A Thin Line

Thal, Austria, August 1983

‘That was a load of bullshit. I really can’t understand why you voluntarily want to listen to all that gibberish about a creator that clearly doesn’t exist.’
Shut up. You know I don’t go to church because I believe in a God. I merely go there because I need to blend into this village. I always used to go with my parents, and I don’t want to raise suspicion or have people coming by the house asking why I don’t come to church anymore.”
‘Well I still think it’s a waste of time and fucking boring. Next time please bring some narcotics or alcohol. That should make it somewhat bearable.’

Adam Baumgartner was driving home in his company van. His house was in a remote part of the village. The nearest neighbor was at least a mile away. He drove up the driveway and parked his van in the garage. As he entered the house, he heard the radio playing, which he always left on when he went out.

‘Oh my god, not this song again. I’d really like to take those ninety-nine red balloons and stick them up her ass someday. ‘
“Something’s wrong…”
‘You can say that again. If this kind of music is getting airplay on the radio, this world is seriously heading in the wrong direction.’
“No not that. It’s open. I know for sure I closed the door to the basement. I always do.”

As Adam walked to the basement door, he saw a little girl run into the kitchen. He ran after her. As he entered the kitchen, he saw her slipping out to the courtyard. Furious, he kicked open the door to the courtyard, which was the only exit from it.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?”
‘Kick her!’
“How did you get out of the basement?!”
‘Kick her in the face!’
“You’ve got nowhere to run…”
‘Come on! You’ve got to make her bleed for this!’

The little girl looked up at Adam in fear and shouted for help.
‘Oh you’ve done it now, little bitch.’
“No one is going to hear you here my child.”
‘Please hurt her… ‘

The girl was trying to crawl away from Adam as he approached her, but she was trapped like a mouse in a snake terrarium. Adam caught her and hit her hard in the face, breaking her left jaw bone.
‘Hallelujah, praise that cocksucker!’

The little girl sat frightened in the corner of the courtyard, heavily crying. Adam grabbed her by the hair and dragged her back into the house. He pushed her through the basement door and forced her down into the basement.

“How did you get out of the chains?!” Adam demanded.
‘I told you we should have put that one in a cage.’
“Now I’m forced to put you in one of these.” Adam pointed at a small dog cage, and the girl winced the moment Adam raised his hand. The girl did not respond. A piece of her jawbone was sticking out of her cheek, and blood was running down from it.
‘Look at those ankles. They’re so tiny, no chain is going to hold her for very long, stupid!’
Adam took her arm and pushed her into the tiny dog cage. It was just big enough for the little girl to sit up straight. Adam closed the cage and turned around.
“Anybody else got something to say about this?”
He looked around and saw six-and-a-half pairs of little eyes staring at him, scared to death, but no one made a sound.
‘Oh please, not all at once.‘
“If nobody tells me what happened, there will be no dinner tonight, and you can divide the little water that’s left among you. Then we’ll see in the morning if one of you feels like talking. If not, we’ll skip breakfast too…”
Adam was ready to head back up to the living room when a little boy made a weeping sound.
‘Looks like we got a winner.’
“You got something on your chest young man?”
Shivering, the little boy started to talk.
“Sh..sh..she used the butter from the sandwiches w-we had for breakfast on her f-feet, and then she got out of the chains.”
‘The little tattler!’
“Go on,” Adam said.
“Sh.. she got out and w-walked through the d-door. It was open.” the little boy continued.
‘Punish that little rat for being a tattle tale.’
“Thank you for telling me that,” Adam said, “but I’ll have to punish you for being a snitch; I hate that.” He spat the little boy in the face. “Everybody will be having dinner tonight except you, and I’ll be having dinner with you all so I can make sure you don’t eat,” Adam said, looking at the shivering boy.
Adam turned to leave. “And no bedtime story tonight, so you can think about what happened, so it won’t happen again.” He ascended the stairs and locked the basement door.
‘You stupid fuck, you left the door unlocked. What were you thinking?’
“Maybe if you wouldn’t talk so much, I could think more clearly!”

Adam sat down on the couch in the middle of the living room. It was a large room and it was filled with mounted animals. Heads hung on the walls, and some animals were standing on the floor. Adam’s father had been a taxidermist, and when he had died, Adam had decided to continue his father’s work. Adam was actually quite good at it, and though his father had taught him everything there was to know about the art of preparing and stuffing the skins of animals, he was better than his father ever had been. Adam had always wanted to be a scientist. As a kid he used to experiment on small animals, just for fun and out of curiosity, to see how they would react to certain liquids and powders. He finished Science School with top grades, but when his father died he wanted to continue the family business. His father had made quite a name as a taxidermist all over the country and made a lot of money, so he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Adam tried to sleep a little. He closed his eyes, but immediately opened them again.
“Oh hell I can’t sleep with those children screaming in my basement.”
‘What are you talking about? You made the basement soundproof and they’re not screaming. We made it perfectly clear with that broomstick that if they scream there will be repercussions. Jesus, it was really funny when you put that thing in that little boy’s….’
“Shut up man! You really don’t hear those annoying screams coming from the basement? It’s driving me crazy!”
‘Oh man, you’re really losing it, my pally pal. You know what you need to do. Just take a little of the good stuff. You know it’s the perfect cure!’

Adam got up and walked to a little cabinet in the corner of the room, took out a small wooden box, and sat back down on the couch. He opened the box and took out a rolling paper, filter, and some tobacco. After putting some tobacco in the paper, he took a little bottle with a transparent liquid inside out of the small box and sprinkled some drops onto the tobacco. He rolled the cigarette, lit it, and took a few hits, which he inhaled deeply. He finished the cigarette and laid his head on the edge of the couch. After just a few minutes Adam felt lighter, and it seemed that the screaming disappeared. He closed his eyes.
“Oh thank god, it’s gone.”
‘See I told you. Enjoy the silence my friend.’
“Yes you were right, as always. Thank you.”

“Pork chops!”
“What?”
“Pooooork chop day!”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Adam opened his eyes and was surprised to find himself sitting at a large table. Everything looked so white it hurt Adam’s eyes. Next to him sat a large, bald man. The man wore a Superman t- shirt that was so small that Adam could see the man’s large belly sticking out underneath it.
“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, it’s pork chop day,” the large man said with a big smile on his face. “Come on Adam, you know Wednesday is pork chop day.”
Adam looked around and saw more people sitting around the table. They all looked like crazy people to him. ‘This is a nuthouse’, Adam thought.
“Poooooooork chops,” the big, bald man screamed in Adam’s ear.
Adam grabbed the man’s throat and screamed, “What the fuck is this?! Where the fuck am I?! What the fuck is going on?!!”
Adam squeezed his throat with so much force that the man’s head turned red as he gasped for air.
“We got an stubborn one,” a man who looked like a nurse said, and immediately three other nurses ran at Adam and grabbed him.
“Let go of me!” Adam shouted as he struggled to get free.
“Get the sedative,” one of the nurses said.
The men forced Adam down onto a stretcher, tied him up and, before Adam knew what was going on, gave him an injection. Within seconds Adam lost consciousness and everything went black.

When Adam woke up he was sitting on his couch again and he was sweating like a horse.
“Jesus what was that? It felt so real!”
‘What do you mean?’
“Nothing. I just had a nightmare. Shit, look at the time. I have to feed those brats downstairs. What should I give them this time?”
‘How about some pork chops? Heh…’
“What? Why do you say that?”
‘Ah come on man, just kidding. We’re not going to waste perfectly good meat on those children.’

Adam went into the kitchen, took a large pan out of one of the cupboards and started making soup with powder out of a large container. He took some bread and the large pan downstairs into the basement. He put the soup into small bowls and divided them between the children. He took a bowl to the boy who had told on the little runaway girl. He stopped in front of him and threw the bowl against the wall right beside the little boy’s head. The bowl shattered into pieces and some of the boiling hot soup burned the boy’s face. ‘Serves him right!’
“I’m not done with you yet, little rat!” Adam said with a sneer on his face. “Maybe I’ll let you starve to death. I got enough of you kids anyway.”
‘Oh that’s harsh. That’s why I like you. You know that, don’t you?’
The little boy did not dare to make a sound and turned away his head so that Adam couldn’t see him cry. Adam turned to the little girl in the dog cage, looked at her, and said, “And for you my little princess, I got a little surprise.”

He took her out of the cage and dragged her to the end of the basement. They stopped at a workbench on which sat a lot of bottles, tubes, scales, and petri dishes. It looked like a small laboratory. In some of the bottles there were funny looking liquids and there was a strange aroma hanging over the bench. Adam took one of the bottles—it had a brownish liquid in it—and put it over a Bunsen burner. The liquid immediately started to foam and turned a dark red. After a few seconds, Adam took a syringe out of a little drawer and filled it with the prepared liquid.

“This will hurt like hell, I suppose,” Adam said with a smile on his face and jammed the syringe in the little girls broken jaw. The girl started screaming like a pig at slaughter.
‘Bullseye! Nice shot!’
“Stop whining like a little bitch. If my formula is correct, you won’t feel a thing after a few minutes, and your pretty little face will heal after a few more shots. If this works I will be famous for inventing a miracle cure. Now get back into your cage!”
Adam put the girl, who was still screaming relentlessly, back into the little cage and locked it.
He turned around and said, “I know I said no bedtime story, but because the majority of you have been good, I don’t want to take away the little joys you have left in your pathetic little lives. I’m going to read one of my favorite books to you.”
Adam took a book from a shelf and sat down. “This is one of my favorite children’s stories.”
He started to read:

“Annie is curious, a curious girl she is
When asking the clerk, he responds with a hiss
‘Where are we from and of what are we made?’
‘We are from god, child, don’t be afraid’
Annie is curious, that’s how she’s made
But the clerk’s odd answer made Annie afraid
‘What should I fear, if God weren’t there?’
‘you should fear evil, it’s real so beware..’
Annie is curious, but she does regret
For the clerk has changed since the last thing he said
‘Am I safe father? I feel strange in my head’
‘No you are not and soon you be dead’
Annie was curious, but not anymore
Now she will shut up, shut up you whore!
This is what happens when toddlers ask why
They will get hurt, and slowly they’ll die”

After reading, Adam put away the book and got up. “And you’ll make no sound if you know what’s good for you. Now sleep well my little angels. I’ll be back here tomorrow morning.”

He went upstairs, locked the basement door, took his little wooden box out of the small cabinet and walked up to the second floor into his bedroom. His bedroom was a small room without windows. It used to be a storeroom, but after his mother died he made it his bedroom. Somehow, this windowless room gave Adam a strange feeling of safety and familiarity. “Pffff what a day. I just want to go to sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. I have to deliver that stuffed boar to one of my best clients near Vienna.”
‘Yes indeed, but first it’s relaxation time. Look, you got half a bottle of schnapps left. That looks like a good start.’
Adam took the bottle and drank some of it, put the bottle on a small table and started rolling one of his magical cigarettes. After he finished smoking the cigarette, he had some more schnapps and lay down on his bed.
‘Ah, that’s better. Now it’s time to relax.’
After a while Adam fell into a deep sleep.

“Adam, wake up. Adam, it’s time to wake up!”
Adam opened his eyes and saw that he was strapped to a hospital bed. He was in a small padded room.
“Good morning Adam, I hope you’re feeling better now,” a man who looked like a doctor said to him. The man was sitting on a chair next to the bed.
Oh no, not again‘, Adam thought. Maybe I should try to do fewer drugs.
“Whh.. whhe.. where the hell am I? Who are you?” Adam asked, disorientated.
“Oh come on Adam, not this again… I thought we had left this point behind months ago,” the doctor said. “But fine, I will play along with this game one more time. My name is Doctor Schultz. You are in a psychiatric hospital in Engelsdorf. You have been our guest for quite a few years now, and you’re strapped to this bed because you nearly killed poor Walter. You know Walter is harmless and would never hurt anyone if they don’t agitate him. What were you thinking Adam?”
“What?! No, this is not happening…” Adam said. “This feels so real. This is not possible! Release me from this bed. Release me from this horrible place!!” Adam started screaming, “Let me go god dammit! Let me goooo! Let me go! Let me go now!! I will hurt you if you don’t let me go!!” Adam struggled to set himself free and screamed like a madman.
“Nurse! nurse!” the doctor shouted. “We need another shot to calm him down.” Two big men came into the little room and gave Adam another injection.
“Not real, not real, not re…,” Adam murmured, and then everything went black again.

With a jolt, Adam sat up straight in his bed. He felt cold sweat running down his back, and his mouth felt as dry as sandpaper. He took the bottle from the table and started drinking like someone who has been in the desert for two days without water. Immediately he regretted his actions, realizing it was the bottle of schnapps he was emptying and spat the alcohol out like a professional fire breather.
‘Hahahaha, pussy!’
“Yeah sure, just laugh. I’m having nightmares that feel fucking real lately, so get off my back.”
‘Well excuse me, princess.’
Adam looked at the time. It was six in the morning. He had an appointment with his client in a few hours and it was a long drive, so he decided to get up, wash himself, and take a quick look at the children before leaving for work. He left his room and entered the bathroom on the other side of the hallway. He washed his face with cold water at the sink and when he looked in the mirror he suddenly saw himself lying strapped on the bed in the padded room he had dreamed about. Agitatedly, he turned around but all he saw was the rusty old bathtub and the toilet. He looked in the mirror again and everything was back to normal. Anxious, Adam went down to the kitchen to get some bread and water and took it down into the basement. As he entered the basement he heard some of the children sobbing and crying.
‘Pffff, please promise me you will never have children yourself. This crying and nagging would drive me crazy.’
“Why are you crying my loves? Didn’t you sleep well?”
One of the kids pointed at something behind Adam. Adam turned around and looked at the little girl in the dog cage. She was sitting motionless in a strange position. Adam walked to her. He looked at her face and saw that the left side of her face was swollen like a balloon, her left eye was gone, and a brownish pus was running out of her left nostril.
‘Ehhhm, I’m not a doctor or scientist but it seems to me your calculations of the formula were a bit off, Einstein. That looks like a dead girl to me.’
“Hmmm that’s too bad,” Adam said. “Looks like I have to recalculate this formula. Damn, I was so close. Oh well, I’ll just have to fetch me another subject so I can continue my tests. Now you be good kids. I will be gone for the day, so I hope you won’t do anything stupid, like trying to escape, or you might just end up like her.” He pointed at the dead girl in the cage.

Adam gave the children the bread and water, took the girl out of the cage, and took her upstairs. He took her to the courtyard and buried her beneath the big compost heap alongside his other failures. Adam walked into his workshop, which was next to the garage, grabbed a stuffed boar he had prepared for one of his customer, and put it in the back of the van. He closed the back doors and walked to the front to enter the van.
‘Hellooo?!’
“What?”
‘Fuck me, two times in twenty four hours. Really, do I have to do all of the thinking? What’s wrong with you the last few days?‘
“What? Could you be more specific?”
‘Basement door, remember? Oh no, wait, you didn’t, dumb amnesiac!’
“Ah fuck, not again. I don’t know. It seems that I can’t think straight lately.”
Adam went back to the basement, locked the door, and got in his van.

After a three-hour drive, Adam arrived at his customer’s house just outside a small village and delivered his work of art. The customer was extremely satisfied, which didn’t surprise Adam at all because his customers always were. Adam left the estate and drove back to the village. It was a village at the foot of a mountain so there was only one exit, that went through a large forest. Halfway into the forest Adam saw a little boy on a bike ahead.
Ah sweet, this one is too easy. Come on, it’s harvesting time. You know what to do!’
Adam checked his side mirrors and the road in front of him, but he and the boy were the only ones in the forest. He took a cloth and a bottle with a white substance he had made himself out of the glove compartment, sped up, and cut his van in front of the boy. Adam jumped out of the van, took the cloth he had already soaked in the white liquid, and ran at the boy. The boy was lying on the road next to his bike, he looked unconscious but Adam put the cloth on his nose and mouth just to be sure. He put the boy in the back of the van and closed the doors.
‘The bike dumbass, take the bike! You don’t want people to find a bike without a child. That would make them search immediately!’
“Oh fuck, you’re right!”
Adam put the bike in the back with the boy, closed the doors and drove away casually, heading home.

Dusk was already falling as Adam arrived at his house. He parked the car in the garage and closed the doors. He walked to the back of the van and took out the boy, who was still unconscious.
‘Looks like you’re not a total dimwit. The anesthetic you created seems to work just fine.’
Adam took the boy into the basement. As he opened the basement door he saw the little children cower. Some of them were crying.
‘Oh fuck, here come the waterworks again. Bloody hell, that’s so fucking annoying. Maybe you should cut out their vocal cords so that we can have some peace and quiet for once.’
Adam put the sedated boy on the floor against the wall and chained him, then turned around to the other little boy whose face was now bright red from the burning of the hot soup and kicked him hard in the side. The boy flinched but did not dare to make a sound.
“Hello. I do hope you all missed me,” Adam said. “I got you all a new friend to play with. I don’t know his name and I couldn’t care less. You make sure you make him feel welcome here. I see you still have some water and bread left so you will survive until tomorrow. Good. Now I can concentrate on fixing my formula.”

Adam went to his small laboratory and the following hours he worked on his potion. He took fluids, added powders, mixed and heated different things.
“Well I think this should do it,” he said after a while, and he took a bottle from a small burner. “I think I solved the problem, but there is only one way to know for sure… I just have to test it on one of you. Mmmmm who will it be?” He looked around, his lip curling.
‘Ooh, ooh, I know. I know a good one. Please let me pick.‘
“Now let me see,” Adam said, walking straight at the boy with the burned face. “Eeny meeny miny.. oh who am I kidding?” He grabbed the new boy by the ankle and dragged him towards his work bench. The boy struggled but was no match for Adam’s strength.
“You know what this is?” Adam asked the boy. “This is a vise. I’m going to put your little hand in there and I’m going to squash it and then I’ll inject you with my magic cure to see if it works. I’m telling you this so you can get really afraid now and therefore it will hurt more. Isn’t that nice?”
Adam took the little boy’s hand, put it in the vise and started turning the handle. The boy started screaming like a fifteen-year-old girl at a Beatles concert.
‘One more turn. One more turn. Go, Adam!’
“This should do it,” Adam said, releasing the handle. As he took the boy’s hand, some of the skin came loose, and it was soaked in blood. He took a syringe and filled it with the newly created potion. “You know the only way to inject this correctly is through the tip of your finger, don’t you?” Adam said, but the boy was in a shock and didn’t respond anymore.
‘Mmmm, too bad, no reaction anymore. Let’s see what happens if you give him the injection.’
Adam took one of the boy’s fingers and put the syringe into the tip of it. The boy screamed like hell and then faded.
‘Children nowadays. Can’t handle much pain now, can they?’
Adam bandaged the boy’s hand, carried him to his chains, and chained him.
“It’s late, so no more bedtime story tonight. Sleep well my little guinea piglets.”
‘Oink, oink, oink. Hehehe. Don’t forget to lock the door, please.’

He went upstairs, closed the basement door and sat down on the couch in the living room.
‘Alright, that was entertaining. Now it’s time to take the good stuff!’
“No, not tonight. I just want to watch some TV.”
Adam got up, made himself some coffee and turned on the TV.
‘Coffee, really? What’s wrong with you?’
“Let it go ok. I just want to relax and I don’t want to go to sleep yet.”
‘Oh my god, you’re so boring. Fine, do as you please. I’m out of here. I hope you’re more sensible tomorrow, wanker!’
Adam watched TV for hours and drank a lot of coffee. He just wanted to stay awake because somehow he dreaded what could happen if he fell asleep, but no matter how hard he tried and how much coffee he drank, the tiredness got the best of him and eventually he fell into a deep sleep.

Adam woke with a fright, his chest tight, his hart racing, his breathing fast and uneven. He tried to get up but it was not possible. He realized he was back in the padded room and tied to the bed.
“Hello?” Adam screamed. “Anybody there? Helloooo?!” He listened, but heard no reaction. He tried to free himself but it was no use. ‘If I just can get back to sleep, I will be back home and all will be fine’, he thought. The next hour he tried to sleep but he had the feeling the coffee he had drunk on the couch was still working and he was wide awake. “Hello, could someone please give me some sleeping pills?!” he shouted and banged his head repeatedly on his pillow, hoping it would knock him out, but it was too soft and didn’t even hurt him. That moment he heard the lock turning, and Doctor Schultz entered the room.

“Good morning Adam,” the doctor said. “I hope you are feeling better.”
“I would, if you gave me some sedative,” Adam said.
The doctor smiled. “Now, now, Adam I think you had enough of those. Maybe it’s better you stayed sober for a while so you can think about the things you’ve done lately.”
“I don’t want to think about that!” Adam shouted. “I want to go to sleep! I want to leave this fucking hell!”
The doctor only smiled and shook his head.
Maybe if I provoke him, he will call his nurses and they will give me some kind of sleeping drug, Adam thought. He shouted, “Just release me asshole so I can kick you so hard you’ll end up on a different latitude, or come closer so I can bite your ear off!”
The doctor started laughing hard. “Come on Adam, you’re not the black knight. I’m going to leave you be and I will check on you tonight, hoping you will be more sensible.”
He left the room and Adam was all alone again.

The rest of the day was pure torture for Adam, he tried to fall asleep by counting sheep, reliving his school lessons and thinking about the church sermons he had attended, but nothing seemed to work.
Then, early in the evening after lots of agonizing hours of thinking and freaking out, he finally fell asleep.

Adam opened his eyes and, to his relief, he was back in his living room, sitting on his couch, the TV still on and a cup of cold coffee on the table in front of him.
‘Good morning prince boring. How was your date with sobriety last night?’
“Thank god, I never thought I would be so glad to hear your annoying voice!”
‘Good to know that I’m appreciated. Love you too honeybun. So what’s the schedule today?’
“I don’t know yet. First I need a cup of coffee and some food.”
Adam made himself some breakfast and sat back down on the couch.
‘There must be something we can do with those kids today!’
“I’m going to give them some breakfast, check the little boy’s hand and then take the day off. I don’t feel like doing much today.”
‘Sounds like a plan. And then just take some drugs so we can relax for the day.’
“Yeah sure, but not too much. I want to stay straight in the head a little bit.”

After finishing his breakfast, Adam took some food and water down into the basement. The children were awake and quiet.
‘Well that’s good, some peace and quiet for a change. Maybe they are finally learning that it’s better for their health if they keep their little mouths shut. Let’s see how that little fucker’s hand is doing.’
Adam gave the children food and water and walked to the little boy with the bandaged hand.
The boy was awake but did not react. His eyes looked empty; he just stared into nothingness. Adam poked the boy’s nose but there still was no reaction. He took the boy’s hand and slowly removed the bandage. Surprisingly, the hand looked fine: only some dried up blood, but the wounds seemed healed.
‘Good job, maestro! It looks like your cure is working.’
Adam felt ecstatic and took the boy’s hand in his hands. In that moment, the hand started to crumble and half of it disintegrated instantly. The boy started to wail like a police car siren. Quickly Adam took a fresh bandage and put it around the boy’s hand. The brat fainted.
“Nooooo! Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Adam shouted, and he went back upstairs.
‘Ahhh, so close. Oh well, better luck next time.’
Adam sat down on the couch, took out some paper and began writing down formulas and equations to find out what he had done wrong.

After a while, the doorbell rang. Adam was surprised; hardly anybody ever came by his house. He got up and checked the basement door. It was locked.
‘Good thing you made the basement soundproof last summer.’
He walked to a little window beside the front door to check who was there.
‘Wow, look at that. That must be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. That one would be excellent for some fun.’
“No way. You know the rules. No one from the village!”
‘Ahh, come on. Let’s have some fun. You know you want to. It’s been, Jesus, I don’t even remember the last time we had a party. Fuck the rules.’
Adam opened the door.
“Good day sir, I’m with the local football club and I’m selling lottery tickets. With the money we make we can buy new outfits and balls. You can win amazing prizes.” It was a little boy. He had shiny blond hair and the most beautiful pair of green eyes Adam had ever seen.
‘Please tell me this boy is one of the prizes. Let’s buy all the tickets he has on him. Look at that skin. It looks as soft as a baby’s bottom. Excellent!’
“Aren’t you one of the Wagner boys?” Adam asked.
“Yes sir I am. I’m the youngest of the family,” the boy said as he took out the lottery tickets.
‘Grab him!’
Adam examined the boy. “Yes, little Markus, isn’t it? I haven’t seen you in a long time. You have grown quite a bit since the last time I saw you.”
At this, the boy beamed with delight. “That’s right. I will be six years old in two weeks,” he said proudly.
‘We’ll see about that. Hehehe. Come on grab the boy and let’s have some fun!’
“How much are the tickets?” Adam asked.
“One ticket is twenty Schilling, but if you buy five they are…” Before Markus could finish his sentence, Adam had grabbed the boy and pulled him into the house.

Adam closed the door and dragged the boy directly upstairs to his bedroom. Little Markus struggled to get free and tried to kick Adam, but the boy was powerless against Adam’s strong grip.
‘Ah, a feisty one. This could be fun.’

The next hour was nothing short of a living hell for little Markus, and he did not get out of it unscathed. Adam gave the boy some new and painful openings. After Adam was done he untied the little boy, who was apathetic. He took the boy downstairs into the basement and brought him to his little laboratory.
‘That’s right, patch him up. I know we will want to party with that one again sometime soon.’
Adam started to disinfect the boy’s wounds. He had to stitch some of them. He did it without any anesthesia. This was too much for Markus, so his mind decided to take a break and he passed out. He put Markus into one of the bigger dog cages that were standing in the basement. Adam saw the little boy with the bandaged hand staring at Markus and shouted, “What are you looking at? You should be glad you’re butt ugly, or else this could have been you!” He went back upstairs, but not without kicking the bandaged boy in the chest first.

‘Come on, let’s do drugs. No better time to get high than after having a party like this.’
“No time for that now. I need to know what’s wrong with the formula. I’m so close. I know I am.”
‘Sometimes you are such a party pooper, you know that? Fine bookworm. Go and work on your life-saving formula. I’m out of here. See you tomorrow, and I hope you’ll be into having a party then.’
“Yes be gone. I could use some silence while I’m working.”
Adam got himself some coffee and started working on his formula. He worked on it all day and the following night. Before he knew it, it was morning.

‘Good morning professor. How’s life?’
“It sucks, alright. I’ve been working all night and still I don’t have the answer to the problem.”
‘You know what, just leave it for now. Just feed those kids, leave them be for today, have some fun, get high and relax.’
Adam did not argue with that. He brought the children food and water, went back upstairs, headed for the cabinet, took out his little box, and prepared his medicine. He smoked it and sat back to relax. Feeling tired from all the hard work he fell asleep within ten minutes.
“Adam, wake up. Adam, wake up and listen to me.”
‘Here we go again’, Adam thought, and expected to wake up in the loony bin. He opened his eyes, and to his surprise he was still sitting on the couch in his house.
“You got to listen to me, Adam.”
He looked around in fright, because he didn’t know where the voice was coming from.
“Up here, you filthy pederast.”
Adam looked up and saw a stuffed deer head looking straight at him.
“You’re not real,” Adam said. “It’s because of the drugs. You’re not talking to me.”
“Not real,” the deer head said, laughing. “It seems to me you’re not quite capable of judging what is real or not, lately. This world feels real, the nuthouse feels real and you can’t deny this, right now, feels real too, doesn’t it? Now listen, you’ve gone too far this time. It’s bad enough you took those poor children for your lame excuse for experimenting; taking a local boy for your sick pleasures was a step too far.”
“Shut up! Shut the fuck up!!” Adam screamed.
“I’m not shutting up,” the deer head said in an eerie voice. “They’ll hang you for this, mark my words. You finally blew it. They will come for you soon. Now go to sleep again.” Adam was dumbstruck, looked at the grinning deer head, and passed out.

Adam opened his eyes and saw he was back in the padded room, tied to the bed. The door opened and the doctor entered.
“Well Adam, I think I gave you enough time to think about your actions. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Adam, still confused, not knowing what was real anymore, thought about it, and a kind of acceptance came over him. Not wanting to remain tied to the bed anymore, he said, “I’m really sorry for what I did. I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I don’t know what came over me. I promise it will never happen again.”
Doctor Schultz looked at him. “You know Adam, I believe you, and you’ve been in solitary long enough if you ask me. If I let you go back to the others, you’ve got to behave. You hear me?”
“I will, I promise,” Adam said.
“Good. Guys, release him and escort him back to the other patients,” the doctor said to two nurses. Relieved, Adam walked with the nurses to the living area of the hospital. As he entered the room, people stared at him. He looked around and stood there for a while, wondering what to do. Then, from the corner of his eye, he saw a large man storming at him. “Nobody fucks with Superman!!” it was Walter, the big bald guy Adam had tried to strangle to death. “I’ll kill you for that!!” Walter screamed, and he stabbed Adam with a pen several times. Adam fell to the floor and saw two nurses detaining Walter just before he passed out.

Adam gasped for air and saw he was back on the couch in his living room. He looked around and up to the dear head. It did not move or talk.
‘Hello sunshine. Wazzzuuuup?’
“Not now ok. Just be quiet for once.”
‘Grumpy, grumpy. Had a bad trip? ‘
“That would be the understatement of the year.”
The doorbell rang.
‘Really? Two in one day? Let’s take a look. Maybe it’s another of those sweet little boys. We can grab him too and have ourselves some more fun.’
Adam got up and looked outside through little window beside the front door.
‘Ahh shit! It’s the pigs!! Don’t open the door!’
“Open the door please, mister Baumgartner!” one of the policemen said. “We know you’re home, we can see you looking through the window.”
‘Aaaaww, dumb fuck!’
Adam had no choice but to open the door.
“Good day sir,” another one of the men said. “Have you seen this boy? He’s been missing for day. He was selling lottery tickets and told his parents he would be home within an hour, but he never came home and they got worried.” He showed Adam a picture. It was little Markus.
“No, I haven’t seen him,” Adam said.
“Do you mind us coming inside? The next door neighbor told us he bought lottery tickets and the boy told him he would be going to your house next,” the policeman said.
“I do mind,” Adam said. “I haven’t seen him, so you have no business coming into my house.”
“I still would like to look around inside your house,” the policeman said.
“Well, you’d better get a search warrant then,” Adam said, shutting the door.
“Oh, we will sir. People with nothing to hide don’t react like that. We’ll be back soon with the warrant.”
The policemen walked back to their car and drove off.

‘Shit, what should we do now?! They will come back and they will find the children…’
“Yes they will. I’m going to run. There is no other option. But what to do with the children?”
‘Well, taking them with us is not an option, but we cannot let them live either, you know that. ‘
Adam ran into the kitchen, got a bottle of water and went downstairs into the basement. He walked to his workbench and poured some anesthetic liquid into the bottle of water. He put the water in some cups and gave them to the children.
“Drink it or I will give you more pain than you can handle,” Adam said, and the children drank the water without hesitating. Markus was awake and he also drank the water. Only the bandaged boy did not get any water from Adam. One by one the children fell asleep.
‘Great, this is how Goebbels must have felt.’
Adam went upstairs to the garage to get a jerry can with petrol in it. He went back to the basement and started pouring the petrol over the children. The bandaged boy looked at Adam in fright.
“The only reason I drugged the other kids is to watch you suffer more,” Adam said as he poured the petrol over the boy. He took a candle and lit it. He threw the candle into the petrol, which had spread all over the basement floor. The children immediately began to burn, and the bandaged boy started screaming and crying.
‘Good boy. Scream like a pig!’

Adam went back upstairs and started pouring petrol all over the first floor, lit it and ran to the garage. He started his van and opened the garage door. The house was catching fire rapidly.
“Mister Baumgartner! Where are you going and why is your house on fire?!” It was one of the police men. “We surveyed your house for a while. Now put your hands up! You’re under arrest! We found a lottery ticket on your premises, so we know Markus has been here.”
Adam got inside the van.
“Put your hands where I can see them!” the policeman shouted. Adam took a pistol out of the glove compartment and pointed it at the cops. Before Adam could do anything, he felt a bullet enter his body, and two more shortly after that. Adam fell down onto the lawn. Adam saw the policemen kneeling down beside him and said, “Tell Walter I’m sorry… I never meant to do him harm…”
The policemen looked at each other wondering what Adam meant, but at that moment, Adam passed out.

Adam opened his eyes and was lying on the floor. He saw two nurses kneeling down beside him, one of them holding a bloody pen, and behind him a few nurses were forcing Walter to the floor. Just before drawing his last breath, Adam said, “Tell their parents I’m sorry. I needed their children to save us all.”