Dies ist einer der wenigen Texte, die ich in Englisch geschrieben habe, vor etwa 14 oder 15 Jahren. Irgendwo habe ich auch noch eine deutsche Version im Archiv – aber das hier ist das Original. Ich wünsche, Englischkenntnisse vorausgesetzt, spannende Lektüre.
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After ten years I thought that I knew enough about desperation. But that wasn’t true. There was more to learn, more to suffer. No end in sight. It would go on for another eight years.
My Faithful Companion looked me in the eye and I saw tears on her cheeks. She knew exactly how I felt and my pain was enlarged by the knowledge that she suffered just as much as I did. She had always been there, when I needed a shelter from the storm, when I felt like I couldn’t go on anymore. But now she wouldn’t come with me, not this time.
I kissed her good bye and went straight into the desert. There was no way to avoid this and the sooner I left the sooner it would be over.
I never did chose. My task was given to me without my agreement. If I ever had been asked I would have maybe said no, but of course I wasn’t asked. Nobody was. We all had to do exactly what we had to do, the hunters and the hunted.
I was a hunter maybe because I was strong and born at the right time. Then again - when I received the tattoo with the H and the crown I was just three years old. Others received the V for victim at the same age. Nobody could ever tell why the child received this or that, or who decided about it. The government was far away but also everywhere and never answered any questions. And you never could tell who was part of the government until you saw the tattooed G on their left upper arm.
The G-people had the power to pick a child for the V or the H. The weren’t supposed to tell why or upon whose advice they did so, and I never heard of anyone who knew anything about this.
But everybody knew that the H-people, as soon as they were twelve years old, had to start hunting and the V-people had to start running and hiding. Often times two kids who had been the closest friends in their childhood found themselves being deadly enemies just because the hunter had received the order to hunt for this special victim.
The order always came by e-mail. We all had to check our e-mails fist thing in the morning and usually there was just the usual garbage of advertisements, news and gossip. But now and then the hunters found a mail just saying >hunt 122.43.2.E.-m-44 now<. That was all. The personal number of the victim and the order to hunt them now. Not tomorrow, not next week. Immediately.
Did I tell you about the personal number? Every human being receives a tattoo on the right upper arm the minute they are born. It contains the area-code, like 122 for what was once known as Scotland for example, then the year-code like 43 for the year 2043, then the code for the government controller who does the tattoo, like 2.E. followed by a m for male or f for female and then finally a number counting the births registered so far by this controller on that location in that year.
I had received the mail this morning at 5:55 and I left the house at 6:07. It was the first time since I was with My Faithful Companion that I was supposed to hunt alone. Every other time she had received the same mail at the same time and we went out together. But this morning things weren’t as usual.
You look confused. Maybe because you come from a different time. So let me explain as easy as I can. It really isn’t too complicated.
A child is born and receives a personal number. The child grows three years and receives either a H for Hunter, a V for Victim or a G for Government.
The personal number is tattooed into the right upper arm, the task into the left upper arm. The right upper arm is always visible, because you couldn’t get food or anything without this number. There is no such thing like money - that was centuries ago! - and there is no such thing as private property or anything like that. Everything belongs to everyone. The government gives out directions by e-mail about where to live, what to eat, what to do and so on. Everybody has at least one receiver programmed to receive e-mails sent by the government to his or her personal number. Most of the people have a receiver that is worn around the wrist like the watches back in your times.
The left upper arm is always covered. We call this cover the Letbli, I think this word derives from Letter and Blind or something like that. The Letbli is always worn, except for the very few occasions, when someone is supposed to proof her or his task.
But let’s get back to the story I have to tell you, all this isn’t too interesting anyway.
My Faithful Companion had been with me for more than nine years now. She is six nones younger than I am. Oh, you don’t know about the nones? Well, the year isn’t divided into months like it was in your time, it is divided into nine parts with 41 days each. These nones are simply called noneone, nonetwo and so on until nonenine. My Faithful companion was born in nonenine of the year 33. We were put together by e-mail in noneseven 45, and we found out, that the government had been perfectly right in picking her for me and me for her. Only after three nones we loved each other so dearly and so true like we had been together for years already. Most of the people we knew were happy with their companions, only now and then you heard of an exchange. You can of course apply for an exchange of your companion and as far as I know the government always finds a another match then. This happens rarely, but it does. Companions are being put together when they are between 12 and 13, and some folks do develop in a way that wasn’t foreseen by the government. But as I said, that isn’t what usually happens.
My Faithful Companion and I were more than happy, we were absolutely in one accord. We made love more often than we had to according to the governmental schedule, just because it was so wonderful for both of us. The schedule gives you usually three or four dates each none, because the government knows that it is healthy and people should do it regularily. There is no punishment if you should skip one or two dates, but no one does anyway, because if they weren’t happy with each other and each others bodies, they would simply apply for an exchange. If you should be sick then there are no sexual dates on your schedule anyway. If you just don’t feel like it it doesn’t matter much. Now and then, like I said.
But my Faithful Companion and I made love every day, other times ten times a none - we just enjoyed it when we felt like it.
Now, as I was walking into the desert, I knew that I might not see her again for a long time. I had to hunt for 122.43.2.E.-m-44 and because we lived in 144 it was a long way to get to the place where 122.43.2.E.-m-44 was born. From there my search for traces would start, and I never knew how long it would take.
My first task had been the worst so far. I was twelve years and two nones old, when I received the order to hunt a thirteen year old female. I started, like I had been trained in school, at the origin of her registration and found her two days later already. She was totally unprepared. I had traced her down so easily because she wasn’t on the run. In school we had been told that the victims get a message that they are being hunted at the same time as the hunter gets the order. But this girl for some unknown reason didn’t know anything about the fact that the hunt was on.
She was working in one of the many amusement centres giving out ice-cream to people. I came up to her, produced my eliminator and she looked at me with big brown eyes, thunderstruck and helpless.
‘What ya want?’
‘Eliminate you,’ I answered, ‘you’re the target, I’m the hunter.’
‘No. Wouldn’t be fair. I wasn’t told.’
In school we had learned a lot of things about what to do if the victim begs and pleads or whatever. But nobody had ever said a word about what to do if the victim simply says ‘no’ because it wouldn’t be fair. And she was right. It was only fair if the victim was able to hide and defend. The victim was always allowed to eliminate the hunter, if possible, but not allowed to search for the hunter and the victim had no eliminator. They only worked as long as they were in the hand of the right person and while a hunt was on. The eliminators all had a sensor that permanently checked these conditions.
I kept aiming at her with my eliminator and pressed the help button on my receiver. This button is only there for emergencies and to me this seemed to be one.
The receiver gave the double beep that means that you are connected directly to the government.
I said: ‘This is hunter 144.33.9.F.-m-13, I have a problem. The victim didn’t know she was hunted.’
The receiver signalled stand by.
The girl looked at me and now she was pale and shivering. Tears were in her eyes. Her arms were hanging down, she didn’t make an attempt to run or anything like that.
The receiver beeped and I read: >hunt 144.46.1228.E.-f-49 tomorrow after 5:55 a.m.<
I put down my eliminator. The girl looked at her receiver and read loud: ‘>144.46.1228.E.-f-49 tomorrow after 5:55 a.m. you are hunted<.’
She looked at me again and said with a faint smile: ‘Want some ice-cream?’
I nodded and she read my personal number with her scanner into the system, received an o.k. and gave me a big portion.
‘Thanks. So what now? It still isn’t fair, is it?’
She sighed and said: ‘No, it ain’t. You know where I am. I can’t start running before tomorrow morning. You’ll find me within a few hours.’
‘On the other hand you know me, you won’t have to guess who the hunter is.’
‘True. I’ll eliminate you if I can.’
I ate my ice-cream and thought about it. This situation was so far from everything I had learned in school, from everything I knew about this subject of hunting and being hunted.
The idea behind it was that everybody except the G-people had to earn a right to live until they died of old age. I don’t know if the G-people have to go through some kind of test too, but for the victims and the hunters it was clear. They started being hunted or hunting at the age of twelve. If they reached the age of thirty, they received a tattoo saying U for untouchable on their forehead. Nobody was allowed to harm them anymore.
The hunting task has one simple purpose: To eliminate those who aren’t strong enough. Only with the U on her forehead a woman can go to a medical service station and have the API removed.
You don’t know about the API? Well, that is the Anti-Pregnancy-Item. Every girl who becomes the companion of a boy needs to get the API planted into her body before she meets her companion. Pregnancies are only allowed for women who are older than thirty years. But no woman has to go and have the API removed if she doesn’t want to. It is her decision and most of the women do not want to have a baby. Neither do most of the men want one. Prgnancy is a hard decision, because you know that your child’s chances to become thirty are slim. Only about 25 percent of the people reach that age. The others are eliminated during the hunt and being hunted season between age twelve and thirty.
But let’s go back to my first hunt.
The girl and I decided that we could spent the evening together. She told me about her life which wasn’t much different from mine so far. She had been taught in school about being hunted while I had had my hunter lessons, but otherwise the education was the same. We learned how to use the receivers and the other connections to the government, learned to read and write and calculate, learned about history and present politics. We learned that the government always knows best because they have all the information and means to connect the pieces of information to a useful whole picture. We learned that this system had proven to be superior to every other form of government in the past, because there was no more war, no more need, no more crime, no more jealousy, no more reason to argue about politics, religion or races. Nobody had the need to fight for anything because everything a person needed was there. The selection of the strong served the common good and even the ones who were eliminated knew that they had had every chance according to their means and that their life had been the best possible life until the day of elimination.
So I sat in a café at the edge of the amusement centre with 144.46.1228.E.-f-49 and we had some delicious supper. She seemed a little bit sad to me, maybe it was because she could already tell that I would win.
I was tempted to let her go. It was my first hunt and it had started out wrong. The rules said that a hunter could let go a victim once and get a second chance with another victim. But this was only possible once in your whole season of 18 years.
I decided to sleep on it and enjoyed the evening. We went down to the lake and spent a few hours swimming and playing. 144.46.1228.E.-f-49 was a friendly girl in a good shape, she was still waiting to be put together with a companion. She did lots of swimming and mountain climbing in her free time, and for her age she appeared to be very strong with muscles like rock.
At 7:30 p.m. she went home and I found my way to the amusement centre’s boarding house, where I was shown to a nice and cosy room. I picked a very ancient movie on the video, something about a big ship they had had centuries ago, when people still travelled on such things across oceans. The ship was called Titanic and it crashed and went down into the sea with most of the passengers. I always liked these old movies, because the romances in them were so much different from what we knew. People back then had to find their companions on their own and often times they found someone who didn’t really match or there were reasons I couldn’t quite understand why they weren’t supposed to be together.
The next morning I woke up at 5:00 a.m. as usual and had some breakfast in my room. I checked my eliminator and prepared for the hunt. Exactly at 5:55 I received a confirming e-mail that the hunt was on and I went out.
I went to the next food supply centre and showed my H tattoo and my receiver, on which there was a green light blinking while a hunt was on. These both proofs are enough to receive all the information available from any place. The clerk opened his terminal for me and I found immediately, that 144.46.1228.E.-f-49 had gotten two lunch packages just 19 minutes ago. From there she had also ordered an air taxi. So I did the same and when it arrived 45 seconds later I typed >follow 144.46.1228.E.-f-49< into the unit.
The air taxi went off into the mountains. That was what I had expected, because the girl had told me that she did a lot of climbing.
The cab stopped at the foot of mountain A.33. Now I had to follow my target without any technical support. I started climbing and I found her only twenty minutes later.
She sat sunning on the beach of a little lake, had the two lunch packs next to her and her feet in the water. When she heard my steps she turned around, smiled at me and said: ‘I expected you a little later.’
‘Hi,’ I said, ‘so you’re not hiding?’
‘No. I wanted to have lunch with you and then you do what has to be done. I don’t feel like fighting or running.’
‘Okay. I hate this, but I have no choice, you know.’
‘I know. You’d have one single choice, but why waste it for me.’
We sat a while in the sun, the we both took off our clothes and swam. After that we walked around the lake and talked about this and that. Finally we sat down and had lunch.
‘Would you do me a final favour, hunter? She asked when we had finished our meal.
‘Depends. What is it?’
‘I don’t want to be eliminated being still a virgin.’
‘But I’m a virgin, too.’ I said.
‘Fine. Let’s see if it works like they told us in school.’
I kind of liked the idea and so we made love on the beach. If I had known how wonderful it is to make love I hadn’t agreed. Maybe she knew and expected me to change my mind about her and my task.
I was only twelve and inexperienced but it was like a whole new world to me, the feeling, the orgasm, the closeness and the peace of mind it left inside of me.
We laid in the sun for a while after the first rush of emotions and sensations and then made love again, very tenderly and soft and careful this time.
Then she sat up and said: ‘Now take your weapon and do it.’
‘I can’t. I love you.’
‘No, you don’t. You just think you do, but I’m not your matching companion. Go ahead and eliminate me.’
It was then that I understood that it isn’t better to be a hunter than a victim. It is harder, much harder. You have to eliminate someone, just because you received the order. It doesn’t matter whether you like the person or not, it doesn’t matter if you know the victim or not, nothing matters but the fact that you’ve got to do something you don’t want to do.
But 144.46.1228.E.-f-49 wanted to be eliminated. She threatened me with her strength, she actually put her hands around my neck and I’m sure she would have stroked me to death if I hadn’t used my weapon. I waited until I almost fainted and then I pulled the trigger.
She sank down into my arms and died immediately. At such a short distance the stroke is always lethal.
Finally I typed my code and the message >eliminated< into her receiver. The government confirmed by turning her receiver off while the blinking green light on mine disappeared at the same time.
I sat there crying with her dead body in my arms for about two hours. Then I went back down the mountain, I left the eliminated 144.46.1228.E.-f-49 at the lake. She would be picked up later by the G-people and put to rest in one of the eliminated-rest-areas.
That’s how it started, long ago. Now you’ll excuse me, please, because I have to follow 122.43.2.E.-m-44. Maybe I’ll be back, can make love again with my Faithful Companion, can spent time at the beach, can talk to people like you. Maybe not.