Berlin by Night

The Journal of Alban Fernholz

Journal of the Reverend Alban Fernholz:

Nov. 22, 1992

Had an unexpected visitor last night, and though he arrived on the heels of a fierce Autumn storm, he was most pleasant indeed. A Mr. Rupert Schwarze, a tinker and weaver of fine rugs. He is a well-travelled gentleman with an old-world charm and elegance to him that made me feel right at ease. And I must not have been the only one to take a shine to our visitor, as Fritzi set out our finest table settings, dusting off those usually reserved for holidays.

Mr. Schwarze had a healthy appetite and a thirst for what wine we had, but he was a memorable guest, regaling us with tales of his travels across Europe and Asia Minor. Quickly the hour grew late and as Fritzi and the children turned in for the night, I couldn’t resist staying up later than usual discussing religion and the afterlife with this engaging man.

When I retired for the night we had found that Fritzi, bless her heart, had set up some bedding for our guest before the warm hearth in the kitchen. I was looking forward to walking and talking with him in the morning, but he was gone, leaving behind a fineely woven rug in show of gratitude – a piece that, I dare say, would not look out of place in a king’s palace.

Jan. 3, 1993

While walking the fields with Rolf the lad seemed troubled. I knew he had something in his craw and I waited patiently for the boy to be out with it. What he told me shocked me to the core and, though he swore by the Holy Father, I still am not sure I believe him.
Rolf claimed that our visitor some months ago, Mr. Rupert Schwarze, had left his fire-side bedding during his stay and ventured to the children’s loft where he, to put it grossly and bluntly, had his way with out little Inga.
Rolf claims to have been awake during it and was too struck by fear to move in aid of his sister, or to even form a shout or cry of distress. This I find hardest of all to believe, as Rolf is a sturdy and strong lad and a most protective older brother. Something is troubling Rolf, and has been for some time. Could he be making this up about Herr Schwarze to conceal a greater problem? I fear the devil may have his hooks in the boy.

Later – Fritzi seems as disbelieving as I concerning Rolf’s tale of Rupert Schwarze, though she does mention that the following morning all the children save Inga had wet their bed sheets – something which she neglected to tell me at the time. I’ll have to look into this and speak with the children about it at supper.

Jan. 4, 1993

We excused the youngsters and spoke with Rolf at supper last night. Rolf angrily left the house at my suggestion that he may be engaging in deception, before leaving he claimed that Mr. Schwarze had paid visits to the children’s loft on several occasions since that first night. Each time Rolf was too afraid to act against the man defiling his sister.

When we gently asked Inga, Kurt and Ludolf the boys seemed to have no memory of these visitations – the whole line of questioning upset little Ludolf greatly as he wept so violently he had Fritzi in a fit and it took her hours to soothe him enough for sleep.
Inga fled to the loft and I followed her. We had a long chat and what she finally confessed to me disturbed me so greatly that I am too ashamed to speak this to any living being, including Fritzi. Inga confides that it was her older brother Rolf who forced himself upon her at night, several times. The immenseness of this sin overwhelms me and without the closeness of God I would collapse in despair. Inga and I prayed together, for peace and guidance and, at the blessed child’s insistance, for the salvation of her brother Rolf.
Tonight the boy will sleep in the barn. Tomorrow he will be leaving by train to stay with his mother’s brother outside of Bremen. I pray all will be well with my family. How will my flock and my community look upon me if they ever learn that such a sin has occured in my own house?

Feb. 14, 1993

The worst news possible today. Took Inga to a doctor in Berlin and he has confirmed what Fritzi feared – the girl is with child. May Rolf burn in hell for what he has done to his sister. We are telling the neighbors and community that the girl is very ill. Will have to keep her indoors as much as possible until we can find a place for her to have the bstard child. God help us.

March 12, 1993

A tussle in the loft woke me last night. With gun in hand I rushed up to find Rolf trembling with fear on the floor and the three younger ones huddled together in tears. Seems the lad took it on himself to run away from his uncle and returned here, he claims he followed Schwarze in through a window. What devil has hold of him to create such a sinful want of his own sibling?
Hard to look at myself in the mirror after doing what I have done, but I had to look out for the well-being of my family and poor Inga. I was forced to have the police pick up Rolf. Where they take him I do not know, nor do I care to. His soul is in the hands of God now, I must turn my back on him, though it pains me to do so and my heart is heavy with guilt.
Inga’s health seems poor. She is losing weight, her skin is clammy and pale. I can practically see her bones, yet her stomach is full and round. The doctor in Berlin suggests she is healthy, just too much stress and strain on her mentally. More bed rest.

March 15, 1993

Fritzi had a disturbing meeting today with Ludolf’s teacher. The troubled boy has been expressing the shame of his family at school. Fritzi brought home several pictures drawn by the boy, most of these pictures depicted a man in black coat and hat with a violet scarf (the very same clothes Mr. Schwarze wore when he paid us a visit) climbing into the window of our house or gazing through the window of the children’s loft. Other pictures depicted a hellish looking Mr. Schwarze carrying a large bag over his shoulder, and still another showed the gentleman driving a wagon pulled by fire breathing dogs.
It disturbs me greatly that the young ones have been affected by this. All this time I assumed they slept through Rolf’s sins and that our conversations were kept from them. Did Rolf tell his same lies to his younger brothers? Will the younger boys continue to have nightmares and fears of this stranger, it seems a simple mentioning of Mr. Schawrze is enough to reduce them to tears.
What if Rolf was not lying?
He was always an honest boy, we raised him right. A fine, up-standing lad who never lied and never mistreated others. Always helped his neighbors, always did right by his family and his community. Is guilt driving me to forget his sins? My poor boy, what father sends his son away to protect the integrity of a stranger?

March 20, 1993

I cannot sleep. I cannot eat. My sermons are discombobulated and sloppy and my congregation constantly asks what is ailing me. It is guilt, shame and uncertaintity. I pray constantly for guidance and finally God has sent a messenger.
A deformed little dwarf pushing a manure cart spoke with a thick, dirty accent and I had to plead with him to repeat his words several times before understanding them. “Prayers help little when one invites the Hastrman into his dwelling.”
That was all he spoke and the limping little dwarf would speak no more. The Hastrman? A boogeyman? A fairytale? This could not be. Was I to blame for my child’s loss of innocence? for my son’s arrest? For my children’s nightmares? For the unweaving of my family’s security and sanity?

Sometimes I wake in the night and think I hear noises. The creaking of the floorboards in the loft above my own room. Inga’s soft frightened whimpers and a hellish scent seeming to permeate through the floor above me. The scent is rancid and foul, like breathing deeply of green, spoiled meat infested with maggots. I fear for Inga and know I must go check on her. But I, just as my son described, am too frozen with fear to act. I know that only meters away my daughter is being preyed upon by a twisted devil – yet I cannot rise to help. Cannot form words. I often pull the covers over my head and close my eyes and weep like a child afraid of monsters. I too have wet my bed on these occasions. I must be going mad.

April 1, 1993

I have been unable to locate Rolf, I need to find him, need to seek his forgiveness and free him, for only as a family, with God on our side, might we fend off the demon that has wormed its way between us.
Today I write to a Berlin priest who has written extensively on demonology. A Father Gilbert Bretl. I pray he can help me in this. Help to save us from the minions of satan and help to keep this foul demon from my child.

Inga’s health grows worse. Her weight loss is alarming and frightening, she resembles a corpse with a swollen stomach. It pulses, it has a feeling of wrongness to it. I now know that she carries an unholy seed within her. God forgive me for what I must do. I can see no other means to salvation other than destroying this unborn babe and perhaps even Inga with it. Even as I write this I know I cannot. Cannot harm my child, cannot harm the babe she carries, for what if I am wrong? I question my own sanity now, I am slipping away. God help me. God please help me.

April 5, 1993

Again the deformed dwarf serves as messenger. I smelled his manure cart before I saw him. Over swarming flies and the stench of his cargo he whispered to me my chance at salvation. Not for me – I know I am lost, or at least, know that I must let myself be lost to save those I love.
He promises me blood. Blood to nourish and sustain Inga. Blood to feed the unborn child she carries. Blood to give her life. He gives me a chalice filled with deep, thick crimson. Hidden in the folds of my jacket I bring it home and have Inga drink its contents. I stay at her side through the night, praying for her health.

April 6, 1993

I awoke on the floor beside Inga’s bedding. Color has bloomed on her cheeks for the first time in months. Energy courses through her. My child dances and gaily sings as she helps her mother in some minor household chores.
I know not who sent the foul little dwarf to me, but I thank God for my child’s health.
Father Bretl wrote in response to my letter. I have informed him that I was mistaken. God has shown me the path to salvation.

July 14, 1993

The dwarf, the blood peddlar has been hard to find, only in late night fog or gloomy rain. More blood must constantly be sought, as Inga’s health deteriorates quickly after each draught. He tells me last night, “No more. Seek guidance from the darkness. Seek blood among those who so blindly follow your word.”
I have made my first pact with the darkness. Those who once sought my advice and spiritual guidance now seem to obey my every suggestion and believe my most blatant lie. My congregation have been more than willing to donate blood, I claim many reasons and uses ranging from medical to spiritual. A different lie opens a different vein.
And now the dark whispers want more. I shall give more, I will form a cult to serve its wishes, I shall do anything it needs, as long as I keep getting what I need for a little bit longer. It is only the matter of months before the unholy child is out of precious, angelic Inga, then this can end. I am ready to pay the price for my sins, but for now I will heap them high, for they assure my child’s life.

July 30, 1993

Last midnight I performed my first Un-holy mass. I have made four converts – mostly spiritually empty locals whose names shall remain a secret. I encourage them to seek the darkness, to form their own pacts and to seek blood. Sweet blood given in unholy sacrament to the darkness, but used to fuel the light of Inga. I know what I have become, I can no longer plea to God for forgiveness, no longer entreat him to help my family. Their lives are in my hands now and my soul has been promised to another. I shall burn for eternity but if it means that Inga walks in the light of Heaven then I shall burn with glee.

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