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Die Rückkehr part three: A lord speaks (2nd edit)

by Heckyspice 

Posted: 26 October 2005
Word Count: 2705
Summary: After meeting Helene, Roger is overcome by a strange feeling and injures his head. Recovering late at night he gets a mysterious phone call. The caller says two words only; Være levebrød,- added - edited after comments received
Related Works: Die Rückkehr part two- On Schmiedestrasse (2nd edit) • Die Rückkehr: part one - The Owl (3rd edit) • 

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This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

The sun vaulted over a cloud to reach midday and bring fresh warmth to the valley.

Within the folds of the low hills, a traveller waited before the forge. He watched as the Smith coaxed sparks and shards of iron out of the shoe he was crafting. A fiery hiss was the only voice of the metal as it was doused in a bucket of black water. Then it was pulled free and the Smith offered it up to a rear hoof of the horse tethered to a post near the traveller. The horse looked once at the Smith before dropping its head, comforted by the gentle touch.

“My deepest thanks,” the traveller said while the shoe was nailed tight onto the hoof. “I did not think I would see the journey through this day.”

“All men think that,” said the Smith, “That is why I am here.” He dropped the hoof and the horse neighed softly.

The traveller offered the Smith a silver penny. “I am indebted to you.” But he was puzzled by the Smith’s refusal to accept the payment. “Is this not a fair price?”

“It is. You must leave it on the stone before the anvil. I will take it once you have departed.”

The traveller was bemused but followed the request. He placed the coin within the shallow bowl that had been carved atop the stone. Then he moved to untie the horse. “Good day to you Smith.” There was neither politeness nor curtness in the words and the Smith understood this.

“Be living”, he said as the traveller passed out of sight moving deeper into the valley.


Roger pressed the television remote control to find another dose of visual medicine. CLICK. A poorly dubbed Fonzie was about to jump a shark in ‘Glückliche Tage’. CLICK. A cheap looking soap opera on RTL. CLICK. Darts on Eurosport. CLICK. The news on ZDF. He could not be bothered to switch the television off.

He had not slept very well and was simmering in a lump of fatigue and confusion. All night he had waited for another telephone call. He was still waiting.

At first Roger thought it had been his imagination combining with the aftermath of the accident to trick and beguile him. After all, a crack on the head could easily make you hear or see things. As the night matured, thoughts of Helene fluttered through the waiting like a butterfly. He knew the phone call had come from her, all that heavy breathing and mumbo jumbo. What sort of sick woman was she? He wanted to hurl abuse at her, make her regret this game.

Unless she gets off on being a weirdo. Shit! That could be what she wants after all, he told himself.

More than ever, he wanted to be sitting at desk, talking to salesmen, engineers, secretaries or just anyone normal. Looking at his watch he realized that the meeting at Wolfram-Kurtz would be starting soon. He would give anything to be there. He toyed with the notion of a text message to Malcolm; don’t f*ck it up.

The news on the television was reporting some story about an outbreak of some animal virus on a farm in Lower Saxony.

He decided to send the text message. As he reached the phone, it trilled into life.

“Hello,” said Roger.

“Guten Morgen Herr Welland, ist hier die Sekretärin von Barkmann.” A wholly professional lady replied. “Sie jetzt anschließen.”

“Good morning Roger,” a new voice said. A voice compressed with cream and honey. It was Ludo Barkmann, the new chairman of Wolfram-Kurtz. “I am sorry that you cannot attend today.”

“Me too.”

“However, there are certain details that must be discussed. I will meet you in the hotel at 11 am today.”

“Is there anything I can help you with now?” There was small chance to sail past the doldrums and he was going to take it.

“No. I will see you at 11 am.” The line went dead. Roger had only met Ludo Barkmann once and was certain that he was a man who was used to being obeyed. A man who knew his mind could be a blessing and make life rewarding for his employees. It was difficult to know if Barkmann inhabited such a place or whether he mined the riches solely for himself. Roger hoped he would have a better idea later today. Life would be easier if this fellow was more Branson than Sugar.

At last there was something to occupy his mind. Roger hummed a Robbie Williams song as he padded off to the bathroom to get ready. Closing the door behind him as he went in, he half heard the next report on the television news. A small commuter train had de-railed near Frankfurt. There were some casualties but luckily there had been no further injuries. Most victims were described as being alive.


Roger grinned as he walked up to speak with the two young ladies staffing the hotel’s reception. He could see that Uli, the younger of the two was blushing as he approached. She nudged her colleague, Fritzi, who seemed to be fumbling for something she had misplaced under the desk.

“Hello girls,” said Roger. At least here he knew the lay of the land. A flutter of eyelids, a tiny pout, a pinch of charm and maybe less innuendo than what Malcolm would offer. “Seeing your smiles makes me feel much better.”

“It is good to see you today Roger,” Uli beamed. She was about eighteen years old with tousled blond hair and small breasts. A blend that at times made Roger uncomfortable. “We have something for you,” she said.

“A card,” said Fritzi, who looked exactly like a girl with that name, ought to in Roger’s opinion. She passed him a pastel envelope. He opened it up and took out a card that showed Snoopy lying on his kennel. A bandage was wrapped around Snoopy’s head and Woodstock was trying to spoon feed him medicine. Inside the card, the two women had written in bold looping handwriting ‘Get well soon. Uli and Fritzi.’ An exaggerated X was placed above the ‘i’ of Uli.

From the corner of his eye he could see that Uli was blushing once more. “This is great, veilen dank. Thanks girls. It’s what I needed.”

“Danke,” they replied in unison.

Roger waved toward the sofas and low tables of the seating area within the reception. “I’m expecting my boss to visit me soon. Could you please have some coffee bought over for us?”

“Yes, sit down and we will organise this,” Fritzi said as she picked up the phone to call the bar manager.

“Great,” Roger put the card into his jacket pocket, “I’ll keep this safe in here, and I think my boss could be a bit of a jobsworth.”

It was lost on both girls.

He sat down on the sofa nearest the entrance. A chrome and glass revolving door was placed before the blue cobbled horseshoe shaped parking zone. Inside the loop was a square block of red stone from out of which a fountain bubbled.

The coffee pot and cups soon arrived. He decided to take a drink. It might be bad manners but he needed something to calm his nerves. A twitch wriggled through his injury, so he gulped down another painkiller with his coffee.

Outside, an almadine black Mercedes Benz S55 AMG Saloon pulled up onto the parking area. A small man in dark suit got out of the driver’s seat and opened up the rear passenger door. Ludo Barkmann stepped out of the car. He was tall, almost willowy but not thin. His face had the complexion of a desert at twilight, contrasting against his white shirt and black suit. Alain Mikli glasses and close cut silver hair underlined the discipline of his grooming. As he walked towards the revolving door, Roger stood up quickly, making sure he had gulped down the painkiller. Watching Barkmann, he was reminded of the character of Scaramanga from the James Bond book. Here was a man in control of his every movement.

“Herr Barkmann,” Roger offered his hand, “Wie Gehts?”

“Very well Roger,” The handshake had agreed a thousand deals, all successful. “Please, sit down.” Barkmann guided Roger to the sofa.

“Would you like a coffee? I thought you might like some.”

“No,” Barkmann dismissed the offered cup with barely a wave of his hand. “But you may finish your drink.”

“Thank you. Well what can I do for you? I do appreciate you coming to see me.”

“Do you have concerns about the project?” Barkmann unbuttoned the middle of his jacket as he spoke.

“Not really, well maybe… after all there has been a lot of resource thrown at it.” Roger sipped more coffee. “But I have a good feeling that we will get this right.”

“Feelings are good,” Barkmann smiled, “But in this case, not too good. I am concerned but confident that the changes will not delay too much our work.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

Barkmann stopped smiling. “I am a great believer that we are a family and as such I take my responsibility very seriously. There is a need to change and we have to make bold steps. I have looked very long at the heart of the company, our family, and we are lacking.”

“You came here to tell me you want to change things. Well fine, it’s your perog..”

“Roger, you are not listening,” snapped Barkmann, “There are great things that I want to accomplish and you will be part of that but for now, the work has to stop. I explained this to your colleagues before I came here. They understand.”

“This is not right. We have spent a year on this project.”

“A year or a week, the changes have to happen without hesitation. Trust me.”

Roger put down the coffee cup, “I appreciate you telling me face to face but you have not given me the reasons for this decision.”

“We have been deceived. That is all you need to know.”

“Deceived! What does that mean?”

“Many things we have been doing are false. The spirit of the company is ill and we must adapt to survive the changes taking place around us.”

“I’m sorry Herr Barkmann, you have got this wrong. Now I don’t like rocking the boat but this seems an extreme decision.” Roger was thinking of all his work that now seemed more flimsy than a house of cards.

Barkmann steepled his fingers, “The path of change is always difficult. I have never failed at any endeavour and I promise you that we will emerge from the changes I have begun, as the leader in our field. This is all about family and I want you in our family.”

“You could have just sent me an email,” Roger said.

“That is not my way. I need to know you are with me.”

The coffee was getting colder and the taste a step beyond bitter.


“Jesus, that fucking bastard has shafted us,” Roger was screaming into his mobile phone. “He might as well have cut my bollocks off at the same time.”

“I know how you feel.” Malcolm’s voice was as watery as the Leine river Roger was walking beside. “He came in and just announced that the job was on hold and we were going to delay the contract.”

“What else did he say? Some crap about change and families.” Not even flrting with Uli and Fritzi had calmed Roger after Barkmann had departed from the hotel. So he had left them to find some sense in all he had been told. A year of his life had effectively been shoved deep into a black hole. He would never get that time back.

“Oh, I know but Barkmann has this rep of getting things right. He seems quite moral about stuff. Maybe it’s who we are working for that bothered him,” Malcolm suggested.

“We protect people why should that be a problem?”

“Look, providing I get paid I don’t care. You should do the same. He just wants the best for the company.”

“Malcolm, it’s not that.”

“Well make it that, listen I have to go now, my taxi is here. See you later.”

Click. The line went dead.

“Yeah, see you,” Roger grunted, dragging queer looks from an old woman passing by.

It was mid afternoon and the weather was becoming cool. Couples strolled along the river bank, hand in hand or eating ice cream. Bicycles and joggers competed for open spaces while scattering pigeons. A white pleasure boat chugged along the river, the tinny voice of a guide explaining an item of no importance.

Roger slipped the mobile phone into his jacket pocket. The news from Barkmann had taken his mind off all other things. It was refreshing to be dealing with zealous businessmen rather than some half baked hippy chick. The past year had been ripped from his life, all that work and energy banished somewhere beyond the horizon. There were times he wished he was working in a dead end job.

“Hello,” a strained voice beside him said.

A Japanese man held out a camera and pointed to the woman standing a few feet away. “Please.” He pointed to the button on top of the camera.

“Oh, Ok.” Roger took the camera and held it up to his eye. Through the view finder he could see the Japanese couple standing with their backs to a tree growing out of the river bank. The slate grey surface of the Leine allowed freckle of sunlight to warm the view around the couple.

Roger was ready to take the picture but thought that the light had suddenly faded. A smear appeared above the heads of the tourists. He looked at them without using the view finder – everything was fine. The man poked his thumb up and nodded.

Again looking through the view finder, the smear was there. It was like an ugly eyelash falling from a Cyclops. Shadowy bleach pouring over the tourists. It filled the view that he saw, creeping forward like an oil spill. A sense of blackness seeped into the borders of his vision. Roger gasped and dropped the camera.

His ankle suddenly twisted as if he had been dancing on ice and he fell.

Then there was immersion into the bitter cold world of the Leine. Where he sank deep into the embrace of a black undercurrent.

The waters of the river swallowed him whole and he could feel his clothes moulding a prison around him. He scrambled for the surface, gulping down sour water with each desperate stroke. He broke through to daylight but panic held tight and his head was dragged back under the water. Thrashing his arms wildly, he managed to break free of the spell of water and suck in fresh air once more. A small crowd had gathered around the spot where he had fallen in. They willed him on toward the bank. The Japanese man held out his hand. Roger gripped it and pulled himself up; hugging the man, letting frightened dregs of water scurry back to the wide embrace of their mother river.

The crowd seemed embarrassed and unsure of what to do next. Roger was alive, there did not seem much more could be done. A few shakes of his shoulders were all the aid that he would receive. Even the Japanese couple were eager to let him be.

“I’m Ok,” Roger wheezed, “um.. alles in bester Ordnung..”

“I do not think you are OK, Roger.” Helene was there. The crowd parted and a sudden shudder of wind swept open her coat, wide like a hawk swooping down on its prey. She held out her hand. “I have been looking for you. And so has he.”

Helene stepped closer. “It is nearly his time. Come, we must prepare.”

“Prepare for what?” asked Roger.

“Your return to the world.” Helene looked out across the expanse of the river. “It is getting cold, please come with me.”

It was the right time for Roger to be mute.

Copyright D. Keyte. 2005

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Comments by other Members

Patsy at 22:09 on 26 October 2005  Report this post
Hey Heckyspice,

Just read through, the story is coming along great. Tension building, mystery getting deeper.

Loved this:
The crowd parted and a sudden shudder of wind swept open her coat, wide like a hawk swooping down on its prey.

Things to consider:

“No. I will see at 11 am.”

... will see you...

Closing the door behind him as he went in, he missed the next report on the television news. A small commuter train had de-railed near Frankfurt. There had been a couple of casualties but luckily there had been no further injuries. Most victims were described as being alive.

This is out of his view point. If he missed it, so did we. Maybe have him catch something about the wreck, but not all of the details if it is important.

“I’m sorry Herr Barkmann, you have got this wrong. Now I don’t like rocking the boat but this is not right.”

I'm not sure why, but I don't like this sentence. Perhaps it is the combination of wrong and right? Could you reword?

Maybe it’s who were working for that bothered him,” Malcolm suggested.

Maybe it's who we're. . .?

You use Roger's name a lot in his conversation with his boss, you might edit a few out :)

Why he winds up in the river read a little confusing to me. Could you add some to clarify?

Hope it helps, Still love the story!

Patsy :)

Heckyspice at 08:41 on 27 October 2005  Report this post
Hi Patsy,

Thanks for reading. You make some good points and you have pointed out some weaknesses in the narrative that need to be corrected.

I think I should make Roger's fall into the river more dramatic. he is reacting to a presence - maybe this is not too clear.

Best Wishes,


ps. I will post a comment about Cyrstal Sorceress soon. I am getting through the all the downloaded stories as fast as I can.

robski at 12:57 on 30 October 2005  Report this post
Hi Heckyspice,
the story flowed nicely up to:
"His ankle twisted like a drunken dog and then there was arrival in a cold world."
This didn't flow very well, at least for me, i think you need to explain a little better how he arrives in the water, its a bit vague as it stands, why does he fall?
Also you use a very good means to convey a threat or something ominous, via the image through the camera, i think you should make more of it. since this must be the reason he ends up in the water,(i think) it just feels a little rushed. but it has all the makings of a good story.

all the best


Heckyspice at 08:16 on 31 October 2005  Report this post
Hi Robski,

Thanks for reading.

Both yourself and Patsy have commented on the confusion surrounding Roger falling into the river. This needs to be corrected. I was trying to go for something that was out of the blue - it does not appear to have worked.

I will re-post the chapter soon with revisions that should make things less confusing.

Best Wishes,


Grinder at 10:23 on 04 November 2005  Report this post

I like this a lot, and only picked up on a few things…

man who was used to be obeyed

Shouldn’t this be “man who was used to being obeyed”.

Life would be easier if this fellow was more Branson than Sugar.

I like this line, it conjures up all kinds of food images for me, Branson/Branston and Sugar, Sweet and Sour.

Most victims were described as being alive.

Shouldn’t this be, “Most of the victims were described as being alive.”

At least here he knew how the land lay

Maybe this would be better as “At least here he knew the lay of the land”

“It is good to see you today Roger,” Uli beamed.

You might want to consider rooting out this kind of speech attribution, stick with ‘said’ and tag on a separate sentence if you have to.

“This is great, veilen dank. Thanks girls. It’s what I needed,” he said.

You don’t need the “he said”.

This is getting very interesting, and I like the way you write (although I think you need to tone down the speech attributions).

Great stuff, keep it coming…


Heckyspice at 11:48 on 04 November 2005  Report this post
Hi Grinder,

Thanks for the comments and spotting the typos.

To be honest I try and cut down on the speech attributions as much as possible and only throw in adverbs when I think it's necessary. Such as Uli's first line, I thought this was the right place to show her feelings.

I will see how things shape up on the edit. I might hang fire for a couple more days to see if there are any more comments to come.

Best Wishes


ps. Glad you like the Branson and Sugar line. Although, I am not sure if non UK readers will get it.

optimist at 08:38 on 09 November 2005  Report this post
Hi David,

I liked the Branson and Sugar line!

I also liked the atmospheric opening with the smith and the conflict with the man used to being obeyed.

I liked the descriptions of the smear through the viewfinder and especially the shadowy bleach pouring over the tourists You write vividly and the imagery is great.

Don't think you need a lot more info where Roger falls into the river. Where I think the narrative derails slightly is "and then there was arrival in a cold world."

I really like that phrase - but I wasthrown as I knew he'd gone somewhere "different" and I didn't immediately think of the river. I thought he'd gone back to the time of the smith then realised he was in the water. I think (and this is only me!) that it's only a matter of fine tuning - somehow get the waters of the Leine in before the arrival in the cold world?

Maybe something like "immersion in a cold watery world" - that's not nearly as good as your image but get the reader thinking about water?

I didn't notice any intrusive speech attributions - you could possibly cut "a strained voice beside him said" between hello and the japanese tourist?

I rather liked "most victims were described as being alive" - nice sense of understated irony there.

Look forward to reading more!


Heckyspice at 09:19 on 10 November 2005  Report this post
Hi Optimist,

Thanks for the comments. I am about ready to edit the chapter and re-post it.



Issy at 08:32 on 10 December 2005  Report this post
Enjoying this enormously. I especially like the change to the business concerns here, the character of the boss, and the way he sweeps all, unexplained before him. It brings the reader back to what appears to be the ordinary world, then shifts again, because the project has been suddenly and quite ominously pulled.

I was wondering if the camera had been damaged in the fall. Seems trivial I know in the light of events. Please ignore if not helpful.

ang at 19:28 on 12 December 2005  Report this post
Sorry I've taken so long to have a look, but I'm here now.
I found this a very intriguing and an easy read, which fantasy can often not be (with over-complicated plots)... I don't know what you have planned, but I'm guessing it's really original as the first few chapters seem to be.
My only criticism is that some of your dialogue doesn't ring true. It sounds as though they are reading a letter and is a little too formal.
Some of your sentences are almost poetical... not sure whether this fits into a novel, but I really liked it personally.
Overall a great read... looking forward to more!
Angela ;)

Heckyspice at 09:00 on 16 December 2005  Report this post
Hi Issy,

Thanks for reading. I had not thought about the damage to the camera, but I doubt Roger would really be concerned if it was broken or sunk in the river.

Hi Ang,

I guess the encounter between Roger and Barkmann is the section where you feel the dialogue is difficult. I was trying to show Barkmann as being focused and distant, perhaps this explains why the dialogue seems formal?


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