December, 1991-Berlin, Germany
"Find him," the man on the phone ordered in a hard voice.
"Of course," the receiver calmly replied. "All the leads end here. We'll find him and you'll have your telepath."
"Leave no witnesses."
"I know the rules," the young man told his boss before the line cut off. Folding his cell phone up he pocketed it and looked out the tinted glass window at the cold winter day, his expression almost brutally neutral behind thin glasses. "I know the rules."
He was cold.
But then, he was always cold. Two years of living on the street would do that to a person. He rubbed gloveless hands over bare arms as he headed back to his small shack of an apartment that he shared with Liebe. He was taller than he had been when he was twelve, long legs clad in black leather and a mesh shirt that did nothing to keep him warm. He chewed absently on an un-lit cigarette, sharp green eyes tracking over the street.
What a fucking cheap time to be a tricker, Schuldich thought to himself as he crossed the street, booted feet crunching into dirty slush. It had stopped snowing last night but it didn't matter. Times were lean during the winter and that meant that the voices inside his head would return.
Over the past two years he had found some sort of middle ground with the voices in his head. If he doped himself up enough they would leave him alone. If he missed a hit, they would make his life a living hell. Not like it wasn't already but he could do without those chaotic thoughts messing with his mind. Spitting out his cigarette he scratched at the puckered line on his left wrist. It ran from his palm to halfway up his arm. A reminder to the insanity that the voices brought. Conviction for him not to miss a hit.
Should have let me die, Liebe, he muttered as he pushed open the rickety door to the run down apartment building.
Moving around the bodies on the stairs he side-stepped the drunken hands and leering faces. Always the same damn ending, he thought viciously as he made it to the third floor without being accosted too much. Things never changed. Pulling out his key from his pocket he shoved it into the lock and pushed open the graffitied door. The hall light was off, as usual, and the curtains pulled. Neither of them were daylight lovers. Day meant reality. Day meant life. They wanted neither.
"Schuldich, that you?" a tired voice asked from the bedroom.
"Who else were you expecting?" he threw back.
The response came back mumbled but he ignored it, opening their tiny fridge and looking at the empty shelves. After a moment he shut the door and silently willed the grumbling in his stomach to die away. Wandering into their bedroom he eyed Liebe, who was buried under the single quilt on their bed. She opened one kohl-smudged eye to look at him.
"You trick enough for some food?" she asked.
He snorted and threw the small wad of bills on the rotting nightstand. "Hardly. Half that's going to a shot. The rest is for rent," he told her as he pulled off his shirt and threw it on the floor.
"Junkie," she muttered as he toed off his boots and slid out of his pants.
"No more than you," he retorted quietly as he crawled naked under the covers beside her. She moved over to him, burrowing her face into the crook of his neck.
"I'm cold, Schuldich," she whispered.
He wrapped an arm around her and closed her eyes. "Yeah. Me too."
Together they fell asleep as the sun rose. They missed seeing the black limo drive slowly by the apartment building. All they knew was the darkness of dreams and for Schuldich, the never-ending mutter of voices in the back of his mind.
He watched the redhead dance.
In a sea of dark bodies, he stood out most of all. Pressed up against a nameless body, mouth locked onto another with desperate abandon, he moved to the heavy music with an almost surreal grace, long red hair raggedly cut and falling over a pale, almost gaunt face. Dressed all in black his skinny, bony body all angles and scars for a person to devour for the right price. He danced to some inner rhythm that no one heard and he watched as the teen lost himself to it all.
Then the crowd surged and when it parted again, the redhead was gone, as was his partner, lost to the chance that ran this hell-hole. With a slight sneer on his face the watcher adjusted the thin glasses on his nose as he looked into the darkness that was these people's life.
"What a way to die," he whispered to himself as he got to his feet and headed for the exit. Living death had never been his type of thing, even in America. Why should it be any different here in Germany than in New York? It was all the same type of people looking for an escape at the end of a needle that was never there and when they realized that, it was too late already and they were dead inside.
He wondered if the redhead was alive.
Part 5 | Fanfiction