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The abandoned library

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picture # 2

„Hey, c'mon.“
Kurdy jumped into the jeep.
„We need to go back to the Mountain and tell Markus about this place.“

Jeremiah, who was still standing on the road beside the car, pulled his face.
„It's just an abandoned library. And this guy is pretty crazy that he starts a fight with the skinheads because of some old books. I don't think that Markus is willing to risk the lives of good men to help him.“

„You think it's okay to burn all the books?“
Kurdy was pretty churned up. The place had been so familiar, so full of memories. But the skinheads would come back and destroy it all too soon. The guy, yes, Kurdy had to admit that he might be a bit out of his mind, but who was not in these times; he tried his best to protect his home, but his failure was foreseeable; he could thank his stars when he got away unharmed.

„A fire can keep me warm during cold nights.“
Jeremiah shrugged.
„What's the purpose of old books no one is interested in anymore? Half of the children who were born after the Big Death can't even read. For sure I'm not willing to die for that!“

Kurdy paused for a moment. He was on the road with Jeremiah for quite a while already, and he knew him well enough to know that his words often were pure self-protection. Jeremiah was not willing to let anything deeper into his life; much too afraid that he might lose it again. It was easier to focus on the essential things: to survive the next hour, the next night, the next day. Enough to eat, a place to sleep. Jeremiah had joined Marcus not because he did believe in his plans to build a new world, a better one, but because the Mountain seemed to be the safest place for the moment.

After all he had to go through, could one actually blame him that he preferred to think selfish? His parents died in front of his eyes; his little brother got shot during the first days after the Big Death while trying to steal a sausage because he was so hungry.

But had not all of them a story to tell?

„Books are the mirror of our life,“ Kurdy said.
„They tell stories about hundred of years, stories which should never be forgotten. They can make you laugh; they can make you cry. They can be the best friends you will ever have.“

He paused and licked his dry lips; memories were crossing his mind.

„That's what my Mom told me almost every day,“ he finally continued.
„We were pretty poor. Living in a ghetto. Crime and violence everywhere. But she never gave up hope that my life would be a better one. Since I can remember she has told me stories. When I was four, she started to teach me to read.

The other boys in the ghetto spent most of their time on the roads, barely older than I was but already in a gang. My mom never allowed me to go out alone; she dragged me into the old library every day. I hated it to be there, the half-light, the moldy smell of the books.

I was seven when...“

He glanced at Jeremiah who finally had taken a seat in the jeep and turned the key; the motor came to life.

„Well, I guess, we should leave it to Markus to make the final decision because of the library,“ he said, stepping on the gas pedal.

He was not willing to think about the evening where the Big Death had changed everything. Still in the kitchen, he had overheard his parents; his mom crying silently, his dad's voice, telling her that he loved her. Then the shot, ear-piercing and scaring.

The end of his childhood. The end of the world, full of care and love of his mother. The beginning of a new one, full of anger and loneliness.