Down by Bornholmer bridge, the Wall ran out in the open between train tracks. Elsewhere, it cut a curious wound through the city, bisecting streets and waterways, gardens and homes with a mass of wire and concrete. Near the bridge, however, the railway tracks pressed close to the final barricade beyond the death strip as the followed its path towards the crossing point. Down here the Wall’s fortifications were lessened, to allow the rails their route; down here, Erwin and his friends had hoped, passage to the bright lights of the western city might have been a little easier. Erwin pressed close to the shadows on the edge of the death strip, hugging the train tracks. His breath rasped, icy in his burning throat as he ran. Off in the darkness a siren wailed, activated when Miriam had caught a trip-wire; Erwin wasn’t sure how long it had been since he had lost her and Felix – time seemed to flow erratically to his numb conscious. He wasn’t sure how long he had been alone, any more than he was of the fate of his two companions. The last he could remember of Felix was the bright smile, ever cocksure and absolute, that he had flashed him before they had scaled the first fence. Only a little way, it had said in silence. Only a little way, then the west and Everything.
Erwin ploughed on, his hands loose at his sides, heedless of time and direction. Around him, floodlights swept the broken ground, searching for the interlopers. In the light of one beam, Erwin spotted something that made his heart-clench: a German-shepherd, hackles raised, moving across the rubble. It saw him in the instant it saw him, baring yellowed fangs in black lips. Erwin ran, not bothering to look back.
Sense said to flee back, over the wire fence towards home in the east, but his legs carried him out into the dead land towards the train tracks and the border. The bright lights of the west gleamed beyond the darkness of the Wall, and Erwin rushed to meet them with the hound on his heels. That city’s high-rises and factories spoke of prosperity and opportunity, so utterly juxtaposed to his life in the grey bleak of the east. It was an impossible dream, and he knew it; but it was one Erwin chased, in that grim place, with a smile.
by Alexander Payne.
Matt was hungry. He hadn’t eaten since he woke up three days ago. He had been staring at his laptop screen for around six hours. He felt unclean. The cone of flashing light from his laptop made him feel like a future-dog, or a techno-dog. “I want move but I don’t” he thought, watching Jeremy Kyle on ITV Player.
He saw the sky becoming lighter through the Noel Edmonds shirt curtains. “Oh that’s good” he thought, as he got up from his seat. His legs felt weird after sitting down for so long. “It’s like my legs have been to the dentists” he thought, rubbing his face with a red jumper.
He opened the curtains and put his head outside, breathing heavily. “I’m like a crappy hotel whale” he thought. He brought his head back in and started to tidy the room.
He folded up his clothes and put them in his holdall. He felt cold and strange, like his stomach had been removed. He stood around bored for about two minutes. He opened up his laptop and listened to “Bleeder” by Alkaline Trio twice. He got up and lied on one side of the bed and read the same sentence from a Bible around ten times. The hotel telephone started ringing.
“Hi, James from reception here, just letting you know that room service will be up in around ten minutes.”
“Okay. I don’t need room service, I think.”
“But sir, the ladies need to come in and clean your room.”
“I know, but it doesn’t need cleaning.”
“Sir, your room hasn’t been cleaned for the past week. The cleaners will be up in ten minutes.” James hung up.
Matt went back into the bathroom, dried himself and got dressed. He picked up Dan’s clothes and threw them through the broken window onto his body below. He put the stolen credit card into his wallet and put his wallet into his jacket. He put his shoes on and picked up his holdall. “I feel like going for a walk” he thought, and walked downstairs, out of the hotel and onto the street.
Ten minutes later he reached the town centre. He saw a homeless man sitting outside Marks and Spencer’s with a change pot. He took out some change and the hotel key and threw it into the pot. He walked to McDonalds and ordered a Big Mac.
by Frankie Plummer.