(copyright Kai Bleifuß)
A jeep races through the jungle over a dusty, endlessly straight track. Its driver and only occupant, a Mr Habernitz from Hamburg, has put on a smile that would, in adventure novels, be called “grim”, “stony” or “sphinx-like”. He has come to Cameroon because he has read in a popular science article that when it comes to the genes, it should theoretically still be possible to produce a hybrid between man and chimp. Since reading it, he has been haunted by one thought alone: he wants to, no, he must create a being that is just as lonely, condemned and ostracised from the world as he is himself.
Kenya, September two thousand and fifteen. Under the incredulous gaze of his travel group, Miles Hollister leaves the security of the tourist jeep and, through grass and shrubbery, gradually approaches the lion pride that is waiting for him in the shadow of a fever tree. He has always defended his high meat consumption by explaining that his human capacity for enjoyment was more highly developed than that of the three cattle or pigs of which he claimed a piece each day. However, the melancholy he had been fighting during the expedition had meanwhile convinced him that every animal gets more from life than him. That is why he came to the conclusion under the shower one morning that he must now be resolute. The first lioness raises her head to look at him.
When Fabio sees the first tears in his girlfriend’s eyes, ten hours have already passed since the crash. The desert sun is scorching his skin with great violence and there is not a sign of civilisation to be seen. He gathers all his remaining strength and riles: “I’m serious! If we ever get away from here, I will never have anything more to do with you!” Teresa’s crying intensifies. With caution so that no drop is wasted, he takes her head between his hands and begins to lick the precious liquid from her face. She seems too exhausted or shocked to react in any way. He goes for the trickling drink more greedily as a result. Then he suddenly stops. Has he actually gone crazy? No matter how much he makes his girlfriend cry, the tiny amount of salty liquid he can gain like this won’t ensure his survival by a long shot! He needs – of course! – Teresa’s blood.
“19 May 2015 – According to a recent US study that focused on 225 number-one hits from the last ten years, the lyrics of the most successful pop songs are on the same level as the reading ability of second- to third-grade pupils. The trend is downwards: while lyrics from the year 2005 corresponded to the abilities of third- or fourth-grade pupils, –”
– Mr Stotzi drove directly from the train station to the hotel near Lake Zurich. There, he ate the most delicious polenta he’d ever had, and since it was poisoned, he fell over three minutes later.
“Dear Madame de Tartasse,
I was able to obtain your name, your address and your special tastes through the Duvalle detective agency in Paris. I have now been watching your house for three weeks and would like to –”
“But I don’t know what to do next! …” A young woman of Mediterranean appearance paces through an apartment with crumbling plaster, speaking into a phone. “… I’m at my wit’s end, don’t you understand? Where do you think I’m going to get a job now?” The counterpart’s voice remains relaxed: “It’s quite obvious to me that you’re in a difficult situation right now, and I’m really sorry for you. Nevertheless, I have to ask you to hang up. You’re blocking the line. This is the hotline for rape victims.” “And what should I do in your opinion?” The young woman pauses briefly at one of the tall windows from which a marching demonstration can be seen. Whistles and protest chants penetrate the glass faintly but they are drowned out by the voice on the phone: “I can only repeat myself: you’re blocking the line for emergency cases. If somebody calls here and needs help –” “Please! What should I do?” The young woman starts pacing again. The voice remains cool: “Well, if you’ve already been to the job centre – try the suicide hotline.” “What? But I don’t want to kill myself!” “You haven’t been raped either, have you?” “And you can judge that so precisely, yeah?”
A heavily tattooed young man looked out of the TV in the lobby and spread his legs. He was saying how confident he was he would reach the second round of the show. He was promoting his Berlin restaurant, claiming himself to be one of the best molecular cooks in Germany, or maybe the world. He spread his legs even further and convinced eighty per cent of those in the lobby (at least of those who were listening) that an evening in his Berlin restaurant would be a great experience. Three minutes later he was kicked out of the show. The jury’s unanimous verdict: the man can’t cook to save his life.
Moreover, it happened more and more frequently that actors playing villains were attacked on the street in broad daylight because people could no longer distinguish fictional roles and reality.
“Even today I’m still waiting to find out what my role in the information society could have been. We’re bombarded with facts and figures by the ton every single day,” – the uncle scratched his chin – “but the one important piece of information that could have changed my future … it simply didn’t turn up. You can’t say I haven’t tried to find it. Do you want me to tell you what I’ve done? Well, it’s like this: …”
“Brest. For over a year now the former Russian cruise ship Lyubow Orlova has been adrift in the North Atlantic without a rudder and without a crew. Unless the wreck, which is only fit for scrap, has sunk in the meantime. Nobody really knows exactly since the tracking system and warning lights no longer function. The ghost ship, which in its last years of service sailed under the flag of the Cook Islands, was meant to be tugged from the Canadian port of St. John’s to the Caribbean, and unrigged there on behalf of an Iranian scrap trading company. But the tow line parted. Multiple salvage attempts failed. After Canadian tug boats finally recaptured the vessel in order to prevent a collision with the oil platforms of the Grand Banks, it was, at long last, left to its fate. As long as the Lyubov Orlova cruises silently in international waters, no state regards it as its duty to step in – even though the luxury liner could pose a threat for shipping vessels. The owner claims he is unable to finance an intervention. Newspaper theories claimed that there could still be a hoard of rats on board eating each other in the absence of any other food source, which triggered further speculation online and a multitude of horror stories. Meanwhile, the ghost ship still has its own Twitter account for obvious reasons.”
He had been waiting for his revenge for thirty years. Well, he hadn’t planned anything originally. But inspired by the growing violence on the TV news, Léandre had later come to the conclusion that he could use his old list of enemies for much more than simply to know to whom he would not be sending Christmas cards. He had taken things calmly and had been happy to watch the years pass by, knowing full well that most of the people he hated could barely be linked to him after all this time. Some of them would probably not even remember him at all. On a mild, stagnant evening in May, when clouds of mosquitoes descended upon Perpignan, he felt that the time had come. He felt for the list in the drawer, crossed out the first name to bolster himself up and left the flat.
“Wishing does nothing for anyone! Just watch the woman at the checkout. Hour after hour people wish her a nice day or at least a ‘you too’, and she still doesn’t win any lottery prizes, she just gets one shitty day at the checkout after another.” – “Wait, that’s two hundred grams. I only wanted a hundred.” “It’s impossible for me. You have to take what I’ve cut.” – “And do you remember how the captain in Brazil lost his anchor?” “Oh yes, because of us.” “Nonsense! We can’t help it if he doesn’t fix his anchor properly!” – “Here, take this one. I’m sure you will like it.” “And what makes you so sure?” “It’s absolutely terrible.” – “But when I’m on my travels, I try to imagine what roles all the people would play if they had come into the world elsewhere. In a different family, you know? Then I think stuff like: that one would surely make a good terrorist. And she would be a guerrilla fighter. And he would be a new type of mass murderer or –”
Or alternatively she lets the thing dry and smuggles it out of the hotel later. In an agitated movement she brushes some hair away from her face. Then she hangs up the replacement roll. That is so typical of her. Surely she must be the first person ever to have dropped a toilet roll into the toilet here. And if it did happen to someone else, they would probably just throw the soggy mess into the dustbin, not giving a damn about what the cleaning woman thinks. But she…, well, she isn’t like that. She is Galina Márkova, so she lets the corpus delicti dry and stuffs it into her bag when she sets off for the conference on the following day. She can go by foot and will have no difficulty finding a public bin in which to get rid of it. She thinks about her presentation. Word by word she goes over what she will say and how she will emphasise the words. All of a sudden, far too suddenly for her nervous excitement, she finds herself at the speaker’s podium and feels a hundred pairs of eyes watching her. The statistics of the past years prove … The statístics of the pást yéars próve … She opens her bag and the petrified toilet roll falls out, drops off the left edge of the podium, rolls across the stage, rolls on, is still rolling and plunges with an echoing thud into the leg room of the first row. The reactions among the audience range from amused astonishment and whispered mockery to raised eyebrows, the latter particularly observable on the face of Galina’s boss. A smartly suited young clerk stands up and attempts to return it to her – but only after having presented it to his seatmates, first with a look of disbelief, then of disgust. Galina does not move. She feels her cheeks overheating. Surely she must be the first and only person to have ever blushed this deeply in this hall. They will fire her. That’s for certain. – And indeed, that’s exactly what came to pass,
while a young electrician from Bruges, the self-proclaimed expert at his company, set fire to the house of a local professor’s family, but succeeded with very little effort in shifting the blame to his taciturn colleague for whom
the wave came out of the blue. In a sea as smooth as a mirror, a pagoda of foam and water rose up, tearing Li away from his group of friends and sweeping him away. After half a minute it was all over. Local fishermen would later say that the currents were sometimes unpredictable there but that they had never seen anything like it …
“Yes, good afternoon, Mr Papadopoulos. My name is Stavros Samaridis. The lady in the head office was so kind as to give me your number. I’m calling to enquire about a vacancy in the public relations department of the History Museum.” “The History Museum? Oh, I don’t think I can help you.” “I … I see. I’m terribly sorry to have troubled you; I must have dialled the number incorrectly.” Stavros hangs up and realises one second later that, thanks to his excitement, he had made a mistake. He had intended to say “Museum of Cycladic Art”. Well, that was it – he can never call there again. He strikes his forehead with the palm of his
“baboons of Cape Town live off stealing and organised robbery. Eleven bands have divided among themselves the various districts of the South African metropolis. Weaned off nature, they have learned to outwit alarm systems, to lever open windows and to operate the stolen radio keys of cars. They often resort to violent measures. Experts such as Doug Williams, who has been active in the defence against baboons, have been emphasising for years that the animals are embracing ever greater risks, which can be seen as an indication of an extreme change in behaviour and”
and guys all over the world are arranging to meet via the internet in order to scare people as efficiently as possible dressed as “horror clowns”.
What he did not suspect was that his friends had gotten him into the trouble. In panic, shivering all over his body, he squatted behind the wooden shed, no longer possessing the strength to even think about Amanda. He had no idea that the Orlova Adventure Group was an illegal travelling company, specialising in exposing bored contemporaries to one stress situation after the next on behalf of paying relatives or arch-enemies. Above him he heard the fellow with the machete uttering aggressive, guttural noises, but he had not been discovered yet it seemed. He didn’t know how long this hideout would still be of use for him. He didn’t know that, in the end, it had been his constant whining, his eternal lamenting about his lack of inspiration and ideas that had ultimately brought him the experience now of the sound of heavy steps fading into the distance. He didn’t even know – were he to survive this – where on earth he should now search for that damned golden bathtub of the bloody king of the favelas. Only two things were clear to him: if he failed to find it and steal it, he would never see Amanda again; the masked man had been very explicit on that point. Moreover,
at the store in Oxford Street you get a free tattoo when you buy two pairs of trousers.
On her search for a public toilet she had found only the church of Santa Maria Purissima and its confessional. To the padre’s threat of eternal hellfire, she responded: “Hell is a violation of human rights.”
A newspaper article on the celebrated performance of the Munich Youth Symphony Orchestra in the Carnegie Hall opens with the remark that many of the junior musicians, although all talented, will in times of cuts and shortages not have any …
Pistol drawn, he enters the motel. The owner, Jimmy McPherson, does not hesitate long. Taking small, inconspicuous steps, he moves towards his loaded Ithaca M thirty-seven, which is fixed to the underside of the reception counter for any eventuality. Jack takes aim directly at his head: “You have a gun, don’t you?” Shit. Jimmy hears his thoughts act out all the possible scenarios, but keeps on moving. With perhaps just one arm’s length still between them, Jack says: “Good. Then pull it out and shoot me.” “What?” Devoid of any comprehension, Jimmy stops. For the first time, his gaze falls on the intruder’s face, where in the
number of remarks entered about the average “chaos pupil” in the class register each year has risen from five to twenty-nine. In terms of attentiveness,
“the world often gives the impression of having been put on, scripted, something artificially melodramatic, if you know what I mean …” The author winks into the camera. “You constantly have the feeling that it wants to mock itself as efficiently as possible. How is one expected to produce proper literature based on such raw material(??); tell me that!” And as a result hardly anybody purchases a deep fryer today. Oven chips are nowhere near as good but they are hassle-free. Which, in turn, is the reason why you no longer receive a toothbrush at the dentist. Instead, first-grade pupils can now learn French by means of a talking pen, and after a great battle to protect the last living specimens of the western black rhinoceros, it turned out that the rangers had been spreading fake rhino traces for years to hide the fact that none of the animals “and no one else either! Look at it this way: while literature these days abhors puns, the Berlin airport named after former chancellor Brandt, whose name could be translated as ‘Fire, is floundering due to fire safety concerns, and in Dubai a blaze rips through a skyscraper called The Torch.” If her physical condition had reflected how she felt emotionally, the paramedics would have come. Seventy-seven per cent of the subsidies flowed back to the banks immediately. The reason behind this is growing demand for the horns of the animals in China and other Asian countries, where they are used in powdered form as a potency treatment, even though there is no shred of scientific evidence of the librarian would never discover what really happened. Yet perhaps it was better for him to believe that Antonella and the children had fallen victim to some crime. Better than knowing that the people he had loved most in life had spontaneously and single-mindedly left the museum as soon as the bathroom door had slammed shut behind him. That they had moved to Bari and agreed with the authorities not to let him know the truth – since they feared that he and his world-weariness might bring about the demise of the rhino population of South Africa too? Whereas in two thousand and seven, seven pachyderms were poached, in the year two thousand and fourteen it was not fourteen but one thousand two hundred and fifteen, which, in the Kruger National Park and in other places, the rebel tanks are moving again. What the rapist did not know was that the dead child would have become a much greater rapist. And no-one else knew it. Year after year the local community organised a march down to the river on the seventh of September to remember poor Kristián’s fate.
“In fact, I’m convinced that many people – deep inside – don’t find themselves particularly special. But, despite that, they follow the instinct to make themselves appear special. They do everything to help someone become a big shot, even though, on sober and sincere reflection they consider them a fool or – yes – much worse. They become a slave to some asshole just because that asshole happens to be them.”
New trend in the UK: colouring books for adults began to shoot on the villagers, and the volumes featuring lovely little colouring-in pictures, which we began to find boring at the age of five, are now popular “anti-stress measures”, leading the number of refugees to the top the British bestseller lists. Meanwhile, in the congregation area close to the Hungarian border tens of thousands of people have found that a new ape house, completed in two thousand and ten and celebrated as a “signature project”, is causing serious problems at the tradition-rich Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart. Defective ventilation valves are thought to be responsible for two bonobo babies falling ill with pneumonia and dying in fierce battles for the Kurdish border town of Kobane. However, the books have since also proved a hit in the USA and in other European countries. Proving particularly popular are those in which one can colour in burst enclosure floors, “cleaning-resistant” walls and massacres in northern Iraq. Zoo-keepers fear that the animals may eat the crumbled concrete coatings. Furthermore, the cameras monitoring the pygmy chimps and gorillas in the twenty-two-million-euro building had, from the beginning, a tendency to break-through hobby trend. The flawed hair analyses provided by the FBI laboratory over the years are, moreover, responsible for the fact that the architects, despite repeated suggestions from the zoo, have provided far too little shaded area in the outdoor facility. On hot summer days, in thirty-two cases rhinos were condemned to death due to false or dubious analysis results.
Miranda sat opposite him as the militia charged the compartment to take the passengers hostage. She seemed at ease, almost like a statue, and when she eventually leaned forward a little until the sunlight fell on her jolly freckles, her eyes had taken on an expression that was completely unfamiliar to him. “I won’t be a party to that …,” she whispered, just about audibly. “… I will now concentrate until I drop dead.” And at that she returned into the shadow and closed her eyes. Shortly afterwards her head tilted down to her breast. A militiaman who came to see what was going on couldn’t find a pulse.
He is well prepared for the call. On the table are two glasses of rare whisky, the one on the right with rat poison, the one on the left without. Now everything depends… – The publisher is sitting at the Persian restaurant around the corner. He knows he should have called twenty minutes ago, but the discussion with the colleagues from Paris dragged on longer than expected and he is now in need of a moment of tranquillity. After finishing his food he goes straight back to his office and picks up the handset. Suddenly it dawns on him that he hasn’t even read the outline. Oh, what the hell. He has to wrap this up now before the negotiations with New York begin.
“I can’t deal with this anymore! It’s just unbearable!” Scott presses the telephone to his ear. His voice echoes strangely and somehow brittle through the deserted little house. On the other end of the line Loredana runs her hand through her greying locks, stands up from the sofa and speaks with a warm voice: “Listen, we’ll do that together now. You have a garden, don’t you?” “Er – yes.” “Good. Then we will now go outside together – me at my place, you at yours.” She leaves her living room, crosses the terrace and goes to the area of the garden where the chestnut avenue and the Hermes fountain are. Scott stumbles down the two steps to his front yard and greets his neighbour Mrs Leicester, who is just arriving home. A light drizzle falls out of the sky above Leeds. Scott wipes an ever-growing drop off his forehead: “Alright. I’m outside. And now?” Loredana looks back and forth between the chestnuts and cypresses: “Now we’re going to choose a nice tree and lean our heads against the trunk. Okay?” She chooses a chestnut tree. The rough texture of the bark does her good. Scott desperately looks around on the eight square meters of lawn and only finds a little potted laurel tree standing beside the door. He bends over at an absurd degree and touches the trunk with the back of his head. Thank God Mrs Leicester didn’t hang around to see this. Loredana takes a deep breath: “Okay?? Fine. And now we let the energy flow: …” opened fire on anything that moved. trekked from Perpignan to Toulouse, leaving behind a trail of devastation. The sand of the desert turns a deep red. They fired he fired. The storm on the fire ended with the snipers firing. Behind him the wooden shed collapsed and crashed head to head against a head that fired. They fired he fired they fire fire fire, and doggedly engaged they drown at sea.
If the Martians come, show them this collage; then they’ll depart.
Copyright Kai Bleifuß