaper from one of the tables. Pierre brought him his coffee and a croissant. Pierre’s wasn’t very busy this morning, only a few workmen and pensioners at the tables. The high school teacher was correcting exams at her usual place; although Max didn’t know her name, he knew that her husband would join her for lunch, he always did when she was here. He started reading a more detailed political analysis on page three.

“Been out for a walk?” asked Pierre, wiping the top of the bar with a dirty cloth. Max looked up from his newspaper. Time had progressed and the place was almost empty now.

“Yes, the usual. I walked over through the forêt. It was rainy and quite slippery.”

“Better be careful, some of those paths are steep, and the rain erodes them away. Seen any deer?” Max knew that Pierre was a keen hunter. “No, none. I hardly ever see any deer in the forest, or foxes or boars. Only birds. A lot of birds. I hardly ever meet people.”

“Not many hikers or people visit the forest. An additional reason to be prudent, especially if you are on your own. You never know what may happen; in that forest.” Pierre’s face had darkened, and he looked Max deep in the eyes.

Max hesitated. Ever since he had moved into the area and started his walks in the forest, something had been puzzling him. “Perhaps you can help me, as you are a hunter and probably know the forest better than most…”

Pierre looked at him quizzically. The last patron exited the bar, leaving it empty until lunchtime.

“I have noticed that someone is digging in the woods. I’ve come across dozens of pits, some deep, others only superficial. Then, a few weeks back, I came across this woman, skinny, long hair. She came towards me with a shovel over her shoulder, a shovel with a broad blade and a long handle, almost like a coal shovel. I greeted her in passing, but she didn’t greet back. I stared after her until she disappeared in a turn of the track.”

Pierre’s cloth went over the top of bar in slow circles. His face had a serious expression. “Ah. You met her then. Marie.”

“Who is she? Is Marie the person who digs these holes?”

Pierre glanced first at the window to the kitchen, behind which Pierre’s wife could be heard preparing lunch, then at the clock. Pierre put down his cloth. He moved closer to Max, rested his elbows on the top of the bar, and lowered his voice. “Let me tell you. This is a fascinating story.”

It was a Saturday, the day on which Marie always slept in. She got up around nine, took a shower, then dried her hair as she looked out of the kitchen window. A beautiful summer day lay ahead. She fed her two dogs, dressed, and soon the three of them left the house, followed the field and entered the forest.

Marie was secretary in the hôtel de ville and single. She had been born in the area. Her parents had died in an accident, leaving her an inheritance that had allowed her to buy her small house.

The track that she followed went up steeply beneath pine trees. There were many paths in the forest and she still hadn’t explored all of them. She wasn’t afraid to get lost; the two dogs always helped her find the shortest route home. Today, the ethereal smell of the trees pulled her deeper and deeper into the woods. The dogs moved about swiftly, sniffing traces left by wild animals.

Suddenly, the path ended at a clearing. Not really a clearing: weeds covered it hip-high. It had been a long time since anyone had been here; young trees had started to sprout up. She walked across the open circle, butterflies escaping her approach. On the other side, the ground rose steeply and in this natural wall was an opening that let down into the ground. A red boulder rested next to it. The opening was breast-high and allowed a single person to enter the tunnel beyond. She called back the dogs as they started to walk in, sniffing left and right. Who had created this tunnel? Its walls were made of sand, no special construction was visible. Should she enter to explore? No way! The roof might collapse onto her, or she might get stuck. Exploring a tunnel on your own, a single person, would be very foolhardy. No, she decided to turn back.

She turned around and started walking. However, soon she recalled that this path continued for about twenty minutes until the next intersection. Forty minutes lost in total… without seeing anything new. She looked at the sun and her watch, and after only the slightest hesitation she returned to the clearing and the entrance.

The dogs entered the tunnel unconcerned and without delay, and now Marie followed. The ground was flat and without obstructions. After a minute it became very dark, and she was forced to slow down. The dogs apparently were fearless, and by following their sound, she could still move relatively quickly, holding her hands in front and above her face, to make sure that she didn’t hit her head against any obstruction.

After a while, Marie stopped and looked back. She couldn’t see the entrance anymore, and doubt came over her. She felt the walls. Rock had replaced sand. This seemed to be a natural tunnel, perhaps a river in prehistoric times? What to do next, press on, or return?

What if this cave had bifurcations or even junctions? Unexpectedly, a sense of panic came over her; if this was an underground maze of connected caverns, she could get lost quickly. Even turning back might cause her to take a wrong route, a side tunnel that she had missed on her way in. The tunnel suddenly felt damp and claustrophobic, she could practically feel the weight of the heavy, impenetrable earth pressing down on its roof. She had to breathe deeply to regain composure. Slowly her heavy heartbeat quieted down again. She realized that the dogs could help her. She bent forward, and felt their cold wet noses pushing against her arm.

She removed a line from her waist and clipped it on a neckband. “Search, search,” she said. After some hesitation, the dog pulled on the line and started to hurry forward. For an instance she was alarmed, as the dog started to move deeper into the tunnel, but then she decided to trust its instincts, especially as the other dog was already ahead and barking.

After a few minutes, light appeared. The tunnel made a slight turn to the left and the light grew brighter. She could see the outside world.  After a minute, the three of them reached the end of the tunnel and hurried out into daylight.

The sudden brightness overwhelmed her, and she had to shade her eyes with her hand. Drops of moisture and insects lighted up in the bright and yellowish light. The world looked different; strong mosaics of black shade and patches of color; yet tranquil and welcoming. The air was filled with honey sweet scents. She sat down on the ground, and for a while simply enjoined her surroundings. The songs of the birds and the buzz of the insects were surprisingly loud. Did she just imagine that the light and sounds were much more intensive this side of the tunnel? The petted the dogs, who lay close by, panting in the warm sunlight.

Again, she used her watch and the position of the sun to find the approximate direction of her house. She followed the path downhill, which after ten minutes hit upon a broader track. The dogs turned left, and she followed.

A big man with short black hair sat in the middle of the track, his legs spread wide and his back towards her. A hiker’s backpack and a bottle of water rested next to him. She stopped and inspected the figure; it wasn’t clear what he was doing. The man didn’t move. She looked back and to the left and right: only forest.

Picking up her courage, she moved forward. The man heard her coming, turned and looked at her over his shoulder. The pain that the movement caused was visible in his face. “Thank God, a human,” he grumbled.

“Can I help you?” she stood in front of him. He had untied his left boot, and she could see a red sock. His foot was swollen badly.

“I’m grateful that you are here. I slipped on the bank and sprained my ankle. I am reduced to a blasted limp! I don’t think it is broken but I need to get off this bloody mountain.”

They considered the options. Marie looked at her watch; the afternoon was progressing. After a while they agreed it would be best if he would lean on Marie, so that they could try reach a road in the valley. She helped him up, and he put his arm around her shoulder. He was heavy and strong, and for a moment she was worried. But he was friendly and kept on talking; about his love for hiking and the forest, his job, his family. He introduced himself as Yves.

They stumbled down the path. Sooner than Marie had expected, they came to a road. They waited for ten minutes for a car to come; they waived it down. The driver was an elderly man, who looked skeptical at first, but after their explanation he agreed to take Yves to the next village and a doctor. It didn’t cross Marie’s mind to join them, and she stared after the car that took Yves away.

As the sound of the engine dwindled, she again became aware of the loudness of the singing birds. She had no idea where she was, so she had to rely on her dogs to guide her home. The animals didn’t take the route through the tunnel.

Patrons came in, and Pierre excused himself to take the couples order. Pierre assembled glasses of water, plates with croissants and coffee cups on a tablet and served them. After ten minutes or so, he came over to the bar again.

“Curious story! What happened next?” asked Max, rather impatiently.

Marie returned home after dark. The day had been exhausting and she went to bed early. The next day, a great unrest came over her. She recalled the heaviness of Yves’ body, the scent of his aftershave, his black hair. She tried to shake off the feeling, but to her own surprise, she continued to feel a need to find out what had happened at the doctor, yes to meet him again. She found an excuse: she would inquire about him in the village and see whether he was ok. A civilized thing to do.

She packed the dogs into her car and drove around the mountain. She came to the road that the elderly man and Yves had taken. Soon afterwards, she arrived at a small medical practice, directly at the entrance of the first village. It was a Sunday, and the clinic was closed, but just as Marie parked her car, a woman came out of the building and started to lock the door from the outside. She was a nurse and had been there the whole of Saturday, but no one with an injured foot had turned up, no one with Yves description. The nurse mentioned a few medical practices and hospitals in the area where Yves could have gone for treatment – there weren’t many, only four.

Over the next days, Marie visited all four, but Yves hadn’t turned up in any of them. Marie was puzzled. She couldn’t imagine that the driver would have taken Yves to the next larger town, which after all was quite far away. Or had Yves asked the driver to take him home instead? Perhaps Yves had concluded that a strained ankle could be cured with an icepack and a few days on a sofa…

She realized there was little that she could do. Over the following weeks, she explored some other ideas, such as asking her colleagues at the city halls of the neighboring villages. She also discussed with a few friends. Nobody could help her. She also talked to the police, but the conversation was discouraging; the woman pointed out that Yves wasn’t her relative, he might have taken a bus to another town, or have been picked up by a friend of family member… She promised to make a note of it, but here really was no reason for the police to become involved, the woman stated.

Weeks turned into months and Marie forced herself to forget about Yves. She had to stop chasing this dream.

And she would have given up, but a few unexpected observations threw her back. Marie continued to spend most of her free time outdoors, and during her walks with the dogs, she continued to roam the forest. Unsurprisingly, she was still intrigued by the open enclosure with its red boulder and the entrance to the tunnel. But to her initial amusement, and later wonder and then frustration, she did manage to find the start of the route to the enclosure, but she remained unable to find tunnel itself. It turned into a frustration: she spent weeks trying to locate the tunnel, but she never succeeded to find its entrance, or for that matter the exit.

In addition, she also observed that the feeling of elation, which by now she associated with her passing through the tunnel, was beginning to fade. She didn’t read too much in both observations at first, but when, in addition, nobody could confirm to her that a tunnel existed in the forest, she felt anger growing within her.

One night the anger and frustration exploded, and she grabbed a shovel and started to dig for the tunnel.

Pierre fell silent. The door opened and some regulars entered. “Ca va?” called Pierre and raised his hand in greeting.

“What happened then?” asked Max.

Pierre’s face lost all expression. “Nothing. She is still digging.”

Pierre walked over to the newcomers and started to take care of their order.

After a while, Max ordered another coffee. He sipped it, deep in thought. Not much later, he left the bar, and, taking the shortest route through the forest, returned home.

Max got up early the next day. He packed a small backpack with some essentials; a bottle of water, a few sandwiches, a torch. He put on his hiking boots and selected a robust jacket. Entering the forest, he selected his route with determination. It was leisurely walking at first, but soon it became steep climbing. Max started sweating.

Not many people had traveled this route. Ignoring all crossing paths and bifurcations, Max progressed rapidly. He arrived at a clearing in the forest and walked across it. He set down his backpack on top of the red boulder and inspected his surroundings and the entrance of the tunnel. A raven flapped through the sky, landed on a branch of a large pine and shouted gleefully. It was cloudy and the air was frech. Max was pleased that he had brought a jacket.

He knew this place but had never entered the tunnel. He rummaged through his backpack and grabbed for the torch. Turning it on, he entered the dark hole.

The air was damp and cold. A slight breeze continued to touch his face and hands. With the help if the artificial he managed to progress rapidly. He couldn’t see any traces of anyone having passed through here; neither footsteps nor paws, but he realized that didn’t mean much.

The walls did indeed turn from sand into rock. He could see traces of water erosion in the stone. He hurried along and after fifteen minutes or so, he the exit became visible in the distance.

Shortly thereafter, Max exited the tunnel. The brightness of the sun hit him hard and instinctively he moved his hand above his squinting eyes. He had to wait a few seconds to allow them to adjust to the light.

The air was filled with sounds of insects, that buzzed by at determined speeds. A sparrow swept down and snapped a butterfly, right in front to Max’s face. The suddenness of the movement surprised him, and he took a shocked step back. The sky was blue and most of the clouds had been blown away. Max took off his coat, rolled it up and stored it, together with the torch, in his backpack. He wept the sweat off his face.

Max inspected his surroundings. The forest was quiet and looked slightly different this side of the tunnel. Fewer pines, but more sycamore and eucalyptus trees. It looked more friendly, something to do with the light… he couldn’t put his finger on it. He took a deep breath; the air was invigorating, fresh.

Max started down the path. After a while, he hit upon a broader track.

He came upon a man, sitting in the middle of the track, his legs spread wide and his back towards him. The man had short black hair. A backpack rested on the ground next to the man and he held a bottle of water in his hand.

Max stopped abruptly and stared at the figure. The man, obviously unaware of Max’ presence, didn’t move. Max looked back, and then left and right: the two of them were surrounded by vast, empty forest. The insects lighted up as they passed through beams of sunlight, some fast and hurried, others leisurely, each at its own pace.

Frowning, Max moved forward. The man heard him coming, turned and looked at him over his shoulder. He grimaced with pain. “Thank God, a human,” he grumbled.

Max stopped in front of him. He noticed that the man’s left boot was untied, and he could see a red sock.

“I’m grateful you are here,” said the man. “I slipped on the bank and sprained my ankle. I am reduced to a blasted limp! I don’t think it is broken… nevertheless I need to get off this bloody mountain.”

Max didn’t answer, thoughts racing through his head. He continued to stare at the man. “What’s up?” asked the man, staring up at Max. “Think you can help me?”

Max cleared his throat. “Well… yes, I think so.” He tried to shake off his confusion.

“Great!” said the man, enthusiastically. “By the way, my name is Yves.” He stuck out a big hand. Max stuck out his hand too, and they shook. “I’m Max.”

The man continued chatting. Max hesitated in his answers at first, but after a while the apparent honesty of the man somehow managed to reduce Max’s feeling of apprehension. Max looked at his watch; the day was progressing. After a while they agreed it would be best if Yves would lean on Max, so that they could try reach a road in the valley. Max helped him up, and Yves put his arm around Max’s shoulder. Yves wasn’t very heavy, so walking down the hill wasn’t too much of a challenge. Yves kept on talking; about his love for hiking and the forest, his job, his family. They came to a road, sooner than Max had expected.

They waited for a car to turn up. Yves sat down on the shoulder of the road. Max decided that whatever happened next, he would get in the car with the man and find out where he was going. Max felt that he needed to interview the man more, to better understand what was going on. But either the right questions didn’t enter his head, or Yves’ answers were blatantly simple.

A small truck came into view, and Max waved it down. The driver, and elderly man, was skeptical at first, but after some discussion willing to take Yves to the next town and a doctor. The driver waved at his truck and it contents; he apologized to Max that, with Yves in the passenger seat, there obviously was no room for him. Max nodded in understanding.

The doors slammed shut, and the driver started the engine.

Max stared after the truck as it disappeared. He shook his head. Then, he took a sandwich from his backpack and munched it slowly, trying to decide what to do next.

After some more time, he crossed the road and found a path that lead downhill. After half an hour he could see the first houses of a village.

He hit the high street, took a turn to the right. He entered the bar. The high school teacher was correcting exams at her usual table. Max looked at his watch and concluded that her husband had most likely already left.

„Bonjour Max, ca va?“ said Pierre from behind the bar. Max hesitated for a second, but then answered: “Salut Pierre.” On his way in, he had automatically picked up a newspaper from one of the tables. The place wasn’t very busy, only a few workmen and pensioners. After a while, Pierre brought him a coffee and a croissant.

“Been out for a walk?” asked Pierre, wiping the top of the bar with a dirty cloth. Max inspected Pierre’s face, not exactly sure what to say. “Well… yes, the usual. I walked over through the forêt. Beautiful weather… better than yesterday?” Max turned his last statement into a question.

A serious expression came over Pierre’s face. “Better be careful in the forest, some of the paths are steep and the rain erodes them away. Seen any deer?”

Max shook his head slowly. “No, none. Only birds. A lot of birds, and insects. No humans either.”

A cloud moved in front of the sun, and the interior of the bar turned dark. Somehow, Max felt that he could guess what Pierre would say next. He felt his skin starting to crawl.

Pierre continued to wipe the top of the bar, in exaggeratedly slow, circular movements. He stopped, moved his head towards Max and looked him deep in the eyes. His face darkened and he spoke slowly. “Not many enter the forest. An additional reason to be prudent, especially if you are on your own. In that forest, you never know what may happen.”

img 0553

The Forest

Interested in more? Click here for the short story THE TUNNEL.

Originally posted 2020-03-07 22:15:00.

My aunt Denise and her conversations from the edge.

As my cousin John used to say: It is not that aunt Denise is mad. It’s just that her tongue is connected differently to her brain than with ordinary people. Alas, cousin John is no longer with us – whereas aunt Denise continues to thrive.

Here some of her gems.

*********

My aunt Denise: “Listen. Listen! Something absolutely weird happened to me!

… Oh wait. That wasn’t me… it happened to somebody else.”

********

How much did you pay for that mixer?

About a hundred bucks.

A hundred bucks?! You can buy a vacuum cleaner for a hundred bucks!

Yeah, but we didn’t need a vacuum cleaner. Besides the mixer came with a lot of extra stuff, funnels and beakers and so on.

What do you need those for if you vacuum the house?

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The dog kept on having sex with my knee.

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My husband, your uncle, was so mad at me, he locked himself in the upstairs bathroom for an entire week.

Really? How did he survive?

He ate the toothpaste.

At least he had enough to drink.

I turned off the mains, and that forced him come out.

Why was he mad at you?

I forgot.

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Originally posted 2018-06-24 05:08:00.