I’m driving along through the night, hoping to arrive home safely but feeling unsure of the way. Nethertheless I continue my chosen road.
Suddenly the motor makes strange noises and starts to stutter until it spends completely.
Where am I? What happened?
I’m alone on the road, no other cars, no lights, trees right and left, a dense forrest.
I turn the ignition, but nothing happens. The motor doesn’t make any noise at all. I try again.
Fear’s creeping from my stomach to my throat. What the….!?
What am I going to do now? I don’t even now where I am, can’t remember how far behind was the last town I passed. No idea where the next is.
Stranded in the middle of the night in some kind of nowhere.
Should I get out and walk? Should I call for help? I take out my phone but the battery is dead. As always when I really need it. Oh God, what can I do? Make this thing work again! Or let the motor start! Bring me home! I can’t stay here all night.
On the windscreen I see the first tiny snowflakes. It’s getting cold in the car. They always tell me I need a blanket in the car. Of course I have none. No hot tea, no candy bars, no flashlight. Only about five cigarettes and a useless cell phone.
I’m totally unprepared for this situation.
I can only hope somebody comes along and finds me. Hopefully they’ll stop and offer to help. But would I stop if I saw a car standing in the middle of the street at night in this lonely place? I doubt it. The warning flasher won’t be enough to make them stop.
I feel trapped.
Jesus, what shall I do??
Time passes slowly, how many hours til sunrise? The snow is falling steadily in thick flakes covering my windscreen. It’s so cold. Hours pass and nobody in sight.
Without warning the passenger door opens and a man gets in on the passenger seat. I look at him unable to say anything. Should I shout? Who is this? What does he want? Is he dangerous?
Oh my God, save me!
He is completely calm and asks: “Hi, I’m Chris. Can I come with you?” His eyes are friendly and look into mine as if he could see deep into my soul. Strangely these few words make me believe that I can trust him.
“My car doesn’t work. We can’t go nowhere.”
“Just try again.”
I do. But still nothing.
“Let me try.”
We switch places, he turns the key and the engine starts immediately. The car is moving as if nothing had happend.
“I’ll bring you home if you want” he says with a winning smile. “Do you trust me?”
“Yes, I do.” I don’t know why, but I do.
We drive along the lonesome road in silence. I don’t know what to think or to feel. I’m just glad to be moving again.
But then, after a curve I see it. The road is leading directly to a cliff. My eyes are glued on the abyss ahead, I don’t see the stranger beside me. Fear is cutting my breath. I’m sure I’ll die within less than a minute. I close my eyes, my heart seems to stop and I expect the crash.
When the crash doesn’t come I dare open my eyes and see him smiling again. I don’t know how he did it, but we are safely driving along the coast, the sea deep down on our right side.
And I know for sure: If I had been driving I would be lying down there now.
It's my turnIt's my turn now. I know it. But where to hide? Where to seek help? There's nowhere I could possibly go and nobody who could possibly help me. It is too late now. I'm deeply involved. He's here right beside me in my bed.
Two years I waited for him. Two years I missed him, was faithful, always visited, brought him whatever he wanted and when he finally was released I embraced him with all my love and was glad to see him full of energy, ready to re-start life.
I didn't see how twisted and screwed he was, took him back into my house and my bed, had big dreams.
He hates to be famous for that damned video. Hates being famous for being pummelled. That video was the reason for his suffering in prison. All the abuse.
I thought he had overcome all that. It was over. Nobody recognizes him anymore. The video is long forgotten.
Until he told me.
At first I didn't take him seriously, thought he was joking. But he was not.
Today I saw it in his eyes, the desire to be finally caught, to be found, to be famous of his own accord. He wants to go back, respected and feared.
Two months have passed. In the beginning he always came home filled with joy, satisfied that he did it again. Seeking approval he told me in detail, how he bought the knife and stuck it into the next old guy passing the street or went to buy a gun and shot the vendor. Or the poor girl he strangled in the park. He was so proud of all these random kills.
I did nothing to stop him. Nor did I leave. I thought it would stop, but it didn't.
The police never came. Now there is no joy anymore, merely exhaustion. He's tired, disillusioned.
Nobody besides me knows what he's done.
His thirst for fame is unbroken. I saw it in his eyes. And I'll be the victim to send him back to prison as a celebrity. That's his aim. I'm the target.
Now, after aggressive and passionate sex, appropriate for the last time, he's lying by my side. Drunk as usual, breathing hard and snoring.
Torn between love, fear and hatred I look at him.
He still has the chance to wake up.
But he won't.
StrandedI don’t know how I got here, nor where I am. Michael calls it vX1. What a strange name for a place. And when I asked where that is he said, “in my hometown.” But that can’t be. Apart from the landscape, nothing else reminds me of home. Perhaps this is the future. It must be the future.
Everything was nearly perfect when I met Michael. I guess that’s what they call ‘love at first sight’. I hadn’t believed this could ever happen to me. He looked into my eyes and I felt a shiver run down my spine and I knew immediately that he’s someone special. There was this connection between us I had never felt before. Michael was so gentle, so aware of my needs, listened carefully to whatever I had to say, understood my thoughts and feelings better than I did. I secretly planned our future together.
Until one day he told me he had to leave and he probably would never return. He told me that he loved me, but that we couldn’t stay together. He talked about his ‘mission’ – whatever that was; he never really explained – said he had to go home. He had got an urgent call. They needed him there. And I? Didn’t I need him? Wasn’t that important to him? I saw that he was hurting as much as I was. He couldn’t even promise to come back. I couldn’t let him go.
After hours of discussing and weeping and halfhearted explanations and more crying he finally said there was a way he could take me with him, but that would mean never to return. I’d have to leave everything behind and never look back. Could I do that? Yes, I could. He meant more than anything to me.
I can’t remember the trip. I just don’t know how I got here. When we arrived I felt dizzy, disoriented. At first I didn’t notice the difference. We seemingly still stood on the same beach, but when we came into town everything was different in a strange way.
Michael’s family welcomed me with open arms and everybody seemed to know who I was. They served us dinner, brown rice with vegetables, without fat, without spices. And only plain water to drink. The breakfast the next day was as tasteless as the dinner, some cereals with milk, but without sugar and no coffee, just herbal tea. When I asked for sugar they said they didn’t have any.
I wanted to call my parents to tell them that I’m with Michael and they don’t have to worry about me, but my battery was dead and nobody could lend me a charger. Nobody has ever seen a smartphone! But they communicate with their houses. They have flat screens on the walls, tell their house who they want to talk to and that’s it. They don’t need to go grocery shopping, they tell their fridge what they need and get it delivered. Life seems to be easier. And safer. There are no locks at the doors, they don’t bother to close the windows when they leave.
But it’s also boring. I wanted to go partying in a club, a pub or at least a cafe, but I was disappointed, no such things in this strange place.
I tried to watch the news to get an idea where I am and what’s going on, but they had only reports about other “dimensions” – what the hell is that? – no wars, no crimes, some politicians discussing issues I didn’t understand, only the weather forecast was somehow familiar.
As long as Michael was with me I was just happy to be with him. Everything else didn’t matter. But yesterday he went on his next ‘mission’. He didn’t answer my questions about where he would go, to do what exactly or when he will be back.
Why doesn’t he trust me? Why doesn’t anybody trust me? I get no answers to all my questions. Everybody is friendly but when I ask where I am, what this place is, if this is the future, if there’s a way back, they just change the subject.
I feel stranded in a place or time I don’t belong to. I’m lonely. Have I made the right decision? Is love enough? What if Michael won’t return?