The bridge arch was long and dark, and there was no other way around it. Actually, it was more of a tunnel than anything else. A long tube with a low vaulted ceiling, formed of fist-sized, roughly hewn paving stones and crowned by a good meter of soil and gravel. Upstairs at a network of rails that connected directly to the local train station. Although not the only way, it was the only one that made sense if you wanted to go to the nearby supermarket from home.
Everything was fine in the summer. In the summer, the days were long enough, so that I could still quickly rush to the supermarket in the evening when my mother sent me for one or the other trivial thing that was missing for the Lord’s Supper. On the way there, I moved as quickly as possible through this dark tube, which in the middle always smelled suspiciously of stinging urine and brackish leachate, and kept my head down as a precaution so that I would not end up in the countless, low-hanging cobwebs on the ceiling fell.
But in the fall, when the evenings began to break, it was a completely different matter to cross the tunnel. There was not a single lantern in the cramped, narrow-leaved path leading to the tunnel entrance. Most of the surrounding allotments were already deserted and the light behind the windows of the garden sheds was extinguished for the rest of the winter.
Highly Recommended READ: Night game and dawn, Volume 1 – new in the program
Rather sooner than later, October came so far that this evening trip to the supermarket became a race against the dying light of the day, and dusk became a fierce opponent, which was in no case to be overtaken. But no matter how fast I pedaled, at some point every year, I came to this point, from which there was no longer a chance to decide the race for me. By the end of October at the latest, the day had already become so short that I did not manage to have enough light on the way back to drive through the tunnel safely. This was always the time when the game officially began.
The rules of the game were simple – teeth together and through, hoping that a train would not be thundering across the tube right now – because if he did that, then you were fucked up. The dedication to this game, which cost me an unimaginable amount of courage, was so high. So high that on some days it actually made more sense for me to take the much, much farther away over the ring road, and thereby risk getting my mother duly washed for this incomprehensible junk.
If it really came to that, I endured it shamed and wordless, knowing that she could not understand the horror that awaited me in the long autumn and much longer winter nights in the dark tunnel. But on the contrary. Any explanation on my part would have sounded like a sad excuse. Not that she ever said that to me like that. I guessed it was only in her eyes, in the few moments when I was tempted to explain it to her. So at some point, I let it stay simple.
But of course, there is no game that would make sense to play if there was not a win. So of course in this case. It was the feeling that came with it, when the darkness lay behind you, making the high entry-level job so bittersweet. If one whipped the legs of the hedgehogs, which were hanging far in the way, against the shoulders as they drove past, and one finally held euphorically to the road that led to home, then that could not be compared to anything else. Those few feet of heroism, of which one only knew himself, and which one could only carry so long in his chest, until once again turned into the light of the first lamp, and it became unreal there, were better than all,
Why? I’ll tell you why: because it used to beat terrible monsters! At night, in this tube, the darkest creatures dwelt behind the unfathomable gaps between the stones, eagerly waiting to be carried into our world on the backs of unsuspecting passers-by. You do not believe me? Then you know why I’ve never told anyone about it before. I have to say honestly, I do not believe it anymore. But on those evenings, when I was standing on the small hill, doing the shopping and hanging in a plastic bag from my bicycle handlebar, the navigation in the tunnel made it all but easy for me because of the weight he gave to my bike would – especially at the speed,
What did you want from me? I could not say that at the time. And if today I remember this tunnel, then it is nothing more than a tunnel. At the same time, I also understand how he could easily become a permeable, threatening place in the fabric for a child with too much imagination, who for some time had been able to manage the actually forbidden, horror department of the adult library with cunning and cunning. Another, not so small part of me means meanwhile that maybe then I just was not so dull, and was slashed to the universal reality, as I am today, and it would also be very possible that What I felt there and they could have had its justification. I don’t know.
But back to the game. So when I was ready to face my fear, I rang my dive into the unknown with the same ritual, namely by pressing my bicycle bell twice. Then I dropped over the cliff of the short slope and headed straight for the tunnel. The dynamo whirred over the rims. Underneath, the spokes rattled, and the faint, trembling filament of my headlight made the entrance to which I now approached appear all the more like a wide-open, toothless mouth. The entrance to the next-door dimension, always patiently waiting for me in the same place to devour me and spit it out again in the lonely chill of the dark, threatening abyss between the stars … now, please, no train, all, just no train,
The dark things inside hung on my strained gasp as soon as they entered. Imitated it from time to time out of countless holes and hoped to confuse me so. They wanted to distract me from what they were planning. The echo from their mouths pointed to the vast catacombs that lay behind the translucent stones of the cramped walls.
Through their cracks, as soon as I got inside, the flexible limbs of my fighters immediately pushed and began the persecution. The echo was meant to hide how close they really were to me – just a hair’s breadth off. They knew I could not look for them with the cantilevered weight of the carrycot on my handlebar to make sure. I would risk too drifting off to the side and colliding with one of the walls. But despite everything, this was still the best way to transport shopping home. I know what I’m talking about.
At the very beginning, I made the mistake of tying the bag to the luggage rack. Once and never again. Because of this stupid, catastrophic mistake, they actually first became aware of me. My bike was no longer the youngest and the handlebar of my porter was exhausted. As a result, I lost the purchase then, and had to stop in the middle of this vile tube, and eventually even turn around to pick it up again. That cost me time, too much time. The creatures were able to absorb my weather in peace, while I lifted the food from the evil-smelling ground. From then on, they always knew exactly when it was I who entered their world. And then, when I finally got back up, it was already too late. They had called their ruler. The train came and thundered with full force across the tunnel. He shook the skeleton of this fragile tube system so hard throughout the night that I actually feared it might collapse completely, and I would be forever trapped in the space between the gates. Totally at the mercy of its inhabitants. No chance of ever escaping this madness.
Since that day I was constantly on the run. It was painfully clear to me that I could not allow myself a second time to stay in the underpass, while a train with its vibrations above me crumbled the fabric completely. It would have meant my safe end. And believe me, the end of an immortal, because nothing else is one in the self-perception of a child, is by no means a worthwhile goal!
Below me the stained floor, above me the moving nets with the many twitching shadows of the grotesquely magnified arachnoids, who threw themselves down at me with their bloated, shining bodies and paralyzed me with their stings, defenseless as an offering to the inhabitants of the gaps behind leave the wall behind. I pedaled like crazy. I sweat like a pig at any outdoor temperature and sometimes I pray too. Sometimes they overtook me and confronted me as random passers-by who angered and clumsily tried to block the way. Tried to oppose my unstoppable ride. Trying to make me freeze in fear with their eyes and mouthless faces. But I never looked straight into their faces, never let them stop me, and won again and again and again. I stormed, heart in my throat, undeterred and straight through the abyss. No matter what happened, in the tunnel itself you should never hesitate, never hesitate.
I raced on, on and on, out into the sweet evening air, toward the privet branches that welcomed me, and knocked on my shoulders in acknowledgment. The shopping bag with the sweet spoils of failure hung safely on the handlebar, and I was ultimately always the winner! The glorious triumphant over evil through and through! Against all odds, I was always the one who laughed last, as I left behind the dark kicking behind me and turned into the light of the hometown road to continue whizzing away from there on home. There I stuffed the supper, which was only due to me and my fearlessness, into me as quickly as possible, and then crept into my room to learn about the latest