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The German (excerpt)
Blind Man’s Bluff
Casual and Unobtrusive
Extra Strong
Cross
First time Bloomer
Hostage
Ideal Parties
A little Life
The Bowling Alley
The Other Woman
The Bird
Lost
No excuses
There were Two of them
The Signing
Philosophy of Silence
Precisely
Real Ugly Things
Situations
Small Town Diners
The In The Forest Thing
Underneath
Universe
The Shop Assistant
What it’s like being a man
Alternative Ending
The Incident
The secret Dialogues
Worded stimulation for the little urges inbetween

Underneath.

I lost track of time then but it seemed like it had been dark forever. The reality was that little more than an hour had passed. I did not know. I had made the best I could of the position I was in and it now bordered on something remotely emulating comfort. In a very abstract way that is. My cheek was pressed against the soft damp ground, the kind you get in a dense pine forest. It had a nutty smell to it and after some time I could taste that smell, it became so thick that I could almost chew it like you would a good wine.

My mind started to drift again, always wondering about the what if, as I remembered moments gone by. The sole reason why I was out here now was that I could. I didn’t have to stay in the city which I had inhabited for the past 10 years. I was lucky in that way, many others still scrambled about in the big cities of the east trying to scrape a living together. Many of my friends were still doing just that. I was lucky, to get the opportunity to leave when I had wanted to. I had sold or put into storage the things you couldn’t carry, then hopped on a plane to come out here. I had bought a used car in a lot at the edge of town where I had touched down, then driven almost 3000 miles stopping here and there taking the time I wanted cause time I had in abundance. I had driven through blizzards were the rain had been beating down so hard that I had to pull off the road to let it pass, seeing blurred lightning in the distance then hearing the violent rumble of thunder so close that it would hurt my ears. More than once I felt small, in a country which stretched so far around me and not one soul anywhere. Now that I was here I heard the breeze blowing through the tall of trees around me, I thought I could feel the slight movement of their roots underneath. I had gotten hyper sensitive to my surroundings, picking up on movements and sounds as much as being able to savour the soil.

I remembered back home, how the neighbourhood had been terrorised by a bunch of kids that lived somewhere near, they would kick the doors and spit in your face, there was no sense in talking, like they spoke no language, could not comprehend notions beyond their aggression. They had never known of the silence out here.

I had left them behind, abandoned them, together with the rest of my life.

I had to cough just then, could feel my chest painfully contract as it was gasping for air. Once I calmed I tried to shift position, move my legs, but I could barely feel them, let alone move. My left arm was twisted backwards trapped under my body, the right hand I could move a little, but there was nothing to hold on to, nothing that would keep me from slipping.

I woke with the first light that shone through the crowns of trees, reaching the ground here and there, the light a haze, moisture rising. The green of tender shoots so bright and fresh, almost close enough to touch. The smells very different now that the earth warmed and right at the edge of my vision I could see some grazing deer slowly moving their heads up and down, listening into the distance and suddenly they ran and were gone and I coughed again, this time tasting blood.

Then I heard what made them run, the faint bark of dogs, and knew, that where there were dogs there were people. I listened into the distance, the volume of bark grew, getting ever closer, then  made out a voice or maybe two for it would be senseless to talk to oneself, but not perhaps to talk to the dogs. Then heard the crackling of wood, broken by treading feet, the rustle of leaves and I stretch out as best I can ready to shout for help, but only a crackle leaves my throat. Again I try in desperation, but only the pain in my chest grew louder. I heard a sniffling sound not far and as I opend my eyes I stare into the face of a young golden retriever, tongue hanging from its mouth, saliva running. It has floppy ears and big brown eyes, and as I look at him I felt tears well up inside and as if the dog was to console me he started to lick my face. I never felt such intense elation and relief.

I heard the mans voice then, not from close by however, but from afar calling for the dog, who hesitated, then waved its tail, turned and ran, in that playful manner young dogs do when they play, still taking scent, gradually fading into the undergrowth, disappearing into the distance.

© Marcus Bastel