Pushing past some teenagers in winter coats Rainer collapsed onto a bench at the Zug train station in Switzerland. She lay there, face white, eyes wide and staring. The sound in her head was overwhelming and terrifying, a mechanical squealing and grating that rose in volume until she felt like her brain would tear apart. Then she heard the familiar whispering voice. She sat up, her black hair in disarray, trails of mascara down her cheeks. The pointed blades taped to her long fingernails were stained with dried blood…
Two weeks earlier she’d been on a plane. Drawing in a little white book. Pages and pages of bodies intertwined. The man seated next to her was a city councilman. When they carried his body off the plane she was long gone.
Two weeks before that she’d been hiking in the woods not far from Bremen with her sister. The authorities later come across a naked man, covered head to toe with long, matted hair, with elk antlers strapped to his head. His teeth were sharpened to points. He lay there, having apparently bled to death.
Two weeks before that she’d had a long phone conversation with her father. Her father had been drunk and somewhat loopy. His voice sounded almost feminine in his old age. Pops and crackling could be heard from whatever he was frying on the stove.
And before that several men in black helmets with face shields chased her into a New York subway station. The train came screeching in, a rush of hot wind hitting her face. She watched the men push into the rush-hour crowd but as the train doors closed she left them behind.
Back at Brienz by the lake she untaped the blades from her fingers. She made a big pile of weapons under a maple tree. Relaxing on a hammock in her underwear she called her sister but no one answered. She paged through a children’s book about a large animal with an injured paw. Sammie brought her a drink. You know, Rainer, he said. They found you. They actually tracked you down this time. Her grey eyes watched his facial muscles twitch. I saw the plane come in. They’re not far. What are you going to tell them when they knock on your front door?
Rainer took a long drink. She turned and rose from the hammock. She lifted an antique scaling knife from the pile by the tree. Tell them to come back here.
Sammie stared at her. You know you can’t do that this time, he said.
Just then a man grabbed Sammie from behind and two more dropped down from the trees behind Rainer. Three more men with black helmets and visors rose up out of Lake Brienz.
Sitting in a makeshift prison Rainer scratched crude images into the walls. But after thirty-six hours she was released out to the streets, due to a technicality.
Wake up, Sammie! Wake up!
What? Who is it?
They let me out.
Before long the two were climbing a path up into the mountains, passing a kirsch canteen back and forth and singing religious country songs. When it got dark the whispering voice came back but she just sang louder, I saw the light, I saw the light! Soon she held Sammie’s face and kissed him. The squealing and grating noises returned but she ignored them this time, the bitter almond kirsch taste in her mouth as she closed her eyes tight.