It all started on one of those Sundays. One of those typical Sundays you can only spend in one of two ways: If you’re with someone, you just stay in bed. Listening to the raindrops play snare drum on your skylight, while her heart beats the bass. Bom-bom, bom-bom, bom-bom, a melancholy love song filling the blank space in your head, until the tall trees in the not so far distance swallow the last gulps of day, drooling tangerine light all over the sky.

If you’re alone, you finally force yourself to get up, at 2:46 in the afternoon, to the nagging sound of the merciless Beethoven-whichever-symphony ringtone of your aunt Heidi’s house phone.

Dadadadadaaah dadadadadahhh

You crawl out of bed, take an aimless swing at the little man with the big sledgehammer in your head, and stumble over an open can of cold raviolis.


You continue towards the bathroom, leaving red footprints on your aunt Heidi’s favorite carpet.


You realize that the nasty taste of half-digested Beck’s beer only gets nastier when it’s exposed to toothpaste.


You vomit that realization into the bathroom sink, drag yourself into the living room, and stare at the unnaturally big and unnaturally red telephone screaming at you from the coffee table.



You finally pick up the big red receiver. It’s cold and heavy.

“Hey Ben! You wiz us again?”

You immediately regret everything.

“Just wondering… How’s your handy, dude?” That’s when you start screaming: It’s called a cell, you idiot! Or a mobile! Or just a phone! But only inside your head.

You listen to the caller recount the story of you dropping your “handy” into the nightclub urinal, as if you hadn’t been there to witness it first-hand. You start wondering – silently – why Germans can’t just use proper English terms for things or find a handy German translation, instead of inventing their own “English” words. “Showmaster,” for example, instead of “TV Host”. “Public Viewing” to name a live event (usually soccer) that is publicly watched on big screens. Or “Open Air” to describe an event that is happening outside. And then, very German: Combining those words, so an “Openairpublicviewing” would be a live event publicly watched on a big screen outside. Zose crazy Germans…

“It vas crazy! And so funny. Especially, ven you tried to get it back out vis your naked hands…”

You can feel the sledgehammer-man swinging back for his final blow.

“Mann, say somezing!”

You breathe deeply, suppress the urge to smash the red phone against the white wall, and remain silent.

“Ben? You okay?” This is a different voice now. Less obnoxious. More worried. “I think we found it, dude.”

You rub your eyes. Your mouth is as dry as the desert, and your teeth feel like you just ate one.

“Do you see it?”

Stale daylight shines on the little note your aunt Heidi left, criticizing “your obnoxious behavior when you finally made it home at 6 AM THIS MORNING!!!” But still letting you know that she “left you some Käsespätzle in the fridge, in case your head needs a head-start.”

God had a big day when he made German aunts!

“It’s huge, man! And honestly… I don’t like it.”

What is he talking about?

“What are you fucking talking about?” You hear the words echoing from the thick stone walls of your mind. But they don’t reach the light. Your real-world-voice remains silent.

“Wait!” Now it’s the first voice again. “Zat’s it? You fucking kidding me?”

You look around. Tangerine light sloshes through the tilted blinds, painting surreal shadows on the ruined carpet. Your eyes focus on the big red telephone in front of you. It starts to flicker. A loose wire in the circuit of reality.

Something is wrong, you think.

“Something is wrong with the phone,” you say.

“Ben? Can you hear me?” The voice sounds tinny now, and more distant. As if your aunt Heidi’s living room is driving through a tunnel.

“Something is wrong with the phone!” You scream into the big red receiver, as if the volume of your voice would actually make a difference.

“So…ing … wrong…,” the tiny voice answers.

“I’ll call you back!” you shout, and slam the big red receiver onto the big red phone fork.

Then, your world turns black.

“Wh… th… f…ck… …s …ppe…g?”

You scream, but your voice is breaking up.

“Na…n? …los?”

Then, all there is, is static.

When the world flips on again, your aunt Heidi’s living room is gone. The walls and windows surrounding you are gone. And the little man with the big sledgehammer inside your head is gone, as well. The only thing that’s not gone is the red telephone in front of you, hovering in the middle of nothing. Ringing.


You pick it up.


“Hallo, Junge.” Hello, boy.

“Who is this?”

“Du weißt, wer hier ist.“ You know who this is.

“No. No, I don’t!”


Doch! One of those wonderful words the German language has formed to break every foreigners mind.

Doch! Meaning Yes,but as a direct comeback to No. A verbal counterpunch crunching your face like a sledgehammer.

No, I don’t want to answer this phone call.

Doch! You fucking have to.

No, I don’t want to listen to you anymore!

Doch! You fucking will.

You slam the big red receiver on the big red phone fork again. But when you lift up your hand, it just lifts up with it. As if it was glued to your hand. As if it actually was your hand. Doch, motherfucker!

“Du hast mich gesucht,” the voice from your telephone hand whispers. “Und jetzt hast du mich gefunden.”

You came looking for me. And now you found me.


Albtraumfänger, Prologue