Tag Archives: children

River People 2: River Men

You should read River People 1: River Children first.

You can also listen to this story.

The night was horrible. Neither of us managed to sleep properly. Kristy rolled from side to side while I alternated between staring at the drawn curtains and staring at the closed bathroom door.

We showered together. No way that either of us stays alone with those things around. At about 8 we had breakfast, by the time we got back to our room there was an officer standing outside our door.

I can’t even begin to describe how frustrating this is. They treated us like criminals, separated and interrogated for nearly three hours. It seems they asked Kristy the same questions as me: Continue reading

River People 1: River Children

You can also listen to this story. Audio versions by:

I thought it was just water. Just muddy water, deep enough that the tallest person would not be able to touch bottom and surface at the same time. Our house is about forty steps away – enough to keep the smell away, but not enough to avoid the yearly flood from drowning our garden.

We lived here for four years and we always liked that river despite the smell and lack of life. I heard once that flowing water keeps witches away, maybe that’s part of it. And of course it’s nice to have free water for the garden.

The summer we moved in I tried to swim in the river, but while the air was burning the water was cold as if it had just come off a glacier. I always thought that was strange. I’ve been to the river’s spring though – a waterfall that comes right out of a nearby mountain. Back at the spring the water is clear. Continue reading

Just make sure to kill them young!

The old couple, Isabella and Jacob, seemed sad to give the hut away. We were eating apples while they told us how they had both grown up at the hut and were sad to see it become a holiday home, but that they were now too old to live that far from civilization. They said that a new generation should live in the hut. With a smile Isabella took the apple cores while we signed the contract.

Our first trip to the village was somewhat confusing. It was a Monday, shortly before noon, but the streets were empty. It took us a while to find the small mom-and-pop-store with a bright red “Open” sign; the shop looked as if it could have come right out of a 1950s Hollywood movie.

It was my idea to buy the hut in the mountains. Joanne said that she wasn’t happy about the lack of telephone and electricity, but of course that was part of the reason we chose the hut in the first place: To have a retreat, once a year, to be away from the stress of constant emails, calls, texts and the seductive power of the internet and our regular social commitments that others would call “social life.” All we really wanted was a place at which to be alone.

If it would have been for her we would have taken a hut somewhere at an isolated beach – but in the end she gave in to my argument that, if it would have been for her, we would have long wasted the money on trips to supposedly-romantic-but-actually-horribly stressful Paris or nice-looking-but-horribly-smelling Venice. Joanne often called me a pragmatists or unromantic or robot, or sometimes worse, but in reality she wanted the remote-hut-retreat as much as I did. She just wanted a beach attached.

A small bell announced our entry into the shop.

“Coming,” called a male voice from the back of the store.

Joanne was browsing through the badly stocked shelves when the heavy feet descended the stairs.

“Oh, tourists,” said the old man. “Welcome!”

“No,” I said. “We just bought a hut in the mountains.”

His eyes widened?

“One of those huts?” He asked.

“What huts?”

“Oh, nothing,” he said. “So you’re not here for that.”

“Here for what?”

“There’s a pest up in the mountains. Just make sure to kill them young.”

“What pest?”

The old man’s eyes moved across the room, to Joanne, to his shelves, finally back to me.

“What pest?” I repeated.

“Foxes,” he said. “they live in holes in the ground. Just make sure to kill them young!”

“Okay,” I said.

“Good,” he said.

Joanne brought bread and cheese to the till and together we chose a few of the wine bottle behind the shelf.

We said goodbye. The old man just stared at us.

“Keep the doors locked,” he said.

I pulled the door shut behind us.

“Not that one,” he said. “I mean at the hut.”

Back at the hut we felt more comfortable. Around us was mostly flat grass, no signs of foxholes, and the nearest forest was at least a ten minute walk away.

We spent the day moving the trash the old couple had left in one corner – mostly blankets, children’s clothes, a stack of old bibles and fifty year old school books.

On Tuesday we went for our first hike, a relaxing walk through the fresh air to reward ourselves for our efforts. We stayed on the soft grass and only ventured for a short time into the forest. Still we saw plenty of wildlife – rabbits, squirrels, birds and on our way back two foxes. The forest seemed bleak, devoid of life, compared to the rabbits and many molehills that poked through the grass.

At night we had dinner, locked the hut and went on our three hour drive back home.

We came back two weeks later to fix the hut up and clean out the remaining trash. I was surprised by the number and size of the mole hills that had spread around our hut – particularly as the shopkeeper had warned us about the high number of foxes.

Joanne suggested that we should flatten some of the molehills to make sure that they wouldn’t somehow dig through the thick wooden boards that formed the floor of the hut. I jumped on three of the hills and decided that our time would be better spent unloading the car and having lunch.

After lunch we wanted to go for another hike, but the sun was gone and we decided to deep-clean the house instead. Only by the evening we got back outside, when we were piling old furniture behind the hut.

Joanne pointed out that the molehills were back, larger than before. I shrugged it off, but Joanne was concerned.

“Tim, do you think those aren’t moles? Maybe those are fox holes?” Joanne asked.

“Doubt that.” I said.

“Please put something on top,” she said.

I jumped back on the hills and flattened them again. They felt harder this time. Then I stacked the old furniture on top of the former hills.

“No way for them to get back out,” I said.

I was wrong.

In the morning two of the piles of furniture were pushed to the side and large, open holes were in the ground were the hills had been before. I shoveled soil into the holes.

By noon, while taking pictures of the hut and the beautiful surroundings, I found the first two dead rabbits, not even thirty steps away from our hut. I showed the mauled carcasses to Joanne.

“Those foxes must be huge,” she said.

In the evening, while getting wine from the car, I found the head of another rabbit right behind the car. The soil in the two large holes was still untouched.

At night we heard noises outside. They sounded like shuffling feet; then like whining or quiet howling. Finally, for about twenty seconds, something loudly scratched against the outer wall of the hut

I went out with a broom to shoo the foxes away, Joanne followed right behind me. But despite the flat grass around the hut we couldn’t see any foxes – only the remains of another two dead rabbits.

“Maybe they are back in their holes,” I said.

“Probably,” Joanne said. “Either way, they can’t get inside.”

During the night we heard some more scratching sounds, but they were always only momentary and short. We looked out of the windows and still didn’t see any signs of foxes. We didn’t go out again.

The next day, Sunday, the weather was beautiful and we went for long hikes each in the morning and the afternoon. We saw two or three foxes and plenty of other animals, even some deer. During our lunch break everything was normal – no noise, no more dead animals.

In the evening, when the sun began to set, things were different. On our way back home we heard a high-pitched howling from the forest to our right. Joanne thought it sounded like a crying child.

“We have to find her,” said Joanne.

“Are you sure that’s a child?” I asked.

“Can’t you hear it? That’s definitely a child.”

We walked into the forest and from side to side. The howling slowly got louder.

“We must be close,” Joanne said.

“You’re right,” I said.

By that point even I was sure that it was a child.

We saw a small clearing. Just when we got close to it the crying stopped.

The clearing was empty.

“We want to help you,” called Joanne out. “We won’t hurt you.”

No response.

“We have sweets,” I added.

Joanne threw me a deadly glance, then quickly turned around.


Joanne ran towards a moving bush. I was close behind her.

“Don’t be scared,” Joanne shouted.

She reached into the bush and pulled the leaves apart. Then she tumbled backwards and stepped behind me.

“Tim, there’s loads of blood,” she said.

I carefully glanced into the bush. The remains of four or five dead rabbits were scattered on the floor and a large puddle of blood between them.

“I don’t think there’s a child here,” I said.

“Are you sure?”

“Pretty sure.”

“We can’t leave her here, with that thing.” Joanne said.

“It wasn’t a child,” I said. “No way that was a child.”

Joanne begged me to please look around the bush. Together we slowly stepped around the thick underwood and called out a few more times for the child. When there was no response we quickly headed back out of the forest and towards our hut.

There were two dead rabbits in front of our hut. Their bodies were still whole, only a bloody gap was in their necks.

At night we heard the scratching again. Then another howling sound that sounded close to a crying child.

“This is insane,” Joanne said. “I want to go home.”

I promised her we would leave the next day.

Around 7am we woke up from the sound of crying children. Only it wasn’t one child this time, it were two.

Joanne pulled the blanket over her head.

“We have to leave,” she said. “I can’t take this.”

“What foxes make such noise?” I asked.

When I stepped towards the window I got my answer. Two children of about six or seven years cowered a few steps away from our hut on the cold grass. They were both naked.

When we got out of the hut the little girl ran a few steps away. The boy kept cowering in the same place, his eyes focused on me.

“Where are your parents?” Joanne asked.

The little boy shook his head. He got up.

“Did you get lost?”

The little boy shook his head again. The girl stepped closer.

I stayed a few steps behind as not to scare the children away. The girl looked at me suspiciously. The boy took a step towards Joanne.

Joanne kneeled down and offered the boy a blanket. The boy touched the blanket; then looked at Joanne. The little girl too stepped towards Joanne.

“What’s your name?” Joanne asked.

“Tim,” said the boy.

“Hello Tim,” said Joanne. “That’s funny, my husband has the same name.”

The girl stepped closer and touched Joanne’s arm.

Joanne turned to the girl and handed her a blanket.

“And what’s your name?”

“Joanne,” said the girl.

“I’m also called Joanne,” said Joanne.

“I know,” said the girl.

“But what’s your name?” asked Joanne.

“Joanne,” said the girl.

The boy walked around Joanne and towards me.

“Oh, then we all have the same names,” said Joanne.

“I have your name,” said the girl.

The boy grinned and stretched his hand towards me. Instinctively I took a step back.

“You,” said the boy.

“What about me,” I asked.

“You tried to kill me,” said the boy.

Joanne got up and walked towards the boy and me.

“What?” I asked.

“What did you do?” Joanne shouted.

The boy turned towards her.

“He tried to kill me,” said the boy. “And he tried to kill Joanne too.”

I took another step backwards; Joanne stepped between the boy, stared at me until I took another step back, and finally kneeled down.

“Do you know what ‘killing’ means?”

“Yes,” said the boy.

“And you think my husband tried to kill you?”

“You asked him to kill me,” said the boy.

“Why do you think that?”

“And you asked him to put things on us.”


Joanne got up.

The girl stepped next to the boy.

“You did,” the girl said. “We heard you.”

“And then he jumped on us,” said the boy.

Joanne stepped backwards, next to me.

“That’s why we ran away,” said the girl.

Joanne pulled on my arms

“You mean you were in those holes?” I asked.

“You put us there,” said the boy.

“We didn’t put you anywhere,” I said.

“Then someone planted us for you,” said the boy.

“Planted you?” asked Joanne.

“Of course,” said the girl. “We were planted for you.”

The boy turned to the girl.

“I’m hungry,” he said.

“Me too,” said the girl.

They both jumped forward at once. I was able to push the girl off, but the boy threw Joanne onto the floor and bit her shoulder. I pulled his body off Joanne; he bit my arm before I was able to push him away.

I pulled Joanne up and kicked towards the girl while Joanne ran to the car. The boy again jumped towards me. I stumbled backwards, the girl jumped from the side on my leg. I punched the girl off my leg; the boy jumped and tried to grab my legs; I grabbed his arm and swung him away.

Joanne stopped the car a few meters away; I ran towards her with the boy right behind me. I pulled the door open; the boy screamed and tried to bite my leg; I jumped on the back seat; Joanne drove.

The children ran after the car until we shook them off.

All that was three years ago. This year we finally dared to go back. We thought we would maybe be able to sell the place. We thought they had left.

Instead, already from the distance, we saw them living there: a teenage girl with the same brown hair and the same wide smile as Joanne, and a teenage boy that looks just like me.

They waved when they saw us coming. We turned away.

This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

A Bond of Blood

There is no force in the world that is stronger than the bond of blood. The bond of blood is that of parent to child and that of sibling to sibling. And of all the possible bonds the strongest is that between twins.

That’s why it’s so damn hard to even lift my fingers to write all this down. Because all our bonds have been broken; every bond of blood has become a blood-drenched bond.

And all of it is my fault. My parents warned me not to violate one of the unwritten rules of German culture – that if your last name begins with ‘S’ it’s first name cannot begin with ‘S’. SS, one of the initials that stands for the eternal German sin.

I thought that was folly. I thought if my child grew up outside the country nobody would mind.

“You are ruining his life.” Said my father.

I laughed.

That’s how the bond between my father and me broke.

Sammy and Jimmy. We chose the names because we liked them and because they sounded alike; they sounded like brothers that would be a team for life.

And they were a team. They did everything together; they even had their own secret language for a while. Sammy and Jimmy always took the fall for each other – a missing cookie? Both claimed to be the culprit. Someone forgot to write their homework – both claimed not to have done theirs. Ripped pants? Of course both wore it during the day.

Watching them made me proud. Watching them reassured me that I had done right.

They were smart. I say that with pride, but also because it’s true. They learned reading faster than any of the other kids in their class; they excelled in every subject.

We had a ritual for their birthday. We went to the bookshop and each could choose the smartest and thickest book they liked. Not the books for children or teens – the real, expensive, solid books; the ones they could stack on their shelves with pride.

They always chose the same type of book; they coordinated their purchase just like they coordinated the clothes they wore, the sports they played, and the friends they made.

On their thirteenth birthday we went to the bookshop again. I wanted to help them be more independent and sent each in one direction – Sammy to the left, Jimmy to the right. At first they didn’t want to; they wanted to stick together like always. I wanted to be a good father, to help them be independent and mature.

That day, without my knowledge or intent, I committed my second sin; I broke the second bond of blood.

Jimmy came back with a book on economics. Sammy came back with a book on philosophy.

Each read their books and then they exchanged and each read the book of his brother. But somewhere through that first book they changed.

Since the divorce, at the time they were just ten, I always made sure that we my sons and I had dinner together, just like I hoped that my former wife and my former daughter too had dinner together.

The all-male dinner table was the place where they asked me the questions young boys ask and told me the worries young boys have. And it was also the place where I first notice that they broke apart, that they had different opinions.

Jimmy began to lecture us on economics – price points, demand curves, later even game theory.

Sammy began to bombard us with philosophical thought experiments – if you shoot a man that would have died anyway, but in the process save ten others, are you still a murderer? In a world without color, could you understand the concept of red? And of course, his favorite: If your brain was exchanged with another man’s brain and then one of your bodies would receive a million dollar and the other would be killed – would you rather like your brain receive the money and your body to die, or the other way around?

We argued about the body switch experiment. Sammy said it was fantastic and everybody would choose to kill his own body and give money to the new body with the mind. Jimmy said that all this was nonsense; he said that none of that would work and any reasonable person would give the money to himself.

In my memory that’s the first real fight they ever had; the first real issue on which they disagreed.

At first I liked these changes and the variety in conversation they brought. I thought it was healthy that they had become separate – and, after all, they still worked together most of the time.

Maybe they would have found neither economics nor philosophy – maybe together they would have chosen books about something altogether different, like medicine or law. Either way, I can’t change the past. No matter how much I would give to be able to do it, even if I would give my own life for it – I can’t change the paths on which I pushed each of them by sending them in different aisles.

Sammy went into a downward spiral. His passion for philosophy led him to a passion for magic and then one for alchemy. He spent days and weeks hunched over old books, silently laughing to himself. He barely paid attention to school or friends anymore.

Jimmy seemed to become more open and social but mostly stayed similar in character to how they both had been. Then, shortly before their sixteenth birthday, from one day to the next they seemed to have become different people.

Whatever I tried, I just couldn’t help Sammy get back on the path. While Jimmy aced every test he tried, Sammy failed the first test of his life, then a second, then a third.

I asked Jimmy to help Sammy and as far as I could see Jimmy tried very hard to help. But all their tutoring sessions ended with fights; with Sammy shouting at Jimmy that it was all his fault and that he should go away.

Despite his efforts I think Jimmy helped even less than the two tutors I paid and the many hours I myself tried to help Sammy get back on track. Honestly, if anything, I think all those efforts made the situation all worse.

Sammy was bitter and angry most of the time – while Jimmy was cheerful and helpful in every respect. Sammy gained weight; Jimmy gained muscles. Sammy failed exams; Jimmy jumped through them with ease. Sammy locked himself in his basement, rereading old books; Jimmy went out and made new friends every week.

With 19 Sammy dropped out of school – while Jimmy went on to university. Sammy was fired from job after job – while Jimmy, a few months into his second year of studies, founded his first company.

Jimmy sent money and books for Sammy, he wrote letters of reference, and called in favors with old friends – but Sammy was on the wrong track and nothing Jimmy or I tried made Sammy any less angry or unsuccessful.

I remember the phone call I had with my own father, shortly after Sammy had lost another job because of ‘laziness.’

My own father said that it was my fault, that I had made a mistake by giving Sammy the initials SS. He thought that that’s how I destroyed Sammy’s life; that the shame and guilt had driven Sammy to failure; that I had set him up to be an evil and vile person.

I have to admit, nothing ever got to me that much; nothing ever hurt me more than to have my own father tell me that I ruined my own son’s life.

It hurts as much to admit that, in one way or the other, my father was right.

With 22 my son Jimmy sold his first company and founded a second.

With 22 my son Sammy got into a pub fight and lost one of his eyes.

With 24 my son Jimmy found the love of his life; with 25 they got engaged.

With 24 my son Sammy found a girlfriend that screamed at him for the tiniest things; with 25 he got a criminal record for beating her.

With 26 my son Jimmy sold his second company for more than 300 million dollar.

With 26 my son Sammy steered his second hand car into oncoming traffic.

Jimmy and his wife came to the funeral; so did Sammy’s mother and sister and I. Sammy’s girlfriend didn’t even send a card.

The women went to bed early. Jimmy and I sat at the dinner table that seemed too big for just two.

We sat silently for most of the time while one gin after the other disappeared in my throat.

“I miss Sammy.” I finally said.

“I miss my brother too.” Jimmy said.

“I guess your grandfather was right. I messed him up. It’s all my fault.”

“You didn’t mess Sammy up.” Jimmy said.

I shook my head.

“You remember,” Jimmy said. “All my alchemy books?”

I emptied another glass of cold liquid in my mouth and enjoyed the gentle tickling burn it left in my throat.

“They had some interesting stuff about twins; that we are connected by a bond stronger than anything else; a bond that is strong enough to even allow you to switch your bodies and to change fate. We had that bond.”

“You loved each other.” I said.

“Jimmy and I tried a technique from one of the books,” said Jimmy. “When we were fifteen.”


“Promise not to hate me.” Jimmy said.

“I could never hate you.” I said.

I didn’t know that was a lie.

“Do you remember how I always told you about the philosophical thought experiment? The one where you have to imagine that you can switch bodies?”

“That was Sammy, not you. You didn’t believe in it.”

“Right.” Jimmy said.

There was a thin smile on his lips.

“One of the alchemy books said that the fates of twins are linked; they are connected and they can influence and balance each other. And it gave instructions.”

“Instructions for what?” I asked.

“Do you remember the outcome?” Jimmy asked. “The outcome of the thought experiment?”

“Instructions for what?” I repeated.

“What’s the outcome?” Jimmy asked.

“One gets rich and one dies.”

“Right.” Jimmy said. “Instructions for that.”

He smiled.

“As said, twins have this bond. I proved that to Jimmy when we were fifteen.”

This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

White Eyes – A Father’s Love

Trigger warning: Child death

They brought him on a Thursday morning with shackles on his arms and legs. He struggled against the officers that kept pulling him forward. His screams rang through the hallways, over and over and over:

“I’m not insane! Let me go! I’m not insane!”

Three hours later I sat opposite a crying man. Dark spots had formed on his orange sleeves.

“Hans.” I said. “You need to talk to me.”

His head stayed on his arms while the chains around his wrists tapped on the table with every sob.

I left after thirty minutes.

“Relax.” I said. “It will all be fine.”

Even then I knew that was a lie.

The next day I found him lying on his bed; a penetrant smell of old sweat lingered in the air.

Hans sat up when I greeted him. His eyes were red and his pupils large; he had been crying all night.

He didn’t remember me, but the nurses had warned him that someone would come.

“I was happy.” Hans said. “We were happy. And then they took everything.”

They had just bought the house two years earlier. Three kids: His son was four, the two daughters seven and nine. Hans’s wife, Lyndsay, was working in a small coffee shop. He himself worked part-time as an English tutor and part-time as a programmer.

Then, on the 4th of November, Hans woke up to noise from downstairs.

“I wasn’t sure what it was. It just sounded like a scratching sound, and occasionally like water flowing. I sneaked slowly down the stairs, careful not to wake Lyndsay or the kids, and every step I took the noise got slightly louder. Some sort of movement, mechanical sounds and a slow, steady hum. You can’t imagine how relieved I was when I realized it was just the dishwasher.”

Hans decided to turn the dishwasher off so that he would be able to fall asleep. He pulled the door open, steam rose to his face – and he froze.

“There were no plates or cutlery at all, the dishwasher was completely empty. Except on the top level, where the glasses go, there was one of our kitchen knives.”

Hans grabbed the knife, sneaked out of the room and to the front door. It was locked. Then he slowly moved back towards the stairs, quietly and slowly walked up the stairs and went back to the bedroom. He woke Lyndsay up.

“I asked her whether she had turned the dishwasher on.” Hans said. “But she said ‘no’. At that point I didn’t even wait anymore, I just ran, with the knife in my hand, to the childrens’ rooms. I first check on our youngest, Tzyy, but he was just sleeping peacefully. Then I ran to Momo’s room, but she was happily snoring in her bed.”

Tears welled in Hans’s eyes while he spoke.

“I actually relaxed then. I would never have imagined that something could happen to Jessica. But still I opened the door to her room; I still remember the cold door handle in my hand, how I pushed it down and slowly opened the door. First all I saw was the blood, on the floor, the walls, and all over the bed. Then I saw Jessica’s body, in her bed, curled into a small ball. Her mouth was wide open, as if she had screamed for a long time.”

Jessica was long dead when the police arrived. They questioned Hans and Lyndsay, and even Momo and Tzyy. But they all had just slept. They hadn’t heard anything. The police wanted to keep Hans at the station – because they couldn’t find any signs of a break-in and the only fingerprints they found on the knife were his. But Lyndsay begged them to allow Hans to leave; she swore that he would never touch his children and that he loved his children and particularly Jessica with all his heart.

Lyndsay’s testimony, and the assurance by Momo that he had always been kind and gentle, saved Hans. Tzyy didn’t yet know what ‘death’ meant, still he cried, as if he knew that he would never see his sister again.

The family moved to Lyndsay’s parents. They organized a small funeral, planted flowers on Jessica’s grave. Lyndsay and Momo cried a lot. Hans walked again and again through their house, desperate to find just any clue as to what might have happened. But just like the police he didn’t find even the slightest clue.

“They said the only thing they knew for sure was that Jessica was asleep when she was stabbed. She didn’t fight at all; she was dead quickly. At least she didn’t suffer.”

That was the only solace: She was dead quickly. Still, there were more than a hundred knife wounds in Jessica’s body.

A month after the funeral Lyndsay and Hans planned to return to their house. They had exchanged all locks, installed strong window shutters. But the pain of walking past Jessica’s room was too strong. They sold the house and moved into a small rented apartment not far from Lyndsay’s parents.

Lyndsay and Hans took the small bedroom for themselves; Momo and Tzyy shared the second, larger room. Momo protested against sharing the room with her brother, but she accepted the argument: She was his big sister, his protector. After Jessica’s death Tzyy had begun to wet his bed. Only when he slept with Momo he felt safe, and only then he slept deeply and didn’t wet his bed.

In the early morning hours of the 16th of December, just the day after they had bought Christmas presents together, Lyndsay shook Hans awake at three in the morning.

“Lyndsay asked me whether I heard anything. I didn’t even need to think; I recognized that noise right away: The dishwasher in the kitchen was running.”

“I told her to call the police and I grabbed a squash racquet and ran to the childrens’ room. I pushed the door open – it felt like a punch to my chest when I saw the blood. It was smeared in thick stripes on the wall next to her bed, and on the floor and there were bloody handprints on Tzyy’s bed.”

Momo was dead. Tzyy was unharmed. He must have slept while his sister was stabbed to death.

In the dishwasher they found four plates, four glasses, four sets of cutlery and one large kitchen knife.

No fingerprints.

There were scratches at the lock of the front door. Still, they kept Hans in a holding cell while Lyndsay was escorted to her parents. She and Tzyy slept huddled together with her parents in the same bed, the bedroom door locked.

Hans slept in a cell. He missed the funeral; Lyndsay’s father held Tzyy in his arms while Lyndsay’s mother held Lyndsay, so that she would not faint. Hans’s parents held each other and cried with open mouths while the rain soaked into their clothes.

The scratches on the front door saved Hans. There was no other evidence of a break-in – and no fingerprints on the knife.

After a week Hans was released. He, Lyndsay, and Tzyy moved to the guest bedroom. Hans cleared out their old apartment – at least all those things that were not covered in blood. Lyndsay refused to go back.

They slept together in an old queen size bed, Hans on the side towards the door, Tzyy in the middle and Lyndsay on the other side of the bed, near the window. Every night Lyndsay waited until Tzyy was asleep. Then, when she was sure that Tzyy wouldn’t wake up, she cried, quietly, while Hans patted her head and shoulder until she too fell asleep.

On the 8th of January, at 5 am, Lyndsay’s screams woke Hans up. The moment he was awake he, too, felt the warm liquid on the mattress. It took him a few seconds to realize what it was.

By the time Lyndsay’s parents reached the guest bedroom Hans sat, crying, on the floor; Lyndsay was sitting on the bed, cradling the still warm body of her dead son. Hans, Lyndsay and the bed were all covered in blood.

Lyndsay’s father stopped the dishwasher. When the police opened it they found several half-cleaned plates, several cups, some cutlery – and another large kitchen knife.

Both, Hans and Lyndsay were taken into custody. They had cooked together. Both their fingerprints were on the knife, and so was Tzyy’s blood.

The back door was unlocked. Lyndsay’s father told the police he had checked all the doors before he went to bed; that had become a habit since Jessica’s death.

The police interviewed several hundred people – neighbors, friends, relatives, even Jessica’s teachers. They tried to find reasons and a person to blame. They found neither.

Lyndsay was released a week later. They held Hans for two, then the law required him to be let go. They both swore that the other would never kill; they both swore that neither of them would ever have harmed their children.

Hans and Lyndsay moved into a hotel. They placed a camera next to their bed. They barricaded every entrance to the room – the door, the balcony door and the two windows. They made sure not to bring any sharp items.

On the 1st of February Hans woke up from a strong pain in his hand. Then he felt the cold, sticky liquid on the sheets.

Lyndsay’s body was already cold; the blood covering Hans’s body was already dry. The tap was running and a piece of the mirror lay in the hot stream.

Hans cried while he described to me how he called the police; how they took him away.

“It wasn’t me.” He said. “I loved her so much. And I loved my children. I would never have hurt them. Please, you have to believe me, it wasn’t me! They were my everything; I would never have touched them. Somebody must have framed me. It wasn’t me!”

He sounded sincere. He didn’t sound like a man that killed his family.

The tape shows Lyndsay and Hans first talking, then crying together. They fall asleep, her in his arms. Occasionally their bodies shift during the night.

At 2:31am Hans slowly sits up. He opens his eyes, but his face stays motionless. His body slowly turns to the side, his legs move over the edge of the bed. He gets up, very slowly walks towards the foot of the bed. He walks out of view.

A few seconds later Hans’s face appears in front of the camera.

His face looks stiff.

His eyes are all white.

His arm moves.

The tape ends.

This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

Mr. E.: The lost week

Normally I would have scribbled the date at the bottom of the page and thrown the report back in the mail. But something compelled me to open Mr. E.’s file. And when I read that Mr. E. supposedly abducted 22 fifth graders for a whole week I couldn’t resist the urge to read the rest.

Mr. E. is a former teacher that has been in the care of the institution for more than 20 years. I only knew him as the man with long gray hair, until his file landed on my desk a few weeks ago. He always looked kind and friendly, I didn’t expect him to be a convicted pedophile and child murderer.

Back in the day it was rather common to take pedophilia as a mental disorder rather than a crime. He served eight years for the murder; then he was transferred to our institution to be ‘cured’. At the beginning of the recovery, at least back then, there always had to be a confession. And no matter who you are or what you have done, if you are long enough in a clinically clean room with a weekly information ratio of one book, you will confess. Continue reading