Someone to Blame
Liesel swiped up Gunter’s untouched muffin. ‘Can’t let good fresh food from Earth go to waste.’ She bit into the sweet crumbly cake.
‘Liesel,’ I leant over to her. ‘Monica, here, says the room I’m staying in is haunted.’
‘Well, Holly, you should know.’ Liesel wiped her mouth with a napkin. They all think my gift allows me to talk to dead people.
‘Only because Monica told me so.’ I met Monica’s eyes, now wide with signs of a question mark in her pupils. She held a fork of sliced chicken schnitzel (Fahrer’s) before her mouth. ‘I’m an ‘empath’, not a medium.’
‘Whatever!’ Liesel flicked her hand across her face. ‘Anyway, it’s common knowledge.’
‘Such a nice girl.’ Monica swayed her head still holding the schnitzel in fork. ‘I can’t understand—a Boris—what? Son? No, actually, my son—with my son! How could she? I really believed in her.’ She bit into the meat and chewed for a few seconds, then gulped,
‘And then…’ Monica placed the fork of half-eaten meat on her plate, ‘she disgusts me!’
‘Huh? How old was your son?’
‘Two. She stole him!’
‘He was fully grown, but,’ Liesel added with a snort. ‘A Boris thing.’
Our heads inclined, merging to the nexus of an arch over the remnants of Fahrer’s plate of left-over meat and vegetables. Like witches brewing up a cauldron of gossip, we tore the reputation of Minna, the late Minna, to shreds. A spark of guilt smouldered in the back of my mind. I shouldn’t be doing this. Must be impartial. What would Minna think if she were sitting right here at this table? I rationalized: there’s something about envy, she had someone we, I admit, I wanted. She had love, real love once. She had Gunter’s love and she abused the privilege, and for what? For the enemy?
‘She must’ve hurt him so bad, now years later, he barely functions, except as an authoritarian robot,’ I heard myself growl.
‘Jo said there’s times he goes for days without getting out of bed,’ Liesel added.
I drew back and sat upright. Minna did that after the Boris attack, even after the burns seemed to heal. There lies the mystery, the puzzle I determined to solve.
‘So, I want to know. After all, I am working with—um—Fahrer, and I need to know so I don’t put my foot in it so to speak and embarrass myself.’ I twisted the napkin in my hands. ‘I need what you say—heads up.’
‘I think you have done a pretty good job of foot-putting and embarrassing already, my dear,’ Liesel mumbled. Through a smirk, her mouth straightened. ‘Nah, only kidding.’
‘I know it’s a habit of mine. So any little bit of gossip would help, now wouldn’t it.’ I suggested. ‘What can you tell me?’ Good to get another perspective after only having Minna’s, I reasoned.
‘Yeah, well, I suppose. Just to let you know, all I say to you is confidential. Okay?’ Liesel fished around on her laptop and opened up a photo. ‘See these two boys?’
Leaning over to view the screen, the image of the pair of chubby cherubs hit me with a shot of pain to the stomach. I nodded. Tears welled in the corner of my eyes.
‘Gone! Dead! No more!’ Liesel said, then snapped shut the screen.
‘Oh, that is awful!’ I whispered my voice trembling. ‘How?’ But knowing the answer already.
‘She, the witch, drowned them.’ Liesel sniffed, her mouth a thin quivering line.
‘How could she do that?’ Monica wiped her eye. ‘Bitch! Then she took my boy. My first son.’
‘What happened to him? Your son?’
Monica shrugged. ‘Probably same as her other…’
‘Nah, he’s still out there, Monica.’
‘Don’t get me hopes up, Liesel.’
‘Nah, you’re right, concentrate on what ya got, that little boy of yours.’
‘Least there’s no Minna to steal ‘im and kill ‘im.’
‘That is so sad!’ I pulled out a tissue and blew my nose. ‘But why?’
‘Don’t know, I think she was a mole of Boris. She had us all fooled.’ Liesel clenched her fists. ‘Especially Fahrer.’
‘That she did!’ Monica pounded her fist in her palm.
‘What happened to her?’ I asked, knowing full well what happened, Minna’s version, but not letting on. “I woke up and they were gone,” is what Minna told me. But was that the truth?
‘Don’t worry she got what she deserved. She was blattered by the nuclear blast. Ironic really.’ Liesel puffed and swayed her head. ‘The cockroach killed his own mole.’
‘Tragic for Fahrer, I imagine,’ I remarked.
‘Was for all of us.’ Monica stabbed more schnitzel with her fork and dipped it in a pool of tomato sauce. ‘Gunter blames himself.’ She ground the meat with short sharp movements of her jaw.
‘Yeah, I know. He’s never recovered. And he’s in denial. And we have to live with it. You don’t know what we have to go through each day,’ Liesel sighed.
‘When did this happen?’ I asked.
‘A few years ago,’ Liesel said. ‘2010, Earth time.’
Monica pushed the plate of Fahrer’s leftovers away. ‘And Minna, think of the lives she’s ruined.’
Liesel sucked in air through her teeth. ‘Nup, death wasn’t good enough for her.’
‘My accident. Boris blasted our ship smashing it through a worm hole—His freaking manufactured black hole—’ I choked, ‘Fifteen years! I lost fifteen years! The return of Boris, just when we thought he was dead.’
Monica stood up. ‘Boris has a lot to answer for.’
We all nodded. Liesel repeated, ‘Yes, just when we thought he was dead!’ In silent contemplation, we stacked our plates, picked up our trays and returned to our duties.
In my quarters, Minna’s old quarters, I reclined on my bunk and stared at the contents emptied from my pocket and placed on the side table. The Mintie still uneaten. The USB behaving itself, still lifeless as an inanimate object should be. And my key-card for my quarters and meal-pass on the Sister Ship.
Tired, I blinked and rubbed my eyes. I yawned and reached out to turn off the bedside light.
‘Hey! Where did the Mintie go?’
I looked again.
A cockroach sat on its hind legs and its little round human-like face smirked at me and gulped.
I slammed my palm onto the beast, the shell shattering in my hand.
I lifted my hand. A cracked stick of plastic stuck to the heel of my palm. Lifting it to my nose, I sniffed it. Didn’t smell like a cockroach.
Placing the damaged USB on the side table, I switched off the light and closed my eyes.
‘Must be imagining things.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Thumsee, Bavaria © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2013
Want more? More than before? Don’t just listen to the rumours of the war on Boris, read it for yourself. Find out who is Minna Thumm and how she became reluctantly caught up in the war against Boris. And what is it that Minna’s mother wears on her feet? Check out my novels on Amazon and in Kindle. Click on the links below: