Lost World of the Wends (37)
In the Morgue
A crack and a flash. Then everything went dark.
Friedrich was sure it was his fault. He was always getting smacks or the belt from his father—usually for not polishing his boots perfectly. Or for spilling milk on the floor. But when he saw the blue line in the air, the urge to escape, was too great. This was not the first time he’d ventured beyond the thin blue line under the outhouse. He just had to go through the light—for Wilma…
Then the bang, and everything went black…
Friedrich put out his hands and shuffled forward. He groped for a wall, a surface, anything to orient himself.
He tripped over some bulk. When he collapsed onto it, it groaned.
Friedrich scrambled to his feet. His mouth went dry. It was like his heart, lungs and guts were in his mouth. Oh, no! I’m on an alien world without light and with groaning monsters.
The thing at his feet moaned. It sounded like a man.
Friedrich gulped. He knelt down. He held out his shaking hand. He touched it. Was that hair under his fingertips?
‘Who are you?’ he asked in his Silesian language. ‘What’s your name?’
The man-thing with hair moaned again and then mumbled what sounded like forbidden words in another language. He’d heard Joseph use such words when angry.
‘My name’s Friedrich,’ the boy said. ‘And you?’
‘Oh, the pain! The pain!’ the man-thing said in that strange language. It did sound like the tongue Joseph and Amie used. They spoke using similar sounds when they were together.
Friedrich presumed the man spoke English. But he knew few English words so he still hoped the man understood his native language. ‘How are you?’
‘Oh, the pain! My stomach! My head!’
Friedrich traced the head, the shoulders, arms and distended stomach. ‘You’re a man, aren’t you?’ He patted the spongy surface in the middle.
The man groaned and squirmed.
‘You’re a sick man,’ Friedrich said using the word in his language “krank”.
‘Too right, I’m cranky!’ the man straightened up. He grabbed Friedrich’s wrist. ‘And who the heck are you?’
Friedrich shook his hand free from the man. How was he to make sense of this man in the dark? How was he to make this man understand him? Joseph and Amie could speak his native tongue, Silesian, but this man couldn’t, apparently. Friedrich rubbed his hand.
‘Who are you?’ the man asked. ‘Where the frick are we?’
What was this man saying?
What did Joseph do when they met? He asked him if he spoke Deutsch—now he remembered.
‘Sprechen Sie Deutsch?’ (Do you speak German?) Friedrich was unsure why Joseph used the word “Deutsch” but it was worth a try.
‘Deutsch? Deutsch?’ the man said. He squealed, then exclaimed, ‘Geez! Why didn’t you say you were German?’
‘I speak a little German.’
‘Guten tag—Wie geht es dir?’
What a funny man. Now he’s greeting me and asking how I am. Strange! I better be polite and reply. So, speaking his best in his native language, Friedrich replied, ‘I am well, and you?’
‘Not so good,’ the man replied in Friedrich’s language. He talked through his nose, his accent sounding similar to Amie’s only thicker.
Friedrich held out his hand in front of him. In the dark he was not so sure where the man was. ‘My name is Friedrich Biar. And you?’
‘Walter, Walter Wenke.’
Walter’s hand grasped his, a firm grip, and they shook hands. They continued to converse in simple German.
‘Pleased to meet you, Mr Walter Wenke.’
‘Pleased to meet you, Friedrich Biar.’
‘You’re not going to hurt me, are you Friedrich?’
‘No, why should I?’
‘Good, the last thing I remember is some smelly man sticking a big needle into me and now my head hurts and so does my stomach. I feel like I’ve eaten a sack full of cockroaches.’
‘Oh, if it’s the smelly man I know, you may well have done,’ Friedrich said. ‘We had to do just that before I came through the light.’ Acidic lumps the consistency of cockroaches crawled up his oesophagus. He forced them back down with a gulp.
‘Where did you come from?’ the man asked. ‘Cripes! It stinks down here. That’s not you, is it?’
‘I don’t know—I came down under the outhouse. Perhaps it is you, no?’
‘Me? It’s you who came through an outhouse? Do you mean the toilet? I guess that’ll explain the smell.’
‘But this, it smells like dead animal. That is new to me,’ Friedrich said. ‘I climbed down into a room under our outhouse and I walked through a blue light. But I heard thunder crack and all is dark now.’
‘I get it, you’re an alien from another world, or maybe that ghost the locals have been going on about,’ the man said. ‘You been here before?’
‘I’m not sure, last time I went down here, I went out a door and into a village. There were black people,’ Friedrich said. ‘Mostly I go by the cave and into the wilderness. I met Joseph and Amie there at the waterhole.’
Friedrich heard shuffling and grating against the concrete floor.
‘Joseph and Amie?’ the man raised his voice. ‘You met Joseph and Amie?’
‘At the rock hole.’
‘No, where are they now?’
‘They’re on my world, the world with two suns. The world the smelly man Boris said was Australia. But I’m guessing it’s not Australia.’ Friedrich leaned against a slab, the height of a table. It was cold and he shivered. ‘Boris smells like dead animal sometimes, and other times like a cockroach. And this place has the dead animal smell. Is Boris from Australia? Is that why it has that awful smell?’
‘That’s incredible! We’ve been abducted by aliens.’
‘Our whole town was taken and it was by just one alien, I think. We call him Boris.’
More shuffling. ‘Any idea how we get out of here and into the light. I don’t want to be hanging around waiting for this smelly Boris alien, do you?’
‘No. No I don’t know how to get out.’
‘We need to do something. We need to get out of here before he comes again,’ Walter said. Friedrich could hear Walter scraping his feet along the floor. ‘Hurry, we must find a way out.’
Friedrich followed Walter’s voice, the nasal twang fascinated him. Joseph had it. Amie had it. Did all Australians have it? Did they all speak through their noses? Even when speaking his language. And why did they call it “Deutsch”? He came from Silesia, from the land of the Wends. He had never heard of this “Deutschland”.
Friedrich touched the stone wall. It was freezing. He stepped forward, one foot in front of the other, tracing the line of the wall until he came to a corner. At the corner, he turned to his right and bumped into Walter.
‘I think there’s a door here,’ Walter said. ‘I can feel a dent that runs up and down. And it’s wood.’ His voice rose an octave and seemed more nasal and more excited. ‘Yeah, and I think I see some light—well, less black than in here.’
Friedrich heard rattling. He jumped back. His heart pounded.
‘Nah, the door’s useless,’ Walter continued. ‘It’s locked.’
Friedrich sighed. ‘Oh, really. I thought someone was coming but it’s just you. Do you know where we are?’
‘The Mission. I reckon the joker who clobbered me locked me up in the morgue in the Mission.’
‘Mission?’ Friedrich was confused. ‘Where is this Mission?’
‘Australia. The Mission is in Central Australia.’
‘Central? Right in the middle?’
‘More or less,’ Walter said. ‘Actually founded by your lot from Germany.’
‘Yeah, where you come from.’
‘But I come from Silesia, the land of the Wends.’
It was obvious to Friedrich Walter had no idea what he was babbling on about. Maybe he spoke too fast for this foreigner.
‘Never mind,’ Friedrich said. ‘If we thump and shout, someone in this mission town might hear us.’ He began hitting the door and yelling in Silesian.
Walter joined in the banging on the door and shouting, through his nose in English.
They bellowed and banged for some time. Then Walter stopped. ‘I hope whoever hears is not Boris.’
‘I hope so, too,’ Friedrich replied and then pounded the door.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Feature Photo: Standley Chasm Reflections © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2013
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