Klaus Hnilica
Thursday August 29th, 2013

What a Nuisance – This D..ed Trolley?

Carl and Gerlinde (XXXIII)

Well –  Dr. Osterkorn refused to let Carl take his vacation, even though he had already officially countersigned the application!

No –  in August, leading personnel had never been able to go on vacation: Carl himself knew well enough that TRIGA always came up with their new spring collection during those weeks. And this time, it was even going to be the entire underwear collection – not just the ladies lingerie and dessous, said Dr. Osterkorn.

ZEimg085Since Miriam Braun was still away on maternity leave, he, Carl, was, of course, doubly and triply in demand! The formerly countersigned application had been a misunderstanding and was void as of now, said Dr. Osterkorn, alias Bernie, Carl might as well stick it on his head, or wherever he wished!

”Why don’t you send your Gerlinde by herself, or with a girl-friend keeping a watchful eye over her”, he added with a wink when he saw the disappointment in Carl’s face.

”But you certainly cannot go anywhere right now, I need you!“, he whispered in Carl’s ear before sending him on his way with a hard yet friendly gaze into his blue eyes and a handshake during which Carl never showed any emotion on his face. After all, he knew that the numbness he would soon feel in his right hand would, as usual, disappear within the next two days all by itself…

And in fact, Carl was actually lucky! Hannelore agreed immediately to take over for him. Without a single second of hesitation, she hopped about with joy for having to sacrifice herself and fly to Mallorca with Gerlinde, there to stay in the comfortable Finca near Cala Mayor which Carl had secretly booked weeks ago as a surprise for Gerlinde. So this had not been a problem at all – which meant that Bernie actually had been correct in a dodgy way!

And this evening, they would both return! Carl was waiting for them at the Central Station, platform 1: arrival time 20 hours 05 minutes!

What a pleasant surprise – the S-Bahn train from the airport was only 22 minutes late! Apparently, the railway was now on the right path: just a year ago, he and Gerlinde had come in almost an hour late when returning from Mallorca.

God – but weren’t you glad if, during the summer months, there were any trains at all left to run through Central Station? And standing around waiting for between half an hour and 45 minutes was, after all, absolutely acceptable, wasn’t it? Basically, there was no huge difference between wasting time navigating between the potholes on the streets and getting lost on the draughty platform, was there?

Indeed, it was also quite interesting – when the railway planning team designed the glass-topped seats at the end of platform 1, they had actually done some useful thinking – that you were within visual reach of the video cameras if you were subjected to an attack in the evening! What a positive approach for a change!

Currently, a coloured person was sitting in the glass housing. He was reading a book! His black trolley was also standing next to the glass wall. Quite visible!

Other than that, hardly anyone was to be seen on the platform at this time of day: a young guy laboured with pushing his bike up the stairs from the underpass, and on the bank not far from where Carl stood, a pretty blonde with long, deliciously brown legs ate a hamburger which actually stood no chance against her energetic personality.

Carl aimlessly strolled along the platform. When he turned, he saw the coloured man get up and walk towards the stairs while still reading his book and continuing to read during his hurried descent of the stairs towards the underpass. He left the black trolley sitting there all by itself!

Well – what trust was this? – thought Carl and walked towards the trolley. Suddenly, he stopped! He looked round – but there was no longer any trace of the coloured owner; he had actually gone missing from his luggage!

Down in the underpass, there was no trace of him either, at least as far as Carl could see from the top of the steps. But then, maybe the luggage had not belonged to him at all, thought Carl. The trolley might well already have been sitting there when he came reading his book and sitting down under the glass protection. Now Carl was two metres from the trolley.

This was definitely some strange situation, wasn’t it?

He was wondering if he should tell some official about this unattended piece of luggage? But where? And whom?

In this particular case, it was nowhere near as easy as it looked.

After all, these days there were no railway employees you could talk to at the station: they might even have made fun of him? The other passengers, too, did not seem to be worried at all by the deserted trolley. Mind you, now the platform got more and more crowded: even a few families with children came up the stairs. …

Carl decided to wait!

As a precaution, he not only increased the distance between himself and the black trolley, but also tried to get more protective mass between himself and this potential explosive. But all the mass to be found on the platform were a few display boards, banks and some beams holding the roof. That was all the mass you could get!

The way down the steps, however, was massive. You could reasonably look for protection there! But then, what if the trolley was going to explode at the very moment Gerlinde and Hannelore were arriving on their S-Bahn train?

It would arrive in ten minutes! What a pity that time flew so fast! They had never announced anything about another delay. Typical for the railway! Now of all times, they were on time! They always chose the wrong moment.

To be sure, Carl felt quite safe standing behind the descent building. But his worries increased as he saw how the platform filled up with more and more people.

This was definitely not the sort of protective mass he had been wishing for!

Why on earth did nobody steal this stupid trolley?

Where were the hordes of luggage thieves you always had to be afraid of? This here was definitely a place where they could have made themselves useful.

What about the video screening?

Why was there no reaction from the railway supervision?

There were true deficits in those anonymous public spaces of today – manifesting themselves quite distinctly, thought Carl. And time went by mercilessly: in no more than four minutes, the delayed S-Bahn train would be arriving – and then catastrophe would hit …

Carl grew more and more nervous. He chewed his lower lip and had to wipe the saliva from the corners of his mouth several times. Beads of perspiration were building up on his forehead and his hands grew sticky.

Maybe he should call Gerlinde on her cell phone and advise her to continue on her way, under no circumstances to exit at this station?

But how to give a reason without looking totally stupid? Apparently, nobody else on the entire platform shared his suspicions. Was he really the only far-sighted person here?
The only one foreseeing the catastrophe?

Two more minutes, and the S-Bahn train would arrive!

Carl quickly ran down the stairs. Since there was nothing he could do anyway, he wanted at least to bring himself to safety. The underpass provided excellent protection. That was certainly why the coloured Djhadist had run down here with his Koran. Naturally!

All of a sudden, the scales fell from Carl’s eyes! Within seconds, everything fell into place and Carl was in the middle of the infernal events: in fact, he already tripped over numerous mutilated dead and injured persons, he took notice of the bodies, so torn you could no longer identify them; they were thrown through the air like catapults. He ducked away from this grizzly hill of broken arms and legs that wriggled about like greedy fish in an ocean of blood, snatching after severed heads which bounced back from colliding concrete lumps like cracking tennis balls. – And only afterwards – when an eternity had gone by – the ear-splitting detonation of the all-triggering explosion shattered his ears. What followed was an eerily resonating clang of breaking iron beams, along with a ghostly white dust cloud which covered everything, transforming it into a beautiful white winter scenery…

Carl ran the last metres towards the exit of the railway station – after all, he was in shape, wasn’t he? From the outside, it was also far easier for him to give sensible assistance in this chaos when it came to disposing of the corpses and injured bodies. That would give him the opportunity to devote all his strength to helping with the cleaning work that would soon begin …

At this very moment, the S-Bahn train must be arriving!  God, what an eloquent silence!

Motionless, Carl stood near the exit! He was incapable of even the slightest movement. Pale as a corpse, he stared at the concourse, fearing to be sick at any moment.…

Apparently, the first passengers from the S-Bahn train, too, were already reaching the exit area! Then, suntanned and giggling, Gerlinde and Hannelore came with their black trolleys. …

Carl felt something explode in his chest! Totally exulted and breathless, he flew towards them, embracing them, kissing them and pressing them to him among thousands of apologies for the terrible traffic jam he had been in …

(Translated by EG)

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