Darkness moved over and created patterns of light, orange, dirty orange and scratchmarks on the old windows. Berlin itself seemed to leave the realm of reality and became just a thought, less than a dream. The ropes shook and Viktor tried to see, how the inside of the box looked like. The gaps showed nothing more than a few bronze-painted walls and black flowery suits moving. As Viktor looked up, the tower shrunk, almost as if it would crush him in its walls.
Metal beams appeared just in front of him and forced him to lower his back, but he wasn’t sure, he would survive the hit, meaning, when did this box stop? The large machines on the top seemed wrong, as if they had been on the bottom of the tower, deep under the base, but after the terrorist incident, people had decided otherwise.
Just a few meters, a few seconds before he would be crushed, Viktor saw a gap in the wall – and jumped. The box stopped instantaneously.
Yet, both movements didn’t seem to be connected, the box just had reached its goal, the ball, the globe, the rest of socialist half-beauty, created to show-off. There had been a restaurant, before the madness.
The door of the box opened and the Swabes spilled in the room, yelling for a doctor, while the Swabe called Martin bled on the already red carpet. As far as Viktor could see through the gap between the box and the base of the Swabes, at least a dozen armed gang-members were there, rushing to the mortally wounded.
Two guys in white came running, looking like doctors, having cyborg-implants on their faces and one of them also showed a metallic hand, which moved swiftly over the convulsing body of Martin, the Swabe.
“To the sick room”, one of them yelled. The gang-members reacted, put Martin on a stretcher and moved him out of sight.
“Fuck this shit”, one of the remaining Swabes said. “We have to find this Viktor. We have to find and kill him.”
“Fuck everything. How many people died for just one girl?”
“Yeah”, the first one grinded his teeth. “For what did we get the girl?”
“For money.” The voice of the person felt cold, icy even.
Viktor tried to lower his head to see, who had talked. His hands clenched the rod, which was part of the old ferroconcrete, rusty and wet from the constant rain.
“Boss”, the first one said. “Is it even much money?”
“Enough money. And let that be my problem.”
“But Martin, he is …”
“Living. He lives. He is wounded. We will deal with it. But you have to deal with this Viktor guy. I talk to someone. Wait here.”
The boss left her gang-members like an assassin from those old movies. The part of the face, Viktor had seen, was pale, almost porcelain-white. Her hands were hidden in gloves of pink and black, having blades sown in the back of the knuckles. Without any doubt, she was able to beat everybody to a pulp.
Viktor waited. Waited. Waited.
The box still slept, the gang-members still stood.
“Hey, come here”, the boss yelled. The gang members followed her command, talked to her.
“Take 10 with you”, she said, her voice now even colder than before.
“Yes, boss”, both men answered, went away, came back. The group was silent, its movements legion. They entered the box. The box started to move.
Now or never.
Viktor jumped back to the top of the box, slipped to the other side. The door to the inner part of the ball was closing, but not fast enough. Viktor slipped through the gap, looked around, found a shadow spot on the right side of the floor, where a couple of suits hung on hangers. He breathed hard, forced himself to breath slower and slower, forced his heart to beat more normal.
Seconds went by, minutes even. No one moved. In the background, somewhere in the ball, people were trying to save their coworker. Or co-gang-member.
When Viktor moved his head through the suits and looked around, the floor was empty. Golden lights emanated the red carpet. Patterns of paint representing flowers were had been painted on walls, which probably hadn’t been parts of the old restaurant, creating the effect of a maze, a maze, which Viktor had to survive to find the girl.
He moved swiftly, checking out corners, looking around everywhere. The ball seemed to be empty. Most of the Swabes were out there, looking for him or drinking too much tea or booze. He smiled. When looking to open doors, he often could see the old windows of the former Fernsehturm. Some of them had been replaced, creating magical patterns on the mostly empty rooms. They had probably brought there with machines running up and down the ropes, helicopters had mostly disappeared because of the bad weather nowadays.
He turned around. Froze.
The boss was smiling. Her porcelain-face was real, but alive. Maybe it was not even real.
She held a gun in her hand, a shotgun, black, with flowers on it.
In the room behind her, in the bright light of gold, the girl was sitting, her hands bound, her eyes staring in his direction.
“Viktor”, the boss said, her voice more icy than the rest of the South Pole. “Come in.”
He wanted to turn around. Wanted to run. Get out.
The box opened.
Some of the Swabes grinned, others looked less happy.
“Come in”, the boss repeated. “And put that knife back.”
The light of the main room of the boss was even more golden than he had thought before. At least 5 floodlights threw molten metal over every corner, burned out every shadow, every possible hiding place. Pillars made of glass held the ceiling in its place.
The desk looked like a forgotten east german product as grey as a Trabant and probably as plastic as the former car. Old posters were glued to the walls, showing former tries of the green party of germany to save climate. Well, it was too late now, but it still seemed to help remembering better times.
“Sit down”, she said.
He put his feet on her table. Her eyes shrunk. She still had a porcelain-face, but now the porcelain showed tiny scratchmarks.
“Put your feet down. We are no monsters and you shouldn’t be one, too.”
“What do you want?”
“What I want? What we want? I don’t care about your question. We have, what we want. The Lassiter-girl.”
His feet left the table. His upper body rocked forwards, still sitting in the chair, an old chair from socialist times, thick and cheaply polstered.
“How did you know, she was here?”
She tried not to smile. “We have connections.”
“So, whats in for you?”
“Money. Fame. Fortune. The basic stuff.”
“Control means power.”
“Everything means power”, she smiled again, moved her blade-hands around the table, brought order to some papers. “A gang is a company and a company needs a reason. Survival is a reason, but we are outside basic survival for quite some time.”
“So you got a promise.”
She smiled and now she was unable to stop it. “Not only a promise. A business transaction.”
“A proposal, I want to say. Who was it? The government?”
“Stop asking questions. And no, its not the government. The government is weaker than a poodle made of jelly.”
“If I am not allowed to ask, for what do you need me here?”
She didn’t answer.
Viktor got up.
She didn’t react, but stared at him. Her green eyes burned. She would have been attractive, but he could see the madness behind her face and the weakness behind her voice.
“Become part of the gang”, she said. Her voice trembled slightly. Her fingers touched her face, her black hair, which was bound in a bun. For a moment, her eyes looked sad and hopeful at the same time.
“Part of a gang”, he said. “Why?”
“We know you. You are a good person and you survive. You sacrifice yourself for others. Even the girl.”
“I don’t know her. She is a mission.”
“She was a mission. Now she is our guest.”
Viktor put his hands on the table, looked down on the papers, looked up again. Her face was just a breath away. She smelled like orange, but behind that orange was a taste of dust, a reminder of hot summer days in the city, where orange peels dried away, better times.
Her eyes flashed. Her right hand moved fast, faster than he was able to move away. Metal grinded metal.
His eye flickered. He could smell the blood from his skin. She hadn’t gone deep. She just had showed him.
“Still can’t do”, he said.
She smiled, sadness in her eyes.
“I respect that”, she said. “But now you have to die.”
He checked the room. The one door behind him was closed – and behind it were Swabes. The woman was more deadly than them.
She was on the table, kicked hard.
Her legs were not as fast as her hands. She almost got him, but he was able to get out her way. His arm warmed up, he could feel the small pumps and machines starting to run – and to wait for his command.
She kicked again. The tumbled backwards, fell over the chair, crashed on the cround. Dust exploded.
The door opened. Viktor wasn’t able to see the person first. She was smaller than the basic Swab.
“Who are you?”, she asked.
“Put away that gun”, the boss told her.
“Put away the gun and I tell you who I am.”
“I know, what you are?”
“Just a business partner. Put the gun away.”
“Shut up, bitch. Don’t tell me what to do!”
Viktor went up. He tried not to smile. “Maria, what are you doing here?”
She smiled too. “Got a gun. We should go.”
“No way”, the boss said, her voice again as cold as ice.
Viktor felt her arms on his neck, blades scratching his skin. Strange, he thought, she is smaller than me and much more dangerous. Her body was made of muscle and steel. Sheer determination hat put her in this position and she was not willing to accept anything else than a victory.
“Down with your gun”, she said. “Or I kill your friend.”
“He is not my friend”, the girl said.
“Then shoot and show me.”
Viktor could see the fight in Marias face, she was out of her place. How was moon? Was it a nice place, full of white walls and nice people, eating healthy vegetables farmed in ponds beneath the surface of old smiley-face of the night?
The boss didn’t move. Somewhere behind her body, behind the table, a window cracked. Viktor could her the pull of the wind behind it.
“Nice try. You wouldn’t shoot me.”
“I come near you. I get you.”
“He is not important.”
“You both talk much. Just kill me, Maria. Then kill her. Then leave this place and go to your dad.”
She walked towards them.
Viktor felt the reaction of the boss behind his back, she also moved, leaving the table behind, going backwards.
Viktor tumbled backwards, feeling a blade entering his skin, feeling his blood.
“Oh god”, the girl screamed. “Sorry!”
“Shoot again”, Viktor yelled. His weight was driving him backwards, dragging his attacker with him, who wouldn’t let him go.
“Do it, damn!”
She shot. The glass cracked again.
“Let him got!”
She let him go. Her arms left his neck, her breath, not as icy as ice, disappeared, but she still had her bladed hand on his skin.
Then she was in front of him. Looking at him.
Behind the girl, shadows moved.
She turned around. Screamed. Shot. Hit one or two of the Swabes. They took her out.
“Don’t kill her”, the boss said. “She is part of the trade.”
“With whom?”, Viktor asked.
“Ask your friend”, she said, turning around, staring at the girl.
He took out the blade with his good hand. He had to be fast.
She was faster.
Her kick drove him backwards, still the knife in his hand.
His mechanical arm was good, but she was better. She didn’t block him, but let him move over her, maybe only 2 inches or so. Her uppercut pierced his jaw. Her movements were sped up, like a video from old times, she must be on drugs and modern electronics.
He punched her face. She was hit, tumbled backwards, something cracked. Her face was not her own, but mostly so. He could see blood on her left cheek and behind that the blueish light of inlaid electronics.
She cursed, spit out, attacked.
He stabbed her, tried to. She stopped the blade in the middle of the move, caging it between her bladed gloves, yanked it out of his hands. “Idiot”, she screamed. Then she kicked him again.
He crashed in the window behind him.
The window cracked. Chunks of glass fell to both sides of the window.
She attacked again. Kicked again.
He punched her, she went out of the way, but he wasn’t aiming for her head. The punch hit the hand with the knife, crushing it. She screamed. Kicked.
The window cracked. This time it took Viktor with him.
He jumped, prayed. The flow of time became a sea. He could see everything. The girl in the background, seeing him fall, her eyes large and wet. The Swabes, grinning and pointing at him. The boss, looking at him as if she had liked him behind that porcelain white face.
His hands went upwards, hit stomething, gave him something to grab.
He grabbed something, looked up. It was an old machine, rotten, rusty, out of order, one of these who had brought the windows to this place, running up and down on of these steel lines.
It was old. It didn’t move.
“Here, get your knife back”, the boss said.
Something hit Viktor in the shoulder, something cold.
And something else hit Viktor. He moved backwards. And down.
The machine sped up. He could hear the singing of the old wheels, the screeching of the rotten electronics.
And then it stopped. His shoulder, burning and cold, ripped open. His hands lost the grip. He fell.