1. Nightly visits

As always, I park my aged night-blue VW Beetle behind the old disused factory on the weedy overgrown parking lot. One hundred meters further, after one last bend, the first houses of the small village where I grew up appear. It is just after midnight and not to be expected that people are still on the street. I do not want to be seen, even if hardly anyone would recognize me in the dark. Nevertheless, a sleepless soul could stand somewhere by the window and watch me. A lonely figure in a long black cloak brushing through the deserted night streets of the place. This causes a sensation, and those who are bored quickly reach for the telephone to call the police station in Mölzen, a larger village nearby. Of course, I have nothing illegal to do, yet my nightly visits to Ernheim could be misunderstood. In addition, people like to talk. Of course, when something strange happens in a place where nothing ever really happens – on the surface, at least. For further down, well hidden under righteousness and order, there are already gloomy secrets. But they are the small community in this idyllic village. For generations already, and outsiders are none of these. For her, Ernheim is simply one of those delightful villages in an extraordinarily green, blooming valley in the Central Plateau. when something strange happens in a place where nothing ever really happens – on the surface, at least. For further down, well hidden under righteousness and order, there are already gloomy secrets. But they are the small community in this idyllic village. For generations already, and outsiders are none of these. For her, Ernheim is simply one of those delightful villages in an extraordinarily green, blooming valley in the Central Plateau. when something strange happens in a place where nothing ever really happens – on the surface, at least. For further down, well hidden under righteousness and order, there are already gloomy secrets. But they are the small community in this idyllic village. For generations already, and outsiders are none of these. For her, Ernheim is simply one of those delightful villages in an extraordinarily green, blooming valley in the Central Plateau. and outsiders do not care about them. For her, Ernheim is simply one of those delightful villages in an extraordinarily green, blooming valley in the Central Plateau. and outsiders do not care about them. For her, Ernheim is simply one of those delightful villages in an exceptionally green, flourishing valley in the Central Plateau.

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Well, I’m not here to cause the residents a lot of excitement or even strife. I’m here – yes, why? Maybe because I’m a little crazy; maybe because I’m lonely; maybe because I consider loneliness as a friend. I come at night to relive the days of my childhood, to refresh memories. And before dawn comes, I return to my small apartment in the city, mostly supplied with ideas and suggestions for scary stories that I sell to various magazines. I live on that very well. And in this way, I am no longer compelled to sit behind the desk in an office day after day and execute instructions from superiors for businesses that do not interest me in the least.

My income is not high, but it’s enough to give me my freedom. That may be the reason why I have been coming here again and again for several weeks, here, in this village where I grew up, where I have never really been happy. But even that is nothing unusual, because I was happy nowhere else. Well, that may be a bit exaggerated because I live quite comfortably, have a few but very close friends. With my family, which I see only sporadically, I get along well. But then, as a child, I was in my opinion extremely unfree, closely involved in various structures such as family, gymnastic club, school and so on and so forth.

Anyway, now I come here sometimes, strolling through the narrow streets and alleyways, past the only grocery store, at the school, at houses where relatives of mine lived and where their offspring may still live or live again. The nice thing about these trips is that I can come and go as I please. There is no one who tells me what to do, how to behave. I am free.

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When I finally realized that I was free, I mean, I also lost some of the fears that had tormented me as a kid. Fear of darkness, fear of insults, fear of being alone, fear of life at all.

When I come to the cemetery, I light my names, dates of birth and death with my fine flashlight. All those who rest here spent some time in our world, then they left. As for me, I do not want to be buried in a cemetery, because then I would have to submit to rules again, which I have never liked. But maybe that will change in the course of my life, because actually it is nice to belong to a community, even if you are not quite so free. Anyway, in the future I have to think deeper, more seriously about this so enticingly sounding term ‘freedom’. It could be that he stands for cowardice or loneliness?

But back to the cemetery. You do not believe that there are rules for dead in cemeteries? You’re wrong, and you’re wrong.

This peaceful-looking garden of the dead houses ordinary people who have lived their lives, fulfilled their duties and were finally buried with dignity. And then there are real criminals who have destroyed lives, murderers, rapists and the like. How do such people die after their death? That interested me pretty much. In my horror stories that is, the souls of criminals are tortured mostly by their former victims for all eternity. That does not sound nice, but way too simple. Furthermore, it does not explain at all why people torture or even kill other people or animals.

But until then I did not know better; Moreover, this kind of punishment seemed logical: if someone torments you, take revenge on him! Fortunately, I was taught a lesson.


Incidentally, the Ernheim Cemetery also accommodates some people whom I knew well. My foster father, for example. I loved him very much. His death, or rather his long sad dying, still hurts; although a voice deep inside me assured me early on, right after daddy died, that he had wanted it that way. He had been a sensitive person, tormented by many painful illnesses. Sometimes I dream of him. Then he always seems relaxed, filled with a quiet happiness. He can see again and make cribs, little dollhouses and beautifully decorated wooden flower troughs. The concentrated expression in his finely chiseled face always calms me in these friendly dreams. His parents, the grandparents, are buried here. They never seem like a dream to me. Still, I think of her every now and then. He, a nice quiet white-haired man, almost deaf, with a mischievous dry humor. She was resolute, almost vicious, but cordial when the situation required it. Actually, I had always been a little afraid of her, except in her last time, when her figure became as small and thin as her voice. Sometimes she was quite confused and thought of herself as a young girl who was still polishing the silver in the kitchen at the luxury hotel ‘Zum Voll Mond’ in Basel. And then of course there’s Raoul, my first love from childhood. Actually, I had always been a little afraid of her, except in her last time, when her figure became as small and thin as her voice. Sometimes she was quite confused and thought of herself as a young girl who was still polishing the silver in the kitchen at the luxury hotel ‘Zum Voll Mond’ in Basel. And then of course there’s Raoul, my first love from childhood. Actually, I had always been a little afraid of her, except in her last time, when her figure became as small and thin as her voice. Sometimes she was quite confused and thought of herself as a young girl who was still polishing the silver in the kitchen at the luxury hotel ‘Zum Voll Mond’ in Basel. And then of course there’s Raoul, my first love from childhood.

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