Today's Reading

The front of the mob was fifty meters from the gaggle of Syrian refugees.

They saw the danger coming toward them. A few started to retreat inside.

Moser looked about, excitement boiling within him with every step. His group had grown to about twenty-five now, picking up speed, their shouts getting louder, cruder, more threatening. Just a little closer.



He reached inside his bag and pulled out one of the pipes he'd bought earlier in the day, which he'd since filled with black powder mixed with aluminum shavings. He lit the fuse and heaved it at the group of refugees, the burning fuse throwing off sparks as the crude pipe bomb bounced across the pavement.

It exploded and a metallic echo resounded across the parking lot and into the terminal.

Six of the Syrian men were blown to the ground; another cluster stumbled for the door. They scrambled, panicking, cries going out.

The mob of German thugs charged forward. When they reached those writhing on the ground, they bludgeoned them with their bats and pipes like a medieval battlefield.

Moser lit another bomb and threw it through the double doors into the terminal. Screams—men and women—came from within. The subsequent explosion sent people scurrying in all directions.

Some of Moser's crew barged into the terminal. They chased the helpless refugees, clubbing the children as well as the adults. Others stumbled into the cube walls, too drunk to stay on their feet as they swung wildly at anyone and anything. Moser threw his last pipe bomb into a common area farther down, the explosion going off in the middle of a crowd trying to escape the chaos.

Before he left, Moser took one last look at the melee going on around him, indifferent to the screams. He didn't have any particular hatred for these people, but they didn't belong here.

The Polizei and emergency services showed up an hour and twenty minutes later. The perpetrators had run off by then—back to their homes and jobs and classrooms and churches—and no one was arrested or charged.

Eight Syrian refugees, however, died that night, including a five-year-old boy and an eighty-seven-year-old woman. Another thirty-four were treated for injuries caused by blunt force weapons and metal shards from homemade pipe bombs.

* * *

Two days had passed since the attack on the refugee camp. The mainstream media had offered pity for the victims and then decried the perpetrators. The politicians on the left and in the center had expressed shock and reeled at the horror, and then vowed to increase protections for the helpless victims. Across the board, they made the usual reactions, and they were hollow.

But on the other side, an uncomfortably large segment of the population applauded the violence, and their right-wing leaders championed their beliefs. These voices—nationalist, Eurocentric, racist—were getting stronger and stronger day by day.

His bosses would be pleased, Moser thought. They'd have to be. After all these years, he'd finally done what he'd been trained to do. And now, it was time to go home and put those flowers by his mother's grave.

He stood on the Gericksteg Bridge. It was dark, and it was drizzling again.

But in this instance, he welcomed the rain. Fewer people and fewer eyes.

He lit a cigarette and checked his watch: 20:17.

At the far end of the bridge, the mist was settling on the river, and there was a lone figure coming across. Even from this distance, Moser could see the man's gray beard as he passed each of the amber, dimly lit street lamps.

For as long as he'd known the man—fifteen years, maybe—the man had worn that beard. The man didn't age, either. He probably came out of the womb that way, built for the shadows. In this sordid world of lies and violence, the man was a legend—a dark legend—and despite Moser having worked for him for years, the man was still unnerving. Practically terrifying.

But he was going home and thoughts of tulips kept peeking through his mind. His mother had loved the spring. Such beautiful yellow tulips.

Moser didn't see or hear the person come up from behind. A sharp, piercing sensation cut into his back on the right side. He struggled to turn, but a powerful arm wrapped around his neck. The arm constricted like a snake.

Moser tried to yell, but he had no air. He felt his bowels start to loosen.

What was happening?

The man with the gray beard kept coming, his face expressionless.

The sky, the bridge, the trees...they started fading, going hazy. Moser felt another stab in his back. For an instant, everything went dark, but then it became clear again. He blinked and stared into the eyes of the man with the gray beard. They were black, soulless eyes.

Why? He'd done everything right. It wasn't supposed to end like this. He was supposed to go home. It'd been fourteen years. It was time to go home. He was done.

Moser felt himself falling.

There was a splash. Everything was cold, ice cold.

Then nothing.

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