Discover more from The Holy Loneliness Collective (english)
I've already mentioned that so far old Ursel's snail ointment has turned out to be not very effective in the fight against Till's burn mark. The skin turns purple-black where it is applied and the scar shines out in bright orange. Actually, it is now even more visible than before. Plus, Till's face really doesn't look pretty with the darkly stained right half. Old Ursel only made mysterious hints when we told her about it on the phone. Said she would have to take a closer look.
Understandably, Till didn't want to go alone, so I agreed to accompany him. It was warm and smelled like spring and we took the bikes. On the main road, a rumbling, blown-up engine noise approached from behind. The vehicle - a squeaky yellow VW Golf - slowed down and finally rolled slowly right beside us. The window came down, revealing two sunglassed, grinning visages. My heartbeat sped up and then nearly stopped when the co-driver - I swear it's true - pointed a fucking crossbow at us. Following an instinct, I jerked the handlebar around. My bike broke through the undergrowth, leafless elderberry branches whipping through my face, and then I had all the trouble keeping myself in the saddle as I rumbled down the slope over roots and pine cones. With a diabolic whirr, a bolt whizzed just over my head and smashed into a tree trunk. Next to me I heard Till swearing hysterically. We both pedaled as fast as the forest floor would allow. We went through a few young spruce trees, then down a steep slope. At the bottom there was a small stream, but it was too late to slow down. The water wasn't deep, but the impact on the large, round pebbles was all the more painful.
Panicked, I looked around and saw Till, who had put his finger over his mouth. The ice-cold water slowly brought me back to reality. Everything was quiet except for the rustling of the leaves and the gentle babbling of the stream. In the distance I thought I heard roaring engine noise. But what did it mean? Had our pursuers given up the chase and just moved on? Had the guy with the crossbow gotten out and come after us? Were they heading somewhere else to cut us off? We remained sitting in the water for quite a while, not daring to make a sound. But nothing moved except a blackbird, which scared the shit out of us.
Miraculously, our bikes seemed to be relatively unharmed. We quickly agreed to avoid all roads and cover the rest of the way on forest and field paths. It wasn't far to old Ursel's garden, but it seemed like an eternity to me. Again and again, the sound of engines could be heard in the distance. And when we had to cross larger roads, we held our breath in tension. Till had sprained his right knee during our fall and we were making slow progress. But to our great relief we reached our destination without any further trouble.
Old Ursel was sitting in front of her crooked construction trailer, grinding dried bugs into fine dust with a small mortar. When she caught sight of us, her gaze became blank and icy. Her expression was difficult to read at first. Then she croaked in a hollow voice: 'Away!' Just that one word. But when we didn't respond, she quickly found her voice again. 'Away! Away! Get the hell out of here! Sneak off!' she shrieked shrilly. She stood up and grabbed a staff with the pale skull of an ibex mounted on the tip. Armed with that, she lashed out at us. We hastily retreated. Even as we had closed the garden door behind us again, we heard her screaming hysterically: 'Away, away, away! You don't bring him into my garden, the devil! Not you, oh no!!!'
Don't ask for the way back. It was already dark when we arrived home frozen and bruised. But worse than the big and small injuries was the perplexity. What is going on with these people who just hunt down complete strangers - outlawed or not? How far does the arm of this ominous syndicate reach? And what did old Ursel see in us that upset her so much? Is there really something wrong with us in the end? Can you make sense of all this?