Are you a fan of adventure and SciFi? I am looking for book bloggers to support me for my new novel REBOUND.
Perhaps you love reading in general, or the post-apocalypse specifically. Perhaps movies are your thing, or you are into creative writing?
REBOUND is a great adventure novel, a story of perseverance and friendship, and a travel story too. It was released in 2022 and is available as eBook and paperback. The readers love it!
I am looking for book bloggers that are willing to read the book (you will naturally get a free copy) and that are willing to leave reviews on Instagram, their own blog, on Apple Books, on Amazon or any other channel.
I will provide the manuscript to you as an EBook file. We can even do a concerted action, a cross promotion of each other’s work! This had worked well in the past, and we can discuss the details. I am open for anything.
Contact me through clemens.p.suter [at] gmail.com or use the contact page.
Please share this post with other people that might be interested! Thank you for your support!
I have been struggling with the memory of an unpleasant experience. It went like this: I visited Kansas City on business, and on the last day I had to go back to the airport by taxi. The driver was a young man, probably in his early thirties, intelligent and engaged. I always chat with the taxi and Uber drivers. The conversation was pleasant enough, until at some point the driver noticed that I was from Europe and brought the discussion to Brexit. Today, Brexit is practically over and done with, but at that time the initial discussions between the UK and the EU were in full swing; Teresa May was still Prime Minister. I indicated that these negotiations weren’t easy, as both parties naturally had wishes, at which point, this young man said (watch my lips!): “The UK has the very right to leave the EU. The EU is fascist that they want to define the rules for Brexit. The EU is a fascist state.”
I must admit that I was speechless for several seconds. I then tried to explain to him, that from my viewpoint, the EU was founded as a reaction to the terrible wars and fascism of the twentieth century. I explained that the EU is a union that focuses on economic, political and societal unification, all with the sole purpose of defending democracy and human rights – to never let fascism happen again. And the EU has been quite successful at that too, as no war within the EU territory has occurred since 1945 (note: wars have happened outside of the EU boundary over the years, but luckily many of those countries later joined the EU).
He still wasn’t please with my answer, and pointed out that it was fascist to dictate the UK the rules by which they would leave. This shocked me too, as this is the same naivety that many pro-Brexit Brits suffered from. I told him that the EU is one of the largest markets in the world, with approximately 450 million people (living in 27 countries). To get access to that market has big benefits for any third party, and the UK would need to comply to certain rules and restrictions to be rewarded that access. He still didn’t agree. I provided an example, a thought play. Let’s suppose, I said, that New Jersey would decide to leave the USA, what would happen? First of all, there is no clause in the constitution of the USA that would allow this, so the US president would send the army to force New Jersey to stay within the USA (similar as what happened during the US civil war between the north and south). In the EU, the constitution actually has such a clause. However, let’s presume that New Jersey would be allowed to leave: at that moment it would lose all its privileges. No free travel across the border to the neighboring states, no protection by the US army. Sure: no payment towards the central government, but in return also no subsidies or financial benefits from that government, so no access to other US universities, nor to healthcare services or using US insurance. Most importantly: no free trade with the remaining 49 states of the USA. New Jersey would need to negotiate this. Naturally, the USA (as it is much bigger market than New Jersey) would set the agenda in their interest, and dictate many of the rules. The UK may have 67 million citizens and a higher GPO than New Jersey, but still: the EU won’t simply give the UK access to their market for free.
Obviously, the driver rejected this idea immediately. His argumentation was simple: New Jersey was part of a country, my suggestion that it would leave the USA was ridiculous. Whereas the UK was an independent country. And independent countries are allowed to leave with all benefits, hence the EU was fascist. Well, I said, that is what many people in the UK believe, but they will have a brutal awaking.
To be honest, he did have a point, as perception drives reality. The EU (more in wikipedia) is a federation in development, the final step towards a United States of Europe has not been completed. This is illustrated by the paragraph mentioned above, which allows nations to leave the Union. In a real country such a clause is unthinkable.
People see the EU as an assembly of individual countries, but at the same time as a single unit. the view depends on what the situation is, and this is confusing as hell. Examples? The EU is seen as a single unit considering one of the best personal data protection laws in the world (GDPR) that forces all companies (such as Facebook, Google or Alibaba) to comply to if they want to do business with the EU. The EU also aggressively prosecutes monopolies by businesses. The EU has also established very strong human rights, across all nations, but this is already less tangible for the average citizen. Sure, the EU is best known for their unifying laws, such as the curve of bananas – which actually was a request from the banana producers themselves, and would have been implemented in affected countries anyway. In the USA or China, such laws exist too.
On the other extreme, sports is still the responsibility of the member states, rather than of the EU. So Olympic gold medals are counted by country. I didn’t do the math, but I suspect that the EU would blow most other countries out of the water if it comes to the number of Olympic gold medals. The EU has the best skiers through Germany, Austria and the Nordics; the best ice skaters through the Netherlands and the Nordics, the best sailors from French, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Portugal (to name a few) – and the best soccer players from practically all countries. But does anyone in the world count Olympic medals this way? Naturally not, many will say. after all, the EU isn’t a country.
What are the causes for these views within the EU itself? Even within the EU, many people do not feel like Europeans, but feel like Belgians, Italians or Austrians. Europeans still feel very national. Whereas Russians, Americans or Chinese are constantly and efficiently infused (yes: indoctrinated) with patriotism, this is largely absent on an EU level. The EU is a very fact-based organization, with little room for emotion. In addition, Europe does a poor job advertising its merits to the ordinary people.
Interestingly, many Europeans project their anti-government sentiments on the EU. This is what happened during the Brexit referendum in the UK: research has shown that the pro-Brexit voters in reality didn’t know or feel much about the EU, but they did want to punish their own (British) government. So, the more the UK government argued that the EU was the best choice in the referendum, the more the population rejected that idea, and wanted to punish them for past and present sins. This led to the 51% majority (17M of the entire population) that voted for Brexit. Not an overwhelming majority (of which, due to advanced age, apparently 6M have in the meantime died). In the USA, this mistrust of the central government is also well established (most US Americans probably do not realize that their state government plays a big legislative role too – and if not the governor, than the local mayor – somebody has to set up the playing rules).
The EU is still on its path towards full federation, and (to me) this is the best way forward. The EU lives from solidarity among the member states, and this has lead to peace, prosperity, human rights. But until the EU arrives at that point, the perception of the EU will have its ups and downs. During dramatic events such Brexit, the refugee crisis or the Corona pandemic, many people immediately ask: “will the EU survive this?” Probably if somebody sneezes in Zimbabwe, somebody, somewhere will ask “Oh, is this the end of the EU?” Nobody would ask that about the USA, China or Russia (although we actually know from history that no nation can survive forever).
The reality is that EU is going strong. Admittedly, the refugee crisis has not been resolved satisfactorily, this is where the solidarity breaks to pieces (also think: Trump’s wall). Still, I wager that the EU exited Brexit towards a stronger position. The Corona Pandemic led to more solidarity among the member states, and daring decisions for more federalization.
To the taxi driver in Kansas City: No, the EU is definitely not fascist. On the contrary.
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
Publication Date: April 1, 2012 (NetGalley Archive Date: August 30, 2019)
Review Date: August 21, 2019I 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?
Die deutsche Übersetzung dieses Textes findest du unten!
If you have read a few of my blog posts, you will have noticed that I like to write about the future. This is mostly due to the many newspapers and books that I read. Here’s another look into my magic crystal ball.
The gender discussion is now finding its way into our language. This is a positive development, as the language that all of us use for communication should be respectful of people who are ‘different’. Language should be inclusive; if it isn’t inclusive, it reflects that our society and we as citizens aren’t.
It is a challenging topic though, as in many languages certain words have a clear ‘sex’. In English, and in my native language Dutch, this isn’t so dramatic, since in these two languages only a few forms exist. For example: “Look, a horse! It is beautiful” is the sexless form. “Did you ask the doctor?” is sex-neutral, and only by going into more detail, the sex becomes apparent: “Did you ask the doctor and what was her answer?” So, in English or Dutch, it is quite easy to navigate the cliffs of sexism.
How different is the German language! Here, many words have a pre-assigned sex. Sexless examples are: das Pferd, das Kind, das Mädchen (the horse, the child, the girl. Confusingly a girl is sexless as the word contains a diminutive; let’s skip that for the moment). But all other words are either male or female: der Arzt and die Ärztin (the doctor), der Lokomotivführer and die Lokomotivführerin (the trainengineer), die Krankenschwester and der Krankenbruder (the nurse), even der Mond (the moon),and dieBlume (the flower) have a sex.
The current gendering results in German sentences such as “Sehr geehrte Bürger*Innen” (“Dear citizens”. Notice the use of the *). In this way, some people now write (and speak) about Arzt*Innen, and Lokomotivführer*Innen. The difficulty is that German grammar knows many more articles than der/die/das. For instance: “Der Stein war zu groß. Ich habe den Stein verkauft.” (The stone was too big. I sold the stone). In regards to correct gendering, this can become quite complex, and the result isn’t very pretty.
The biggest challenge: all current proposals for gendering are half-assed solutions. and as we all know, only radical solutions drive true change.
It doesn’t take much of a crystal ball to see how the German language will change over the next 20,30,40 years. Most likely (like in real life) the absolute male and female forms will disappear. This will probably happen because the articles die/der will disappear, for instance as follows: “Das Doctor arbeitet in das Krankenhaus” (The doctor works in the hospital), “Das Stadt, das Blume und das Mond sind schön” (the town, the flower and the moon are beautiful – notice how perfectly this works in English?) or even “Das Frau kauft das Blume” (The woman buys the flower), and “Das Stein war zu groß. Ich habe das Stein verkauft.” (The stone was too big. I sold the stone.)
Conservatives will probably fight this tooth and nail, which is not unusual for changes in language. In the end, reality dictates what a language looks like, not artificial regulation or feeble attempts at conservation. Language constantly changes, and usually at the speed with which society changes. And our surrounding world is changing rapidly.
Wenn du einige meiner Blogposts gelesen hast, wirst du bemerkt haben, daß ich gerne in die Zukunft schaue. Hier ist ein weiterer Blick in meine Kristallkugel.
Die Geschlechterdiskussion findet nun ihren Weg in unsere Sprache. Dies ist eine positive Entwicklung, da die Sprache, die wir jeden Tag für die Kommunikation verwenden, Menschen, die anders sind, respektieren sollte. Sprache sollte inklusiv sein; wenn sie nicht inklusiv ist, zeigt es, daß unsere Gesellschaft und wir als Bürger es nicht sind.
Es ist jedoch ein herausforderndes Thema, da in vielen Sprachen bestimmte Wörter ein klares „Geschlecht“ haben. Auf Englisch und in meiner Muttersprache (Niederländisch) ist dies nicht so dramatisch, da in diesen Sprachen nur wenige Formen existieren. Zum Beispiel: “Look, a horse!” ist die geschlechtslose Form. “Did you ask the doctor?” ist Geschlechstneutral. Nur wenn man mehr Detail nachliefert, wird das Geschlecht offensichtlich: “Did you ask the doctor, and what did she say?” Auf Englisch und Niederländisch ist es also ziemlich einfach, die Klippen des Sexismus zu navigieren.
Wie anders ist die deutsche Sprache! Hier haben viele Wörter ein vorab zugewiesenes Geschlecht. Sexlose Beispiele sind: das Pferd, das Kind, das Mädchen (Verwirrenderweise ist ein Mädchen geschlechtslos, da das Wort eine Verkleinerung enthält). Aber alle anderen Wörter sind entweder männlich oder weiblich: der Arzt und die Ärztin, der Lokomotivführer und der Lokomotivführerin, die Krankenschwester und der Krankenbruder, der Mond, die Blume.
Die aktuelle Geschlechterdiskussion führt zu Konstrukten wie “Sehr geehrte Bürger*Innen“. Auf ähnliche Weise schreiben (und sprechen) die Leute jetzt über Arzt*Innen, oder Lokomotivführer*Innen. Die Schwierigkeit besteht darin, daß die deutsche Grammatik viel mehr Artikel wie “der, die und das” kennt: zum Beispiel: “Der Stein war zu groß. Ich habe den Stein verkauft“. In Bezug auf korrektem Gendern kann dies komplex werden und ist nicht sehr hübsch.
Die größte Herausforderung: Alle aktuellen Vorschläge zum Gendern sind halbherzige Lösungen. Aber: nur radikale Lösungen treiben echte Änderung voran.
Es braucht keine Kristallkugel, um zu sehen, wie sich die deutsche Sprache in den nächsten 20,30,40 Jahren ändern wird. Höchstwahrscheinlich (wie im wirklichen Leben) werden die absoluten männlichen und weiblichen Formen verschwinden. Die Artikel werden verschwinden, wie im Satz: “Das Arzt arbeitet in das Krankenhaus”, “Das Stadt, das Blume und das Mond sind schön“, oder sogar “Das Frau kauft das Blume“, “Das Stein war zu groß. Ich habe das Stein verkauft”. Wenn du versuchst, diese Sätze ins Englische zu übersetzen, wirst du feststellen, daß die englische Sprache diese Änderung bereits durchlaufen hat (“The stone was too big. I have sold the stone.”)
Konservative werden sich mit Hand und Fuß gegen diese Änderungen wehren, was für Sprachreformen nicht ungewöhnlich ist. Am Ende diktiert die Realität, wie eine Sprache aussieht, nicht künstliche Regulierung oder schwache Erhaltungsversuche. Die Sprache ändert sich ständig und normalerweise mit der Geschwindigkeit, mit der sich die Gesellschaft ändert. Und unsere Welt verändert sich rasant.
Peter came home at eight p.m., determined to solve the issue once and for all. All day long, the voices that he had been hearing over the last weeks had been on his mind, and now he was going to put an end to it.
He placed his keys and wallet on the kitchen table and walked into the garden. It looked inconspicuously enough. About 60 feet deep and 40 feet wide, on the south side bordered by his house (the kitchen to be precise) and on the other three sides by the gardens of his three neighbors. He had inherited the place at a relatively young age, his parents had unexpectedly died in a car crash on the New Jersey turnpike; actually just a few miles away.
At the end of his garden was a small shed in which Peter stored some gardening tools, but he knew the voices didn’t originate from there. He could stand with his back against the shed, or the kitchen, and in both cases he could, with almost absolute certainty, pinpoint the origin of the voices to the center of his plot of land. They either came from beneath the ground… or from his imagination. Had he been living alone for too long, he wondered? Was he going insane?
It was cold out; winter had come early. He could see his breath. Stars speckled the dark sky.
He walked over to the shed, retrieved a spade and carried it to the center of his plot. He listened, but all was quiet. Yesterday evening he had heard the voices: two men talking to one another. Like always he hadn’t been able to understand the words; but they had been there, in deep conversation. One voice seemed to belong to a curious young fellow, asking a lot of questions. There was some uncertainty in his voice. The other sounded elderly, and more experienced, providing answers.
Peter grimaced. It was all too ridiculous! Where could these voices come from? He was smack in the middle of a suburban area; the houses of his neighbors were at least a hundred feet away. He hesitated. Should he return the spade to the shed and make an appointment with a psychologist? Or go to the police? Ha! They would only laugh at him. Peter scowled, and the spade entered the wet soil. He lifted the first load of wet, dark earth and threw it to the side. Another followed, and another and one more. He kept on digging and digging. He didn’t find anything; it was just earth. Soon he was standing in a 3 feet deep hole.
“Ahem,” said the voice of his neighbor, Mr. Schaper. Peter looked up, and saw his neighbor standing on the other side of the fence. “Digging a hole, are we?”
“Well yes,” said Peter. He didn’t interrupt his work and kept on digging.
“Going to make a pool?” asked Mr. Schaper.
“That’s the plan,” said Peter, deciding that this was as good an excuse as any.
“Do you have a permit?” asked Mr. Schaper. Just what was to be expected. The nitpicking Mr. Schaper immediately homed in on a possible complication. Peter hesitated. He didn’t know whether a permit was a prerequisite for digging a pool. He cleared his throat. “Uhum. Well, not yet naturally. I am first checking whether it makes sense to create a pool in this spot. You know, whether the ground allows it.” He realized this didn’t sound very convincing, and as he glanced at Mr. Schaper’s face he could recognize skepticism. He continued digging, but Mr. Schaper didn’t give up. “You will need a permit, that’s for sure. And that must be passed by the neighbors, we have a say into this as well, just that you know it. Anyway, why do this in the dark? You can’t see a damned thing!”
Peter kept on digging, hoping that Mr. Schaper would simply turn around and go inside. Sometimes he did just that, if ignored, but not this time. After a few more minutes, Peter paused and wiped the sweat from his brow. “I say, you could do me a big favor. If you have a spade and some boots, you could perhaps help?”
Mr. Schaper’s face darkened. “No way, old man. No way! I have a hernia, not allowed to do that kind of thing.” With that, Mr. Schaper turned around and went back inside his house.
Peter’s spade went into the ground. Clang! He hid something, a piece of metal, located at the side of the hole. What was it? Peter used his spade to free up the object. It was a metal tube, perhaps 2 inches wide, and it came almost to ground level. He freed it further and could see that it went straight down into the ground. At the top was a bend and some sort of mesh, preventing the earth from falling in. Was this the origin of the voices? Peter moved his ear to the mesh and listened. Nothing, no sound. He scratched the back of his head. Perhaps his father had attempted to drill a well, and this was the remnant? To looked inconspicuously enough. Still, this tube was the only tangible possibility for the origin of the voices. Peter decided to carry on. He glanced suspiciously at the houses around him, but all his neighbors appeared to be inside. One, two, three; he removed the earth around the tube. The digging was heavy work, and soon he was sweating hard. He took off his sweater and threw it on the grass. Deeper and deeper he went, and after half an hour or so he had laid bare about seven feet. It seemed to consist of pieces of about three feet each, welded together.
He estimated that he had been digging for about three hours. Should he continue? He had to get up early tomorrow morning, it was a regular workday at the physics lab. He decided to press on. Another hour passed, and one more. The hole was deep by now and the walls very steep; Peter concentrated on freeing as much as possible of the tube, without making the hole overly wide. Again, he paused briefly, and listened. No sounds, no voices. He couldn’t see the houses anymore, only the sky above, littered with stars. It was cold and he scrambled up to get his sweater. He put it on and jumped back into the hole. The ground gave away and he slipped down into the earth. In panic he threw his arms around and hit the tube with his left hand. Ouch! He cursed and slipped further. He feared that he would be buried alive and tried to get a hold of the tube. Earth fell on top of him as the hole collapsed, and the mountains of earth that he had created on the surface slipped in and blocked the hole from above.
A few minutes later, Mr. Schaper came into the garden. With chagrin on his face, he looked over the fence and at the hole. “Building a pool indeed! He doesn’t even manage to dig a decent hole. Glad he decided to go to bed. Young fool.” Mr. Schaper disappeared into his house and turned off the lights. The entire village seemed to sleep. Far away, in the center of town, the church bell clanged the first notes of the star-spangled banner.
Peter dropped through the ground and fell onto a concrete floor. He almost twisted his ankle in the process and limped around in a circle. “Damn, ouch, damn!” Some dirt trickled on his back, but the ceiling seemed to hold. Peter stopped and stared. He found himself in a brightly lid corridor, about five-foot-wide and seven high. The walls were made from concrete, painted white, with a grey stripe three feet from the floor. The corridor turned to the right twenty or so feet away and was joined by another corridor that came from the left. The ceiling consisted of netting and concrete slabs but wasn’t very massive in appearance. Peter closed his mouth slowly. In his mind he tried to connect his house, his neighborhood with this underground tunnel system, but he couldn’t. He had never heard that a subway passed through this American village or that the military had build any facility in the area. There was no heavy industry for miles around!
It was quiet, but he could hear the echo of his own movements resonating in the distance. What to do now? As became obvious after a quick inspection, there was no turning back. The ceiling was too high to reach, and even if he could have reached it, there was a great risk that he would be buried alive underneath his own garden…or the entire neighborhood. He found the metal tube; it entered the corridor along the left wall, made a 90 degree turn and followed the wall for 30 feet, and then disappeared into it, out of sight. Peter speculated that the voices had been carried by that tube to his garden; the voices had most likely not even originated from the spot where he was standing now.
It didn’t make any sense to stay here, he had to return to the surface some way. He could go left or right; he decided on the latter. Quickly, and as silently as possible, he started walking down the tunnel. It didn’t go straight; it had bends and weak curves, sometimes to one side, then to the other. He could never see farther than a few hundred feet. Overall, it did seem to go in a single direction, east he thought. And it went very slowly down.
There were strong lightbulbs overhead, and occasionally he passed doors, all painted grey and locked, without number or any distinguishing marks. Taken together, the tunnel looked very purpose-made, without any frills. This went on for three quarters of an hour, when suddenly, voices became audible. He stopped and listened. Undoubtedly: two men. Peter moved forward, soundlessly. The tunnel curved again, and he entered a large space. It was an intersection of multiple tunnels, four, five, running off in different directions, some going down, others going up. The conversation continued but frustratingly he could not determine from which tunnel it came; it seemed to come from everywhere. He entered one tunnel and followed it for a while: the voices disappeared. He returned to the intersection and tried the next tunnel, with the same effect.
He couldn’t understand what the men were discussing, it could have been some foreign language. Suddenly the voices became more aggressive. The two men seemed to have entered an argument. Soon they started shouting at each other, and then a struggle seemed to ensue. Gasping, grappling, muffled cries. Peter listened, his anxiety increasing. One of the men seemed to have broken free, his feet pounding on the floor as he started running. The other man started to chase him, cursing. A shot ran out!
To his shock, Peter realized that the sounds were increasing in volume: the men were coming in his direction. Another shot sounded, and loud cursing and hollering. Peter stood in the middle of the intersection, quickly weighing his options. He realized that waiting was not an option. He had to move away from the men, and by choosing any of the five tunnels, he realized that he had a good chance of doing so. He decided to take the tunnel to his left as it ran slightly upwards. He dashed into it, never minding the noise that he made. After about a hundred feet he realized that he had made a terrible mistake, as the tunnel suddenly started to drop down steeply. But he couldn’t turn back; the voices of the men had changed. For a few seconds they stopped running and didn’t shout at one another anymore. Peter guessed that they had heard his movements. And yes, they seemed to orchestrate their actions again, rapidly conversing with one other. Then they ran again, without speaking. No doubt they were in pursuit!
Peter increased his speed, at the same attempting to reduce the sound that he made. Nevertheless, the feet behind him could be hear without interruption and he realized that they had by now entered his tunnel. Peter thanked his guardian angel that he went jogging so often, as at least he could keep this tempo up for some time. If only there would be another intersection! Instead, after about 15 minutes of running, Peter entered a hallway. There was a small platform in the middle, and next to it was a small-track railway, on which stood a low locomotive connected to several train wagons. He now had two options: he could continue running down the corridor or attempt to figure out how the locomotive worked. Peter bent down and looked at the controls: a key in the ignition, what looked like a single handle to adjust speed, and a possible brake pedal; that was it. Quickly he lowered himself into the driver seat and turned the ignition key. Immediately the train lurched forward, and he fell back, hitting his head on the back of the seat. Not a moment too early: a loud bang sounded, and bullet whizzed by, leaving a hole in the side window. The train shot into a dark tunnel that almost immediately started to drop down. The acceleration pulled at his stomach. The ceiling of the tunnel was just above the train, obviously the two had been designed in conjunction. Faster and faster the train went. Wind came in from the sides; but Peter figured out how to pull close the sliding door. It was almost quiet now, although some noise came in through the hole in the window. There was a small light in the front of the locomotive, and he could see the tracks whizzing by.
He didn’t attempt to control the speed. The further he got away from those two maniacs, the better. Besides, he was certain that this dark and straight tunnel would very soon turn towards the surface and reach its destination and would enable him to return home.
But the train traveled on and on, and down and down, by now at a terrific speed. He tried to relax. After a while he got out of his seat. The locomotive had a low flat roof and he had to crawl on all fours towards the back. He opened the door and stared into the next compartment. On the left were cans of food, on the right bottles of mineral water. He couldn’t continue; the stored goods blocked his way. He returned to his seat and investigated the controls. Or the absence of controls: there was no transmitter, no speedometer, or any other indicators. No clock; he had no idea what time it was. Peter sighed. After a while he became tired and his eyes started to close. He fell asleep.
He woke up with a shock. He was certain that he had slept long and deep. He felt hungry. The train continued its path, uninterrupted and at neck breaking speed. He went to the back and got some food and a bottle of water. He inspected the train again: it was spotlessly clean, and futuristic looking. Although; that was the wrong phrase: it looked different and unusual, with its curved surfaces and beige plastic. No design that he had seen resembled this. Time went by. Without anything to do, he just sat in his chair and slept a little. At some point he considered to try the brake but decided against it. The narrow tunnel was just wide enough for the train. He didn’t see any exits, the walls of the tunnel appeared uninterrupted. If the train stopped, where could he go? He shuddered at the thought of being stuck in this seemingly endless and claustrophobic tube and being forced to continue on foot. Where to? He fell asleep and had a nightmare: he felt as if he was submerged in liquid, his lungs filling with water. Shoals of fish chased him, and a kraken tried to catch and crush him with its giant tentacles.
Time and place merged, his brain grew more and more confused. Then, at some time, he noticed a difference. The train appeared to be climbing – or was it just his confused mind? Oh, Peter, he said to himself, oh Peter, why can’t you never develop a plan – or do something drastic? But in his delirious state, the thought slipped away, and never returned. He slept some more and had some food. There was a small toilet behind his seat that he used. He freshened up by throwing some water in his face.
Then, much later, a loud screeching! Suddenly, the train decelerated. The force pushed him forward, he had to hold on to the chair. Finally, the locomotive came to a halt. Peter listened for a few seconds, and when he heard nothing but silence, he opened the door. The lights of the train dimmed, then went out. He let himself slip into the darkness and down to the ground. With his hands outstretched he took a few steps. Slowly his eyes became adjusted to the dark. He was at a small station, but not the same one as where he had started out. He searched the platform with his hands, it was wet and slippery, sawdust and an oily substance. After a while he found a box. He rummaged through it. Some cloths, some tools. He got hold of a lighter, pulled it out and flicked it on. The light didn’t reach the walls; the hall was apparently very large. He inspected the contents of the box: no electric torch alas. But he found a metal bar, and some oil. He sat down on the ground and tore some of the rags to pieces and twisted them around the bar. He poured the oil over the rags and ignited them. Now he had enough light to investigate the hall. It was mostly empty, a few crates in a corner.
He didn’t know how it happened, but some sparks from the flame must have fallen on the ground, as suddenly the sawdust and oily residue caught fire. Peter cursed. The flames spread at a very disturbing speed: either somebody had spilled some highly ignitable substance between the crates, or a container had leaked. Peter pulled away from the hungry flames, and they chased him towards a corner. The flames licked at his clothing and suddenly his trousers started burning. He ripped them off and pulled his burning shirt over his head. By the light of the flames he could recognize a man-high tunnel in the opposite wall. He jumped across the fire, the flames liking at his naked body. He entered the tunnel and ran forward. His biggest fear was to suffocate in the smoke; the main risk of any fire. He hurried on for several minutes. Smoke started to fill the passage.
It was dark, and unexpectedly he ran into a wall. He groped around and fell a metal ladder, embedded in the wall. He got a hold of the bars and started climbing up, as quickly as he could. It was hard work. He climbed and climbed, bar after bar. The metal started hurting his hands and bare feet, but he was so afraid for the fire overtaking him that he pressed on.
Then: sounds! He could hear voices above him, and cars, traffic. He climbed faster. Suddenly he hit his head against a solid object above him. It dizzied him for a second and he almost let go of the bars. He rested a moment, trying to catch his breath. Then, with his last power, he slung his arms over a bar and pulled himself up. With one hand he felt above him. On the sides: concrete, but just above him a circle of cool, heavy metal. Peter climbed up one more bar and pushed against the metal with his shoulder. Yes, it was a lid, a duct cover! He was able to push it up. Bright daylight gushed into the hole, blinding his eyes. With his last remaining power, Peter climbed out of the hole and onto the pavement of a busy street, naked. Pedestrians looked at him in shock, but continued their way, passing by, staring back at him. The street was lined by sycamore trees, and shops and cafes with red canopies. In the distance: the Eiffel tower. This was Paris.
Today’s world is complex. We are bombarded with a never ending flood of information; through news, social media and personal conversations. News hits us from all corners of the globe: a hundred years ago nobody would have known (or cared) about forest fires on the other side of the world; today we feel directly affected by them. In addition, we are more than ever confronted with developments that impact all of us, such as the Corona/Covid19 pandemic (see previous blogpost) or climate change.
How to handle this confusion? Only a level-headed “cool analysis“ of the facts can help us deal with this complicated world. Without reliance on facts, the world becomes even more complex and reality even more difficult to handle. And we start making mistakes… who wants to base decisions on wrong facts?
But how to distinguish fact from fiction? People spread half truths or lies in a number of ways. Here’s an example of how that works.
Creationists are convinced that, based on the texts in the Bible, the world is only a few thousand years old. You can think about this any way you want, many will conclude that his perception is wrong (as a biologist, I am slightly biased in this matter). But that is not the point to make here. What is more important is that the creationist has two options. First, the creationist could decide that the biblical text is correct and that no further discussion is needed. The creationist could then simply stick to this belief and not enter into any further discussion with anybody. This would be 100% consistent. After all, we all believe in certain things, and sticking to those beliefs is fully acceptable. Sure, it may have some disadvantages for the creationist: this person might feel isolated as many people will smirk at this idea, and/or the creationist wouldn’t be able to gain more followers. The creationist would definitely get less air time on national television. Many religious groups follow such an approach (e.g. the Amish people in the USA, who self-isolate pretty efficiently). Perfectly fine: they can go on with their lives, and everbody else with theirs. We mutually respect one other and might even enjoy our differences.
The alternative for the creationist is to collect information to prove that the world is indeed only a few thousand years old. The apparent advantage for the creationist is that the creationist can continue to interact and discuss with fellow humans, thus there is less risk of having to live the life of a recluse. It also provides a feeling that the theory is scientifically validated. And you can actually get invited for a quirky interview on TV.
This is the Creationist Dilemma: the creationist needs to choose between these two options. We are not discussing the pros and cons of creationism. This blogpost addresses the dilemma that confronts many believers in many topics.
There are tremendous flaws in choosing the second option: the Creationist Trap. In choosing the second option, the creationist starts to collect (scientific) evidence that “proves” that either the evolution theory has weaknesses, or that creationism is correct. In other words, the creationist starts out with a theory and then picks and chooses the evidence that supports that theory.
However, this is not how science works. To put it bluntly, it completely contradicts human intelligence.
Let’s use an example. Imagine a driver in a rattling car in the desert. This driver may firmly believe that it won’t break down (~theory) because it was checked before the ride, the tank is full, the wipers and horn are working, and the concerned passengers were wrong in the past (~facts). Based on which the driver could conclude: we will continue driving! (~action).
In contrast, real science starts out by collecting facts, from which a theory is created. To stay with the car example: oh my, the motor doesn’t sound good at all (~fact); is it breaking down? (~theory), let’s stop and check the motor before it gets worse (~action, leading to the collection of more facts to finetune the theory).
The “beauty” of the creationist approach is that it allows anyone to “prove” anything.
Example: climate change. Many climate change deniers have a reason (their starting “theory”) for their denial of human-caused climate change. Perhaps they fear for the economy, or their job. Or they love big cars that use a lot of gasoline, or the theory doesn’t fit their understanding of freedom. Perhaps deep down inside they are afraid of change. In any case, they fall victim to the creationist’s dilemma: instead of simply saying: “Hell, I am not going to change my ways. I’m going to produce carbon dioxide and I don’t care what’s going to happen to the climate” (which would at least be consistent), they are tempted to start collecting data that “substantiates” climate change isn’t happening: they choose option two and fall into the creationist trap. They may refer to irrelevant climate change events that happened thousands of even millions of years ago, or to other „mistakes“ that so-called „experts“ made.
You think the Earth is flat? You think that the whole corona reaction was unnecessary? Do you believe humanity never landed on the moon? Are vaccines bad? Is homeopathy a proper medical treatment? You think brushing your teeth has no benefits? It is possible to find an abundance of information to support ANY of theory. But is that a valid approach? No.
How to spot people that have fallen victim to the Creationist Trap?
(1) Always question: why is this person making a certain statement? What is this person’s underlying motivation? In the case of the creationist it is simple: religion. Anti-vaxxers may be driven by fear or mistrust in institutions (like Big Pharma). In many cases the motivation may not be directly obvious, e.g. climate deniers may have many different reasons at the same time. And many won’t even tell or disclose what motivates them. Sometimes they do not even know themselves.
(2) Are the person’s statements overtly negative, in a sense that the person is trying to disprove a theory? An expert (this can be a scientist, but also a football coach, an iron monger or an accountant) makes mostly positive statements about theories, since they know the underlying facts. They feel comfortable with the evidence on which the theory is based. Howver, a flat-earther is in constant defence against scientists, the media, the world, and is thus attacking the idea that Earth is a globe.
(3) Another telltale sign: is the person heaping up more and more evidence (true or false) from as many sources as possible to make their point? And if one argument doesn’t work, quickly switches to the next one?
(4) Is the person relying on (sometimes amazingly good) oratory skills, is this person a smooth talker? Does the speaker transport knowledge or emotion? Knowledge and facts can be very boring; emotion can be very gratifying and exciting.
(3) An expert knows that no one can know everything about a discipline. As a result, an expert will regularly use phrases such as: “there is no data to support that idea,” or even simply admit “I’m not sure.” A person stuck in the creationist trap will not allow any doubt to shine through. They do not discuss; they debate.
(4) Is the evidence provided actually related to the topic? Are observations pulled in from cases that may seem similar, but that are in fact unrelated: whataboutisms? Typical statements to watch out for are “they were wrong about XYZ too” or “something similar happened then-and-there, and it turned out be completely untrue.”
Certainly, the indicators above may apply to any individual. But if many start to bubble up at the same time, your alarm bells should start to go off.
In the end, the scientific method relies completely on common sense, the two are inseparable. Facts know no religion, no politics, no emotions. But they are key to get your rattling car out of the desert.
Two Journeys 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!”
Get Two Journeys at amazon in any 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 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.
“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.”
“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.”
Two Journeys is the first book of the TWO JOURNEYS TRILOGY. Also read Fields of Fire and Rebound, the final part!
“Grandfather, can you tell us a story?” The old man had fallen asleep at the kitchen table, but woke up with a start as his two grandsons entered the room. “Certainly my boys,” he said, and cleared his throat. He pondered the question for a while. “How about the story of the baker and the pot of gold?”
“Did you write that story, grandfather?”
The old man chuckled. “Oh no, no. This story is as old as the world. And it may seem to be a simple tale, yet it is very complex, the more you think about it. Well, anyway, it goes like this.”
A long time ago, a baker living in Warsaw suffered a reoccurring dream. Every night, the poor man would dream of a pot of gold, 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 knapsack, 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, but one day he ended up in Prague. And behold: there was the bridge that had disturbed his nightly rest.
However, he now encountered his next challenge. 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, soldiers and policemen stood about 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 wet bank of the river and found his way through the dark 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 full of fear he spent a terrible night on a hard bunk, without a blanket to warm him.
The next morning, the shining sun offering little hope, the door of his cell was opened. An officer entered and looked down at the baker.
“Well! I hope you had a good night!”
“As good as possible under the circumstances, 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?! A pot of gold! Hahaha! Are you really stupid enough to follow such a ridiculous dream?”
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 naive 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 pot filled with gold coins.
Well children: 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 guardsman obviously not. Another message may be 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…
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.
￼This story is part of the collection Amazing Stories by Clemens P. Suter, available in all stores.￼
„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.
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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