Chapter one (Wilhelmshaven): The old factory

  • (written by Erica, class 8e)


    I wake with a start, drenched in sweat. And immediately I collide with another person.

    "Duff, there is a monster in my room! May I sleep in your bed?"

    Usually I hate it, when my little sister wants to stay in my bed, but today I'm happy that she is here. I had a crazy dream, really strange and creepy. I cuddle up to my sister. Her steady breath and the warmth of her little body make me drowsy. Three seconds later I'm fallen into sleep again.

    When I wake again, there is an arm across my face. I put it aside carefully and go down into the kitchen in order to drink something.

    Today is Saturday. Normally, you won't get me out of my bed before eleven o'clock on the weekend, but today is no normal day. Today .... Just thinking of this day makes me feel sick. How can he do this to me, Carl and Stella? Not even a year after what happened he is going to get engaged again?

    I wish, mom was here. She would take my hands and say: "Audrey, darling...."

    "Mom, you know that I'm not Audrey, but Duff!" Mom is the only one who refuses to use my nickname.

    "You have to calm down, sweetheart, otherwise you will develop wrinkles."

    "Oh mom..."

    So everything would be ok again. But mom isn't here.


    I take my mobile phone and make myself comfortable on the couch to call Anna-Lena. After the fourth ring she answers the phone. "Hello?" Her voice is sleepy.

    "I have to tell you something very urgently. Listen...!"

    "Duff, not now", she interrupts me. "It's half past seven. Go to bed again. We'll talk later." And she rings off.

    At the same moment, dad comes down the stairs and greets me enthusiastically. "Good morning, Duff!" I stare at the stairs past him and go upstairs.

    Stella is still asleep. I sit down to think.

    Maybe I should mention that thinking is not my strength. It's my twin Carl who unfairly got this ability. Is this aways the case with twins? One gets the good looking and the other the brains, or what?

    No matter! In any case, I start to think of my dream.


             I was standing in front of a great hall, like a large warehouse or an old factory, but decayed  and crumbled. There was nearly nothing left of the walls, windows and floors. Just a lot of iron beams. 

    There was a sign in front of the place where the door must have been.

    "No entry! Building could collapse."


    But I clearly could see persons in the rear part of the hall. Therefore I entered as well. But I didn't meet what I had expected. Everything was full of strange guys with goat legs; a monster with twelve heads was quarreling with itself and hairy guys with horse butts ransacked the last shelfs and secretary desks which were left in this factory building, looking for some long forgotten sweets.

    Suddenly a perfect young woman comes to me, floating. Her feet almost didn't touch the floor.

    "You are looking for your mother, I suppose", she said, her voice like that of an angel. "Come, I lead you towards her." She gives me a sign to follow her, I do so ... trip over my own feet and fell. Of course, my clumsiness is always noticable in the wrong moment. This is always the case.

    And than I stand in front of my mother. She looks like she always does. A grown-up, taller version of myself. Wavy blond hair, long legs, her eyes ice blue.

    "Why, mom? Why did you...?"

    My sentence finished abruptly, because my eyes and nose were close to the floor again.

    My mom laughed. "You are still my little clumsy princess. But we don't have much time. I would like to explain everything to you, but I'm not allowed to do so. But listen! At home, in the cellar of our house, there is an old cupboard. You'll find a model of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-bridge in it. On this miniature bridge, there is an X to be seen. This spot you'll have to find on the real Kaiser-Wilhelm-brigde. You'll find something which you must bring back to its real owner. If not, bad things will happen. I know that you will be able to do this. Bye, my darling."


    At this point, I had woken up.

    "Duff, would you come down to me, please?" I hear my father's voice. Slowly I go down and say, my voice cold as ice: "What?"

    "Charlotte wants to talk to you." He leads me to the living room, closes the door and leaves me alone with her. Charlotte von Lindberg, successful buisness woman in her mid-thirties, vice director of "Manitowoc crane manufacture" and from today on new fiancée of my father.

    Don't get me wrong. She is kind, communicative and pretty, but she is not my mother.

    When my mother had left us out of the blue eleven months ago, my father was just staring out of the window with glazed eyes, night after night, wiping away a tear now and then. Nights and days passed and he always remained like that. And then, suddenly, when Carl and I had forced him to take the car and go shopping, he came back with another woman, kissing her furiously, and with a stupid tattoo with blue stars. He had not even done the shopping.

    I'm 13 years old. In almost all these years my mother was there for me. When she left, my heart was broken. After some months it was replaced by a kind of phantom heart. But also this one was shattered, when I saw my father coming home like that.

    I'm still upset. "I'm sorry. I can't talk to you now", I tell Carlotta and run out of the room.


    Kaiser-Wilhelm-bridgeHalf an hour later I lock my bike at a road sign. I stand in front of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-bridge, the characteristic sign of my home town, a city somewhere in the very periphery of North West Germany, at the shore of the North sea. I enjoy the view of the blue bridge and the wind from  the North sea, just 200 metres away. I step forward and ... curse my clumsiness for the umpteenth time. I tumble.

    Before I drove off, I had been to the cellar of our house. And I REALLY had found a modell of the bridge in the cupboard, although I hadn't expected it. And now I'm standing, no, I'm lying here and I'm looking for the spot with the X on it. I can see the spot from here. It is directly in the middle of the bridge. And from the place where I'm lying now, my nose just an inch above the kerb, it seems that one of the pavestones is a bit different from the others. I rise, go to that pavestone and realize that it is loose. I take it away, turn to look if anybody is watching me. Then I put my hand into the gap and pull out a little box. I blow soil and dust off the lid and open it. I see a pan flute, old and shabby, a strange, nearly unrecognizable pattern on the wood. I touch them carefully with my right hand. Slowly I take them out of the box. When the wind that comes from the open sea behind the bridge touches the pan flute I have the strange feeling that I can hear a melody, wild and sweet and tempting...


    "Well, if I were you, I would leave this pan flute and go away", a voice says behind me. "Just keep out of the whole matter." I turn around. A man is standing next to me. He is about 50 years old, gaunt, with a moustache. "It's all your mother's fault. Now she has to face what she brought on herself. Just because she couldn't stop interfering for once." He looks at me, contemplating. "You inherited her looks. Well, on the other hand, you are a strolling catastrophe. I suppose it's not so nice to tumble constantly." He seems to know me exactly.

    "Who are you?" I ask with an uneasy feeling.

    "Oh dear, where are my manners?" he says mockingly. "My name is Mr H.Ades, life style coach and new manager of the Atlantic hotel." The Atlantic is the best hotel in town. "Oh, and I wanted to tell you another thing." He wrinkles his brow. "What was it?" He sneers. "Yes, I remember: Consider carefully what you are going to do! Your whole life depends on that consideration!" His voice is deep and hoarse now. He grins maliciously and disappears. Just disappears, vanishing into thin air. I touch the spot where he stood just a second before. Nothing.

    I press the little box with the pan flute against my body and rush to my bike. I consider what to do now. I don't want to return to my father and his...fiancée. I have to rearrange my mind. I cycle to Anna-Lena's flat and ring the bell. But her mother tells me that she spends the weekend with her grandmother. Therefore I go to the sea shore, trying to think and understand. The sound of the waves seems to comfort me a bit. Then I decide to stroll through the town park and finally to go back home as I'm very hungry. But if I had known what was awaiting me there, I wouldn't have returned. NEVER!