Authors: Zoran Drvenkar
ALSO BY ZORAN DRVENKAR
THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK
PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF
Copyright © 2014 by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC, New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto, Penguin Random House companies. Originally published in Germany as
by Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH,
Berlin, in 2010. Copyright © 2010 by Zoran Drvenkar, copyright © 2010 Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH.
Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Drvenkar, Zoran, 1967–
You / By Zoran Drvenkar; Translated from the German by Shaun Whiteside.—First English Edition.
“This is a Borzoi Book.”
Translated from Du (German translation) by Shaun Whiteside.
ISBN 978-0-307-95806-8 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-307-95807-5 (eBook)
1. Mass murderers—Fiction. 2. Heroin—Fiction. 3. Teenage girls—Fiction. 4. Suspense fiction, German. I. Whiteside, Shaun, translator. II. Title.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Jacket design by Kelly Blair
did you ever know
there’s a light inside your bones
As much as we strive toward the light, we still want to be embraced by the shadow. The very same yearning that craves harmony, craves in a dark chamber of our heart chaos. We need that chaos in reasonable portions, because we don’t want to turn into barbarians. But barbarians are what we become as soon as our world falls apart. Chaos is only ever a blink away.
Never have thoughts made waves so fast. Stories are no longer passed on orally, they are transmitted to us at breakneck speed in kilobytes, so that we can’t turn our eyes away. And if it gets unbearable, we react as the barbarians did, and turn that chaos into myths.
One of those myths was created in the winter fourteen years ago, on the A4 between Bad Hersfeld and Eisenach. We won’t write down the exact date; anyone can do the research for themselves. And in any case, myths don’t stick to dates; they are timeless and become the Here and Now. We return to the past and make it Now.
It is November.
It is 1995.
It is night.
The traffic jam has been growing for an hour now, thinning into three lanes, then two, and finally one, before it comes to a standstill. The highway is blocked by snow for over twenty miles. You can
only see a few yards ahead. The snowplows creep along the secondary roads toward the traffic jam, and get stuck themselves. The skies are raging. The headlights look like lights under water. It isn’t a night to be out and about. No one was prepared for this change in the weather.
People are stuck in their cars. At first they keep the engine running and search optimistically for a radio station to tell them that the traffic jam will soon be over. They search in vain. It’s one o’clock in the morning, there’s no sign for an exit, and if there was one it would be impassable anyway. Standstill. The headlights go out one after the other. Engines fall silent, the only sounds are the wind and the falling snow. Coats are pulled on, seats reclined. There is an inconsistent rhythm—the cars start up, the heating stays on for several minutes, before the engines fall silent once more.
You are one of many. You are alone and waiting. Your navigation system tells you you are an hour and fifty-seven minutes from your house. You can’t believe this is actually happening to you. That this can be happening to anyone in this country. A simple traffic jam and nothing goes.
You’re one of the few people letting their engines run uninterrupted. Not because you’re cold. You know that as soon as the silence envelops you, resignation will set in, and you’re not the kind of person to give up willingly. You even leave the satnav turned on and study the display, as if the distance from your destination might be reduced by some miracle. And the more you look at the screen, the more you wonder how something like this can happen to you.
One thousand one hundred and seventy-eight people are asking themselves the same question tonight. They’re sitting there uncomfortably and cursing their decision to set off so late. In the end they give up and come to terms with the situation. Not you. Your engine runs for two and a half hours before you turn the key and are engulfed in silence. Your gas is running low. The satnav turns off. No light, no radio. Every few minutes you turn on the windshield wiper to sweep away the snow. You want to see what’s going on out there.
And that’s why you see the first snowplow parting the snow on the opposite side of the road. It looks like a weary creature dragging the whole world slowly behind it. At the side of the road the
snow makes waves that immediately freeze.
If they’re clearing one side, then they’re bound to be working on ours too
, you think, and study the snowplow in the side-view mirror until only the glimmer of the taillights can be seen. It’s only then that you close your eyes and take a deep breath.