By Hervé Suys
Suspicion was the last thing they wanted the population to have. A committee was set up, presided over by a protégé from the regime who still had credit for services rendered. His track record was excellent, his loyalty unquestionable, but for some reason his loyalty, although valued, was never properly appreciated. His career had started like that of many others with similar merits at the Academy. He made an instant impression thanks to his sharp analyses, unparalleled rhetoric skills, bold suggestions and a presumed lack of conscience. In particular the latter made him extremely suitable for this, according to some, delicate but necessary task within the highest regions of the regime. He received unlimited power, which he – as predicted – did not abuse. His first concern was the recruitment of irreproachable loyal ones. He made an extensive first selection based on reputation and skills. After extensive testing for mental resilience and physical preparedness, a second, secure screening took place. Nothing was heard about those who did not comply.
The final details were completed and for every possible scenario in which things could go wrong, he had a solution at hand. Nothing stood in the way of total triumph and eternal fame. While on the eve of dd / mm / yy he was tying the laces of his running shoes, he went through the script a last time. He was certain all details were considered but he knew from experience that during a running session he could clear his head and make connections in which he would not see coherence in other circumstances. He himself found this a small weakness – a slightly dysfunctional fact: a lack of uninterrupted lucidity.
For reasons of safety, he did not have a fixed route. The preparations had taken a lot of his time, so he had to keep his running sessions short and even had to postpone or cancel several times. He deliberately chose the route that took him to the remote suburb in which he grew up. He had not been there since his last promotion. He had been looking for remnants from his past and had wiped them away for good. Although he seldom allowed himself to be guided by intuition and preferred to rely on the usual algorithms, he felt an inexplicable urge to pass by this place. His orientation capability was excellent, he almost blindly found the way to his childhood quarter. He stopped where his parental home once stood. He scanned the area, but it was a noise that struck him with astonishment: he unmistakably heard the creaking sound of a slowing train. The improbable sound to which he was irresistibly drawn and which eventually led him to the abandoned railway station. He took the passage to the platform right where it was anchored in his memory. There he discovered a single outdated train wagon, not linked to a locomotive and lit inside, brightly contrasted with the dusk that had entered. The door was open at both the beginning and the end of the wagon. From a distance he considered it safe and he tried to look through the windows, but had to move a little closer to get a better view of the interior. In the middle of the carriage, the glow seemed the strongest and he perceived a clear silhouette he knew from his past. He was convinced that his eyes were troubling him and already made vague plans to have this situation investigated when the silhouette approached the window and a face became visible. A face he had said goodbye to a long time ago and that appeared less and less frequently in his darkest dreams. He got into the carriage and hurried to where he had seen the figure. Nobody to be found. Almost arriving at the other end, the doors closed with a deafening bang. Only a fraction of a second later the wagon started slowly. He now saw dozens of figures on the platform through the window. He still knew all of them by name. Their heads followed him as the carriage left the platform.
He knew where he was going and knew where this would end once the train had reached cruising speed: it was he himself who had ordered the building of the wall.
For the first time he wondered if there was life after death.
FOTO: The illustration is by Vince Delhaye
(°1968 – Ronse, Belgium) started writing short stories whilst recovering from a sports injury and hasn’t stopped since. He has published his disturbing fiction in The Netherlands, Belgium, France, India, Estonia and the USA. So far.