He could see the glaring light, roaring upwards to the sky. Sadly, it was on the other end of Berlin, as Max had told him. This ray of light was part of the great diversion. And yet, he was not sure, if it would work.
He had survived Tiergarten, a place, where people lived, dwelled, which were more loke hermits, but neither humble nor peaceful. He knew her looks, her eyes hidden behind walls of covers, as if they were ashamed of their habits. He also knew, that they would kill him, if they believed, that he had money or booze or sniff0. Weird name, sniff0. But it zeroed you, if you sniff too much. Fitting name.
He also stayed away from the larger communities, where things happened, which were not made for humanity. Or by …
There, in the shallow shadows of the dead trees, which struggled against the future, he had not time to ponder. Every shadow could be one of them, drug-fueled murderes, unable to know the differences between life and death. Everything they had been, was gone.
Now, he was at the former Brandenburger Tor – and there was the first larger problem.
In that area, maybe 1 kilometer in diameter, the old Reichstag or Bundestag and the old embassies of countries exited, alive or dead as the living things in the bushes of Tiergarten. Some of them still existed, tried to breath while they struggled for neccessity. Or importance. The US was still there and the Arab-bloc and the great Chinese-commonwealth. But others, smaller country-based embassies had been emptied out by their own people, when they had been called back. In the middle of a little civil-war-like action. Well, the future had not been kind to Europe, especially Berlin. And only a hard word had decided, that the EU had to become a large, fungus-like entity, which fought more or less against its own countries.
Therefore, the Sperrbezirk, which was Brandenburger Tor to the Schlossbrücke, was more dangerous than the rest of the Berlin – well, probably.
Instead of sneaking along the long walls, trying to get out of the ways of dozens of floodlights, he crossed the street and moved directly in the largest light. And he waited.
Just a dozen seconds later, three people appeared. Two of them were soldiers and Viktor could smell the oil, which oozed from their semi-human skins. They were more machine than humans and their features looked like a Copy-and-Pase-face, chiseled jaws, Caesarian noses, small lips over bright white teeth. They were unarmed, unofficially.
The third man was smaller, thick set, wearing a suit which was too small for him. His mustache itched and he was unable to keep his fingers out of his face. He took his glasses from his eyes, rubbed the back of his hand over his tired eye-lids.
„Viktor“, he said.
„Hi. What by the heavens are you doing here?“
„I have an appointment and I have to cross your premise.“
The small man swallowed his next sentence down and turned around, looking up to his bodyguards. „He is okay.“
The cyborgs did not move.
„Well, not unexpected. So. Viktor, its bad timing. The Swabes are on the run again. You should stay here. Go back.“
„Sorry, Martin. You know me and my appointments. I can’t stop here.“
Martin smiled. „Come on. I will help you, but on the other side of Berlin, you are absolutely on your own.“
„Thanks Martin. I own you.“
„Na, I own you. Margarete is well, better than expected. And if she is well, I am well.“
Viktor smiled back.
They entered the Regierungsviertel, the last unbroken political habitat of the EU. Although there were not many politicians living there, their families still had their places, homes, shopping malls – but now more secure than ever.
Viktor shook his head. Nothing was secure. They had built a wall – again. They used soldiers, cyborgs and dogs with computers in their heads to communicate and to fight – if needed. The gangs of East Berlin were different than the more or less survivable gangs of the western part of the city. To move from East to West was now more difficult than ever. The Spree was a border river nowadays, its muddy waters were riddled with poisons in barrels, explosives and so on. There was even gossip about dolphins with lasers on their heads, their brains constantly craving the soup of drugs they were swimming in. Yes, Berlin again was a parted city. And the outlands were even more dangerous. But in the end, it did not matter. No one, who lived in Berlin would leave it. They still had a kind of home-sweet-home-feeling, even in that rotten body.
„We are machines. Biological machines. Our cells are tiny robots, programmed to reproduce and to die. Oh yes, my friends, the time is gone, when the lights of faith made it possible to have a soul in our body, but now, but now my friends, we are just robots. Meat robots.“
Viktor stopped, looked to the right. The crowd was small, maybe 20 or 30 people, all wearing white, but they moved and clapped like one body.
„We are constantly reprogrammed, we are software living in hardware, in wetware. We are doomed by our own programming, which starts in the moment, we are conceived. And later, we get upgrades to act and react to society, to people, to other meat machines called family, called friends, called school. And then? Then we follow the self-created program to work, live, breath, work more, have family itself and program other people, small people, babies and children to work and live in a society, a society of robots.“
„Is he still here? Tamburian?“
Martin answered after a while. „I can’t throw him out. I would, but there are a few people, who like him here. He is like a magnet for people, who look for god but believe, the gods have left earth.“
„A few people?“
„Politicans. No church wants him here. Tithes are meager. But he is one of the last preachers and therefore people give him money and attention.“
„And he is your brother.“
„And your cousin, Viktor. We are all a happy family here.“
„Truly magnificent, having such a family in such a trying times.“
„You don’t visit often. I know, Tamara does not like you this much.“
„She hates my guts, Martin.“
„She feels guilty.“
„She should, but in the end, it does not count. You saved here more than I did.“
„Bullshit. You lost much when you saved her. So … if you survive this quest, visit us please.“
Viktor nodded. „I will. I promise.“
The streets of this part of Berlin were as clean as possible. The rain here was part of the large cleaning system. Cars went by and shoved dirt and water in the drains. Mechanical or human beings cleaned the lamps, allowing the bright blueish lights burn away the darkness.
When the large buildings grew lower, the eastern side of the wall became more and more prominent. It was a higher wall than the western one and the flood lights cut out large parts of the darkness behind it, creating tiny shadows of moving soldiers and police. Police. No, everyone was a soldier here, forced into the work, working 12-16 hours shifts depending on their connection with their bosses. And also depending on the ways of the gangs.
„I have to leave you here, my friend“, said Martin. He looked tired in the bright lights of the near lamps. He would surely go home later, eat something, sleep a few hours and go back to work, connecting politicians with others, creating time tables for them and for soldiers, working his ass off and going home again, eating, sleeping, … forever and ever. Until the program of his meat-machine would run out. And then he would die. Or worse.
„Thank you, Martin.“
„If … you bring someone with you on the way back west …“
„Shut up. When, not if, when you bring someone with you on the way back west, and if you are unable to make it here, try the Dom.“
„Tamburian lives there – or at least goes there. And they don’t harm him. There must be a connection. There is a connection.“
„Thank you“, he said.
A weird noise appeared in the sky. Lights flashed upwards, touched the blach hole in the wall of coulds, which looked again like an ocean full of flashes and thunder.
„A thunderstorm will happen, you have half of an hour. Then it will be hell.“
„Thank you“, Viktor said, but his voice disappeared in the howling of some machine far away in the east.
But then, Martin was already gone.
They allowed him to go to the wall and two cyborgs, which looked exactly like the two from the eastern wall, appeared. They looked at him, red eyes creating thin lines on his eyes and face, then they nodded, programmed or not, almost human.
„You will leave this part of Berlin on your own responsibility. There is a timeframe of 6 hours. In that timeframe, you are allowed back to this part of Berlin. If not, your visum is being revoked and you and a possible company of one person are being treaded as not-welcome, which means, every try to enter the Regierungsviertel is met with violence. You understand? Please speak loud and clearly.“
„Yes. I understand.“
The lights in the cyborgs eyes flashed green. „Its accepted and recorded. You may proceed.“