Aurelia Bogner

Veni, Vidi, Mori

"Alex?" My friend Nikolai Wagner's voice was subdued and, as usual, full of concern. I pressed the small, black cell phone even closer to my ear, hoping that the pitch-black darkness of the patient's room would soon leave me. "Have you found anything out yet?" Nikolai asked the first crucial question. "The room opposite mine has just been freshly painted. I scraped off the fresh paint with my fingers." "And?" "The name of the former patient appeared: Elias Schuster." "Well, yes." I nodded unconsciously, for Nikolai had been right from the start. I never had any doubts about the good instincts of my long-time friend, but eventually everyone else did. Elias Schuster, successful businessman from Berlin, who disappeared without a trace after a stay in the "Salvation Sanatorium". At least according to the latest information, because until now the psychiatry denied that Mr. Schuster had ever been treated there.

"You'd better stay out of it," our boss had told us when we tried to get the psychiatric department to investigate. And Nikolai and I no longer sought official investigations, but he could not prevent Inspector Alexander Berger from suffering a nervous breakdown and going to the psychiatric hospital "Salvation Sanatorium" for treatment.

"Get back to me as soon as possible," was how Nikolai ended the call. I hung up, put the phone back under my bed mattress and tried to get some sleep.

 

After a while, light came into my patient's room and Sister Magdalena entered. In her hands she held a cup of water and a red, spherical tablet. "Take this," she ordered softly but firmly. "What is this for?" "For reassurance." I took a big gulp of water and washed down the pill, which irritated my throat and made me cough. "Dr. Beckmann is waiting for you in the large therapy room," she said as she was about to leave the room.

I picked myself up and left as well.

 

A slight feeling of dizziness overcame me as I entered the bright corridor of the asylum. I looked around and saw that the hallway was completely empty. Once again, I was struck by how badly this mental hospital needed renovation. Mold and cobwebs roamed in the corners and plaster had fallen off the walls. A large window in the middle of the corridor had bars instead of glass. As I passed it, the icy December wind blew a few snowflakes into the sanatorium, and I began to shiver. I walked down the long hallway until I came to the narrow, creaking spiral staircase, which I had to climb to get to the large therapy room.

When I entered, I could hardly believe my eyes, because in contrast to the rest of the facility, the therapy room was quite nicely decorated. In the middle of the room was a brown leather armchair, where the psychiatrist was already sitting, facing an equally brown sofa. A burning fireplace in the corner warmed the room, bathing it in a lovely mix of orange, red, and yellow.

Dr. Beckmann pointed to the sofa and said, "Please take a seat." And that's what I did. "How are you feeling today?" "It's been a long night," I answered truthfully, letting my eyes wander around the room, perhaps finding clues that would lead me closer to the truth. "You seem unfocused," the doctor noticed. "If we are to make any progress, I need your full attention." "I know," I mumbled.

I looked around the room until I saw a small, almost invisible door leading into another room. It was possible that the patient files were kept there. And maybe that's how I could find out what happened to Mr. Schuster.

"Mr. Berger?" "What?" I said reflexively, staring deep into Dr. Beckmann's eyes. Into those beautiful, blue, clear eyes, surrounded by gentle wrinkles. "I asked you if you could tell me something about your job." I felt my body tense slightly, but I forced myself to remain calm. "What do you want to know?" "Do you enjoy it?" "No." No, I really didn't. And as soon as this case could be closed, I would leave the service for good, as I had been planning to do for several years, but for some reason, one case after another kept drawing me in and I could not tear myself away. But now I can. Definitely. Once the case is solved. "What do you not like about your job?" "I don't like anything." "And yet you became a policeman?" The psychiatrist drilled deeper and deeper into my soul with her questions, and I began to tremble a little. "I became a policeman because I wanted to get justice." "But you can't. Because with every case you solve, you realize that the world is an unjust place where there are only perpetrators and victims, and people like you who can only catch the perpetrators. But that doesn't undo the victims, and there will always be perpetrators on Earth as long as there are police officers. And until then, there will be victims." I nodded slightly, and my nod seemed weak and completely helpless. "You're right. That's why I hate my job, because the world still needs it."

 

After therapy, I felt like I was jumping onto a highway and a hundred cars were running over me. With this feeling I walked through the corridor of the psychiatric ward, which was in need of renovation, when I suddenly saw Anna Schmidt. According to Nikolai's research, she was the only patient who was and is being treated in this psychiatric ward at the same time as Elias Schuster. She stood motionless at the barred window, staring out. The wind was blowing her long, brown hair at full speed and a lot of snow in her face. She really looked like a snow princess.

I touched her shoulder gently, hoping she would notice me, but she didn't. She really seemed to be just an empty, snow-covered shell. "Mrs. Schmidt?" I asked just as carefully. But she didn't react to that either. "Anna Schmidt?" I tried one last time. Now she turned to face me. No, it was more like she saw right through me. She walked past me without really noticing me and soon disappeared into her patient room.

 

I went back to my room and wondered if I should call Nikolai. I hadn't really learned anything new since our last conversation, but on the other hand, I knew that Nikolai would be worried if I didn't check in with him regularly. I decided not to call him until I looked at the patient file, which would hopefully shed more light on the matter.

I waited in my room until nightfall. Then I went out.

Slowly I crept through the eerily quiet psychiatric ward. The moonlight shone through the barred window, and the shadows of the bars danced like little ghosts on the wall.

Soon I reached the spiral staircase and cautiously crept up. The wood began to creak softly as I moved, and I had to think that this could be the beginning of a horror story.

Upstairs, I went directly to the large therapy room and from there to the small, almost invisible adjoining room.

The room, which was probably not used very often, was completely dusty, and there were bookshelves on both sides of the room, mostly filled with doctoral dissertations and scientific literature on the psyche. I searched the shelves and books for clues.

"Psychology of Crime" by Erich Wulffen, "Crime as a Social Phenomenon" by Enrico Ferri, "Guilt and Punishment in Criminal and Psychological Assessment" by Leo Montada. Nothing that brought me closer to the truth.

Indignant, I opened the surprisingly light but equally dusty door to leave the room. But suddenly I noticed that the therapy room was much wider than the next room. My eyes scanned every detail of the adjoining room, but could see nothing out of the ordinary. Every piece of dust resembled the other. Every shelf resembled the other. And each stone wall resembled the... Wait a minute. I went to the right wall and pushed the heavy shelf forward a little. I knocked on the wall and my theory was confirmed. Wood. The entire psych ward was made of stone, except for this one wall. I removed a wooden board and found a stack of patient files in red folders with the patients' names on them:

Mia Schimmer

Damien Bauer

Simon Mayer

Phillipp Huber

Anna Schmidt

Elias Schuster


I opened the last file and stared into it:

Elias Schuster:

41 years old;

Studied business administration at the Humboldt University of Berlin;

Founded the company "Schuster AG" in 2007;

Has no family;

In 2014 found guilty of §299 "Corruption and Bribery in Business Transactions" and §187 "Defamation". (The court dismissed both cases)

In 2018, he was ELIMINATED in the public interest.

 

Large and red, the writing loomed over me, as if it were made only of blood and death: ELIMINATED. Sweat was running down my face, my heart was racing, my breath was catching.

I grabbed the next files:

Mia Schimmer:

Guilty of Section 263 Fraud – Case Closed – ELIMINATED

 

Damien Bauer:

Case closed – ELIMINATED

 

Simon Mayer:

ELIMINATED

 

Phillipp Huber:

Guilty of... - ELIMINATED

 

I threw the files on the floor with brute force and could not prevent small tears from forming in my eyes, which I tried to suppress. I shook, sobbed, and prayed that I was just dreaming. My heart began to beat even faster and my blood pressure rose immeasurably. I had found the truth, but instead of liberation I felt fear and terror.

Nikolai, it flashed through my mind. I have to go back to my room and call him. I picked up the files and was on my way to the door when I found another file hidden among the others.

I was staring so intently at this file that I didn't notice footsteps slowly approaching behind me. I jumped and turned, but it was too late. A syringe pierced my throat and I fell to the floor. Only out of the corner of my eye could I make out the name of the previously unknown file before I lost consciousness: It was Nikolai Wagner.

 

Only slowly did my eyelids begin to open. But when I realized where I was, I wanted to pass out again. I found myself in a room that I would probably describe as hell on earth. There was no light, no heat, and no sound. Only a small lantern right in front of me provided some light. I looked around and saw, a little further in front of me, several dolls hanging from the ceiling by ropes. No, they weren't dolls. I began to scream, shaking the chains that bound me to the wall. What was hanging from the ceiling were corpses.

"There's no point in it. You can't free yourself," came a calm, matter-of-fact voice from the darkness. She came closer and knelt in front of me. It was Dr. Florence Beckmann. "How are you feeling?" "I've felt better before," I groaned, and the doctor began to smile. "I'm sorry we have to treat you so roughly. But we couldn't risk you jeopardizing our justice." "YOUR JUSTICE?" I shouted scornfully. "Exactly, Commissioner. Our justice." She picked up the files I had rifled through a short time ago. "Are you aware that Schuster AG is only so successful because Mr. Schuster has eliminated all competitors through bribery? And did you know that one of his employees wanted to report this to the police? Unfortunately, fake photos surfaced that linked the poor, inconspicuous employee to child pornography. And the court tolerated this behavior because Mr. Schuster had money, power, and influence. The judiciary is too soft, too lenient, too corruptible. Let's take Anna Schmidt as another example. She killed her newborn baby. Of course, this was due to psychosis and she was sent to the "Salvation Sanatorium". Salvation for a murderer. A hundred years ago, they would have made a short job of it. It's a good thing our justice system will make up for it." "You're crazy," I whispered. "I'm crazy for hoping for justice in this world? If that is the case, then you’re crazy too, Commissioner. You became a policeman because you want the same thing as I do, and like me, you had to learn that it’s pointless to fight for justice with just means. Because in the end, injustice always wins." "Murdering people is never right." "We don't murder people. We judge people." She took the file with my friend's name on it and pointed to it with her index finger. "I assume you know this person." I nodded. "Three years ago, Nikolai Wagner was convicted of involuntary manslaughter under §222 of the German Criminal Code." "That was self-defense," I replied. "I know your statement. You said the same thing in court. But neither you nor your friend mentioned that Mr. Wagner was drunk when he shot an innocent passerby in the dark." "He was going through a tough time." "His wife passed away. We are aware of that as well. You see, Commissioner, we keep a close eye on our criminals. However, we cannot make an exception when it comes to the execution of the sentence. Not even if, as you said, someone had gone through a tough time. Now the psychiatrist stood up and pointed with her right hand straight ahead to where the condemned were hanging from the ceiling. And I saw a free gallows in the middle. Still untouched, still uninhibited. A truly gruesome death machine, writhing from the ceiling next to rotting corpses. Ready to drag another soul into the underworld.

"You would have been a great asset to our organization. But unfortunately you are guilty of §153 "False unsworn statement". Your execution will take place in one hour," she said and left the dungeon.

I looked at the gallows at the end of which my body will hang, and I knew I was lost.

Veni, vidi, vici. I came, I saw, and I conquered. I came. I Saw. And I died.

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Aurelia Bogner.
Published on e-Stories.org on 28.05.2024.

 
 

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